Tea Leaves and Red Silk


Match Thirteen: Akateko:

Kiku hadn't come out of his miserable funk even since his therapist died. Sena wasn't going to have any of this anymore. One night, she turned to her husband in bed.

"Look," she said. "I can't have you like this. Talk to me. What's wrong?" Kiku rolled over, pulling the sheets over his head. Sena frowned, puffing up her cheeks.

"Come on, now!" she complained. "You've been like this since you got out of the hospital four years ago! I can't go on worrying about you like this! You have to tell me what's wrong!" She expected him to turn her away, but to her surprise she could something when he started mumbling.

"What did you say?" she asked. She turned him to face her.

"Angels," Kiku said.

"What about angels?"

"They… They are…?"

Sena tilted her head. "They are?" Kiku's body became stiff. He moved his mouth, but no words came out. His wife grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.

"Stay with me, Kiku!" she shouted. "You can do this!" His mouth began to move faster.

"Kiku!" Sena yelled.

He choked out the sentence, "They are suffering in Gomorrah!" The Japanese man collapsed after he spoke. Sena shook him and smacked him on the cheek.

"Kiku? Kiku?" she asked. His wife pressed two fingers into the side of his neck. Good, he's still alive. The words "angels" and "they are suffering in Gomorrah" prompted her to jump out of their futon and boot up her laptop.

"Angels, suffering, Gomorrah," Sena said as she typed it in the search box. The first batch of results didn't give her much outside of a Biblical subtext. She shook her head as she scrolled downwards. Christians have weird beliefs sometimes. Her husband didn't give her much to work with. Maybe she needed to get specific in her search?

Sena went to advance options and chose to filter out anything to do with the Bible. The results were cut down to fifty percent. Now she came to the good stuff. It started out with crackpot theories. The pages were something that would make 2-chan proud. Sena raised an eyebrow. Fine, but good enough. That's when she came across one link that begged to be looked at.

"The Wasteland and Project Gomorrah?" she asked. Before she knew it, Sena clicked on the link. The image above the blood dripping title was a humanoid-like creature huddled on the ground, biting its bone-skinny fingers. It looked like it had been skinned alive. The grainy quality wasn't enough to not make Sena cringe.

What the hell? She scrolled down at read through the table of contents. Before continuing on, Sena bookmarked the page. She began with the introduction.

"In the mid to late-80's, a small group of doctors began experiments to bring the apocalypse," Sena read. She snorted at the first sentence. Bull! Still, she kept reading. "The project's head, Kitano-sensei, set out to create what he called the wasteland. The project itself was split into three parts: angel, tadpole, and heaven. Details vary about what exactly happened or the end goal. Many of the doctors involved with the first version of Project Gomorrah kept their notes hidden from the public. Rumors circulated that the first Guinea pigs were mental patients with no families. The following is a collection of notes and photos from the actual experiments." She clicked the next link.

The notes were broken down into sections titled the wasteland, angel, tadpole, and heaven. Sena remembered Kiku talking about angels and found herself drawn to click on the section for Project Angel. Across the top were links to the notes, gallery, and journals to the doctors in charge of said project. Against her better judgement, Sena clicked on the link for the gallery.

More pictures of skinned humanoids filled her screen. This time, they looked clear and in bright colors. Sena choked back vomit from so much red. Some of these creatures were covered in blood or chewing on unidentified meat. She didn't want to take a guess what they were eating. The creatures open mouths seemed to be screaming. Some of the mouths missing teeth while others had rotting teeth. The more Sena looked at the picture, the more her stomach turned. Her brain couldn't form any thoughts that could be described as the tip of the mountain of horrors.

Back in the bedroom, Kiku's eyes widened as he gasped. His heart pounded in his chest as his body broke down in a seizure. His choking noises made Sena run into the room.

"Kiku?" she asked. "Baby?" His wife climbed on top, trying to keep him still as she phoned for help.

"119, what's your emergency?" the operator asked.

"My husband is having a seizure or something!" Sena shouted. "Please hurry!"

"We will send an ambulance over to you right now!"

"Okay, thank you!" Sena turned her attention back to Kiku as foam began to form at his mouth. "Stay with me Kiku! Don't you fucking die on me, you hear? Don't you fucking die on me!" She used her pillow and their blanket to stuff it behind his head.

In the Kiku's office, the laptop erased the history and shut itself down.

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