Tokyo Demons Book 2: Chapter 6, Part 1
A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #003 back issue.
Daniel’s ears barely picked up a faint voice under the pounding bass. He glanced at his boombox; he didn’t remember an overlapping MC on this track.
“…hear me? Turn it…!”
It wasn’t from the cassette. Regretfully, he pushed the potato chip bag aside so he could turn down the volume knob. The papers on his desk stopped vibrating with the bass.
A red-faced Professor Greco, dressed in pajamas and a robe, suddenly appeared from the library stacks. Daniel jumped to his feet, embarrassed.
“How many times have I told you to turn your music down?!” Greco pinched his fingers together. “I’m trying to sleep!”
Daniel blinked. “You can hear me up there?” he asked. “What floor are you on?”
“Four floors up! I’m four floors up and your music is still drilling into my brain!” He made an exaggerated motion of driving a finger against his temple. “You can’t do God’s work with that poison in your head!”
Ironically, that was the name of one of Daniel’s favorite songs. He sheepishly snapped off the boombox; the basement fell into silence.
“I’m sorry,” Daniel offered. “I honestly didn’t think the sound would bleed. And no one uses the underground stacks after midnight…”
Greco’s eyes fell on Daniel’s messy desk. “Did you bring food into the library?!”
Daniel grabbed his bag of chips and rolled it into a tight column. “I studied through supper,” he argued. “And I’m not working on any documents older than the 1980s.”
“Don’t talk back to me!” Greco barked. “And don’t get grease near those books! Is that the Alvarez Compendium? Daniel!” Greco swept chip crumbs away with his robe. “Supernaturals were burned before the Pope commissioned this book. Show some respect!”
Daniel wanted to argue that supernaturals were still burned after the Pope commissioned that book, but decided against it. He cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry, professor.”
Greco sighed and rubbed at his sinuses. “Daniel,” he began. “I’m tired of this talk.”
“I know, professor.”
“If you know, then change your behavior.”
Daniel rested the rolled chip bag by the foot of his chair. “I’ll be more respectful,” he promised. “And I’ll…fast after my exam. As penance.”
“And keep the music down!”
Daniel’s stomach shriveled. The thought of that bothered him more than the fasting.
“And I’ll…keep the music down,” he conceded at last.
“You’re privileged to study so close to Vatican City,” Greco murmured. “This isn’t Florence. I don’t know what your wild days were like before you took your vows, but you have to leave all of that behind.”
“Wild days?” Daniel repeated. “Professor, I wasn’t…” But then Daniel trailed off, unsure of how to finish that. He didn’t want to lie.
So he didn’t.
“Of course, professor.”
That seemed to be enough for Greco. The man shifted his weight from one leg to the other.
“Good,” he replied. “The Archbishop is already watching you. You don’t want to end up assigned to that miserable outreach branch, do you?”
Daniel didn’t answer that one.
Greco’s eyes lingered on the cassette case by Daniel’s boombox. He picked it up and clacked it open.
Daniel nervously watched the man’s gaze roll over lines of the printed booklet. His brow tightened.
“Do you understand English?” he asked Daniel sharply.
“This is filth. I’ve heard you sing along with this!” He slapped the booklet. “It talks about…body parts and grabbing women!”
Greco irritably tossed the cassette case back on the desk. “I’m going to bed,” he muttered. “Don’t wake me up again.”
Daniel nodded. The professor grumbled as he disappeared into the stacks; a few moments later, Daniel heard the creak of the old steps in the stairwell.
Daniel dropped heavily into his chair. He could no longer remember what he’d been doing before Greco’s arrival. He sighed, shuffling through papers, and silently prayed an apology to God. Once Daniel was sure he couldn’t hear the creaking of Greco’s steps anymore, he turned the boombox back on. Quietly.
A thin book fell out of a stack of papers to slap against the floor. It had the lamination and ugly spirals of a thesis or dissertation. Daniel couldn’t remember everything he pulled on a wild goose chase through the library…he flipped it over, suddenly curious.
