Ex-Chapter: Hush-a-bye, don't you cry
I wake up, and I am in hell.
Red meat presses down on all sides. Organic heat smothers me as the muscles that generate it crush my lungs.
I open my mouth, only to gargle and choke on body fluids. Blood, tears, sweat, piss, gal, stomach acid, cerebral fluid... Every excretion and secretion made by the human body flows into my mouth and nose.
The pounding of hearts, and the squelch of mucus fills my ears.
This is the Nirvana. This is where I died. The place where that shitty bitch had her pet bite off my head and dumped my corpse.
The flesh surrounding me tenses, and my bones groan. I push back with both body and spirit, but the pressure only increases. The cartilage in my joints clicks as it's compacted. Tendons creak like frayed ropes.
The memory of my head being bitten off plays again.
The feeling of barbed tongues piercing my skin, before a hundred tiny teeth gripped my skull.
The feeling of being smothered; only able to breathe in the stench of rotten meat and blood.
Powerful muscles squeezing down. My eyes bursting out of the sockets. Breaking teeth, then bones.
All of that happened in a few milliseconds. I shouldn't have felt anything. But, it hurt.
It hurt like hell.
It hurt so much I could die.
But, I'm already dead, so dying won't stop it.
I won't forgive them.
I won't forgive any of them.
That shitty Maltuva bitch. Her fucking slutty pet. The Maltuva. Shinozaki Ayumi, and her Bambino friends.
All of them.
"You think you can just put me to fucking sleep, huh? Nirvana?"
The dream is still in my memories. That fake world created from coincidence and magic. A world where everyone was satisfied and content.
"YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST ERASE MY HATE!"
I can't stand it. I can't stand it. I can't stand it.
I can't stand that they live. I can't stand that they exist. Killing them won't be enough. I'll tear them apart. I'll take everything they love. I'll make them live through everything I have, even after I tear their shitty hearts out.
"I WON'T FORGIVE YOU! ANY OF YOU! ALL OF YOU!"
I won't forgive. I won't forget. I won't move on.
"FUCK! FUCK! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKK"
My arms push against the flesh; hands slipping against its slimy surface. The muscles in my body buckle, but I force them to continue pushing. The sound of something snapping and popping comes from my shoulder.
A heartbeat, and the meat loosens.
I push. My body slips towards the direction with the least pressure. Kicking and squirming, I move towards what I think is the outside.
Suddenly, the meat ends.
I slip out, and land on something hard, cold. I look up.
It's the void; the void that swallowed the dream world.
I turn back, and see the mass of flesh behind me. The Nirvana squirms and pulses, as if looking for something.
"Hah! Piece of shit! No wonder you witches got wiped out by the witch hunts. If you can't even hold me, your magic wasn't that great in the first place."
The Nirvana squelches and oozes forward. It's slower than a snail. Spitting at it, I turn and walk off into the void. Soon, the red blob of flesh turns into a dot, and then vanishes into the darkness.
I continue walking, on and on into the void. It's empty. There's nothing here. Emptiness continues on in every direction. The ground feels eternally flat, like walking on a mirror. No sound. No light. No wind. No nothing.
"You trying to bore me to death?" I mutter. "Well it ain't fucking working. YOU HEAR ME! HUH?!"
My voice doesn't echo. There's nothing for it to bounce back from.
I continue walking, on and on. Simply walking. Just walking.
Suddenly, I hear a scratching sound. My feet lead me towards it. If it's something dangerous, I'll crush it. If it's something I can use, I'll take it.
A black shape comes into a view. A human figure, dyed entirely black. Its skin, its clothes, its hair... all of it is black. Yet, somehow, I can see it. Even though it should be invisible in the black world, I can see its shape. It's like a black light in a black room. A sort of faint violet outline surrounds it, separating it from the rest of the world. It's gnawing on something in its hands. That's what was making the sound.
It stops gnawing, and turns as I approach.
I can't see its face, but the thing in its hands is clearly visible. A human skull, picked clean of all flesh. The teeth are gone, broken or chewed off like everything else that was attached to it.
A black, man-shaped, thing; hunched over the skull in its hands, glares at me with invisible eyes. Puffs of dark smoke come from an equally unseeable mouth, like exhaust from an engine.
Its hands gently put the skull down on the floor, then it lunges.
A blur. A streak.
My spiritual energy lashes out. Simple momentum. A crushing force directed downwards. The strands of spiritual energy bind together, completing the methodology for my equation. The effect starts.
Different spiritual energy slams into the strands. A massive wrench is thrown into the gears of my machine.
It slams into me. Black hands grab at my face and shoulders. The smoke it releases with every breath increases as its mouth opens up.
