And the night turned deep; the fragile gossamer strands of truth and love clung to the minds of those carefully selected upon the rising of the seventh moon, floating like cobwebs. Alas, a pair of razor-shears tore through the air, severing these bonds to trust, shattering ties to friends, family, and life itself. In these falling shards of opalescent glass, the reflections of past lives gleamed through darkness like the beacons of heaven-- guiding lights, a temptation naught to be fulfilled.
Great arms held their ground, the thick muscle tensing into place to take the hit. A screaming in the distance faded into shrieks of pain and rage all around. The parched earth was soaked in blood and lymph, making a dark mud trampled and packed by great stamping feet. A heady odor of sanguine, metal and leather hung in the keen-rived air while swords and maces cracked the would-be calm like a chipper on ice. Standing in the sun's shadow was a writhing black mass, with tiny, oily creatures breaking off and charging towards what seemed to be gods; some wore masks, and some wore nothing but a piece of cloth around their waists, while some perched in kimonos, still others in full, gleaming armour; an image of power. They stood valiantly before solid gold gates, a representation of the failing star Sol.
Time reached its peak, and there was a brief respite as the universe aligned itself with the echo of a gong and the reversal swung into being. The gates flashed with light, glistening, and seeming to put out a force field, while one of the gods became trapped outside the walls of the city. The view seemed to pan onto him, zooming closer and closer, until one could see every wrinkle and gleaming drop of sweat on his bright red skin and the look of horror that filled his yellow eyes as the shadow crept upon him.
pinpoint glow, bleed into black,
beholding distant planets,
intertwined like lovers
A yelp broke the silence as a young man awoke, his body flying into an upright position; his bare upper body was damp with cold sweat, and his hair was soaked with it; the sweatpants he wore clung to his skin, tripping him slightly as he got up to cool off. A tortured face of some otherworldly being was stuck in his mind's eye. It was a silent image, but the quiet was tattooed by his own rapid pulse in his ears.
For him, however, this wasn't an odd occurrence; he rarely remembered his dreams, and they were discomforting if not terrifying when he did. This dream, however, was incredibly vivid; he could smell and taste the must of blood, feel the acidic coating of the tarry beast overwhelming him, gnawing away skin and muscle in the merciless act of murder.
Shaking his head like a wet dog, he stumbled into the bathroom, running a frigid shower and stripping out of his sweaty pajamas. The cold air hit him like a brick, almost knocking tthe breath out of him and making him shake as if he were thrust into the Antarctic. Taking a deep breath, he steadied himself and stepped into the shower.
As the cold sifted the disquiet from the fibrous web of his mind, its new found freedom allotted time to wander from subject to subject-- which, for him, were his friends, job, university work-- and most importantly, his little sister. Being nine years her senior, he often ended up as her caretaker. In fact, se was staying the weekend with him to get away from their strict and near loveless parents. Since it was Wednesday, he had three days to make sure everything was clean and to make sure his friends didn't wander in drunk while she was here.
There was a small pause of realization when the thought of it being Wednesday crossed his train of thought, and he was struck by it:
-That- was today;
In only a few hours;
He hadn't prepared at all.
The shampoo and conditioner hastily flew through his hair, soap over his now incredibly tense body. In minutes he was dried and dressed in his usual dark pants and button down shirt, dashing like a madman through the compact apartment to find the textbook for a psychology class; it was simply a credit, but it was important nonetheless, and he had the biggest exam of the year so far that day.
In all his running, he didn't stop to notice that his reflection in the mirror was startlingly different. His current tunnel-vision state of mind let him notice little about his surroundings. The neat space seemed cluttered in his rush to find everything he needed. All his worldly possessions were lost in a sea of worthless garbage he must wade through, everything an obstacle to his final goal.
Maybe half an hour later, he kncoked open the door to the class, disheveled and rumpled. The wildness of his gaze seemed to die into disbelief: before him, the room was empty, with the exception of the professor, Prof. Iyazaki, who looked up accusingly at him as he burst in.
"What is it?" Iyazaki glared from behind thick glasses.
"Didn't... didn't I miss the exam? Or was it later today?" His meek voice barely reached his own ears before Iyazaki's look of increludity met his eyes. Gulping, he paused before continuing, "it was today, correct?"