It was a thesis. Translated from the Japanese. Now Daniel remembered this one–his professor had specifically recommended it after Daniel’s last genetics paper.
Inbreeding psychics: Tracing mutations and uncategorized psychic phenotypes through six generations of a psychic “super family.”
He tossed it back onto his desk. He also snuck a few more chips out of his bag and into his mouth.
He rubbed his greasy fingers on his pants, snatched up his pen, and bobbed his head to the soft music as he scribbled down a note.
“Fast on Tuesday,” he wrote. “Replace broken headphones.” He tapped the pen against his lips in time to the beat.
After a moment, he dropped the pen back to paper. “Translate lyrics to Method Man,” he added, praying he didn’t regret that one.
Jo was towel-drying his hair when he heard running footsteps. Frowning at the water spots on his shirt, he poked his head out of the bathroom.
It was Ayase. The minute they caught eyes, something seemed to dawn on her. She slid to a stop in front of him.
“Jo,” she murmured quickly. “I need you.”
Jo pulled the towel from his damp hair. “For what?”
“For, uh…do you know where Kadoyuki is?”
“Then could you find him? And tell him to wait in the sick room for Daniel-san?” She hesitated. “Daniel-san needs to…talk to him.”
Jo wanted to ask why she couldn’t do that herself, but the haunted look in her eyes stopped him. He rested the towel on the sink edge.
“I thought I heard the landline ringing,” he said carefully. “Did Daniel answer it?”
Ayase swallowed. “Please, Jo. Tell him to wait in the sick room.”
He ran his fingers once through his wet hair, in a feeble attempt to comb it. “Fine.”
Ayase let out a breath. She turned and headed back to wherever she’d come from.
Jo found Kado the kitchen. He sat at the table, a mug in front of him, as Zayd and Aisha pulled ingredients out of the fridge.
Kado wasn’t drinking. He just stared at the mug, the eyes under his furrowed brow glittering in concentration. Like he was listening to Zayd and Aisha chatting in Arabic.
Kado blinked and looked up.
Jo jerked a thumb behind him. “Daniel-san needs you. He said to wait in the sick room.”
Kado shriveled slightly in his chair. “I haven’t changed my mind,” he murmured. “Some secrets are…better left as secrets.”
It took Jo a second to figure out what he was getting at. Is this about Kiri? he wondered. And how he threw Sachi out?
Kado nodded, which sent a jolt through Jo. He shuddered automatically.
“Whatever,” Jo muttered. “I don’t know what it’s about. Can you just go?”
Kado slowly scraped his chair back. Jo stepped out of the doorway so Kado could walk past him.
Zayd flipped open the rice cooker. “Jo,” he called. “Are you hungry?”
Jo’s stomach twitched a little in response, but he ignored it. He grunted as he watched Kado turn the bend in the hall.
A few seconds later, Jo heard a door creak from the opposite end of the hallway. He turned his head just as Daniel bolted after Kado.
Daniel ignored Jo as he brushed past, his slippers sliding on the wood as he turned the corner. Jo followed just in time to see Daniel grab the door to the sick room. As Kado called something from inside, Daniel slammed the door shut, trapping Kado from the outside.
Daniel panted in the hallway, his hand firmly gripping the doorknob. A second later, the doorknob started to jiggle.
“Kadoyuki-kun,” Daniel called, his voice wavering slightly. “Stay calm. But I need you to stay in there.”
Jo could hear a muffled sound of panic from inside the room. The doorknob jiggled violently.
Daniel glanced up at Jo. “You’ve been good with locks on our missions,” he said gravely. “I lost the key to this room ages ago. Can you pick it closed?”
Jo finally snapped out of his shock. He ran over to Daniel.
“What the hell are you doing?” he hissed. Kado started pounding on the door.
“We have…reason to believe Kadoyuki-kun has been lying to us. And he’s very dangerous right now.” Daniel gripped the jiggling doorknob with white knuckles. “We can’t look into his eyes or we risk being hypnotized.”
