Soul Nemesis [VOLUME I]
As the young man approached steadily on his bike, the figure disappeared once more, this time reappearing at the head of a turn some ways from where it once stood.
Eiji nodded with slight excitement, and stepped on the gear changing pedal once more. With another flick of the wrist, the bike cut through the road like a razor, as a wild wind caressed the skeleton of the bike.
Turn after turn, gear after gear, with the lights of the city shining bright, and the moon up above even brighter, spirit and exorcist kept on chasing each other down the road, in this secret dance of theirs.
As Eiji grew up, he found himself embracing the night more frequently. His exorcist duties required him so, after all. Yet that part of his duty, never seemed like a hassle to him.
Under the street lights of the night district in Shina, everything seemed animated. Alive. When he rode Asahi’s bike into the night, and passed by lamp post after lamp post, with no end in sight, Eiji felt weirdly connected to the family he had lost. Or at least, he didn’t feel alone. Somehow, it seemed more likely to feel alone in a sea of people to him, than in the chilly wind and empty streets of the night.
Despite the fresh air and sense of freedom, his little game with the spirit came to an end sooner than he would have liked.
“Eiji-dono! She led us here!” Meh cried out, flying about in circles.
“Hm…” Eiji opted to scan the surroundings, as he removed his helmet. The spirit was nowhere to be found, but judging from the view, they had probably reached the intended destination.
In front of Eiji led a spacious, abandoned car parking lot. With a small ramp leading down towards it, and a handful of wrecked cars lying about, it did strike one as an ominous place to visit at night.
Yet it wasn’t just a hunch. Eiji and Meh could feel it in the air.
“There’s a strong surge of malevolence around here, Eiji-dono! We must investigate!”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Eiji nodded, placing his helmet atop his bike, and fixing the main stand so it stays upright.
As the two of them moved towards the parking lot, the young man felt the strange concentration of energy growing stronger.
“It’s getting stronger! And it matches with the malevolence of the curse hanging about the school!”
“Now that’s intriguing.” Eiji muttered, his guard raised and his senses sharp.
Yet nothing could have warned him for what he was about to come across…
While the young man was looking around, his head bumped against a solid, almost repelling surface
Yet, when Eiji turned to see what exactly that was, he was met with nothing. He could clearly see everything past that point, and down to the darkness of the lot.
With an outstretched hand, he opted to touch the weird surface once more. And he did, as his finger brushed against some sort of completely transparent barrier, which repelled Eiji’s every touch.
“Meh, explanation.” Eiji narrowed his eyes at the weirdness of the event.
“Hmm…. Eiji-dono, this most definitely is the lair of a specter!”
“Yeah, no shit. But why can’t we enter?”
“I’d say this barrier is made in order to repel any sort of exorcist spiritual energy, such as yours, Eiji-dono.”
“You mean to say this specter MADE it?” Eiji looked on, in visible puzzlement.
“I believe so, yes.”
“What in the world…?” Eiji sighed for the umpteenth time today, as he gazed upon the mysterious barrier. He had never encountered a sentient specter before. Generally, exorcists are taught that specters are the projection of one’s soul, and the more negative feelings that soul harbored, the worse its projection grew. So, for a specter to think about its own survival in such a manner, baffled him to say the least.
Despite that clever trick though, he could feel the malevolence wasn’t so grand from up close. He had fought stronger specters than that. Maybe its ability to think derived from the increasing malevolence around the whole district? That was quite a likely scenario.
What could be done about that barrier, though?
“We need to think of a way around it, huh?” Eiji tapped his chin in thought.
“Maybe we should see to that student, surrounded by malevolence, no?” Meh proposed.
“What? How should I even bring that up?” While Eiji protested, the translucent figure of a girl appeared in the distance once more.
“We should follow it, Eiji-dono!”
Eiji nodded, and got on his bike once more.
This time, their dance led him to a fairly normal apartment complex, before the spirit disappeared for good once more.
“Meh, anything of note?” Eiji turned to his Shikigami, seemingly unable to comprehend the meaning of their visit to such an inconspicuous place. The apartment complex certainly didn’t look like a place where malevolence would surface from. Although it was certainly better maintained than the one he lived in, it wasn’t too grand either.
“Hmmm….” The small creature hummed as it flew in place, and squinted in concentration, “Oh, I sense that malevolence from the school again!”
“That malevolence from the school?” Eiji voiced in puzzlement, “Wait are we—“
“And it’s close too!”
“Uhm….?” The two of them were briefly interrupted by a short, timid girl, with red and black hair, holding a big plastic bag in both her hands. “Can you…?” She briefly pointed at the trashcan next to Eiji.
“Sure.” The young man nodded, not letting himself be taken by surprise.
That most definitely was the girl he had encountered during the day back at school.
A brief moment of silence ensued, as the girl went on about throwing away the trash.
“Eiji-dono! Say something friendly!” Encouraged by the fact he can’t be seen by regular people, Meh ushered his master on.
Eiji on the other hand, pondered on the matter silently.
As the girl turned to look at Eiji in puzzlement once more, he spoke up.
“I’m not a stalker.” He stated flatly.
And with that single sentence, he walked up to his bike, and put on his helmet.
As the engine roared and the wheels spun, the young girl was left staring at the figure of the bike growing more distant by the second.
“I can’t believe you said that, Eiji-dono!!!” While Eiji was climbing the steps back to his run-down apartment, his Shikigami couldn’t contain its laughter any longer.
“Shut it, or I’m sending you to Yomi in a plastic bag.” Eiji hissed, his eyes burning with fury.
“Come on, Eiji-dono! You could have said anything and you—“
Off he goes, spinning into the distance like a shining star. Meh the Shikigami.
