Halo Twenty-Two: Satoru:
Satoru stood around an empty white room.
“He’s good at piecing things together,” Kitano said, watching him. “Maybe too good.” Etsuko worked to patch him.
“Damn it, Katsuhiro!” she complained. “Why didn’t you get to a hospital?!” The therapist shrugged.
“He was just there,” he said. “Plus, I didn’t have my phone on me.” The doctor sighed.
“We’ve talked about this,” she said.
“I know, I know,” he said. His work partner was the only one who could get away with scolding him for messing up. After all, she had been with him since the birth of the Tandeki Group. Etsuko looked into the room next door.
“So what do we do with him?” she asked. “This is as far as he’s seen of the building. What did you say that he wanted again?”
“He’s looking for his sister,” Kitano whispered. “He showed me the text telling him to come to me. I think I might know how the sister might be.”
“So what do you plan to do with him?” Etsuko asked.
“You know something,” he said. “I think I might have just solved two of our problems.”
“Heh?” Etsuko asked. Meanwhile, Satoru stood around in the other room, waiting.
Megumi spotted Koizumi at his table with several women. He sat in the center laughing and drinking. Two of the women were rubbing on his exposed chest. Megumi wrinkled her nose as his gold chain. Let’s see… one… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight women crawling all over this creep. Well, except for this one.
A girl about nineteen years old sat at the edge of the table, sighing. She had to be about eighteen or nineteen years old. Probably her first time out here in the party scene. This girl looked rather out of place in this pounding club. In fact, she looked kind of timid behind her heavy make-up. She didn’t look too comfort in her short black dress. The girl didn’t pick up her drink. She looked down at her hands, probably wishing that she was anywhere but here. Megumi narrowed her eyes. Something about that girl begged her not to leave. Was she the one calling out to her?
Megumi’s eyes looked at the women at the table. They looked too busy fawning over him and getting drunk. Koizumi basked in the attention surrounding him. The tadpole dropped her shoulders and cursed herself. If it wasn’t them, then who was it? The uneasy girl at the end of the table got and headed towards the bathrooms in the club. The apartment owner looked up and noticed her leave. He excused himself from his women and followed after the uneasy girl. His harem whimpered under the flashing lights. Koizumi held out his arms as he spoke.
“Don’t worry ladies,” he said. “Papa will be back to keep you company.” Megumi rolled her eyes. Couldn’t this asshole get any cheesier? Then, he bowed and walked down the hall. Right away, the tadpole ended up following him down the hall too.
It then Megumi noticed that something didn’t look right about the girl. She started to look like she could barely stand up. She leaned against the wall to catch her breath. Megumi narrowed her eyes. She didn’t see the girl take a drink. Did she drink before Megumi found the table? The uneasy girl was about to fall when Koizumi caught her. She mumbled something almost unintelligible. The creep tried to lean in a kiss her. His victim couldn’t fight back with him pinning her to the wall.
“Please…” the girl pleaded. She began to lose consciousness. Koizumi caught her before she fell on him. He put her arm over his shoulders and hauled her away with him through the backway of the club. Megumi wrinkled her nose.
“What a creep,” she said to herself. The tadpole still wouldn’t lose sight of the pair.
She trailed them back to the apartment complex where Naomi lived. Megumi put her hand to the gate.
Megumi rubbed her forehead as she shuddered. She wished that she could have powerful eyes like Madoka in cases like this. The tadpole didn’t have time to mess around. She closed her eyes and vanished from the apartment gates. Megumi listened for the pair as appeared on the top floor. The quiet made it worse than the situation already was. She didn’t stop walking the whole time.
Come on… Come on…
Her ears finally caught the sound of a zipper. Megumi turned her head.
“There!” she said. The tadpole made her way to apartment 871. She pounded on the door.
“Go away!” a man’s voice yelled. Megumi pounded harder on the door.
“Go away!” the man yelled again. Megumi wouldn’t stop pounding on the door. The man sighed as he zipped up.
“Coming!” the man shouted. Megumi stepped back as the door opened. Koizumi stared at her frowning before his eyes widened.
“It’s you,” he said in a whisper.
“Is my friend here?” Megumi asked. Koizumi gave her a strange look.
“Friend?” he asked.
“Yeah, short blonde hair and tight black dress,” she said. “Heavy make-up and looking really cute.” Koizumi looked calm on the surface. Oh shit! How did this bitch find me? I thought that I was being careful! I have to get rid of this bitch fast!
“No,” he said. “Good night.” Koizumi tried to close the door in her face, but Megumi was quick to grab the heavy metal.
“What the…?!” he asked.
“Are you sure?” Megumi asked.
“Yes, now please leave, damn it!” the apartment owner shouted. Low groaning came from inside the living room. Megumi looked over Koizumi’s shoulder and saw that girl lying on the couch on her back. She was rubbing her head as she looked down to see her dress rolled up and her underwear missing. Megumi glared at the apartment owner. Koizumi started seeing red as he snorted.
“It’s not what it looks like,” he said. Megumi was about to speak when that voice rang through her head again.
The voice came through screaming this time. It screamed so loud that Megumi about jumped. She looked up at the roof. It all started to make sense. The tadpole turned and ran towards the roped-off old iron stairs that led to the roof.
“Hey!” Koizumi yelled. He took off running after her. Megumi climbed over the rope and ran up the stairs. She made her way up to the giant brown water tower. Megumi climbed up the weak metal ladder to the heavy door. To her surprise, she had herself able to open it up with ease. When Megumi looked inside, her jaw dropped. The bloated and pale body of Ono Jade floated inside. She was sitting up in place surrounded by the cold water. How long had the missing woman been down there? Megumi covered her nose as she tried not to puke.
