Halo Twelve: Escape:
Chiharu lay shaking on her bedroom floor. How long was the last time she tasted blood? Junko’s taunting made it that much worse.
“How long do you think you can keep this up?” she asked. The angel panted wildly.
“Shut up!” she growled.
“Why? Because you know I’m right?” Junko asked. “Look, just feed. It’s better than fighting it in pain.” Her words only served to remind her how bad things were turning. The past few days turned into a case of why she should feed.
Tatsuya kept her locked in her room. For the most part, she scratched on the door in the earlier days. Her screaming didn’t even sound human. Her brother ignored her.
“What do you expect me to do with her?” he asked. Mikado and Masaomi didn’t have an answer. What do you do when your friend has turned into an angel?
Pretty soon, the scratching stopped. Same with the screaming. But in its place came something worse.
-Eight Days Earlier-
Masaomi and Mikado stood outside of the Hashimoto apartment. Neither boy spoke about what they needed to do. The tadpole knocked on the door.
“Coming,” a tired voice said. Mikado stepped back as the door opened. Tatsuya looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
“What’s the problem?” Masaomi asked. At first, the man didn’t answer.
“It’s gotten worse,” he said in hoarse voice.
“What happened?” Mikado asked. Tatsuya backed up from the doorway. The boys followed him inside. They found Chiharu sitting in the living room. She looked like she was out in a daze. She hadn’t combed her hair in days. Her clothes hadn’t been washed either. The boys covered their mouths in shock.
“Hashi… moto…. -san?” Mikado asked. Chiharu didn’t look up. Instead, she opened her mouth and let out a string of screaming gibberish.
“What did you say?” the tadpole boy asked. The angel girl started screaming out again. Her voice got louder the more she tried to speak.
“What was that?” Mikado asked again. Chiharu still kept screaming like a wild animal. Her two friends turned to her brother.
“How long had she been like this?” Masaomi asked.
“It started last night,” Tatsuya said. “She only screams like that if you take to talk to her.” Mikado’s stomach turned.
“Anything else changed?” he asked. The man shook his head. The boys turned back to their angel friend.
The regression plowed forward. Within days, Chiharu couldn’t walk on two legs anymore. She had to crawl around to move. Chiharu still wouldn’t eat. Human food just made her vomit. Tatsuya looked like he was about to pass out by this point.
“Let me take over,” Mizuho offered. He didn’t even bother to try and argue with her.
“Whatever,” Tatsuya said.
“Tatsuya,” she said. She knew as much about the situation as he did. Mikado and Masaomi couldn’t/wouldn’t explain what was going on.
“Tell us the truth,” Mizuho demanded on a Sunday.
“I’m sorry,” Mikado said, bowing. “You wouldn’t understand it. I don’t understand it either.” Mizuho wrinkled her nose.
“That is not good enough,” she said.
“Stop, Mizuho,” Tatsuya said. “They don’t know.” She sat back, frowning.
“How are you holding up?” Masaomi asked.
“Not good,” the man said. He buried his head in his hands. “Damn it. I’m worried that she might get out.” Mizuho rubbed him on the back but he pushed her off. And there in lies the problem. They didn’t know what to do with Chiharu. What do you do with a savage flesh-eating angel?
“We have to tell Kishitani-sensei,” Mikado said. “Maybe he can help us.” Masaomi gave him an uneasy look. The tadpole shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s better than nothing.” The founder of the Dollars did have a point. But the boys would have to act fast. Project Angel was ready to make the next move.
The nurse looked at the clock on her computer screen. It’s been overdue to do this. They could still on their main projects. But that wasn’t the hold up. F was stubborn to hold onto her humanity. When that declined, Junko felt like dancing.
“Took yourself long enough,” she said, watching F’s charts. The nurse pulled out her phone.
“Hello?” she asked. “You can go ahead and do it. Yeah, she’s ready.” The nurse nodded.
“Yes, get on it now,” Junko said. “Good luck.” The nurse smiled as she hung up. She turned back to the other caged angels. Since F’s part was progressing, it was time to check out the other evolved angels. Z was a damn close runner-up. She was able to escape under Yui’s watch after all. The angel would’ve gotten further if not for her hunger. Two evolved angels under her. If she could get a third, her project would be stable.
