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Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
Mark sighed and looked out at the night sky. He was standing on the roof of his apartment building, four stories up. Sometimes Mark just liked to stay up here and reflect, it was quiet and peaceful. Looking down you could see the normal hustle and bustle of city life but if you looked up you could see the beautiful sky, and sometimes even a full moon or some stars.
Mark walked along the border of the roof that helped keep him from falling to his death. It was pretty late so he should be going back down to his apartment soon. Then he saw something waving in the wind a few meters away. Mark walked over to it and picked it up, seeing that it was today’s newspaper, and began to read the front page:
“YOUNG MAN FOUND DEAD NEAR WOODS”
Earlier today, John Parker, age 20, was found dead near the northern woods. His family stated that he never had any real enemies, but he was a bit of a troublemaker. Still, they did not know who would want him dead. His death seemed to be caused by blood loss. The scars seemed to be from a large animal, but that was later found not to be the cause as a symbol was found carved on the man’s forehead. The symbol was the –
Mark put the newspaper down where he found it; he didn’t want an article like that ruining his night. He walked along the border with his arm on it, looking up at the sky. Twenty years, so young. He felt sorry for the kid, he himself was nearly thirty. He thought of all the things that man would never be able to do now that his life was gone. Mark tried to get it out of his head; he didn’t want to get depressed.
Without knowing it, Mark’s hand bumped an empty cardboard box that was on the edge. He tried to catch it but was too late; it was sent falling down towards the streets. It was odd, he didn’t see any cars; only one lonely person walking along the sidewalk.
“Hey! Watch out!” he called, but was a bit too late. The box fell on the person’s head; well at least it was just an empty cardboard box. He was about to call down his apologies when what happened next made him freeze. The person who was on the sidewalk looked up at him, he had on a black hoodie and a black and white striped scarf. That, of course, was not what made him freeze, the person also had on a peculiar mask; half pitch black and half a luminous white.
He managed to get back his voice and was going to shout his apologies; maybe this guy just came back from a strange party or gathering; when he was yet again frozen by what he saw. The man said something that Mark couldn’t quite hear, and then jumped onto the wall. He began climbing up the side of the building similar to the style of a spider or lizard. Mark was just frozen, mouth agape, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. The strange man, no, monster, reached the top of the building and crouched on the border’s edge. Mark now saw how he was able to climb the building so easily; he was wearing white gloves, but there were long, black, cat-like claws extending from the end of each finger through the glove. He saw that the mask had a face on it, but only half a face. On the white side of the mask, there was the shape of an angry looking eye and a mouth curved into a frown.
They just stared at each other. It was only a few seconds but to Mark it felt like an eternity. Then something strange happened. The monster’s mask changed, the angry mouth and eye disappeared and on the black side of the mask appeared a happy eye and a strange smile.
The monster cocked its head to one side and said:
“遊びたいか？” (Do you want to play?)
Mark screamed and ran towards the little door leading to the inside of the building. He prayed that that monster wasn’t following him. He reached the door and threw it open, bolted inside, and slammed it shut. Panting, he leaned against the door to keep it shut.
After a while he wondered if the monster was still there, and why it didn’t try to force the door open. He had no idea what it said to him, but there was something odd about the way it said it. It seemed happy and playful, but also angry and malicious. He gathered up his courage and decided to open the door. Putting one hand on the knob, he took a deep breath and slowly opened the door; ready for whatever was on the other side.
Mark expected to find himself face to face with that odd mask. Instead, he saw that the monster was still where he had left him, sitting on the edge of the roof and smiling that odd and somewhat malicious smile.
The monster said again:
“遊びたいか, おまえ？ケケケ！私はあなたがあそびしたい!” (Do you want to play?
kekeke! – laughter!* I want you to play!)
Mark slammed the door shut again. His legs fell from beneath him and he sat on the floor. He didn’t like the way the monster said those things to him. He sat there for a while, trying to make sense of what happened. Well, it was late; maybe he fell asleep on the roof and had a nightmare. He decided to check one more time.
Mark stood up and slowly opened the door. Part of him said that the monster would be in the same spot, and say the same thing; the other part told him that the monster would be right next to the door, claws unsheathed and ready to slash. He was wrong, the monster was gone. It was nothing but the lights of the city and the sound of a few cars driving by. He let out a sigh of relief, it was all just a dream.
The door slammed shut in his face. He made a sound of pain as the metal of the door whacked him on the forehead. Mark rubbed his head and fell to the ground.
“What the hell was that!?” He shouted to no one in particular. He didn’t close the door, even if he did he wasn’t that clumsy; and the wind wasn’t strong enough to close it. He told himself that maybe it was just a freak gust of wind, but his mind quickly disagreed when he heard that laugh again.
“ケケケ！” (kekeke! – Laughter)
The noise came from right outside the door, a little above it. The monster must have been standing on top of it.
