I do not own Shiki. Fuyumi Ono, Fuji TV, and Funimation do. Hiroshi Kaneko and Souji Kamikawa belongs to me.
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Sunako" Hiroshi said as he walked alongside the younger girl back to the grass mound.
"Likewise. So why are you walking around so late at night?" asked Sunako, her head turned towards the taller boy.
"Well, I hate the heat in the day during the summer, so I sleep most of the day and wake up at night" responded the albino. The girl giggled prettily.
"How funny, I'm the same way. We have a lot in common, don't we" she chirped. Hiroshi laughed sheepishly.
"Yes I suppose so." The two sat down together on the mound.
"So what do you like Sunako?" asked Hiroshi conversationally. He found her company strangely pleasant.
"Well…I happen to like reading" replied the void-eyed girl. "I'm a big fan of an author who lives in this village and I plan on meeting him soon."
"You mean Seishin Muroi right?" Sunako's face brightened up.
"Why yes! You know of him?"
"Well…you could say that we are acquaintances. He's one of the few people kind to me here" said the albino. Sunako's doll-like face shifted from joy to confusion.
"Few people? You mean you're not liked around here?" asked Sunako.
"Yeah…I did something that many would consider blasphemy around here…"
"Oh I see…well I did hear that this village is very conservative" the girl mused. "I suppose that when someone does something liberal, it's only natural to receive a hostile response."
"I suppose you're right"
"Now" she scooted playfully behind him, her good humour returning instantly. "What do you like Hiroshi?"
"Well…what I like may creep you out. Do you wanna know?" asked the albino.
"Why of course" she smacked her lips silently.
"Well…I happen to be an occult aficionado" said the boy. Behind him Sunako, who had been leaning towards his exposed neck, stopped suddenly and sat back down.
"Oh? Like what exactly?" she asked, intrigued.
"Are you sure? You may be a bit little and…"
"Don't call me little!"
The albino was stunned into silence. He hadn't expected such a well brought-up, and very kind, young girl to snap at being called 'little'.
"I'm sorry, well what I like, or…what I love to be exact…"
Sunako was leaning forward again, mouth open, her pearl canines lengthening into glittering fangs.
"Vampires. I love them."
"Is that so?" she said, after a moment's shocked pause. Hiroshi nodded, staring out into the field, entirely unaware of what Sunako had been about to do.
"Why is that?" she asked. She had never heard any human claim to love the undead. It piqued her curiousity.
"Well…the subject fascinates me. Immortality, the sucking of blood, the ashen yet attractive looks, staying up only at night. One person even called me a vampire due to my looks, and my nocturnal nature".
Hiroshi gazed off at the flowers as they radiated underneath the moonlight and the occasional firefly. The flower right in front of him, a red camilia Tsubaki flower, stood for "love".
Love, or admiration. The admiration Megumi had for him, so strong that she even wanted him, him, to be her boyfriend.
Sunako saw the change in Hiroshi's countenance, the shift from wistful to sullen.
"What is wrong? You look troubled."
"Well…someone very close to me passed away recently" said Hiroshi sadly. Sunako's face went sullen too.
"I see. I'm sorry to hear that. Who was this person exactly?" Hiroshi brought up his hands and wrapped them around his knees as he curled up.
"Her name was Megumi Shimizu." The words caught in his throat as he lowered his head. Sunako nodded.
"What did she look like?" the void-eyed girl asked. "Could you describe her for me?"
"Well…she was a bit shorter than me. She had pinkish red eyes along with cherry pink hair. She had an interesting fashion sense, and she was…pretty beyond compare…"
Sunako's face lit up, for a fraction of an instant, then returned to normal.
"She must have looked beautiful for you to speak so highly of her. What was your relationship with her?"
"We were close friends for about two years, and then…a few days before she died…she said that…that…" Hiroshi stopped, assaulted by the images of Megumi as the time went by. When they were studying, hanging out, consulting one another, comforting one another, her looks…her smile…
"She wanted me to be her boyfriend" croaked the albino. He could feel tears rolling down his cheeks.
