Published April 09, 2018 by

How I was Murdered by a Fox Monster Chapter 16

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 16

My conversation with Sis made me think about my parents, or lack of them. I could still clearly remember how the wolf Obake looked me in the eyes and said "you're face looks familiar, have I tried to kill you before?"

It was highly possible that he may have gotten into a fight with one of my real parents or relatives.

I never told anyone this before, but I often thought about my parents. Well not so much thought because I couldn't remember them, it was more like I would try to imagine what they were like.

There were times when Sis would punish me for misbehaving, and I would daydream that my parents were millionaires living on an exotic island. They were still searching for their long-lost son who had been taken away in a freak boating accident. Then one day they would appear on the doorstep to collect me and take me back to their mansion.

If my parents were also exorcists it would explain why I have such high spiritual powers. Taisei once told me that only people from certain families had the potential to be exorcists.

I decided to explain the situation to Akito, because he seemed to be the one with all the exorcist connections.

"Yes, it's quite possible that your parents were exorcists," said Akito. "I'll have to contact the other branches all over Japan, but I'll see if there were any exorcists matching your description, but," he paused. "There's also a chance that we might not find anything. You should prepare yourself for that."

"I know," I said. "I'm already used to knowing nothing."

It was true that I didn't want to disappoint myself, but I didn't think it would hurt to do a little investigating.

The only positive thing about the wolf attack was that Akito finally decided to step up my training. Instead of researching Obake and writing compositions, I had to sit on a rock outside and meditate. Akito made me do it for hours, and claimed that it was designed to help bring out my hidden potential, but the only thing it brought out was the pain in my butt.

"I don't see why I have to meditate so much, when all I do is squint and the paper goes up in flames," I complained.

"That's only the preliminary step," said Akito. "Unless you gain more concentration you're never going to improve. You want to be on the same level as Itsuki, correct?"

Akito must have known me well, since dropping Itsuki's name was enough to get me fired up and motivated, for the first hour. After that I began falling asleep. Akito must have anticipated that I would do so, and would occasionally walk past with a bamboo pole and whack me if I appeared to be dozing off. I began to wonder if it was my punishment for saying that I didn't want to do research.

I thought my constant endurance on the rock may have finally paid off when I arrived at headquarters to find Akito dressed up in strange purple robes. I wondered if it was a special occasion, like an Obake hunter conference.

"Here, carry this," he said while placing a large duffel bag before me.

"Where are we going?" I asked while wondering if Akito had found a bigger rock for me to sit on.

"It's part of your training," he said.

Akito pulled open a draw and began packing small objects into another bag. I caught a glance of a wooden cross and a small glass bottle of water.

"Are we going on a trip? Like a hardcore training trip up a mountain to fight wild boars, or crazy Obake, and then I get left alone to fend for myself for weeks while some crazy guy in a mask attacks me." It was the plot of the recent comic book I'd been reading and I thought it sounded exciting.

"No," he said while looking at me stunned. "Why on earth would anyone want to do that?"

"Oh," I slumped. I suddenly felt quite disappointed.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," he said after glancing at my gloomy expression. "But we're only going on an exorcism."

"An exorcism? Are you serious, like a real live exorcism?"

"Yes, something along those lines," he said.

"Yes! Finally!"

I was virtually bouncing off the walls until Akito scolded me.

"Daisuke, you need to calm down right now and carry these bags!"

What followed was the most disappointing three hours of my life. I don't know what I must have done in a past life if I already had the misfortune of loosing my parents, not being tall, and then landing a mentor like Akito.

When Akito said exorcism, I assumed he meant giant animal monsters which could take a man's head off. Unfortunately for me, what Akito actually meant was that we were going to an exorcism, as in the type where we dress up as priests and attempt to exorcise nonexistent ghosts.

What happened that morning isn't relevant to the tale of my untimely demise, but I want to tell you more of the suffering which Akito subjected me to.

I sighed and gazed around the sitting room of an eighty year old woman. I was hoping there would be something lying around which would ease my boredom, but I could see nothing but old photographs and fraying furniture which reeked of mothballs. There was nothing particularly odd about the sitting room, except a giant framed picture of an obese ginger tabby which adorned a shrine altar. My mentor Akito (dressed head to toe in his priest outfit) sat on his knees before it solemnly praying.

"Fluffy, we bid thee a peaceful departure into the afterlife," he said. "Mrs Tanaka is humbly sorry that she neglected your welfare and left you to freeze in the snow that fateful February afternoon. We hope that you can overcome your grudges in the physical world and make a peaceful transition into the feline afterlife."

