Chapter 4:

Chapter 4: Enter Sandman

Madman's Forgiveness

Chapter 4: Enter Sandman

Darkness, that’s all he could make out before him.
Unable to feel or see anything near him, Hiro was left feeling small. Feeling as though if he were to take a single step, he would sink deeper into this abyss.
Other than him, it felt as though this area was completely devoid of life.
“Am I dead..?” He questioned, trying to remember his final moments before he lost consciousness. His memories were fragmented. There appeared to be a gap in them between the kappa hurtling the attack toward him and the archer; and him collapsing into her arms.
Recalling how she cried as she held him. Hiro though was unable to process what exactly she was saying. Her cries were inaudible. Muffled by the fastly approaching white noise.

He was clueless about how he came to be in that position. The only thing on his mind was just how beautiful the woman looked as she desperately tried to keep him conscious. It was a more vulnerable side to her. Yet another trait that reminded him of Suzume. Specifically, how she looked when he last spoke to her atop the school rooftop.

“Did that thing kill me..?”
He thought to himself, feeling around his body for any injuries. To his surprise, aside from a tingling feeling in his hand. He was perfectly fine.

“Figured I’d of gone out in a less interesting way.”

Even in the quite literally darkest of times, Hiro remained unbothered.
“Whatever I did. It was for someone else’s sake.”
“So I have no right to complain.”
Reaching into his back-pocket, he pulled out a flip-phone.
Though the times had changed, and way better models have since been introduced. Hiro had yet to upgrade. In his hands was the same flip-phone his foster father gifted him all those years ago.
“It’s almost out of juice.”
He cursed, noticing that the phone had only 24% of it’s battery life remaining. Knowing that he had to make it count, he set it to the home screen. It was the only way for the phone to remain active. If he were to do this with an app, the phone would have surely timed itself out to save battery. Either that, or the energy it was using to run the app would have surely caused the battery to drain faster.

Hiro began to search around for an answer. Lighting the room with the phone's dimly lit screen. It was barely enough for him to make out the area surrounding him.
To both sides of him were rows of seats stacked neatly atop each other. The path he walked was lined with unlit lanterns. He followed them, believing this to be a path.

“So this is the afterlife huh?” he questioned inquisitively, scratching the back of his head.
“Where’s all the grandeur?”

“Like, I’m not the most religious person but I didn’t expect the whole “endless darkness” thing to be right”

To his surprise, his complaints were immediately answered. One after the other, each lantern began to light. Burning a vibrant whitish blue hue.
The room was now fully visible. It appeared to be a European styled playhouse. Bearing great resemblance to the famed Globe theater. The interior was way larger than he could have ever imagined. Split apart into multiple sections. Yet Hiro found himself front and center.

He watched in horror as the final flame was lit.
“Is this more to your liking?”
That voice from earlier in the night had returned in a more physical state. To Hiro though, he could only make out a being made of that same television static. It began to move closer to him, the floor underneath it decaying as it did so. It was as if the ground underneath it was becoming part of the same entity.
It stopped however when it saw Hiro tense up. The boy couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He wanted to run but his legs wouldn’t allow him to. Unsure of where he’d even be able to escape to.
“What the hell are you and what do you want with me!”
He screamed, startling the entity.

“What a shame..”
“It hasn’t even been that long and you’ve started to forget.”
“I’d be lying if I said I expected better from you.”

It brought it’s hand to it’s chin, losing itself in thought.
“I know just the way to get you to remember!”
With a snap, it transformed itself into a form that it believed Hiro would be more comfortable talking to. It had taken the form of a blonde woman. The woman was no older than forty, but she certainly didn’t look it. Due to her petite frame and unblemished face, she could have easily passed as someone Hiro’s current age.
Standing before him was his mother, exactly as she was the day before her tragic suicide. Extending her arms outward as if beckoning him for a hug.

At first, he reached out to the creature. Attempting to call out for his mother, the words began to catch in his throat.
Clutching his heart tightly, Hiro thought back to the last time he had seen his mother alive. Thinking about a moment in his childhood where he stumbled upon her body, swinging lifelessly before him.

“She’s dead..”
“My mother died fifteen years ago..”

Angered by their actions, Hiro began to demand answers. Refusing to look directly at the being impersonating his mother.

“Stop with these games!”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull or why I was even transported here in the first place!”
“How could anyone call a world where they are constantly being reminded of their past and hunted, perfect?!”


This was clearly too much for him. His senses began to overload from the intense amount of different emotions he was feeling all at once. Television static began to faintly radiate from him as he attempted to stifle back his tears with his coat sleeve.
Seeing this only seemed to intrigue the entity.

