Halo Twenty-Three: Makoto:
“Yeah, I got her back home,” Mikado said over the phone. “Where is she now?” He peeked around the corner into the room. Noriko lay sleeping in her futon.
“Ishikawa is asleep right now,” he said.
“Why was she out there in the first place?” Masaomi asked on the other line. His friend shook his head.
“I don’t know,” Mikado said. “She never did give me a straight answer. She didn’t give me any answer. I don’t even think she will remember last night.” Another thought crossed his mind.
“Where did everyone go last night?” Mikado asked.
“Huh?” Masaomi asked. “What are you talking about?” The tadpole boy shook his head.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just be careful, okay?”
“Sure…” he said. Mikado paused for a moment to look into the room again. Noriko turned over in her sleep.
“Listen,” he said. “I’m going to stay with Noriko until she wakes up.”
“Alright,” Masaomi said. “Do you want me to call you later?”
“Yes, please,” Mikado said.
“Good,” his best friend said. “How are you?” The tadpole boy leaned back and rubbed his forehead.
“Honestly,” he said. “I’m a bit weirded out.” Mikado laid down onto the floor. His mind went back to Noriko’s warning last night.
“I was trying to keep you safe. They were trying to kill you tonight. You saw the fog, didn’t you?”
Mikado stared up at the ceiling. He rubbed his forehead. Who was trying to kill him now?
I can’t sleep anymore.
I hear their voices even more when I am alone. Michiko is still trying to drag me into the fight. Why can’t she leave me alone? I don’t want to fight anymore. She can’t seem to get that through her head. I drew my knees to my chest.
“Makoto?” I heard someone say. My ears strained when I heard footsteps coming towards me.
“Makoto, why are you still up?” Evie asked. I shook my head. She rested her hand on my shoulder. I didn’t jerk away from her.
“Makoto,” she said again. Her voice sounded so distant. I started trembling. The color had long since drained from my face. I think I’m going to be sick.
Things have gotten worse. I can’t stop seeing them. It’s happening again, isn’t it? The city is going to fall into ruin, and everyone is going to die, aren’t they? I can’t escape it, can’t I?
I lifted my head. There she was. Michiko stood in front of me in my mind.
Oh god. Not you again.
We’ve got no choice.
I can’t do this anymore. It’s too late. They’re all going to die anyway.
I froze. Michiko folded her arms across her chest and frowned. She glared at me.
What do you want from me?
You have to help me stop this! There is still time. The horsemen aren’t here yet.
What’s the point? They are just going to screw us over no matter what! You know this. Why do you keep fighting this pointless war? You know they will win again. I could hear her growling at me. Why can’t she see the truth? Why was Michiko in such denial about this? But then she said something that made the air catch in my throat.
She’s starting to get more of her memories back, you know.
My stomach dropped.
That’s right. I think her power is starting to awaken too. Now, you have no choice but to fight back. He’s going to make us all active in this game.
No! I covered my head with my hands. Please leave me alone!
We don’t have a choice anymore. Things have changed. The game is different now. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. Get up and fight. If not for them, do it for her. She can’t handle it this time.
No… I can’t…
Are you just going to keep running away from her?!
I froze. Running away… Michiko was now glaring at me. As much as I hated it, I knew what I had to do. Suddenly, my body went stiff. I rose to my feet.
“Makoto?” I heard Evie ask. Before I knew it, I had walked out the door.
-Kitano and Etsuko-
Kitano looked at his tablet. “We still have loose thread to tackle” Etsuko turned her head.
“Orihara-san, you mean?” she asked.
“Correct,” he said. He glanced up at the doctor. “It’s getting too dangerous to have him running loose.”
“Agreed,” Etsuko said. “What do you plan to do?” Kitano sat back in his chair.
“It would work best if we make him more active in the game,” he said. “You see, he likes to be in the shadows. He just sits and watches everyone.”
“Yes,” Etsuko said.