As Eiji walked up to his front door, a weird and furry sensation around his leg caught his attention.
“Meow…” The black kitty outside his door cried, and Eiji couldn’t help but sigh at his luck. As he unlocked the front door, he carefully slipped inside, and shut it behind him. Cats, or pets for that matter, weren’t allowed on his apartment complex, and that young cat that had been hanging about his door lately was becoming increasingly persistent.
With a flick, he turned on the main light of the room, illuminating his cramped, and messy apartment consisting of a hallway-like kitchen, a small living space with a TV, coffee table, and a single rusty bed. It was barely enough for one person to live in, yet Eiji couldn’t care less. For some peculiar reason, he had picked up a weird skill that enabled him to live wherever there was a roof above his head.
There was also a bath across the kitchen too, that was barely big enough as well, and a Japanese-styled wardrobe where he stored most of his belongings.
After he removed his jacket and shoes, he walked over to the living room, and rummaged through his bag. Without wasting a moment, he fished out a wet sketchbook stored inside a plastic bag, and set it atop the table.
“What are you gonna do with that, Eiji-dono?” Meh, yet again, spoke up out of thin air.
“Watch and learn.” Eiji replied briefly, as he removed it from the plastic bag, and wiped it down with a towel he had on hand. Inside the said sketchbook, Eiji found countless sketches and drawings, of either picturesque landscapes, hideous creatures, or edgy characters with weird colorful hair and even more colorful auras emanating from their bodies. Yet they didn’t look half-baked.
“Hm.” The young man examined them further, noticing how well-drawn everything was. Whoever that girl was, she seemed to have a knack for drawing.
After wiping the sketchbook off of the water, Eiji walked to the kitchen and opened the freezer.
“Eiji-dono?” Meh tailed him in puzzlement.
“That should do it.”
As the young man placed the sketchbook on the freezer, his Shikigami was left even more perplexed.
“Just trust me.”
Eiji said, plopping down on his bed, causing no shortage of creaky sounds to ensue.
He had had the same thing happen to one of his notebooks when he was a kid, and Hifumi had used the exact same technique to restore it. Who knew the freezer could be used in such a way?
Eiji sighed at the memory.
It was already past 12, and while both the parking lot and that girl’s apartment complex wasn’t too far off from where he lived, it indeed took quite some time for him to get to both.
Eiji sighed once more.
Fatigue was very clearly setting in, and while he has had many a sleepless nights, it didn’t looked like tonight would be one of them.
Could he really rest, though?
Sitting up from his bed, Eiji slid open his bedside drawer. From within he picked up a pack of cigarettes, a photograph, and a playing card.
Two out of those three items were always by Eiji’s bed, no matter where he lived throughout the years. How could he let them go, after all?
Shuffling for the lighter atop the coffee table, he quickly lit the cigarette placed on his lips.
Eiji wasn’t the type of smoker that couldn’t do without it, yet it somehow helped ease his mind even a little when he did exhale the harmful substance. No shortage of images of Asahi doing the same came to mind when he did too.
“You really do look like him.”
He heard a familiar voice say. As the young man raised his head, he caught a glimpse of a face long gone. There she was, his older sister staring back at him. Of course she wasn’t really there. Lesser than a spirit, and more of a hallucination.
She would appear occasionally, as just a figment of Eiji’s mind, probably to remind him of his duty.
“You look more like a gangster now, though. Seriously did you have to go and dye your hair?”
Eiji almost chuckled. That sounded like something Hifumi would say.
As the boy opened his mouth to give his reply, the figure before him vanished into thin air. It was but an illusion, a trick of the mind after all.
With a groggy exhale, his eyes focused solely on their peculiar family photo. The same family photo he had picked up from the studio the day everything changed. There they were, Asahi and Hifumi. While the young man smiled brightly, Hifumi’s grin was more refined. Modest. Eiji was sitting in the middle, barely trying to look amused. His attempt of a smile was almost too pathetic to look at.
The days he had spent with Asahi and Hifumi, although short, always felt like not too long ago.
Gritting his teeth, his fingers brushed again the playing card next to the photo. The Jack of Hearts. To that day, he was still searching for whoever that was. His eyes, burning red and fiery, like a set of stones set ablaze. If he ever came across them again, he would know…
That was all he knew though. Was it man, or was it spirit?
The latter seemed more probable. Maybe it was sentient, like the one he was about to exorcise today.
He had to find a way through that barrier first though. That was his duty.
He was an exorcist.
That was the only thing keeping him alive. His one shot at revenge. Maybe if he kept on chasing spirits, kept on fighting, he would find the one responsible for the death of his family.
Through his train of thoughts, Eiji looked out his window, and onto the dark shiny canvas up above.
He was an exorcist…
Exorcists were made when one’s soul was sold to the Gods. Quite the cliché story one would think, yet it happened all the same.
Eiji’s father gave up his newborn son’s soul, and made off. Why did he leave them? Eiji always wondered. Had he attained fame away from them? Happiness?
Was that what he wished for when he left his family?
Why was Eiji, his mother and sister abandoned? What did they lack? What did he not have?
Was it for the money? Was it a fight?
Is he even alive?
Was it Eiji’s fault?
What if he was never even born?
Eiji would always go in circles like that, even to this day. He was living a life that was almost not even his, after all.
The life of an exorcist.
The life of a loner.
The life his sister had told him not to waste.
But what was he supposed to do?
Did he even deserve to live, at the expense of their deaths?
Those thoughts would always come back to haunt him at nights like these.
Only this time, he had the privilege to sleep through such excruciating thoughts.