"I'm terribly sorry for your loss" said the girl, somewhat tentatively. "It must have been painful for you."
"It's nothing" Hiroshi muttered as he returned to his silent tear-spell.
Sunako regarded him for a moment, and concluded that he interested her. It would be worthwhile to…enlighten him.
"Hey Hiroshi? Do you wanna be friends?"
The tear-stained Hiroshi turned towards the girl. She was standing, and offering her hand to him.
"Um..okay…" said the albino as he took her hand and shook.
"All right then. As your friend, I wish to give you a present"
"A present? What kind?" Sunako chuckled.
"It's a secret".
"Do you wish for one as well Sunako?"
"Oh don't worry about me. Although since I am new to this village, could you mind telling me where Seishin Muroi's temple is?"
"Well…it's on the northern end of the village upon a mountain. Once you find a large stairway, just walk up it and you'll find it. You can't miss it" replied Hiroshi.
"Thank you! Also, I'll give you your present as proof of our friendship in…" she brought a finger to her mouth as she looked deep in thought.
"Around the beginning or middle of September!" Sunako chirped. "Today is Saturday, so come back here around the 12th… and I'll have my present set and ready for you." Hiroshi laughed and smiled a bit.
"Thank you, I'll look forward to it. Good luck finding Mr. Muroi's temple" replied Hiroshi.
"I will!" Sunako ran away through the flowers, and to Hiroshi's amazement it looked as though she was phasing from one spot to the next, laughing as she flitted through the flowers, the cicadas, and the fireflies.
Hiroshi blinked and rubbed his eyes. Sunako was gone, as suddenly as she had appeared. He pulled out his cellphone, it read 10:24.
Deciding to head back home, he walked away along the path, wondering what had transpired that night, in that place of flowers and fireflies, of bad memories and happy encounters.
Was his life about to change?
'If this plague spreads, this very village will be wiped off the face of the earth" thought Seishin, as he looked out over Sotoba village, clenching his hands in reflex. "But yet, could this be a good thing…or a bad thing?'
He loved the village, and yet, he was also profoundly disappointed. The village's treatment of Hiroshi during Megumi's burial was entirely inexcusable. Not content to jeer and hiss at the unfortunate boy, they had shunned him far worse than before.
From what Hiroshi's uncle Souji had told him, Megumi had been the nearest thing Hiroshi had to a friend, becoming something far more in the last days of her life.
He had prayed for Hiroshi, hoping that he might one day find happiness. He had been pleased to see Tohru stand up for him, enduring the jeers and shrugging them off. From what he had heard around the village, not only was Tohru delivering schoolwork to the albino, but he had even offered his hand in friendship. Even better, Hiroshi had found it in himself to accept.
Ozaki had taken a more scientific approach. He reckoned that Hiroshi was a clingy individual, having grown up with literally no friends before coming to Sotoba. He had even guessed the reason why he had done so.
"People tend to be judgemental, even in a modern city like Osaka. A kid like Kaneko wouldn't last a month in middle school. I'm surprised he lasted two years without pulling a Columbine at whatever school he went to. His parents did a smart move sending him here for schooling."
Seishin chuckled. Toshio Ozaki, always looking at things scientifically.
"Mr. Muroi?" asked a voice from down the steps. Seishin looked down, drawn from his thoughts, to see a shadow of a person ascending towards him.
"Seishin Muroi I presume?" said the small figure.
"I am" replied the priest. As he descended, the figure stepped into the light. It was a little girl, with hair cascading to her waist, clad in a purple lace-trimmed dress. Her eyes were empty voids, like holes in the universe.
"And you are?"
"I love your stories," the girl replied.
"You can read?" asked Seishin, surprised. He never anticipated a girl so young might read his works, even without those eyes.
"Why of course. What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing," Seishin quickly reassured her. "Thank you. You look to be quite a young reader."
"I guess. I don't know all of the words yet".
