Chapter 14:

Day 593: Written in Red, A Letter for the Dead

Death by Ex-Girlfriend: War Cloud

Yoko awoke in her bed with a lazy yawn. Her ears were filled with the sound of birdsong as the sun pierced through her pink curtains, washing the room in a pink shade. She scratched out her frizzy, scarlet hair as she turned her gaze towards the window and out into the empty neighborhood.Bookmark here

(Another day.)Bookmark here

Yoko went about her daily life once more. She brushed her hair, took a shower, brushed her teeth and washed her face. She put on a floral sun dress and decided to take a walk down the street on that fine morning. Really, she would take any excuse she could to get out of her empty, lifeless house.Bookmark here

The windows of the surrounding houses reflected the rising sun back into Yoko's face as she sauntered down the street. Long gone were the days when she would come across a couple walking down the opposite road, or a set of parents getting ice cream with their children. The streets were empty and deathly silent, save for the whispering wind. The silence made for a peaceful walk as much as it did a haunting one, knowing how many people Tsukiakari had killed in her massacre.Bookmark here

Yoko stopped by a bench, noticing someone had left an empty soda can next to it.Bookmark here

(I guess someone was too lazy to just throw the can away, huh? There should be a death penalty for this.)Bookmark here

Doing her part as a good-natured citizen, Yoko took the can and threw it in the trash, continuing on her walk through the neighborhood.Bookmark here

(Hold on...)Bookmark here

She realized something. Though she kept walking forward, she was passing by buildings she could've sworn she saw earlier in her walk.Bookmark here

(Am I losing it?)Bookmark here

As she kept walking, she came across the same bench and the same can of soda next to it. She picked up the can and threw it in the trash again. She continued her walk, only for her to end up in the same spot, with the same bench, and the same can of soda. Wary of outrageous things like infinite time loops, she altered her actions and kicked the can in the middle of the street.Bookmark here

(What is this? Why am I looping back to this spot when I keep walking forward?)Bookmark here

Two voices, speaking in unison called out to her from behind. They were the voices of two young girls. Yoko turned around, laying eyes on two, pale little girls who looked more like dead children than live ones. It was the Shoku Twins.Bookmark here

Akatsuki Nisshoku dressed in a white yukata with a floral haori over it. She kept her twin buns and necklace as always. She was the seemingly apathetic and emotionless one, at least facially. Omagatoki Gesshoku held hands with her sister, wearing a black yukata adorned with white, dead branches on it. Her raven haori depicted classical paintings of horned demons on it. She was always the cuter and more lively sister, always capable of smiling and general emotion.Bookmark here

As always, Omagatoki began their sentences first, and Akatsuki would continue them.Bookmark here

"Greetings. Are you—"
"Yoko Akiyama?"Bookmark here

(They finish each others sentences?)Bookmark here

"Who and what are you?" Yoko asked. "There's no way you two are humans."Bookmark here

"Our apologies. We did not want—"
"to disturb you with such an—"
"abrupt visit. I am Omagatoki Gesshoku."
"And I am Akatsuki Nisshoku."Bookmark here

"Well that's already a red flag." Yoko hissed. "I can trust a supernatural being named Akatsuki, but I can't trust someone with a name like Omagatoki."Bookmark here

Omagatoki blushed and lowered her head. "It's not that creepy..."Bookmark here

"Doesn't your name have two meanings for the two ways you can write it? Both of them are pretty sinister if you ask me. It's one-hundred percent creepy.Bookmark here

"This is true. You can write Omagatoki—"
"with the characters for 'Meeting'—"
"'Evil Spirit'—"
"and 'Hou'. However, it can also be written—"
"with the characters for 'Big'—"
"'Calamity, and—"
"'Hour'. Both meanings are—"
"understandably sinister."Bookmark here

(How annoying...)Bookmark here

"Can't you two talk without finishing each others sentences? It's getting hard to focus on just one of you."Bookmark here

Omagatoki and Akatsuki nervously swapped glances at each other before returning their gaze to Yoko. Rather, it's more accurate to say that Omagatoki was the nervous one.Bookmark here

"Well then? Let go of each others hands." Yoko demanded, crossing her arms in impatience.Bookmark here

Omagatoki...sort of complied. Though she did not hold on to Akatsuki's hand, she did pinch Akatsuki's haori.Bookmark here

(I guess that's as good as it's going to get.)Bookmark here

"I-I write my name after the second meaning, but both meanings are fine with me." Omagatoki stuttered.Bookmark here

"Yeah, neither of those meanings would make me even remotely comfortable with you around." Yoko chided. "Okay, so you've answered my first question. I know that the iron faced girl over there is Akatsuki Nisshoku and that you are Omagatoki Gesshoku. Now then, what are you?"Bookmark here

Akatsuki spoke in a flat, monotone voice. "My sister and I are spirits that were taken under Izanami's wing. Our job is to ensure that time and space moves forward as intended. Or, more simply, that the sun rises when it is due, and the sun falls when it is due."Bookmark here

