Halo Seven: Osamu:
I never really had a future. I thought I would be doomed to end up in prison like aniki. The old man bailed on the family. The old lady didn’t give a shit. So, yeah. I thought that it was what it was. Care to guess what changed that? You guessed it. Kitano-sensei.
Why am I following him? Why am I going along with this crazy game? I don’t really believe any of this. So why do I stay?
He doesn’t see me as trash. Kitano-sensei doesn’t baby me either. He actually treats me like a person. He’s the one who stopped me in a way. I owe him nothing but I have to see who this man is.
I looked over at Daichi. He looked over the new batch of flowers. This guy creeps me out at times. He may look pretty and all. But this guy is twisted in his own way. Who knew that he could be sadistic when he can be?
Daichi looked up at me.
“Something wrong?” he asked. I shook my head.
“Nothing,” I said. “Nothing at all.”
“Hm,” was all Daichi said. He went back to work. I did the same. I could never understand what he was thinking.
Sota and Anzu stared at him.
“What kind of monster?” Anzu asked. Yukari had a serious look on his face.
“It’s kind of hard to explain,” he said.
“Try us,” Sota said. Yukari shoved his hands into his pockets.
“I smelt something strange in the air from the past few days,” he said. “Not like an odor. More like… More like…”
“Rubber and something sickening sweet?” Sota asked.
“Yeah!” Yukari said.
“You know, I’ve smelt it too,” Anzu said. The girly tadpole narrowed his eyes.
“Were you following the monster too?” he asked.
“Sort of,” Sota said. “I was trying to track the smell when I ran into her.” Anzu gave him the side-eye.
“What do you plan to do with this monster?” she asked. Yukari kind of shrugged.
“I haven’t figured that part out yet,” he said. But then he paused.
“It’s so strange,” the tadpole said. “It feels like I’ve done this before. All of it. The chase, meeting you, the monster itself. Am I sounding crazy?”
“No,” Anzu said. “I’m starting to remember it too.”
“Hm,” Sota said. The other two turned to him. He kind of shrugged.
“I just don’t remember this,” he said. Yukari was about to ask why when he turned around.
“Oh,” he said. Anzu and Sota looked up. They spotted a man dressed like a waiter dragging his feet on the other side of the street. A rash of red bumps covered his skin. Small drops of red followed behind. The man groaned as he moved.
“Is that…?” Sota began to ask.
“Yes,” Yukari said, nodding. Suddenly, the rash-covered man stopped in his tracks. The three tadpoles froze and waited. Their target slowly turned his head. Anzu reached for her bamboo sword.
“Hold it,” Sota held out his arm. The man turned away and started walking again. Yukari felt a chill ran up his spine. He took off running after the dragging man.
“Yukari!” Anzu yelled. She took off after the girlish boy.
“Hey! Wait up!” Sota shouted. He started up his scooter and ripped after the other two tadpoles.
-Six Hours Earlier-
That same man dragged himself up to the doors of Rampo Biotech. His lower jaw ached as the rash started to ooze puss and blood. He wiped away his mouth, leaving little droplets on the ground. The substances hardened under the sun.
The man looked at the glass doors. Anything to get rid of the pain.
One step forward and the doors slid open.
Drag. Drag. Drag. Drag.
The poor receptionist gasped when she said the bloody puss-filled rash around the pale man’s mouth. He dragged himself to the front desk. The man tried to mumble his request. The receptionist blinked.
“What?” she asked. The man tried to open his mouth.
“Lab… 528!” he managed to moan out. The receptionist blinked at first. Blood and puss dripped on her desk.
“Lab 528?” she asked.
“Yes!” he moaned with a rattle in his throat. The receptionist pointed to the elevator.
“T-T-T-That way!” she shouted. The man forced open his jaw. More blood and puss flew out. A little bit landed on the poor receptionist’s face. She fought back the urge to scream.
“Thank you,” he said, bowing. The man turned and walked to the elevators. The receptionist winced as the doors slid closed.
I looked up when I heard the call box buzzer.
“Ah, our next client is here,” Daichi spoke up. We watched as the door slid open. A man dressed like a fancy waiter dragged himself into the lab. He left trails of blood and gross fluids in his wake. Now I am used to horrible smells. But this…
I took a step back as I took a deep breath in my mask.
