Loving a Killer

Chapter 11

Where is he? He said he was going out, but this is too long. Normally he would have warned me if he was going to be out for the entire night. Even so, nighttime has come and gone and I haven't heard from him.

I rested well yesterday afternoon, waking up sometime around one A.M. I hadn't been too worried to begin with, brewing a pot of coffee and having a bowl of oatmeal. I carried on under the assumption he'd be back in the next few hours. But he never turned up. He didn't leave a message, nor has he sent me one. Did something happen? Surely, he didn't get caught. There's no way he'd allow that to happen. Then again, he didn't account for getting arrested at all, and he's already been in custody. Could that have messed up something vital?

His last words to me run through my mind. There's someone I need to see.

He hasn't picked up anyone new as of late. He's been too focused on Kougami to look for other latent criminals. That leaves it likely that he's gone to see someone to kill them. If it's for work, there's a possibility the MWPSB got involved. Could it have been someone influential?

I flip open an old fashioned laptop and get to work. First things first, I search through the news open to the public. If the information is there for me to reach without doing anything illegal, it would be a waste to hack. Unfortunately, it's not. Other than the ones I was previously aware of, there are no incidents of murders, which leaves me no choice but to dig deeper.

It's doubtful that Ginoza's already filed a report for something that was likely discovered within the past few hours, if it's been discovered at all. Instead, I turn to tracking. If they've already been to the scene, I'll be able to find out where it was. That could lead me to a hint of where Shogo is, or at least a clue to who his most recent victim was.

It takes a while to bypass the security undetected, but I've eventually gain access to the GPS devices inside their watches. I don't use all of them, but I feel it necessary to use more than one. They might be in different locations, after all, either on their own or split up into groups. I end up looking at Akane's and Ginoza's. They're both in the same place, so I decide to look into it.

Using the geographical coordinates, I pull up the address online. It's in an upscale neighborhood, confirming my speculation that it was someone influential, and somewhat out of the way. It doesn't take long for me to discover the name of the resident.

Nobuaki Kudama.

It's no one I've heard of before, but the information on him to be found on the web is vast. He's a retired scientist of agriculture, his great achievements being the creation of the hyper oats and something called the Uka-no-Mitama virus. This bit of information sends subtle surprise through me. Pretty much everyone thrives off of hyper oats these days. They can be made into many different and diverse kinds of food, so it's rare to come across people who don't consume masses of it on a daily basis. And yet, even with the widespread usage of hyper oats, I've never stopped to consider who it was who first created them. They've just always been there to me, like the compact mirror I use to change outfits.

Putting aside this small revelation, my attention is drawn to the Uka-no-Mitama virus. I pull up a page on it, my mouth dropping as I read.

The Uka-no-Mitama virus was created in a lab by Scientist Nobuaki Kudama, the same man to make what we know today as Hyper Oats. The virus was made to accompany the Hyper Oats, designed to target any pests that may endanger the health of the plants. It is a virus that can be modified to attack only one specific organism, or group of organisms, while being completely ineffective against any other. It is thanks to this miraculous breakthrough that society was able to achieve completely machine worked farming, and we are able to harvest such massive amounts of Hyper Oats.

I lean back in my chair, staring in disbelief. Is everyone on this earth an idiot? Can they not see the disastrous effect that such a virus could have if any mistake were to happen? Not only could someone completely destroy the food supply that the virus was meant to protect, but if it were to fall into the hands of someone who's insane, they could modify it to wipe out the entire human race!

Is that what Shogo means to do? I don't mean killing everyone. He may be a psychopath to other people, but he is in no way insane. No, he has a firm grasp on his sanity, unlike me at times. But could he possibly mean to take away the supply of hyper oats? That would explain why he went to the creator himself. To change it, or to even think about executing such terrorism, you'd have to know how the virus works. Otherwise, the plan might not work.

So this tells me where Shogo was, but where is he now? The chance of him still being there while the MWPSB is investigating is monumentally small. Looking up places of hyper oat growth, I find an entire makeup of miles upon miles of fields all controlled by one facility. It apparently used to be a university, but now there's no one. It's run on nothing but electronics, with security that is also one hundred percent mechanical. Also not a smart move by our precious government. With the majority of produce coming from one place, it doesn't make it too hard to take a large portion of the country's food supply out of the equation. All you'd have to do is break into one building.

If I were to guess, the security system can probably be avoided with an identification card. And if there are other things, including fingerprint scanners, Shogo would have taken the body parts from the corpse the MWPSB is looking at.

