Halo Nine: Shinra:
My body laid there in front of my apartment with four bullet holes in the back. I know what you are thinking. How the hell did I get here?
Well, I’m going to tell you.
-Twelve Hours Ago-
Celty and I started with a typical morning. (Typical doesn’t really exist anymore, does it?) My love went out to work for the day.
“Take care,” I said.
[I’m leaving now,] she typed. My love left for the day. Things started to get weirder from there.
There came a knock on the door.
“Who is it?” I asked.
“Sensei!” Mikado shouted. “I need your help.” I sighed to myself. I didn’t expect to be working already. I turned and walked to the front door. Mikado stood outside.
“Is Celty here?” he asked.
“No,” I said. He breathed out in relief.
“Oh good,” Mikado said. I looked him up and down.
“What’s wrong? What’s on your mind?” I asked. Mikado held up his right arm. The skin looked so raw and scratched up. I could see the blood coming up from the broken skin.
“What happened there?” I asked.
“I got bitten by a deity,” he said. “And now it looks like this.”
“Does it hurt?”
“No. But it itches.” Mikado started scratching his wrist again. I grabbed his wrist. A warm surge ran through my body.
“Okay, I get it,” I said. “Come inside.” He followed me into the apartment. Now, I don’t run the experiments on the tadpoles. That’s not my field. I just assist my dad and Emilia. I looked at Mikado’s wrist when I sat him down.
“How long has it been like this?” I asked.
“Two days now,” Mikado said.
“Two days?” I asked. He might as well have taken a grater to his skin. I wanted to say this was an allergic reaction at first.
“No, it’s not that,” Mikado spoke up. “I think she infected me with something.” I must have looked so confused. He rubbed his forehead.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Mikado added. “It’s just—”
“You want my dad to run a test on it, right?” I asked.
“Yes!” he was quick to say. I shrugged my shoulders.
“Alright,” I said. “Wait here.” I walked out of the living room and came back with the kit dad issued me with. One blood drawing later and I had what I needed. Mikado didn’t even react when the needle went in.
“Now what?” he asked.
“Well,” I asked. “I will run the test and get the results to you ASAP. For now…” I led him over to the kitchen sink. I washed and wrapped up Mikado’s wrist with a bandage.
“Please don’t try to scratch it,” I said. “I know you can’t feel pain anymore, but still.”
“Alright,” Mikado said. “Thank you for this.” He bowed and walked out of the apartment. I thought I was going to have a quiet day after that.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
For the rest of the day, I could only think about my Celty. I mean, I usually do. But today, I kept getting lost in my daydreams about her. I kept messing up my chores because of it. The curtain nearly got sucked into the vacuum cleaner. I can’t tell you how many calls I missed. Shiki-san must be wondering where I am right now. I kept texting Celty every five seconds. Celty! My mind started to go back to last night. It had been one of those rare nights in. Celty and I stayed up to watch a horror movie. I don’t remember what it was called at the moment. I don’t think describing the ghost woman would help either.
My hands inched closer to hers. She didn’t respond at first. I inched my hand closer. I started to move in closer as well. I chuckled to myself as I leaned in to kiss her. Celty pushed me off. I pouted at her.
“Celty!” I whimpered.
[What are you doing?!] she typed at me. I looked like a hurt little puppy. I rested by head on her shoulder.
“Aw, Celty!” I wailed. I stared up at her. I could see her frowning at me. I tried to kiss her again. Celty smacked me off again. I sat back, pouting. I turned back to the movie. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had let me kiss her.
I sighed with broom in my hand.
Hm? Was that the doorbell? Curious, I walked over to the front door.
“Hello?” I asked. There was no answer. The doorbell rang again. That should’ve put up red flags for me. I looked out the peep hole. Deep red eyes stared back at me. Right then, I should’ve waited until they were gone. I knew I should have. I know it was stupid and I don’t understand why I did this now.
“Hello?” I asked, opening the door.
-One Day Earlier-
A pale man walked up to Rampo Biotech. This was the place. Might as well get this over with. He walked up to the front door. The smell of disinfectant made his nose hairs curl. The man covered his nose and walked up to the front desk. The receptionist looked up at me.
“Can I help you, sir?” she asked. The man lowered his hand and smiled with such charm.
“Why yes,” he said. “I am looking for Lab…” He tries to think as he snaps his fingers. “Oof. Where was it again?” The receptionist gave him a strange look.
“Lab 528?” she asked. The pale man perked up.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. The receptionist pointed to the elevator.
“Go down to the elevator and go up to the fifth floor,” she said. The man’s thin lips curved into a smile.
“Why thank you, darling,” he said. He bowed and walked away. But then, the man paused at the elevator doors.
“You might want to get that rash under your eye checked out,” he said. He pushed the up button.
“Huh?” the receptionist asked as she felt around under her right eye. The man was already gone.
Meanwhile, Daichi and Osamu were already at work with the new batch of flowers. The younger man looked up at the clock behind his partner.
“I think it’s about time for our next guest,” he said.