"No, I am quite afraid it is not. Your exam was last week. Are you feeling alright, Hisakawa-san?" The tone was more of judgmentality than of sympathy, and it alone made him feel an inch tall before Iyazaki, whose cool and calculating nature topped with the undenyable impression of experience given from chalk-white hair, dark hawk-like eyes and a knack for wearing the most professional outfits imaginable left even the most outrageous student quiet and rulebound, unwanting of his wrath.
"I... I see, sir..." Hisakawa murmured, "but, does--"
"Speak clearly when adressing me, Hisakawa."
"Y-Yes, sir! Ah, but does that mean the written prerequisite is done today?"
Silence; immediately, Hisakawa winced, knowing that he had messed up again. A deep breath filled and escaped his lungs before Iyazaki spoke in the brusque, snappish tone once more.
"That was two weeks ago. Hisakawa. From experience, I can say that you may wish to defer to the hospital. You must have hit your head. Now, go. And, for future reference, your class wasn't even scheduled for today."
With that, the rigid man turned, returning to his podium to prepare a lesson. Slowly, Hisakawa recovered from his shock and shambled to the door. The shock was gone, but anger at himself welled up in its place; the hospital could wait. He had to get home, and check his calendar; this was either a bad joke, a dream, or an ailment, as Iyazaki had previously made quite clear.
The square for that day was blank and white as ever it could have been; scribbles for the fault before, and as far as two weeks later, but this was one of maybe three days that he had nothing planned whatsoever. What did shock him, as well, was that his sister's visit had been the previous week as well. His mind seemed to flow in reverse, from what he could tell. Deep breaths couldn't salvage him now. He was in a panic; but, at the same time, he was completely calm-- it was as if his mind was telling him it was dying and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He became unsure of his own name, pulling out his ID to check it.
Hisakawa Kazuki; exactly what he was vaguely sure of.
Hisakawa Kazuki, male, nineteen--
'I could have sworn that my birthday was coming up.. how is this possible?' His inner voice was defeated, dismayed; nothing was as it seemed. He thanked every greater power he knew that it was simply a free day, that he didn't miss anything important. He would simply have to take this calendar, or at least a copy of it, everywhere from now on. Everything would be written and double-checked as it happened. Nothing would take him by surprise; nothing would be left to be taken by his loosening mind.
Kazuki glanced up at the calendar once more, and stopped short. The dates were suddenly all where he had previously believed them to be. His stomach dropped to his feet and he began to create odd scenarios in his head.
Had he walked into the lecture hall, talked to himself, and convinced himself that the test was not that day in front of everyone? Or, maybe worse, was he genuinely losing his mind and losing everything else that connected to the presence of sanity that he worked so incredibly hard to achieve? Was he sick or hurt, only imagining that this was happening, making everything just happen in his mind as a cruel illusion? Was he asleep, dreaning restlessly, soon to wake only to be bothered by these cumbersome subjects tossed into his head, akin to a juggler's balls?
The questions ran rampant in the ragged pathways of his brain as he ran back out the door, the calendar rolled in his fist, to the street, onto a bus, to the university. Again he entered the hall, and again Professor Iyazaki demanded his purpose. The conversation was reheld, though shorter and ruder on Iyazaki's part. The professor pointedly stressed an evaluation of Kazuki's mental and physical health before bidding him leave and not tovbother him once more that day.
Stunned, though a little more confident in his situation, Kazuki moved on to the next point of his personal questionnaire-- whether or not his mind and brain were healthy. The hospital soon loomed before him; it would be the final answer as to whether or not his life would be normal after that day. And, without a doubt, it would go wrong; if he knew it would-- it would end up right.
At least, it would by his logic and current understanding of the matter.
Inevitably, it ended in disaster, with him sitting in a mental ward, waiting to either be imprisoned or escorted home.
"Why do we have to be bothered with him?" A fussy voice called out, its owner seemingly oblivious to all opposition, and who crossed around the corner. A stout woman with an older, stricter face, a tired looking man, and an anxious young girl. Kazuki unconsciously sat up a little straighter, his brow furrowed.
Why was his family here?
Or, to be more precise, why were his parents here?