But suddenly a heavy hand pushed her into the water. Megumi didn’t get a chance to look up as a heavy hand tried to hold her down. She tried to panic as she heard Koizumi panicking in his head.
I can’t let this cunt go to the police! I am not going to prison!
Megumi tried to swim out of his grasp in vain. But then, an arm reached up and grabbed onto Koizumi’s arm and pulled him inside. Megumi swam up to the open surface and climbed out of the water tower. Once she got down to the lobby, the tadpole phoned the police.
Hours later, the bodies of Ono Jade and Koizumi Gihei would be fished out of the water tank. The neighbors had no idea. This would explain why the water in the apartment complex smelled and tasted bad for months. Megumi could already put the narrative of what happened to Ono Jade all those months ago. She sneered as she walked away.
The little girl with the scar on her right scar chowed down on her sandwich. The cook sat across from the table, watching her.
“So… where are you from?” he asked. The little girl looked up, silent. That pause lasted for about ten seconds.
“Where are your parents?” the cook asked. No answer.
“Where did you come from?” No answer.
“What were you doing wandering around in the rain last night?” No answer.
“What is your name?” No answer. The child finished off her sandwich. The cook sat back, frowning. He probably should call the police. But what should he tell them? He just met her last night and she seemed to be eating the restaurant empty. Speaking of which, he had never seen a little girl with such a big appetite in his life. Right now, the child looked like she wanted another sandwich. The cook nervously laughed as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Are you hungry again?” he asked. The child’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. She never said a word but understood when it was time to eat. The cook sighed and shook his head.
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll get you another sandwich. Wait here.” The little girl watched as he disappeared back into the kitchen. She tilted her head as he got back to work.
Lately, it’s hard to get out of bed. For Kanna, it used to be the need to consume more alcohol. Hideki didn’t help the matter by locking up all of the booze in the house.
“Why did you have to do that?” she complained.
“I’m doing this for you,” her husband said. “We’re trying to get you to stop drinking.” Kanna groaned with her face in the pillow.
This was different.
The visions have been getting more frequent lately. Last night’s dream petrified her.
Ikebukuro was dying around her. The ground cracked with each step she took. The buildings looked like they were going to crumble at any moment. Kanna looked around under the burning orange sky.
“Hello?” she asked. “Where is everybody? Hello?” The echoes of her voice filled the crushing silence. There were no signs of life anywhere. The usually busy streets of Ikebukuro were dead and empty. Kanna put her hand to her chest. Her throat began to close up as it felt like the bottoms of her feet were on fire. The air seemed to be crushing her body. Her black kimono seemed to be crushing her body.
“Mama,” a little boy’s voice said back in reality. Juichi stood in front of her face. He had a concerned look on his face. Kanna gave him a tired smile and patted him on the head.
“What’s wrong, Mama?” Juichi asked. Kanna shook her head.
“Mama’s just tired,” she said. She couldn’t tell her husband about what was going on. He would probably think that she was drinking again. Ironically, alcohol would be so helpful right now. Kanna broke down trembling.
Her therapy session would be in a few hours. Aya will only make things even worse. Kanna pulled her sheets over her head. I don’t want to go to therapy.
Hideki will make her go anyway.
The tadpoles are all having the same dream.
People walk around in the crowd around them. They all look the same with no emotion on their face. The tadpoles look around in desperation, trying to get anyone’s attention. They shout and shout, but the people walk by without even looking at them. Said people have no expressions on their faces.
Then, the pain kicks in.
They have been used to the pain from Chou Mori and the currents experiments. But this pain could not compare in this crowd of apathic people. The tadpoles sink to their knees, screaming and begging for help. But, the people do not hear them. They have their hands over their ears and keep walking. More people walk by as the pain grows worse.
Ever since Megumi found Ono Jade’s body in that water tower and Madoka ran away from home, these dreams have been playing on a loop over the past five nights. This didn’t feel like a vision of the future. More like a symbol of what life was turning into for them now.
None of the tadpoles can escape this nightmare. Tonight will be no different.
More demons have taken over the city. The worst part was they looked human. These demons were skilled in blending in with the people around them. They had to hunt their prey and take over bodies. By now, the bakeneko weren’t alone. They were responsible for the mischief they caused around Ikebukuro, but they never intended on any serious malicious. Not yet at least. It’s almost like they were waiting for permission to act. They might get that once the seventh gate is opened.
There are still were demons waiting to cross into the living world. They have plans for the normals and the tadpoles once they get out. The demons already in Ikebukuro have already started acting on their plans as summer waits to greet them. By now, more humans are starting to notice that something isn’t right. The children have known it all along. Their parents are starting to take them seriously and keep them protected. But, the adults knew that wasn’t going to last long. Just like the bakeneko might know that their waiting might be over soon.
The stronger demons have already started acting on their plans. They can’t wait to do more when the last gate is opened. But, it needed to be found first.
Around three in the morning, Satoru looked up when he heard the heavy door opening. That young woman in the oni mask stood staring at him. Her black jeans and t-shirt were actually clean for a change. She held her cleaver by her side. The woman in the mask didn’t make a sound. Satoru narrowed his eyes.
“Niko?” he asked. The woman froze as if her heart jumped up in her throat. Satoru’s eyes lit up with joy as relief washed over him.
“It is you!” he said. The young man rushed over and pulled her into a huge embrace. It appeared that that woman in mask didn’t know how to respond. Her cleaver slipped from her hand and dropped to the floor.