Ayase and Sachi suddenly appeared; Sachi dragged a kitchen chair with him. He murmured an apology and tried to jam the back of the chair under the doorknob.
Kado pounded from the other side. “Open the door!” he shouted. “Please!”
Sachi bit his lip and didn’t reply.
It was the fact that the only people who put up with Kado were doing this. It unnerved Jo, but he finally pushed Sachi aside and properly jammed the door with the chair. Kado pounded harder.
The noise probably carried, because Zayd and Aisha showed up. Even Kiyoshi followed, his half-full quiver still buckled around his hips.
“What is happening?” Zayd demanded.
“Kado!” Sachi finally called through the door, his voice tight. “Please calm down! We’re not gonna hurt you!”
“Let me OUT!” Kado cried. “Why are you doing this to me?!”
“Because the last time you talked to me, you erased my memory!”
Jo turned to Sachi with wide eyes. The pounding on the door stopped.
“We know you absorbed Wipe’s power, Kadoyuki-kun. It was the night he bit you, wasn’t it?” Daniel swallowed. “Why didn’t you tell us? Have you used it on us before?”
Kiyoshi threw Jo a bewildered glance, but Jo shrugged. There was a long moment of silence from the sick room.
“I what?” Kado finally whispered. “But I didn’t…”
Daniel gestured at Zayd. “Sachi-kun doesn’t remember their confrontation earlier,” he murmured. “Kadoyuki-kun wiped it from his memory.”
“I didn’t…I can’t change memories!” Kado cried, his voice cracking high in a panic. “I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
“We all saw you order Sachi-kun to forget what he heard. He even repeated a few of your phrases in nonsense order, like key words that got stuck in his brain.”
“I didn’t do anything!” Kado insisted. “I swear, I was just…yelling at him! I wasn’t using any power!”
Aisha said something grave in Arabic. Zayd nodded and gripped Daniel’s arm.
“He can use powers of other people?” he asked quietly. “You are certain of this?”
“No, but…” Daniel bit his lip. “Kadoyuki-kun, do you have the same power as your mother? Does she hear thoughts?”
The pounding stopped again. Jo heard a shaky breath.
“Yes or no, Kadoyuki-kun!
“Y-yes,” Kado admitted weakly.
“Does it work the same way? The same strengths and weaknesses?”
“Sh-she taught me about it,” Kado wheezed. “Yes, it’s the same.”
Daniel sighed. “That’s honestly some of the best evidence I have,” he offered Zayd. “The psychic gene mutates between generations, which is why parents and children never have the same power. Maybe he didn’t inherit the gene at all–maybe he’s a different mutation that lets him mimic the powers of other psychics.”
“Is that a thing?” Jo blurted.
“Maybe.” Daniel glanced at Ayase. “Stranger things have happened.”
Zayd turned to the door. “Kadoyuki,” he called. “How long have you heard the thoughts of others?”
Kado hiccupped. “Please,” he begged. “I don’t know what you’re–”
“Answer the question!”
“I…I’ve always had it. For as long as I can remember.”
“And how long have you had this new power? Wipe’s power?”
“I DON’T HAVE WIPE’S POWER!” Kado screamed.
The hallway fell into silence. A few seconds later, Jo heard the muffled sounds of sobbing.
“Maybe…maybe this was coincidence,” Sachi said weakly. “Maybe he didn’t know he was using Wipe’s power.”
Jo rubbed his mouth. “It seems weird that he’d do it front of everyone, if he was trying to hide it.”
Daniel stared at the floor, his mouth a tight line. After a long moment, he looked back up at the wood.
“Can you use Sachi-kun’s power?” he asked the door. “Is that why you don’t like being touched?”
Sachi went pale. But Kado’s response was adamant.
“I don’t have anyone else’s power! All I can do is hear thoughts!” He hiccupped. “And that was enough to ruin my life!”
Jo’s stomach churned. Kado sounded sincere–to Jo, anyway.
“I’m sorry, Kadoyuki-kun,” Daniel said. “But…there’s only one way you can prove you’re not lying.”
