RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE READERS
In semiotic and postmodernist terms, the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation is called ‘hyperreality.’ In terms of clinical psychology, the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality is a symptom of schizophrenia.
One could be attributed to outside factors; the other internal. Both provided a reasonable explanation as to the happenings of the night before, but neither could account for the headline taking over the news outlets:
‘TOKYO SIGHTING VIGILANTE MONSTER SLAYER’, ‘PLATINUM DOLL VICTORIOUS DURING MIDNIGHT PANIC’
A shared delusion, perhaps? If so it was one experienced not just by humans, but CCTV cameras as well.
There was a third option that I did not want to consider; that the werewolf Grenier was real, and that his offer was legitimate. The very thought was ludicrous, but unless I truly was losing my senses I could not deny what sat before my eyes.
“Japan has a brand new superhero,” the brother exclaimed over breakfast. “Just like Sailor Moon, or Kamen Rider!”
Matching sentiments were echoed in the classroom where seniors kicked conspiracy theories to one another.
“Did you see how pale she was?” a student asked. “I say she’s the ghost of a poor girl who loved Tokyo so much, that she returned to us as a spirit guardian.”
“I say she’s a magical girl of some sort,” another mused.
One of the boys smacked the table and laughed. “Yeah? Well I’ve got thirty-thousand yen that says she’s the last survivor of a dying planet, and that she’s protecting us all from the evil nebula-spawn that destroyed her race!”
I huffed and entered the gathering. “You’re assuming that her will is good. Are you so desperate to worship a hero that you’ll give the title to the first sparkling figure you seen in newsprint?”
Several of my peers looked away, but one frowned. “What do you know about it, Yamaguchi?”
“Nothing,” I told them, “just like you. For all we know this was a prank pulled by cosplayers. The fault also lies with news editors who thought to take this story seriously.”
From the window I saw movement; a blur moving through the bushes, across the yard on the other end of the soccer field. It was slow, subtle, with charcoal fur blending into the shade.
I jumped from my seat and sprinted for the door, pushing past any and all that got in my way. Not even the teachers calling to slow down had any impact; I was already at my destination and waiting for my body to catch up.
Down the stairs, across the pathway, over the fence and through the court, I sprinted to the brush by the outskirts of the school. When I arrived the wolf was nowhere to be found. Even as I pressed through the hedges there was no evidence of him being there; not even footprints.
“Asshole,” I hissed. “You were here. I saw you.”
I stood upright and straightened the Genkai persona; cool, impersonal. Taking slow breaths and arching my shoulders I laid eyes on the woman addressing; it was Inoue.
“Are you alright?” she pressed.
“Yes,” I lied. My breath was short.
“You don’t look alright,” she observed.
Air fumed from my nostrils like steam. I forced a smile and nodded to her. “It’s nothing of concern.”
She reached into her pocket, offered me her handkerchief, and held it while I scoffed.
“I told you; I don’t have feelings for you.”
“I know,” she said with a grin. “This isn’t a confession. You’re a mess, so I’m offering you a handkerchief, Mr. Yamaguchi, sir.”
It took all I had to remain polite. I took the handkerchief and wiped my brow, took a moment to compose myself and frowned. This woman, Inoue, had seen more of me than most; likely according to her plan.
“There,” she beamed. “You look much better now, sir.”
“I prefer not to be addressed with such reverence,” I groaned.
“May I call you ‘Genkai’?”
A glare was all the answer she needed.
“Then Mr. Yamaguchi it is, sir.”
Howling echoed In the distance. It was him. Was this Grenier’s way of taunting me?
Inoue blinked. “Was that a wolf? What’s it doing so close to the city?”
If only she knew.
To be continued…