“We can’t be having any of that, now can we?” the therapist asked. The doctor gave him a sly smirk.
“So, what do you propose?” she asked. Kitano looked up at her.
“We need to push him to be more active,” he said. “And it’s a good thing that circumstances around him are making him do so.” Suddenly, his phone rang.
“Excuse me,” Kitano said. The therapist picked up the phone.
“Yes?” he asked. “Uh-huh. So, you have it all set? Excellent. When can we see the results? Five to six days? Fair enough. Anything else you want to tell me? Alright, I will hear from you soon.” Kitano hung up.
“Well?” Etsuko asked. The therapist lifted his head.
“Mam has tracked down Raphael,” he said. “They are going to wake him up.”
“Should we act?” the doctor asked.
“No,” Kitano said. He turned off his tablet. “Just like before, Raphael could help us in the long run. As long as they don’t have Gabriel, we can still keep our lead.” Etsuko raised her eyebrow.
“And you know where it is?” she asked.
“Why yes,” he said. “But I cannot tell you. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I believe the less people know the better.”
“Did Yoemon-sensei tell you?” the doctor asked.
“Yes,” Kitano said. “His widow sent me the data from his computer before she had it formatted. I don’t even think she knew what she had.” He put his arms behind his head.
“Two people knew the location and now it is just one again,” the therapist said.
Why can’t they just leave me alone? She happened to find me again and everything became derailed for me. I stood alone in the street. I thought that I had lost her forever. But ever since that day that girl came talking to me about whether have I eaten yet or not. It sounded like my wife. But that can’t be. She’s been dead for years.
I don’t even know why I am out here. Evie’s probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me. I don’t think I can give her an answer. If that girl is who I think it is, I am in worse trouble than I thought. Right then, I knew that I had to track her down. But I don’t know anything about that girl. I don’t know where she lives. I don’t even know her name or what she looks like. And it’s not like Evie is going to look anything up about her either.
Looks like I’m going to have to turn to the last person that I wanted to talk to.
Hey. Michiko-san. Are you there? Hello? Hello?
“I’m right here,” I heard beside me. I reached out my hand felt around. My fingertips touched the top of someone’s head. My heart jumped in my chest.
“How the hell do you keep finding me like this?” I asked. Michiko pushed my hand off of her head.
“We’re connected through this game, remember?” she asked.
“Yeah…” I mumbled. How could I forget? They won’t like me go. They won’t like Michiko go either. Nor my wife if she’s still alive.
“She’s still alive,” Michiko said, interrupting my thoughts. Instead of being annoyed by her hearing my thoughts again, my mind went to what I wanted to ask.
“She found me,” I said.
“When?” Michiko asked.
“I think it was last month,” I said.
“What all did she say?”
“She asked if I was eating and said that I looked so pale. She also mentioned our baby.”
“Oh.” Her tone made my stomach drop. I grabbed her by the shoulders.
“How much does she remember?” I asked. “You have to tell me.” Michiko sighed and shrugged off my hands.
“I don’t really know,” she said.
“But you should at least know where she is,” I pleaded. “If you can track me down, surely you can find my wife too. Please tell me that.” I hadn’t realized that I had grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her. I let go of Michiko and backed up.
“Yes,” she said.
“What?” I asked.
“I can help you find her,” Michiko said.
“So, you know where she is?” I asked.
“Yes,” Michiko said. I quickly bowed to her.
“Please! Take me to her! I have to know everything that she remembers! I have to go there now!” I begged. I heard her sighing. She’s probably shaking her head at me.
“I will take you there,” she said. I sighed and dropped my shoulders.
“Thank you,” I said in a low voice. Michiko grabbed onto my hand and pulled me down the street.
“Whoa!” I shouted as I tried to keep up. Michiko paid no attention as she kept her pace.
