This is only but one of many possibilities of how the end will play out.
Germany would be the next victim to the pandemic. But that is not that story. We’re going days before that.
Ryugamine Mikado stared out the window with his cigarette hanging out between his fingers. He been here since before Christmas and he still can’t find it. He started to wonder if his information was wrong.
No. The information was right. Maybe he missed something. Where hadn’t he looked?
Mikado turned his head. Oh. He walked over and picked up the phone.
“Hello?” he asked. “No, I haven’t found it yet. I know. I’m still working on it. I know. I know. Just give me more time. Yes, I know that.” The tadpole sighed. He rubbed his forehead.
“I will get out in them,” Mikado said. He hung up his phone. The tadpole took a puff of his cigarette. He first arrived here a little bit before Christmas. Already, he stood out in this city. He could already hear the whispers around him. Mikado didn’t pay it any mind. He received a tip in his email about an item that he would need to turn the tide against the Apocalypse game back in the past. (Ha, email. When was the last time he used that?)
“Hm?” Mikado asked. “Key to Ending the Madness” was what the subject line read. He couldn’t recognize the address. 1111122223333344444 ? What the heck was this? Mikado looked behind him in the hotel room. Jessie Goodwin was still asleep beside his son, Akira, in their bed. The tadpole drew in a breath and tapped the screen.
The message didn’t make any sense at first. The characters were all mixed up and written in funny ways. Mikado took a moment to read through each line. He went through the middle character in each line. When he clicked the message again, it suddenly became clear. Right then, Mikado knew what he needed to do.
The tadpole looked at his clock by his bed. 9:53, huh? There wasn’t much to do around the hotel. Might as well go out again. Mikado snubbed out his cigarette and walked out of the room. Housekeeping would not enjoy the smell. But she wouldn’t complain about the lack of mess in the room just the same.
Snowflakes fell onto Mikado’s short spiky black hair. He’s used to the cold by now. His life is his twenties felt frozen. That what happens when you lose everything. Mikado glanced around his surroundings. Christmas decorations were still up on the shops and restaurants. Despite the big crowd, he still stood out. Mikado was used to the stares in his directions. His nature attracted attention—wanted or not. Still, that was not on his mind. A mother and her daughter hurrying by reminded him of Itori and Sakura back in New York.
“Are you sure this will work?” Itori asked him.
“It has to,” Mikado said. “We can’t give up.” He held out his phone and started typing on the keys.
“What are you doing?” Itori asked.
“Making some notes,” he said. “I only hope that it will go through.”
Mikado reached into his coat pocket and pulled out another cigarette. He held up his right index finger and lit up the tip. A flicker of warm felt good against his face. A dull smile spread across his face. Mikado walked further down the street. He didn’t pay any attention to the sex workers checking him out. He shuddered as he could smell their perfume. One was on her cycle. Mikado remembered them well. His memories wouldn’t let him forget anymore.
The tadpole rubbed his forehead as he tried to push them out of his head. He pushed himself to walk away faster. Mikado could feel their disappointment on his back. There was no time for that. It was then he remembered that there was one more place in Berlin that he hadn’t looked yet. However, there was just one problem.
Mikado found his way to an antique book shop. He’s past by it so many times. The tadpole leaned up against the glass. This shop was closed. Usually, Mikado would have no touch breaking in and out of locked building with no trouble. But…
The tadpole reached forward and touched the glass. A deep chill filled his body as he saw flashes of death dance before his eyes. A dog whistle scream filled his ears. Mikado yanked back his hand. He cursed himself. Now, he remembered why he avoided this shop. It began to make sense of why the owner glared at him on the twenty-third.
Mikado took a step back started to think. This shop had three barriers around it. One in the doorway, one in the middle, and one in the back room. He hadn’t seen anything like this. Time was not on his side and he still hadn’t broken through the barrier.
Mikado looked down when his phone buzzed.
“Hm?” he asked. The tadpole pulled out his phone. New text. Mikado tapped the screen. Ah, another party tonight, huh? He scrolled further down the screen. Another message caught his attention.
“Come out and see me tonight. I can help you with your problem.”
Mikado already knew who this was. He turned and walked further down the street.
