Halo Twenty-Five: Izaya:
-Kitano and Etsuko-
“Is everything set?” Kitano asked.
“Yes, Kitano,” Etsuko said.
“Good, good,” he said. “You know, my girls are just itching to get started. They came to me the other day with an interesting request.” Etsuko looked over her shoulder from the window.
“And what would that be?” she asked.
“They want to perform the next experiment on Chirin personally,” Kitano said. Etsuko looked at him as if he was sprouting a second head from his neck.
“Won’t that affect the balance of the experiment?” she asked.
“Perhaps,” he said. “But we might be able to balance it out. Tell me, do any of your interns have any personal favorites?” Etsuko took a moment to think.
“Not really,” she said. “I might have to ask though.”
“I see,” he said. Another thought crossed the doctor’s mind.
“What about Izaya?” she asked.
“Ah yes, him,” Kitano said. “I have just the thing.” They would have four more days until the gate was to be opened.
This wasn’t supposed to go like this. He was Orihara Izaya. He was the puppet master, not the puppet. How did this happen? The cracks in his mask started to show.
“Nii-san, are you feeling okay?” Kururi asked. Izaya looked up from his phone. More of his money started disappearing. The other day, he received a video of him alone in his apartment. He was lying sound asleep in his bed. When he looked out in the living room this morning, there was no evidence of anyone breaking into the apartment. There was no one hiding under his bed, in the closets, or even in the ceiling.
That wouldn’t be the last picture either.
Izaya turned to his sister with a forced smile on his face.
“Of course I am,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I be?” Kururi frowned.
“My card was declined,” she said.
“Huh? When did that happen?” he asked.
“This afternoon,” his sister complained. “I tried to buy this purse that I wanted but my card was declined. I had to pay in cash.” Izaya rolled his eyes.
“You don’t need another purse,” he said under his breath.
“Hm?” she asked. Izaya shook his head.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just don’t use any of the cards, okay?” Kururi gave him a confused look.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Izaya lied. “Don’t worry about it.” Suddenly, their phones buzzed.
“Hm?” the information broker asked. He and his sister pulled out their phones. A new text notification popped up on the screen. The number was blocked.
“What is this?” Kururi asked. She opened the text. There were no words in the message. The teenage girl had a confused look on her face.
“Huh?” she asked. Kururi and Izaya started scrolling down the message at the same time. Further down the message showed a single photo of them in the living room just seconds earlier.
“What is this?” the younger sister asked. The color drained from the information broker’s face. He pushed past Kururi and bolted out the door.
“Nii-san?” she asked. “Where are you going? Nii-san?” She only got a slamming door in response.
The beginning of the end was coming. Purgatory could already feel it. The cycle was about to loop again.
“What should we do?” Miiko asked. Vanessa rose to her feet.
“We have no choice,” she said. “It’s time to take the direct approach.” The receptionist’s eyes grew big.
“Yes, miss!” she said with a jump. “Shall I go ring the bell?”
“Why yes,” Vanessa said.
“Yes, miss!” Miiko shouted with a salute. She ran down the hall. The manager followed behind. Miiko made it back to her front desk.
“Everyone!” she yelled as she rang the bell. “Get down here! We have an emergency! Get down here now!” The bell rang throughout the hotel. It didn’t take long for everyone to gather around the desk. Cheri led her kittens and puppies. Momoki could easily disappear into the growing crowd. Even Naho’s teddy bears followed behind. Vanessa and Miiko watched as everyone gather around the front desk. The manager stepped forward.
“We all know why we are here,” Vanessa said. “It is now time to make our move! You are welcome not to hold back anymore!” Everyone in the lobby cheered. Miiko turned to Vanessa.
“Shall I go get the weapons?” she asked.
“Yes,” Vanessa said. Miiko vanished into thin air. She came back with armfuls of weapons. The manager already had plans to the last gate. And Vanessa knew just the right people to send for the job.
For twenty-four hours, Izaya had been wandering around in the city. He didn’t have any phones on him. The information broker slept the night at a Net café. He would’ve gone to Shinra or Mikage for help but he didn’t want them to get mixed up in this. Whatever this was.
Around two in the morning, Izaya wandered around the empty streets of Ikebukuro. The vibe from his surrounding gave him the creeps. He knew this city just like his own body. But lately, nothing felt familiar. It didn’t help that he had any of his phones on him. Kururi was going to be fine. (Aoba was staying with her for the night.) She wanted to come with him but Izaya wouldn’t allow it.
