Chapter 5:

The Cracked Seal


A dusk sun burnt the edges of the blood coated environs. Painted in broad crude strokes, it had an otherworldly elegance. A juxtaposition of horror and beauty inscribed upon a pulsing canvas. Disturbing mounds of barely recognizable human forms crawled in waves. Each pulling away that which was important.

Ken and Jun returned struggling and flailing to the house. Whoever wanted him this time didn’t have the same approach. Yuki ground his teeth and clenched his fists. The wordless fear that clouded his mind for the last day finally materialized. An aching and gnawing uncertainty which never left him no matter his efforts to paint it over with his customary wit and flourish.

Taunted by the unknown voice, Yuki made the only choice left to him. He jumped back inside through the broken window. Crouched upon the window frame, Yuki panned around the haunting living room. Mounted to opposite walls, Ken and Jun couldn’t move with a large fleshy rib cage hanging them by their torso’s with a multitude of hands strapping down their wrists outstretched.

“Big Bro…I’m scared…”

“I know. This’ll all be over soon.”

“I believe I said to not make promises…”

Snapping his head towards the voice, he still couldn’t find them. Their voice felt so near as if they stood next to him. “Show yourself if you’re so interested in me!”

“Yes, this little game has concluded itself.” Nowhere in sight did they appear. Yuki remained on guard by the odd statement. He felt like the man could come from anywhere. The voice lied about his location.

Searching around for any hint of a stranger still didn’t reveal anyone. No sounds of footsteps betrayed them. An unnerving still held sway over the very air as if the man controlled not just the walls of his house, but the air he breathed. What sort of trickery did he employ?

Without another moment to question the defiance of Yuki’s reality, a shadowed form finally appeared. He tried to get a glimpse of this invader, but it seemed like light itself couldn’t touch him. An eerie depthless shape of a male appeared.

Immediately, something else caught his eye when the man dragged something else with him. Flinging his unwanted company at Yuki’s feet, a shocked gasp escaped Yuki’s lips. “Momo!”

“Big Sis!”

“She proved to be more trouble than her appearance told.” Cuts tore through her clothes. Blood dripped from swallow wounds along her arms and shoulders. Each looked defensive, protecting her vitals.

Chapter 5 - The Cracked Seal

Yuki pulled her up towards him to check on her breathing. A strong force of life still ran through her. But it didn’t help that he had never seen her in such a state before. The strongest of the family and anchor, he held her tight. “Dammit…this is all…”

“Yuki…are you safe?”

“Yeah, don’t worry about me. You’re the one bleeding everything!”


“It’s not good! I need you!”

“This is between us. I’ll accept no further interruptions.” Upon that declaration, the floor of blood under them birthed another mass of skeletal limbs. They grabbed at Yuki’s arms, pinning him down even as he struggled. While restrained, the floor opened up like a mouth filled with fingers and arms rather than teeth or fang swallowing up Momoko’s body.

Yuki pulled tighter at the hands that kept him down. “Stop it! Give her back!”

“The woman’s a distraction. She’s not the reason I’m here.” She disappeared from sight only to surface on the wall nearby Jun on Yuki’s right. Caged within a mass of bone and muscle, her arms and legs were pinned against the wall.

At least she seemed safe. For now….

‘How am I supposed to deal with someone that can make flesh puppets to do whatever he wants? I hate to admit it, but maybe Ayumi’s not lying about all of this…but how, why? There’s so many questions to all of this…. I really could use her help right now…’ He half expected her to just show up mysteriously like the last time. Yet that still hadn’t happened.

It was up to him. A normal human.

Suddenly, the solid black that painted the man disappeared. For the first time, Yuki could see the face of his invader. Like the man before, they were a foreigner with American features, or maybe European. He honestly didn’t know how to tell the difference. The only foreigner he knew was Saki’s mother. And this guy had something about him that seemed a little different than her American mother.

Tall in stature, nearly a full two meters it felt, he towered over Yuki. Dressed in a white robe-like outfit, it hung loose over the shoulders with it crossed over and pinned up by a basic belt. Where the draping cloth ended a loose pair of pants continued. From his bare arms and what the robe didn’t cover of his chest, the man was fit and well trained.

Every sign and feeling he got from the man told him that he didn’t belong standing against him. He defeated Momo with ease. The sand attacker proved more than he could handle. This new foreigner seemed even worse.

‘What chance do I have?’ His arms suddenly came free. The stranger placed him in a very different situation than the last. This man clearly wanted a fight unlike the other. Which gave Yuki an idea. “Are you with that other guy? Because that wasn’t me. It was someone else that killed him.”

