Caged Wonderland

Rokuyo

Halo Seven: Rokuyo:

Another six days would push more things forward into Tandeki’s twisted game. They seemed so mundane too. But they would cause a splash into increasing the damage of the security surrounding Ikebukuro.

-Monday-

Around three in the afternoon, Etsuko got a call from her office.

“Hello?” she asked.

“Asato-sensei,” Aya said on the other line. “I have a bit of a request to ask you.”

“What would that be?” Etsuko asked.

“You see, there is a certain patient of mine that needs an exorcism,” the therapist said. The doctor had a puzzled look on her face.

“And what does this have to do with me?” she asked. “Shouldn’t it be dealt with you and the other therapists?”

“That’s the thing,” Aya said. “Grandma interfered.”

“Oh no.”

“Yeah.”

“Let me guess, she thinks that the woman is possessed and wants an exorcism performed on her daughter-in-law?”

“Ding-ding!”

Etsuko groaned and rubbed her forehead. “Why are there still people who think mental illness is demon possession? What do you think is the problem?”

“Ah, judging by everything we have seen around the city, I can’t be too sure. Just listen to what the man has to say.”

“And why do you need me for this charade?”

Aya sighed over the other end. “Because a doctor has to be present for this exorcism.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Yes.”

Etsuko sighed and rubbed her forehead again. “I will see what I can do you.”

“Thank you. I sent him by your way. He should be by the hospital shortly. Junko is also coming along for back-up. At least she has some uses for something.”

“You’re welcome.” Etsuko hung up and rose from her desk.


Etsuko made her way out into the waiting room. Sure enough, the receptionist called her about a patient seeking help for his wife. The doctor found a man dressed in a t-shirt and jeans tapping his foot.

“Is that him?” Etsuko whispered to the receptionist.

“Yes, ma’am,” she whispered back.

“Thank you,” the doctor said. Etsuko walked over to the nervous man. “Excuse me, sir.” The man looked up with giant eyes.

“Are you a doctor?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said. “What seems to be the problem?” The man quickly looked around before lowering his eyes.

“It’s my wife,” he said in a low voice.

“What about her?” Etsuko asked. The man started biting on his hand again.

“Can we go somewhere private and talk?” he asked.

“Sure,” the doctor said. She led him to her office.


The man sat down in front of Etsuko’s desk.

“Describe what happened to your wife,” she said. “When did this happen?”

“Eight weeks ago, I woke up to my wife sitting in the corner, biting on her thumb, mumbling to herself,” he said. “I asked her what was wrong, but she didn’t answer. My wife is usually a happy and active person. Now, she won’t even leave her house.”

“Are you sure it isn’t a psychological break down?” Etsuko asked.

“Yes!” the man said. “She’s been locked up in her room for weeks from that moment on. My wife couldn’t eat. Every time, I tried to give her a meal, she would end up throwing it back up. But, she was still so hungry. Her body got weaker, but the hunger got stronger. All of the doctors in this district didn’t know what was wrong. And then…”

“Go on…” the doctor said. The man shivered as he grabbed onto his right arm.

“A couple of nights ago,” he said. “I woke up to hearing chomping noises. We didn’t have any pets and I had the door locked when I went to bed. Confused, I got out of bed and followed the sound down to the kitchen. Half-asleep, I found my wife sitting in front of the open fridge. I called her name, but she didn’t hear me. It donned on me that she was eating raw meat. I tried to stop her, but…” The man rolled up his right sleeve.

“She jumped at me and clawed at my arm,” he said. “My wife screamed at me like a wild animal. She was cursing at me looking like a wild demon. After that attack, I had her committed here.”

“Wait… When did this happen?” Etsuko asked.

“She’s been transferred from hospital to hospital because she would attack the staff,” he said. “They had to strap her down she started biting on her arm.” The doctor rubbed her forehead. Clearly, Aya didn’t tell her everything about this case.

“And your mother is convinced this is demonic possession?” Etsuko asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“And what do you think?” the doctor asked. The man rubbed his hair.

“I don’t care anymore!” he shouted. “I just want my wife back!” Etsuko gently shushed him.

“It’s okay,” she said. “We will try our best.”

“Thank you,” the man said in a whisper before lowering his head.


