Moon Phase: Full
“That doctor still hasn’t gotten in with your results, has he?” Naoki’s mother asked shortly after the family sat down for dinner. Well, shortly after she and her older child sat down for dinner. Yukio had cram school and his father had social commitments.
“Nope,” Naoki lied. He knew it wouldn’t be perfect, but he had burned the sealed envelope the moment he’d seen it. Good thing his dad smoked. Lighters were never in short supply in their home.
“I hope it’s nothing serious.”
“Probably just a mistake.”
“Yeah.” She put the chopsticks down. “Naoki?”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “You haven’t been,” she opened them again, “involved in anything illegal, have you?”
“Of course not.”
“I hope you’re telling the truth.”
“Why do you think I’m not?”
“Well, you’re behavior. It’s just so odd lately. Chiaki said she barely sees you at all lately and you don’t even seem to hang around Isamu.”
“She told you that?”
“Her mother. You should know by now that mothers still together. Anyway, if there’s something wrong you should tell your parents. I’m here to take care of you.”
He shrugged. She never had really worried about him before, but he supposed he could appreciate the sentiment. Better late than never right?
“Naoki.” Her phone rang, a happy tune of fake bells and whistles. In other word, wholly obnoxious. She answered immediately. “Hello? Oh, Yukio. Yes. I see. No, it’s fine. Thanks for letting me know.” She hung up. “Your brother just called.”
“Something happened on the train and it went a little late, but he’s on his way home now and will be back soon in just a couple of minutes. He just didn’t want me to start worrying.” She glanced over at his empty space. “Such a good boy to call.”
Naoki put down his chopsticks. “Guess we can wait then.”
“Of course. I knew his cram school had run a little late, so I wasn’t too worried yet, but it is getting late.” She looked at the clock on her phone. Yukio would have usually been back at least an hour earlier. “Such a good child,” she muttered.
“Am I his opposite then?”
“Am I his opposite? If he’s good am I bad?”
“What? I…of course not. That’s not what I meant at all. You can both be good.”
“Liar,” Naoki muttered. He highly doubted his mother’s opinion had spontaneously approved. Luckily, she didn’t seem to have heard him.
She looked at her phone again.
“It’s only been a minute.”
“I know. I just feel uneasy. I’m not really sure why.”
He hadn’t expected that, but now that she mentioned it… “Call Yukio.”
“Just call him.” Maybe it was simply lingering paranoia from too long surrounded by demons, but Naoki could feel his gut dropping the way he had so many times before, and always right before an ambush. He began carefully looking around the room.
“I don’t think…”
“It won’t do any harm, right? And if something is wrong then you’ll know sooner.”
His sudden commands may have bothered her, but they had the desired effect. She pulled out her phone and dialed. A ring. A second ring.
“Yeah, what’s up? Need me to pick something up from the store?”
“No, I just, I don’t know what came over me.”
“Huh? Okay. I’ll see you-“
“What?” Naoki could no longer make out the words over the phone.
“Yukio? Yukio, who’s there? Who’s with you?”
Naoki felt like the bile rising up in his throat. Demons were near, demons he wasn’t very compatible with.
“Yukio?” She looked up to Naoki. “He’s not answering. I can tell the phone’s still on, but…”
Naoki rushed for the foyer. “I’ll go check on him.”
He pulled on his coat. “You just stay on the line in case it’s a misunderstanding. He takes the same route every time so we should bump into each other.”
“But what if something really has happened?”
“Then I’ll call the cops. Or run home and you can do it. Whatever the case, we’ll handle it.”
She nodded. “Alright. I’ll see if I can get him to pick up again.”
Naoki nodded before charging out the door.
He knew the blonde kid had warned him that the servants of god would seek retribution, but would they really go after his family? It didn’t seem right, but then again, it didn’t seem too impossible either.
Fortunately, there was only really one reasonable route from the train station to their apartment building. You could go the other way to pass a decent grocery store, but it definitely added time. If Yukio had been heading straight home his route was completely predictable. And if he’d been asking about the store he was probably still pretty near the station.
He could feel the sensation of dread welling up while he ran. The back of his neck burned.
His vision began to blur.
Someone bumped into him. Or maybe he bumped into them. Instinctively, he rolled away.
They were demons everywhere. He jumped to his feet, ready to attack. The drunk salaryman had already walked well passed him.
Naoki could feel the adrenaline. He resumed running for his brother.
