Halo Fifteen: Misery:
Chiharu lay on the ground still out of it. Masaomi looked up at Mikado.
“What did you say?” he asked. Mikado didn’t budge.
“She’s not human anymore,” he said.
“You’re kidding,” Masaomi said. The tadpole said nothing. Masaomi started to say something, but then turned back to Chiharu.
“What was that?” he asked. Chiharu’s lips murmured as she spoke. The boys still heard her so clearly.
“Please!” Tears started to form in her eyes. “It’s the only way.”
“What are you talking about?” Masaomi asked. Chiharu started trembling.
“If I turned into a monster, you have to promise that you will kill me,” she begged.
“Chiharu…” Masaomi said.
“No!” she shouted. “You have to kill more before I turn into a monster! Kill me and dispose of my body!”
“What are you talking about?” he asked. “You’re not making any sense.” Chiharu trembled as she spoke.
“It’s the only way,” she said. “I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to become a monster again.”
“We won’t let that happen,” Masaomi said.
“I’m afraid it’s too late,” Mikado said in a low voice. His friend gave him a shocked look.
“Mikado, what are you saying?” he asked. The tadpole walked over and knelt down in front of Chiharu.
“However, you and I can still fight this,” Mikado added. “We can’t let the people who did this to win, do you understand?” Tears ran down Chiharu’s cheeks.
“I’m just tired,” she said.
“Is there anything we can do for you?” Mikado asked.
“Don’t take me back to the hospital,” she said. “I want to go home.”
“Okay, we can do that,” Masaomi said.
“Thank you,” Chiharu whispered. Mikado and Masaomi helped her to her feet and made the long trip to her apartment. Mikado noticed that he couldn’t hear her thoughts anymore.
Satsu sat down at her laptop in the early morning hours. Aoi was sound asleep in their bed. Lately, the girlfriend wasn’t too happy with the macabre material on DeathVine. Aoi treated her like she had a contiguous virus.
“What’s the matter, baby?” Satsu asked. She reached out to touch her arm. Aoi reeled back. She quickly shook head.
“Come on,” Satsu said.
“You have to stop,” Aoi complained.
“Excuse me?” her girlfriend asked. Aoi looked up with desperate eyes.
“You’re scaring me when you watch those horrible videos every night,” she said. Satsu raised her eyebrow.
“What are you talking about?” she asked. “I’m still here. You haven’t lost me. Come on…” Aoi kept her eyes on her burger and fries. Satsu sat back and sighed. Why couldn’t her girlfriend understand her anymore? Aoi used to be cool with the dark and gory things. She didn’t complain as much as she does now.
Satsu tried to push all of that out of her head and logged into her laptop. She took a quick look behind her. Aoi was sound of asleep. Satsu slowly breathed out. Best to make this latest trip as quick as possible. She clicked her browser on the desktop. Right away, a chat notification popped up on the right-hand side of her screen. They asked for a chat. Satsu didn’t recognize the user name.
“Who’s Pennywise 87?” she asked herself. She clicked “accept”. The chat box popped up.
Queen of Darkness: Hello?
Satsu waited for a response. This Pennywise 87 person looked to be online. She took another look behind her. Aoi turned over in bed. The laptop light glowed against her long blonde hair. Even through the worry and complaining, Aoi wouldn’t leave her. Satsu couldn’t help but smile to herself. Such a good girl, thought. A soft ping in her earbuds drew her attention back to her screen. Pennywise was on the move.
Pennywise 87: Good evening.
Okay, starting off simple. Looks safe so far.
Queen of Darkness: How are you tonight?
Pennywise 87: I need some help.
Satsu narrowed her eyes at the screen. Huh?
Queen of Darkness: What do you mean?
Pennywise took their time typing. Satsu waited with bated breath. Something in her told her to log out as fast she could.
Pennywise 87: I have an offer for you. I am part of this group for Fenrir. We are awaiting the apocalypse to be brought in by the Woman in Red. We are looking for new members.
Satsu had a confused look at the screen. Where did this come from? It felt like a left turn into OZ.
Queen of Darkness: Is this some online game?