He made it down to the Monkey Bar. Mikado could hear the music from outside. He would be here. But why this place? Guess he got sick of the club scene. No matter. This could be his last chance.
Mikado went inside. The smell of cigarettes and booze didn’t faze him at all. The people sat the bar and tables with their drinks. He pulled out his phone.
“I’m here,” he typed. “Where are you?” Mikado looked around for a seat. Not many people paid that much attention to him for a change. But that didn’t matter. The plague would come for Germany in a few days’ time. More people were going to die. Not on his watch.
His phone buzzed in his hand. Mikado looked down at his text.
“I’m in the back,” the reply read. The tadpole looked around towards the back. Okay then. Mikado pushed his way through the crowd. He closed his eyes and turned invisible. The tadpole tried to block out the sounds around him. The crowds grew worse every passing day around him. It didn’t help that more holidays were coming up. Mikado looked behind him. Did these people know? Did they know that time was running out for them? He doubted it.
The tadpole made it to the back door. He became vision as he opened the door. Cigar smoke made his nose burn.
“I’m here,” Mikado whispered.
“Back here,” an old man croaked. The tadpole slipped through the door and walked inside. His eyes adjusted to the darkness. The room felt like it was closing in around him. His footsteps echoed with each step. Mikado pulled out his phone and turned on the light.
“Put that light away, boy!” the old man said in a raspy voice. Mikado put the phone back into his pocket.
“Sorry about that,” he said. He finally saw the old man holding up his phone. He smirked at him in the darkness. Mikado stared him down.
“Why here?” he asked. “Did you get tired of the club scene?”
“Yeah,” he said. Mikado walked up to him until he was inches away from the old man on the couch. Said old man held his own phone in his hand.
“Yo,” he said.
“Hello,” Mikado said in a flat tone. The old man grinned at him. The tadpole tired not to look at his missing teeth. His beard came down to his chest. The old man’s black leather coat was buttoned up to his chin. Age spots and wrinkles covered his face. He sat back with his arm spread out on top of the couch. Mikado heard the stories about him.
They met all the way back in Russia. When they first met, the bartender whispered a little warning to him.
“You’ll want to steer clear of him,” he whispered. Mikado gave him an odd look.
“Why is that?” he asked. The bartender looked around for a moment before he leaned in.
“Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young,” he whispered in his native tongue.
“Why is that?” Mikado asked back. At first, the bartender about jumped back.
“You speak Russian?” he asked.
“Yes,” the tadpole said. The bartender tried to come back with his own response. Mikado narrowed his eyes.
“Why would I want to steer clear of him?” he asked again. The bartender lowered his head.
“I’ve said too much,” he said. He went back to work. “What would you like to drink?”
“Just some vodka,” Mikado muttered.
“Coming up,” the bartender said.
“You said that you had a way to break through that shop’s barrier,” the tadpole said back in present day Germany.
“I do,” the old man said.
“Let’s hear it,” Mikado said. The old man held up his hand.
“Whoa, hold on there,” he said. “You know I don’t give up information for free.”
“Come on, Zoryn!” Mikado complained.
“Comrade, you know how my business works,” he said. “I give you something and you give me something in repeat.” Mikado rolled his eyes.
“What do you want this time?” he asked. He knew better than to get involved with Zoryn. Nothing good ever came out of dealing with him. But time had forced his hand. The old man grinned with his missing teeth.
“A three-part delivery,” he said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mikado said.
“Hey, three jobs, three barriers,” Zoryn said. “Take it or leave it.” The tadpole dropped his shoulders. Now, he remembered why he hated dealing with this old man.
“Fine,” Mikado said. “What do I need to do?” Zoryn gave him a cold smile.
“Excellent,” he said. “Come and take a seat. We have business to discuss.” Mikado frowned as he sat down next to the old man on the couch.
“Good,” Zoryn said. “Let’s begin.”
This had to be a joke. But knowing Zoryn, it wasn’t. Mikado did not have time to get mixed up in some rebellion. But here he was, playing errand boy to that creepy old Russian dude. What did he want with a rebellion in this country anyway? Kind of reminded him of Izaya in a way. Mikado had to shake that thought from his head. Might as well get this over with.
Mikado made his way back to the bar. He found an empty stool and sat down. A barmaid looked up from drying a glass. Her cheeks turned bright red when their eyes met.
