Tokyo Demons Book 1: Chapter 6
Audio version of Chapter 6 can be streamed on YouTube below:
Nick ran. It didn’t matter what direction–he just took as many turns, as many alleys as he could. If there was anything in his reach, he threw it behind him. He knocked a large plastic garbage can into his trail as he passed it; he heard a curse from behind him, either from a homeless man or a hired thug out to kill him.
Nick reached a gate fence, a faint silver veil looming ahead in the moonlight. He kicked it hard enough that the latch broke and the gate swung open. There was an auto repair shop behind it, old enough that the garage door was rusted and cracked. He ran to it and whipped around. There was no one behind him–no one he could see, at least. He squatted beside the grip on the garage door and jerked upward as hard as he could. The metal handle and its padlock handles tore off the door. He crammed a hand under the door and lifted it carefully; it made grumbling metal clicking noises that were deafening in the quiet. He only lifted it enough for him to slide under. Then he carefully lowered the door, shutting him off into complete darkness.
Nick, his back flat on the concrete floor, finally took a second to catch his breath. His hand inched along the floor until it landed on a wrench. He grabbed it, pushed himself to his feet, and stood on the inner garage handle with one enormous boot, effectively locking himself inside. He brandished the wrench and waited.
But no one came. After the passage of several minutes in the oily smelling darkness, he finally lowered the wrench. He dropped to one knee, swallowed hard, and wiped his forehead with a shaking arm.
He’d really done it this time. He’d never been this screwed–and considering his past, that was saying a lot. At least in Kuwait it wasn’t hard to find someone who spoke English, and American money was something everyone understood. Tokyo was nothing like that. The Japanese he’d learned in the past few months was barely enough to get around. People stared at him in the street, the ruder ones muttering “dekai” under their breath. He had some money in his pocket, but it wouldn’t get him far in a city that expensive.
He gritted his teeth. Why the hell had he come here? Why hadn’t he gone to Prague, when Jakub had promised him a job there? What had possessed him to follow Ito to a place where he would always be dependent?
He could still see Ito smiling at him over the mess table. “Your thirst for knowledge is rare, Nick-san. And it is a very beautiful thing.” Ito cocked his head slightly. “Do you want me to teach you? I know many things.”
Nick grimaced. The Ito he’d known as a Légionnaire was gone, transformed into a rail-thin, bug-eyed addict to his own concoction. The glee on Ito’s face as he filled his syringes would haunt Nick’s dreams.
It was sweltering in the garage; Nick ran an arm across the sweat on his face. Something bumped his nose and sent a sharp pain through his forearm. He flipped his forearm upward and squinted in the darkness. He’d fled during an injection–was a needle still in him?
As he barely made out the contraption in his skin, a memory struck him. He’d let Ito give him an angiocatheter, a small plastic device meant to ease multiple injections. It was still inside him, taped firmly against his arm and the bulging, dark veins that coursed toward his elbow. And screwed into the end was a thin syringe, light enough that it hadn’t torn itself and the catheter free during his escape.
His heart pounding, Nick unscrewed the syringe and gently flicked it. His eyes barely caught the tiny bubbles that traveled up the tube.
There was still a dose inside. One tiny, terrible dose.
Ayase sat with Sachi for hours. At first, she just listened while he told her everything about himself. He explained his power and when he discovered, as a child, that he was different from other boys. Ayase could relate to that…she hadn’t thought she was abnormal until the nuns lectured her for “lying” about herself.
But Sachi’s upbringing was different from hers. He was in one foster family for most of his life, and things there had been surprisingly normal. Even the rockier times with his new foster mother improved once he met Daniel. Sachi had, in short, led a pretty happy life.
So she hesitated. When he smiled at her gently and asked about her life, she gave him the short version. She didn’t want to detail the compounding paranoia that had led to her chasing down a priest with a can of mace.
The sun outside the church windows set. Twilight turned to darkness, and eventually the lights outside blinked out one by one. Ayase didn’t know what time it was, but it felt like they’d been talking for an eternity.
She rerouted the conversation to other people. She asked about Daniel and Nick. Sachi didn’t know much about Daniel besides him being an expert on the supernatural. And Sachi knew nothing of Nick other than what he had told them both. Ayase scrambled for another topic so she wouldn’t have to talk about herself again.