“It’s too dangerous for you to come with,” he told her. Kururi snuggled up close to him.
“Aw, that’s so sweet of you to care about me,” she said. Izaya rolled his eyes.
“I’m serious,” he said. “You have to stay here. Go stay at a friend’s house tonight if you have to.”
“What is going on?” his sister asked.
“Don’t ask questions!” he hissed. “Just do as I as say!” Kururi looked at him with big eyes.
“Okay, okay,” she said. She stayed with her boyfriend for the night.
Izaya rubbed his forehead. Getting in Dragon Zombie wouldn’t do any good. He didn’t even know who he was dealing with. Izaya couldn’t even find out who was stalking him. All of that searching in the net café came up empty. Damn these people were good at covering their tracks. Too good.
That’s when he became aware that he wasn’t alone anymore.
In the distance, a woman swayed around as if she was drunk. In one hand she held a large bottle of sake by her side. Her long red dress was ripped up. She hummed to herself as she looked like she would collapse at any moment. Just staring at her put Izaya at unease. Every fiber in his being told him to run. But it felt like his feet had turned into lead.
Suddenly, the woman stopped moving. She turned her head as if to look up at Izaya. Or at least it seemed that way. The information broker stood up straight.
“Well, well, well, well,” the woman said. “What do we have here? A little mousey?” Izaya cocked his head.
“Uh… and you are?” he asked. The woman swayed as she moved towards her target. By now, Izaya got a better look at her face. Her lipstick was smeared to high heaven. Her long black hair was a mess. Her mascara was smeared all around her eyes. The only thing out of place on her face was her clown-like smirk. Izaya whipped out his knife.
“Whoa! Easy there, mousey!” the woman said. “I’m a peace-loving demon. I’m not hear to fight. I just want to talk.” Izaya raised his eyebrow. He wouldn’t lower his knife.
“Come on,” she said. “What is it going to take to convince you?” The information broker muttered something under his breath.
“Excuse me?” the messy woman asked.
“Nothing,” Izaya lied. He shoved his knife back into his coat.
“There you go,” she said. The information broker smirked.
“Heh,” he said.
“How’s your sister?” the demon asked.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Just asking.” She noticed the deadly look on his face. “Relax, I’m not going to hurt her. I’m just interested in you.” The woman looked like a ballet dancer as she twirled around. The streetlight did little flatter her.
“And why is that?” Izaya asked. Her eyes locked onto him.
“Don’t you know? Don’t you know?” she asked.
“Know what?” Izaya reached for his knife again. She looked like she was ready to break out into laughter.
“You don’t know? You’re an information broker. You’re supposed to know everything!” the woman shouted. She broke down laughing. Izaya frowned. Her voice made her want to strangle her. He didn’t usually hurt women but this wasn’t a woman.
“You don’t want to hurt this body,” the woman said. “She’s still alive in here, you know?” Izaya’s nostrils flared as he took a breath.
“Is there a point to any of this?” he asked. The woman pouted at him.
“You don’t have your phone on you,” she said. “That’s no fun! You have to play the game!” Izaya narrowed his eyes.
“So it was you,” he said. The woman had a catlike smirk on her face.
“Who said it was just me?” she asked. Izaya’s face dropped.
“How many of you are there?” he asked.
“Like I’d tell,” the possessed woman said. She broke down giggling. The woman twirled around with the bottle high above her head. She stopped and stared at her prey. Before Izaya knew it, her face came within inches of his. He didn’t get time to move as she grabbed him by the arm. Izaya struggled to get away but her grip was like a vice. For one second, her face resembled a demonic mask. Her grin showed off all of her teeth.
“You can’t get away, mousey!” she hissed. “We know everything about you. You can’t get away! We won’t let you!” All of the color drained from his face. The woman leaned in close to his ear. Her parting words were enough to break him.
His knife hit the ground.
Izaya spent the early hours of the morning running around, screaming for help. His panic drew the attention of an off-duty cop. Izaya ran over to him when he saw him on his motorbike.
“Officer!” he shouted. “Please help me! They are out to get me! Help me!” The officer smirked at him.
“Well, well, well,” he said. “Looks like it’s my lucky day!”
Kitano looked the clock on his computer. Soon, it would minutes to midnight. It would be time to open the gate.
Suddenly, the phone rang. Kitano turned to his desk drawer.
“Hm?” he asked. He had a clue about who would be calling.