RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE READERS
Screams and gunfire, Shibuya under siege; the taste of carnage formed a thick layer on my tongue, and we were still miles away.
Ryunosuke wrapped himself around my torso, clinging like a ragdoll on a motorcycle. He was out of his depth; clutched by an actual demon.
“What are you going to do?” he pleaded.
I said nothing. Action would speak on my behalf.
Shots rang out like cries of desperation. It was the police drawing on what last strength they had against the kind of enemy they’d never seen before; an enemy whose scent was dripping down my throat.
Then I saw them.
Against the fires that tore through buildings the Black Soul Angels growled. They strolled through the carnage the same one would a park on a Summer day, except in place of blossoms they had decorated the streets with bodies, upturned cars and debris.
Our course shifted toward the clearing, and as I bounded from the street I left Ryunosoke behind, stumbling between humans and monsters. I could only imagine his horror as he watched me fly away, soon a mere speck drowned in the darkness.
“Son of a bitch!” he spat.
The police, adorned in heavy riot gear, called out on their speaker. “Sir, clear the area! We
cannot guarantee your safety!”
One of the zombies turned their head. From the rooftop I could make out his smile. “Ryu… it’s you!”
Others shifted their focus and turned to their survivor. They started to chant his name; “Ryu… Ryu… Ryu… Ryu…”
Eight bodies bounced toward him, almost prancing as they dragged their feet. Their smiles were high and tight, unlike their hair which had fallen and frayed, and while their arms swung from their sides they still held force enough to shatter anything they threw them against.
He tripped as he stepped away, unable to keep his eyes from their bleached skin. “What’s happened to you?” Ryunosuke gasped. “You’re monsters! Freaks!”
“But you’re still one of us,” a zombie rasped. “Black Soul Angel…”
They talked a lot for dead men; perhaps it was time I fixed that.
Bounding from the skyline I threw myself into the horror. In my grip was the underhand blade, slashing the back of my first opponent, the side of my second, removing the hands of a third, and so forth. I flew between them like a pachinko ball, and made short work of the skin suits they wore.
“You call them monsters?” I spat. “You’ve never met a real monster! This is just trash from the underworld!”
The leader of the gang twirled his nightstick and repelled my slash. We stood head to head, our weapons trembling as they held at bay. From so close I could see his eyes, drying out like apricots and sharing the same colour.
“Hey,” the zombie moaned, “don’t I know you from somewhere?”
My teeth ground like a mortar and pestle. “It’s a shame I didn’t get to you while you were alive, or else this might have meant something.”
I turned, ducked, and on my return thrust the point into his crotch. The impact was moist, but firm; a surge of effort was required to tear through the sinew. Another dig, a sharp pull, and he was free.
He didn’t scream as he stumbled back, though I wasn’t going to let that rob me of joy. His cock dropped from my palm to the ground, and in a hard stomp the sludge that may have once been blood met the underside of my shoe.
The zombie lifted his head, and understood. “Yama… guchi…”
“My name,” I told him, “is PLATINUM DOLL!”
This time there were no weapons; only my fist wrapped in a silk glove. I struck with the swiftness of the wind, connecting knuckle to cartilage to bone in one step. The monster’s face collapsed in the same way one might smash a melon, and left surprisingly little mess save that which dribbled from his ears.
His body fell to the ground, and I was numb; though it was not from guilt. Had I just committed a murder? He only looked human, after all. Then again, what did it matter?
Ryunosuke stumbled to my side. The death of what appeared to be a friend had more of an impact on him.
“You… killed him,” he whispered.
“For good,” I said. “Whatever evil spirit inhabited your friend is gone now. He will rest in peace.”
Why did I lie to him in that way? Perhaps, I wondered, if it was easier and saved later mewling.
“Put your hands in the air!” came the roar behind the barricade. Police; they were always getting in the way.
Ryunosuke went to turn, but I caught his shoulder and pulled him back. Our lips pressed together as I enveloped his in my own. What possessed me to do such a thing? I did not feel lust, at least not for him; but for what?
As soon as I was sated I pushed him to the ground and gave him orders. “Leave.”
“Are… are you just leaving me to the cops?” he stammered. “Come on, Yamaguchi. Take me with you!”
“My name,” I roared, “is-!”
Heat consumed my belly as a sting shot through. What was happening to me? I looked down to see the specks of blood trickling to the pavement, and the appendage that had penetrated my torso from behind. The limb did not belong to a human being.
“Chiyoko,” Ryunosuke gasped. “What is that thing?”
I saw just as he did the monster appearing from the ether. It’s smell was the same as that of the corpses, only heavier. Was this my true opponent? Yes, I knew; this was the puppet master, a corrupted squid spirit, manipulating the dead with its endless arms.
Despite my strength I couldn’t stand. Whatever this being, it was more powerful than an imp by far.
To be continued…