* * * * * *
Mark woke up confused; he was in his own apartment, in his bed. He looked around to make sure it really was his own place, it was. He sighed again; it must have all been a dream. One of those odd dreams that you could have sworn was real because it felt so real; but then you realize it must have been a dream because it was so odd.
Mark laughed a little to himself; as if monsters like that actually existed. A sudden pain in his forehead appeared which made him stop. Maybe it was real and he just didn’t remember coming back down. Mark quickly dismissed the idea; maybe he had fallen down in his sleep and then gotten back up again; things like that happen.
Mark got up and went to his fridge to get something to drink. Grabbing a glass on his way there, he opened up a carton of orange juice to have for breakfast. He tilted the carton to pour some into the glass when the juice spilled out onto the counter. He paused and stared at it, confused. Then he realized that there was a thin gash on the side on the carton, so that when it was tilted the juice didn’t reach the top but spilled out the slit instead.
“ケケケ！” (kekeke! – Laughter)
There is was again. It came from inside the apartment. He turned around quickly, scanning the room for that monster. Then he stopped, realizing how paranoid and foolish he was being; he had obviously imagined it. The cut in the carton, his girlfriend could have done that; they had recently gotten into a fight.
Mark cleaned up the mess and decided he wasn’t going to have anything for breakfast; he didn’t feel like eating. He was worried about how he was going to make up to his girlfriend, Beatrice. He loved her and wanted to make her understand how much he loved her. He turned on the television and watched for a couple of hours; forgetting his troubles.
* * * * * *
It was now noon. He got up and walked into the kitchen, leaving the television on. He opened up the cabinet that he kept his alcohol in. Taking out a bottle of beer, he poured some into a glass and then nearly dropped the bottle when he saw that it wasn’t beer; it was just plain water. He frowned and drank a little bit to check, and it was just plain water. He stared at it angrily and grabbed another bottle, then another and another. Their contents had all been replaced with just normal water. He sighed angrily, and then there it was again.
“ケケケ！” (kekeke! – Laughter)
Mark jumped a little, it was that laugh again. He told himself again and again that he had imagined it. He was just getting paranoid because his dream felt so real. Beatrice could have done this too, there was no monster.
He dug around the cabinet to see if there was anything left in there. In the back, he knew he had two bottles of wine and one bottle of champagne, but he wanted to save those for when Beatrice forgave him. He saw the bottles and was about to close the cabinet when he did a double take, one of the bottles of wine was missing. Mark looked at where he kept the wine glasses and one of them was missing too.
“Beatrice could have done that too, she was pretty mad,” Mark said to himself quietly, he swore to himself that he would make it up to her even if it was the last thing he ever did. Then he heard it again.
“ケケケ！” (kekeke! – Laughter)
It came from the living room, where he left the television on. He knew he hadn’t imagined it this time, that laughter was real. He closed the cabinet shut and ran into the room.
Sure enough, there was the monster. It was sitting on the couch drinking a glass of wine, watching the television that had been left on. The monster paused and looked up at Mark, smiling. It picked up the opened bottle of wine in one hand and shook it a little towards him.
Mark paused, staring at the monster. He quickly snapped out of it and ran back to the kitchen as quickly as he could; it was real. He really expected the monster to get up and come after him to kill and eat him; because that’s what monsters do. But the monster remained in there; he could hear it laughing at him.
Mark was afraid; he had to get it out of his place and out of his life. He looked around the kitchen for something to use. Panicking, he grabbed the nearest knife he could find and ran back into the living room, ready to fight.
The monster was gone. There was no trace; the evidence was the missing bottle of wine and wine glass. He tensed up; maybe he was going crazy due to that dream.
“No, no, no, I’m not crazy, that can’t happen. It won’t happen. I won’t let it!” He rambled to himself. He went back into the kitchen and put the knife away. He walked back into the living room and sat on the couch. Picking up the remote he turned off the television to think.
“Maybe I’m hallucinating. Maybe I’m going crazy because I’m depressed because Beatrice is mad at me! The strange dream just happened to mix with it!” Mark got up and grabbed his phone to call her. He dialed her number and waited for her to pick up, Mark was so excited about making up to her that he did not notice someone slip in through the window and watch him.
“Hi! Beatrice? It’s me! I’m so sorry about the fight we had! I- No, I’m really sorry! I promise I’ll make it up to you! I swear I’ll…” He set the phone down, she had hung up. Only then did he see something in the corner of his eye, but when he turned about it was gone.
“I’m going to make it up to her!” He told himself, grabbing his jacket and putting it on. “I’m going to apologize in person!” Mark paced around the apartment, thinking of what he should give her. Then he realized and opened up the cabinet to grab the bottle of champagne, but when he opened it up the bottle was gone. He thought to himself that his sincere apology would be enough and went out the door to see her.
Mark walked along quickly, rehearsing what he was going to say. The entire time he was walking he always felt that someone was following him. He told himself that it was just him being nervous.