“Then tell me.”
“What is it that you want?” The entity asked genuinely perplexed. There was not a single hint of malice or deceit coming from their question.

“I just want to be able to have a normal life”
Hiro choked out.
“Ever since the end of High School, I've just been living for the past!”

“I want the strength to be able to take back control over my life!”

“I want to be able to shape the perfect world I dreamed for myself!”
“For the people I hold dear..”

For a moment that felt like eternity, the two waited in silence. The entity was pleased with his answer as it smiled at him from ear to ear.

“I gotta admit.”

“Reading you “anomalies” is not an easy task whatsoever”

“Especially when you’re requesting a power that you already have.”
Confused, Hiro finally looks up at her to see that she had taken a new form.
Now, floating before him was the visage of a woman adorn in blue robes that made it feel as though he were gazing into the morning sky.
Though the theater was absent of wind, her long white hair flowed seamlessly.
While her appearance mimicked that of an angel, a bone-chilling feeling surged throughout Hiro as he noticed the woman's eyes were completely hollow.

“What are you talking about lady?”
“What do you mean by power?”
He tries to back away, only for his attempts to be thwarted due to him backing into a wall.
This wasn’t because of his previous attempt at escape however. The theater's size had decreased significantly. Leaving the only remnants of it, what were both to his sides and in front of him.
He was ignorant to this until now due to his panic induced fit.

“Despite protecting that archer.”

“You still haven’t realized your gift yet have you.”

“You need not worry my child.”

“You’ll find out in time Hiroshi Jun”

“But for now, I'm afraid that’s what we’re out of.”

It spoke softly, grabbing hold of his hands. A sudden comforting feeling flows throughout Hiro as he looks into the entity's eyes. Though hollow, he can sense an intense sadness behind them.
“It’s a shame..”
“but we’ll meet again one day.”

With this haunting remark, Hiro’s eyes slowly begin to open.
“Was all of that just a dream..?”
He questions. A stinging sensation in his chest prompts him to look down. He was covered with a gauze-like substance.
“Nah, this pains all too real to have just been some alcohol induced hallucination”

“Come on man, you’re better than that.”

He thought to himself, sitting up from the hard tatami flooring he found himself resting on.

“Besides.. Kazuma’s the one who usually wakes up in strangers' houses.”

“This must be one of the houses that archer chick mentioned..” He thinks, taking note that he was in what appeared to be an old fashioned minka house.
“Does this mean she made it out okay?”
As if on cue, the wooden slide doors opened.
“Looks like I came back just in time!”
A cheerful voice called out.
There she was, adorned with a light red kimono that was severed in the middle by a green obi belt, and garnished with a pattern that closely resembled miniscule black watermelon seeds. In her hands, she held a wooden tray containing four bowls. Two with sake, one with soup, and the third with a single serving of rice.

She greets him with a smile, as she enters the room.
“You’ve been out for days!”
“Here I was worried I’d have another corpse to bury”
She laughs jokingly as she sets the food down in the middle of the room.

“How did you even get out of that situation?!”
“I saw just how terrified that thing made you back there!”
“Did you actually end up finding a way to kill it?”
Hiro interjects.

As she kneels before him gesturing toward the food, Hiro can’t help but feel as though he’s said something out of line. The woman’s body language clued him on the fact that him bringing this up had made her uncomfortable.

“That’s why I brought you here actually..”
Though the sudden barrage of questions brought a feeling of clear discomfort onto her. She attempted to keep herself composed.
“I've got a couple questions to ask you myself.”
A loud thud reverberates throughout the room as Hiro slams his bowl of sake down.
“You’re telling me I killed that thing?!?”
All the while the woman seated across from him merely gives him a nervous smile.
“Calm yourself..”
“I know it’s hard to believe..”
“I hardly want to believe it myself.”
“But if it weren’t for you doing something when you did, we would have both died in that battle.”

“I don’t even know if you’re believing what you’re saying!”
Screams an excited Hiro. This was hardly something he could just up and believe. The memories of that night were still hazy to him after all.
He exhaled deeply, quickly regaining his composure upon seeing the serious look on her face.

“I apologize..”
He said begrudgingly, looking away from her out of sheer embarrassment.
“I’m a fool for doubting this.”
“I’m literally in a world different from my own.
“I have no grounds to doubt anything at this point.”

“Anyways, I don’t think I caught your name before.”
“Mines Hiroshi Jun but I go by Hiro”

“Why are you apologizing?”
She looked on, confused.
“Is it not a natural response to feel fear in this type of situation?” “No one chooses to be where they are in life in the same way that no one gets to choose when or how they die.”

“You have been gifted with something that has supposedly helped you fight fate on both”

“So make the most of it.”