"Do you like books?"
"I love them" the girl's angelic smile widened. "I read tons. I borrowed your books from Daddy's bookshelf. Six novels and two books of short stories. If that is all you have written, I've read everything!"
"Wow." Seishin was impressed. "That really is everything. This is the first time I've met someone who has read everything I've written." The girl beamed.
"I've read your essays in magazines too. 'The village enveloped by death'. It's this village right?"
"You understand well."
"It's obvious you were writing about your own home. Even if I had not met up with him, your introduction and the temple's location gave it away."
Seishin was suddenly curious.
"Oh? Who told you of my residence?" The girl turned around.
"A very nice boy I met on my way here. Do you know him?"
"Maybe if you tell me his name" replied the priest.
"His name was Hiroshi." Seishin's eyes widened little.
"You don't mean Hiroshi Kaneko do you?" The girl cocked her head in confusion.
"Umm…you mean a Hiroshi who had pale white skin and red eyes?"
"Why yes. How did you meet him?"
"Well I was strolling in a flowerbed, he was hanging around there, and that's when we met. He is a nice boy."
Seishin smiled as he nodded. "Yes he is."
"When we talked, he said that a loved one of his passed away. Is that true?"
Seishin nodded, remembering how deranged the boy was that day. He had behaved like a madman, but Seishin knew that love was the root of his madness. Hiroshi had been unable to grasp the fact that Megumi, who asked him to be hers, the first friend he has ever known, was dead.
If he had been in the boy's place, if he had lived his life and suffered his suffering, he might well have done the same.
"To be honest, I expected you to be ordinary-looking," the girl commented, her hand on her chin, as if in thought. "But not that ordinary-looking." She smiled, and raised her hands to her temples, fingers held upward.
"I almost expected you to have horns and a tail." She turned towards the priest. Her smile was no different to before, but something still made Seishin's blood run cold.
"After all, that's how they always describe those cast out by God. But even if you don't have horns, you have scars instead."
Seishin gasped as he swiftly hid his hands underneath his robes. Did she somehow know?
"Just who are you?" he asked.
"I see, Little Suna…"
"Don't call me little!" she snapped, her doll-like face twisting in anger and frustration. "I hate that word!" Seishin recoiled, almost stepping back. He felt, for the first time in many years, a pang of real fear.
The rage vanished as suddenly as it had come. She turned her back to him, then looked back over her shoulder, the cupid-bow mouth subsiding into a look of mild, indulgent amusement.
"Let me tell you something, Mr. Muroi," she said, in a manner-of-fact way. "In order to kill someone, slicing the wrists won't get the job done."
She giggled as she hopped down the steps, seeming to shimmer and fade from one step to the next as she disappeared into the darkness.
When she was gone, Seishin held out his arm. The scar was there, marring his wrist, as it had for so many years. Just as she had said.
"Yes…" he said to himself. "I didn't die. Although to be honest I think I expected that."
He looked back down into the dark stairs.
"I wonder how Hiroshi's encounter with her went?"
August 28th, a Sunday.
Nao Yasumori was dead, apparently of extreme anaemia.
When Tohru decided to bring his friend Masao to Hiroshi's house, he had no knowledge of it.
"So Tohru what gives? Why are you hanging out with that kid anyway?" asked the lanky 11th grader as he walked alongside his good friend.
"Didn't you see how he reacted when Shimizu was buried?" replied the 12th grader, sympathy in his eyes. "He treasured her. It was obvious."
"I'll say. He looked like a man possessed when they were lowering the casket, hell, like he had rabies or something." Masao "I never seen someone try and interrupt one of our funerals before."
"And that," sighed Tohru, "is exactly why the villagers took it so badly. I couldn't just let him take all that abuse."
"Yeah, and because of it, aren't you grounded for month for sticking up for him?"
"My parents didn't approve, but that does not mean I'll stop giving Kaneko the help he needs."
"Like getting back on feet or getting him hooked up with another babe perhaps?"
