Content disclaimer: YOUKAI MOKUSHI is recommended only for people aged 18+, as the story contains violence, sexual themes and infrequent strong language.
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YOUKAI MOKUSHI is a work of fiction. Any connection to real events or individuals is entirely coincidental and not intentional on the part of the author.
BY L. MOONLIGHT
2ND NIGHTMARE: HEADLESS HONCHO
Niijigoku-shi, Japan, 2121 AD…
Rie looked over to me before quickly skipping towards where I was seated. “Did I forget to tell you,” she smiled, “We’re youkai!”
I chuckled. “Haha. Good one,” I laughed, “I’ve actually been looking for people who know stuff about youkai!” I explained, “Go on, then. Humor me.”
Kii smiled and put her hands on my shoulders, removing the tarp she had wrapped around my body in order to cut my hair. “She’s not joking,” Kii said, “I’m an oni, you know?”
I stared at her in disbelief, “N-No you’re not!”
Kii winked. “You know oni are unable to lie, right?” she asked. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“B-But that’s impossible”, I stammered, “Youkai aren’t real, th-that’s no-not…”
Rie pointed to me, “Your next line is ‘Are those horns real?’ right?” she smiled.
I turned back to Kii, “Are those horns real?” I did a double-take and looked back over at Rie with my jaw hanging open, “How did you…?”
Rie put her hands in her cardigan pockets and swayed happily from side to side. “I’m a satori,” she explained, “Reading minds is my specialty.”
She couldn’t be serious, I thought. Although it would explain the monkey tail.* Maybe it was real after all?
Rie once again looked at me with a perplexed visage. “Yes, my tail is real.” she affirmed.
“You really can tell what I’m thinking, huh?” I asked, “Maybe don’t read my mind too much. Might be something in there you don’t like.” A guy’s gotta have his secrets, I thought.
“I’m quite used to… people thinking about me.” Rie stammered, “I can’t exactly…” she blushed, “I can’t exactly turn off my mind-reading.” She smiled. “So please make sure to only think nice things about me, ok?” She lifted one hand out of her cardigan and put it behind her head as she winked.
“Hah,” Kii sighed, “Honestly, ningen, you really thought youkai were just a myth?”
I scratched my head sheepishly. “Uh, yeah.”
“About 90% of Niijigoku City’s population are youkai,” Rie piped up, “And about 0.5% of the entire world’s population too!”
I stared at Kii and Rie in disbelief. “No kidding?” I asked in shock.
“It’s ok if you’re frightened,” Kii leered, “After all we youkai could easily eat you right now…” Kii gave me a large smile, clearly showing off her sharp fangs.
Sweat rolled down my face. “Y-You can’t…” I stammered, “T-That’s…”
Kii burst into laughter. “I’m joking, I’m joking,” she said through tears of laughter, “You should’ve seen your face!”
“Kii-kun,” Rie began, “That’s not funny! You made You-san’s life flash before his eyes!” Rie paused. “Is your life always that boring, You-san?” she asked.
“Hey!” I snapped back.
Kii looked me in the eye. “Ningen, if you’re staying in Niijigoku for a while, allow me to give you some advice…” Kii said, “Don’t. Fuck. With. Youkai.”
The doorbell chimed.
“Top of the morning!” a voice called out in English. “Good work with the namazu yesterday, Kii-kun! You too, Satou-san!”
“You can call me Rie.” Rie smiled.
“Gotta show respect,” the man who had entered the barbershop smiled, adjusting his sunglasses and peering over them, “We’re hardly acquainted after all.”
I glanced over at the man. He was wearing a gakuran, so I assumed he was a high-school student.** Interestingly, he had a dyed blond pompadour, and a bright pink scarf and leather gloves. A delinquent, I supposed.*** He removed his scarf and tucked it inside his uniform, before raising his hands to his head.
“Hey, Kii-kun, catch!” he said lifting his head off his own body, before tossing it towards the oni!
“Hey, careful, Duu,” Kii said, just barely managing to catch his severed head before it hit the hairy floor, “You almost could’ve caught me off guard!”
“BS,” the student who was apparently named Duu laughed, “You’ve always been quick on yer feet!”
“Kii-kun didn’t mean it,” Rie smiled, “She’s just messing with you.”
“Rie-chan!” Kii blushed before letting out a hearty laugh. “Same as usual, Duu?” she asked the disembodied head.
“Huh? Oh sure…” The head looked over at me as Kii began tending to his hair. “That the tool you told me about, Kii-kun?” he chuckled.