Pennywise 87: No.
Queen of Darkness: RP?
Pennywise 87: No.
Queen of Darkness: LARP?
Pennywise 87: No.
Queen of Darkness: Look, I am not joining some cult. I don’t believe in that shit. I have school and my girlfriend to think about.
Pennywise 87: We are not a cult.
Satsu gave the screen an odd look. What was this person talking about? Surely this couldn’t be some prank at her expense, could it? She took a deep breath as she started typing.
Queen of Darkness: Is this some kind of a joke?
There was a pause. Then, Pennywise started typing.
Pennywise 87: Do you think we are joking here?
They attached a short video clip to their response. Curious, Satsu clicked on the video. A woman sat on her knees in her bra and panties. She had a sack over her head. The clip was grainy and had static jumps. Satsu rolled her eyes. Oh great, a cult ritual. This is not original. Suddenly, a person in black stood over the woman with a knife in their hand. They raised the knife above their head. But then, the footage cut to black. For three seconds, there was nothing. Suddenly, a loud growling noise ripped through her ears. No, more like growling and a sped-up voice of a child singing loudly. Satsu jumped so fast that she about fell about of her chair. She sat back, panting.
“What the hell?” Satsu whispered to herself. Pennywise 87 had already logged off. She jumped up, logged out of the chat app, and shut down her laptop. Satsu turned to Aoi sound asleep in their bed. She walked and climbed in. Satsu pulled the sheets over her shoulders as she trembled.
“Maybe I should stay off of the creepy stuff for a while,” she said to herself. But why did she get the feeling that this wasn’t over?
Chiharu lay asleep in her bed. Mikado and Masaomi got her home safely. To their surprise, Tatsuya wouldn’t make her go back to the hospital.
“Just get her to her room,” he said.
“Okay,” the boys said. The three of them helped Chiharu to her room and put her to bed. She ended up sleeping off the rest of the morning.
Hours later, her phone rang. Chiharu reached around for her phone.
“Hello?” she asked.
“Good morning, Chiharu-chan! Or should I say F?” Junko said on the other line. The girl sat up straight in her bed.
“You!” she snapped.
“How are you feeling today?” the nurse asked.
“Really bad no thanks to you,” Chiharu grumbled. Junko laughed over the phone.
“There, there,” she said. “You’ve just been through the worst part. It’s all just beginning.”
“What are you talking about?” the girl asked.
“You must be getting hungry soon,” Junko said. “You have to feed. And I don’t mean human food either.”
“Huh?” Chiharu asked. Suddenly, a sharp wave of pain shot through her stomach. She took in slow breaths before gasping.
“Do you feel it?” Junko asked. “It’s the hunger! You will need to feed. Not people food mind, but flesh and blood.” The girl’s eyes grew big at first.
“Oh hell no!” she screamed.
“That’s how it is with angels,” the nurse said. Chiharu had confused look on her face.
“Angel?” she asked. “What are you talking about? What the hell did you do to me?!” The girl sank as the pain ripped through her stomach again.
“We will talk later,” Junko said. She hung up before Chiharu could complain. The girl gritted her teeth as she looked at her phone. Another wave of pain ripped through her stomach. She huddled over, grinning the skin and screaming.
A girl with long black hair and glasses stared at Sota at her coffee table in the living room. What was with this boy? He just showed up beside her just as she was about to go into her apartment. Yesterday was supposed to be her last day. She had it all mapped out. One more happy day with her friends. They sang karaoke. The whole time she smiled while fighting back tears. She’d never get see them again, but she told herself that it was for the best for everyone.
“You guys are my best friends,” she told them. Once they bid goodbye, from the karaoke bar, she would go home. The girl would write her suicide note and hang herself. Her parents were gone for the weekend. (Not they would’ve cared.) She’d have her phone off and the house disconnected. No more pain. No more suffering. It would all go black. Such a simple plan.
Then, he came into the picture.
The girl had just unlocked the door when she heard footsteps stopping next to her. She turned to see a boy with short dark hair under a blue and white helmet.
“Yo!” he said, waving. The girl blinked at him.