Despite the risk this operation holds, I usually would've been fine. I usually would have accepted it and waited for his return, but I don't. Maybe it's because he didn't come back before going, or maybe it's just the twisting feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I don't bother to grab a jacket or shut down the laptop before I'm out the door.

Outside, I spot a motorcycle pulled up onto the curb. Whoever it belongs to took the helmet with them, but I'm in too much of a hurry to wait for it. I let it scan my psycho pass, but it comes up negative. There aren't keys for these sort of things anymore. If your hue is clear, you can ride. Of course, mine isn't.

"Hey," I motion to a young boy nearby and he comes over. "Let this scan you." He does so without question, which as much as I need him to, irks me. He most likely knows that bikes like these need a hue check to be ridden, so shouldn't he be at least a little suspicious that someone is asking for his crime coefficient so they can ride? He's probably never encountered someone with bad intent, though. How would he know any better? The blindness he displays brings a growl to my lips, but I thank him and speed off.

I've never ridden a motorcycle before, but since it drives by itself with help from me only to steer, I don't need to know more than how to sit in the right position. I'm at least ten miles per hour over the speed limit, but it doesn't matter to me as I weave in and out of cars. Somehow, the speed makes my blood pump faster than it is already. After I make sure of Shogo's safety, I think I'll get one of these for myself.

My hair loose in the wind makes it a bit difficult to see the directions given to me from my watch, so I end up swerving into turns I hadn't been prepared to take. I'm lucky I don't hit any of the other vehicles on the road with my madman driving. I'm sure I've been reported to authorities by now, but I'm not going to wait around for them to find me.

It takes too long to get to the facility, with the sun already low in the sky. I've just entered into the fields when the bike slows. Surprised, I look to find the gas has run out. I curse, abandoning it where it stands and dashing down the road.

It's impossible. From here, I can see the helicopter that belongs to the police on top of the building. Seeing as the the plants around me are healthy, Shogo hasn't had enough time to get the virus out, which would mean he's still close by.

I slow to a stop, considering my options. Of course, I know Shogo enough to know he can get away on his own, but I don't think he calculated the MWPSB responding so quickly. His plans are risky if something goes wrong with the execution, and this could be exactly the mishap that leads to him getting captured again. Or, in the worst case scenario...

I'm about to pick up my pace again when the faint sound of an explosion stops me in my tracks. My eyes search for any sign of smoke or flames, but find nothing. It must have all happened within the university. Did the police bring explosives? Or was it Shogo? Either way, it's a telltale sign that they've met. Hairs raise with goosebumps on my arms, even though the wind chill is almost nonexistent. I break into a run.

Before long, I catch movement by the trucks lined in front of the building. It's too far in the distance to recognize faces, but the fact that there's two people who aren't trying to kill each other rules out one of them being Shogo. I move closer to the edge of the fields, prepared to flee into them if they notice me. Instead, it's one of the trucks that claims the first attack. It backs up, nearly killing at least one of them, before revving forward.

There, I decide. That's where Shogo is. I duck into the waves of grain to avoid the oncoming truck and watch as it passes by. As it does, I realize with a start that Akane's dangling on the back, a gun (a real one, with actual bullets) aimed down at the front tire.

The shot is fired before I'm able to register what she's trying to do. Immediately, the vehicle swerves, tossing into the fields on its side. I barely contain my voice from calling out when it thuds to a sudden halt. Scrambling through the grain, I tread to the crash. I can't see anyone over the growing oats swaying lightly in the breeze, untouched and unbothered. The gentleness of their brush seems to mock me, saying. We don't care. Why should we care if a murderer dies? The world will be better off without him. The world can be at peace.

I can hear his voice over the taunting voices in my head, but I can't make out his words. They're too quiet and I'm still too far. He cuts off whatever he's saying abruptly, suggesting someone else has appeared on the scene. With no sounds of scuffling evident, it's likely he's left.

But where? Where is he now? Which way did he go? I continue to the wreck, finding only the truck in ruins and blood. There's a lot of blood. I take in what I see with disbelief. The truck came down on the driver's side, the window there and the windshield shattered. There's no way the one in the driver's seat would come out of that without serious injury.

I shake my head, pinching myself on the arm and letting the pain clear my mind. I need to concentrate. There's blood leading off in two directions. That means Akane and Shogo parted ways. There's no way Akane is alright after all that, either. The good news is, Shogo is still in good enough shape to walk, at least for some distance. Akane, I don't know. She must've been the one he was talking to a minute ago, but if someone else did indeed show up, they could have helped her away.