Since he had decided to go into a liberal art school his parents had completely abandoned him. They had raised him, their own child, only under the strict condition that he fulfill their every wish-- and wanting to become a music professor was far from being one of them. Having no qualms with music, they could have cared less about how he pursued that dream as long as he became a surgeon.
Kazuki could have died by the hands of a sadistic, psychopathic murderer and they wouldn't have attended his funeral. Knowing this, he was stunned that he saw their faces, here, when he was at his lowest point, and wasn't surprised when they spoke of him as if he weren't there. His sister, Yuko, on the other hand, ran over and hugged him, looking terrified. Nimbly returning the embrace, his eyes didn't leave his parents.
"Why are you here?" Kazuki suddenly said, interrupting them as they bickered to a doctor. They slowly looked over, silent, regarding him for a time before turning to the professional once more.
"What kinds of medication will he be taking, and what will it mean for his career?" His father asked, ignoring his son's existence as per the usual.
"He will only be taking medication as he sees fit, Mr. Hisakawa. And as I understand, he is taking music-oriented classes; if anything, they will help him strengthen his mind."
The man made a disgusted noise. "Yes, of course, side with him! Music is fine. What about meaningful study?"
"What do you mean, Mr. Hisakawa?" The doctor seemed exasperated.
"I mean," Kazuki's father puffed up, "that him going into a medical field would be better for his mental state."
"I knew he would go wrong with that silly music," his mother piped up. "He would be better off learning how to diagnose himself than how to make noise."
"No, madam, he really wouldn't." This statement, Kazuki saw, made the smug looks drop from his parents' faces. "His condition could be vaguely described as dementia, but we haven't been able to pinpoint what it is. In all honesty, I believe he has become overworked, and moving into a medical field would make it worse. He is taking a few difficult courses with this major, but becoming a doctor of any sort requires a lot of work and a large ability to handle stress. Even I had quite a few breakdowns in medical school. Kazuki's fragile state would simply fail if he were put into that position. Now, I'm not saying music isn't difficult," he nodded respectfully to Kazuki, "but music has a tendency to be more relaxing and nourishing as a whole than ten medical courses per year."
Looking like he'd just been slapped, Mr. Hisakawa was quiet for a moment, before going into a rage. "If you think you can pull that, then fine! Let him go insane!"
He stormed from the room, back down the hall and out of sight. His stomps could still be heard as Kazuki slowly turned to go sit down once more. He was hurting, but he wouldn't admit it. Yuko put a hand on his arm as he sat.
"Onii-chan." She murmured, "don't worry about dad. He's been very angry lately. You know how he is..."
"Yeah, I really do know." Kazuki replied with his head in his hands. "More than you understand."
Silence fell, and the doctor began speaking with Mrs. Hisakawa in the hall. It seemed to Kazuki that he thought the situation too delicate to continue the conversation in front of him. With a sigh, he sat up and turned to Yuko. "Why did you come? This isn't the place for a ten-year-old girl to be."
"Onii-chan, I wanted to come... they called mom and dad, but they just gave me the phone... I would have come on my own, but they said I couldn't. And they told mom and dad that if I came and they weren't with me they would be charged with every cost of your medical care... I'm not sure what they meant by it, but it made dad really angry and he just dragged along mom and I. Dad said that he was going to leave you in here, have you transfer all your funds... he said he wwas going to make you start over. Mom doesn't want that, but I'm not sure what she'll do about this." She paused, and looked over at her brother. "How are you feeling, Onii-chan?"
Leaning back, he met her gaze. He didn't speak right away, but simply thought about what should be said.
"I... feel like I want to go back in time," he began, and saw Yuko give him a look of surprise. Kazuki smiled, and looked at the ceiling. The rotary fan spun lazily. "I want to go back to before antifreeze this happened, back so far I can rethink my life, and live happily while I still can. This isn't how I wanted to live, Yuko. But, I guess, getting through this will be easier than finding out timetravel." A small laugh broke the tension, and he glanced at Yuko. She was laughing, looking relieved.
"You're right. Getting through this would be a lot easier than going back in time. But, I'll help either way."
Kazuki broke into laughter as well, but before he could say anything more, their mother and the doctor walked in again.