“What about…Kadoyuki?” she tried at last. “You said you think he has a power?”
Sachi visibly wilted. He leaned back in his chair and pondered for a moment.
“What do you know about Kado?” he asked at last.
“Practically nothing.” Her mind wandered back to that bathroom. “That he’s…having some sort of trouble right now, I guess.”
Sachi sighed. “I met Kado in junior high,” he murmured. “He was really quiet and missed a lot of school. I bumped into him once and felt this huge wave of fear off him. It kinda freaked me out. So I asked people about him, and somebody said his parents were abusive. When I talked to a teacher about it, they said he was already seeing the school shrink and going through different kinds of therapy…his mom had mental problems and was going through therapy herself. They said there was no evidence she was hurting him, though.”
Sachi frowned. “But there was something else about him–I couldn’t put my finger on it. I tried to make friends with him, and we hung out a little, but he’s not very…sociable. He’s really defensive about a lot of things. And since I couldn’t figure out what was so different about him, I kept trying to subtly touch him to get readings on him. He caught on pretty quickly and accused me of coming on to him. And at that point, well…” Sachi rubbed the back of his neck. “I was starting to wonder if I was attracted to him. I couldn’t think of any reason why I felt the way I did when I touched him. I knew I liked girls, but this was totally different from…”
Sachi trailed off. When he looked up from his feet, he smiled sheepishly.
“But I figured it out after I met Daniel. I was feeling Kado’s ability. When I touch people with powers, they feel different from normal people.” He patted Ayase’s hands, clasped on her lap. “Like when I touch you. I can sense something different on you, like I sensed on Kado.”
Ayase pursed her lips. “But you can’t tell what the ability is just through touching, right?”
Sachi nodded. “Knowing he had a power made me want to help him even more. I tried to get him to see Daniel-san. I didn’t want to freak him out, so I didn’t say it was about being ‘supernatural’ or anything–I just told him Daniel-san was a good person to talk to. Kado said he was tired of talking to authority figures…I guess he meant all those therapists. He’d locked himself up pretty tight by the end of ninth grade.”
“Daniel said he…comes to pray.”
“Yeah,” Sachi replied. “Daniel-san thinks Kado may be Catholic.”
Sachi rubbed his chin. “Apparently, Kado prays in Latin.”
Ayase stopped at that. She flashed back to the nuns who raised her–whispering in an alien tongue as they rubbed their strings of beads. She tried to imagine Kadoyuki like one of them.
…She couldn’t. She couldn’t think of him as anything but a cowering classmate with fear in his eyes.
She dropped her gaze to the floor. Fear was the first thing Sachi had sensed on Kadoyuki, too. And that had been years ago.
What on earth was his ability? What kind of ability could haunt someone that deeply?
Her thoughts were cut off by her stomach growling. Sachi checked his watch and made a surprised grunt.
“Yikes. It’s past three a.m.” His eyes flicked up to her. “Are you okay? You must be tired.”
“Not really.” She’d attacked Daniel and Nick early on Friday, then fainted and slept until Saturday morning.
“Me, neither. But you’re obviously hungry.” Sachi got to his feet and stretched his arms over his head. He yawned as he made his way from the kitchen table to the cabinets. “I think I saw some chips in here. You want those?”
Ayase quickly stood and made her way to the refrigerator. “I’ll find something,” she murmured, weirdly embarrassed. “You don’t have to…serve me or anything.”
“I know you’re not comfortable in this place yet. Let me do something for you, Ayase.”
Ayase opened the fridge and frowned. “You’ve already done plenty,” she argued.
Sachi glanced back from the cabinets, something unspoken in his gaze. “Then let me spoil you a little,” he said quietly. “It’s obvious you’re not used to it.”
Ayase felt the color drain from her face. She stuck her head in the fridge to avoid Sachi’s gaze.
“I’m fine,” she muttered, although her tone sounded strange in her ears.
Sachi’s cell phone suddenly rang from his pocket. Ayase grabbed an onigiri from a plate of them as Sachi wondered aloud who could be calling at that hour. She closed the fridge as he unflipped the phone.
“Hello?” Sachi balanced the phone against his shoulder. “Who is this?” he asked as he retrieved the bag of chips.
