Rini Cheam Facility, Daikidageda
“Aaarrrggg!” Tadashi grunted. He glanced at the broken mirror on the wall upfront, and was shocked to see what he saw. He punched the mirror further, in panic. Through the cracks, he could see his right eye - it had gone brown and the pupil appeared to be elongated, vertically. Instinctively, Tadashi reached out to rub his eye; it was a necessary cure for the itch. To his agony, his now fully grown claws peeled the skin around his left eye, only adding to his misery.
Worried by the fact that his end was in apprehension, Tadashi dialed Christa - “Hrrrggghhheello, horrgghhw arrgh….I jussggrrhh-” he tried to speak normally.
“Tadashi?” she asked, “Is that you?” there was long silence, “Why did you dial me late in the night? Are you drunk dialing me right now? It has been over a year since you called. I thought you would nev-”
She was cut short by Tadashi’s grunts, “Naarrghh. I justrrg wanrhhh ghhrrrd bhyr…” he couldn’t speak anymore.
“Are you okay, Tadashi?” Christa said, panicked slightly.
Tadashi had dropped his phone by now; he wanted to go see the others in the room outside. As he tried getting down from his bed, he dropped on his four limbs. He made a few unsuccessful attempts at getting up, and finally, decided to scramble his way to the door. The door, as he remembered, unlocked using a color combination. However, all he saw was red. Enraged, he tried fumbling with the lock, color blinded and grip-less. Eventually, he couldn’t make the door budge and he raged into the door, to break it open. He stood in the room outside, gasping for breath.
“Why am I still like them?” he wondered, slightly terrified. Aston looked much taller than his already tall and hefty build, along with his face and stomach having developed a whitish fur. Chikilov was nowhere to be seen; the rest seemed to have regained their control.
“Hah, you must be very weak, Chikilov. You disappoint me!” complained Ilianna. “I don’t associate with the weak, I thought only the ones with a heart were allowed in here.” She rolled her eyes.
“Yo, stop dissing him, sis. I like his choice!” Paras began in his usual thrilled tone. “Meanwhile, look at Tadashi!” he said with sparkling eyes, “I envy him now. He is by far, the strongest. Just look at his combination - it is a lethal on-”
“ENOUGH!” yelled Tadashi, as he dashed towards Paras. He partially pierced Paras’s throat with his claws. Ilianna instantly jumped at him trying to wrap him in her talons. Tadashi pushed her back strongly, staring at her with fury. He looked at Paras with cold eyes and finally, let go off him, reluctantly.
“How about we calm down here?” requested Aston. “Moreover, where is Chikilov? I shall play some heavy stuff to make this monumental amoeba regain his control!” he laughed pointing at Chikilov’s chair whilst reaching towards the music player, as he was getting back to his regular form. “Although,” he continued, “I gotta do something about this white fur all over me. It makes me look less sexy. The ladies-”
“We prefer it this way!” Ilianna winked.
With the usual indifferent look, Aston reached out to the music player to play some guttural death metal music. A couple of intriguing tracks later, Chililov was back to his old self and was able to stand, walk, grip, and most importantly, talk.
“Why was a weak hearted like me even brought here!” he complained.
This only widened the sarcastic and condescending smirk that had begun to grow on Ilianna’s face. With a swift action she spat her venom towards Chikilov.
“Damn!” yelled Chikilov and dodged the venom by losing his shape again, quite easily.
“Ah! We gotta wait another hour!” groaned Aston. “Too slow, Chikilov!”
“I hate these weaklings!” Ilianna complained.
It was a slightly cold morning, although Fall had just set in. Kids from Midohira were watching the sunrise from a nearby hill, chasing butterflies and collecting leaves. Rintaro and Rakuten were sitting on the grass near the trees, as usual.
“Remember this time of the year? Remember your geography lessons in school? The days are on the verge of getting shorter and colder now.” Rintaro said, as stared at the rising sun, “I don’t enjoy this season; we cannot go out camping in the woo-”
“Awww, look at this little baby here!” exclaimed Rakuten as she bent forward to play with a squirrel who had gotten her a red leaf. “Here, hold my hat!” she tossed her red hat to Rintaro.
“Are you even listening to me!” yelled Rintaro. The squirrel got scared and ran away to the nearby tree.
“Why do you always do this Rin!” cried Rakuten. “You made this poor baby run away. I don’t care about your days getting shorter. I don’t care about your camping. I only care about this little baby here who is collecting food for her family!” She ran to the tree to try and pet the squirrel.
Rintaro slowly shook his head. “What is your obsession with these creatures, Raki?” ranted Rintaro.
“Hawwww! Don’t call my poor baby a creature! You are a bad...bad creature yourself” cried Rakuten as she tried tickling the squirrel’s neck.” She picked a seed-nut fallen on the ground beside her, and placed it in the squirrel’s drey. “Look at her, she is smiling!” she exclaimed.
Rintaro tried to calm her down, “You are so naive, dear! Animals cannot smile. They cannot express their emotions, accurate-.“
“My baby is so smart! She is collecting seed-nuts and leaves to eat and stay warm with her family. They are preparing for winter already, and it’s just Septemb-”
“Naive, again, Raki!” laughed Rintaro, lying down on the grass. “Your squirrel, sure, is smart enough to collect food proactively, but she is not very strong.”
“But… But, Shubihu, our neighbor’s dog is quite strong! He has strong muscles and he pulls everything out of my hands.” said Rakuten.
“Shubihu is strong, but he is short. He cannot run. He is very slow.” Rintaro said with an irritated face, as he got up instantly.
“A cheetah is fast! An eagle is fast!! Roadrunner is the fastest!!!” Rakuten said, trying to stand tall in Rintaro’s face.
“You are very naive, dear.” smiled Rintaro. “It is not about having a certain strength or an…" he struggled for words, "A certain idiosyncrasy. The way you use it, makes the difference; and humans have by far given the best performance in that department, and that is the reason we have survived so well, so far.”
“I do not understand science like you do, Rin. I simply respect every little being out there.” softly said Rakuten looking down.
“Come here, my dear. I did not mean to yell at you or your little baby.” said Rintaro, pointing towards the squirrel, as he pulled her closer. They started taking their walk back home.
Suddenly, as they were walking their usual trail back home, Rintaro heard footsteps behind the trees. Rintaro looked at his left but could not see anything clearly, as the sky was yet to light up. A strange tall woman eerily walked towards them, slowly. Defensive in nature, Rintaro pulled Rakuten behind him and took an additional step backwards.
“Do not worry, Rintaro. I am not here to hurt you.” said the eerie voice. “And,how are you doing, Rakuten?” the woman bent down to look at Rakuten in her eyes.
“What do you want from us? Step back!” Rintaro yelled confidently, as he pointed the sharp edged lid of his soda can towards the woman. She retracted instantly and took a few steps back. Rintaro started walking away from her, sensing that Rakuten started pulling his hand to indicate him to start walking. They broke into a rather brisk walk and got comfortable again, only as they arrived in one of the busier areas of the town. Rintaro looked at Rakuten's frightened face and held her hand tight, “Do you want to have some persimmons? ” he said pointing at the market.
“Should we go to the police to tell them about this strange woman?” asked Rakuten softly. "I have never seen her before in Midohira. Also, how did she know our names?"
“I was also wondering about that, Raki. However, she did not hurt us, and obeyed as we asked her to back off. My instinct tells me that she wanted something from us.” replied Rintaro, as they started picking some persimmons from the fruit vendor.
To be continued