Tokyo Demons Book 3: Chapter 7, Part 3
A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #035 back issue.
There was a stairwell to the basement right beside the loading dock. Jo stumbled down the steps so fast that he jumped the final two.
Kiyoshi jumped the final four. He shoved open the door so Jo could run through.
I’m almost free.
Touya dropped the bloody sign, barely hearing the soft clatter as it fell through time. He reached through the haze, extending his fingers to brush the terrified doctor against the wall.
I can end this nightmare.
Ayase filled every corner of the stairwell, the deafening echo of her wings spilling beyond the blanketing mass of her bodies. She barely heard Sachi call to her. She barely saw Adam run up the stairs, lugging his wheeled I.V. pole alongside him, only to gesture at the wrong door.
Adam turned his bleeding face up to her. “Nick!” he yelled, his voice echoing against metal and concrete.
Ayase couldn’t think. Her vision pulsed, swaying the rippled connection between thousands of eyes.
When she tried to swell past him and up the stairs, Adam hefted the wheeled base of his I.V. pole over his head and twisted his body back, like an ancient warrior with a club. He swung it into the stair handrail.
The metallic WHINGGG of the impact exploded through the air, vibrating through her wave of bodies. She bobbed for a second, disoriented from the ringing noise, as he rushed past her and shoved open that wrong door–marked with a giant number four.
Adam glared at her, his glittering eyes breaking through the red haze of her rage.
“Nick!” he yelled again.
Sachi gasped from somewhere below them. “Ayase!” he begged. “Can you hear us?!”
Adam cried out in frustration. “Ayase, help Nick!” he roared in Japanese. “Do it!”
Clarity finally pushed through the fragmented hive of her mind. Nick was in danger, and no one was protecting him.
A new, different fury rippled through her bodies. The expanse of her blurry vision shifted to Adam’s open door.
She flew through it.
The fourth floor was dim, its overheat lights riddled with bullet holes. She saw screaming civilians, rushing police officers, people dragging each other across the floor. She heard the dull BLAM of another gunshot, and something splitting through her mass; a few pieces of her snapped out of existence in tiny bursts of pain.
She pushed past doors, her blurry compound vision sucking up the numbers affixed to the wall.
Two rooms down, a sweaty woman with a knife was trying to jimmy open a door. She wiped sweat from her brow, revealing the dark lines of Pitch veins.
The Core op cried out, her wrist snapping more desperately against the lock. The door popped open and she rushed inside; she slammed the door in Ayase’s face.
Fresh rage crackled through Ayase as she swarmed downward. She fed lines of her bodies under the doorway to crush through the tight space. The woman stumbled toward the man in the bed, brandishing her knife.
A burst of urgency pushed Ayase forward, her mouth stingers posed like swords as she zoomed toward her target.
She drove herself into the Core operative’s sweaty skin. The woman screamed, falling to the floor as Ayase blanketed her skin and tore through the flesh of her ankles, her hands, her face. The knife clattered to the floor from the woman’s swelling hands.
The operative convulsed as she crawled back for the door. She shakily reached for the knob, gripped it, and turned.
Ayase ripped her stingers free. She rippled back, letting the pathetic woman spill back into the hallway and kick the door shut.
I don’t care about you, Ayase thought, the words bouncing through her hive mind. You’re not the one I want.
She automatically swarmed back into the room, crowding around Nick’s bed. He was still unconscious–buried under wires, the plastic tube in his mouth strapped in with a gag-like mask that crushed the blond stubble on his face. He wasn’t wearing his usual baseball cap, revealing the curled edges of his slowly growing hair. A thin, scratchy blanket was the only armor tucked around his vulnerable form.
A wave of distant, human emotion rolled through her as she bobbed around him. Her fragmented mind churned through a shapeless frustration, remembering that his door’s lock had been broken.
And then she surged back toward the floor, dragging her pieces together. She melted against the cool tile, spilling into herself over and over, building her fluid fragments into blood and bone.
Once her lungs hardened, she gasped. She sagged against the bed, her one arm shakily gripping the railing, goosebumps bursting out across her naked body.
Exhaustion sucked up her thoughts like a vacuum.
