Chapter 13:


The Pill That Killed Romance

Any minute now, those rehab officers would bust down that door, and the two of us would be in more trouble than any human should ever have to be. All because we chose to feel.

If the world really couldn’t let us be who we were, then it didn’t deserve to have either of us in it. I was ready for whatever the afterlife had to offer.

Would I even be willing to take my own life? Would Ekko be willing to do the same? There were tools scattered across the gym stage, one of them could surely…

“I don’t wanna die…” Ekko cried, almost as if she could hear my thoughts.

She was trembling. I continued to hold her tightly, doing everything I could to get her to relax.

Moments went by like hours. It was surreal how it felt like we were getting a little extra time to be together.

Ekko’s eyes sheepishly grew more daring as they peeked out from my jacket.

“I was just thinking…” she started in a much calmer tone, “doesn’t this gym look kinda’ like a church?”

“What’s a church?” I asked.

“It’s a place people used to get married in. Someone told me all about it.”

Her body sat upright, no longer slouching in fear.

“The windows were like rainbow glass, the walls were painted with stories of kind people…” she started to smile. “It was so pretty that everyone would get married in one.”

Rainbow glass really sounded like something special. And art that told stories? I wanted to see both of those things. I couldn’t even imagine either, let alone wonder how someone would make them in the first place.

“The groom would stand at the front of the altar with a man dressed in all black. A big piano would start playing when the bride entered in her white dress, passing silently through an isle of her friends and family. Once together at the altar, the bride and groom would kiss, sanctifying the marriage forever.”

It sounded like a dream to me. It must have been a beautiful sight.

“That sounds so great,” I held her hands a little tighter. “I’d love to see a place like that.”

“The gym is pretty close,” she snickered as she stood up, then took a glance at the door. It seemed like it was about to break down any minute now.

“If there is a god out there, please, give us just a few minutes…” she prayed.

She started, pulling me along with her. She told me to stand by the gym stage podium as she ran behind a curtain.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“One sec!” she waved from behind the curtain.

I saw some of her clothes fly out from behind there, then there were loud ripping sounds. What was she doing?

“Okay! I’m ready!”

When she came out, she was wearing a makeshift white dress, tapped together with white flags and scrap fabric she’d probably tore from the walls.

Bending my imagination a little, it looked like a wedding dress.

“How do I look?” she twirled, her draping skirt flailing out in a fanciful way. “Good enough to be your bride?”

“You look perfect,” I said.

I’ve never seen anyone so happy in my life. Just seeing it made me even happier. What an amazing thing it was to share a feeling like this with someone. It was like magic.

She scooped up some dust in her hand, along with picking up some small sporting flags as if they were a bouquets, then silently approached, an alluring smile on her face.

I was stunned at her beauty. It made my body freeze up and my eyes water just a little.

At last, she reached me, facing my way, holding her bouquets of little sports flags.

“Do you take me to be your wife, forever and ever?”

“I do,” I nodded. “Do you take me to be your husband, forever and ever?”

“I do.” Her beam grew twice as big. “Now I pronounce us, husband and wife!” she cheered, throwing the dust and flags up into the air.

The speckled pieces of dust shone in the sun that peeked through the window. A strobe effect danced around us.

As the dust settled, we jumped at each other and kissed.

The invisible crowd cheered, throwing up a confetti of rice and praises. Our marriage represented humanity and everything it stood for. This love would never be broken, not by a sword, or even a pill.

That was when the harshness of reality broke in, taking our moment away with it.

A storm of men in black ran through the gym door, covering every corner of the gym, several of them heading for us.

Both Ekko and I tried to fight, but neither had the strength to combat these full grown men.

“Let go of me!” Ekko shouted. “Hanashite!

I tried to throw a fist, colliding with the hard chest of one of the men. But he was more than eager to retaliate, landing his knuckles square on my nose and drawing a hint of blood.

I saw stars and my vision blurred. The heavy hit dazed me.

“No!” Ekko screamed as she struggled to escape the men’s grasp. “Don’t hurt him!”

“Targets secured,” the one holding me said into an earpiece. “Yes sir. We’ll catch the escapees as well.”

Suddenly at the end of the gym I heard an electrical zap.

It was hard to tell, but the men away from the stage looked like they were falling down. The ones holding Ekko and I dropped us to the ground, reaching into their pockets and drawing guns.


Thunderous sounds of bullets struck our ears like broken drums. Ekko quickly threw her body over me as protection.

A sudden blue light radiated across the stage, and all the government men dropped like ragdolls.

With my vision blurred from the punch, all the people who just entered appear to be smudges of beige and gold.

I felt Ekko’s hold as she tugged my head toward the protection of her chest. Someone was heading this way.

“Don’t hurt him!” she screamed.

“I won’t,” a young girl’s voice, clearly faking being deeper, claimed.

My vision was starting to return, but all I could make out was a very blurry shape of colours approaching us.

“Are you…here to help us?” Ekko asked.

“I’m an undertaker, cleaning up for the service tonight.”

Ekko was silent, loosening her grip on me a bit, but still keeping me close.

As my senses returned, that voice was very familiar, even though it was being disguised by both a mask and a deeper tone. I knew who it was, but wanted to confirm with my own eyes.

I rubbed and rubbed to try and get my sight back to normal. Soon after, things started to clear up.

A little girl was indeed standing in front of us, draping in a beige cloth with gold trim on the front opening. There was a mask over her face of the same colour. Her mask was of a woman, a bit eerie with small narrow eyes and a menacing smile. It looked very traditional Japanese, but I couldn’t put a name to it.

“You’re my…”

“I am Ko-Imouto,” She interrupted me. “A guardian of the soul.”

Clearly she didn’t want me revealing her identity.

There were others with her, at least three scattered around the gym keeping watch. They all had traditional Japanese masks of all kinds, like Ko-imouto.

Some of them were holding pistol-like weapons, I believe those were used as stun blasters for riots. If so, these government men weren’t dead, but just knocked out.

“Ekko Haruki,” Ko-Imouto said, “you have done your duty faithfully. But now you have died. How unfortunate.”

“I…I’m not dead.” Ekko said with a confused expression.

“To this world, the both of you are dead. Left behind, like sparks after igniting oil. Before me are two empty husks.”

“What about those that have already left here?” Ekko asked.

“What about them?” Ko-Imouto asked. “They’re heading for freedom, purchased by the sacrifices of revolutionary blood.”

She was implying that we were martyrs here. Maybe that’s the same logic that changed her own identity too.

One of the guys keeping guard ran to Ko-Imouto and leaned down to speak to her.

“We need to leave now. Miyazaki-sama is waiting.”

“Right,” Ko-Imouto nodded, turning to us. “There’s nothing left for you two here anymore.”

Ko-Imouto reached into her robes and pulled out two masks, tossing them to both of us. One looked like a fox with orangish red details across the face. And the other seemed like a demon with horns, half its face sad, while the other half quite crazed, full of fang teeth.

Ekko and I cautiously picked up the masks, placing them over our faces. They were a bit spooky when we turned to each other.

“From henceforth, you shall be Kitsune,” she said to me. “And you shall be known as Hannyako.”

Both of us let out a nervous snicker at these new names being given to us. It wasn’t quite registering that this was all real. There wasn’t any choice but to go with these people out of here though.

Ekko, now dubbed Hannyako, accepted my hand as we followed these strange people out of the building.

“Where are we going?” I asked, noticing we were running through alleyways and dodging main streets.

“To what was left behind,” Ko-Imouto claimed. “To the Old World.”

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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