The following is the exorcism of Patient Ma. Names have been withheld to protect the family. The details are still a bit hazy to say in the least bit.

-7:00 p.m.-

The Buddhist priest set up the camera.

“What is that for?” Junko asked.

“To document everything for future teachings,” the priest said. Aya shot her a glare for asking such a question. Etsuko was prepared to break them up if they started fighting again. The small consisted of the priest, Patient Ma, Etsuko, Aya, Junko, the priest’s assistant, and nurse Joe Brooker. The husband waited in the hallway. The possessed patient lay strapped down in her bed. Already, she started growling and panting.

“I will need you all to stay back,” the priest said. “Understood?”

“Yes,” the witnesses said.

“Okay,” the priest said. “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” the witnesses answered. The priest and his assistant walked over to the growling woman.

“Alright,” the old man said. “Let us begin.”

Eight hours.

This exorcism lasted for eight hours. The priest and his assistant began chanting and throwing salt on Patient Ma. The demon inside of her howled loud enough to shake the empty ward. The husband tried to run into the room, Aya pushed him back.

“Don’t come in here,” she said. “Just let them work.”

“But…” he said. Aya pushed him back out of the room. The priest went back to work. Sweat began to form on his brow. His assistant fought to stay focused. At first, it started to get quiet. Patient Ma just lay on her bed in her restraints.

“Sensei…” the assistant said. The priest held out his arm.

“Wait,” he said. Patient Ma started laughing. She really did sound like a demon from hell.

“Fools!” the woman shouted. “Do you really think you can get rid of me? I would love to see you try! You can’t get rid of me! We are already here!” The Tandeki women raised their eyebrows.

“What do you mean we?” the priest asked. Patient Ma didn’t answer. Instead, she turned her head to Junko.

“Ah, dear Chiba-chan!” she said. “How is mommy doing? Yes, she ran away after she caught your dad in the arms of that woman. I wouldn’t blame her for ending their lives right there in that office!” The nurse gritted her teeth.

“That’s not true,” she hissed. “That’s not true!” Etsuko had to hold her back.

“Don’t let him get to you,” the doctor said. Patient Ma shrugged in her bindings.

“Heh,” she said. The possessed woman turned to Joe standing in the doorway. The English nurse shivered with big eyes. It all happened so fast that the priest didn’t have time to notice it. The only thing anyone noticed was Joe freezing up and fainting to the floor.

“Brooker!” Etsuko yelled, running over to the nurse. Patient Ma just collapsed back onto the bed with her eyes wide open. The assistant put his fingers to her neck.

“She’s dead,” he said.

“What?” Aya asked. Etsuko shook Joe while calling her name. The priest looked around at the scene, shaking his head before turning off the camera.

The story won’t end there.


-Tuesday-

-10:00 a.m.-

Minami Naoki looked at his phone. Where were those women who wanted to talk to him so badly? How did they even manage to track him down? He already had that creepy therapist calling him to check on his “progress” during each experiment. Did Naoki really need these women claiming to be like him wanting to talk to him too?

He looked around the McDonalds he was sitting in. He sat near the window so the women could see him. Good there were still people around left over from the morning rush. At least then they couldn’t try and pull anything on him. Naoki sighed.

They need to hurry up and get this over with. He rolled his eyes. But then, Naoki’s felt a shock rush down his spine as he froze. He slowly turned his head. Two women stood at the McDonalds entrance, looking as frozen as him.

It’s them. Naoki quickly waved his arm in the air. The woman in the pink sweater spotted him and nudged the woman in the short-sleeve lavender shirt to look up. The women hurried over to him. Naoki put up his hands.

“You found me,” he said. Megumi kind of smiled.

“You’re kind of cute,” she said. Naoki rolled his eyes.

“Whatever,” he muttered.

“Not very friendly, are you? Megumi asked.

“May we sit down?” Naomi asked. Naoki just shrugged her off. Naomi took a seat on the opposite side of him followed by Megumi.

“We are like you,” Naomi spoke up. “Let me show you.” She picked up a salt pack and opened it. The tadpole spilled it on the table and put her finger to the salt.

“What are you doing?” Naoki asked.

“Shhh,” Megumi whispered. The little gains of salt transformed into sand. The newer tadpole covered his mouth. Naomi drew back her finger and wiped away the blood from her nose.