He sat in their room, painting the walls. Ever since he learned that she was pregnant, he started working hard at many odd jobs and looking for better paying work. The house needed to be more child friendly as well. He managed to pick up baby furniture from thrift shops, along the curb to be thrown out, and in the landfill. He took his time fixing and painting each piece. His wife found them so cute. Anything to make her happy.
He paused when he heard footsteps approach the doorway. He turned to see his wife standing, watching him. She looked to be about two or three months along. No baby bump yet.
“Don’t come in here,” he said. “I’m still painting.” She took a step back.
“Sorry,” she said. He smiled and lowered his paintbrush.
“You’re going to love this room when I’m finished,” he said. His wife looked over at the light green paint drying on the walls.
“You didn’t have to do all of this,” she said.
“I wanted to,” he said. He sat back for a look. Half of the room was already painted light green. The man held out his hands as if the frame the room.
“What do you think?” he asked. “I want to paint animals around our room. Maybe some little sailboats.”
“Are you sure it will be a boy?” she asked. He shrugged.
“Call it a hunch,” he said.
“What if it’s a girl?” his wife asked. He sat back and took a moment to think.
“Maybe we can do animals and flowers,” he said. “What do you think?” His wife broke into a little smile.
“Yes, I would love that,” she said. She put her hands to her stomach. He picked up his brush and started painting again.
“I have your lunch on the table,” she said before walking back down the hall.
“Okay,” he said.
Michiko knocked on a door. My heart started pounding against my chest. I shouldn’t be doing this. I don’t even know what to say if it is her.
“Will you stop doing that?” Michiko asked. “It’s too late to turn back. We’re already here.” I frowned.
“Do you always have to hear my thoughts?” I asked. I heard the door open.
“Uh… who are you?” I heard a boy’s voice ask. He sounds so familiar.
“Is Noriko-chan here?” Michiko asked. There was a slight pause.
“Why?” this boy asked.
“This is really important that he sees her,” she said. “He has to know what she remembers.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” the boy said. Something seemed odd about him. I heard the door starting to close. I already I knew that Michiko had grabbed the door, keeping it from shutting.
“Hey!” I heard the boy shout.
“Ryugamine-kun!” Michiko shouted. Ryugamine? I know that I have heard that name before. But why can’t I place it?
“Excuse me,” I said. The struggling stopped. I could feel their eyes staring at me. My mouth and my mind seemed to move on their own.
“Have we met before?” I asked. That pause told me all that I needed to know.
“Mikado-kun?” I heard from inside the apartment. “Who is at the door?” Footsteps slowly got closer. Then came another pause. I heard a small gasp.
“It’s you!” I heard her say. “How did you find me?” Hearing her voice was all it took to send me back to that place. I could barely hear if anyone were calling me.
Hours later, Mikado finally returned home. The tadpole boy didn’t understand what happened in Noriko’s apartment. So much information made his head overload with more of his own memories. Mikado rubbed his forehead.
“I can’t really believe any of this, can I?” he asked. However, those thoughts were brushed away when he saw cop cars surrounding his apartment. Mikado ran towards the building when he saw two cops carrying out a person dressed up like a plague doctor from the Middle Ages. A third cop tried to stop the boy when he made it to the police tape.
“I’m sorry so sir, but you can’t go in there,” he said.
“But I live here,” Mikado said as he still struggled to get past the cop. “What is going on here?” The cop stopped pushing him back.
“Your landlord called us when he heard someone trying to break into your apartment,” he said. “By the time we got here, the intruder was already inside.” The figure was dragged down to a cop car. They seemed to be shouting something under the mask. One of the officers shoved them into the car. The third cop shook his head as he rubbed his forehead.
“Oh, that’s another thing,” he said. “They claimed that they would know who they were. Is that true, sir?” Mikado shook his head.
“No,” he said.
“Didn’t think you did,” the cop said. “We’re going to need you to file a report with us. That is if you want to.” The tadpole boy still tried to grasp the whole situation he found himself pushed into.
“Okay, I guess…” he said. The cop pulled out his notepad and started writing.