Jo’s eyes dragged to Sachi. Sachi was staring at the floor, his eyebrows knit in his pale face.
Kado’s sobbing slowly subsided. He coughed and took a high-pitched breath.
“Sachi can…touch me,” he mumbled.
Daniel hesitated. “You erased his memory by looking into his eyes,” he added. “So he can’t…”
Daniel trailed off. But Kado, as always, didn’t need the words to be said.
Slippers shuffled behind the door. “I’m turning around,” Kado whispered. “I’m closing my eyes.”
Ayase reached into her pocket. She pulled out what looked like a wadded-up pillowcase and handed it to Sachi.
Daniel pulled the chair from under the knob and carefully opened the door.
Kado stood in the middle of the room, his back to everyone. There was a quivering line to the downward curve of his shoulders.
“I’m coming in,” Sachi told him. “Just me, okay?”
Kado didn’t reply. Sachi walked toward him, his steps careful, his slippers achingly gentle against the wood of the floor. A heavy silence filled the room as Sachi took the last step.
He blindfolded Kado with shaking fingers.
Kado started to pant, a panicked whine escaping his throat. Sachi whispered something Jo couldn’t hear as he rested his hands on Kado’s shoulders. He slowly turned the boy to face him.
“I’m sorry,” Sachi breathed.
Kado hiccupped. His teeth gritted behind his lips.
“I-I didn’t know,” Kado sobbed. “I swear to God in heaven.”
“About what you, um…did to me?”
“About any of it. About taking other powers.” Tears streaked from under the blindfold. “I’ve only heard thoughts my entire life.”
Sachi took a long breath. He turned his head to the hallway and nodded.
Jo felt the tension around him pop like a balloon. Zayd whispered a prayer as Jo ran his hands through his hair.
Great, he thought darkly. So he’s not fucking with us, but he’s as confused as we are. Jo preferred the latter, but not by a lot.
“Why is this happening to me?” Kado asked weakly.
Sachi bit his lip. “Maybe it’s temporary,” he offered. “Daniel-san’s never read about this before. You might be the first of your kind, Kado. Like Ayase and Zayd-san.”
“And it’s…incredible, really,” Daniel commented from the doorway. “If we can figure out how to control it.”
Kado whined again. He reached up and gripped Sachi’s sleeve.
“Please,” he begged. “Please don’t give me your power.”
Sachi’s eyes widened. “I-I won’t,” he stuttered, fumbling for the blindfold. “I don’t even know how.”
But Kado shook his head, pulling his face free of Sachi’s touch. The blindfold dampened against his eyes as he stepped back from the taller boy.
“I never wanted…I-I can’t take any more. I can’t.”
“No, you don’t understand.” Kado’s fingers snaked up his scalp. “You’re already…in here, in my head. Everyone is. I can’t…!”
Jo felt his stomach clench as Sachi reached for Kado. But Kado just turned, dropped into a squat, and clapped his hands over his ears. He curled his face down into his knees.
“May God have mercy,” Zayd murmured as Kado rocked back and forth. “This will not be easy.”
Sachi squatted near Kado. Kado, ignoring him, just sobbed; his words were a garbled mess against his knees. Jo strained his ears.
Kado was repeating himself. Over and over. He…
He was calling for his father.
“Jeez,” Kiyoshi breathed. “That’s the wrong power for a guy like that.”
Kiyoshi crinkled his nose. “You said he got Wipe’s power when Wipe bit him? That’s like…a werewolf or something.”
“It might not be the bite specifically,” Daniel pointed out, his voice low enough that it wouldn’t carry. “It’s unlikely his mother bit him as a child, after all. Maybe it’s an issue of sharing blood. Or body fluids.” Daniel turned to Kado and Sachi with an open mouth.
“Uh…hm. Does anyone know if Kadoyuki-kun breastfed as an infant?”
“This is not the time,” Zayd warned.
“I know, but…we don’t have much time.” Daniel grimaced. He lowered his voice further.
