Published March 27, 2018 by

How I Was Murdered by a Fox Monster Chapter 14

Summary: They say life flashes before you in that moment before death. I could see it all reflected in the blade. I was standing under the cherry blossoms at my school entrance ceremony, eating cake at my sister's wedding, standing outside praying the monster wouldn't come tonight. I might not be dead yet but I can see what's coming, this is the story of how I was murdered by a fox monster! 

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Chapter 14

Bang! Crash!

I winced at every noise outside the room and dreaded the moment when the wolves would come bursting through the door. I could see Itsuki staring at the window formulating an escape plan. I wish I thought of that instead of just clinging to his arm in fear.

He reached for his pocket to grab something, until we heard the voice of a familiar high school girl shrieking "oh no! I stepped in dog shit!"

"That sounded like Kurumi," Itsuki whispered.

"That's them! Let's go!"

We jumped to our feet and headed to the door. I grabbed the handle and attempted to burst through like a scene from an action movie, only to find that the door was firmly locked.

The wolves were better prepared than I expected. I stood there fumbling with the door while listening to what was going down in the next room.

"EXORCISTS! IT'S THE EXORCISTS!" Came a muffled yell through the door.

"Hey! What's the time Mr Wolf?!"

"Taisei! This isn't the time for jokes!" Yelled Akito.

What followed was a series of banging and crashing noises, followed by yells of pain. It sounded like my fellow exorcists weren't having an easy time.

"Not the leg, not my leg!" I couldn't tell if it was a friend or foe crying out in pain.

"Hey! We're in here! Let us out!" I yelled as I banged on the door.

"It's useless, they can't hear you," said Itsuki. "Stand back."

He pulled out a strip of paper from his pocket. It was already painted with a small seal. He stood a meter from the door and stared at the space between it like he was calculating the distance.

"Maybe a small one should be enough to do it."

He began to mutter a chant full of words I couldn't understand. He may have said gobboly gobbly boo boo for all I knew, but the paper began to light up brightly and spark. A familiar ball of lightning began to emerge from the page (although smaller this time) and headed straight towards the door. Itsuki must have underestimated his strength because he also took out most of the wall.

Both our room and the next were engulfed in a cloud of dust from the explosion. There was nothing but faint shadows of people until the dust finally settled enough to see Akito and the rest of the exorcists. They were staring at us with their mouths wide open in shock.

"Hey," coughed Taisei through the dust. "You really like showing off, don't you?"

"As expected of Itsuki," muttered Mana.

I quickly discovered that Itsuki's explosion not only freed us from our imprisonment, but it also took out the wolf Obake who had been standing on the other side of the wall. They'd been electrocuted by the lightening, and then crushed under fragments of the wall.

Like Itsuki couldn't get any cooler. The stupid jerk. I thought.

If I had been my usual antagonistic self I would have ranted about how Itsuki barely did anything, but I was overwhelmingly grateful that he saved my life. I decided that it was time to give the guy a break, and I skillfully kept my mouth shut while the others re-accounted Itsuki's awesomeness.

"And then we had them in the corner, and suddenly boom!" Yelled Kiyori.

"Way to go man," said Taisei while nudging Itsuki in the ribs.

Souta took a look at my head from where the wolf knocked me out. I always wondered what Souta's purpose was in the group, but I discovered that he was the one with all the medical know-how.

"My father's a doctor," he cheerfully told me. "He was going to be an exorcist, but then an Obake bit off his foot."

My mouth dropped open in horror.

"That's great Souta," I said nervously.

"Now that I think about it, he was about your age as well."

If I wasn't already traumatized enough, that was enough to cap it off. I sat there in shock contemplating how I could have lost limbs, when finally Nina took pity on me. She sat beside me and inspected the damage as Souta wrapped me up.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Nina asked kindly.

"Yes," I did my best to appear like I was suffering. "I almost died several times tonight, and my head may be in unimaginable pain, but I feel that I will live through this."

I think I did an excellent job of gaining her sympathy. If Itsuki ever snagged Mana, at least I would have Nina as a back up.

Taisei on the other hand was his usual self. He was supposed to be helping Akito unearth the debris around the wolf carcasses, but he was yet again engrossed in his phone.