“N-no,” she growled out loud, shaking the bed in anger. “Not now!” Her blurry eyes snapped to the chair in the corner.
I have to barricade him in here from inside. She staggered toward the chair, dragged it to the door, and crammed it under the doorknob. Unsatisfied, she shoved a wheeled cart that held an unplugged monitor to join it; she locked the wheels just as a weak, strange sound rolled out from the bed behind her.
Ayase froze. The exhaustion dripped off her like sweat, evaporating as her body stiffened in realization. She slowly turned to the man in the bed.
Hazel eyes, under heavy lids, rolled to her.
For one moment–a silent, paralyzing pause in the storm of her brain–she stared back into those hazel eyes.
The burst of a gunshot in the hall made Ayase jump; a guttural cry of someone bled through the door. Ayase stumbled to Nick’s bedside.
“I-I can’t stay here!” she snapped. “I blocked your door to keep Core out!”
Nick slowly blinked.
“I have to…!” Ayase couldn’t finish the thought as her eyes caught on the abandoned knife on the floor–left by the fleeing Core op. She scooped it off the tile with a faint clatter. Before she could second-guess herself, she slapped the knife handle into one of his open hands on the bedspread.
“If you’re awake, then defend yourself!” she ordered, her voice shaking against her will. “Don’t you dare die when we’re this close!”
He stared into her eyes. His lips barely pursed around the tube crammed down his throat.
Slowly, weakly, his open hand twitched.
She closed his fingers around the knife handle for him. For a moment, she lingered, her own hand tightening over his.
And then her fury surged back–a tidal wave flooding every corner of her brain. To the thought of Touya’s sneering face, she jerked back from Nick and clenched her only fist.
She burst free of her human form and billowed throughout the room.
Ayase swarmed back toward the blocked door to cram her tiny bodies under the doorway.
She barely registered the fuzzy cry on the other end of the hall. By the time she cleared the door and swelled back into the chaotic hallway, she remembered where she was. This was the fourth floor–she needed to be one flight up.
She zoomed back toward the stairs, eliciting screams and gunshots in her wake. Her bodies glanced off the huddled form of a nurse. A man with a gun covered his head as she swarmed past, giving another man in scrubs a chance to tackle him.
She nearly flooded past two struggling figures until she realized who they were. She bobbed back for a second, confused, as Sachi turned his sweaty face up.
“Ayase!” he cried. “Adam got shot!”
Beneath her waves of eyes, Sachi tried to grip Adam again–but the bigger man stumbled back, wildly swatting Sachi’s hands off him. Adam was ashen under his cuts and bruises, a dark splotch of red blooming across his shoulder as he stumbled back. His shot arm dangled limply.
He had the fevered eyes of a cornered animal.
“No!” Adam ordered in Japanese.
“Adam, I have to try to stop the bleeding!”
“No!” Adam insisted again, tripping over himself as Sachi reached for him. “No touch! You…have…pain!”
Sachi looked up from grabbing a handful of gauze from the floor. “Huh?”
“You will…FEEL!” Adam roared as Sachi’s hand closed on his other arm.
Sachi winced at the contact, but then tightened his grip. “I don’t feel it like that!” he explained uselessly in Japanese, his shaking voice implying otherwise. “And I can handle it, okay?!”
Adam’s back hit a wall, and Sachi finally managed to drag him to the floor. He pressed the wadded up the gauze against the gunshot wound, making them both hiss.
“Ayase!” Sachi clenched his teeth and swung his head up. “Go on without me!”
Ayase swelled. In her fuzzy compound vision, Sachi’s face was hard.
“I’d rather never see Touya again than be the one to take him down. I don’t know what I’d do if I faced him.” He wiped a splash of blood from his face, his forehead creasing slightly. “Kado trusted you. He trusted you more than he…trusted me. He would’ve wanted you to be the one to end this.”
A wave of rage rippled through her, tainted with a grief that only tightened her core. She swarmed past Sachi’s head, not hearing the final words he called up to her.
As she roared down the hallway, she focused on the stairwell at the end. The door to the stairs was propped open with Adam’s I.V. pole.
An open gateway to Touya.
Proceed to Chapter 7, Part 3, page 2–>