Halo Twenty-One: Mikado:
Kitano picked up his tape recorder and hit the record button.
“I want to talk more about Chirin-kun,” he said. “The main question is, why him? Why him indeed. Our little journey is a peculiar, but fascinating one. He wasn’t even supposed to be in this project of mine. The original patient I had lined up for the third generation of this project died in her sleep that day. I just had to have a replacement at the time and that bastard Yodogiri suggested that I use Chirin. Now, he was just another one of his strays at the time. I didn’t really think much about him. In fact, I thought he would die during the first experiment.”
Kitano chuckled on the recording.
“Things got interesting when he survived.”
Something felt different.
Mikado didn’t want to open his eyes and see what it was. He had a feeling that Kitano and his crew did something to him. Those bastards. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?
“Mikado-kun?” Masaomi asked. “What are you still doing in bed? Get up, we have to go.” The tadpole boy reluctantly opened his eyes. Horror washed over his face. Masaomi stood inches away from him with his inner demon on his shoulder.
“Saki! Saki! Saki! Saki! Saki!” it hissed. Mikado backed up, trembling.
“W-W-What? What is this?” he asked. He pinched himself in the cheek. The demon was still there with its yellow eyes focused on him. The tadpole boy covered up his right eye. Mikado could still see the demon.
“What’s the matter?” Masaomi asked. Mikado covered up his left eye. The color drained from his face as he lowered his hand.
“It’s spread,” he said in a weak voice.
“What?” Masaomi asked.
“I can seem them out of both of my eyes,” Mikado said. His friend ran over and grabbed him as he sank to his knees.
“What are you talking about?” Masaomi asked. “What do you mean you see them in both eyes? The demons?”
“Yes,” Mikado croaked.
“But… How?” his friend asked. Suddenly, the phone rang. Mikado looked over at his phone plugged into the wall. Against his better judgement, he crawled over and picked it up.
“Hello?” he asked.
“Good morning, Chirin-kun,” Kitano said on the other line. Mikado trembled.
“What do you want me?!” he yelped.
“I’m only calling to check on. Any new developments? Don’t try to lie me. I will find out either way.”
Mikado lowered his eyes. “I can see demons out of both my eyes. Why is this happening to me?!”
“Your powers are evolving.”
“I look forward to see how the rest of this day turns out for you.”
“What are you talking about? What did you do?!”
“We will be in touch!”
“Wait-!” Mikado stared at his phone when Kitano hung up. He looked up to see Masaomi with the look of a concerned dad on his face.
“My, my, my,” Mikado heard. He looked up to see Satoshi shaking his head and smirking at him.
“This is turning into quite a nightmare for you, Chirin,” the dead boy said. “How are you going to even go outside? All of those demons out there. How will you even last through the day? How long before they find out your little secret? How long before they see you as a monster and try to kill you?” Mikado backed up to the wall, pale and shaking his head.
“No…” he murmured.
A hand reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder. The tadpole boy jerked his head upwards. Masaomi stared at him.
“Come on, don’t do this,” he said. “Keep it together, okay? Stay with me.” Mikado gave him a blank stare.
“I can’t have you breaking down on me,” Masaomi said. “We will get through this.” The blonde shogun paused when he heard his friend mumbling something.
“What?” he asked.
“What if we can’t?” Mikado asked. “What will we do if they find out what I am? What if they decide to hunt me and the others down?”
“I won’t let that happen!” Masaomi shouted. “We will worry about that when we cross that bridge! You’ve got to keep it together and fight this! Do you understand me?”
“Do you understand me?”
Mikado lowered his eyes. “Yes.” Masaomi patted him on the head.
“Good,” he said. “You know what? I don’t feel like going to school today and neither do you.”
“Masaomi…” Mikado said.
“We’re not going to school today,” Masaomi repeated. “We’re going to stay in for the whole day.” He held up his hand before the tadpole boy could speak.