"Damn! It was so dark in there. None of my pictures turned out well," he moaned.

Kurumi looked disgusted. "Why do you want photos of decaying wolf bodies?"

"It's not just that. It's a record of all our achievements, Kurumi."

"Records," she muttered. "You just want a new profile picture."

"Taisei, can you please help me move this!" Interrupted a grumpy Akito as he moved another chunk of the wall.

"Oh, yeah, just a moment," said Taisei as he continued to play with the screen.

They were all quite skilled at ignoring Akito.

Akito was having difficulty with a section of the wall, so Souta, Itsuki and I went to assist him. Akito also attempted to make Kurumi help, but she claimed the dust would make her outfit dirty.

The debris was still hot from Itsuki's lightning charm and it almost burnt my fingers. With all our efforts combined we finally managed to clear everything and unveil two smoking wolf carcasses.

"Finally, that's the end of it," puffed an exasperated Akito. "Looks like we don't have to worry about anymore wolves for a while."

"Hey Akito, is there another one around here somewhere?" I asked while looking around the room. I may have been bashed in the head, but I was certain I'd seen three of them.

"This is it," said Itsuki. "We already cleared everything else."

"No, this isn't right. There was a third one," I said.

The bodies were charred so I didn't know if it was the dog, the stocky guy, or the man with the tattoo, but I knew enough to tell that one of them was definitely missing.

"Are you absolutely certain?" Akito asked.

"Yes, one hundred percent," I nodded.

"Looks like we have more work to do!" He yelled to someone over his shoulder.

I didn't know who he was talking to, until I followed his line of vision and noticed one extra person (who I'd never seen before) smoking a cigarette in the doorway.

He looked about Akito's age but taller. His head was shaved, his clothes were slightly frayed, and he didn't look like he'd taken a bath for a few days.

"Hey! Who's that guy?" I pointed without bothering to be subtle.

The corner of Akito's mouth winced. "Daisuke, this is Shiki Moriyama, he's the agent assigned by the organization to deal with wolf monsters. Luckily, he arrived just in time to come help save you."

There was nothing menacing about what Akito said, but I sensed some bitterness in his tone.

Shiki dropped his cigarette and tread on it to extinguish the flame. He walked over and reached out to enthusiastically shake my hand.

"So you're the Daisuke Matsumoto who everyone's been talking about," he said.

"I suppose," I said as we shook hands.

People were talking about me? Did that mean I was already becoming famous in the exorcist world? I thought hopefully.

"It's nice to see how passionate you are about exorcising, but you still have a while to go until your up to the level of the more famous Daisuke Matsumoto," he reached out and ruffled my hair like I was a little kid.

"Hey! I have skills," I said while brushing his hand away. "I found that pack of wolves ages before any of you did."

"And then they almost ate you," said Itsuki.

"Yeah, but I had a plan. I could take them."

"You were tied up and you were crying."

"Itsuki, you arse!" I took off a shoe and attempted to throw it at him, but it missed and Itsuki went laughing out the door. "Idiot Itsuki!" I screamed after him.

Shiki stood there and laughed. "Looks like some things never change."

Akito crossed his arms and watched as I continued to yell out insults at Itsuki, who was hiding behind the garden fence.

"Unfortunately not," he said.

Shiki let out an exhausted sigh and went to pick up his bags which were resting in the doorway.

"I best be off then. Don't want that other one to get away," he said.

"By all means, don't let me keep you," said Akito.

"This job can be such a pain in the neck. Traveling across the country, engaging in life and death battles with Obake, but I suppose someone has to do it."

"I can only imagine," replied Akito sarcastically.

"Hey," said Taisei as he looked up from the wolf carcase he was taking snapshots of. "You're not leaving now, are you Shiki?"

"You should at least stay over," said Mana. "We haven't seen you in ages."

"Mana,"said Akito. "Shiki's now an important member of the organization. He can't just laze around headquarters in his free time anymore."

"Laze around?" Shiki muttered and shook his head. "Aki's right kids, there are things I have to do."

"I see. So that's the way things are now," said Taisei.

"Someone thinks they're too good to hang out with a bunch of trainees now that they've become Mr. Super member," said Kiyori.