What if this was a trap? What if there really were demons? What if it was just a normal human kidnapper? What if they had guns? He’d have to get in close right away then. Just take them out before they get a chance to fire.
What if they already had his brother hostage? Then you wait and follow. Find their hideout and plan an attack and rescue mission.
Who would want to kidnap a freakin’ middle-schooler from a middle class family? They weren’t even particularly upper middle-class. It had to be demons. Maybe his brother just seemed like an easy target. There no longer were demons. Right?
There was a small park right by the station. If his brother would have been notably away from anyone it would have been while going through that park. Both of them had long used that route as a shortcut, a far more pleasant trip than walking alongside the street.
He stepped onto the park grounds. He nearly doubled over from the sudden sensation of just, gross. His head felt like it would split open. That did double him over.
Naoki gasped for breath. It hurt so much, and he could just barely make out a wriggling near his spine. It seemed to be moving up. His right eye began to pound as the blood circulation got messed up.
The magatama. It had to be the magatama.
He forced his gaze forward. He could just see the glow of a phone still connected to a call.
Slowly, Naoki forced himself to his feet. One step at a time he moved towards the phone.
He could see no one else around, but in his current state he wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to tell anyway. His vision didn’t want to focus. It took everything he had just to march to the phone.
He fell in front of it. “Hello?”
“Naoki! Naoki, is that you?”
Oh yeah, his mother. So this was Yukio’s phone. “Yeah. I’m here.”
“Are you alright? You sound like something’s wrong. Where’s your brother?”
“Gimme a moment.” Naoki scooped up the phone. He then looked around carefully from his kneeling position. Except for his missing brother nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
A feather gently floated down. Naoki reached out his hand to catch it. At first it appeared white, but upon closer examination he could make out what appeared to be silver wire.
He slowly lifted his head. A metal angel, holding his brother limply under an arm, stared down at him. Naoki clenched his fists.
“I still see the darkness in your soul. You disregarded my warning…you are beyond the point of redemption, yet you continue to see it. Know that your quest is in vain. I cannot turn a blind eye to such unfettered power, born of the fallen angel and set to destroy cosmos. Listen, Fiend! Foul demon whose soul is tainted with darkness. Listen and tremble in fear. I am Metatron. I am one with god. What I do is as he wills.”
The angel held forth a hand, palm forward. Naoki rolled into a ball. Light, the judgement of god, fell upon him.
Naoki screamed. His scream lowered. Naoki roared.
He leapt for the offending angel. He didn’t even register his hands forming fists, or the phone crunching in his hand. He just went in for the kill.
Metatron quickly flew higher.
Naoki reached out. If he could just get a grip.
Black lines marked his outreached hand, outlined in a shining blue.
He missed and fell heavily to the ground. The bench broke as he landed through it.
Naoki stood, pieces of bench falling off his jacket. At least the pieces that hadn’t simply impaled themselves through his clothes.
Shit. Now what he was supposed to do? And what did they want with his brother anyway?
“Is anyone hurt?”
Naoki turned just in time to see a police officer rounding the corner. He must have seen the light from Metatron’s almighty attack.
The man stopped and stared at Naoki. Naoki had no trouble staring back.
“What happened here?”
Oh yeah, he was still staring in the middle of the broken bench. Naoki looked up at one of the trees in the area. “That really hurt.”
The officer didn’t follow his gaze, but kept staring at him.
Naoki looked down at his hands. Huh. He still glowed. He did his best to offer a harmless smile. “Just a cosplay.” He’d look like a dork, but that had to be an improvement over looking like a monster in this situation. “I was working on something for a photoshoot tomorrow and fell out of the tree.” And broke the bench. Okay, not the most believable story he’d ever heard, but hopefully it would be enough to offer a reasonable excuse for the poor officer. He probably wouldn’t believe the truth anyway.
The man nodded slowly. Looked like he was weighing those odds himself. He came closer.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I think so. Probably just some bruising.” Saying he was entirely uninjured would have looked even more suspicious.
“You better get home then.”
Naoki nodded. “Am I free to go then?”
“What’s your name and address? I’ll look around and contact you if we have more questions.”
“Oh, alright then. Naoki Kashima.” He pulled out his student ID. “Well this work? I really need to get home.”
“Alright. You’ll just need to come with me while I get it copied and gather a testimony from you. This is pretty serious damage to public property. You can call your parents from the station.”
Right. Maybe mentioning a student ID had been a bad idea. Still, Naoki couldn’t help but nod. He didn’t really want to make more of a scene than he already had.