I felt like he was making most of it up off the top of his head, and I had to prevent myself from dissolving into a puddle of hysterics. I also had to wave a wooden pole and sprinkle water (apparently holy) all over the house. It was some strange mix of eastern and western exorcisms. It wouldn't have surprised me if Akito got all his ideas from horror movies.

"Cat begone! Cat begone!" Akito shouted into the corridors of the old woman's home.

I didn't think it was possible for anyone to believe the crap which was coming out of his mouth, but the woman sat their solemnly throughout the ceremony and handed over a large stack of bills at the end. I stared with my mouth open.

"Wow! That has to at least be thre-" and that's when Akito elbowed me in the stomach.

"I sense that Mr Fluffy has finally become at peace and made the journey onto the next world," said Akito seriously without giving away any hint of the ridiculousness of his words. "Even my assistant was deeply moved by the relationship between you and your cat," he said in reference to the time when I began shaking uncontrollably in an effort to suppress my laughter.

If I were her, I would have kicked Akito out of my house, but Mrs Tanaka sat there quietly, nodded her head, and began dabbing the tears away from her eyes with a handkerchief.

To me it all seemed like a con, and that poor old woman gave us her money for doing nothing. I decided to question Akito about his morals once we were safely out of there and seated on the train.

"Isn't it a bit misleading to take her money for doing nothing?" I asked.

"We're not doing nothing," hissed Akito as he looked around frantically to see if anyone had heard. "The money from today will go to the exorcist organization, which goes towards protecting this town from Obake. So you could say that we did help her, and besides, it is possible for vengeful spirits to later manifest into Obake somewhere down the line."

"Are you serious? Are you saying that fat cat could show up one day and eat people?"

I was certain that it would need to lose weight before it could inflict terror into the hearts of men.

"As for the cat," said Akito. "I think not. But you are probably familiar with different ghost stories, correct? It's not odd for people who die horrible deaths to one day appear as Obake."

"What! People can also become Obake?"

"It's not as common as you'd expect. Most people don't want to become man eating-monsters and devourer their loved ones. But I usually deal with it once or twice a year. It's mostly children and teenagers. Those who didn't get the chance to grow up are always the worst."

"But you can stop it right? Like the stuff you did today?"

"What we did today was all for show. There's no possible way of stopping an Obake until it appears in physical form. While most Obake are born from other Obake, there are also plenty that are born from the physical world, or make the transition from the spirit world. We're still undecided how they come to be, but it's not strange for an Obake to suddenly appear one day out of thin air. The weaker ones are often mistaken as ghosts, but the more malicious kind pose a danger to humanity."

"Are you saying that it's possible for an Obake just to appear anywhere at anytime? Like on this train?"

"Yes, it's quite possible," he nodded.

I scooted closer to Akito.

"But unlikely," he added. That's why we should take these cases seriously. We might not be able to do anything until the Obake appears, but it's a good way to investigate potential Obake infestations."

"I see, I see," I nodded.

The matter was more serious than I could have ever imagined.

"But that's not the reason why I brought you here today," said Akito. "It's all well and good to become an exorcist, but it doesn't pay well. Recently I've been thinking that if being an exorcist doesn't work for you, maybe you could take on jobs like this and help raise funds for the organization."

"Oh I see," I nodded. "Is that what happened to you Akito?"

I didn't think that I said anything bad, but Akito suddenly went very silent and didn't speak for the entire journey back.

Once we arrived at headquarters he ordered me back to the rock with a vengeance.

"So you went on one of those exorcisms," said Taisei who stopped by my rock for a chat. "Akito made me go a few times, but he had to kick me out cause I laughed too much."

"I thought that too," I said. "But then I learned how important it was for sussing out potential Obake."

"That's just a bunch of crap. The organization is only making up excuses to scam people for money. The only way to get rid of an Obake is by destroying it. You should have figured that out by now."

"That's not true! Akito said that Obake can appear anywhere at any time!"

"But it's usually near the body, so unless someone was murdered and stashed under that rock last night, I don't think you have anything to worry about."

I felt a cold chill go down my spine.

"Near the body?"

Taisei sighed. "Akito's been such a pain recently. I don't want to go to university so he's been trying to get me involved with some of these things. Like selling charms, or writing columns for strange supernatural magazines. I just know that Akito's trying to convert me into his own personal stooge."

"Taisei," I said.

"I mean how hard is it just to give me a break?"


"We already train three hours a day."

"Taisei," I whispered while tilting my head towards what lay behind him.

"What is it?"

He signed and leaned back on my rock, only to be confronted by the sight of Akito glaring at him from the window. He immediately snapped to attention.