"Something like that…he needs more friends, and that's why I asked you to come along Masao. You can help out right?"
"Well, if my grandpa finds out I'm literally screwed. And besides, I've never seen a 15 year old react like that. Made me winded when we tried to hold him back."
"You can say that again" chuckled Tohru as he rounded a corner and bumped into someone. Both fell on their bottoms.
"Hey watch where you're going! You blind or something!" snapped Masao as he helped Tohru up.
"Sorry about that" groaned a tired voice. Tohru looked, and got a good view of the person. He was wearing khaki shorts and a simple green T-shirt, flip-flops and a straw-hat and sunglasses. But he recognized the voice instantly.
"Hiroshi?" asked Tohru. The heavily-disguised albino perked as he yawned. He removed his sunglasses, and true to Tohru's word, it was Hiroshi.
"Sorry about that. I was daydreaming while walking. What are you doing on this side of town?" asked the albino.
"We were about to visit you," said Tohru, still mildly surprised to see the albino out in daylight. "In fact I brought one of my good friends along. Hiroshi, this is Masao."
"Pleased to meet you" said Hiroshi as he bowed and held out his hand.
"Likewise" 'I guess' said and thought Masao as he shook it. Hiroshi yawned.
"You look tired. Why's that?" asked Tohru.
"Well…I don't go out during the day, the heat is killer so I usually sleep most of the day and be more active at night."
"So that's why Tohru delivers ya schoolwork" said Masao as Hiroshi nodded.
"So, you guys wanna head over to my place or something?" suggested the albino. My uncle is working at the grocery store so he won't be back till 10 tonight." Masao beamed.
"Dude that's awesome! We should kick back over there and bring some chicks around! We got 8 hours after all!"
"Uncle Souji is sober. He doesn't keep liquor" replied Hiroshi.
"Well shit" griped Masao while Tohru chuckled.
"You would wish to get yourself shit-faced drunk?" goaded another voice, causing the three boys to turn around.
Their eyes meet with Natsuno Yuuki, otherwise known as Natsuno Koide. Tohru's face brightened while the other two darkened. There was tension in the air.
"Hey Natsuno. Whats up?" asked Tohru. Natsuno kept the scowl on his face.
"Nothing much, on my way to do an errand. What are you doing on this side of town?" asked the violet haired boy.
"Oh, on a way to a friends house." Natsuno nodded.
Hiroshi kept his glare on the purple-haired boy. He had known how Natsuno constantly declined Megumi's offer of friendship, but he could not understand why he did so in such a rude manner. That he did so, and made Megumi cry so many times, made him a villain in Hiroshi's book. He glanced at Masao, and reckoned it was something he and the senior had in common.
"You wouldn't rather study at my place?" Natsuno asked. "My dad has a bunch of books lying around that we're going over soon." He didn't meet their eyes, and was obviously not giving them his full attention.
"I appreciate it, but my friend is homeschooled and his uncle is a sub-teacher. Maybe you wanna join us?" asked Tohru. Natsuno closed his eyes.
"Thanks but no thanks. I got better things to do."
"Ya Tohru don't bother asking him, we can study on our own" sneered Masao, irritated by Natsuno's high-handedness. Hiroshi nodded in agreement.
"You'd need the extra help," scoffed Natsuno. "Considering how you're struggling even though you're a senior."
"What was that!" Masao shrieked back. "At least I ain't as cold-hearted as you!" Natsuno's eyes turned on Masao, regarding him with irritation.
Hiroshi also stared at Masao, shocked by his words and the vehemence behind them.
"Oh really?" Natsuno quipped contemptuously. "Do tell."
"Well for one you constantly turned down Shimizu's offers to hang out!" snapped the gangly senior, eyes flashing. "Hell I even heard she made you a few presents but you didn't even give her as much as a spare glance. Even when she died her friend Kaori handed out "Get Well" cards to some people, you didn't even bother opening yours!"
The purple-haired 10th grader scoffed.