“I change the elements in different objects,” she said. Naoki looked down at the sand and touched it himself.

“It really is sand,” he said. He looked up at the women.

“What can you do?” he asked Megumi.

“I kill people through sex,” she admitted in a quiet voice. “Sometimes, enslave them before.”

“Oh…” Naoki muttered. He tried to back away from her. Megumi threw back her head and groaned.

“Relax, I’m not going to sleep with you,” she said.

“Besides, we can’t use our powers on each other,” Naomi said.

“Ah,” Naoki said.

“What can you do?” Megumi asked. He closed his fist in his lap.

“Pick someone,” Naoki mumbled.

“What for?” Naomi asked.

“Pick someone so that I can show you,” he said.

“Okay,” Megumi said. “Why not him?” Naoki turned to see a salaryman talking loudly on the phone at the counter.

“Alright,” he said. He walked over to the man and tapped him on the shoulder. His target looked up and they chatted for a short time. Then, Naoki departed from the man and looked around for a moment. He spotted a college freshman girl sitting alone, crying over her food while she ate. Naoki walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. They talked for a little bit before Naoki returned back to his booth.

“What did you just do?” Naomi asked.

“I just took some of that guy’s luck and gave it to that girl over there,” he answered, pointing to the respective people he was talking about. The women gave him stunned looks.

“Just like that?” Megumi asked.

“Yeah,” Naoki said. “It’s why I don’t like to touch people.” Naomi gave him a gentle smile.

“We can take you to people who can help you,” she said. Naoki gave her a strange look.

“Why should I trust you?” he asked.

“What choice you have?” Megumi asked. “We’re all in the same boat, buddy.” Naoki just sat there and frowned.


-Wednesday-

-9:00 a.m.-

Yuka stood by her place next to the Heartseed plant while Kitano and Etsuko sat in a room behind a two-way mirror. This would be the last round of the interns and their augmentation experiments until further notice. It made Yuka feel a little sad inside. But, there would be more chances for experiments on their beloved tadpoles.

“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 fifth and final addition of the augmentations to the test subjects in this round.” She waited for a brief moment before resuming.

“Last time Iseki -san gave us his drug,” she said. “Who’s next?” Mei stepped forward.

“I am,” she said.

“What do you have for us today?” Yuka asked. Mei pushed her black bangs from her glasses as she reached into her shirt pocket.

“These right here,” she said. Mei handed a small orange bottle to her fellow intern Yuka turned the bottle around as she tried to look inside.

“And what is this?” she asked.

“This one is called Heracles,” Mei said in a low voice.

“What?” the other intern asked.

“Heracles,” Mei repeated.

“Right. And how many pills do I give each test subject?” Yuka asked.

“One,” the other intern said.

“Okay,” Yuka said. “Our final drug that will be administered into the augmentation experiment has been given to us by Aihara Mei whom has named her drug Heracles.” Yuka twisted the plastic white bottle cap. Everyone watched as each little flower was fed a brown pill. Yuka stepped back when the last flower closes.

“And now, we wait,” she said. The Heartseed glowed a bright brown. Yuka kept her eyes solely on the plant, wondering when the next experiment will take place.


Emilia was running the usual tests on the tadpoles’ blood samples when a notice popped up on her laptop. She clicked on the small box and read the message.

“Dear!” she shouted. “They are at it again!” Emilia ran out of the lab to look for Shingen. She found him next door.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Tandeki!” Emilia said. “They’ve started another experiment on the tadpoles!” Her husband ran after her into the lab. He too saw the notice on her laptop.

“Good work, honey,” he said. Emilia kissed him on the cheek. Shingen got on the phone to plan out the next experiment to see what the tadpoles could do now.

Meanwhile, the tadpoles already started to feel the changes.


-Thursday-

It looked like it was going to be a quiet day. Satoru was still looking around for his sister. He walked up to different strangers and ask if they had seen her. The answer would come back as no. Still, he wouldn’t give up.

Elsewhere, Mari stared at her laptop. Yoemon-sensei’s consciousness had taken over in a matter of three days. She couldn’t do much of anything on it than to decode that damned Dis Program. Sure, he needed her to turn on the laptop, but he took over everything from there. The dead professor looked at her from the screen and smiled.