“Uh… can I help you?” she asked. Sota looked around for a bit before leaning in.
“I know what you are planning to do,” he said in a low voice. The girl gave him a strange look.
“What are you talking about?” she asked.
“Do you really think suicide will make anything better?” he asked. The girl’s eyes grew wide as the color drained from her face.
“H-H-How did you know?!” she asked. “Are you here to stop me?”
“Yes,” Sota said without blinking. Now, he just won’t leave. Today, he sat in front of her, drumming his fingers on the surface of the coffee table.
“How long are you staying by me like this?” the girl asked.
“Until you decide not to kill yourself,” Sota said.
“And what if I don’t?” she asked.
“Then I will keep staying with you until you do,” he said. The tadpole wasn’t playing when he said that. The poor girl shivered.
“Who are you?” she asked. Sota smiled and put his hands behind his head.
“Sota,” he said. “And you are?” The girl lowered her eyes as she looked down at the table.
“Shizue,” she mumbled. The tadpole boy smiled. Shizue shivered as she looked down at her hands. He had no plans of leaving this girl.
Celty was riding home after more experiments at Yagiri Pharmaceuticals. (She had to stay on another floor from the tadpoles while they had their own tests on them.) The building didn’t feel right to her anymore. The dullahan felt cold spots at every corner. She could’ve sworn she saw a little girl running by in the hallway. None of the staff ever brought their children to work. Celty wasn’t the only one either.
“It’s always cold around the office,” Emilia said once she wrapped up Celty’s latest test.
[Is it the thermostat?], Celty typed.
“No,” the researcher said. “The maintenance guy said everything looked fine. That’s not the only thing either.”
[What do you mean?], Celty typed. Emilia shook her head.
“It’s really hard to say,” she said. “But we always feel sick when we walk into this building. Two of the researchers are constantly having nose bleeds when they arrive. Shingen and I keep having headaches too. Then, there is the whispering.”
“Yes. We can’t make out what they are saying, but the recordings keep picking up something in the odd hours of the morning.”
All of this didn’t sit well with Celty. She began to think back to what Mika said earlier this month.
“They are going faster with their game than they have done in the past,” she said. Remembering that filled the dullahan with a sense of urgency.
But then, she noticed that she wasn’t alone much longer.
Celty had just pulled up to her apartment complex when she spotted a woman in a white and red dress smoking a cigarette. Her giant silver hammer leaned next to her. Her white hair came down to her shoulders. Celty had a confused look on her non-existent face as she carried off of Shooter and approached the woman. Just by looking at her something seemed off.
[Excuse me, are you waiting for somebody?] Celty typed on her PDA. The woman glanced over at her but said nothing. Her eyes looked so empty. Did she even see Celty’s message?
[Who are you and what are you doing here?] the transporter typed. The woman took a drag before lowering her cigarette.
“Oh, you’re home early,” she said.
[What does that even mean? What are you doing here? Who are you?] It was then Celty had that uneasy tingling feeling in her stomach from when she was in Yagiri Pharmaceuticals.
[Wait… What are you?] Celty typed.
“I am a white demon,” the woman said at last. “But I am nobody.” She put out her cigarette and picked up her hammer. Celty shivered as the demon walked straight past her. Before she left, the woman looked over her shoulder.
“Oh and there is one more thing, Sturluson-san,” she said. “There will be stronger demons coming to Ikebukuro.” And with that, she was gone. The first thing Celty did after that was run up to the apartment to check on Shinra.
Chiharu sat on the bedroom floor, panting. Food lay scattered and half-chewed. Junko was right. The angel couldn’t have people food anymore. Chiharu spent the morning at the 7-11 buying so much food to defy her new captor. She tried to eat anything and everything but ended up throwing it up. Chips, pocky, bread, cooked meat, sushi, fruit, vegetables, and chocolate. Her body couldn’t take it. She couldn’t even eat her favorite meal of Japanese-style hamburger. It didn’t help that the pain in her stomach was getting worse.
She let out a pain-filled scream as she grabbed her head. All of F’s memories started to fill her head. And it was only going to get worse in three days’ time.