“No arguments,” the leader of the Yellow Scarves said. “We are staying in.” Masaomi got up and walked into the kitchen. Mikado was about to speak, but gave up. He lay down on his side on the floor. Might as well. His friend was only trying to look out for him after all. Maybe this could help him not look at so many demons in a crowded place at once. Just stay in all day and don’t think about Kitano’s experiments being done to him. It should be easy, right?
Satoshi stood on the other side of the room, shaking his head. “Let’s see how long that lasts,” he muttered.
Yuka, Yayoi, and Rumi crowded around the glowing Heartseed.
“I can’t take my eyes off of it!” Rumi said.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Yayoi asked. “Just like our precious tadpoles. They get more beautiful each day.” She closed her eyes and trembled. “Pretty soon, Chirin will be nice and ripe for the fucking.” Rumi blushed as Yuka rolled her eyes.
“Slut,” Yuka muttered. Yayoi was about to come up with a smart-mouthed remark when something caught her eye.
“Hey, has that ever done that before?” she asked.
“What?” Yuka asked as she turned her head. The Heartseed’s glow grew intense and flashed different colors in the glass case.
“What the…?” the intern asked. She turned and ran out of the room.
“What’s going on?” Rumi asked.
“I don’t know…” Yayoi said.
Mikado leaned against the wall, panting.
“Mikado, what’s wrong?” Masaomi asked.
“My body…” the tadpole boy mumbled. “I feel like it’s on fire.” Mikado grabbed at his shirt as he started breathing heavily. He could barely hear his best friend’s voice over the sounds of the city outside. The echoing in his brain made his eyes water. Mikado’s eyes darted around his apartment. The heat inside of his body felt like it was choking him. He could see Masaomi screaming and shaking him.
“Help… me…” Mikado said in a muzzled voice. His mind started to go back to his time at Chou Mori. He felt like throwing as he began to smell bleach again. This time, the tadpole boy could hear Christmas music in the background. Mikado was strapped down to operating table under dim lights. His eyes darted around the room as he started breathing heavily. He could see Kitano’s devilish grin as the therapist held a giant hypodermic needle filled with bright green liquid in his hand.
“Mikado? Mikado?” Masaomi asked in reality. He reached out and grabbed Mikado by the shoulder, shaking him. Mikado’s eyes widened. He slapped Masaomi’s hand away.
“Don’t touch me!” he shouted. The tadpole boy leapt out and bolted out the door.
“Wait, Mikado!” Masaomi yelled after him.
Mikado felt trapped in a glass box. When did the sky look so red? His heart raced against his chest. He could hear the blood rushing in his body. It didn’t help that sounds inside clashed against the sounds of the cities. He could feel the heat from inside his body twisting through his body. A choking pressure circled in his throat, making it difficult for him to breathe. Until now, Mikado didn’t get a good chance to see where he was. The wailing from the shadowy figures floating above made his ears ache.
“What do you want from me?!” the boy screamed at the sky. He could hear Kitano’s voice in his head once again.
“You will pain and discomfort, but do not worry. That’s just the toxins leaving your body. It’s all part of the cure.”
“Liar!” Mikado screamed. “Liar! Liar!” He paused when he heard cackling. He turned his head to see Satoshi smirking at him.
“Well now, that didn’t take long for you to run away from your sanctuary,” he said. “All of those demons out there. You don’t have your precious boyfriend to protect you. It’s going to be so much fun to see you crumble under the pressure. Because we both know that your master has the final say in what will happen to you. The best part is that he isn’t done with you yet.”
“Don’t you ever shut up?” Mikado asked. Satoshi smirked and shrugged at him.
“I’m only tell you the truth,” he said. “I can’t wait to see when they all start to despise you and hunt you down.” Mikado clenched his fists at his sides and started walking further into the city.
“Yeah, that’s it!” Satoshi yelled. “Run away from the truth!” The living tadpole boy sped up with his walking.
