Halo Nineteen: Kitano:
Mikado was put on hold again tonight. As he waited, he started to do some thinking. Why did this person keep calling him? They still wouldn't tell him anything about themselves. These conversations started to annoy him. It didn't help that Mikado was running out of ways to give the caller the run-around. He couldn't even tell his friends about these phone calls just yet. Mikado sighed as he looked out the window. If only he had some way to…
Mikado sat up when the caller returned.
"Yes?" he asked.
By Friday morning, everyone in Ikebukuro was talking about the eaten corpse found in the lane. Rumors about a cannibalistic murderer was on the loose. Only the members of the Tandeki Group knew what was going on.
I sat at my desk, resting my chin on my hands. It was after business hours, but I didn't feel like going home just yet. In fact, I was in a chatty mood.
"Why am I doing this?" I asked. "Create a new world? What a romantic notion. Make myself a god? Don't be ridiculous. There is no god. So why am I doing this?" I felt myself smirking.
"Let's just say that I made a promise to someone. What exactly am I talking about, you ask?" I finished the drink on my desk. "Allow me to tell you a little story about myself."
His memories were getting more vivid.
This time, Masaomi saw himself walking up to the morgue. Coroner waited for him inside from the rain.
"Thank you for coming," the old man said in a hoarse voice. "We couldn't reach the victim's parents." He and Masaomi bowed.
"Where is she, doctor?" he asked. The coroner lowered his gaze.
"Follow me," he whispered. Masaomi hoped that this still a bad dream as they walked down the hall. The coroner led him into the room where the covered body was kept.
"Are you sure you can do this?" he asked.
"Yes," Masaomi said. The coroner turned to the covered body on the table.
"Tell if the body on the table is Mikajima Saki?" the old man asked. He pulled back the sheet to reveal a girl of seventeen with short light brown hair. Masaomi broke down into tears. All denial flew out the window. His beloved Saki was dead.
"I'm so sorry, young man," the coroner said.
Masaomi couldn't tell if this was a real memory or not. He looked at his cell phone. Three weeks and Saki hadn't picked up the phone. At this point, the leader of the Yellow Scarves feared the worst.
Someday, his phone rang in his hand. Masaomi's heart flipped when Saki's name popped up on the screen.
"Saki-chan?" he asked.
"Masaomi-kun?" his girlfriend asked. "You tried to call me about three hundred times. Is something wrong?" Masaomi tried to laugh it off.
"Nothing," he said. "It's just good to hear your voice again."
"Yeah." Masaomi's heart was at ease once he knew that Saki was still okay and alive. Of course that was a false memory, Masaomi thought. What was I so worried about?
Still, why could he get rid of this foreboding feeling in his gut?
"I will spare you the boring details of my life. You see, I was born with a serious heart condition that kept me in the hospital from ages two to fifteen. I will cut to the point of this story. When I was eleven, a nurse accidentally gave me the wrong medicine. It is possible that she got my charts mixed up with another patient's in the hospital at the time." I played with the glass on my desk.
"Anyway, as the doctors tried to lower my fever and keep me from dying, I awoke in a place called the Land of the Dead." My eyes trained on Izaya sitting across the desk from me. I didn't wait for him to ask any questions.
"What is the Land of the Dead? Take the aftermath of the bombings Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Kobe and mix them together. The ground was made of mud that was so thick that my little bare feet kept getting in it. The winds carried the howling of tormented wails. There was nothing but empty landscape and dark green fog. The people walking around looked shadowy stick figures acting like moving through the routines of a normal day in rural Japan.
"I walked through this Land of the Dead for hours. I didn't have a destination in mind."
"Didn't you want to get out?" Izaya asked.
"I didn't think about it at the time," I said. "As I walked, I heard a low moaning noise. I followed a muddy trail down to an open pit covered with wires. Naturally, I had to take a look. A woman with the face of a bull frog dressed in a dark red kimono with claws for nails. She was chained down and breathing profanities. Any normal child would've turned and ran away, but not me. I stood there standing, staring at such a creature with morbid curiosity. She looked up with blood red eyes.
"'What are you looking at?!' this creature yelled. Her voice shook the land around us. I looked at the prison that she was being held in. For some reason, I head this great urge to free her.
"'You don't look so happy down there,' I said. 'Would you like me to let you out?' The creature's laughter made the land shake up and down.
"'You? Free me? Don't be a foolish child.' I didn't listen as I looked around for the gate.
"'I don't see the door,' I said.
"'There is no door, you foolish child! I cannot be freed the normal way!' she told me.
"'Then how do I free you?' I asked.
"'Why do you want to free me?'
"'Just cause what?'
"'I just want to.'
"'And what do you get out of this?' the creature asked me. I only shrugged at her. Before I knew it, I woke up back in my hospital bed."
Nanami was making herself some tea that evening when another violent wave of memories attacked her.
This time, she was in a daze walking towards an open black van. The teacher stood in a daze as two men in black suits walked her inside.
Her memory jumped to Fujihara-san sitting on a fancy satin sofa under a deep red light. He spoke to her, but couldn't make out what he was saying. The same memories as before followed suit. The choking was so powerful that Nanami felt herself gagging as she sank to her knees. I' going to die! She managed to push herself to her feet and run to the bathroom.
After vomiting in the toilet, Nanami sat back, panting. She tried to calm herself down from trembling and looking pale. The teacher ran to her room and grabbed her phone.
