Halo Twenty-Two: Koshima-sensei:
Kitano sat at the head of the table.
“Everyone, the final gate will be opened in eight days,” he said. “You are welcome to on your prep work for the next round of the game.” Those words alone gave the Tandeki Group the permission they had been seeking. Kitano himself had been waiting for this himself. His interns had the same sentiment. In fact, Yayoi, Yuka, and Rumi came by his office this morning. Kitano sat at his desk with notes when there was a knock on his door.
“Enter,” he said. He looked up as the door opened. His three female interns scurried inside.
“Ladies,” Kitano said. “What can I do for you?” Yayoi stepped forward.
“When are we going to open the gate?” she asked. Her boss raised his eyebrow.
“May I ask why?” he asked.
“We all have been developing the drugs that we want to use on the tadpoles,” Yayoi spoke up. “And you know that we have been using the Heartseed to evolve them, right?”
“Yes,” Kitano said.
“Well,” Yayoi said. “Is it possible that we can give one of the drugs to a particular tadpole in person?” He glanced up at them.
“Do you think you can get close enough?” he asked.
“We can try,” Yuka said. Kitano lowered his pen.
“Fair enough,” he said.
All three branches of Tandeki’s project started to get ready for the next level. Kitano himself had his own preparations to work on.
“Why didn’t you finish him then and there?” Yamato asked.
“I figured that it would be better to make him sweat it out before his death,” Tomoya said without blinking. Their leader started to tremble with rage.
“We have to kill them all,” he hissed.
“I know,” the other tadpole said. “But killing him right then and there wasn’t going to be enough. He was the one who stood back and let it happen. Those are the worst kind of people. The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” Yamato frowned and backed off.
“Hey, come on,” Shuichi cut in. “We got it done. Kitano probably got our message. And we’ve got a new alley to help us with our mission. Yamato looked over at Haru. The older man in black sat in the corner, saying nothing.
“You older than us?” Yamato asked. Haru looked up but didn’t answer.
“It was lit!” Shuichi said. “He touched one of my needles and it became an instant death timer.” He turned to Tomoya as a thought crossed his mind.
“How did you know to do that?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” the other tadpole admitted. “It just came to me. Almost like I have said it before.” He reached into his coat pocket and froze.
“Oh,” Tomoya said. “I did take this from Oshiro-san.” He took out the doctor’s cell phone. Yamato raised his eyebrow.
“What is this?” he asked.
“I figured that he could still be in contact with some of the former staff,” Tomoya said.
“Good thinking,” Yamato said.
“So how are you going to do this?” Sur asked. The leader shrugged.
“Just go down the list and call,” he said. Yamato managed to unlock the phone and go down the phonebook. His crew circled around for a listen. He dialed the first number.
“Hello?” a man’s voice asked. Yamato hung up. Next number.
“Hello?” a woman asked. The tadpole hung up. Next number.
“Hello?” another man asked. This went on for five minutes. The female tadpoles held their breath. Then they finally came to that one number they were looking for.
“I told you not to call me anymore, Oshiro!” a man’s gruff snapped. Yamato froze as he shivered.
“It’s him,” he whispered. The others didn’t speak at first.
“You mean…?” Norio asked.
“Yes,” Yamato said. “I would know that voice anywhere. I still can’t get it out of my head.” They didn’t need to speak who their next target would be. The tadpole hung up the phone.
He didn’t know what was going on. An eviction notice was on the door of his second apartment.
“There has to be some mistake,” Izaya said to the landlord on the phone.
“No,” he said. “You haven’t paid in months.”
“That can’t be right,” the information broker said. “I have been paying for rent.”
“No,” the landlord said. “You haven’t been paying since March.” Izaya start to do some math in his head.
“Yes, I have,” he said. “Have you been getting my money?”
“No,” the old man said on the other line. This back and forth carried on for five minutes. In the end, Izaya was just left with one apartment. A text mocking didn’t help either.
“Two down, one more to go!”
The information broker clenched his teeth. First his apartment got bombed. Then he got swatted. His money was disappearing. He had some identity thief on his hands. And now, he lost his second apartment.