It knocks me over. This things is bigger than me. I grab its head as it races toward my face. My arms shake.
Whatever this thing is, it uses spiritual energy. Enough spiritual energy to forcefully jam up the workings of my spiritual ability. A pure brute force tactic with no thought or intellect. Instinctive. It instinctively resisted my spiritual ability.
My arms shake, then buckle, allowing its face to inch towards mine.
When I was a kid, I once saw a documentary about lions. One of them caught a baboon once. It slammed into the smaller animal like a freight train, then held it down with its front paws and crushed its skull in its jaws.
The image I saw when I was a child overlaps with my situation.
My teeth grind together.
It's stronger than me.
Sweat pours out of every pore, making it harder to grip the black skin. One by one, the fingers of my left hand slip. Its head draws closer. The smell of rot and blood slams into me with every breath spat out into my face.
I can't breathe. Black smoke is all I can see; the fumes that pour out of this creature's mouth.
Fingers dig into skin. Mine search for eyes, ears, a nose… anything I can either poke out or tear off. The thing's simply squeezes my shoulders harder, preventing me from running away. My legs are pinned uselessly in between its knees.
Suddenly, it pulls back. It pushes me into the ground, as it straightens its arms. Like the hammer of a gun, it pulls back.
Its head falls. I can't catch it. It's too fast, too heavy. Like a sledgehammer, a black mass hiding a gaping mouth races towards me.
My left arm moves.
"NGGGHHHHHHHHH? ? ! ! !" I jam its mouth with my arm, and feel something snap inside it.
"GUH?! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ! !"
It bites. Broken bones are crushed. Flesh splits. Blood vessels burst.
"AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH! ! ! HNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! ! !"
It pushes down on me. Invisible jaws masticate; trying to chew apart the thing in between it and my face.
A metallic tinkle.
The chewing stops.
My arm hangs limply from its teeth as I gasp in pain.
The featureless face stares at something. Even though it has no eyes, I can feel the shift of its focus. I look at the thing it's looking at.
A silver bangle hangs from my bloodied wrist; a pretty loop of metal. Hinoe's bangle.
The things shakes its head, like a dog.
"AAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ! !"
I scream, then something warm slaps me in the face. It's my left arm. The weight holding me down is gone, and I push myself up.
The black creature stares at me, then quickly backs away to the skull it set on the floor. Picking it up, it turns and runs off into the darkness.
What the hell was that?
It had the shape of a man, but was definitely no longer human. Operating on instinct alone, it smashed my spiritual ability apart and almost tore off my arm. Was it some creature that lived here naturally, or some tortured soul that found its way in here like I did?
I shake my head.
That encounter must have shaken me more than I thought possible. I'm actually wondering what that thing was instead of how to kill it.
Something squelches behind me. The sound of something slimy inching its way across the ground.
Heat. The heat of something organic warms my back.
"Hmph… So that's how it is…"
I turn, and the Nirvana stands behind me; a mass of red and white muscle coated with mucous and blood. Arms, legs, hands, feet… every appendage a person could have sticks out from it like hairs, reaching and kicking towards me. Eyes open up in the flesh; round wet globes of various colors and sizes.
I start to get up. It's still as slow as ever. I can out run it. Even if my left arm is useless, I can still move faster than it.
Holding my damaged arm with the other, I force myself to stand. Everything hurts like hell, but I have to move. I'm not going back. I'm not giving up.
I take a step, and another.
I can make it. I don't have to run. All I need to do is limp faster than it. I'll think of a way to get out later. I can't let it catch me.
I take another step, then something yanks on my left arm.
"UGGHHH! AUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH! AHH, AH, KH, NNnnnnnnnnnnnggghh…"
It hurts. It fucking hurts.
Whatever grabbed my arm yanked it out of the hold of the other.
Tears and snot over flow from my eyes and nose. I don't even know when they started.
My blurry vision takes in the appendage in question. My left arm is pointed at the Nirvana, as if tied to it by an invisible string.
Gritting my teeth, I yank on it.
It doesn't come free. Instead, I deafen myself with howls of pain.
The Nirvana inches closer while I shiver and sweat.
I look at the arm again.
The bones are completely broken, crushed in half by that black thing teeth. It looks less like an arm and more like a rope mad of flesh; twisted, mangled, stretched. The attached hand and wrist are all that's left of its former shape.
Something silver glints from my wrist.
Hinoe's bangle; the loop of silver she used to always wear.
It points upwards, in the direction of the Nirvana; pulling my arm with it. The Nirvana pulses, as if swallowing something and the bangle pulls.
"UGH! GUH! AUUUUUGGGGGGHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ! !"
