Published April 28, 2018 by

How I Was Murdered by a Fox Monster Chapter 18

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 18

"Over here!"

"What!" I yelled as I swung sharply to the left and knocked the head off the statue beside me. "Shit!" I swore as the chunk of stone went rolling away out of reach.

Taisei's pole was heavier than I imagined, obviously designed to combat Obake, and I had just discovered that rock didn't stand a chance either. I just hoped that no one else was nearby. I didn't want to be around when the graveyard attendant realized I was demolishing his cemetery.

"Quit making so much noise! You're only making it run away faster," scolded Kiyori.

"Sorry!" I yelled back before I realized I was doing what he requested me not to.

"Now you're taking your eyes off the target!" He yelled.

"Sorry," I whispered and returned my gaze to the front.

I watched a small white cat leap over the crumbling grave markers as though they were nothing. I thought that being chased by exorcists would be enough to make it revert to its true form, but so far nothing. I stopped to catch my breath, and looked down at the piece of paper in my hand which was glowing a brilliant blue.

"Hey Taisei, is this really an Obake?" I asked.

Taisei stopped and glanced at the paper from over my shoulder.

"Yeah, but from the way things are going it seems like a pretty weak one, but that makes it perfect for you Dai-chan," he said with a smile.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I muttered under my breath.

I wasn't usually so angry, but I'd been quite moody since I discovered the truth about Grandpa.

"Hey, you're the one who wanted to be an exorcist so there's no point stopping now," called Kurumi from the front.

I didn't know why she was yelling at me when Kiyori was still behind. He'd spent most of his time lying around since Akito stopped harassing him, and his fitness was beginning to suffer.

Ever since my sister brought those boxes Akito was completely transfixed by the materials. I felt like I should have been upset that he wasn't training me, but I was already well accustomed to people obsessing over dead people. I was named by one after all.

I could walk freely around headquarters and lie on the verandah without fearing that Akito would scold me for not working hard enough. I wasn't in the mood for school, so I frequently skipped class and told Sis that I was exorcist training, or running errands with Akito, but I was really just sun-baking on the verandah. Taisei, Kiyori, and Kurumi even took me on a secret exorcism behind Akito's back and he didn't catch on. The way things were going it seemed like years before I would see any hand to hand Obake action, but Taisei and Kiyori both agreed that experience was the fastest way to learn.

The Obake hunt took us to a small shrine and cemetery which existed in the mountains behind headquarters. The whole mountainside was littered with gravestones and small statues of children and gods. I wondered if their stone eyes were watching as we frantically pursued the cat.

We spent the afternoon clambering over crumbling rocks, and I accidentally tripped several times until the palms of my hands were scratched up and bleeding.

The cat Obake in question had apparently been running amok in the town attacking kindergarten students. It hadn't caused any serious damage yet, but Taisei assured me it wouldn't be long before it grew bolder and began eating their faces off. I wasn't sure if the cat was truly a danger, or if Taisei wanted to make me feel important, but I was sternly told that it was a very important mission.

After what seemed like an hour we finally had the cat corned before a cluster of grave markers. The Obake saw that its chances of escape were zero and it turned and hissed.

"OK, just have a go," huffed Taisei as he leaned up against a grave marker to catch his breath. "Just remember what we taught you before and the rest shouldn't be too difficult."

"Roger!" I nodded.

I felt like I'd climbed up in the world when I could finally say roger to Taisei. I took a large breath and encroached on the monster before me. It was the moment that I'd long been waiting for. The moment where I, Daisuke Matsumoto, was finally going to exorcise my first Obake.

"Demon cat! You've finally met your match," I cried. "Today you shall fall by the hands of the great Daisuke Matsu- Hey!" I yelled as the cat suddenly jumped the stone and began bouncing away into the distance.

"No, not again," moaned Kiyori. "We've been going at this for hours already."

"You two, go after it!" Yelled Taisei. "Kurumi and I will go to the other side and try to head it off."

Kiyori didn't bother to hide his annoyance and almost knocked over five gravestones on the way. We frantically dashed after the cat until we emerged back into the open forest.

I almost had the Obake within my grasp until Kiyori yelled "stop!" Like his life depended on it.

Thinking that something terrible was going to happen, I stopped dead in my tracks.

"What! What's wrong?" I yelled.

The cat disappeared out of sight behind the trees. It looked like we were going to lose it.

Kiyori pointed to the patch of forest before us. "Our area ends here, everything beyond those trees is managed by a different branch."

"So we're forbidden from going into that area?"

"No," he shrugged. "It's not our problem anymore."

It's not our problem anymore? What was that supposed to mean? I thought.

I was convinced that I must have misheard him before he turned to leave.

"Come on, we better start heading back," he said with a smile.

"Hey! You're not seriously going to leave it, are you?"

"Why not," he shrugged. "It's not our responsibility anymore."

I felt anger rise up inside me and I wanted to punch him in the face. Suddenly all the things which I had overlooked and brushed aside for the past few months came flooding back. The way that he treated Souta, the way he left things half done, the way he always ate all the good snacks as soon as Akito returned from the supermarket so I never got any cookies.

"But what if it hurts someone!" I cried.

"You don't have to wet your pants over it. The guys on the other side will probably get it."

"But what if they don't? Isn't your responsibility as an exorcist to get rid of Obake!"

I thought that may have been enough to get through to him, but those words were enough to really set his temper off.

"Hey you! I never asked to be an exorcist, I never asked to live out here like a country bumpkin. I'm only doing this because they make me. I don't have to take crap from someone like you who didn't grow up the way we did!"

"I may not have grown up the way you did, but at least I give a damn about people other than myself!"

"What did you say?" He raised his fist.