There was a pause. Ayase watched as Sachi’s eyes widened in surprise. He slowly rested the chips on the table.
“Kiyoshi? Is that you? What’s wrong?” He quickly grabbed the phone. “I can’t understand you…what happened to Mai?”
Ayase only got in a few bites of her onigiri before Sachi sent her a very decisive look. He gestured to the hallway and mouthed the words “get Daniel-san.”
Ayase blinked. Sachi’s expression turned very grave as he held the phone with both hands. “Kiyoshi, is someone with you? Jo? Please put him on–I can’t understand you while you’re crying.”
Something was very wrong. Ayase crammed the rest of the onigiri in her mouth as she ran down the hallway. She wondered about waking Daniel up in middle of the night, but one of the two doors at the end of the hall was closed to block a quiet conversation. Ayase knocked and swallowed her rice.
“Daniel-san?” Ayase asked. “Sachi needs you.”
It was Nick who yanked open the door. He looked even more irritated than he’d been during the day. “For what?” he snapped. “Aren’t you kids asleep yet?”
Ayase scowled. Daniel pushed his way out from behind Nick and smiled down at Ayase.
“Don’t be rude. What’s the matter, my dear?”
She led them to the kitchen. Sachi had put his cell on speakerphone and rested it on the table. He put a finger to his lips as they approached; a scratchy version of Jo’s voice echoed from the phone.
“I told him not to call you, Sachi. But I still haven’t…I don’t know who to ask, either.” Jo spoke quickly and barely masked the panic behind his words. “Shit, I wish I had Miki’s number. We can’t…Kiyoshi’s got less than two hours before he has to go back with these people. And if we call the cops, they might kill Mai.”
Ayase gave a start. Did she really hear that?
Daniel opened his mouth, but Sachi held up a hand. “Jo,” he said carefully. “Tell me what happened. Kiyoshi said he was kidnapped.”
“He was. An hour ago. Some people kidnapped Mai, sent Kiyoshi a phony letter from her, then grabbed him when he showed up. But they dumped him right back here and told him to get his shit in order. They’ll free Mai if he goes back and works for them.”
“Works for them? What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, Sachi!” Jo’s voice grew louder, his words clipped shorter. “He won’t stop crying! He said he doesn’t remember most of it. He doesn’t even remember getting grabbed!”
“Then how do you know it really happened?” Ayase asked.
“What the hell? Am I on speakerphone?”
Sachi sent Daniel and Nick another warning glance. “Yes,” Sachi confirmed. “But it’s just Ayase.”
“That’s why I didn’t want to call you, Sachi! Are you trying to drag half our class into this shit?! How could she possibly help us?!”
“I’m already here,” she answered shortly. “How do you know all this if Kiyoshi doesn’t, Jo?”
“Because I was there. I saw him get dragged off and…” His voice grew quieter as his mouth moved from the phone. “How could you forget your own kidnapping, Kiyoshi? Did you hit your head or something?”
Sachi leaned closer to the phone. “Why can’t he remember?” he asked. “Who grabbed him?”
“Six people. Four men and two women. They had a car ready when they took him and he said some are waiting in a car outside.”
Daniel whispered what sounded like a prayer. Even Nick looked surprised.
“Do you have any idea who these people are? What did they look like?”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “I don’t know,” Jo muttered. “But one of them was…a vampire.”
Sachi blinked. “A what?”
“A VAMPIRE!” the tiny voice exploded. “Okay?! Fuck, the cops hung up on me when I tried to tell them. The lady who grabbed Kiyoshi was a goddamn vampire!”
Ayase’s mouth opened, but no sound came out. A sudden rush of the day’s conversations overwhelmed her mind.
“There are more of us out there.”
Sachi had used the word “supernatural” when referring to Ayase and himself. Now Ayase realized, in a weird epiphany, that possibly every other creature of myth was real.
A chill ran down her spine.
“Wait a minute.” Nick suddenly broke the silence and pushed his way to the phone. “You said the vampire was a woman? What did she look like?”
“What? Who the hell is that?! Sachi!”
“Relax, kid–I’m trying to help you. Describe her.”
Jo hesitated. “Shit. She was…maybe in her twenties, hair to her shoulders, wearing a weird pendant and a trenchcoat.”
