Chapter 4:

COPS AND BARBERS

YOUKAI MOKUSHI


Content disclaimer: YOUKAI MOKUSHI is recommended only for people aged 18+, as the story contains violence, sexual themes and infrequent strong language.Bookmark here

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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.Bookmark here

YOUKAI MOKUSHIBookmark here

BY L. MOONLIGHTBookmark here

4TH NIGHTMARE: COPS AND BARBERSBookmark here

Niijigoku-shi, Japan, 2121 AD…Bookmark here

The wolf narrowed its eyes, raising a paw as its claws extended. Kentarou stared at the paw, as a single bead of sweat rolled down his face.Bookmark here

“H-Hey, nice d-doggy…” he stammered, turning to run in the other direction.Bookmark here

The wolf looked to Luna and let out a loud howl, as if begging every nearby person to look at it and…Bookmark here

HOWL!Bookmark here

I heard what sounded like a wolf howling somewhere in the distance. I looked over my shoulder to see if I could locate the source of the howl, before shaking my head and looking back to the elderly man I was interviewing.Bookmark here

“What seems to be the problem, young man?” he asked scratching his bald head.Bookmark here

“Ah, no it’s nothing,” I said, “Please continue.”Bookmark here

“Eh? What were we talking about again?” he said with a confused look on his face.Bookmark here

“Youkai,” I replied, “What are your experiences with youkai?”Bookmark here

“Haha!” The man laughed. “Yer new here, aren’t ya?” He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Why, youkai are everywhere!”Bookmark here

“Ok, ok,” I sighed, “We’ve been over this… Have you ever had any negative experiences with youkai?”Bookmark here

“Well…” the man paused, “We sometimes get attackers coming here, looking for our town’s Three Sacred Treasures…” He sighed. “Most of them are youkai.”Bookmark here

I looked up from my notepad with great curiosity. “Oh? Why’s that?”Bookmark here

“Yer askin’ the wrong man, sonny!” he laughed.Bookmark here

“Alright…” I sighed, “Sorry for bothering you.”Bookmark here

I put my pen and notepad away and left to look for more humans to interview for my thesis. Everybody I had asked so far was either a youkai or had nothing unusual to report. It seemed everyone here was desensitized to youkai. I looked up again at the Moon for guidance. Would the townsfolk be so complacent if it were aliens rather than youkai that lived among them? I shook my head. No, I thought, I too would be pretty used to youkai if I lived here. Besides, it made me quite happy to hear that youkai and humans got along with one another. Well, I thought, recalling Kii angrily telling me off, MOST of them do, anyway… Perhaps I should’ve learned my lesson about looking at the Moon rather than in front of me from last night, as I once again bumped into an unsuspecting passerby.Bookmark here

“Whoops, sorry!” I apologized and bowed before the strangely-dressed girl.Bookmark here

“It’s alright!” she smiled, returning my bow. “You’re the new guy in town, right?”Bookmark here

I smiled, “How’d you know?”Bookmark here

“EVERYONE’S been talking about this annoying human asking them stupid questions about youkai!” she beamed.Bookmark here

“Oh,” I frowned, “T-That’s me.”Bookmark here

Suddenly the girl’s cheery face shifted to an almost teary expression and her tail which had been rapidly wagging drooped between her legs. “N-No, no! I-It’s ok!” she awkwardly smiled, “I d-didn’t mean it! I was joking! R-Really!”Bookmark here

“It’s fine.” I said, dejection in my voice.Bookmark here

“Urgh, you blew it again, Moonbow…” she sighed, “S-Sorry, I’ve always been bad at talking to people!” she apologized.Bookmark here

“Really, it’s fine.” I reassured her.Bookmark here

Moonbow grabbed my hand tightly and stared directly into my eyes, with strong determination. “You, me, café, right now,” she snapped, “Redo, redo… That first impression never happened, got it?”Bookmark here

I stared at Moonbow and raised an eyebrow. Clearly this girl was pretty bad in social situations. “Ok,” I sighed, not wanting to hurt her feelings, “Let’s go to this ‘café’ then. It’ll be my treat.”Bookmark here

She looked at her watch and blushed, “I’m SO sorry, I’m out of time for this interaction,” she exclaimed “Maybe some other time, please forgive me!” she yelled back as she ran off into the horizon.Bookmark here

She sort of reminded me of Rie, although she didn’t feel as “genuine”, if that makes sense. She seemed like she just wanted to protect her own image rather than being friendly for friendliness’s sake. That was fine too, I supposed, the reason doesn’t matter, so long as you treat people with respect, after all. I put my hands in my pockets and continued to search for interviewees.Bookmark here

DING-A-LING!Bookmark here

A muscular, mustachioed man in a police uniform and fedora stepped into Oni Cutter’s Barber-and-Hairdresser’s. He hung his fedora on the coat rack and took a seat. He looked around for any signs of the owner, before unclipping his handcuffs from his belt and swinging them around on the end of his waggling index finger with a bored sigh.Bookmark here

DING-A-LING!Bookmark here

“And what does this button do?” Rie enthusiastically asked, lightly pressing her friend’s mechanical arm as it started to vibrate.Bookmark here

“Rie-chan, careful,” Kii sighed, “I don’t want you to break it after I jus-” Kii noticed the cop and nervously smiled. “What seems to be the trouble, officer?” she asked.Bookmark here

The man clipped his cuffs back onto his belt and stood up.Bookmark here

Kii gulped. “If it’s about Duu, I’m fine giving him a refund. Really! You have my word as an-”Bookmark here

The cop folded his arms and shook his head. “This isn’t about my son’s haircut.” the policeman sighed.Bookmark here