“Uh… What can I get for you tonight, sir?” she asked. Mikado glanced up at her.
“Oh,” he said. “Just some brandy.”
“Coming up,” she said. Mikado watched as she got back to work. Did he really have to do this? He didn’t want to get involved.
This isn’t my rebellion. Why the hell am I doing this? Then he remembered why. Mikado cursed himself as he rubbed his forehead.
“Is something wrong?” the barmaid asked. Mikado looked up. She held out a glass of brandy.
“Here you go,” the barmaid said.
“Thank you,” he said, bowing his head. Mikado kept his gaze as he took a drink. Zoryn’s voice echoed in his head.
"Go ahead and ask her,” he told him. The tadpole sneered to himself.
“Excuse me,” Mikado said through gritted teeth. The barmaid looked up.
“Hm?” she asked. Mikado already hated this.
“Is Shasha working here tonight?” he asked. The tadpole let that pause linger in the air. Maybe she wouldn’t know what he was talking about. Maybe could finish this drink and move on. The barmaid grew quiet.
“I’ll have to go in the back and check,” she said. Mikado frowned as the barmaid turned and walked into the back. Damn it, he would have more time wasted on this fool’s errand for a rebellion that he didn’t have time for.
“Damn it,” Mikado muttered under his breath. “Son of a bitch.”
Meanwhile, Zoryn pulled out his phone.
“It’s me,” he said. “Yeah. I got him to do it. It was easier than you think. He’s trying to undo the past. I don’t think it’s foolish. You are aware of what he is, right? Anyway, he’s doing it and it won’t be on our hands. You’re welcome. We’ll be in touch when something else develops. Goodbye.” Zoryn hung up and smirked in the darkness. He finished off his beer.
While he waited, Mikado’s phone buzzed.
“Hm?” he asked. The tadpole looked at his phone. Another new text. Felt so strange to actually get texts again.
“Hey babe! I missed you last night. There’s a party tonight. Come out and see me! Love you!”
Mikado sighed and rolled his eyes. The message came from her again. Her. He wasn’t supposed to get close to anyone in Berlin. But the void in his heart got the better of him.
Mikado ended up in a seedy nightclub. He didn’t know what he was looking for at the moment. He took a little break from his little quest. Right now, the tadpole sat alone at the bar. Megumi was right. The nightclub was no place for a tadpole. The pounding music made his ears ring. Mikado couldn’t get drunk or high. He didn’t know why he came here. He guessed that he just had to get away. One person could stay alone in a hotel room for so long.
The tadpole looked up at the dance floor. So many people here. The many colors seemed to blend together. Reds, golds, greens, yellows, purples, pinks, whites, silvers, and blues. The psychedelic lights made the blend even heavier. Too many Santas and elves dancing around too. Fake snow fell everywhere. Mikado reached up and brushed some of the snow out of his hair. Some even fell in his drink. It didn’t help that it was all glittery. Maybe he could just get up and leave.
That’s when he saw her.
She stood up on a small stage near the DJ booth. All of the white lights seemed to focus on her. He drew every detail of her into his brain. She looked like a butterfly in her long light blue dress. Her flowing sleeves could’ve passed as wings. Mikado could see every speck of glitter on her skin from across the room. Everything seemed to slow down around her. The jewels around her eyes added to the surreal glow she gave off. Sweat ran down bare glittered abdomen as she danced. Her dark red frizzy hair looked like a halo of fire.
Mikado found himself transfixed. He’s seen his fair share of beautiful women in his life through many time cycles. Even her thick light brown lips tempted him for a kiss. His old self wouldn’t even have the courage to get up and talk to her.
Now, he didn’t have that luxury.
He forgot that when she walked off the stage. His eyes followed her as she walked over to the bar. Her blue dress stood out in the darkness. The outer skirt and her sleeves fluttered behind her with each step. She was further down at the other end from him. The bartender came over and served her a drink. A man in his forties walked over to her with two drinks in his hand. She frowned and took one drink. After downing that one, she took the other drink and finished that one. She handed back both glasses. The man walked away, defeated. She turned back to the bartender and took her third drink. Mikado watched the whole scene intrigued. Who was this girl? He knew that he shouldn’t get involved with her. He really shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t.