"Why would I?" he sneered. "She stared in my window at night, like she was stalking me, or acting out some twisted fantasy she had in her fucked-up head."
"What do you know about her Natsuno!" snapped Hiroshi, unable to contain himself. The sudden outburst drew shocked looks from Masao and Tohru. Natsuno turned his contemptuous eyes upon the albino, lip curled in disgust.
"Don't call me Natsuno," he replied coldly. "And what of it?"
"All she wanted was your friendship, and you didn't even acknowledge her!" Hiroshi snarled back, fists clenched. "You didn't even bother to turn her down, let alone get to know her! So don't talk about what you don't know!"
"It's not my fault she bought the farm just like that!" Natsuno was obviously irked. "So quit yelling at me like it is!"
"The least you could have done was be nice to her, even at the very end! What do you have against her Natsuno!"
"I told you not to call me that! And to answer your question, she annoyed me and kept looking in my window at night! Who would want anything to do with a low-life stalker like that!"
"I'll call you whatever I feel like calling! And take that back about her!"
"Uh guys… we can resolve this, just calm down" pleaded Tohru, worried over his two friends as they glared daggers. His words fell on deaf ears.
"Natsuno, Natsuno, Natsuno, Natsuno, Natsuno!"
"Stop calling me that!"
"No, you make me faggot!"
Natsuno reacted. His fist caught Hiroshi's chin, sending him staggering backwards. Tohru stared in horrified disbelief. Upon Natsuno's face was a malign grimace.
"Rumor has it that Megumi admired you while on her deathbed," he sneered, "as if she was living in some fairy tale. Well you two freaks deserve each other. Go pollute the gene pool elsewhere, disgusting mutant."
Hiroshi's eyes bulged with fury as he charged, tackling Natsuno to the ground. They brawled, fists flying. Tohru darted over to try and separate them, but the combatants pushed him aside. Masao watched, silently rooting for the albino.
A few passers-by glanced at the fight, but did not stop. Tohru was more than a little shocked. Did they hate outsiders that much?
"Take that back!"
'This is getting worse!' thought Tohru as he tried once again to separate the two.
"Masao help out!" he cried. Masao broke out of his trance and ran over, trying to reel Hiroshi in while Tohru tried to stop Natsuno.
"Sorry Masao" muttered Hiroshi as he broke free of the older boy's grip and the brawl resumed.
"Hey Hey Hey! Break it up you two!" said a voice as Masao turned his head. Running over with a soft drink in hand was a young, muscular man wearing a purple shirt and purple trousers. Oddly enough, his green hair was shaped like horns, maybe cat-ears. He grabbed hold of Natsuno with his free hand as Tohru and Masao held Hiroshi.
"You punch for a little bitch!"
"I barely felt a thing pussy!"
"Says the faggot!"
"Hey calm it down you two. Fighting does no good to either side" admonished the cat-eared haired individual. Natsuno seemed to calm down, while Hiroshi squirmed under his friends grasp. Natsuno breathed in and out, stilling his pounding pulse as he walked over and picked up his bag and books.
"Ya that's it! Walk away!" goaded Hiroshi as Tohru and Masao let him go. Natsuno glared as he walked away, giving the group the bird, although with a bit of a limp. Tohru looked after him, his countenance mournful.
"Well, crisis averted. You're not hurt bad are ya?" asked the man. Hiroshi shook his head, despite some bruises on his body and a black eye.
"Well at least neither of you killed each other, names Tatsumi by the way." The newcomer held out his hand, grin on his face.
"Hiroshi. Hiroshi Kaneko." They shook.
"Are you going to be okay Hiroshi?" asked Tohru. He could not believe what had just transpired. His good friend Natsuno had not only behaved gracelessly towards the grieving Hiroshi, but he had defended his gracelessness with violence. For the first time since he had come to Sotoba, Tohru was truly disappointed in his friend.
"I'm fine, I said so already"
"You totally had him, I bet he was hitting for a bitch like you said" said Masao as he walked over.