This was his mother's voice. It had been so long since she addressed her son by his name; he barely believed she hadn't gotten the doctor to speak to him for her.
"Kazuki, let me speak to you in private. Come." She beckoned him into the hall, and he gradually followed.
"Firstly," she began, "tell me how you've been."
Kazuki looked at his worn mother before replying, "I've been scraping by. I've had ups and downs, but I've been alright. Until now, obviously," he paused shortly briefly, "but tell me how you and dad have been."
"We've been well." She replied slowly, watching him suspiciously. The tension itself seemed to be melting away. "What's happened to you?"
"I don't know. I had a strange dream... and everything seems to be going backwards. I'm not sure of anything anymore."
"How do you feel?"
Kazuki met his mother's gaze; her doe-like eyes were filled with worry, a sight he hadn't seen since he was a child, and very sick at that.
"To be honest," he looked down with a sigh, "I'm scared. I'm nervous. I'm in shock. But, I'm happy that you're here and talking to me again." Silence. As he was about to say more, he felt her arms wind around him and she spoke.
"I'm happy I have my son back."
Tears welled up into Kazuki's eyes, and he returned the embrace tightly. He had grown even taller than his mother by quite a bit, but her grey-streaked hair was still the light brown it had always been; the same colour as his. Her perfume was the same as when he was small; something flowery. He never found out what it was called, but always knew his mother was there when he smelled it. It was comfort and sentiment; a sweet ghost of his childhood. Kazuki felt damp pots of his chest, and hugged his mother tighter.
The embrace ended as suddenly as it happened. After that the only evidence of happened was their puffy red eyes and his mother's suddenly haggard look. Despite this, Yuko smiled when she saw them. "Is everything fine?" She whispered to Kazuki as he sat beside her once more.
"Yes," he nodded. "Everything is fine."
He went to sleep that night in a restless, hopeless stupor. It was arranged that he was to have a minimum of two weeks away from classes and work; his friend Kobayashi Kanon, having mostly all the same classes as him, had agreed to share her notes with him so he wouldn't fall behind. Still, it was an iffy situation; if one thing went wrong, he might have to drop out.
'If that happens, I might as well just go into the medical field,' he thought dimly, burying his face in his pillow and taking a deep breath. It was cold that night, but he was greatful. He'd been having panicky hot-flashes since that morning, so another cold shower and some soft, albeit cold, blankets were heaven against his skin, which seemed to utterly rebel against him, wanting to peel away and find somewhere peaceful to sleep rather than be bound to a mass of collapsing energy. His heart rate refused to slow, as much as he tried to calm himself with slow breathing and amicable thoughts. There was no respite for him, however; soon his blankets were tossed aside and he stormed up and into the kitchen, where he grabbed a pack of cigarettes, lighting up and taking a deep drag from it.
Kazuki wasn't proud of his smoking habit, but was proud that he only needed the nicotine as a last resort. Still, with his life becoming more and more stressful, the smoking was happening more and more often. Managing to claim some relief after about four cigarettes, he found his pride, already shattered and tossed aside like roadkill, was ground down to a fine grit and was now blown away by the cruel winds of life, and decided he didnt care how much he smoked now; he just wanted to feel better, and this was working. Coughing, his mouth filled with the taste of nicotine and tobacco, he laid his head down on his cool pillow, and with a few slow inhales of clean air, he was semi-asleep.
"Inoue! You cannot simply solve this with brute force; there has to be a strategy, even the skeleton of a plan, before you charge up against that beast like you're immune to its powers!"
The official, in an entricate Noh mask, slammed armoured hands onto the round mahogany wood table, shaking the glasses of tea sitting before him and his singular audience.
Inoue's clear blue eyes regarded him coolly. "Sir, as I understand, you believe me to be going against this force head-on. I shall not be doing so. Rather, I will be gathering, let's say, an elite team of warriors to serve my purpose. Let's not forget that I too hold a position of power, especially when in a room discussing war."
"Alright, Inoue," the masked man said disparingly, "tell me your grand plan. Tell me how we gather an elite team unaffected by the enemy. Tell me how to find allies that are strong enough to be in the same class an enemy we can't even classify. Go on, Inoue. Tell me." His face slowly inched toward Inoue's as he questioned him, his voice low and deadly as a viper. The poison seemed to hang in the air, but Inoue was oblivious to it.