Aiming a hand to her heart, she gazed deeply into his eyes and spoke as if to reassure him.
“My name is Suika Urikohime.”
“I was trained by the former captain of an agency known as the “Four heavenly kings”.”
“They are all disbanded now, but they were a group dedicated to wiping out the evils of this world.”

“It is my life's duty to honor my father’s work and protect anyone in need.”
''No matter how meek they may be.”

Though he knew that she didn’t mean to offend him. Words like meek annoyed Hiro, but he had no right to contest it.
“I am a guest in her home after all..” He thought to himself, exhaling deeply.
“Say, do you know any way I can find my way back home?”
“Getting isekai’d wasn’t exactly in my plans”
he asked, to the girl’s confusion.
This term was familiar to her. She could have sworn that she’d heard it before, but couldn't remember where.
The moment she took to think to herself was enough for Hiro’s heart to drop. “Oh god, please tell me I'm not gonna be stuck living in this nightmare!”
“If I even so much as see another turtle I'm gonna be sick!”
That’s when it hit her.
“You must be one of those.”
Abruptly, she stands and begins to make her way for the exit.
“Hey! What do you mean by that!”
“Are there more people like me appearing here?”

This comment stopped her dead in her tracks.
It had appeared as though he had angered her. Suika began to ball her hands into fists, refusing to turn to face Hiro as she spoke.
“To my knowledge yes…”

“But he’s gone to fight a greater battle..”

“Though, he left instructions on how to better help someone like him.”

She exits, with one final instruction.
“Make sure you get some rest.”

“Tomorrow I’m going to help you learn how to control your ability”

“Travel along the water-side path and you should find another Minka hidden just beyond the waterfall.”
“Look for me there when you’re ready”

Alone now with just her thoughts, Suika found herself in the living quarters of her minka. She was studying the manuscripts her father had left for her.
“Come on old man..”
She spoke to herself flipping through the massive book. There was not much that he told her about anomalies before his departure.
Simply telling her that all she’d need to know was right there in the manuscripts.
Throughout the night, she searched through it for the particular set of instructions needed to help someone channel their anomaly.

As she searched though, her thoughts began to wander to the last moment’s she shared with her father.
 The once great captain had entrusted his manuscripts to her as a parting gift. They both knew that that would be their last time seeing each other alive but neither had the strength to see the situation as anything more than a passing of the torch. He informed her of a strange ability known as an anomaly. To his knowledge, they were the only two alive to have been stricken with these abilities.

The reason why he had adopted her all that long ago was that even as a mere infant, he knew that she would be able to do wonders in the world.
She was the famed “Child born from a watermelon” after all. The whole entirety of Japan had cast her out as no more than an oddity. An anomaly if you will. One day however, he had to leave her. His reasoning was unknown as he refused to tell her, but she knew full well it had something to do with this “other world” he would vividly speak about.

She swore to do right by his name and reunite with him one day using the instructions he had left.
After what felt like hours of searching, she cheered excitedly. It appeared as though she finally found the right page.
Though her excitement quickly shifted to that of annoyance as she heard three light taps fall upon her door.

She called out, slowly beginning to approach the door
“I understand if ya just can’t resist seeing me but it’s the middle of the night.”

These remarks going without the typical witty response alerted her that something wasn’t right.
Due to the lighting of the room, she couldn’t make out the shadow of a person standing behind the sliding doors. The bowl of salt resting near the entrance slowly changed into a blackish color, resembling that of crushed charcoal.
“Something isn’t right here..” she thought, raising her dominant hand in the direction of the door.

In her hand, she called upon a small dagger.
“I don’t know just what or who the hell you are but this is your last warning to vacate the premises.”

“This house is property of the four heavenly kings!”

“Step foot inside and I’ll be forced to take action.”
For a moment, she looked relieved as the tapping stopped. Only to drop her weapon out of fear when they returned just as soon in the form of banging.
With each thud, the shoji door began to crack more and more. Millions of thoughts flooded through her head as she began to think of what could have possibly been capable of doing such damage.
“It can’t be the kappa...”

“We killed them all.. right?”

“No matter what it is, I have to honor my fathers wishes and protect the manuscripts!”

Neglecting her weapon entirely, Suika runs to the book and hastily shuts it. Before she can even manage to attempt to hide it, one final thud beats upon the doors.
She looks forward in terror at the spectacle before her.
she screams in a rapid procession as the unknown threat moves closer and closer to her.
“He warned me about you!”

“He told me as long as I stay here we’d never cross paths!”

The chapter closes with Hiro sound asleep in the opposing Minka completely oblivious to the horror that is unfolding.

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