Halo Two: Chiharu:
Chiharu rubbed her forehead in class. The pain’s been getting worse. Last night, she couldn’t sleep. She had the sensation of little spiders crawling all over her body. She’d lay under her sheets sweating. If Chiharu pushed off the blanket, she would find herself freezing. Pulling up the blanket didn’t help because she would go back to sweating buckets. Even now, it felt like the classroom was closing in on her.
“Chi? Chi? Chi?”
She glanced up to see Masaomi waving his hand in front of her face.
“Hello?” he asked. “Anybody home?” Chiharu blinked at first. Masaomi frowned as he saw her sweating and breathing heavily through her nose.
“You okay?” he asked.
“No,” she said in a growl-whimper. She sighed as she rubbed her forehead. Kida sat down in front of her.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I… I don’t know,” Chiharu said. “I haven’t been sleeping too well. I didn’t even sleep last night. I keep smelling blood everywhere I go. My headaches are getting worse. I can’t even get myself to eat at times.”
“You smell blood?” Kida asked. “Why?” Chiharu groaned as she shook her head.
“I don’t know!” she said. Some of their classmates started staring at them.
“What?!” she snapped. Everyone else quickly returned to what they were doing. Chiharu looked down at her desk.
“Think you should see a doctor?” Masaomi asked. She looked up at him, glaring.
“There is no way I’m going to see that bitch!” she snapped.
“I’m not talking about Junko,” he whispered. “I mean your doctor.” Chiharu blinked for a second.
“Ah,” she said. “Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks, Kida.”
“No problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Junko stood in the hallway eavesdropping. Already, the windows turned in her head on how to get her main test subject back. The nurse walked back to her office.
“Etsuko!” Junko said in a cheerful tone as she knocked on the doctor’s door at the hospital. “I need a little help with something.” Her colleague rolled her eyes as she didn’t look up from her computer.
“I thought I told you not to show up at my workplace,” she said.
“This is the only way to reach your outside of Rampo,” Junko said. She closed the door behind her. “You never answer your phone.”
“That’s because I’m working with patients,” Etsuko said.
“Never mind that,” the nurse said. “I need you to help me out with something.” Her colleague didn’t look up from her computer.
“What?” she asked.
“Oh, just a little bit of dirt on a particular doctor here,” Junko said. Etsuko stopped typing on the keyboard.
“May I ask why?” she asked.
“Oh, I just need some juicy dirt to push my end of the game along,” the nurse said. The words “push my end of the game along” dropped into a whisper as she got closer. Etsuko turned around.
“Are you saying that…?” she asked.
“What choice do I have?” Junko asked. “There’s no way that little brat will trust me to get close to her.”
“What did you say?” Etsuko asked. The nurse groaned and rolled her eyes.
“That girl won’t trust me to give her drug, so I have to give it to her another way,” she said, this time much slower.
“Oh,” the doctor said.
“I have to get her back,” the nurse said. “Now that the game is open for us to move forward, the chance fell right into my lap. I have to take it now.”
“Okay, okay,” Etsuko said. “Who do you want me to look up?”
“I just want to know who Hashimoto Chiharu’s doctor is,” Junko said, leaning over her shoulder at the computer. The doctor frowned at her.
“Can you please back up?” she asked.
“Oh, sorry,” Junko said. She backed up a few steps.
“Thank you,” Etsuko said. She turned to the computer and got right to work.
Shizumu-sensei stood in the hallway, trembling. That one little visit last night felt like a gun to his back. He was about to go home for the night. The doctor had plans for a hot meal, bath, and going to sleep. That plan became up-ended when he encountered Junko in the parking lot. She stood staring at him, smirking. At first, the doctor didn’t pay much attention as he walked by her.
“Shizumu-sensei!” the nurse spoke up. He stopped in his tracks.
“Yes?” the doctor asked. Junko broke into a little smile.
“I won’t take up too much of your time,” she said. “But, I need you to give a certain patient a special tonic of mine.” The nurse pulled out a small brown bottle with no label on it. Her target took a step back.
“What?” Shizumu-sensei asked. “I can’t do that. That’s unethical. I can’t drug a patient with an unknown drug.”
“Unethical, huh?” she asked. “Just like your little fling with an Awakusu executive’s wife?” Shizumu-sensei froze.
“Wait! How do you know about…?!” he said as all of the color drained from his face. Junko smiled and shook her head.
“That’s not all,” she said. The nurse narrowed her eyes. “Tell me, has Masako been having strange food cravings?”
“Huh?” he asked.
“Tired all the time? Feeling nauseated? Swollen tender breasts?”
Shizumu-sensei’s eyes widened as he covered his mouth. “Are you saying that she’s pregnant?”
“So I am right!” Junko said. “Oh, that’s bad for you. I wonder who the father is. Her husband or you.” As she spoke, Shizumu-sensei looked like his soul left his body. Junko leaned in close to his ear.