Suddenly, his phone rang.
“Hello!?” Izaya asked. A high-pitch whistle came through the other line. The information broker held the phone from his ear as he winced. This was the third night it this happened. Then there were the texts.
What the hell was going on? It was bad enough that he kept getting call of white noise around 3:45 in the morning. But the texts that followed didn’t make any sense at all. Just nothing but symbols and bunched together letters. It hurt Izaya’s eyes to try and read the text. Cleary this had to be someone messing with him. So far he had no luck trying to find who it was. But was it just one person? Izaya just had to find out.
He had just made to his last remaining apartment when he found himself in for a nasty surprise.
Izaya found a girl about fifteen years old sat in front of the door. She had a on a schoolgirl uniform. Two yellow ribbons held up her long brown hair into two pigtails. She looked like a life-sized doll sitting on the floor, staring up at me. The information broker blinked.
“Uh… If you are looking for Kururi, she’s not here,” he said. No answer.
“Are you lost or something?” Izaya asked. No answer.
“Can I help you?” he asked. No answer. The information broker started to look around for cameras. He started to frown.
“Who are you?” he asked. The girl looked down at her feet.
“Excuse me, are you lonely tonight?” she asked.
“Huh?” Izaya asked. The girl looked up at him with big, doe eyes. She rushed forward and latched onto his arm.
“Please me?” the girl asked. The information broker looked like he was struggling to say something. He finally shoved her off.
“You need to leave,” he said. The girls tried to grab his arm again but Izaya kept pushing her away as he fumbled for his keys.
“Come on, quit screwing around,” Izaya said. “Please leave.” The girl wouldn’t let up. She clung to his arm tighter.
“Stop now,” he said. “Get off. I said get off.” The information broker finally pushed her off and unlocked the door. He dashed inside before the had a chance to follow him. But that girl didn’t leave. She started pounding on the door.
“Let me in! Please let me in!” the girl pleaded. Izaya rubbed his forehead. Who was this girl? Who sent her? Wait…
His phone buzzed again.
The Information broker groaned. “What is it now?” Izaya pulled out his phone. Sure enough, there was a new text message. It would’ve been easier to just delete the text and moved on. Nevertheless, he opened the unread text.
“Did you get your present yet? Did you get your present yet? Did you get your present yet? Did you get your present yet? Did you get your present yet? Did you get your present yet?”
That question repeated itself as he scrolled down. Izaya wrinkled his nose as he turned off his phone. That would enough weird for him today.
-February 10, 1998-
Shuichi sat in the corner, trembling. He sat in a pool of his own vomit. His body twitched earlier. Tears were dried on his cheeks. At least he wasn’t looking into the eyes of a dead body in a cell.
But then the door opened. Shuichi looked up. No… Please don’t tell… I can’t take anymore of this! I don’t want to die.
A rough hand grabbed him by the hair. Shuichi looked up to see that old bastard looking down at him. The doctor smirked at him.
“Well look at this,” he muttered. “You’re still alive after all.” The doctor threw mental patient against the wall. Shuichi landed against wall with a thud. His abuser walked over to him.
“Heh,” he said. “Society doesn’t need trash like you.” The doctor leaned down to Shuichi.
“You had this coming,” he hissed. “All of it.” The doctor kicked him in the stomach. More kicks followed. Then the doctor got bored.
Around nine in the evening, there was a knock on the hotel door. An old man hurried over to the door.
“Hang on!” he shouted. “Give me a moment.” The old man opened the door. Hifumi stood at the doorway, smiling. She held a tray in her hand.
“Room service,” she said. The old man smiled.
“Well now,” he said. “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” He looked her up and down.
“But… I didn’t call for room service,” the old man said.
“On the house,” Hifumi said, teasing him with her cleavage. The old man chuckled.
“Care to come in?” he asked.
“Sure,” the tadpole said. The old man opened the door wide. His face suddenly dropped. The rest of the murder crew appeared behind her.
“Wait a minute…” the old man said. Yamato sneered at the target.