“Aw, what’s the matter?” the old man asked. “Why are you so afraid of me?” Mari shivered as she looked at the screen. She assumed that he could see her via webcam above the screen. Her hands inched towards the keyboard.

“You creep me out,” Mari typed.

“Aw, I don’t mean to,” Yoemon-sensei said. “Let’s be working friends.” Mari blinked.

“Working friends?”

“Why not? You and I will be working together to cure Ikebukuro of its cancer.”

“What are you talking about? I never wanted to do any of this. I’m just a programmer.”

“Which is what makes you perfect for this game.”

“I never wanted to be part of this game in the first place!”

“Then why do you stay with your mother?”

Mari froze over her keyboard. She wanted to type that it was because she wanted to stay by Aya, but the more that thought about it, the more she wasn’t so sure anymore. She drew back her hand. Yoemon-sensei gave her a sympathetic look.

“Look,” the later professor said. “I understand how lonely you are. With this new world, all of your pain and loneliness can all go away.” But, she’s heard this before. Mari already knew what the outcome of the game could lead to. She just shook her head.

“I’m just tired,” Mari typed. She turned off the monitor and walked out of the room before Yoemon-sensei could respond.


-Friday-

-11:25 a.m.-

Tatsuya waited in the public library. As soon as he learned what was in Chiharu’s medication, he could find a better way to get her off of it. He looked at his phone.

“Come on,” he muttered. “Please hurry up, this is urgent.” He glanced up when he heard footsteps rushing to his table. A woman about his age with black pigtails and matching black-framed glasses stood in front of his table.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” she said. “Lab ran over time today.” Tatsuya put away his phone.

“It’s okay, Ikemi,” he said. “What do you have?” Ikemi sat down in front of him and reached into her bag. She set down the file in front of him. Tatsuya opened it and read the data.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ikemi said. “The formula from the traces inside the bottle is rather complex. Most of these ingredients are illegal and hard to come by almost everywhere. Whoever created this cocktail would have to have had years to learn about how to create something like this.”

“I see,” he said.

“Where did your sister get this medicine?” his friend asked.

“Her doctor gave it to her,” Tatsuya said.

“And where did he get it?”

“I have no idea.”

Ikemi made a face as she narrowed her. “And you told her stop?”

“Yes.” Tatsuya didn’t sound too certain when he gave his answer.

“Well then,” she said. “All I can tell you is to be careful.” Tatsuya nodded once.

“Well do,” he said. The friends parted ways.


-Saturday-

The little girl with the long red hair and scar over her right eye wondered around as made her way into the city. She took in the different sensations at her little bare feet. She first stepped on sand when she woke up in that empty playground. It felt so rough, so coarse at her little toes, but she enjoyed it. The little girl couldn’t help but smile. Next came the grass. Oh so cool, so soft. It quickly became her favorite thing to step on. She would love to step on grass every chance that she got. Mud became her second favorite thing to step on. Walking on dirt wasn’t as rough as walking on sand. Now, the little girl was walking on pavement. She wasn’t sure about how she felt about that one.

But, the little girl wasn’t focused on that at the moment.

She seemed to be looking around for something. Or someone. Many people noticed her, but she seemed to be lost in her own world. The little girl just kept walking.

She made into the city by nightfall. The little girl walked through with eyes on her. She wasn’t used to the bright lights and loud noises around her. The poor child broke down whining as turned down into a darkened alley. She took in slow, heavy breaths. The girl closed her good eye. She could feel her little heart beating against her chest.

But then, the child heard a loud chomping noise in the darkness.

The little girl opened her good eye and slowly turned her head. She followed the noise down the alley. She came a man in rags huddled over torn trash bag. The chomping started like a wild animal. The little girl stood on her tip toes quietly walked closer. Something inside of her warned her not to get closer. She should turn around and run away.

But then, she stepped into a puddle left over from last night’s rain.

The man whipped his head around. He was blue from head to toe with empty black eyes. This man had no hair on his head or face. Blood covered his face as he had his claws buried in rotting meat. The man opened his mouth and hissed. The blood on his fangs made the girl’s eyes, even the scarred one, grow wide.

She turned around and ran.

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