It yanks again, pulling my arm with it. The broken bones in my arm slide around, making a sound like shifting gravel.
"GUH! AAAHHHHH! UUUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHH! FUCK!"
My other hand reaches for the bangle; the silver circle binding me to my doom.
The last object that connected me and Hinoe...
Fingers stop, then curl into a fist.
I sense the spiritual energy; wrapped around my arm, connected to the bangle, leading into the mass of flesh before me.
I remember it. There's no way I could forget it.
"Are you… in here to?"
The flesh doesn't reply.
"Are you in here to? Huh?"
It inches closer. The fingers and toes of the many limbs sticking out of it almost touch my skin.
"ANSWER ME! HINOE!"
My voice rings into the blackness. Nothing returns.
"Shoulda figured." I mutter.
Hinoe died preventing a ritual from the Book of Shadows; she shouldered the majority of the feedback from the spell her sister cast. It's not too surprising her spirit got sucked in here as well.
I glare at the bangle; the bangle I took from her corpse when I buried her.
Memories of that night make me my teeth grind together.
Running up the mountain.
Breaking through the wards that surrounded it.
Digging through the rubble of the Shinozaki Estate.
Finding her hand from underneath a collapsed wall.
Lifting the rest of it as splinters dug into my hands, and grit dug under my finger nails.
Only to find that she had no head.
I searched through the rest of the wreckage for it, after I had finished screaming. The other cults and spiritually enlightened groups were sure to be on their way. I wasn't leaving any part of her to the vultures; to become part of their experiments or rituals.
I buried her in an unmarked grave, so nobody would find her.
She's been hurt enough by this world. At the very least, her final rest should be peaceful.
The bangle came off her wrist while I carried her body over my shoulder. I intended to bury it with her. However, after putting it around my wrist, I left it there.
The memories stop as a slimy finger brushes against my cheek. The hands and feet protruding from the Nirvana wrap around my arm; gently, slowly. Like white and pink spiders, they crawl up my limb.
"Tch... You still disagree with me, huh? Hinoe?"
The fingers and toes reach my shoulder. They slide along it, and wrap around my body and neck.
"I won't give up." I glare back at the multiple eyes staring down at me.
"I WON'T GIVE UP HINOE!"
I can't give up.
"I'm the last of the Yagoura! You can't stop me!"
I'm the last of the Yagoura; the last survivor of a clan victimized and destroyed by the powerless and weak.
"I'll slaughter them! All of them! Anyone who stands or stood in my way!"
The creeping hands wrap around my back, and hold my waist.
"I don't need your forgiveness! I don't need you to agree with me!"
I never needed those. I never needed you to support me or help me. I'll do this alone, with or without you.
"This is Justice! You got that, huh?! YOU GOT THAT HINOE!"
Justice. That's what this is. It's wrong to have the strong held back by the weak; to be beaten down and broken. It's against the laws of nature. It's against common sense; against what's right and what's wrong.
The hands pawing at my face stop. The black world swallows; an undulation across time and space. An infinite gap appears between me and the Nirvana. I watch as limbs are stretched like rubber bands; longer and longer, thinner and thinner.
The red mass disappears into a red dot with white strings, reaching for me, before disappearing.
The feelings that had flared up in me cool as the distance between me and everything expands. I merely float, useless arm still pointing in the direction of the Nirvana, in an ocean of blackness.
I sit up, and ripples spread out from me, as if I'm standing in a puddle. They move out, and new ripples emerge. Circles spread out over the black surface, and things pop up from them.
Faces. Human faces; attached to head, attached to bodies. They remain in the floor; glassy eyed, unmoving.
Bodies bob and float at my feet. A black bog filled with the corpses.
A chill goes through me, even though I should be used to the dead. Even though I'm dead as well, something freezes my insides.
The rapid beating of a heart. The heavy panting of lungs.
They aren't mine, but I can feel them. The emotions of someone else flow into me.
Images flash in front of my eyes.
A happy family of four. A wife and two children. A stable income. A normal life.
A late night out with co-workers. The thought of being scolded by the wife. A quick short cut through an alley.
A boy with a cheap plastic umbrella, face hidden by a hood. An arm twisting off, a leg bending in half, and then the plastic umbrella stabbing through a chest; through a heart.
My chest. My heart.
My own face grins at me, and twists the umbrella. Blood floods my lungs and bursts out my mouth.
Another person's memories. Another person's life.
Another family. An elderly set of parents. A new job. An annoying boss. A co-worker who's kinda cute.
A night of overtime. A phone call home to tell parents about it. The beep of an answering machine.