Mikado paid his tab and followed her outside.
“Excuse me!” he shouted. “I saw way the way you happened that guy back there and I want to say that I am really impressed.”
“Thank you,” she said. The tadpole took hold of her arm. He caught a whiff of her cinnamon perfume as she whipped around. Her deep green eyes hypnotized him.
“Did you need something?” she asked. Her French accent drew his attention in deeper. Traces of his old self started to resurface.
“What is your name?” he asked. Her gaze softened.
“Lisette,” she said. Her little light blue kitten heels made her head come up to his chest. Mikado couldn’t tell if she was wearing make-up or not.
“I’m Mikado,” he said. Lisette slid out of his grasp. She started to walk towards the street.
“Hey, where are you going Lisette-san?” Mikado asked. Lisette glanced over at him.
“Home,” she said.
“Oh, where is that?” he asked.
“Home,” Lisette said. She put up her arm for a taxi. Mikado knew that he should’ve stopped this while he still has the chance. He should just turn around and leave it there. It didn’t help that he noticed the subtle way she kept eyeing him.
A light ivory taxi pulled up on the street. Lisette opened the door and climbed. But as she did so, the French woman pulled Mikado into the cab with her. She looked him deep into his eyes.
“Take me to your place,” she said in husky, flirty voice. Mikado turned to the driver.
“The Mercure,” he said. The driver pulled out of the road. Lisette kissed Mikado on the lips. They didn’t stop kissing as they rode back to his hotel.
He led her back to his room. Mikado used his keycard to unlock his room. He pulled her inside. By now, reason abandoned him. No, it had abandoned him when she pulled him into the cab. Mikado couldn’t turn back. He might as well ride with this. Lisette flopped back onto his bed. The tadpole reached for the light switch.
“Don’t,” she said. Mikado turned to see her watching him from his bed. She didn’t need to say any more to convey her message. He gave her a tired smile. Mikado walked over to the bed. He climbed on top for another kiss. She threw her arms around his neck. The cinnamon perfume engulfed him. His hands moved to her light blue dress. Lisette slid off his coat. She wasn’t Anri, Niki, or even Korihime. She was more toned down compared to Lilith. No, Lisette was in her own category.
She wouldn’t give him time to think tonight. Lisette seemed to enjoy going into the fast lane. He was going to get glitter all over his body. But somehow that didn’t matter. He just wanted to numb out the void again. Her thighs wrapped around his waist. Lisette’s moans took him back to reality. Mikado would be lying if he said that he didn’t get any pleasure out of this. He always does. It’s just not with his beloved Anri.
Mikado collapsed beside Lisette covered in sweat. Her lips curved into a smile.
“Have you ever been that… skilled?” she asked with flushed cheeks.
“Yeah,” Mikado said in a quiet voice. He had his back turned to her. Her fingertips ran down his spine. The tadpole inched away from her. He just had to go and do it again, didn’t he? It didn’t help that he could already see her future.
“Excuse me,” the bartender said. Mikado looked up from his phone. He noticed the grim look on her face. Oh…
“Hm?” Mikado asked. The barmaid forced herself to perk up.
“Uh… Shasha is in tonight,” she said. Mikado clicked his tongue.
“Damn it,” he muttered his breath.
“Uh…” the barmaid said.
“What?” the tadpole asked. She looked down at her hands as she shivered.
“She will be off her shift in ten minutes,” the barmaid whispered. “She is also going to have a baby next week.” She looked around before she slid a folded-up sheet of paper across the bar. Mikado grabbed it faster than she could look.
“Thank you so much,” he said, bowing his head. The tadpole paid his tab and raced out of the bar. More snow started coming down outside. That’s right, there was going to be a snowstorm this week. Shit. This mission kept getting more annoying. Mikado snubbed out his cigarette and sighed. He pulled out his phone. 10:52, huh? The tadpole dropped his shoulders. Looked like he and Lisette were going on a date after all. Mikado typed up a quick text and hit send. The faster he got this done the faster he would get out of Berlin before the pandemic claimed this country as well. Mikado had to act fast and if all went well, he could stop this pandemic from starting at all. He turned and walked down the street to the club for work and his “date”.