“Sensei,” Yui spoke up. “What will we do with the evolved angels?” Junko looked over at her intern.
“I am kicking around some ideas,” she said.
“And what about the failures?” her intern asked. The nurse shrugged.
“I guess they would be food for the evolved ones,” she said. Yui took a moment to think about that. She nodded after a beat.
“That would make sense in a way,” she said.
Meanwhile, Z heard all of this from her cage. Fear started eating at her heart. Her brother still hadn’t evolved. He hadn’t shown any progress since he was turned. She grabbed her head and started wailing.
I don’t want him to die! I don’t want him to be eaten! I won’t let that happen! I won’t let that happen!
“Shut up over there!” Junko yelled. She tossed a pen in Z’s directions. The angel’s wailing softened to a whimper.
Later that evening, Mikado heard a knock on his door.
“Hm? Who is it that late?” he asked himself. He couldn’t sense anything at his computer. Not a tadpole then. But it didn’t feel human either. Curious, Mikado walked over to the front door. A faint scent of lavender teased his nose.
Wait… Is that who I think it is?
The tadpole boy opened the door. A woman in a bright pink cheongsam dress and bright blonde pigtails stood outside. Her smile in the darkness jogged back more memories that he wished that he could forget.
“Hello, Emi-san,” Mikado mumbled.
“So glad that you remember me,” she said. There was a pause. “Aren’t you going to let me in?” Mikado stared at her at first. Her question finally hit him.
“Oh,” he said. “Right…” The tadpole moved aside from the doorway.
“Thank you,” Emi said, bowing her head. He watched as she walked into his apartment. Her perfume teased his nose. Mikado closed the door behind her. Emi looked around his room. Masaomi and Anri slept on the floor.
“Oh good, they are asleep,” she said. The prostitute flopped down onto his futon. Mikado narrowed his eyes.
“Why are you here?” he asked. Emi looked up him like a hungry little kitty.
“How are you holding up?” she asked.
“Fine, aside from not sleeping anymore,” Mikado said. Emi leaned forward with a hungry look in her green eyes.
“I see,” she said. The tadpole boy wrinkled his nose.
“You didn’t come here for that, did you?” he asked. Emi gave him a little pout.
“Guilty,” she admitted. Mikado rolled his eyes. Figures.
“Aw, don’t be like that,” the ghost said. She grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him down by her side. He came up to eye level with her. Emi gave him a quick kiss. He remembered nights with her too. She liked when he chased her around the hotel all the way to her. Right now, Mikado tried not to look at her. Emi turned his face to hers.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. Mikado’s face turned red as more memories flooded his head.
“N-N-Nothing,” he said. Emi frowned. The next thing she asked since alarm bells off in Mikado’s mind.
“When was the last time you checked on your friend?” she asked. The tadpole boy about fell backwards.
“What?!” he asked.
“You will want to check on her like right now,” she said.
“Why?” Mikado asked.
“It’s bad,: Emi said. “Really bad.” The grim look on her face told him everything that he needed to know.
“Where is she now?” Mikado asked.
“Call her right now,” the prostitute said. There was no lightheartedness in her tone. The tadpole nodded.
“Right,” he said. “Right.” The tadpole boy got up and reached for his phone. Emi sat on his futon and watched him as he made the call. Moments later, Mikado lowered his phone. Emi cocked her head.
“Well?” she asked. Mikado let out a small sigh.
“She’s still the same,” he said. “She’s still in her room.”
“That’s good,” the ghost said. They stared at each other for a good moment. Mikado’s eyes shifted back and forth.
“Uh… how long are you staying here?” he asked. Emi leered with her bright green eyes.
“Why?” she asked. He just gave up trying. These girls did what they wanted and didn’t listen to him.
-Three Days Later-
To get to where we are now, we have to go back a bit. We started off with a teeny tiny whistle.