“Hello, sensei,” he said. “Remember us?”
“No… wait… you’re…” he said. Panic covered his face. Hifumi threw down her tray and whipped out her knife.
“Take a seat,” she said.
“Now come on, be reasonable about this…” the doctor said. Hifumi gritted her teeth.
“I said take a seat!” she shouted. Koshima-sensei put up his hands and slowly backed into the room. Hifumi walked him inside. The rest of the crew followed inside. Shuichi closed the door behind him with the hammer in his hand. Koshima-sensei stared at all eight of his captors. When it all came back to him, the old doctor wanted to vomit.
“Look, what do you want from me?” he asked. “I can give you money. How much do you want? Name your price.”
“Hm… let’s see,” Erina said, pretending to think. “How much would you pay to have various drugs forced down your throat?”
“Or experiment on your body in front of mental hospital staff,” Yamato added. Koshima-sensei looked at the tadpoles as he struggled to speak.
“You can’t hold that against me,” he said. “I didn’t participate in any of the experiments on you guys.” Yamato stepped forward.
“I saw you out with your daughter the other day,” he said. “She looked really cute. How old is she, I wonder? Twelve? Thirteen? I wonder how much you pay to have experiments performed on her.” The color drained from the doctor’s face.
“You leave her out of this!” Koshima-sensei shouted. “She’s innocent.” Shuichi wrinkled his nose.
“Unlike us, the societal trash that had it coming?” he asked.
“Start talking,” Hifumi said. “Are there more former Chou Mori staff members in the city? Don’t lie to us.” Chains came out of her hands and began to wrap around his waist and legs. Koshima-sensei’s eyes darted around the room.
“W-W-What are you going to do to me?” he asked. The chains started to grow tighter. Hifumi clicked her tongue.
“Answer the damn question!” she shouted. “Are there more former Chou Mori staff members in the city? Are you still in contact with them?” The point of her knife touched his throat. Shuichi held his hammer high above his hand. Haru stood in the back corner ready to take his left glove off.
“Tick-tock, tick-tock,” Hifumi said through clinched teeth. Their captive shut his eyes as he wet himself.
“Yes!” Koshima-sensei shouted. “There are others here! I have seen at least two of them around Ikebukuro! I don’t really keep in contact with any of them!”
“Where are they?” Hifumi asked.
“Why?! You’re just going to kill them!” he said. “You don’t think we wouldn’t put it together. It’s been you killing all of the people who worked at Chou Mori.”
“And what of it?” Yamato asked. “You assholes put us through hell!”
“And how is that my problem?” Koshima-sensei asked.
“You’re part of it!” Sur shouted. “Fuck you!”
“It was just my job!” the doctor said. “Who was going to believe you anyway? You were just mental patients. They were say that you were crazy.” The whole time, Shuichi breathed heavily and gritted his teeth. Seeing his face and hearing his voice chipped away at his sanity. Those last few words were all it took.
“You are pissing me off!” Shuichi shouted. He ran forward with his hammer above his head.
The rest of the group didn’t bother stopping him. Shuichi came hammering their target in the head with all of his might. He broke down screaming the whole time. Blood splattered all over the walls, headboard, and sheets. Reo had to run over and grab him by the shoulders.
“Let go of me!” Shuichi yelled. The younger girl leaned into his ear.
“That’s enough,” she whispered. “He’s dead now. We’ve completed what we needed to do.” Shuichi looked down at his work. The body lay underneath him with his head bashed in. Brains and blood stained the white sheets. Shuichi lowered his hammer and took a breath.
“Is it over?” he asked.
“Yes,” Reo said. She had to pull him away and walk him out of the room. Hifumi started to look for the dead man’s phone. They weren’t going to clean up the scene either.
Lucy sat in the darkness with the color drained from her face. Hecate stood across from her, smiling.
“That’s just how it is, my dear sister,” she said. “That’s just how it is.” Lucy slowly shook her head.
“No…” she said. The nightcomer wanted to win this game just as badly as her sisters. But she never thought that the price would have to come to this.