So many demons on the streets of Ikebukuro. Not just the ones on the people’s shoulders either. Everyone had their eyes on Mikado. He could see two of them across the street whispering to each other as they stared at him from across the street. Mikado panted as he took slow steps backwards. Ghost-like fingers rested on his shoulders.
“It’s only going to get worse,” Satoshi whispered in his ear. His words sounded faded as Mikado saw himself back in Chou Mori.
He found himself locked in a small, darkened room. He stood in found a heavy iron door. Well, Mikado did his best to be standing after another round of drugs being injected into his body. His legs from like wet noodles. He tried to make sense of what was around him. Mikado’s head was in too much of a fog to think clearly. Instinct told him to move, but it felt like his brain was disconnected from his body. But, it didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t alone.
“It’s only going to get worse,” Satoshi said in present day. Mikado clenched his teeth.
“Aw, what’s the matter?” the dead tadpole asked. “If you can’t handle it, why don’t you go back home? Now, why can’t you do that again? Oh that’s right, you don’t want to have to look at your little boyfriend’s demon worrying about his girlfriend.”
“It’s not like that!” Mikado said. The dead tadpole raised his eyebrow.
“Oh?” he asked. The living tadpole lowered his eyes.
“I just… I just wanted to be alone right now,” he mumbled.
“Right…” Satoshi said. “Face it, you are turning into a monster. I’m still curious to wonder how long before your little boyfriend ends up trying to kill you out of fear.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Hm? How can you be so sure?”
“You don’t know Kida-kun.”
“What’s makes you think that you know him any better? And before you tell me, ‘It’s because he’s my best friend and he would never hurt me,’ sounding like an idiot, how much do you be so sure about that?”
“I just do.”
“But he didn’t tell you that he was the leader of the Yellow Scarves a while back.”
“I didn’t tell him that I founded the Dollars back then either.”
“And what else has he not told you?” Satoshi raised his eyebrow as Mikado clenched his fists at his sides.
“Enough, you are making me mad,” he said.
“Aw what, can’t handle reality?” Satoshi asked. Nearby, Kadota happened to be walking to work when he caught Mikado shouting at nobody down an empty alley.
“Look, just leave me alone, okay?!” the boy yelled. “I’m sorry you had a miserable life! It’s not my fault! You tried to kill me! I’m sorry you’re dead! Just leave me alone!” Kadota gave Mikado a strange look.
“Who is he talking to?” he asked himself. The tadpole boy snorted and walked strange past his older friend in a huff.
“Uh… home’s that way, friend,” Satoshi said as he point in the opposite direction. Mikado waved him off in a rude way as he turned the corner. The dead tadpole shrugged his shoulders.
“Okay then, go the wrong way then,” Satoshi said. “That’s not going to get rid of me so easily.” He followed his living brother, not even looking up at Kadota looking down the path that Mikado took.
Yuka stood by her place next to the Heartseed plant while Kitano and Etsuko sat in a room behind a two-way mirror. By this time, the plant had calmed inside to perform the next experiment. It still gave off a hazy glow behind the glass.
“You may begin the experiment,” Kitano said over his microphone.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” Yuka said. “My name is Ogawa Yuka and I will be conducting the fourth addition of the augmentations to the test subjects.” She waited for a brief moment before resuming.
“Last time Shiga-san gave us her drug,” she said. “Who’s next?” Akihito stepped forward.
“I am,” he said.
“What do you have for us today?” Yuka asked. Akihito pushed up his brown-framed glass and stepped forward with a small brown bottle in his hand. Yuka turned the brown around as she tried to look inside.
“What is this?” she asked, squinting.
“My augmentation drug is called Kratos,” Akihito explained.
“How many pills do I give each test subject?” Yuka asked.
“One,” he said.
“Okay,” his fellow intern said. “Our fourth drug that will be administered into the augmentation experiment has been given to us by Iseki Akihito whom has named his drug Kratos.” Yuka twisted the plastic orange bottle cap. Everyone watched as each little flower was fed a deep red pill. Yuka stepped back when the last flower closes.