"He was hitting hard," admitted Hiroshi, fingering his bruised jaw. "I was in the moment and tried to goad him. I'm quite the belligerent guy aren't I."
"I say you've quite a bit of passion in ya," agreed Tatsumi cheerfully. "I hear you're the guy who disrupted the funeral a few days ago. Was she really close to you or something?"
The reminder made Hiroshi's face fall, his countenance turning sullen as memories of Megumi returned unbidden.
"Yes. The girl who died was a really close friend of Hiroshi's" Tohru answered for him. Hiroshi looked away, in no mood to talk about it. Tatsumi nodded in understanding, hand on chin.
"I see…well as I said, you got a helluva lot of passion, and I like guys like that. Wanna be friends?" asked the older man. The group looked at each other.
"Sure" said Tohru.
"Meh, why not" commented Masao.
"I guess" followed Hiroshi.
"Sweet!" Tatsumi enthused. "I just moved in here. You know, that mansion on the Kanemasa land?"
"Ah, well welcome to Sotoba" Masao greeted him, with better humour than was normal. "I'm sorry that you're first experience here was to break up a fight."
"No worries!" chirped the man with the cat-ear hairdo. Suddenly in the mood for liquid refreshment, Tohru walked on over to the nearby vending machine, from which Tatsumi had just come. He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a coin, only for his fingers to slip. The coin hit the ground and rolled under the machine.
"Ah nuts" said the blonde as he tried reached for the coin.
"100 yen down the drain" commented Masao dryly. Hiroshi rubbed his arm, nursing his wound.
"You know, that happens to me to a lot and it sucks!" commented Tatsumi. "Here, let me help ya out!" He pulled out a backscratcher, seemingly from nowhere.
"Wow, you carry a backscratcher just for that!" exclaimed Tohru in surprise. "How convienent!"
"Talk about being prepared" muttered Hiroshi, who was trying to figure just where on his person Tatsumi had been keeping it.
"Well my ma always said 'better to pack extra for the unexpected'!" Tatsumi went down, rummaged under the machine, and extracted the coin.
"Thanks. I owe ya. My name's Mutou. Tohru Mutou"
"You already know mine. I happen to live close to here if you're ever around, care to drop by?" added Hiroshi.
"I'd be more than delighted!" Tatsumi grinned. "Also, if I do come around, mind if I bring a friend Hiroshi? They happen to know you."
"Hmm? Who?" asked the albino, cocking his head in surprise. He was surprised that Tatsumi had not once commented on his albinism.
"Is it okay if I make it a surprise?" Tatsumi asked, a little bashfully. "They told me to surprise ya." Tohru brightened.
"I love surprises! You should accept Hiroshi!"
"Well I gotta get going, glad to have met ya!" With that, Tatsumi turned and walked away.
'So that's the kid Lady Sunako informed me about' he thought. 'Interesting.'
"You'll come by soon right?" Tohru called after him.
"Oh yes…your surprise will come soon" replied Tatsumi as he walked off.
August 29th, a Monday
"Jeez Hiroshi, why did you have to bang yourself this bad anyway? You're lucky you didn't get any broken bones" groused Souji as he and his nephew walked out of the Ozaki Clinic. Souji was a mild-mannered man in his late 30's, having brown hair with matching eyes. He was a taller than Hiroshi, though not by much.
"What did you do anyway?" he asked. Hiroshi looked away.
"He insulted her."
"Koide's son." Hiroshi felt sick using his first name, as much as his enemy hated the sound of it. Souji looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Ah, Koide. I remember him coming by the door last year in October telling me to keep you away from his place."
"Him slamming the door in my face was a clear message so he doesn't have to worry" replied Hiroshi petulantly.
"Jeez, and I thought Scientologists hated religion," commented Souji. "That man gives athiesim a whole new name." Hiroshi remained quiet as they continued their walk.
"I understand you defending Megumi's name like that. You remind me of your mother" Hiroshi turned towards his uncle, surprised by the mention of his mother.