"Wow look at that, I've got to go kill.. something... and then take some pictures," he said before dashing off.

After that, Taisei had to spend the rest of the afternoon polishing the wooden floors, so things got pretty boring.

I used to play on my phone and surf the net when I was certain no one was watching. My old phone was destroyed by the wolf Obake so Sis was kind enough to buy me a new one. It had a touch screen and one of those apps where you can edit your photos.

I found a picture of Akito attempting to exorcise the cat, and I drew a turd on his head. It was pretty funny and I spent a good five minutes laughing, but it suddenly reminded me that I hadn't been to the bathroom for hours.

Akito said that training my bladder was also part of my new training regimen (Apparently there are times when an exorcist must be motionless for hours) so I had to silently creep there like a ninja.

I was in the middle of stealthily sneaking back when I heard voices from the kitchen window. I approached while wondering if Kurumi had snuck her secret boyfriend into headquarters, until I realised it was Sis and Akito.

The window was just out of reach, so I jumped up to take a look. I was thinking of suddenly screaming boo to give her a fright (it would have been hilarious) until I remembered that I was supposed to be engrossed in silent meditation.

I remembered what Sis told me about herself and Akito, and I decided to stay and watch just to make sure the two of them hadn't started up an affair behind Shuro's back.

Sis and Akito were both sitting at the kitchen table across from each other. Akito had both his hands clasped together on the table, and my sister's face was stone cold. She was staring at her glass of water with abnormal concentration.

"I never thought you'd still be here babysitting children. What happened to the Akito who said he was going to travel the world slaying dangerous Obake wherever he went?"

"What happened to me?" Akito scoffed. "What happened to the Kanako who used to burst in here and demand to join us?"

"Hmmm. This place was so macho back then. When did they start letting girls in?"

"It was a few years after your brothe-" he paused. "We started loosing people faster after that and we needed to make up the numbers."

"So only a few more years and I could have been a real exorcist, huh? Maybe it doesn't matter, I don't think I would have been a good one anyway."

"I wouldn't doubt you. You were pretty good at holding your own, even without a teacher."

"Perhaps. I used to practice by myself every day until my fingers bled. I was so stupid and desperate to prove myself to everyone, but then after my brother died, it just didn't seem like fun anymore."

"Yes, I think everything stopped being fun after we lost him. He was definitely a talent that only comes along once a century."

"Maybe, perhaps," she began chewing her lip. "That's what everyone said, but he couldn't even fold his own clothes and he failed high school. Everyone used to harp on about how brilliant he was at exorcising, but he couldn't really do much else. He was such a useless older brother."

"That's what I'd expect you to say, but things used to be a lot easier back when he was alive."

"Maybe. I saw the way you and your friends all idolized him. It mortifies me that these new kids still look up to him even after how he died."

"I'm afraid there's not much we can do about that. Your brother may have been the strongest exorcist who ever lived."

"That's what everyone keeps telling me," she sighed. "But even he died a stupid and pointless death," she began tapping her fingers nervously on the table. "Hey Akito, I know this may sound crazy, but sometimes, sometimes, I think that maybe father adopted Dai-chan because he was hoping to create another Daisuke Matsumoto."

"That kid!"

Akito began to laugh uncontrollably (I didn't know what was so funny) until a stern glance from Sis shut him up. He coughed a few times before regaining his composure.

"Another Daisuke, huh?"Akito coughed. "I don't know if that's possible. Your younger brother certainly has a lot of potential, but in terms of personality they're polar opposites."

"I know that," Sis paused like she was looking for words. "They might have the same name, but to me they're completely different people as well. But knowing father he could have done it. Brother would have been nothing if it weren't for him."

"Really, is that so."

Akito didn't say anymore, but he screwed up his face like he was still doubtful.

"It's true!" Said Sis. "Father never bragged about himself or showed off, but he was actually very talented. I still wonder who was the better of the two, father or brother. Brother may have been famous, but I'm certain that father still had a few tricks up his sleeve that he didn't tell anyone about."

"Quite possibly," Akito sighed. "My grandfather also said that your father would have been great if that Obake hadn't crippled him. It's not hard to imagine that Kousuke Matsumoto was trying to make your brother the exorcist he always wanted to be."

"Right! That's what I was saying for years, but no one ever believed me," she pouted. "He was completely obsessed with my brother's training. It was always Daisuke this and Daisuke that, and Kanako please go clean your brother's room so that he can spend more time training."

Like me, Akito must have also sensed that the conversation was taking an irritating turn and decided to change the subject.

"You still have your father's things, right? The books, the manuscripts, the Obake research?"