“And now, we wait,” she said. The Heartseed glowed a bright red. Yuka kept her eyes solely on the plant, wondering what it will do next in the tadpole evolution.
By three o’clock, Mikado’s body began to feel sore as that burning feeling returned. It felt like he had been doing intense labor all day that would require him to use all of his muscles. He leaned against a park bench, panting. The tadpole could feel a migraine coming on. His eyes began to water. Mikado had gotten use to the sound of his blood rushing through his body. He tried to swallow back his sick. At least he didn’t have to hear Satoshi’s annoying voice for now. But, that didn’t stop him from hearing Kitano’s voice in his head either.
“Do not worry. The drugs may be overwhelming to you at first, but your body will get used to them.”
Mikado wanted so badly to punch that bastard in the face. How could that lying bastard say all of that with a straight face?
“Nii-san!” a little kid’s voice yelled. “Nii-san!” Mikado looked up to see a boy about six years old looking up at him. The child had about seven or eight of his little friends with him. It felt so good not to be looking at demons for a change.
“Yes?” Mikado asked as he tried his best to sound normal.
“Could you please hand us the ball?” the little boy asked as he pointed over into the bushes. Mikado turned his head. A soccer ball was well-hidden in the bushes.
“Sure,” the older boy said. Mikado walked over and picked up the soccer ball. But when he kicked it over to the field, the ball sailed through the air and out of the park. The children watched it with shocked looks on their faces. Mikado’s jaw dropped as his eyes widened.
What the… When have I been able to do that? It didn’t take long for him to notice the little children staring at him. Mikado backed up, shaking his head. No… Please don’t look at me like that. I can’t take it.
Mikado took off running as fast as he could.
“We seemed to have had an interesting development in the Tadpole Project today,” Kitano said on his tape recording. “The Heartseed started glowing and changing different colors. After doing quick tests on it, I am happy to say that our beloved pets’ powers are finally evolving. It comes just in time for the third round of our game to start too.”
The therapist looked out the window.
“I am interested to see how Chirin’s development will turn out. I have so many more drugs to use on him and his siblings. There is one more augmentation that has to be set in place before Etsuko-san and I can take over again. So far, the interns have been doing well with their drugs on this project. They will continue to supply their drugs to the Heartseed plant, mind you. Other than that, we will keep observing the pets until the next experiment is ready.” Kitano hit stop on his recorder and looked out the window.
“What will you do next, Chirin-kun?” he asked himself.
Masaomi stopped to take a breath. Nine hours. He had a bad feeling about this. The boy wasn’t supposed to let his best friend out of his sight. Masaomi should’ve grabbed Mikado just before he could bolt out the head. He cursed himself.
Mikado didn’t even take his phone or shoes with him either. Masaomi rubbed his forehead. Maybe he should call someone to help him look for his friend. The boy quickly shook his head. He didn’t need to risk any more attention on his suffering best friend. So now what?
Masaomi was about to head back to Mikado’s apartment when he heard a weaken voice calling his name. The blonde-haired boy turned around and found his best friend dragging his feet towards him.
“Where have you been?” Masaomi asked, gasping. A puzzled look came over his face when he noticed tears in his friend’s eyes.
“What’s the matter?” the blonde shogun asked.
“I can’t take this anymore,” Mikado whimpered. “This is torture. Is this some sick game to them? Why is this happening to me? I just… I just…” His words became lost with more tears. His body dropped as if everything had been sucked out of him. Masaomi pulled a weeping Mikado into his arms.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered. “We’ll the bastards that did this to you. I will hunt down every last one even if it takes me years.” Mikado lifted his head.
“What if we can’t beat this?” he whispered.
“Don’t say that!” Masaomi said. “We will!”
“Are you sure about that?” the tadpole asked. His question left the blonde shogun in an uneasy place as he dragged Mikado home. How could keep his best friend from breaking down when he couldn’t protect Saki from an inevitable death?
Suddenly, his words sounded so hollow.