Finishing overtime. Returning home. A broken window. Dad with his head twisted the wrong way. Mom on the floor with her eyes bulging out; her head slightly squashed and leaking red. A boy, face hidden with a hood, sitting at the table. The crash of dishes as I'm slammed into a dish cupboard; broken glass cuts my skin. The boy walks up to me, and grins. Something snaps, and my world turns upside down.
Another cleansing. Another death.
The first day of middle school. The first time of meeting friends after summer break. Running past a boy with a hood. Stopping at the crossroad to wait for the light to change back.
A sudden shove, even though there isn't anybody nearby. My body flies forward. A truck barrels towards me.
Death after death. Life after life.
The lives of the people I killed. The lives of the people I hate.
Normal life after normal life.
They pour into my head. One after another, they go into my mind.
I watch parents smile at children, kids cheering on parents, neighbors helping each other.
Teachers, salesmen, construction workers, caretakers, students…
I vomit. My body heaves.
I don't want to see this. I don't want to see their smiles. I don't want to see their kindness.
A new vision enters my mind.
The life of a girl with a family of four; a father with glasses, a mother with her hair in a bun, a little sister with two pigtails.
An ordinary life. An ordinary family. An ordinary happiness.
The girl goes to school, listens to her teachers, chats with her friends, and goes home to her family.
The girl grows up, and begins to become a women.
The memories skip, and the girl is a woman. She wears white tear drop shaped earrings, and a silver bangle. She works at an institute for the supernatural and spiritual. She goes to a correction facility; a center for young criminals. She meets a boy there; a boy with blue eyes filled with hate.
She hands a piece of gum to the boy, and the boy throws it away. She picks it up, puts it back in his hand, and wraps his fingers around it.
She smiles. She says the future isn't set.
"STOP IT! ! !"
I claw at my head as Hinoe's memories play. Every moment we spent together. Every moment she spend alone. Every moment she spent with family.
I don't want to know this. I don't want to see this.
I don't want to know their happiness. I don't want to know what they were like.
An inhumane howl. A scream of anguish and despair. My throat bleed, and my lungs burst.
I don't want to know what it's like to be normal. I don't want to know that you were normal.
The images shatter. The bodies disappear. White hands caress my cheek, arms and legs wrap around my shoulders and body. The Nirvana stands in front of me; a wall of red and white flesh and intestines. Numerous eyes blink and stare at me. Blue, brown, green, purple, red… circles of all the colors of the rainbow open and close as they watch me.
My right hand is wrapped around the bangle on my left. Gentle hands caress the backs of my palms and tickle my fingers.
"Are you in there, Hinoe?"
My knees have long since buckled. I kneel before the Nirvana like a sinner before a priest.
The numerous eyes simply blink out of order. The numerous hands around me continue caressing my skin and hair.
"I won't stop."
I look up at the mass of flesh, and it looks back at me.
"I won't stop. I won't give up."
I can't stop. I can't give up. This is all I have. This all I know.
"I won't regret. I won't apologize."
No matter what I've been shown. No matter what I've done.
Normal happiness is the illusion of ignorance; the glass dream of those who haven't met evil.
"Even if it's for you, I won't do it!"
Even if I have to bury all our memories, all our smiles, I won't accept them.
"Kill me, eat me, or rape me. Take your pick."
Or else I won't stop. I'll kill everyone who deserves to die. I'll kill everyone who killed me, even the beloved sister of Hinoe.
The hands pull. The Nirvana drags itself forward.
Even if it means I merely follow the path behind me; I won't stop hating, I won't stop cleansing.
Death couldn't erase my emotions. Love couldn't soothe my scars.
The wall of flesh dimples, then opens up. A tunnel of flesh pulses; a hungry throat. Arms push me into the hole, worm like intestines suckle at my skin.
I smirk as the Nirvana swallows me.
The world will never be normal again, too many people died for that. My unsealing of the Nirvana did its job. The doors of the spiritual world are wide open. A new power struggle will begin, and new conflicts will rise. People will suffer, and people will die.
The normal life is gone, and will never return.
Muscular walls squeeze, pushing me further into the Nirvana. It's swallowing me. Bitter and sour fluids flow into my mouth and up my nose. My skin begins to dissolve, flesh unravels, and bones melt. The body I had is digested; acid, enzymes, and magic break it down and suck it up.
All my sensations burn up, then go silent.
My consciousness dwindles. My spirit flickers.
A warm feeling, like two arms around me. A soft feeling, like the bosom of a woman. A gentle scent, a familiar scent.
Misuto fades. His hatred buried in the Nirvana; the child that became a monster returns to sleep.
A soft hand caresses his cheek; a gentle touch filled with pity and sadness.
Hinoe's voice rings gently in the darkness.
"Become happy, Ayumi-chan."