“If it’s yours, you know you are screwed, right?” she whispered. That last little bit was the knife to the chest. Junko pulled away looking like an angel in black.
“We’ll be in touch,” she told him. It got worse when he mistress called him as soon as he got home. Said that she needed to talk to him. Told him to meet up at their usual bar. Maybe it wouldn’t be about that…
All hopes were dashed when she showed him the multiple pregnancies tests. Shizumu-sensei gulped.
“Is the baby… mine?” he asked.
“I don’t know!” his mistress wailed. “My husband wants to me to keep it. He’s excited to be a dad.” She buried her head in her hands.
“But he doesn’t know about us, does he?” the doctor asked.
“Well… what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know!” His mistress groaned. “This is bad.” About three in the morning, Shizumu-sensei’s phone rang.
“H-H-Hello?” he asked, trembling in his doorway.
“Sensei!” Junko said.
“How did you get this number?”
“I have some really good friends. Anyway, are you ready to help me out?”
Shizumu-sensei sank to his knees looking so pale. “Yes! Please help me! I’ll do anything you say! Tell me what to do!”
Shizumu-sensei took a deep breath and put on a brave face as he walked into the doctor’s office. “Good morning, how has school been for you?” Chiharu looked up at him through her pain.
“Good,” she said. The doctor sat down in front of her.
“Your brother still trying to find a husband?” he asked. His patient groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Please don’t remind me,” she said.
“I take it he’s doing well too?”
He had to keep up the familiarity to put off suspicion. The doctor could risk his job and end up killing Chiharu by this drug Junko gave him.
“How frequent have your headaches been?” Shizumu-sensei asked.
“Daily,” Chiharu said. “I feel like I’m going to throw up at times. Sometimes, I can’t even bring myself to eat.” Shizumu-sensei typed up the additional symptoms on his computer.
“Any tiredness?” he asked.
“I haven’t been sleeping for days now. I feel like I am burning up under the sheets. When I take them off, I am freezing. I put the sheet back on and I am burning up again. And I keep smelling blood.”
The doctor raised an eyebrow. “You smell blood?” He shook his head. “Never mind, I would like to run tests on you starting with drawing a sample of your blood if that is okay.”
“I’ll take anything at this point,” Chiharu said. The doctor chuckled.
“Let’s just start with the blood test, shall we?” he asked. “In the meantime, I want to try to give you something for the headaches and insomnia.” He reached into his coat and pulled out the small brown bottle.
“What is that?” Chiharu asked.
“It’s a small herbal tonic,” Shizumu-sensei said. “They are still testing in the lab. I just picked up the sample today. Now I have to warn you, this stuff is strong. The smell alone can make you dizzy. I would suggest that you take it at night.” He had to sell this. As long as Chiharu took the bottle, his secret would be safe. All he would have to do if pray that the child wasn’t his. If he was…
His patient took the bottle. “Thank you.” Shizumu-sensei breathed out in his mind.
“Thank you,” he said. “The nurse will show you to out to get your blood drawn.” The doctor returned to his computer and wrote down the information.
“Okay, thank you,” Chiharu said. She bowed and turned to the nurse waiting in the doorway. Shizumu-sensei practically held his breath as he heard the footsteps walking away. Once they were gone, he pulled out his phone. Shizumu-sensei held his breath.
“It’s done,” he typed.
The doctor hit send. Seconds later, Junko replied back a thumbs up sticker. Shizumu-sensei breathed out and slumped in his chair. Now, he would have to wait for nine months to see if he was going to be a father or not.
Meanwhile, Chiharu had her blood drawn and made her way to the check out desk. After making another appointment for herself, she went home.
The rest of the day went by normal. But, Chiharu couldn’t shake the feeling that her doctor of fourteen years was acting strange. He seemed to be nervous about something. Shizumu-sensei appeared to be forcing himself to be friendly. Chiharu looked at her full-length mirror with the little bottle in her hand.
Trial drug for my headaches and insomnia, huh? She was willing to try anything at this point.
Chiharu twisted the plastic cap off of the bottle. Instructions told her to drink the whole thing. The smell was pungent enough to make her head spin.
“Ugh!” she shouted. “Yuck! What the hell?” Chiharu frowned as she looked at the bottle. How would this taste? But her pounding head reminded her that she had no choice. She closed her eyes and pinched her nose. She took one gulp.
Chiharu collapsed back onto her bed. She was out like a light.
Hours later, Chiharu stirred away. To her surprise, her head didn’t hurt.
“Wow!” she said. “I feel better.” She looked over at the clock on her nightstand. The time read six in the morning.
“Oh shit!” Chiharu shouted. She leapt off of her bed and hurried to get ready for school. The empty bottle lay on its side on the light brown rug.