“Heh,” Osamu said. Suddenly, the door buzzed.
“Ah, that’s them now,” Daichi said. He walked over and pressed the button. The door slid open. The pale man stood in the doorway. Daichi got a good look at him through his mask. The man came up to his own height at 5′8". His white shirt and black pants added some class to his appearance. The black suspenders and spiked collar around his neck added a contradiction. The man smirked.
“Welcome,” Daichi said. “We have been expecting you.” The man smiled at him.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he said. Daichi moved aside to let him in. Osamu watched as the pale man walked inside. He raised an eyebrow behind his mask. The man turned his attention to him.
“Is there something on my face?” he asked. Osamu shook his head.
“No, you just remind me of someone I know,” he said.
“Do I?” the man asked. Osamu nodded once.
“Heh,” the man said. Another thought crossed his mind. “Oh, you need to check on your receptionist down there. She’s got some sort of a rash under her right eye.”
“Ah yes, Okui-san made contact with her,” Daichi said. “It was pretty bad from what I heard.” The pale man thought about that for a moment and nodded.
“Yeah, that sounds like him,” he said.
“Are you ready for your pill?” Osamu asked. The pale man stood up straighter.
“Why yes,” he said. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out an ornate brown leather wallet. He frowned at the silver edges.
“God damn this thing is heavy,” the man said. “I have tried to throw it away but it keeps coming back.”
“Let us help you with that,” Daichi said.
“Right,” the pale man said. Osamu popped open the cap. One pill dropped into his gloved hand. The pale man snatched it up with his free hand and took it. The pulsing sensation ran through his body. The wallet fell out of his hand. Osamu caught it with his gloves and slipped into the plastic bag. The pale man grinned.
“Thank you so much,” he said. “And now I am off to find my target.” The man bowed before turning to leave. Osamu gave him a small wave.
“Good luck, pal,” was all he could say.
I looked down at my chest. Was that a…
The pale man with red eyes smirked at me. He only said one thing to me.
“Nothing personal kid, really.”
Bang. Bang. Bang.
I fell to the ground at his feet. My blood spilled out everywhere. I could hear him smirking at me.
The last two bullets were to finish the job. He didn’t say a word after that. He just turned and walked away. He left me there to die.
And that’s how I died.
But it didn’t end there.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself floating around in the air. I looked around so confused. Huh? Wasn’t I just shot?
I looked down at my chest. Four entrance wounds and two exit wounds. The front of my shirt was stained red. Yes, I was shot. Apparently, I’m dead now. My heart dropped. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my Celty. I have to get back. I can’t stay here. But… Where am I? Why am I here?
I looked down.
My body was lying there in front of the open door. My blood was still running out. By now, I saw Shiki running over to my body. Figures that he would come over. He doesn’t like to be ignored. So of course he would come over and see why I wasn’t answering.
“Oh shit!” I heard Shiki shout. He pulled out his phone. He surely isn’t calling the police. Who then? My dad? Celty? I tried to float down but I was yanked away before I could listen.
They took my body away before sundown. I do not know where. Probably to Yagiri Pharmaceuticals. Somehow, I was okay with this. Something told me that my body was going to be okay. My body felt lighter as I was floating away. I guess I’m going somewhere.
I covered my nose. Why does it smell like cheap sake here? My eyes started to water up. Where was I now? I looked forward and noticed that the walls, ceiling, and carpet were dark red. A white diamond chandelier hung from said ceiling. Vintage black and white photos hung from the wall. I felt compelled to walk up to the front desk up ahead. I couldn’t explain it really. A girl who looked nineteen dressed in a kimono looked me up and down.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she said in a low voice.
“I know!” I shouted. “I have to get back to my Celty!” The girl, I assumed was the receptionist of this place, held up her hand.
“I know,” she said. “You’re not even on the list. See, look.” I noticed her messing around on the screen of a tablet before she turned it to me.
“See?” she asked. I knelt down for a better look. I read “Judgement List” across the top. The list was empty. I looked up at this receptionist.
“So… how do I get back?” I asked. “I really need to get back to my Celty. Please let me go back!” The receptionist put up her hand.
“Shhh, shhh, shhh,” she said. She shushed me again when I opened my mouth. I took a hint and went quiet. The receptionist lowered her hand. She gave me a calm smile.
“My name is Miiko,” she said. “At your service.” Miiko took a quick bow. I tried calm down as I stared at her.
“Can you get me back to my Celty?” I asked. Miiko perked up.
“Why yes,” she said. She turned towards the back. “Come with me.” Miiko walked down the back hall. I stood on my tiptoes looking back. I looked side to side before following behind.
Someone breaks into the basement morgue of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals. They walk up to drawer number 061. They pulled open the drawer. The sheet was pulled back. Shinra’s body just lay there cold and untouched. Everything from his clothes to his glasses had been stripped off. They wait for a few seconds.
“What took you so long?” Shinra asked after he opened his eyes. He sat up on the slab and climbed off. After the doctor got dressed, he escaped with his accomplice.