This conclusion directs me to the path that belongs to Shogo. His, while gory, is a lot less conspicuous than the other. The other's size could be contributed to two different people, one possibly carrying or assisting the other one along. Taking one last glance at the scene, I plunge back into the forest of grain with a mindset to track.

The sun is getting lower, seemingly creeping and dashing at the same time to take cover behind the mountains in the distance. Even it desires to hide, to get away from the havoc ensuing beneath it. To escape this entanglement of blood and confusion. I don't blame it, even as I charge towards this chaos without hesitation.

I finally catch sight of Shogo, collapsed to his knees beyond the field I'm in. I breathe a sigh of relief. I can see the dark stains of wounds, but he's alive! He living and breathing! I can drag him out of here and tend to him, nurse him back to health. I'm sure we'll manage somehow. We always have, after all.

But then the sun sets, and I see what it was so afraid to see. Kougami is there, too. He's standing behind him, gun pointed straight at Shogo's head and the air surrounding him filled with hatred. My mind goes blank as I barrel forward, my throat having gone dry. I can't say anything, nothing will come out but desperate choking noises. All I need is one word, one sentence to distract Kougami long enough for me to reach them. So I can shield him.

And then a bang echoes out over the fields and time stops. The wind stills and a ringing in my ears takes the place of actual noise. I can't tear my eyes away as I watch the shot thrust Shogo forward, face first into the ground. Any thought of self preservation that may have previously existed flies out the window and I cry out.

"SHOGO!"

I lunge from the fields and fall by his side, eyes wide and tears dripping. "Shogo?" I whisper, tentative. I lay a hand on his hair, his white hair so beautiful that it captured my full interest as a child, the hair that's now splattered with red more than it was when he killed that dog all those years ago. That same red seeps between my fingers, warm and wet. "Shogo? I'm here now. I came to get you. I was worried when you didn't come home." I move his head onto my lap, turning him so I can see his face. Blood runs down the side, over his closed eyes. Those beautiful amber eyes that I've grown up admiring. I'll never see them again. What smashes the heart that's already been ripped from my chest is that, gathered near those soft, pale eyelids of his, are salty tears that never got to fall.

I've known him for nineteen years. I've never seen him cry.

My chest heaves and I scream, lowering my head over his. I hold his head on my lap, not noticing the tears that fall onto him. I scream and yell no particular words, just letting my agony pierce the air around me. None of it helps. It doesn't matter how many tears I cry or how raw my throat becomes. Shogo is gone, shot before my eyes. He's gone. I'll never hear his voice again, never hear him go on about the books he thinks I should read, never hear him complain about how loud the birds have been. I'll never see the pride in his eyes when I go the extra mile to please him, or that smile of his when for a short period of time, he's entertained. All if it, all of him, gone, with the single shot of a gun.

I don't know when Kougami leaves, only that at some point, he does. As darkness descends upon the world, it similarly sets root in my heart. All the joy I've found in living with him drains with the dimming light, until not even the tears form anymore. There simply isn't enough emotion left for them. It vaguely crosses my mind that I need to get out of here, that it won't be long before the police come and find the source of the gunshot and crying. I ignore the notion until a realization pops into the back of my mind. Shogo wouldn't want me to be caught.

I close the distance between Shogo and I, placing the softest of kisses on his still warm lips. "You weren't alone," I murmur numbly. "You were never alone. You are irreplaceable. I love you, Shogo Makashima."

I always knew this is how it'd end. With those three words I've always wanted to say, the beautiful life we lead together comes to an end. I suppose it never could have ended differently. From the day I opened the door to the sound of his voice, those three words were doomed to only dance from my mouth when death came to play. I kept myself oblivious so I could continue smiling at him, telling myself that surely, there's some other way. Surely, with all the time I've spent with him, I could change his fate. How stupid.

Gently, I move his head to rest on the ground. As I run from him as fast as I can, the tears begin again, this time flowing in silence. A hollowness threatens to engulf me, but I keep it at bay with the burn in my muscles. The second I stop running, I'll crumble in on myself, but for now I just keep going. I want to get as far away as possible. My feet just keep moving, carrying me as far from his death as they can. But my mind still lingers there. Everything stays by his side except my corporal form; my heart, my soul, my sanity, it was all thanks to him. It's only right that he takes what makes me 'me' with him when he leaves.

Nothing will ever be the same. This evening, Shogo Makashima died. With him, so did I.


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