"You have no idea how many fights she got into whenever someone insulted Taro. Only thing that kept her at Tokyo Uni would be her grades." Souji chuckled, feeling nostalgic.
"But it means that you truly treasured her. Your mother married your father the minute they got out of University." He smiled. "It's like a love story."
"Ya…I did…and I still do" said Hiroshi. The thought was strangely touching, and he felt some of the grief and resentment ease.
"Well Megumi wouldn't want you to be all emotional and broody all the time," Souji went on. "Besides, you got all of those new friends now. There's Tohru, that Masao kid, even Taneka's kids are stopping by."
"You mean Kaori and Akira? I never seen them."
"They keep catching you while you're sleeping."
"Ah," Hiroshi smiled. "Guess I'd better stay up tomorrow then."
"I suppose so. You just avoid fights from now one okedoke?"
They reached their small house, and Hiroshi headed up to his room. It was small but comfortable, with walls painted light blue. There were several shelves, with monster action figures, rows of DVDs, a PC on the desk, and his bed. It was a matter of a few moments to undress and jump into bed.
He could not move. He tried, but his body would not obey.
Eyes stared down at him, black but for tiny red pupils, gleaming with dire lust. The eyes seemed to swell, to reach for him, to draw him in…
Hiroshi woke up with a start.
He blinked, and rubbed his eyes, wondering what had happened. He glanced at his bedside clock.
2:00. Two hours.
Hiroshi walked over to his window and opened up. It was dark, though still warm. Cicadas chirped and clicked. He could have sworn that he was being watched.
"Just my imagination" he muttered as he walked back to bed.
He did not notice a pair of eyes looking towards him in the trees.
September 1st, a Thursday
The dead policeman's family moved away. Susumu Yasumori, son of deceased Nao Yasumori, fell to cardiac arrest, as did his father Mikiyasu.
Hiroshi decided to hang out with Kaori and Akira that day during daylight, which was for him a big change. Though Akira was a bit hesitant, Kaori was open, most likely due to her connection to Megumi. That night he fell asleep very quickly.
The lamp twisted, distorting into the silhouette of a man. The image danced, wild hair coiling and twisting as if alive, and then was sucked into his lips.
His hand was out in front…and a woman he had never seen before took it. She was older than him, beautiful, with bleach-blonde hair and curves like that nurse at the clinic. Her name was Ritsuko he mused.
Her eyes were empty. They were ebon voids, black as night, like those of Sunako. But where hers were tinted red, these eyes were tinted blue.
Hiroshi snapped awake, breathing fast, his heart pounding like a drum. He looked out through his window, straight through into the woods beyond.
Black eyes, with red pupils, gazing back at him.
And Hiroshi awoke for true.
'I watched some of the worlds most scariest movies, and I'm tripping over these nightmares. Get a grip' thought the albino irritably. He decided to get dressed and do some chores. The clock read 10:00 pm.
"Might as well get some studying done" muttered Hiroshi as he walked off to the kitchen, lamenting the Elementary Statistics exercise lurking in his work pile.
If he had checked the window at that precise moment, he would have seen not one, but two sets of eyes looking in.
"They must have caught it from Nao…but they are both beyond saving…unfortunately"
Seishin remembered Ozaki's words clearly, as he walked through the woods, flashlight illuminating the path before him.
He remembered everything the doctor had told him. In addition to the heart attack, Susumu's body bore numerous small puncture wounds. These could only be explained as insect bites, though Ozaki could not for the life of him figure out what kind of insect was responsible. On top of that, both Susumu and his father Mikiyasu, an old friend of both Ozaki and Seishin, were showing signs of severe anaemia.
'Mikiyasu too' thought Seishin sadly. 'It even happened to him of all people…'
He walked back towards his temple, then started at the sound of stick snapping underfoot. He spun on his heel, the beam of his flashlight revealing none other than Sunako.
Sunako right?" he asked.
"Good evening Mr. Muroi. Are these the temple grounds?" she asked, turning her head side to side.
"They are" answered the priest.