"You used to be cool," said Mana.

"This sucks. What happened to the Shiki who used to tell us awesome stories?" Kiyori asked.

"And give us training tips!" Added Souta.

"He's finally become a boring old man like Akito," said Taisei.

The last one must have struck a cord with Shiki, because he suddenly dropped all his bags.

"Look, guess what," he said while dramatically staring out the door at something we couldn't see. "It looks like he's already made a clear run, so I might as well rest up until morning."

Akito narrowed his brow. "But didn't you say that you had to catch this guy before you lost the lead?"

"It can wait," Shiki shrugged. "He's probably gone running straight into Obakemura anyway."

Obakemura? That was a word I'd never heard before.

"Obakemura? Akito, what's Obakemura?" I asked.

"That's a good idea, it can be the subject of your next compo-"

"Forget it! I don't want to know! I don't ever want to write another one of those ever again!"

I thought the wolf corpses, the room of bones, and our forensic evidence would pose us a problem when the police arrived, but Shiki decided to solve that problem by torching the house. He sent us all home while he stayed to finish the job. I wasn't aware that destroying houses was part of the exorcist job description, but I was learning new things every day.

I kind of wished I stayed to watch. One, because I always wanted to see a house burn down, and two, because I wouldn't have had to listen to Akito's grouching the whole way back.

"Travels the wide open roads of Japan. Engaging in life and death battles every day? Half the funds I raise are probably spent on that guy's hotel fees," Akito muttered under his breath. "It's so hard being a top class exorcist," he said in an attempt to mimic Shiki's gruff tone.

"What's going on with Akito?" I hissed to Kiyori.

"Beats me?" He shrugged. "Isn't he always like this?"

"My brother told me that Akito and Shiki trained here together," whispered Nina. "Akito was always the more serious one, but Shiki got promoted and Akito was assigned to training."

"Oh," said Taisei. "That kind of explains why he's always so annal."

Unfortunately Akito heard that comment.

"Taisei!" He yelled.

Akito's mood only worsened once Shiki (smelling of smoke) walked through the door. Shiki spent the evening telling us tales of his Obake hunting exploits, while Akito sat in a corner drinking something out of a dark glass.

Even Shiki himself failed to persuade Akito to lighten up.

"Come on Aki, stop being such a grump and join us," he said.

"No thank you, I'm fine where I am," said Akito while taking another sip out of his glass.

Shiki shrugged (he was probably used to it) and continued telling us tales of his previous wolf exorcisms.

"And from that point on I was known as Shiki the wolf slayer!" He exclaimed.

He even did dramatic re-enactments of all the Obake he'd killed with the use of his Shiki Chop. Also known as the Shi-Chop for short.

"It's nothing more than a small lightning charm attached to a rubber glove," corrected Akito. "Any child could have come up with that, but for some reason all the high ups thought it was amazing."

"OK,Akito. It's time for you to go to sleep now," said Taisei while shouldering him to the study.

Taisei slid open the study cupboard to unveil that it was actually a wardrobe with a futon neatly folded up in the corner. Not only did Akito spend all his time studying in that room, he actually slept there as well.

I was awoken the next morning by the sound of pots crashing, and a panicked cry of "oh shit! Not again! Not again!" Accompanied by the sound of running water.

"No Kurumi, Nina stop fighting," moaned Taisei before rolling over in his sleep.

I rolled out of my futon and went to investigate. I yawned loudly and staggered down the halls towards the kitchen in my half asleep state.

I stared vaguely through the door with half open-eyes, and wondered who the strange burglar was, until I realized it was Shiki.

He was holding his wrist under running water, and I soon noticed his jacket sleeve was black and charred. Despite being a top class exorcist, Shiki still hadn't mastered how to use the gas stove.

He looked up as I entered.

"Ah, Daisuke, right?"

"What are you doing, it's like four in the morning?" I groaned.

"Omelet," he replied.

He grabbed a fry pan off the stove and motioned for me to sit down at the table. I sat there staring at the pattern on the wood, and almost fell asleep again, until he shoved a plate full of something yellow before me.

"Here, have some," he said.