"We are also in charge of solar and lunar eclipses." Omagatoki expounded.Bookmark here

"You two little brats are the ones who control time? Can you go back in time then?" Yoko asked.Bookmark here

"Yes." Omagatoki nodded. "However, such an action is forbidden by Izanami and the rest of Heaven unless an emergency arises."Bookmark here

"Such an emergency being the end of the world, or of humanity." Akatsuki explained.Bookmark here

(I see. Guess it was worth a try.)Bookmark here

"I have a lot more questions to ask, but I'm sure you two approached me for a reason. What is it?" Yoko asked.Bookmark here

Akatsuki took an envelope out of her yukata and handed it to Yoko. "We have been sent to deliver this message to you."Bookmark here

(Hmmm...)Bookmark here

"Very well. But you read it. I have a bad feeling about opening an envelope from you two." Yoko said.Bookmark here

Akatsuki held the letter up to her face, allowing Omagatoki to lean in and read it for Yoko. "Dear Yoko Akiyama, I send you this letter as a form of introduction and invitation. I cannot disclose to you my real name, but for now, you can call me Hidetaka. I apologize for the abrupt visit from Omagatoki and Akatsuki. I hope they didn't disturb you too much. I am writing you this letter to bring you some news, as well as some directions. Are you ready? Listen closely. Osamu Ashikaga is alive and well. He is with me, currently."Bookmark here

(What?!)Bookmark here

"Stop! Read that again!" Yoko shouted.Bookmark here

"Umm...Osamu Ashikaga is a live and well. He is with me, currently." Omagatoki repeated.Bookmark here

Yoko recoiled in disbelief. "He's alive?!"Bookmark here

(Who is this, and how does he know Osamu?)Bookmark here

Yoko knelt down and placed her hands on the twins' shoulders, urging them at an eye-to-eye level. "Where is he?! Please, you need to tell me where Osamu is right now!"Bookmark here

"Please let me finish the letter! He mentions being able to see him!" Omagatoki urged.Bookmark here

Yoko realized she was nearly crushing their shoulders. She took a deep breath and eased her grip on them. "Alright. Read the rest of it then."Bookmark here

Omagatoki nervously continued with her shaky voice. "He is with me, currently. I know that may be hard to believe, and you don't have to believe me just from a piece paper. I can show you proof in the flesh. First, it is appropriate that you and I meet. There is much I need to explain to you before you can see Osamu. Meet me on April 5th, 10:00 P.M. on the dot, at the abandoned bowling alley in your town. Take Omagatoki and Akatsuki with you. They will be able to know if you are being followed or not. Until then, please hold on to them. They are extremely low maintenance. They do not eat or sleep, so they should be easy to take care of for just one day. After we meet, you will be able to see Osamu again. Take care of yourself. Sincerely, Ogamu Hidetaka"Bookmark here

(Ogamu? So close to Osamu's name.)Bookmark here

"Is this Ogamu actually Osamu?" Yoko asked directly.Bookmark here

Akatsuki shook her head. "No. Ogamu is the incognito name for our old master."Bookmark here

"Incognito? He stressed he couldn't disclose his real name to me. Why is this?"Bookmark here

"C-considering the circumstances, it is important our old master retains his anonymity." Omagatoki said. "He will give you the details when you two meet."Bookmark here

Yoko's heart was racing at the possibility that Osamu was still alive. If she wasn't holding onto the twins, she was sure she would've fallen flat on the ground out of pure shock.Bookmark here

(But how? Izanami said it herself. Osamu was dead. She even buried them both...)Bookmark here

"Why is it that I can't just meet Osamu now? Why must I wait? Why is this Hidetaka guy acting as a go-between?" Yoko interrogated.Bookmark here

"You misunderstand. Osamu himself has requested it to be this way." Akatsuki replied.Bookmark here

(Osamu requested this?!)Bookmark here

Yoko looked at the orange-tinted sky and realized how much time had passed. It was already sundown. Though it had felt like she had only spent a few minutes with the twins, time had passed by an entire twelve hours.Bookmark here

"So this is your doing? Simply by existing, you two create balance in the flow of time." Yoko said.Bookmark here

Akatsuki nodded. "That is correct."Bookmark here

Omagatoki couldn't take it anymore. She only felt comfortable holding her sister's hand, especially when it got dark. The two were linked once more.Bookmark here

"If it's okay with you, we'd like to stay with you until we can see our old master again." Omagatoki requested, hiding behind her sister.Bookmark here

Yoko released a heavy sigh. She was taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart. Every bone in her body tingled with excitement and anxiety. Her palms felt like fireworks were going off inside of them.Bookmark here

(Osamu...are you really out there? How long have you been alive? Why did you wait a year and three months to contact me?)Bookmark here

"Alright. You two can come home with me. If anything weird happens in my house, you two are officially dead to me. Got it?"Bookmark here

"Okay, but...we are dead." Omagatoki said.Bookmark here

"You know what I mean. Come on, let's go." Yoko said.Bookmark here

Is Osamu truly still alive? Who is the one he's with? There was much to be answered the next day.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.