Mark reached her house and stood on the front steps. He was afraid; afraid that she wouldn’t forgive him and break up with him. He reached out his fist to knock on the door but quickly drew back. He was afraid.
Mark sighed and swore under his breath, telling himself that he was a coward. He turned around and walked away, not noticing that laugh that happened right behind him, followed by the sound of an opening window.
“ケケケ！” (kekeke! – Laughter)
Mark left the bar he was at. He had come to this bar to have a little bit to drink before he faced Beatrice but he didn’t feel like drinking at all and hardly touched what he had bought. Mark told himself that he would go and apologize like a man and set off towards her house. Mark reached out his fist and knocked on the door loudly. He waited. No one answered. He pressed the doorbell several times, and could hear it ring through the house. Still no one answered. Getting worried, he knocked on the door and shouted her name. Still no one answered. He tried the doorknob, and it opened. That was odd; she usually kept the door locked. The first thing he noticed when he entered was the open window, the wood bordering the sides of it seemed to have a lot of claw marks on it, like a cat had been there. He walked into the dining room, calling out her name. He paused when he saw the bottle of champagne on the table. It was the bottle that he had had in his cabinet, it was open. He picked it up and examined it. There was a note taped to the side of it. The note read:
“Beatrice, I’m so sorry about our fight! I really want to make it up to you because I love you with all my heart and soul!” ~ Mark
Mark stared at the note, looking at the little heart following the word “soul”, he didn’t remember sending this to her. “Beatrice!?” he shouted. He walked around the table and his blood ran cold. He saw her, his darling Beatrice, on the floor. She wasn’t moving, and shards of broken glass surrounded her.
“Beatrice!” Mark shouted and fell to the floor to pick her up, ignoring the cuts given to him by the shards of glass; he saw from the shapes of them that they were from a wine glass. Tears streamed from his eyes and he hugged her, he knew she was dead.
“That’s so sweet of him!”
Mark paused and looked up. There it was; the monster. It was sitting in the windowsill, imitating her voice. “I’m so sorry we even fought in the first place!” Mark stared at it, anger boiling up inside.
“それがのんだ。死んだ！ケケケ！ 毒だよ！ケケケ！” (Then she drank it. Then she died! -Laughter- It’s poison! -Laughter-)
It laughed hard, putting its hand up to its face to try and stop.
“You think this is funny!? You killed her! I’ll kill you!” Mark stood up and grabbed the bottle.
“おまえ 怒ってるかい～?” (You mad?)
Mark threw the bottle but the monster jumped out of the window before it reached it. He was going to kill it. He would make it pay. Mark walked over to Beatrice’s dresser; he knew where she kept a pistol for self-defense. He pulled it out and opened the clip, seeing that there were only four bullets left; that was alright, he only wanted one. Mark ran out the door, there was no sign of the monster anywhere. He knew it was going back to his apartment though. Mark ran as fast as he could, ignoring crosswalk signs and other people; just running. He reached his apartment building and ran up to his floor. Slamming the door open to his apartment. He was right, the monster was there. It was lying on top of a bookshelf holding a glass of wine, the wine bottle in the other hand.
“ワイン がもない!” (The wine is all gone!)
Mark flew into a rage and pointed the gun towards it, shooting a bullet. It sprung up and jumped to the wall, leaving the wine glass and clinging to it with its claws so that its back was facing mark. He shot a second time, and it flipped over so it was now facing Mark, its left arm and leg bending farther than a normal human’s. He shot again and it dropped to the floor, now on all fours. Mark shot yet again and it did a roll to dodge, then it jumped back onto the wall, staying there and staring at him. Mark walked over to it angrily and pointed the pistol towards its forehead. He pulled the trigger, but there was only a click, indicating that there were no more bullets. The monster began to laugh crazily.
Mark was enraged and swung the gun towards it for a melee attack, but the monster crawled to the side, picking up the wine glass that it had left on the bookshelf. It threw the wine glass at Mark but Mark dodged it, then it threw the wine bottle and it hit him square between the eyes. Mark passed out.
Mark regained consciousness; he was face to face with the monster. It was clinging to the ceiling, its arms and legs bending back at a ninety-degree angle so it was facing him. Its mask changed again. The luminous smile on the dark black side of its mask disappeared, and the angry frown reappeared on the white side of its mask. Then he said to him in a dark voice, lacking the happy playfulness of before:
“おまえは面白くない。” (You’re boring.)
It made a low growling hissing sound, and pounced.
Later that day the police arrived at Mark’s apartment, a neighbor had called them because they had heard gunshots. Mark was found dead, claw marks all over his body and throat clawed out. The kill seemed animal, and claw marks were found along the walls and ceiling. Bloody footprints were found headed towards the window, so they determined that it was done by a human. Upon further inspection of the body, they found something carved into the skin on his forehead.