Chapter | 21
I couldn’t help it, my mouth fell open.
“But- but she said she didn’t have a problem with me, that she wouldn’t try to hurt me?” I stuttered, remembering what the woman had promised me. Yoru looked at me as if I were a little girl again, when a promise actually meant something.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t notice I was being pulled back into the room, but the moment I felt the warmth around me I paid attention again. Yoru closed the door after I came in, also drawing the curtains.
“We should probably go down?” I asked Yoru when an awkward silence settled over the room. He nodded his head, obviously not over joyed by the idea.
We went down stairs and settled next to the fire that had been started in our absence. It looked like some debate had also started.
“We should attack full out, show them our numbers!” Some random yelled from the back of the room. He was answered by: “No, they outnumber us. I say we try a peaceful approach,” and, “Infiltrate!” I could see Yubaba getting extremely annoyed with everyone yelling their own personal view of the issue, so I decided to do what I do best- stick my nose where it sure as hell didn’t belong.
“Guys” I said, trying to rise my voice above the shooting that had started up. “Guys!” I tried again, but no one was paying attention to me. Finally I lost my temper, put my hand up to my mouth and gave an ear-splintering-hair-curling whistle that shut the room up instantly. Some people even covered their ears with their hands.
“Thank you,” I said before taking a step away from the fire.
“For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chihiro Ogino. Now, I don’t know what kind of system you guys run around her, but where I’m from, the best way to come to a decision is to take a vote.” I looked around at the people, checking to see that I had everyone’s attention.
“Does that sound fair?” I asked.
“Why should we listen to you?” an old man at the back of the room asked, obviously noticing that I wasn’t a spirit like them. Luckily I was in no mood for what could possibly classified as racist crap, I just wanted to get it over and done with. Some people echoes their agreements, but it still looked like I had most of the people on my side.
“Because, even though I’m human, my reason for being here is as good as any of yours,” I said, my voice icy enough to send a shiver down the man’s spine.
“And what, may I ask, is that? You’re bored with your petty little human problems?” The man asked anyway, his sarcastic tone matching the grin spreading across his face.
Taking a deep breath, I calmed myself, even though I really wanted to show the man where he could shove his smug smile.
“Like most of you I’ve lost something dear to me, something that can’t be replaced,” I said, keeping my eyes locked firmly on the ground. I didn’t want to see everyone’s pitiful faces, and I didn’t need their sympathy.
The man didn’t seem satisfied with my answer, but his lack of a come-back seemed to shut him right up. Instead he got up and stormed from the room, leaving dead silence in his wake.
“Now, raise your hand if you prefer a peaceful solution,” I said, counting the number of hands that rose. It wasn’t many, the number of people who preferred more drastic actions outweighed them by a mile.
“It’s settled then, a less peaceful plan will be made,” I announced once Yoru and I made sure the number of hands we counted corresponded. A few people mumbled, but no one objected.
One by one people started coming to the front and explaining what they had in mind. Hours passed before we finally came to a conclusion, by then I was tired out of my mind and all I wanted was to sleep. Actually, I did sort of did nod off after a while, seeing as Yoru tapped me on the shoulder to wake me up.
It seemed that the final plan would be made by Yubaba, Zeniba and a man named Juko. I hadn’t heard him speak a single word, but he looked nice enough. I stood rooted next to the fire as I waited for everyone to leave, I wasn’t in the mood to push and shove against the tide. I was about to leave when Yubaba called me over.
“Yes?” I asked as I walked closer to them.
“Chihiro, I would like you to formally meet Juko, he would just like to have a word with you,” Zeniba said politely before stepping away from us and leaving the room with Yubaba at her back.
Juko extended his hand and I shook it firmly before he motioned for me to sit down next to him on the couch.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, I’ve heard many great things,” Juko said, already making me feel more at ease. “But that aside, I have an important favour to ask of you. As you know, Yubaba, Zeniba and I are in charge of the plan. While we were listening to the endless ideas I started planning from the few good ideas,” Juko said, emphasizing every word that was related to how boring the meeting had been. It was then and there that I decided I liked him, I liked him very much.
“Now, my plan involves some first grade infiltration of the enemy headquarters. How does that sound to you?” Juko asked, looking at me with one eyebrow raised. I thought about it for a second before realising what he was implying.
“Oh, no, no” I said, waving my hands in front of my chest “Believe me, you do not want me at the head of any plan, I will screw it up.”
Juko looked at me intently for a second longer before speaking again. “You see, I don’t think I agree with you,” he said “That’s why I’m only going to ask one more time, would please help me?”