"We use the Chosen."
The general replied with raucous laughter, and he removed his mask to reveal an aged face with sharp, beady eyes, bright with mischief.
"The Chosen? You think we can just break into the Sacred Pools and tell the Gods to choose mortals and let them pass through the airlock into this world? Who knows if it is time for them to be selected, not to mention trained!"
A smile unfurled like a snake upon Inoue's lips. "But you just mentioned it; the Sacred Pools are an airlock. They have their own sense of time and their own minds. They pause time and let the Chosen grow strong, and release them into either world when their need is most dire. Just wait, Gora: they will be here, and I'll be there when they do." Inoue stood and turned on a dime, striding from the table. He opened the sliding paper door, and stepped into the outside world, revealing the sight of an invisible dome covering the city, and waves of oily black crashing up the curved walls.
Kazuki woke with a start, and looked around. It was still dark; the dream had taken just as much time as it seemed it had, but he was once again drenched in sweat and his heart was racing. This dream had not been nearly as disturbing as the vision from the previous night, but it was somehow more vivid and more stressful. The only thing holding him down, from jumpin up and screaming his head off to release the pressure building inside of him, was the harsh reality of the lingering smell of cigarettes, the buzz of outside traffic, the noise of neighbors, and the ticking of the nightstand clock.
His mind drifted once more, and left him with echoes bouncing in his mind; reflections of words and voices he had never heard before, hissing like the wind he had forgotten the feel of. Currents of time enveloped him, washing away the numb static of emotion; every beat of his heart made the glittering bands of the universe expand and flare with colours he never knew existed. He was flying through the expanse of the fabric of all existence. The glowing, glimmering tones he couldn’t name faded to black, leaving a small spark in the distance. The ground was suddenly firm and solid beneath his bare feet; it wasn’t warm nor cold, simply there. Legs trembling, he walked through the dark. The distant speck of light was growing, brighter and brighter. He heard the whispers again, as they broke into monotonous tongues speaking the secrets that no one knew. Tension built, knotting his guts, and he was on fire.
Every single nerve was burning, and his brain was screaming for him to turn around, to go back to the ceaseless waves of time lapsing into nothingness. But his feet pulled him forward, stubbornly, into the furnace, where the light grew red and hot, soon caving in around him in a veil of blazing brightness.
All fear was gone, and he felt the pounding of rage in his heart, pushing him forward. Whatever this was—it wasn’t going to take him. The fury fueled the furnace, burning it to temperatures that would have peeled the flesh from one’s bones, charred them black, and boiled blood to dust and smoke. The torrid light seemed to solidify and form an orb, encasing and moving with him as he walked. Thick black waves crashed all around; Kazuki’s breath caught ever so slightly in his throat. Cruel orange eyes and mouths like glowing slashes flowed through the oily darkness, roiling with roguery or anger. The orb melted away, and panic seized him as the pitch resin engulfed him. Inundated within the goo, cold and stinging like a toxin membrane, Kazuki struggled immensely against the flexing film; the whispered voices from before had grown loud, hoarse, and affronting. His ears ringing and his heart pounding, Kazuki labored against the darkness, his entirety screaming with the pain of being unable to breathe.
As a last strain of hope fell from him, the tar turned into water, black as night, and fell away to a pool at his feet, rippling out into the nonexistence around him. His lungs gratefully filled with cool, sharp air, and his retinas flooded with pulsing colours. His head hung down while he basked in the relief, but as his eyes opened and vision cleared, a red blur came into focus. It slowly came nearer, defining slightly every bit of the way. Kazuki was nose-to-nose with the water once it was nearly clear. He had an idea of what it was, but before he could verify it, the water opened; he fell through to come up-close and personal with a massive Daruma, with two blank eyes. They suddenly became incandescent, and in the right eye a pupil developed from the white. Light pulsing from the white optic circles, Kazuki was blinded.
