Ten Minutes to Midnight
What did Light see on that dark night, filled with a childlike dread he had never before experienced in all his youth?
As he stared, a disbelieving frown on his face, a strange prickling sensation spread across his skin, as if each little hair was being burned by short bolts of electricity.
Sitting on the family settee, hunched in a manner more grotesque than L's – L... – was a pitiable, hideous creature that vaguely resembled a man. Light began to shake involuntarily through fear and anger. Light liked everything to have its place, and so anything that slipped out of its designated arena, or if there was any blurring of boundaries, it simply sickened the boy. Observing this humanoid gargoyle sitting in his sitting room on his settee, as if it were not a terrible monstrosity, forced venomous bile to rise in Light's throat.
During his appalled musings, this Mockery of Humanity had been staring balefully at the wall, its thoughts evidently elsewhere. But now, it slowly turned its head toward Light.
Light stepped back.
He recognised... He recognised the Thing!
The Thing was a man Light once knew; a man whose fate had been so tied to Light's whims and yet had never known it – he had been so fully a pathetic pawn in Light's game. So pathetic in fact that Light had hardly thought of him, neither when he was alive or dead.
Kyosuke Higuchi's face was inexplicably bandaged, and heavy chains that looked like they would be at home in a gothic medieval torture chamber were tightly wrapped around his rag-clad body. His mahogany jagged hair limply covered his peeling scalp; his sideburns seemed to be thinning. There was no escaping the fact that this... man... this... Thing... was a corpse. His skin was white, not lily and pure like L's –L...– but clammy and cold. One of Higuchi's eyes was covered by the off-white bandages, and Light's confounded 'gut-feelings' were screaming that the eye was gone – remove the bandage and an eye socket would be there with nothing inside it, except maybe maggo–
Light gagged a little. No, he would not think such things.
Higuchi's animated corpse grinned that same carnivorous grin he had when he was alive and Kira.
"Come," he croaked, as if his voice box could not quite work anymore.
Despite his misgivings, Light was surprised to find himself entering the room instead of clinging to the door frame like a frightened child.
'It's because I am a god – no, because I AM God,' he thought, gritting his teeth in determination as he moved closer to the grinning atrocity. 'I am never afraid. Everything fears me, and worships me! That is the price of being wise and of being God.'
"Not quite," said Higuchi, making Light freeze. Grin fading to a knowing smile, Higuchi tapped his head, with what Light now realised was his only arm because the other was completely gone. "I can read your thoughts, Light-Kun." The smile was gone now. "You doomed me. You doomed me to this... this reality." He looked down at himself then back at Light. "You are the Devil, tempting me with something no human should have." He sighed as Light found his voice.
"Do not blame me for your predicament." Light's voice rang out strong and calm; he was proud of himself. "I am sure you had the rules of using the Death Note explained to you the same as Misa and myself."
"But I was your pawn, wasn't I?" spat Higuchi. "At least you had the chance of realising your... hah... dream. But me? I was doomed from the start." Higuchi wriggled his shoulders, as if trying to calm himself down. His face suddenly became melancholy. One thing Light never understood was how people's facial expressions could change so rapidly, that people could tell the whole world what they were feeling. It seemed so impractical, even improper.
Higuchi cackled without humour. "You should have been a Victorian, Light-Kun, with your conservative manners and middle-class dreams. But, despite everything, I have come to help you. I know; you are sceptic of me! I would be too, if I were you. But, you see, I am doomed. My time, miserable as it is, is nearly up, and I have this last bit of breath, this last bit of autonomy, to do something." He looked at Light wonderingly. "And you know what I decided to do as my last act? I had an epiphany, Light-Kun – a revelation. I decided to do something I had never done or considered doing before, something completely out of character, I mean, why not? I have decided to do something selfless. And giving a warning and some advice to the one who I blame for being in the state that I am, is that not selflessness on a biblical scale?"
He sat back, looking reflectively at Light.
"No one, Light-Kun, no one deserves the fate that we, the victims of the Death Note's power, receive as punishment."
Light scowled. This dream just kept getting worse! The very idea that Higuchi, the lowliest of all the Kiras in terms of morality – even Misa was Kira out of her love for her parents and himself - would be acting as a martyr on Light's behalf was galling.
Losing all fear in his anger, Light walked to the opposite side of the room and leaned on the wall, glowering at the Thing that was once Higuchi.
"So what, oh wise one, have you come to warn me of?" Light had decided that if he had to condescend to talk to Higuchi, it would be with sarcasm and malice, for what more did a petty murderer like Higuchi deserve?
"Tomorrow," began Higuchi, ignoring Light's tone, "you will commit the final act of rebellion against The Current Order of Things, and will officially begin your attempt to usurp God." Higuchi leaned forward, as if letting Light in on some secret. "They take some pity on you, Light-Kun. They know that your motives, at one stage, were pure. However, the sins you are committing are too great. Tonight they will allow you some reflection, and if you are still too arrogant and avaricious and continue your plans of death and mayhem, you will suffer my fate."
Higuchi stood, looking intimidating, a demonic, fanatical glow in his single eye emphasised by the red hue of the room. "You will be visited tonight by three spirits." He raised three partially bandaged fingers as he stalked closer to Light, who began to push himself back against the wall in a futile bid to create more space between them. "They are Past, Present and Future, and they will take you on an amazing journey. The first to arrive will be at midnight exactly."
Light tossed his head to the side in derision – such a stupid ide–
"Take heed, young Yagami!" cried Higuchi, his guttural voice made commanding through its urgency.
'It's because he knows something I do not,' thought Light as he tried not to cower. He noted vaguely that the room's colour had faded to a more phenicious tone. 'He has experienced something I have yet to...'
"Take heed," continued Higuchi. "I laughed and scoffed, and thought myself too clever and too powerful." Higuchi's face was now right next to Light's. They could have kissed had Higuchi leaned any closer. Light could see the man's face was crumbling as he spoke, the horror of which was the only thing able to distract him from Higuchi's rank death breath. "There is always," Higuchi warned, "always something better and smarter than you somewhere, and arrogance will blind you to it." Higuchi looked mournfully at his hand as it began to crumble into pieces.
"My time has come." He looked desperately at Light. "There is no second chance for me! Redemption is not a right, it is a gift. And I disregarded it! Fool! Damned fool! Do not make the same error!"
Higuchi raised his face to the heavens and let out a scream of absolute horror. It was the scream of someone who would forever burn, forever freeze, forever starve, forever slave, forever die, forever be lost and forever be forgotten. It was the Scream of the Damned.
Higuchi crumbled into ash.
The ash crumbled into dust.
And the dust merely faded from existence.
Light stood breathing heavily; the ethereal erubescent lighting was gone – Light was alone in his sitting room, the main lights on. Their yellow indifference flooding the area gave no indication of the bizarre sequence that had just played itself in front of the boy.
He heard the howling of the wind; the eternal hum of running electricity; the soft snores of the blissfully unaware Yagamis – for once Light envied their ignorance. The ticking of the clock called his attention to the time.
It was ten minutes to midnight.