It wasn’t like I didn’t want to help him, I just didn’t want to be the reason the plan failed. I was terrified that we only had one shot and that my temper, or my mood swings, or my lack of better judgement, would get me in trouble.
On the other hand, if I didn’t take the job then I would be forced to watch from the side lines; always knowing, but never being able to do anything about it, and that bothered me more than anything.
I exhaled loudly, “Fine, I’ll do it.”
Juko smiled widely, reaching a hand out to pat me lightly on the shoulder. “Thank you, Chihiro,” he said “I think we’ll discuss the details of the plan tomorrow.”
Juko and I parted ways, him going who knows where, and me going up to Haku’s room once again.
I slept in the next morning, not really wanting to face the day. It had also taken forever to fall asleep, because the room smelled strange to me. Haku’s scent had disappeared since the last time I had slept in his bed.
Slowly I rolled over, facing the closed door. I knew I had to get up sooner or later, but for the time being it didn’t seem there was someone trying to knock down the door. Turning onto my back I extended every single muscle in my body until they ached.
I was about to go back to sleep when I heard someone yelling down stairs. I couldn’t make out what the person was saying, but it was clear he was extremely mad about something. I shot out of bed, grabbed some the clothes I had laid out the previous night and headed for the door.
Practically jumping down the stairs, I reached Yubaba’s office in record time and stopped dead before I stepped into the room.
There were about five people in the room, excluding me. No one seemed to be on the offense and that made me a little calmer, but it was clear that it wasn’t a happy moment they were sharing.
The man, who I assumed had been shouting, seeing as he still was, was standing with his back to me. Still, I didn’t doubt for a minute that it was the same man that had fought against me at the meeting. Even the back of his head irritated me.
“Why would you ask a stupid human to play such an important role in the plan!” he yelled at Juko and Yuaba. It seemed that, like me, Boh and Luna were only onlookers.
“This is the only chance we’ll get to attack head on, but you’d rather intrust some spy mission to a child?” the man demanded, turning his head to Yubaba and Juko in turn.
Lucky for me it seemed that the man hadn’t realised I was in the room with them, so I decided to stay quiet and listen to what he had to say about me when I wasn’t around.
Yubaba raised a hand to silence the man. “We simply do not have the numbers to attack head on, our best chance of making a change is from the inside,” she said, using her I’m-about-to-turn-you-into-a-pig-if-you-don’t-shut-it voice. The man obviously hadn’t heard it before since he just continued yelling at them. Poor, poor fool.
“I mean seriously, she’s just some immature brat who thinks she can come in and take over!” Stupid Head said, waving his arms around like a mad man. “She doesn’t even belong here in the first place, she’s a human.”
Okay, I was getting a feeling that Stupid Head must have had some personal grudge against me, why else would he be bothered so much?
Feeling it was time to make my presence known, I spoke up.
“Anything else you’d like to get of your chest while you’re at it?” I asked, sounding almost bored. The man stopped mid-sentence and whipped his head in my direction. At first it seemed he didn’t know what to do or say, obviously realising I had been standing there a while.
But I have to give him credit, he did compose himself rather quickly. “Actually, yes. You don’t deserve to be part of this plan, you humans always make a mess of things. You’re impulsive and you can’t keep your mouth shut, and on top of that you’re a child, who couldn’t possibly understand what’s at stake.”
I was getting a feeling that the man wasn’t so much describing me, but rather the messed up idea of what he believed all humans to be. Still, I let him finish ranting before saying what was on my mind.
“Look, I get that you’re not happy with the idea of a human being part of the plan, believe me, I’m not happy about being the undercover agent. But I’m doing this because I feel it’s what I’m supposed to do,” I said, walking into the room.
The man still didn’t seem happy, in fact, he seemed to be getting more and more aggressive with every passing moment. Yubaba noticed too, and was about to speak when the man suddenly pulled something from his sleeve.
“They should have gotten rid of you sooner, but none of them were able to. Guess it’s up to me then!” the man yelled, wrapped both his hands around the handle of the knife.
He was shaking badly, his eyes darting around the room without stopping to focus on anything other than me. I held up my hands, giving a step back, but too slow it seemed. Even though the man could barely think straight, he was still able to move faster than any other person in the room. In less than a second he threw the knife at me.
I saw Boh and Luna lunge forward and I heard the man scream, but I wasn’t able to move out of the way. I simply stood and watched as the knife came straight at me… as it touched my shirt just below my collar bone…
And how it lodged itself into the man’s chest.