“Touya called,” Daniel murmured. “He requested a meeting at that hotel with Kadoyuki-kun tonight.”
Jo went rigid. He saw Kiyoshi’s jaw drop.
“Are you serious?!”
“I don’t know if these issues are related, but Touya has an uncanny knack for summoning us when we’re vulnerable.” Daniel gestured down the hallway. “Shouri isn’t doing well–the withdrawal is worse than we’d hoped. And I’ve been trying to contact Detective Nakajima, but she keeps hanging up on me.”
“No surprise there,” Jo muttered. He couldn’t say he was disappointed with that development.
Zayd said something in Arabic to Aisha as he flipped open his phone. “I will text her,” he said. “And perhaps I can contact the bodyguards.”
Kiyoshi’s eyes snapped from Daniel to Zayd. “Wait…you’re not really sending Kado, are you?”
“We must arrange something. Touya’s information was correct and he will expect us to honor this.”
Ayase finally looked up from staring at the floor. “I’m going again,” she said evenly. “Like I did with Detective Nakajima last time. Maybe Adam-san can take her place.”
The disturbance on Kiyoshi’s face matched what Jo felt in his gut. Kado’s voice cracked in the room behind him; Jo wanted to say something, anything, to block out that sound.
“You locked Kado in a room five minutes ago,” he argued. “He can’t be our envoy to Touya the second we find out his power is insane.” A few nightmare scenarios flashed through Jo’s head, each more horrible than the last. “What if he finds out what Kado can do and wants to…recruit him or something?”
Zayd leveled his gaze on Jo. “As he tried to recruit you?” he clarified. “You are Malum, Jo.”
“And I can’t do shit. Especially not compared to Kado.”
Kiyoshi’s eyes widened. “Wait. If Kado lived with Touya…you don’t think Touya knows he can hear thoughts, do you?!”
Ayase shook her head. “I doubt it. He wouldn’t invite Kadoyuki to talk to him if he did.”
Jo stopped. The reality of the situation slowly sank in.
And he changed his mind.
“We…we have to send him,” he blurted. “So he can hear Touya’s thoughts.”
Kiyoshi frowned. Jo sighed in frustration.
“Don’t you see what a chance this is? They haven’t been in the same room since we left Fukuhashi!”
Daniel rubbed his chin. “He already told us that Touya’s thoughts are hard to understand, Jo.”
“He also called Touya a bad liar. Which means he knows how to read the guy, at least a little.” Jo took a step forward. “Look, I’m not saying we send him in there alone. We should give him…more than just the back-up you had last time. Maybe…”
“Send someone to the room with him,” Zayd finished.
Jo automatically regretted the thought. Morbid anticipation roiled in his gut.
“Touya warned us he has to come alone,” Daniel said. “He might not let two people into the room.”
“What if…” Jo swallowed. Just say it, he thought miserably. You’re past this, he added without conviction.
“What if we sent Kado…with someone else Touya wants.”
Kiyoshi stared at Jo, an unasked question on his lips. Then he clenched his jaw as that new darkness flickered behind his eyes.
“You’re not going, Jo,” Kiyoshi muttered. “I am.”
Daniel started to protest, but Jo cut him off.
“Touya already let you go once,” Jo told Kiyoshi. “Now you’re a liability to him.”
“He let me go, Jo, and he obviously didn’t tell Core I’m hiding here. He wants me to live.”
“Live, maybe. But not chase him down.”
Anger flashed across Kiyoshi’s face. “Touya saved my life,” he snapped. “He doesn’t scare me like he scares the rest of you. I want to talk to him.”
“He didn’t ask for you, Kiyoshi!”
“He didn’t ask for you, either!”
Jo couldn’t believe he actually had to beg for this. He threw up his hands and looked backed into the sick room.
Sachi stood over Kado and rubbed his eyes. The blindfolded boy still murmured, hands pressed over his ears.
Jo’s stomach twisted. “I’m going,” he said quietly.
Proceed to Chapter 6, page 2–>