“What happened to them is of no consequence.”

“It kinda is to me! He tried to kill me and I’m getting that same vibe off you. And I don’t even know why. It’s all feeling like some really messed up prank. I’ve got no interest in whatever is going on here.”

“You don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“It’s my life! I always have a choice!”

“Your fate was determined at birth and that’s you’ve been marked for death.”

“That’s not how things work! And would you stop being ominously cryptic like you’re in the first act of a movie. Just tell me what’s going on!”

“I’ve already said plenty. You won’t get answers from me, only a warrior’s death.”

“Yeah, I guess that would be too easy. But I’m not a warrior, I read books.”

The foreigner took a step forward with the passivity finally dropping. “Everyone’s got one in them. It just needs to be pulled out.” The man delivered the words with lethal intent. Purpose drove him with unrelenting conviction. A menacing aura bled off him.

Yuki glanced side to side, picking up the meaning quickly. “Don’t! This is between us!”

“I have no interest in an empty fight”

“What the hell’s wrong with you?! This isn’t a fight, it’s murder!”

“Enough talk. Show me what you can do.”

Pressure surrounded him like at the bottom of the ocean. The very air seemed to breathe down on him, heating up his body making him sweat. Every part of him refused to move. Flashes of the attack trapped him. Yet the overwhelming towering presence of the man before him cowled his body.

Nothing would move.

Sudden screams erupted from around him. He jerked to his left hearing Ken’s cries. The bones holding him up had tightened up squeezing against his tiny body. Dull shallow cries came from the right out of Jun panicked as the pressure wrapped tighter.

The weights that bound him snapped finally freed from the mental bondage and Yuki staggered a few steps forward. “Stop it! Don’t involve children in this!”

“Then fight me!” He tightened the hold of his hostages further to drag out the fight he desired.

“Bastard!” Yuki charged straight at the man throwing his fist wildy at his gut to stop the foreigner. However, it did little to nothing to the man. All it seemed to do was disappoint the tall stranger.

Grabbing Yuki by his school uniform jacket, he lifted him off the ground. “Your sister put up more of an effort.” He cast Yuki back, throwing him towards the coffee table. Even covered in blood, it stabbed dully into his shoulder as he crashed into and broke it to pieces.

Yuki coughed in pain pushing himself back against the couch. His body ached. He couldn’t tell if it was bleeding. All that he could think about was their suffering because of him. ‘I need to do something…I can’t let him hurt them…’

Pushing off the couch, Yuki stood again clutching his shoulder from the pain. The man wanted a fight, but he didn’t know how he could give him what he wanted. If any bit of what Ayumi said was true, there was nothing that he had to compete with such things. It was an impossible situation.

A strained groan came out of Momoko as the threat carried over. All three twitched in pain. Momoko fought through it and tried to break free. The bindings gave her no leverage to use her strength. “Yuki…Yuki!”

“Momo? I’ll get you out of there! I’ll figure out something!”

“Yuki, listen to me! You need to stop…blaming yourself for it. You know he’s right. You’re stronger than this…. It’s fine to fight for those you love. So don’t be afraid of your past, Yuki!”

Washes of emotions poured over him. Flashes of a bed with a blurry face creeped into the edges of his mind. Unfamiliar voices complaining about him echoed. Everything jumbled together into a chaotic stew. Confusion poured into him with only one certainty. “No, it’s my fault…I can’t…”

“If you don't, he's going to kill all of us! Remember who you are!”

“...Momo…” Punctuating her plea to him came an arc of blood as a series of boney fingers pierced through her upper arms. Yuki’s eyes widened in horror at his sister’s suffering. Echoes of screams tortured his mind with his vision narrowing. Wicked imagery painted through his mind. “Dammit! Stop it, you bastard!”

Taunted with lost memories and the present pain, Yuki screamed internally until it released from his lips. The vault within him that held everything back began to show signs of cracks. He couldn’t deny Momoko. He had to do something, even if it was the stained hands that he used.

Yuki lowered his hand off his bruised shoulder. Pushing the pain away, he focused only one the one that had to matter to him. ‘I’m sorry…’ Springing forward, his body surged with old memories. The motion of the body and tension of the muscles recalled with familiarity.

The foreigner no longer stood still with an unguarded stance. His desired fight finally arrived. A small smirk came over him as he saw something.

Charging forward ripples broke through the blood on the floor. For only a moment as Yuki’s foot made contact, the blood disappeared replaced with grass. ‘It’s finally happening. His power is surfacing…’