“It would be nice to go home again, Adam.” said Carol as her head bobbed at the end of her long, serpentine neck. A thin, red-lipped smile crossed her pale face. “Will Kappa help us?”
“I don’t know. He’s never been a friend to our cause.” replied Adam. His body remained seated across the room, leaning against the door. His head bounced and rolled along, finally resting on the window sill. “But we need that Oni, and we need him soon.”
“But he doesn’t even have his metal staff yet. What use will he be?”
“He will find it soon enough, and when he does, he will be able to lead us back into our domain.” responded Adam.
“I’ve been wondering; what will you do when we get beyond the door?” asked Carol as her neck continued to stretch.
“I will bring my wife back here.” Adam said, smirking. Carol’s smile widened; she had met Adam’s wife only once, and it was at her trial. She didn’t see much of her, as she was wrapped inside of a sack; however, she seemed nice enough. Carol wondered if it was even possible for Adam’s wife to still be alive, as she was tossed into a river of glass shards and left for dead. Yet, many yokai could survive much worse; each one had some way of surviving even the most drastic of circumstances. The ring of a cellular phone broke the silence. Adam’s head rolled towards his body as his hand flipped the phone open.
“I can see them.” said the sultry, feminine voice on the phone.
“Good. Stick with the plan I outlined earlier. Remember! We need the Oni.”
Sitting on the side of my twin bed in the bland motel room I shared with Kappa, I looked at my changing body. My nails had become claws and my tusks had grown longer and sharper. After attempting to shave my head or my beard, I found that the hair just grew back more swiftly and more wiry. Afraid that if I cut my hair too many times that it would eventually break the scissors, I decided to leave it alone. My stomach had grown to giant proportions; when I sat down, it would rest on my thighs.
Laying down, I looked across at Kappa. He told me that he learned to control his shape, but when he slept, he would revert to his true form; a giant man-turtle with a bowl of water on his head. Because of his bowl, Kappa always slept sitting up. I still hadn’t gotten used to it. There are a lot of things I had to get used to. Sometimes, I would miss the mask. It hid my face well. Instead of looking like a monster, I looked like a weirdo.
Unable to get comfortable, I rolled out of bed and went into the shower, which was barely big enough for my expanding frame. I stripped off the tiger-striped shorts I wore to bed and let the cold water spray against my skin. It was cool and refreshing; I could imagine the water washing everything away. No more red skin, no more horns, and no more guilt. Why did I still feel bad for killing that thug? He was going to try to kill me. I should have stayed in Little Arkham and talked with the police. Instead, I ran.
I switched off the shower and dried myself. I wrapped the towel around myself and walked out onto the small porch that jutted out from the motel room. The night air was cool, but not as fresh as it was back in Little Arkham. I longed for the air of the ocean; it would always make me feel fresh and alive. The city air was stagnant and stifling. I looked at the towering buildings and found myself wanting to knock them down. I wanted to break the street lights that were out shining the stars. In my anger, I almost didn’t notice a person watching me from the parking lot. It was a woman standing next to a pale pink Vespa. She took off her matching helmet, loosing a torrent of shining black hair. A white scarf was wrapped around her neck and mouth and I wondered how well the person she was talking to on her cell phone could hear her.
Sliding her phone into her white leather jacket’s pocket, she began to walk closer to the building. Our eyes met for a brief moment, and I felt entranced. Her dark brown eyes were like an abyss waiting to swallow me.
“Do you think I’m beautiful?” she yelled in my direction. I began to stammer and mumble. I croaked out a yes, partially because it was true and partially because I didn’t know what to say. Her knee high white boots flashed in the night as she sprinted into the building. I dismissed the interaction until I remembered what I looked like. By the time I made it to the door, it was swinging open. The woman was peeling off her scarf, revealing a gaping mouth filled with needle-like teeth.
“Do you still think I’m beautiful?” she said with a high pitched laugh.
“There’s no answer he can give that is right.” said Kappa, who I was sure had been asleep. His voice was watery and thin; it was the voice of his true form. He leapt to his webbed feet and crouched low to the ground, ready to pounce.
“I haven’t come for a fight.” said the woman, backing away slowly. “I was just having some fun. I saw your pal outside and figured I’d come and say hello. It isn’t everyday you see an Oni in America.” The tension in the air lifted and Kappa relaxed, sitting on the floor. I wanted to trust her; she was a yokai, that much I thought I knew. I wondered if she knew what I had done. I also wondered if she had come to help me like Kappa did.