Kii turned bright red, “Duu! He’s a paying customer, be polite!”
“For real?” Duu muttered. “Hey, punk, I heard you caused Kii-kun and Satou-san some bother last night!”
I bowed, “S-Sorry. I’m new in town, and…”
The delinquent burst into laughter. “I getcha. I ain’t originally from here either,” he said, his headless body taking one arm out of his pockets and pointing towards me, “Truth is I’ve only been here about a year.”
I walked over to his body and shook his hand, “Well it’s good to meet you,” I smiled, “I’ll try not to get in Ibarra-san and Rie-chan’s way again.”
“Make sure of it,” his head smiled, as his body returned the handshake, “I can’t stand punks who get in the way of justice!”
I nodded. He certainly seemed to have a delinquent’s sense of honor.
“I’m You Tachibana,” I told him, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Dullahan Finnegan,” the disembodied head replied, “You can just call me Duu though.”
Kii’s right arm quickly jolted forward, the electric razor in her right hand cleaving right down the middle of Dullahan’s pompadour giving him a reverse-Mohawk. Kii’s eyes widened in horror.
“Duu, I’m SO sorry…” she began.
Dullahan’s torso grabbed a hand mirror and held it up to his severed head, sighing. “Lemme guess, the arm’s malfunctioning again?” he asked.
Rie looked over at Kii and Dullahan.
“Afraid so,” Kii muttered, “Just my luck…”
Rie’s demeanor completed shifted. She suddenly looked as if someone had just informed her that her favorite baseball team had lost a game. No, more like the team had announced their star-player died in a horrible accident. “Kii, don’t…” she began, “You know he’s a bad man.”
Kii placed her left hand on Rie’s shoulder, “I have to talk to him to get this fixed,” she sighed, “You know you don’t have to come with me.”
Rie pouted. “You know I don’t like the idea of you being alone with Gojou-san…” she muttered.
I walked over to the two girls. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
Kii folded her arms and scowled, “My damned arm’s malfunctioning again,” she scoffed, “Which means I’ll have to talk to the guys who made it to have it replaced.”
I raised an eyebrow, “So what’s the problem then?”
Kii looked me deep in the eyes. She sighed, “You clearly don’t know Gojou Kaiji.” she groaned.
Rie sighed, “He’s a very rude man,” she began, “His mind is so impure…”
“Rie-chan,” Kii spoke up, “That’s enough!”
Dullahan grabbed his head and scarf and put them both back onto his body, “Well, thanks for the cut,” he said giving Kii a pretty half-assed smile and handing her a yen note.
“It’ll… grow back.” Kii blushed.
“Yeah, I know, Kii-kun…” Dullahan said, closing the barbershop door behind him as he left.
“Ok, ningen,” Kii sighed, “Get out, I’m closing up shop early today.”
I grabbed my hoodie which I had removed from off of the coat rack and put it back on. “Good luck with the arm!” I smiled.
“We’ll need it…” Rie sighed, as I exited the hairdresser’s, closing the door behind me.
Kii folded her arms. “Alright, Gojou,” she groaned, “Let’s get this over with…”
As I stepped out into the street a saw someone out in the corner of my eye standing in an alleyway. Although they were shrouded in shadow, I thought I could make out a red face and a long nose. A tengu, maybe? No, on closer inspection they were merely wearing a tengu mask.**** I also noticed a metallic object around their right wrist. A watch or a bracelet perhaps? Were they watching me? Were they watching Kii or Rie or Dullahan? Nah, I thought, why would they be? Even if they were, they’re probably friends. I shrugged it off, placed my hands in my pockets and gazed excitedly toward the sky. Fairy-tales were real, I thought, and I’m in the middle of one. …My thesis is going to be a fascinating read!
Unbeknownst to me, as I walked away, the stranger in the tengu mask stepped out from the alleyway as they watched me heading off to explore Niijigoku.
The stranger lifted their mask away from their face and sniffed the air. “A new human?” they smiled. “If this were a story,” the mysterious individual grinned while striking a dynamic pose, “This is where things would get interesting…”
2ND NIGHTMARE OVER
*Satori – A monkey-like youkai said to be able to read minds
**Gakuran – A Japanese male high school uniform
***Pompadours and dyed hair are sometimes sported by “yankii”-style delinquents. Dullahan embodies the “delinquent with a heart of gold” character archetype
mask – A red-faced mask with an angry appearance and long nose,
sometimes used in festivals or Noh performances. It is meant to resemble the
face of a tengu youkai