He handed me a fork, and I was prepared to dig in, until I saw the shells protruding out from the omelet.

"No thank you," I said while staring at it hesitantly. "I think I'll pass for now."

"Suit yourself," he said before raising his fork and taking a mouthful.

I watched with a morbid fascination and wondered if he enjoyed consuming egg shells or he just didn't notice. I was about to ask if eating shells was the secret to becoming a top class exorcist, before Shiki interrupted my thoughts.

"So you're the adopted kid of old man Matsumoto," he said between bites. "That old man was hard as nails, it must have been tough, right?"

"No, not really," I replied. I didn't know what he was talking about, Grandpa was so relaxed and easy-going.

"So who do you live with now?"

"My sister," I yawned.

"Your sister? So you still have other relatives?"

"She's my adopted sister."

"Adopted Sister? Wait. You can't be talking about Kanako?"

"Yeah," I nodded.

"Kanako!?" He almost choked on his egg. "No shit, you've shacked up with her? Is it true that she got married to a four eyed businessman and even has a kid?!"

"Hey! Isn't that a bit mean," I hated it when people insulted my family.

"Wow, sorry," he said apprehensively as he took his final bite and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "That's just stupid me shouting my mouth off. But who would have thought Kanako would become a docile housewife. I remember I once flipped her skirt only to get hit by one of the fastest fire charms I ever saw. It took weeks for my eyebrows to grow back."

"Wait," I wasn't sure if what he said was true or I had begun falling asleep. "Are you saying that Sis also trained to be an exorcist?"

"Not so much trained, but with Kousuke Matsumoto for a father and Daisuke for a brother, it was inevitable that she'd pick things up. It was all self-taught of course. Girls back then couldn't join, but that didn't stop her. She would have certainly given these girls a run for their money."

"Wow, Sis never told me anything about that," I said.

I suddenly realized that Sis had known secret exorcist techniques all along, and she'd never thought of letting me in on any of them. I felt cheated.

"I suppose she wouldn't. I thought she'd be first in line once they changed the rules, but I think her brother's death hit her hard. I never saw her again after the funeral. She was supposed to marry Akito as well, but that didn't work out either."

"What!" His final words caught my attention. I was certain I'd heard Sis, Akito, and marriage all within the same sentence. "Sis was going to marry Akito?"

Shiki's eyes suddenly bulged out, and I saw a look of terror flash across his face.

"Nothing," he said while waving his hands around like they could erase his previous words. "Just forget that I said anything."

"Did you say marriage?"

I was up on the table and virtually ready to strangle the truth from his neck, before Shiki grabbed his plate and dashed to place it in the sink.

"No, of course not," he said while avoiding eye contact. "Don't be stupid, as if that would ever happen. You must have misheard me."

I stared at him skeptically as he avoided looking at me. Shiki seemed like he was hiding something, but I didn't yet have the energy to further question him.

The table suddenly looked very inviting. I rested my head against it and watched Shiki washing dishes as the sunrise began creeping through the window.

I must have fallen asleep again, because the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake by Shiki. He'd changed his clothes and strapped a large pack to his back.

"Hey Daisuke," he said while shaking my shoulders. "It's been fun, but I have to get going."

I rubbed my eyes and intended to say something like see you later, but in my half asleep state it came out as, "Seeruuhhhh."

"Here's my card," he said while placing something on the table. "Call me if you hear anything about the wolf monsters, or if they try to kidnap you again."

I slowly picked it up and squinted at the inscription.

"Shiki Moriyama, Obake slayer and killer of all things unknown," I managed to mutter out loud.

"I always wanted to write vampire slayer on there as well, but I suppose I can't do that until I meet a real one," he shrugged. "But you never know."

"Hey Shiki," I wanted to ask if vampires were also real, but Shiki was already walking out the door.

"Take care Daisuke, don't get yourself kidnapped anytime soon!"

He waved before disappearing from sight.

Itsuki walked into the kitchen half an hour later to find me still staring at the card in awe. I turned it back and forth in the morning sunlight while searching for any hidden secrets.

"Did Shiki leave already?" He yawned as he placed bread into the toaster.

"That guy was so cool," I muttered.

I got up and looked through the window, but he was already long gone.

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