Kawaguchi had been scouting the Hashimoto apartment for weeks. He had to get everything down to a tee. Chiharu was locked up in her room all day. Tatsuya worked during the day. Masaomi and Mikado came by to check on her during the week. Today was Thursday. Tatsuya would in the living room watching TV right now.
Kawaguchi looked at his phone. Junko gave him the go ahead. That window was closing fast. He might as well go do it. The intern took a breath and blew the little dog whistle.
Inside, Chiharu sat up with a jolt. Her body went stiff. The high-pitched sound put her in a trance. She turned her head to the window. Every inch of her being screamed at her.
No! Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Stop. Stop!
Another whistle kept her ears. Chiharu fought with what humanity she had left not go outside. Her body twitched as it inched closer.
Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Stop!
One more whistle was all it took.
Chiharu flung herself out the window. She fell just like she did when she fell off the roof of Sekai Kino Apartments. It didn’t feel so long to her either. In one blink, she was falling. And then in another, she was on the ground. Only this time, she didn’t die.
Chiharu jumped up on all-fours and took off running into the night. Her animalistic grunts filled the air.
Early the next morning, Mikado’s phone rang. He reached for it next to his computer.
“Hello?” the tadpole asked.
“Chiharu has gone missing,” Tatsuya said on the other line. The founder of the Dollars froze.
“What did you say?!” he asked.
“I heard a crash from her room last night,” the man said. “By the time I got there, she was already gone. And now I don’t know where she went.” Mikado rubbed his forehead.
“Oh no,” he muttered. “Well, she couldn’t have gotten far. Don’t worry, we will find her.”
“You better,” was all Tatsuya said before he hung up. Mikado turned around behind him. He reached over and shook Masaomi on the shoulder.
“Masaomi! Masaomi, get up! We have a problem!” the tadpole said. Masaomi slowly opened his eyes.
“Wha… What’s wrong?” he asked. “What’s the problem? Did Kitano call you again?”
“No, Hashimoto has gone missing!” Mikado said. Masaomi sat up straight.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Hashimoto-san said that she jumped out the window and took off,” his friend told him. The leader of the Yellow Scarves jumped out of bed and hurried to get dressed.
Mikado put out a BOLO on the Dollars forum. He and Masaomi decided against going to the police.
“I don’t think we can explain that our friend is now a crazy cannibal on the loose,” Mikado said.
“Good point,” Masaomi agreed. So far, nobody saw anything out on the streets of Ikebukuro. The boys feared that she might have left Tokyo altogether.
[Police are investigating a savage attack that happened just outside of Ikebukuro last night. The victim, a nineteen-year-old male, suffered from his right ear, left middle finger, nose, and right pinky finger bitten off. He also has bite marks over his face, neck, and torso and scratches on his legs. The victim says that his attacker jumped out of nowhere and tried to eat him. He describes the assailant as an eighteen-year-old girl with messy dark brown hair to her shoulders, brown eyes, messy-looking pajamas, skinny, and really pale. If you see this girl on the loose, contact Ikebukuro police at the number below.]
When Mikado saw the sketch of Chiharu on the news, he knew that he had to find her right away.
“At least she’s still in Ikebukuro,” Masaomi said. “We have to go get her before she attacks someone else or is arrested.” He jumped to his feet and started walking out the door.
“Masaomi, wait!” Mikado shouted. His friend whipped around. The tadpole rose to his feet.
“I don’t think we should go into this unarmed,” he said. “I don’t think fighting her will be enough like this.” Masaomi raised his eyebrow.
“What are you suggesting?” he asked.
“Here, take this,” Mikado said. He reached into his bag and tossed a stun gun to Masaomi. His friend caught it with shock on his face.
“A stun gun?” he asked. “Do we really need this?”
“It will disorient her long enough for us to grab her,” Mikado said. “I bought myself one too.” He pulled out his own stun gun from his bag.
“Damn, you really had this planned out, don’t you?” Masaomi asked. “Another vision or did this happen before?”
“Both,” the tadpole answered. The shogun of the Yellow Scarves nodded.
“Right, okay then,” he said with unease. “Let’s go.” Masaomi headed out the door. Mikado tried to ignore his tone as he followed behind. That would have to be dealt with later.