"Keiichi-san, it's getting worse!" Nanami wailed. "Please help me!"
"Was it a dying fantasy? A drug-induced hallucination? Maybe both. Either way, I felt compelled to fulfill that promise I made in the Land of the Dead all those years ago."
"So you are trying to free this creature that you met when you were a dying kid?" Izaya asked.
"As much as I want to make it sound complicated, yes," I said. "I do have another reason for doing this, however."
"Oh really?" he asked.
I smiled at him. "Do you have time for another story?"
This morning, Chiharu sat down with Tatsuya at the kitchen table.
"I have to ask you something," she said with a straight look on my face. Chiharu didn't wait for Tatsuya to say a word.
"I keep having these dreams where I am flying through the sky where I hear somebody crying. When I looked down, I saw this lady sitting on a bench in a park, I think. I flew down to her and start talking to this lady. I don't exactly remember what we said, but she said that she had just lost her baby."
Tatsuya gave her a strange look. "What are you saying?"
"What does it all mean?" his younger sister asked. Chiharu looked him in the eye, expecting him to call her liar or something. Instead, he raised an eyebrow.
"Who told you all of this?" he asked.
"No one," she said. Her brother stared at her with his mouth covered.
Funny thing, nobody told Chiharu about the child their mother lost between the siblings.
A boy from the Blue Squares was wandering the city in the evening when he spotted a boy with a yellow scarf around his neck. When spotted his rival, the Blue Square chased him down the street. The Yellow Scarf pretended to be cornered when he whipped out a knife from his pocket.
After a short rumble in the street, the Blue Square pinned down the Yellow Scarf. The trapped boy managed to push him off.
"What the hell, man?" he asked.
"Did you do it?" the Blue Square asked. "Did you do it?!" He grabbed the Yellow Scarf by the shoulder.
"What are you talking about?" the Yellow Scarf asked.
"Did you guys kill my friend from our gang?" the Blue Square guy asked.
The other gangster gave him a disgusted look. "No! Do you think we're that sick to kill and eat somebody?!"
Blue Square lowered his knife. "I believe you, dude."
Minutes later, the guys leaned against a brick wall, looking at the people passing by. Blue Square turned to Yellow Scarf.
"I don't like what's going on here," he said.
"Yeah," Yellow Scarf said. "Who would be that sick and twisted to eat a guy like that?" Blue Square shook his head as he trembled. Both had a dreading feeling that this was bigger than a petty rivalry between their two gangs.
"A while back in the 80's, I had a patient at Chou Mori Intuition," I said. "She was committed by her husband after the death of her infant son. This patient suffered from depression." I glanced out the window.
"Peculiar woman, that one was. She was a practicing Catholic. Heh, foolish woman clung to her god like her life depended on it. Between my experiments in the asylum and sessions, I decided to destroy her god."
I frowned. "Nothing could break that woman. Nothing." I began to smile. "Her faith reminded me of that promise I made to that fierce creature all those years ago."
At three o'clock, Junko cornered Noriko in the hallway. The girl looked at her with big eyes.
"You were rather rude the other day," the nurse said. "You ran away from our conversation the other day."
"I had to get back to class," Noriko said.
"Well, school's over now and we can talk as long as we want."
Her victim slowly backed up against the wall. "W-W-What do you want from me?"
"Just be honest with yourself. You are not Ishikawa Noriko. Don't you remember your baby? Your home? Your husband?
The poor girl nervously shook her head. "I don't know what you are talking about."
Junko gave her a cat-like smile. "Oh come on, you remember something about yourself."
"I… I… I…"
"Ishikawa-chan!" a boy's voice spoke up. Junko and Noriko looked up to see Mikado standing inches away from them.
"Mikado-kun," Noriko said.
"I looking all over for you," he said. "We're having a class rep meeting right now." Mikado grabbed her by the hand before she could speak.
"Thank you," Noriko mouthed at him. Junko watched them with her hands on her hips.
"We'll talk later," she said. The nurse walked back into her office.
"The staff in the inner circle have their own reason for following me," I told Izaya. "Why? Go talk to them. They have mouths. I just seek out those that I find worthy to work with me. They know about the goal I'm trying to reach. Rather they find it crazy or not, it doesn't matter to me. They are all adults. They can think for themselves. That's why I hired them."
"Why did you choose to scout me out?" Izaya asked.
"Ah, that," I said. "Well, you do have your uses."
"This is true," Izaya said.
Mikado was woken up with a phone call around three in the morning.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Mikado?" Masaomi asked on the other line. His best friend sat up.
"Masaomi?" he asked.
"Hey, is this a bad time?"
"No, what's the matter?" Mikado listened in as Masaomi paused on the other line. "Masaomi? Are you there? What's going on?"
"Mikado, I was going through the video files on the memory sticks in my box," Masaomi said in a careful tone.
"Can you come over right now?"
"Wait, now?" His friend's next words made his stomach drop.
"There is something that you need to see," Masaomi said.
"It's funny," I said. "You're the second person I told about my journey through the Land of the Dead."
"Why haven't you told the inner circle?" Izaya asked.
"They never asked me."
"Who was the first person you told the story about?"
"This patient right here." I slid Chirin's patient file across the desk for Izaya to see.
"So that's what happened to him all those months," Izaya said.