He was standing in front of a waist-height, black-painted bookshelf, in the half-light of dawn, some time before the sun came up. Pain was throbbing in his right forearm and his mind was fuzzy, but he was definitely awake. Something was grasped firmly in his left hand, so tightly his fingers were numbly stinging. Coughing, he shook his head, causing it to flood with the heavy sense of blood pounding in it, and he groaned, almost falling forward onto a collection of small items. Statuettes for good luck, the largest being his Daruma doll, though it was not anywhere nearly as large as the doll that was in his odd vision. However, as in his dream, the right eye was filled in. Instead of being black what was used was a red liquid, thin, but shining in the dim. Swallowing hard, already knowing in the knotting pit of his stomach what it was, he raised his arms to look at them. In his left hand was the broken blade of a knife he’d meant to throw away days ago, the sharp edge slitting into his skin where he held tightly onto it, spilling dark blood. Kazuki’s eyes traveled to the other arm, where his smooth skin was marred by deep ruts, forming the kanji symbol ‘mokuhyou’. The ravines of flesh, filled and gushing with gore, burned.
I did this to myself.
The thought pounded in his head. He was too stunned to respond to this sight. Deep, shuddering breaths wracked his body, and he tasted blood where he’d bitten through the skin. He coughed again, red landing in a splatter over his arms. Dizzy with shock and the blood draining out of him, Kazuki collapsed, with just enough energy to send a meager text message to the first person in his contacts—Kanon.
His thumb pressed onto ‘send’ as he curled up against his couch, and passed into unconsciousness.
The hapless cry caught his attention, and he looked round, silvery-white hair whipping in the wind, his blue eyes piercing like steel arrows. His gloved hand gripped a black katana as the subordinate approached, falling to his knees his head on the floor, apologizing.
“They have let the shield fall. I’m afraid the protective wall has shrank by ten meters on all sides and we have lost one hundred soldiers, as well as ten rogues in our service.”
Barely a second passed before the wicked blade of warmonger Inoue Takehiko crossed through the messenger’s neck, and blood sprayed like a manic waterfall as his head fell. Something like a heartbeat, fast and rash, was making a fierce tattoo against the silence. Fury was building in his heart and a vein was pulsing in his temple; a thick growl passed through his lips as his eyes roved to the black-coated protective shield surrounding the city.
“This city will be lost.”
The heartbeat was a pounding on the front door, a desperate tattoo of fists.
“Hisakawa! Hisakawa-san! Let me in, you idiot! What’s going on?” The voice, belonging to a girl, dropped low. “Where is that fucking spare key… it’s… no, not… ah! Here!” The lock softly clicked moments later; footsteps pounded across the floor as the owner of the voice ran to Kazuki, who felt cold hands against his cheeks. “Oh my god… what did you do to yourself?! There’s blood on everything… Why does it say mokuhyou everywhere? … Why is it on your Daruma? That doesn’t matter—can you hear me?”
“Hmph.” A noncommittal grunt and a slight nod was all he could manage, and Kanon heaved a sigh of relief.
“Good. We might not have to go to the hospital… I’ll get you on the couch.” She pulled his arm around her neck and with a quiet count to three—as she wasn’t too awfully strong—Kazuki was heaved upon the cushions of his sofa, and felt his body relax. “You have bandages and washcloths, right?”
“Alright… I’ll look… don’t get up. Those cuts are really deep, they could start bleeding again.”
More shuffling footsteps, and rustlings in the bathroom. Everything echoed in his ears while his eyes gradually opened. A pale gold light had painted his apartment, tinging everything yellow with the faint light of morning. His arms were heavy like rolls of thick linen, and he could barely move them, but his eyes widened when he caught a glimpse.
The kanji had been cut and re-cut several times into each arm, along with the character ‘kyoufu’. His clothes were stained dull red in most parts. Tongue running over cracked lips, he realized how very thirsty and nauseated he was, stomach rumbling with hunger in spite of the sick feeling. He hadn’t eaten since the day before the last—and it had been a hurried, early lunch at that. The nausea peaked and he almost fell off the couch, throwing up the contents of an empty stomach onto the floor.
“Good god, Kazuki!” Kanon, who had been quietly returning with ointment and bandages and washcloths, gasped. “Just how sick are you?”
Gagging harshly and spitting the foul taste out of his mouth, he choked out an honest reply, “I have no idea.”
