How many alarms are in this place anyway? I asked myself the question aloud, and was hardly able to hear my voice above the din. Despite the deafening screams of the sirens strewn about the Dunwich Museum of Oriental Antiquities. It was like most of the museums I’ve seen. Long, illustrated scrolls were protected by panels of Plexiglas, while a monumental wooden Buddha sat in the darkness, unperturbed by the sound.
I could feel myself drawn deep into the museum; clumsily, I made my way past rooms lined with delicate porcelain that shuddered with each of my steps. I found what was calling me when I came across a room laden with ancient armor and weapons. My eyes passed over the relics and stopped their roaming when they fell upon a club behind glass; the handle was oak, and the rest of the instrument was covered in short, pyramid spikes. The small plaque read “Ornamental Kanabo”.
“Hey! What the Hell are you doing in here?” asked a security guard that had finally woke up and tracked me down. He was slight of frame and clutched the handle of his holstered gun while he shook his flashlight in my eyes. I pushed my palm against the glass and heard it begin to creak and groan. The guard fumbled with his gun; I was certain he finally understood what I was, and that it was making him panic.
The glass shattered and the security guard’s eyes bulged from his head, as though someone had suddenly started strangling him. As my hand wrapped around the kanabo, I felt a surge of power. My chest expanded and my stomach swelled. I could feel my skin burning red, and when the guard pulled his trigger in a panic, I felt the bullet crunch against my chest. I smiled, as much as I could smile with my tusks, and let the rage that had built up inside me pour out with a roar. Frozen with fear, the guard watched, moving only his eyes, as I walked past him.
I walked past an alarm station, gripped the kanabo, and smashed the electrical panel repeatedly. It felt good, but the noise continued. I knew it wouldn’t be long before real police officers showed up. I didn’t want to hurt anyone unnecessarily. It was bad enough being on the run after committing one murder.
In the parking lot, Kappa and Kyoko were sitting in a green sedan that Kappa had convinced a woman at the motel to let us borrow. Also in the car was Adam; he was the key to making Kyoko human again. I had considered trying to change back, but with the kanabo in hand, those thoughts flew from me like frightened pigeons. I liked the power, but I still wasn’t sure if I could be trusted with it.
For a moment, I felt like a hero again. I felt like I did when I first got the mask; I felt like I was strong, special, and looking at a life filled with possibilities. However, I reminded myself, You can’t screw it up this time.
“Let’s get a move on, Grant. We only have an hour before the sun comes up. We need to find Adam’s body and get this over and done with.” yelled Kappa, rubbing his eyes after a short nap.
“How are we going to find it? That long-neck woman was supposed to be here with the body, but she was a no show.” I replied just before spotting a powder blue Gremlin rolling into the parking lot. What looked like a dog-man was driving, and the long-necked woman was his passenger. The dog-man stopped the car and stepped out of it dramatically, letting his long, white scarf blow in the breeze. He was naked, except for the scarf, his pendulous scrotum swaying to an fro.
“Do you have Adam?” barked the dog-man.
“What of it?” I asked, forgetting about the alarms and the police that were likely soon to arrive. I leaned the kanabo against my shoulder, trying to seem confident.
“You have a club, so you must be the oni I’ve heard so much about. I’ll try to keep this simple. You trusted the wrong guy.” said the dog man as a rainbow of colors flowed into his scarf while an iron chest plate seemed to float up out of his fur.
“So, I’m guessing that you think I should have trusted you?” I responded, wondering what to make of the stranger. He seemed like the shape shifting tanuki that Kappa had told me about. I looked to Kappa, hoping for some sign of approval. He looked as confused as I felt. I looked for Kyoko, and saw her spilling out of the car. A green fire had started to consume the vehicle; I was sure that it was Adam, and I was sure he had broken free. I tightened my grip on the kanabo and prepared for the worst.
Kyoko rolled to her feet as claws sprouted from Kappa’s webbed hands. The dog man grabbed onto his scrotum, which began to grow in size. Tossing the prodigious sack over his shoulder, he winked at me, saying “My name’s Sam, and you can trust me. Never has a tanuki broken his word, and I give you my word that there is another way than what that devil is showing.”
Adam’s head, glowing with searing green fire, had no flesh on it. The fiery skull exploded out of the car, leaving a gaping hole in its roof. The fire burned so brightly that it cast a green light about all of us.
“I need my body now!” demanded the head, “Or I will end you all now!” Adam’s voice was shrill and inhuman. I could feel hatred growing inside me. He had strung us all along, saying that his way was the only way. I was foolish to believe him, but felt less so when I realized that Kappa and Kyoko believed him as well. I found myself wondering why we thought there was no other conceivable way. Was it Adam’s charisma? Perhaps it was that all of us were too jaded to think that there was a peaceful way to change our lives.
A ball of fire blew out from Adam’s mouth. Sam dodged past it, throwing his sack out like a net. Adam maneuvered swiftly out of the way, but floated too close to Kyoko, who leaped, grabbing for his hollow eye sockets. The skull tumbled through the air, evading Kyoko deftly, but falling directly into the path of a swing from by kanabo. I hesitated for a moment, but not long enough for Adam’s benefit. I swung the kanabo and it struck the floating head with a satisfying crack. Fragments of bone spilled onto the ground as the rest of the head sailed out of sight.
“Good swing,” complimented Sam, “But we need to go; The cops are coming.” I could hear their sirens wailing above the alarms of the museum. Piling into our cars, we set off onto the highway, following Sam’s Gremlin. I didn’t know where we would end up, but I all ready felt like life had improved. I was amongst my own kind now; we were like a team of superheroes. I couldn’t conceal my grin.
“You look happy.” said Kyoko, seeming rather unhappy.
“I am.” I said. “The bad guy’s been beaten, and now we have a better way to make you human again.”
“Are you sure he’s gone? His body is still out there, and if it finds his head before sunrise, Adam will be fine. And then he’ll be back on our trail.” Kyoko slumped down in her seat and closed her eyes.
“Well, at least there’s more of us now.” interjected Kappa, who had been silent since Adam freed himself from the safe. “There’s safety in numbers.”