Rie’s eyes widened. “M-Murder?”Bookmark here

Kii looked over at Rie, then back at Dullahan’s father. “A… murder? You’re telling me someone’s been murdered?” she asked.Bookmark here

“’Fraid so.” the cop grimly replied, placing his right hand on his heart, “Bless his soul.”Bookmark here

Rie started to shake. “K-Ke…” she stammered, “Ke-Ke-Kent-Kentarou…”Bookmark here

Kii placed her hands comfortingly on Rie’s shoulders as the satori fell to her knees. “Kentarou-kun?!” Kii yelled, “Who… Who the Hell would do that?!” She looked over at Rie, who had passed out. “It’ll be ok, Rie-chan…” she said, picking her friend up and laying her on the couch that the officer had been sitting in.Bookmark here

“We, uh…” the cop began, “We’ve got eye-witness testimony.”Bookmark here

Kii crossed her eyebrows and looked the man straight in the eye. “Let’s hear it.”Bookmark here

“A large brown wolf, about the size of an adult human or youkai,” he began, “It let out a howl and then chased Yagi Kentarou down as he tried to run away.”Bookmark here

“An ookami ningen?” Kii asked, taking a seat next to her unconscious best friend and stroking the satori’s hair.*Bookmark here

“It certainly seems that way,” the officer affirmed, “It’s going to be hard to track them down.”Bookmark here

Kii scoffed. “Just question every dog youkai in Niijigoku then.”Bookmark here

The man shook his head. “Ibarra-san. You should be aware… ookami ningen, yamabiko, inugami…” He sighed. “Canines make up roughly twenty-percent of our youkai population.”** The man in blue walked over to the coat rack and grabbed his fedora, putting the hat back on his head. “Ibarra-san…” he lowered his voice, “Keep an eye out. I know we ask a lot of you and Satou-san, but…”Bookmark here

Kii shook her head. “Finnegan-san,” she placed her newly-replaced hand on the policeman’s shoulder, “You can count on us. We’ll find this criminal and bring them to justice!”Bookmark here

He tipped his fedora and smiled. “I knew we could count on you.” He opened the barbershop door to exit. “One more thing,” he called out, “I do expect you to refund my son!”Bookmark here

DING-A-LING!Bookmark here

Kii stared down at Rie and sighed. “Yamata no Orochi…” Kii stood up and looked out the window toward the full-moon. “It’s finally time, then?” She crossed her arms before flashing her robotic middle finger to Luna. “Hmph.” She walked over to the window, flipping over the opening hours sign.Bookmark here

SORRY, WE’RE CLOSEDBookmark here

Quietly, she unbuttoned her plaid red shirt and carefully placed it on top of her sleeping companion.Bookmark here

“Sweet dreams, Rie-chan,” the oni smiled, “Will this nightmare be over when you awake?” Kii reached into her skirt and pulled out a keychain. “Lock up shop when you leave, alright?” she said, placing her keys beside Rie.Bookmark here

Kii stealthily removed the door chime, and placed it in her pocket, before hitting the light switch and exiting the building.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ibarra-san,” I greeted her, “Closing early?”Bookmark here

Kii looked at me. She frowned, although much less aggressively than I was used-to. “Ningen…” she spoke with a grave tone, “Leave this town.”Bookmark here

I stared at her in disbelief. “W-Wha?! What about my thes-”Bookmark here

Kii quickly smashed her palm against my mouth, her usual scowl returning, as she muffled my speech. “Quiet. Rie-chan’s trying to sleep.” Kii looked around, before leaning in close to me. “You’re going to be in danger, if you stay here.” Carefully she lifted her hand from my face, and folded her arms in frustration.Bookmark here

“Don’t care,” I smiled, “I’m not leaving until my thesis is finished.”Bookmark here

Kii grinned. “Then perhaps you can repay us for last night?” she asked.Bookmark here

I raised an eyebrow. “Sure, I’m always happy to help.”Bookmark here

“Tell me if you see anything strange,” Kii whispered, “We’re looking for a murderer.”Bookmark here

My eyes widened in shock. “A m-murderer?” I stammered, before my eyes drifted to Kii’s right shoulder, visible as she wasn’t wearing her usual shirt over her purple and white polka-dotted tank top.Bookmark here

Kii followed my gaze and smiled. “So, uh…” she smiled, “Whatcha think of the new arm?”Bookmark here

“It’s fine,” I replied, “But what’s this about a murder?”Bookmark here

Kii frowned. “Don’t tell Rie-chan, but…” she furrowed her brow and leaned into my face, “I think Niijigoku City is in trouble.”Bookmark here

“Trouble?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Just report back to me or Rie-chan if you see anything unusual, ok?”Bookmark here

“So…” I began, “Does this mean I’m welcome to hang out with you?”Bookmark here

Kii gritted her teeth and growled. “Whatever,” she snarled, “I’m sure Rie-chan would be happy to get to know you, anyway…”Bookmark here

“Be sure to help me with my thesis, ok?” I winked, making Kii visibly shudder.Bookmark here

“Don’t write anything bad about me and you have a deal,” Kii sighed, putting her hands in her pockets and walking off, “Later!”Bookmark here

I stared through the hairdresser’s window, finding Rie sleeping on the couch. Cute, I thought. What, I pondered, do youkai dream about…?Bookmark here

4TH NIGHTMARE OVERBookmark here

*Ookami ningen – “Wolf human”. Gender-neutral term for a werewolf in Japanese. Ookami otoko (wolf-man) and ookami onna (wolf-woman) are other variantsBookmark here

**Yamabiko, inugami – Two different kinds of youkai believed to be, or to resemble, canines
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