“Welcome!” Daichi spoke up. He always knew how to do these things. I followed his lead and bowed. Our client tried to speak through his crusted over mouth.
“Excuse me?” Daichi asked. The decaying dude reached into his vest and pulled out a small brown and silver flask.
“It won’t let me eat!” he managed to wail. He tried to shake the flask free but it wouldn’t leave. Someone could’ve mistaken it as glued to his hand. I pulled out the bottle of pills and twisted it open. I walked over with the second pill in hand.
“Here,” I said. I slipped the pill into the crack of his lips. His body went stiff as the flask fell out of his hand. Daichi managed to catch the flask in a plastic bag before it hit the floor.
“Better?” I asked. Our client could fully open his mouth.
“Yes,” he said. “And hungry. Really hungry.” I took a step back. He took a bow.
“Thank you,” our client said. He wasn’t dragging his feet as much. Still left a mess though. Good thing we have suits on. Kitano will want to look at that fluid and want to use it later.
“Let’s collect up the sticky fluids for samples later,” I said. I could tell that Daichi was grinning at me.
“I had the same thought,” he said.
“I’ll go get my kit,” I said, grinning under my mask.
“I’m going to stay at your place tonight,” Erika said. Walker turned to her.
“Oh no, I’m fine, Erika,” he said. His fellow otaku shook her head.
“I do not trust you to do anything else,” she said. He gave her a strange look.
“I thought this didn’t bother you,” he said.
“Yeah. But this isn’t right. Haven’t you noticed anything off?”
Walker stopped in his tracks and took a moment to think. “A little bit.” His fellow otaku frowned. She had the feeling that he wasn’t fully grasping the gravity of the situation. But then, the fujoshi paused.
“What is it?” Walker asked.
“How long has he been staring at us?” Erika asked, pointing behind him.
“Huh?” her fellow otaku asked. He turned his head. The man dressed as a fancy waiter stood inches away from them. The area of his mouth looked dried out with the rash. He broke into a huge nightmarish grin.
“Found you!” he shouted. The otaku pair had a strange sense of Deja vu. But then, the man turned and looked over his shoulder. Yukari, Anzu, and Sota hurried over to him. He clapped his hands together.
“Perfect!” he cheered. “You all are here!” Walker raised his eyebrow.
“Uh… who are you?” he asked. The man frowned as he pouted.
“Aw, you don’t remember me?” he asked. He sighed and shook his head.
“Oh well,” the man said. “Looks like I’m going to have to reintroduce myself.” He took a bow.
“My name is Okui,” he said. “A pleasure to meet you.” Walker stepped forward on an impulse.
“I’m Walker,” he said. “This is Erika.” To Erika, this all started to look familiar. Something told her what was coming next. Okui held up his hand.
“Hang on, Erika-san,” he said. “We’re not done here.” The man turned to the three tadpoles staring at him.
“Come over here,” he said. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to try and eat you. I promise.” Yukari wrinkled his nose.
“Why should we?” he asked.
“It’s only proper since you followed me here,” Okui said. Anzu took a step forward.
“I am Anzu,” she said.
“Sota,” Sota said on his scooter. Yukari groaned and threw back his head.
“Fine! I’m Yukari!” he groaned. “I don’t see the point in this again. You just want to us all over again!” Walker’s eyes opened fully.
“Like an anime boss battle?!” he asked. The gross man chuckled.
“Guilty,” he said. Okui bowed with grace.
“I am Okui of gluttony! And I challenge all five of you to a duel!” he said. Anzu gave him an odd look.
“Right now?” she asked.
“Well, not right now,” Okui said. “I’m giving you a bit of a head start. This battleground is less than ideal for me. Here, I will give you the exact place and you can find me there.” The man pulled out his phone and typed away on the keys. The quintet didn’t move. Somebody had to say something. Surely, someone should.
Suddenly, their phones buzzed. The otaku pair and the tadpole trio pulled them out. From there, more memories of this battle resurfaced. By the time they looked up, Okui was gone.
I may not believe in this game we play but I keep playing because I want to see what happens next.
“So who do you think is gonna win?” I asked Daichi as we walked down the hall. He turned to me and shrugged. Daichi wasn’t much of a gambling man. Didn’t matter to me. Things are just about to get interesting.