Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets


Match Twenty-Five: Naraka:

Kiku won’t get out of bed. A massive fever is crushing down on his body. Sana put a cold cloth on his forehead.

“Is this her doing?” she whispered. Kiku slowly nodded. He could barely his wife’s voice. But, he knew what she was talking about. The Japanese man can’t bring himself to sleep in the darkness. The dreams will start up again. His flesh smelt like it was burning.

He started to mumble something to her.

“Hm?” Sena asked.

“Thirsty…” Kiku murmured.

“Okay,” she said. Sena reached over to the mini-fridge and opened it. She had to move certain things into their room so that she wouldn’t have to go far. Kiku grew afraid of being alone. Sena can’t even go to work without having to call someone to take care of her ailing husband.

“Please… I don’t want to be alone,” Kiku pleaded.

“I won’t leave you,” Sena whispered. She doesn’t know how long he can keep this up. His body got weaker each day. She had never seen him so pale before in her life. Then, there was last night. He said something that haunted her even right now.

“I can see hell.”

The way he said it made it worse. Monotone, deadpan. His soul had been sucked out of his body. Sena fought to keep smiling, but the cracks started to show.

“You can’t mean that,” she told him. Kiku didn’t say a word. Sena’s stomach turned.


Sena turned her head. Oh, that was just her phone. She felt around for it in the dim morning light.

“Hello?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Wrong number. Goodbye,” the caller on the other line said. Sena sighed and dropped her shoulders. Just a wrong number, huh? She looked down at her husband half-asleep.

“It was just a wrong number,” Sena said.

He could hear screaming. It’s a woman’s voice. She was in pain. He knew why.

“It’s not my fault,” Kiku said. “It’s not my fault!”

“You killed me.”

The Japanese man turned around. Another woman stood inches away. She was dressed up like a bride. Blood streamed from her black-hole eyes. Her mouth was coming unstitched.

“Murderer…” she said. She walked towards him like a zombie doll. It looked like her flesh was rotting off.

“I don’t know you,” Kiku said.

“Liar,” the woman said. Her voice sounded like a broken mechanical bird. A squeak sound came out from her vocal chords. Fingers caressed Kiku’s back. His eyes looked behind him. Red eyes stared back at him.

Kiku’s body shook on the outside.

“Honey?” Sena asked. “Honey?” He started making gasping noises. She panicked as she looked for her phone.

“Come on. Come on!” she muttered to herself. Sena finally found her phone. She dialed for the hospital.

“119, what is your emergency?” the operator asked. Sena pressed her lips together.

“It’s my husband,” she said. “He’s having one of his fits.” Her eyes moved back and forth. Kiku stared up at her with big eyes.

“Is he breathing?” the operator asked.

“Yes!” Sena shouted. Her voice disappeared into muffled sounds.

The smell of death lingered overhead. Kiku covered his nose. The rotting bride started to bleed from her mouth.

“Your end is near…” she whispered. The hands clawed at his back. Her nails touched his spine. Kiku sucked in a mouthful of air.

“Please…” he pleaded.

“Please what?” another woman asked. Kiku didn’t wish to look up. Drip. Drip. Drip. Cold drops landed on his head.

“Spare me?” he asked. Laughter bounced around everywhere.

“Spare you? Why should we?” the women asked. Kiku froze as his wrists and ankles turned black.

The EMT’s arrive. Kiku can barely see anything now. The men taking him had to hold their breaths as they carried him away. One of them started asking Sena questions.

“Has he been bathing lately?” he asked.

“Of course,” she said. “I help him bathe every day.” She noticed the odd look on his face.

“What? I have been taking care of him! Don’t look at me like that,” Sena said.

“Ma’am, I didn’t say anything like that,” the EMT said. Sena glared at him.

“I am taking care of him,” she said.

“I didn’t say that you weren’t.”

“You made it sound like I did.”

“I assure you that wasn’t the intention.”

“Came off that way.” Sean snorted and rolled her eyes. Meanwhile, Kiku went into the back of an ambulance. His head sank deeper into hell.

Fire burned under the blackened ground. Kiku felt like he was choking.

“Don’t you see?” that damned woman whispered behind him. “The world is unrevealing. I will be free again.” Kiku frantically shook his head.

“No… No…” he said. She licked his ear.

“It’s too late. We’re almost ready to be free,” she said. The blackened ground started getting hotter. It felt like knives stabbing his feet. Kiku’s hands, feet, back, and forehead started turning black. His throat tightened up. The Japanese man’s eyes moved behind him. Her smile revealed rows upon rows of fangs.

It would take about three hours to get to the hospital. Traffic wasn’t too bad tonight. Sena held Kiku’s hand the whole ride.

“Stay with me, baby,” she said. “We’ll get you the help you need!” Kiku stared at her with dead eyes. He could barely see her anymore. Her voice disappeared between the screaming and static noises. Sena’s face resembled a creepy mask. Kiku gasped as his body started shaking.

“Baby?” she asked. EMT’s got to work trying to stabilize him. Kiku took a deeper gasp. He couldn’t hear his wife screaming out to him.

The bride’s body started to fall to pieces. Blood appeared through the cracks.

“You did this to me! You did this to me!” she screamed. “You must pay! You must pay!” Her body fell to pieces before Kiku’s eyes. He couldn’t scream out. The nails in his sunk in deeper. Blood ran from his eyes.

“For… give… me…” he whispered. His body went limp. Her nails left his spine. He collapsed in her arms. She held his head to her chest. It all slowly became dark.

Kiku would end up in the hospital for the rest of summer and early fall. Sena sat by his side. Her husband kept mumbling something in his sleep.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”

Sena moved her hand to her chest. What was really going on here?

She looked up when there was a knock on the door. An old lady stood in the doorway. She leaned on a wooden crane with her eyes on Kiku. Sena tilted her head.

“What?” she asked. The old lady shook her head.

“Your husband is cursed,” she said. “The Woman in Red is spreading her poison in his body.” Usually, Sena would’ve told someone like this off. But something about this woman told her to take notice.

“Who are you?” the younger woman asked.

“Can I come in and talk to you?” the old lady asked.

“I guess…” Sena said.

“Thank you,” the old woman said. She closed the door behind her.

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