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Tokyo Demons Book 1: Epilogue

Kadoyuki curled up in the futon, his hands clutching at the bed sheet.

He knew there weren’t enough linens to go around. The church was being so kind, giving him clothes and a bed…but he still felt overexposed. All he wore over his underwear was that thin robe and his school jacket. He could feel the skin of his bare legs against the thin sheet, a weak guard against the open air. Thin, thin. It was all so thin. He wanted his pajamas under his robe, his socks back on his feet. He wanted to bury his face under a comforter and block out the open air. He wanted fabric…hugging him, guarding him, protecting his skin from the world. If it was too hot, he would happily sweat. He didn’t mind his own sweat. It added another layer of him between his skin and everyone else.

He stared at his cell phone, resting innocently by his head. He’d left it on the floor. He didn’t want it in his futon, in the weak fortress he’d constructed under that sheet. If it rang, he would hear it and could answer. But he didn’t want the cold black object touching him.

Touching him, touching him. Running over his skin, digging into his flesh.

A familiar wave of nausea swept over him, locking his muscles as he started to convulse.

He squeezed shut his eyes and grabbed at the sheet. He had to go to another place. He imagined a thick blanket over him, draped up and over his head. He was in a room sealed off from the outside world, filled with people chatting and laughing happily around him. They couldn’t see him. He was surrounded by everyone, but isolated and safe. He wasn’t alone yet no one could touch him.

His trembling muscles began to calm. He took deep breaths, reciting the Hail Mary in his head. He could get through his. He imagined the prayer draped over him, a blanket from God.

“…”

The faint overlap of muffled voices danced along the quiet. The nurse’s voice cracked into higher tones as feet and something heavy dragged across the floor. Kadoyuki heard creaking, movement. But at least the yelling had stopped. He wondered if Honda-san was all right.

Footsteps shuffled nearby. Kadoyuki stiffened as someone opened the door behind him with a long, quiet creak. A shaft of light widened across the wall, throwing shadows against the pale paint.

“Oh,” he heard Daniel say. “Someone’s already in here.”

Kadoyuki shut his eyes and feigned sleep.

Another voice said something–it sounded like English. Adam. Daniel tried to respond in simple Japanese.

“Just…here. Yes. I’ll get a futon.” He sighed. “I’m afraid it’s going to be a long night for Kiyoshi-kun in the sick room.”

Kadoyuki swallowed. He heard the creak of a closet, the soft flaps of a futon being unrolled on the floor. Adam murmured something and Daniel apologized for not understanding.

“Kadoyuki-kun?” Daniel called quietly. “Is that you? Are you asleep?”

Kadoyuki didn’t move. Slippers shifted on the hardwood.

Kadoyuki’s heart thundered in his chest. The sound of Daniel’s breathing grew closer, a quiet little hum under his breath. Then, gently…

His warm fingers brushed Kadoyuki’s head.

“Poor thing,” he whispered. “I’m glad you’re staying.”

Then he pulled back, his slippers shuffling away. He said something more to Adam, but Kadoyuki couldn’t hear it over the blood rushing in his ears.

The door closed. Adam stirred in the futon. A few moments later, his quiet snores filled the room.

Kadoyuki slowly opened his eyes. He stared at the blank wall, trembling, as the warmth of Daniel’s touch faded from his skull.

Kadoyuki remembered countless nights in middle school, feigning sleep under his covers. A gentle weight pushing down on his futon as a sigh filled the room.

His father’s quiet voice always sounded weak in the dark. He spoke of apologizes and love, more honest than he could be when Kadoyuki was awake. His hand would gently stroke Kadoyuki’s arm.

“I’m sorry,” he would say, his voice breaking. “I’m sorry I can’t protect you from her.”

A buzzing noise broke the memory. Kadoyuki’s heart seized in his chest. His eyes flew to the vibrating phone by his head.

It stopped. The green square of light lit up, warning of a text message.

Kadoyuki’s stomach lurched. His fingers trembling, he reached out from the comforter and flipped open the phone.

I haven’t heard from you lately, it read. Are you all right? Please text if you need anything. I’m here if you need me.

The listed sender was one terrible little kanji.

Mother.

Kadoyuki’s stomach clenched as bile surged up his throat. He slapped shut the phone and dropped it as if burned. It wobbled on the hardwood, spinning a quarter turn.

Kadoyuki threw the sheet over his head and squeezed shut his eyes. He moaned weakly, trying to force down the urge to vomit. He started shaking again, his muscles tight.

Sachi’s pained words echoed in his ears. Of course he could stay. Sachi was always on the outskirts of Kadoyuki’s life, hoping to be let in. All it had taken was a single request.

Tears welled up behind Kadoyuki’s eyelids. Daniel had asked if they were ready to become martyrs.

Kadoyuki didn’t know if staying with the church was a sin. He’d lost all sense of right and wrong over the last several weeks. Now all he could do, desperately, was stay away from the dark. He was an isolated island in the church, surrounded by friends who were surrounded by enemies.

He heard high-pitched beeping from the sick room now. Voices rose in volume. Then came the muffled, nauseating sound of somebody retching.

Kadoyuki clutched his mouth and dry-heaved into his hand.

Martyrs.

Kadoyuki wondered, for the first time, if it would be better for him to die.

End of Book 1

You can purchase the complete Book 1 with bonus short stories in ebook or paperback format in our Shop.

Continue to Book 2 –>

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Comments (4)
  1. Lianne Sentar

    If you’d like to comment on this chapter, please do so below. You can also see the comments from the original web publication here.

  2. DJ

    So I don’t know if the other comment made it on the other site, but I really liked Book 1. I don’t exactly know how to put my feelings into words, so I’ll try my best.

    The world you set up feels busy and exciting. The characters that come with it flesh it out even more, and I don’t know why, but I feel really good watching each person interact with each other.

    I also like how the two leads’ lives aren’t exactly intertwined with one another. I mean, well, it really feels like they have their own lives to live outside of each other, which I find refreshing. Ayase and Jo are pretty neat-o characters.

    And if I have to have a favorite character, it’d be Sachi. I mean, at least to me, he’s the most relatable and for some reason feels the most real to me. It always makes me happy to see Sachi whenever he shows up. He’s most definitely a dude I’d love to be friends with. Though a close second would be Kado and Ayase. That one guy from Byakko who got Jo into the Gang goes right behind them. I dunno man, he seemed pretty chill.

    Anyway, what I mean to say is, great job on a good book!

    ((And I don’t know if this makes any difference, but I saw you at the Sparkler booth at Anime Boston. I’m really glad I got the chance to meet you!))

    • Lianne Sentar

      This comment on the other site? I loved that, and I love this one. Thanks, DJ. <3 I'm glad we could meet at one of the rare cons I drag my ass to!

      I'm glad you like the Ayase/Jo separation thing, because it's something I've always felt strongly about – I wanted both a female lead and a male lead, and I didn't want either of them to just be the other's love interest or sidekick. Two leads lets me spread the perspective over a broader area (since there's so much happening in Tokyo), present two separate views on the other characters and moral choices, and hopefully have a "relatable" POV for a broader range of readers. We've done some surveys on this, and the results are really interesting – younger readers tend to like Ayase better, older readers tend to like Jo better, etc. It doesn't seem like female readers are clinging to Ayase or male readers are clinging to Jo, but, rather, that people of all genders are just gravitating toward whichever one they like better. Which is great!

      In Book 3, we introduce a third POV, but I don't think ANYONE is gravitating more toward that one (since it's horrible). But it lets me flesh out a character who's so lost in his own head that it would be hard to develop him any other way, heh.

      MORE PERSPECTIVES, MORE~