I wanted to stand firm and tell him what was on my mind. That his attitude was bad and his actions would lead to innocent people getting injured. I also wanted to say that he was lazy, treated others like crap, and needed to invest in deodorant, but I couldn't. Kiyori was twice my size and saying such things would only lead to me being beaten to a pulp.

"Nothing," I muttered.

I felt angry at myself for backing down but there was nothing I could do. I didn't want to get my face punched in like the first year who called Kiyori fat.

I fell silent and refused to say anything, but I was seething on the inside. I stared out into the forest and considered pursuing the Obake on my own, but Kiyori turned to leave and I didn't know the way back.

I turned and followed his large figure, but made an effort to remain at least three feet behind.

As we kept walking my feelings towards him got worse and worse. I began to wonder why I was even friends with a guy like that who bullied people at school and took their lunch money. What had I been thinking?

We found Taisei and Kurumi chilling out at the base of the graveyard. Kurumi was re-touching her make-up while Taisei was frantically wiping something off his mouth with his sleeve. He rolled up his jacket arm once he was finished, but I caught a glance of something red.

"Did you find it?" Taisei asked.

I was tempted to tell the truth, but one glare from Kiyori was enough to make me shut my mouth.

"No, it got away," I muttered sarcastically.

"It went into Yu's territory," added Kiyori.

I felt my fist clench as soon as he opened his mouth.

I expected Taisei to be angry at us (like I was on the inside) but he was unexpectedly happier than when I saw him only moments earlier.

"I suppose they'll take care of it," he said brightly. "Next time don't do any speeches Daisuke, it's best to get the job done as quickly as possible."

"But I was so fired up and everything," I muttered.

"Getting fired up won't get you anywhere, the only thing which really works is hard work and good concentration," said Kurumi.

It was the first time she'd said anything nice, and it was probably the last, because within the next few minutes she was back to complaining about Nina.

"I can't take it anymore, she always goes around telling everyone what to do," Kurumi ranted. "She thinks she's so great, but she can't even aim straight."

"But Nina isn't such a bad person, there's no need to fight all the time," said Taisei.

"So you're on her side now?"

"No, you're cousins, you should try to get along."

"Shut up, what do you know!" Kurumi yelled.

She then refused to speak to Taisei for the whole journey back.

I also wanted to tell Kurumi more about Nina's good points (to help bridge the gap between them) but I didn't feel confident doing so while she was holding a bow and arrow. I haven't told anyone this, but Kurumi scares me. I think it's because she never smiles.

The atmosphere on the way back was pretty depressing. I wasn't talking to Kiyori, Kurumi wasn't speaking to Taisei, and Taisei looked upset because he was being shunned. I didn't think things could get any worse until a police patrol car pulled up beside us. I always thought a bunch of teenagers carrying poles, bows, and arrows, looked pretty conspicuous, but his main interest was something else.

He caught sight of Kiyori trying to shove his ax into his school bag amongst his over flowing books.

"You're not allowed to chop trees here!" The officer yelled while pointing at Kiyori.

He soon got out of the car and subjected us to a ten minute lecture before removing Kiyori's ax from his bag.

"I know you think these woods don't belong to anyone, but please think twice before destroying the landscape," he said before speeding off into the distance.

"The ax, it's always the ax," Kiyori moaned as he stared at his empty hands. "Now I have to call my parents and ask for another one. They're going to be pissed."

I would have been sympathetic if I wasn't already angry at Kiyori for being a bully and all-round terrible person, but it made me wonder why the exorcists had such crappy weapons to combat terrifying man-eating monsters.

"I don't get it," I asked Taisei. "Wouldn't it be easier just to use guns?"

"It would be," said Taisei as he glanced up at Kurumi who was still doing an excellent job of pretending he didn't exist. "And there's a shot-gun sitting around if you ever need it, but it's difficult for high school students to carry guns, so they've chosen to equip us with less conspicuous weapons."

"But don't the police know about Obake?"

"You'd think so, but they're thick as bricks when it comes to stuff like this. Akito once took an officer out on an exorcism, you know, just to show him that they were real, and the guy completely flipped out. The police department thought he had a mental breakdown. That guy ended up loosing his job and everything."

"But surely the government must know something?" I asked.

"No of course not, maybe they used to in the past, but the people in charge rotate all the time, so even if you did get someone to believe you they'd soon be gone and you'd have to start all over again. There are only so many people who can become real exorcists, so our organization is surprisingly small. I think there might only be a few hundred active exorcists spread out over Japan, so we don't really have much influence at all."

"Oh." The mysterious secret organization I'd entered was a lot smaller than I imagined. "What about Souta and Itsuki? What do they use?"

I hadn't seen either of them pull out a weapon. Itsuki had his charms, but Souta spent most of his time standing around looking awkward.

"We don't trust Souta with pointy things ever since he almost took my arm off," muttered Kiyori.

"Itsuki can do some judo now," said Taisei. "But he doesn't like getting his hands dirty so he does most of the charms. He's pretty fast. His family is well-known for having high spiritual power, so channeling energy comes easy to him. He's almost up to the level of hi-" and then Taisei suddenly clamped his mouth shut.

I was about to ask him up to the level of what? Until I realized that he was staring nervously at Kurumi who was looking back at him with eyes more filled with fear than anger, and I decided to drop the question.

I thought something was definitely up, but as soon as I thought I'd sensed something strange about the atmosphere, it disappeared.

Everyone went back to being moody and silent. I glanced at my hands which were still scratched and bleeding from my constant falling. I poked a wound which was beginning to scab, then hissed at the pain.

I cursed my failure to stop the Obake. Someone like Itsuki probably didn't make such rookie mistakes and injure himself.

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