“Was this at night? Was she still wearing sunglasses?”
Nick slammed a fist on the table. He stared up at Daniel, who met his gaze and turned pale.
“She’s not a vampire,” Nick said thinly. “She’s just one of those jackasses who wishes she was. But she’s also a night operative of a very dangerous organization.” Nick rubbed his mouth for a second. “Who’s your friend? Why would they want him to work for them?”
There was the sound of an angry breath from the other end of the phone. “Hell if I know!” Jo snapped. “Kiyoshi has no idea. And he’s not exactly a guy who attracts attention.”
“Where are you?”
“At our dorm. We’re actually in the room next to ours–I was afraid they bugged our place or could see in the window. And I didn’t want to use our phone.”
Nick straightened at that. “Good. They might be using phone taps if they’re this organized. I need to come see you, but I might draw attention going into a high school…can you set up some sort of distraction for me to slip in?”
Jo snarled. “Who the hell are you?” he demanded.
“I’ll bring one of your friends to vouch for me. I’ll bring…” His eyes fell on Sachi, then suddenly snapped to Ayase. Something dawned on him. “The girl. Ayase. Can she get in your dorm?”
Ayase nodded as Jo muttered something. “A distraction?” he repeated. “So you can get in here?”
“Maybe. Give me a minute…I’ll call you back.”
Sachi picked up the phone. “Let us know,” he said quickly. “And hang in there, Jo.”
Jo cursed again, then cut out. A dial tone filled the room.
Sachi closed his phone as Nick stomped over to Daniel and grabbed him by the arm. “Give us a minute,” he warned as he half-dragged Daniel back to their room down the hall. He slammed the door behind them.
Ayase swallowed. She glanced at Sachi, who squirmed on his side of the table. After a few seconds, they both bolted (quietly) after the two men. They carefully pressed their ears against the door.
“…Are you crazy?!” came Daniel’s muffled cry.
“What other choice does this kid have? You know what they’ll do to him.”
“No! We can’t send him back, period!”
“Maybe you missed the part where they have a hostage!”
Daniel mumbled something inaudible. Ayase strained to hear.
“Look,” Nick hissed. “I’m just as shocked as you are that Core’s recruiting through kidnappings. But there’s got to be a reason they’re after this kid.”
A pause. “Did you ever think it would come to this?” Daniel asked quietly. “Not just forcing people to stay, but forcing people to…join?”
“They’ve been trying to kill me for years, Daniel. I wouldn’t put anything past them.”
Ayase exchanged a surprised glance with Sachi. Kiyoshi had been kidnapped by the same people who were after Nick?
Ayase tried to remember what he’d said about them. They controlled the drug that left those track marks…
Ayase heard the shuffle of feet. “Please, Nick. We agreed that your plan requires a trained operative–preferably someone from Kiri. How on earth could you expect a teenage boy to succeed?”
“They won’t expect a teenager! Especially since they only gave him a few hours of freedom. But I can outfit him in thirty minutes, easy.” There was the scrape of something opening, like a closet door or a drawer. “An opportunity like this won’t fall in our laps again. And you know as well as I do that they might kill him anyway, Daniel. At least we can give him a chance to escape.” Something slammed shut. “Especially since we can send him with a communicator.”
“No. A wire is too dangerous.”
“We don’t need a wire.” Nick grunted. “We have the girl.”
Ayase’s heart started to pound. She licked dry lips as footsteps thudded on the other side of the door.
She didn’t notice Sachi pull back and hiss at her. The door suddenly flew inward, which sent Ayase pitching toward the floor. Nick grabbed her before she hit the ground.
He snorted as she scrambled to her feet. “Think you could hack it as a spy?” he asked dryly.
She brushed down her skirt. “We have a right to know what’s going on,” she countered.
“That’s not what I mean.” Nick slapped a black wig over his very short hair. “You’re getting me in that dorm,” he said as he shrugged on a backpack. “We can’t draw attention, but a group of two should be okay. Are you any good at acting?”
Ayase furrowed her brow. “I have no idea.” She glanced at his wig and he angrily adjusted it.
“Then just pretend to be a more normal teenage punk.” He grabbed her wrist. “Make it look like you’re taking me to your room to screw me.”
Proceed to Chapter 6, page 2–>