Chapter 3:

A Method to the Madness

Red is the Color of You

Note: Gore Warning

      Ghosts became a common occurrence for Izumi since the wedding incident. Usually he'd see the majority around expected areas, like cemeteries or accident prone locations, but sometimes he'd see them walking down the street causally. He would always point them out to his mother in excitement and few of the ghosts would antagonize him, causing him to cry; nonetheless, Kanae always comforted him and told him that she wouldn't let any ghosts hurt him. 

When Izumi finally started elementary school, he met an energetic boy named Eiji, who grew to become his best friend as he loved to hear about the ghosts Izumi had seen, especially the fabled revenant. Despite being an athletic person, he would never have anything more than the build of a runner. In addition, he kept his blueish black hair in an ivy league cut since childhood. On their walks home, Eiji would listen with large brown glossy eyes as Izumi told him the story about the red robed stranger.

     By eighth grade the boys decided to bring some other friends along and visit their first abandoned building, which was rumored to be haunted. They went at night to make the experience more thrilling, but the entire time Izumi was on edge, hoping that no ghosts would be in the building. 

Most ghosts don't intervene with human affairs, but rarely Izumi will run into villainous ghosts which try their best to instill fear into human hearts. Hence, eventually Izumi stopped pointing out ghosts like he used to when he was younger, and he would try his best to not catch their attention. The chances of one being in the building was at least fifty percent, since people have reported hearing strange noises coming from the building as they pass by. Due to the complaints, the city scheduled the demolition of the building, hence the boys rushed to see if the rumors were true before then. 

The abandoned office building was only five stories tall, but the age was clear as the building was primarily made out of cracked and decayed concrete. Broken windows, cobwebs, and dust decorated the worn structure, but what really added to the building's charm was the variety of crawling insects and vermin. 

While the thought of seeing a spirit frightened the other boys, Izumi stuck by Eiji's side, not for the same reason, as he was already accustomed to the poltergeists, but because the one thing he never became comfortable with were critters. Faint hoarse groans could be heard in the building as the boys traversed and some began to wonder if it was a wise idea to enter. 

They went one floor at a time, with the goal of exploring all five stories, but several of the rooms had unstable flooring which was ready to cave in beneath their feet, causing their resolve to waver. Through the chattering of their teeth, a sudden thunderous crash could be heard from the floor above them, the third floor, which shook the building to its core. The roar was akin to a boulder being shot through the building, and the boys, finally convinced the building had seen its last, screamed as they ran towards the exit, Eiji included. However, Izumi held tightly to his best friend as he heard something else the other boys didn’t hear, a bloodcurdling scream...and voices.

Eiji tried to furiously shake off his friend's hand. “What are you doing Izumi??!! Didn’t you hear that, what if the building collapses!”

Izumi continued to hold on and his face was unwavering. “I hear something, like someone is up there.”

“Are you crazy?! There’s no one up there and even if there is we're better off not finding out!”

Izumi couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed to find out what the source of the scream and the voices were. Since Eiji doesn’t seem to hear it, it’s probably a ghost, he thought to himself, but ghosts usually don’t fight each other...maybe it’s him… 

More determined than ever, Izumi began to make his way to the third floor, with Eiji yelling at him to come back running after him in the process, “Dude what the hell are you doing!”

“I’m gonna go see what it was.”

“Did you not hear what I just said!! What if the building just caves in?! Your mom’s gonna kill me if you don’t come back!”

“That’s why you’re coming with me!” Izumi continues on ahead as fast as possible in hopes to catch the ghost before they retreat.

“Wai- ughhhh!” Eiji scratches his head in frustration before hurriedly trying to catch up to his best friend.

     The third floor’s main hallway was adorned with splatters of blood and large holes in the walls, as though someone swung another person repeatedly as they walked past. Above the entryway to the staircase was an enormous gaping hole in the ceiling, which stretched to the above two floors, therefore making a makeshift window from the third floor to the sky. Pebbles and concrete stones dripped from the hole, indicating the recent damage, and directly below the hole in the third floor’s ceiling was a stain of blood on the ground.

Izumi didn’t want to point out the blood, as he assumed Eiji couldn’t see it or else his nerves would be more over the roof than they already are. His thoughts were quickly interrupted by what sounded like someone tearing through flesh and bones with their bare hands. He momentarily hesitated, realizing it would be foolish to investigate something that could and would most definitely result in his and Eiji’s demise, but his curiosity overwhelmed him. Izumi hasn’t seen or heard of the strange man from the wheat field since that fateful day. If it was him, maybe he could give him some answers.

Why? Why could Izumi see ghosts when no one else could? It had to have been because of him.

Ever since he met that man he gained the ability to see them, and although his mother humored his stories when he was a child, as he grew older he knew that his mother never truly believed him and only didn’t want to hurt his feelings, as she likely thought it was the vivid imagination and paranoia of a child shining through. 

Pushing his doubts aside, Izumi rushed down the hall, Eiji following after him. Eiji continued to try and convince him to turn back, but his words were dull as Izumi drowned them out to focus on the path ahead. He turned the right corner down the hall, with the door across from them wide open. 

Izumi caught a glimpse of a tall man in red who vanished before Izumi could utter a syllable. Crap-! 

He sprinted down the hall to what remained of the old conference room, the smell becoming more and more putrid as he approached, and as the sight became more clear, he began to slow down and his body started to quake. The conference table was split in two, the jagged edges indicating that it was done by hand rather than by machine, with the pieces separated by about a yard in length in order to make a clear walkway to the front of the room. In addition, there were chairs arranged to face the front next to each half of the table, as though there were an audience present to witness the sickening sight which laid there. 

Whatever the body was, it didn’t seem to be human, but it didn’t seem to be any known animal, as the individual parts of its body were too large and the appendages contained claws and extra fingers and toes between each wedge. What remained of the torso laid beneath the center of the white board in an openly fashion, revealing the ribs, organs, and intestines which lay inside. The skin and flesh was peeled back to let the ribs rise to the surface more. Intestines were intertwined with the ribs, weaving in and out in a clearly thought out pattern, resulting in the start of a cat’s cradle. 

In the center was the beast’s head which no longer had a discernible face, and supported by dismembered arms that were lodged into the chest with its hands sprouting outwards like leaves to carry the bud. A leg was tucked neatly onto each side in order to wrap the torso perfectly, but this did not add the finishing touch. The last stroke of paint was a symbol of spread out clawed wings on the wall made with blood. Located in the center of the wings was a thin vertical eye, which was all too familiar to Izumi. He covered his mouth as vomit flooded out, Eiji rushing over to attend to him. 

“Are you alright? I’ve never seen you run that fast in your life, you should be more careful next time.” 

For once Izumi began to realize the double edged sword he possessed. Although he was grateful to see ghosts, as it made him feel unique, he didn’t think about the possibility of being left alone to a harrowing scene such as this. Nonetheless, he was glad. Glad that Eiji didn’t have to have the same memory etched into his very being. Glad that he wasn’t...whatever that was. Glad that it wasn’t him. And surprisingly, glad that the unnerving man got away.