The wistful look she gave him as she turned to get supplies to clean up the puddle up stomach acid made him feel guilty. She was nothing but a friend; why did she have to take care of him like this as if she were his mother? His ego ached at the thought, and he let himself fall back against the pillows. A cold object pressed into his fingers (turning out to be nothing but a glass of water) offered strange relief to him, against stressfully warm skin. It passed over his parched lips like silk and soothed his raging throat. When the glass was empty he took it from his mouth, and took a deep, hasty breath.
Kanon was covering the sick with a towel, and she looked up at him as she heard his gasp for air.
“You drank that as if you haven’t had a drink in days.”
A smile, satirical smile flitted across his lips. “I haven’t had a drink in a day and a half, if that counts.” He turned away from her, looking back down at his arms. “I did this in my sleep.”
The sharp, hissing intake of breath told him he’d caught her off guard; his eyes closed and he continued. “I don’t know what’s happening. If I tell you too much, you might be caught up in it as well. I feel horrible just asking you for help with this.”
Kanon sat at his feet, sighing softly. “Hisakawa, you fool. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t care about you. Honestly, you’re such an idiot sometimes. You’re one of my best friends. I wouldn’t leave you here to bleed either way. Just tell me what’s going on and I can help you try to fix it.” Her quiet voice was suddenly stern, louder than normal. With a chuckle, Kazuki obliged.
“Whatever. But, still…”
“Alright, alright!” He huffed, and looked up at her cynical eyes, dark and thoughtful as always. “I’ve been having dreams that feel real. They link together. But, it’s not from here. They… I don’t know. It’s like it’s from Edo. Everyone wears kimonos and armour, and Noh masks, and they carry katanas and…” he trailed off. “Last night, it felt like I was walking through the universe itself, and then… there was a Daruma doll, and it gave itself a pupil, and then I woke up, and I put a pupil in mine with what I can assume is my own blood and I saw I’d cut myself up and I passed out and… I cut myself more in my sleep… and you arrived.” He shook his head. “Time has been out of balance, Kobayashi. I can feel it. This isn’t just me, it’s… it’s everything that exists.” Kazuki gazed at her with hard, misty eyes. “The world is going to end, I know it. Either that or I’m batshit insane and I need to kill myself or be put in an asylum, because I’m obviously not alright.” He caught his breath after saying this all in one go, shaking his head. “There. I told you. You can leave now if you want, I’ll probably be able to wrap up my arms myself if you do. But I won’t give up on this. It’s torturing me.”
“One thing’s for sure,” Kanon murmured, “if you’re cutting yourself up in your sleep you damn well shouldn’t be living alone. And I’m too busy to move in. Make your sister stay with you—she has a good head on her shoulders, she’ll be fine with keeping you from killing everyone and yourself.” She coyly smiled, showing that she wasn’t going to be cold to him on the subject, which he was vaguely grateful for. “I’ll dress your wounds. Write down every dream you have, in as much detail as possible. I’ll come by every few days for them and I’ll look them over and see if I can figure anything out. Who knows? You might actually be seeing into the past.” Shrugging her shoulders, she stood. “Try to move over onto this side so I don’t have to stand in your puke, okay?”
Moving over, his arms throbbed, but he pondered what she had said. It might be better to have someone, even Yuko, here, to make sure he didn’t hurt himself.
Or, I could child-proof the whole house. That could do pretty much the same thing as Yuko slapping my hand every time I grab I knife. He let out a small laugh at this, settling himself and watching Kanon unscrew the lid of ointment to dab onto his wounds. The sting of it, like a teacher’s lecture, seemed to bring him back to reality, and out of the daze he was in.
“You’re not missing any classes for this, right?”
“Helping my distressed, bled friend seems a little more important than going and taking notes, Hisakawa-san.”
“But you’re supposed to be taking my notes for me, Kobayashi-chan.”
Giving a derisive snort, Kanon rolled her eyes. “So daring. Even so, I can get notes and assignments from other people, too. And I don’t have classes today, so I can stay however long I damn please until you figure out a living arrangement with someone. I certainly won’t be leaving you here alone like this.”
“What are you laughing about?”
“I’m crazy, remember? Do I really need a reason to laugh?”