Halo Nine: Ghosts:
The lights flickered overhead in the Red Vintage Parlor. Mikado looked between Rin and Naho. His memories of them both started to come back. Rin was rather aggressive with her affections. She had a little game that she liked to play with him. She would lock him in her closet and make him watch her have sex with her johns.
“You have to keep quiet,” she told him. What else could he do? This little game went on for a few nights. But then, she had to raise the stakes. One night, Rin was with one of her johns. Mikado watched from the locked closet. She looked into her job but he couldn’t help but notice that she kept looking back at the closet. What was she doing? Why did she keep looking this way at him? Turn away. Turn away!
Suddenly, Rin stopped. Her john looked up, confused.
“Why did you stop?” he asked.
“Baby, I’m sorry. I have a confession to make,” she said.
“What?” the confused man asked, laying on his back. The prostitute sighed.
“I have been cheating on you,” Rin confessed.
“What?” her john asked.
“I’m so sorry.” She hid her face from him. The poor man looked so confused.
“Who? Who is it?”
Rin got up and walked over to the closet. Mikado started to panic as the door opened. The john sat up and looked. Mikado sat in the closet, staring. Rin put her arm around his shoulders.
“This is my lover,” she said. Both men looked at her in shock.
“What?!” they asked. Rin took Mikado by the hands and led him over to the bed.
“Now we switch!” she said. “Honey, you get in the closet and Mikado here will keep me entertained.” She shoved john in the closet and closed the door. The poor man had to watch as Rin mounted the tadpole boy on her bed.
Mikado shuddered as he remembered that little encounter.
Naho wasn’t as aggressive as Rin. But she still had strong affections for Mikado all the same. There could be something if he wasn’t put off by her vast collection of teddy bears. They practically covered her room.
“These are my babies,” she told him. Mikado nervously chuckled. Sure, she was an arctophile but still… It seemed a little bit too much.
The trio looked up when they heard soft footsteps walk into the parlor. A small brown and white teddy bear stood in the doorway holding up a red glass dish. Naho clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes.
“You have got to be kidding me!” she snapped. “Get back to your bed and take that stupid dish with you!” The little bear lowered his head and walked out of the parlor. Naho sighed and shook her head.
“Honestly,” she said.
“Uh…” Mikado said. The women looked over at him. The tadpole boy sat quiet for a moment. How was he could he excuse himself without coming across as rude?
“Do you… need me for anything else?” Mikado asked at last. Rin grabbed his jacket as tightly as she could.
"I need you,” she said. He stared deep into her dark green eyes. Naho cleared her throat.
“What?” Rin asked with gritted teeth.
“He can’t stay here too long, remember?” Naho pointed out. “He’ still alive. His soul is still in his body. You can have your sex fun some other time.” Rin snorted.
“Fine,” she grumbled, letting go of Mikado’s jacket. But then, her lips moved to his right ear.
“You owe me a good night later,” she whispered. Rin licked him on the ear lobe. Mikado shivered as his face turned red. Naho gave the prostitute a judging glare. Rin just ignored her.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “There is something I have to give you before you leave.”
“What is it?” Mikado asked.
“Hold out your hand,” Rin said.
“What for?” he asked.
“Please, just do it,” she said. Mikado sighed and held out his hand. The prostitute drew a small star with her finger in the palm before placing a small yen coin on the spot.
“This will keep you safe on your way home,” she said.
“Thank you,” Mikado said. Rin climbed off his lap and he exited the booth.
-Woman in the Yellow Dress-
“See you later,” Mikado said as he walked out the open doors.
“Bye!” Rin and Naho said. The tadpole boy walked out and found himself back on the streets of Ikebukuro. So they could take him out of the Living World into Purgatory just like that with no problems? A wave of unsettling thoughts floated through his mind.
“I will have to talk to them about that later,” Mikado said to himself. His thoughts became distracted when something caught his attention up ahead. A woman about twenty-four years old stood on the side of the road. Bright yellow sundress made her hard to miss. She seemed to be looking around frantically.
“Excuse me,” Mikado said. “Are you okay? Miss?” That’s when he noticed something odd about this woman. She looked up and saw him.
“Hi…” the tadpole said. “Are you okay?”
“Am I… okay?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” Mikado said. The woman paused and started shaking.
“I… I… I don’t know!” she wailed. She broke down into tears.
“Whoa there,” the tadpole said. “Take it easy.” He rested his hand on her shoulder. Warm air met his fingertips. Small surprise took over his mind. Mikado turned his head.
“Wait… are you…?” he asked. The woman turned to him with wide eyes.
“What?” she asked. Mikado didn’t even try to hide his train of thought.
“Dead,” he said. There was a long pause. The woman in the yellow dress gave him a strange look.
“Dead?” she asked. She started shaking her head. “No. No! That can’t be! I can’t be dead! I’m supposed to be meeting up with someone!” Mikado gave her a strange look.
“What year is this?” he asked her.
“1979,” she said.
“No,” Mikado said, shaking his head. “This is 2015.” The woman backed away, shaking her head.
“No, that can’t be,” she said. “It’s 1979 and I’m supposed to meet my boyfriend here. We were supposed to go on a date and… and…” Tears started to fill her eyes. Mikado gave her a look of sympathy.
“What’s your name?” he asked. The woman sniffled.
“Chiho,” she said.
Moments later, Mikado and Chiho sat on the side of the street. The tadpole boy tried to ignore the two figures watching them from across the street. One of them was dressed in white and the other was dressed in black. Their masks had no emotion on the face. The figure dressed black held three red balloons in their right hand. They let them go without a word. Mikado turned his attention back to Chiho.
“What was the last thing that you remember?” he asked. Chiho looked down at her lap.
“I was standing on the side of the road in front of this coffee shop waiting for my date,” she said.