"Perhaps," she said while scratching her head. "It's all packed up into boxes somewhere in the house. I haven't really looked at his things since he died."

"I always meant to ask you if it was possible to look at your father's old things. I'm sure there would be plenty of valuable materials which we could use."

"Go ahead," she shrugged. "I don't have any use for them. It's unlikely that my daughter will ever become caught up in all of this. Dai-chan might be interested, but he's still too stupid to understand any of it."

"Yes, he's probably not quite up to that level yet. But maybe I can pass on anything useful."

"I'd appreciate that. Dai-chan has always wanted to know more about father. I'm sure father had plans to pass everything else on to Dai-chan anyway, if he hadn't died."

"Talking about your younger brother," Akito began tapping his fingers on the table. "He asked me to investigate any leads on his real parents. I've made some inquiries, but looking back on it now, you should have been the first person I asked."

Sis went silent for a moment and began staring at the table. "Have you found anything yet?"

"No, nothing yet. I'll tell you if anything comes up."

"Figures. I couldn't find anything either and I've been searching for over ten years."

"Did your father say anything?"

"No, I just went to visit him one day and Dai-chan was playing in the garden. I never found any papers so I still don't know if he was even legally adopted. I wouldn't be surprised if father just picked him off the street."

"So you think it could have been child abduction?"

"At first. I told the police and they did an investigation, but until now no one has come forward to claim him as their child. There were a few leads, but in the end, nothing. Father said that Dai-chan's parents died in an accident where Dai-chan was the only survivor. It could be true, there's some nasty scarring on his back. I tried to pry more information out of him but father refused to tell me anything. He insisted that he planned to raise Dai-chan as his son."

"And the next Daisuke Matsumoto?"

Sis seemed taken back by his words. She ran her fingers through her hair and leaned her elbows against the table.

"It was really mortifying to watch them together, you know," she muttered. "It was like he had my older brother back again. I thought he had finally snapped and gone crazy. It was hard enough trying to deal with him when he was obsessed with revenge. But that, that was somehow worse."

"I'm sorry Kanako, you've really had it tough haven't you. But you can't deny that your younger brother possesses a great deal of spiritual potential."

"Of course he does, father wouldn't be interested in him otherwise."

"I'm almost certain that if he had the right guidance from a young age, Dai-chan would have had the potential to surpass your brother."

"Don't tell him that, he won't be able to suppress his excitement. He'll be bouncing off the walls. What about now, would it still be possible?"

"Now... I think that with enough hard work he might scrape by. Maybe he'll never reach the same level as Itsuki or Taisei, but he should know enough to defend himself."

"OK, I suppose that's all he really needs, just as long as he knows when to run instead of trying to fight in situations where he could be killed."

"We can work on that, but to be honest I never expected that you'd agree to let Dai-chan join."

"Hmm, but I'm still hoping he'll decide to give up on his own. If I didn't let him join he'd probably resent me and join on his own. That's his personality."

"I'm impressed Kanako! You've really changed since you became a mother."

"Maybe. I do think children seem to have a strange effect on a person."

"Ah, perhaps," muttered Akito. "But I feel like these ones may be driving me to the brink of insanity."

"Talking about children," my sister stopped and glanced at her watch. "I should be getting back, I have to prepare all of Hikaru's things for school tomorrow," she rose from her chair and picked up her glass to place it in the sink.

I was terrified I'd be spotted, so I quickly fell to the ground and began crawling back to the rock where Akito had left me.

I sat myself back into the meditation position, but it was impossible to concentrate. Their conversation was constantly rotating in my head and refused to go away. Words such as child abduction, next Daisuke Matsumoto, not as good as Itsuki, imbedded themselves into my brain and continued to rotate on a never-ending cycle.

I'd never considered the possibility that Grandpa could have been a bad guy. What if he had taken me away from my real family? What if my parents had spent years looking for their long-lost son who'd been abducted by a crazy man?

And what did Akito and Sis mean by the next Daisuke Matsumoto? What was up with that? I always thought Grandpa loved me for who I was, but maybe he could only see his dead son staring back. Maybe he couldn't cope with the death of the first Daisuke, so he decided to go out and get himself a new one.

I wasn't sure how I was supposed to deal with these things without having a mental breakdown. Everyone else my age was busy dealing with issues such as which shoes to wear, and what girl to date. No one else I knew had to go through this crap.

"Dai-chan!" Came a voice which interrupted my thoughts. I opened my eyes to see my sister staring back. "It's time to go home."

I quickly crawled down from my rock and dusted myself off. Sis must have sensed something was up because she soon asked "are you OK? You don't look so good."

"I'm fine," I lied. Even though it was far from the truth.

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