"It kinda looks like a church," Sunako commented as she glanced at one of the buildings. "It isn't right?"
"It is. At leat that's what the builder thought he was building"
"I have spare flashlights inside, so I'll give you one. This is my secret base" said Seishin as the two walked inside. Seishin lit an oil lamp, illuminating the interior, the vaulted ceiling casting unsettling shadows. Sunako strolled around, examining the various windows.
"Stained glass…makes me feel a bit sick looking at it," commented the girl. "There's a burning man here."
"That's called the mino-odori" Seishin explained. Sunako walked in front of a stained glass, showing a monster biting into a human. She turned towards the priest.
"So the builder was interested in matyrs?"
"Maybe. One of the Kanemasa's built it during the war"
"Isn't Kanemasa what people call where me and my family live?" Sunako asked, heading to the altar.
"Do you go for walks at night on a daily basis Sunako?" wondered Seishin, changing the subject.
"I can't during the day," replied Sunako casually. "Otherwise I get sick due to the ultraviolet light. We actually moved here for my treatment."
"There's no need to get so sad over it." Sunako had a smile on her face.
"It's not that. A good friend of mine and his son may die of a disease."
"Wouldn't it be less depressing if he was an old man?"
"That's not what…" Seishin searched for the right words. "Don't you think it's terrible for them to die so young?" Sunako nodded, a melancholic look on her face.
"Death is a terrible thing for anyone to experience. It's all the same, whether you are good or evil, young or old. Death is impartial."
She began to dance, slowly and with a curious grace.
"There is no truly terrible death. That's why death is so frightening. Your habits, your age, your wealth, your personality, your beauty. All of that is meaningless in the face of death. Since it destroys all of these, death is so terrible."
She stopped, and looked into Seishin's eyes. Wide grey met red-tinged void black as Sunako smiled.
"Well. I have to hurry home. I have a present to prepare. I can come back at anytime though right?" she asked.
"Of course, although it is rather dangerous at night so I would not recommend it" warned Seishin as Sunako made her way to the door. She turned around.
"Only half of humanity has any freedom at all. Just because they're dangerous doesn't mean I can give up on it. I'll bring a book next time. If I meet you again, will you autograph it?" She giggled as she ran out, disappearing into the darkness.
September 12th, a Monday
The death toll in the village had reached nineteen, Ozaki declaring it to be an epidemic.
Due to their inability to explain the deaths, the Ozaki Clinic could not ask the government for assistance. The victims had only one symptom in common.
Anaemia, caused by some sort of animal transgression, most likely insect bites.
Hiroshi was up and about, carrying laundry to and from his bedroom.
'Tonight's the night. Sunako is supposed to give me my present' he thought, as he finished placing clean sheets on his bed. He changed into beige shorts and a white t-shirt, then headed out, knowing Souji was asleep.
He walked into the forest and down on the path. It was a clear night, the sky dotted with bright stars. It did not take long for him to reach the flowerbed, with the grass mound in the middle. Just as it had been that night.
He sat down on the mound, and looked at this cellphone. 11:46.
He lay on his back, staring up at the twinkling stars, enjoying the relief that walking under the night sky had always brought him. The sun's anger could not burn his skin, nor blind his eyes. He was beyond the sun's power, free of the curse laid on him at the moment of his conception. The moon's light was bright enough for him, and Kaguya-hime bore him no ill will.
He let his head fall right back. The world was upside down.
'Megumi' he thought.
And then he realised that he was not alone.
There was someone lying in the flowers, much as he was doing, only a meter away.
That person was staring at him.
With black eyes.
I promised a lemon and I didn't. oh well, guranteed next chapter though.
Next update will be CMM or Giver 3.
Hope I interpretated episode 3 and most of 4 right. The rest of 4 and onto 5 will be in the next chapter.
Edited and beta'ed by Juubi-K.
In other news, nearly 6K words, making this my longest chapter ever written, and over 21 pages too. Thank god this wasn't a research paper or anything :/