“Uh-huh,” Mikado said, nodding.
“He told me that he to work late that day,” Chiho said. “So, my boyfriend would be running late.” She looked up at the night sky.
“Take your time if you need to,” the tadpole said. The ghost took a breath and closed her eyes. (Strange to see a ghost “taking a breath”.) She shook her head for a moment.
“I’m sorry,” Chiho said.
“It’s okay,” Mikado said.
“It’s not,” she mumbled. Chiho started to tremble. “I had a date that day. It was supposed to have been a nice day. But then… But then…” She turned to the road in front of them. Mikado looked with her.
“And they never found the person who did it?” he asked.
“No,” Chiho said. Her mind began to replay the moment she spotted her boyfriend across the street. She had been practically waiting all morning in her favorite dress. She did everything that she was supposed to do. Chiho had just stepped out into the street when she paused and turned her head.
She screamed back in present day.
“Chiho-san!” Mikado yelled as he placed his hands on her shoulders. “Calm down! You’re safe now. You’re safe now.” It took Chiho about ten minutes to stop screaming. She turned and saw Mikado staring at her.
“That car is not coming to hit you again,” he said in a calm voice. “You’re safe now.” Chiho gave him a blank stare.
“I don’t understand,” she said. Mikado blinked for a moment.
“Understand what?” he asked. Chiho looked down at his hand on her shoulder.
“This is the first time, that I have ever said more than a few words to anyone living before,” she said. “Usually when someone sees me, I just end up saying the same things over and over before disappearing.” A grim look spread across her face.
“I don’t know what I am going to do now,” Chiho admitted. “Now that I know that I am dead.”
“What do you want to do?” Mikado asked.
“I don’t know!” she wailed, throwing her head back. She looked back over at him.
“Can you please… stay with me for a little bit longer?” the ghost asked. “Please?” The tadpole boy sighed.
“Alright,” Mikado said uneasily. Chiho bowed her head.
“Thank you so much,” she said.
“Right…” he mumbled. What else could he do? Meanwhile, a group of shadowy figures floated above them in the sky.
Mikado was finally able to leave about close to midnight. Chiho finally floated back up to the sky to linger there a little bit longer. The tadpole boy sighed and dropped his shoulders. He just wanted to go home at that point.
That wasn’t not going to happen right away.
Mikado froze in his tracks on the empty sidewalk.
“I know you’re here,” he said. “Come out so we can talk.” Mikado turned around to see two thugs walking towards him. They had to about in their late twenties. Both of them had knives in their hands. Mikado didn’t even look afraid.
“Let me guess,” he said. “Are you here to kill me?” The two men laughed.
“Very smart, little tadpole freak,” one of the men said. The men chuckled again. Mikado looked around. Something about these men didn’t seem normal. The tadpole boy held his breath. Good thing Celty wasn’t with him right now. But he still didn’t know how to fight too well. His hand inched to his cell phone.
“Don’t even think about calling your little friends in the Dollars!” a thug with bleached blonde hair snapped. “We happen to be in the Dollars, Chirin!” Mikado flinched at that name.
“That is not my name,” he mumbled.
“Aw, what’s wrong?” the thug with the black bandana on his head asked. “Are you going to cry?”
“No,” Mikado said. The thugs turned to each other.
“Oh what do we have here?” Blondie asked. “Looks like we have a badass on our hands.” The thugs snickered to each other.
“Let’s waste him!” his pal said. Mikado took that as his cue to run. Lucky for him, speed was on his side. He couldn’t hear them yelling at him anymore.
Mikado ended up going in the opposite direction of his apartment. He didn’t want them to know where he lived. The tadpole boy found himself surprised that he didn’t need to catch his breath. He took a look around him. Mikado found himself in the middle of a narrow alley. His eyes were quick to adjust to the darkness. Everything was so quiet around him. Mikado leaned against the wall and tried to think of what to do next. He couldn’t go home yet. How many more possessed people were out chasing him? Some of them could be at his apartment right now.
Mikado pulled out his phone. Low reception and thirty-two percent battery. The tadpole dropped his phone by his side and groaned. Stay calm. Stay calm. Panicking won’t do. He needed to keep a clear head. Mikado took a breath. The tadpole just needed to think.
Suddenly, he had the feeling that she wasn’t alone.
The tadpole boy slowly turned around. A white light was so great and blinding that he had to shield his eyes. Through narrowed eyes, Mikado saw a petite woman. She had little beads sewn to her white robes. A gold headdress held up her long white hair. She didn’t speak. She didn’t need. Mikado lowered his hand. In fact, he knew her name.
“You’re the White Witch,” he said. She didn’t respond. Mikado was about to reach out to touch her cheek.
“There he is!” a man’s voice yelled. The tadpole turned around and saw those two possessed thugs at the end of the alley. They had their knives out, ready to play.
“You’ve got nowhere to run!” the Blonde thug said. “Time for you to die!” This time, the tadpole didn’t try to run away. He just stood as the possessed thugs ran closer. The White Witch herself didn’t move.
The thugs touched her at the same time. Their eyes turned white as visions flashed in their minds. Time slowed down for only a second before everything became normal. When they let go, the men weren’t possessed anymore. They looked at each other, trembling.
“What just… happened?” Blondie asked, panting. The black bandana guy backed away.
“I saw how I died,” he said. “My girlfriend s-s-stabbed me,” he said.
“I fell,” the blonde guy said. They turned back to the White Witch floating off of the ground with no emotion on her face. The two thugs turned around and ran. Mikado didn’t move until they were completely gone. He turned to the White Witch with one thing on his mind.
“What’s going to happen to me?” the tadpole asked. He put his hand on her shoulder. She didn’t speak as he looked into her dark empty eyes.
“I see,” was all Mikado said.