There was an article in the newspaper titled “Boy declared insane; kills himself in cell.” This was part of the story released to the public:
“(. . .) After apparently going insane due to increased bullying at his school; the boy assaulted three other students, severely wounding two of them. The boy resisted arrest, but eventually police managed to capture him; after about a day in an insane asylum, one of the security guards was found murdered. Later that same day large amounts of blood were found on the floor of the boy’s cell. The boy’s body had mysteriously disappeared, and the only object other than the blood in the cell was a fractured wine glass. The body however, way never found. He is assumed dead, as there was much more blood on the floor than he could survive losing. A few days prior to his death, the boy’s family (. . .)”
The article was also accompanied by a photo of the boy.
“But . . . but that’s me . . !” Ryan put down the newspaper, very confused. He had awoken in this bed, but he couldn’t remember how he had gotten here. When he had awoken the first thing he saw was that newspaper next to him, it had been folded so that this particular article was the first thing he saw.
Ryan looked around the room, it was dark, but he recognized it. It was his own room. He saw his computer, and his television, all of his possessions. Was it all some fantasy that his mind had created? Was Kagekao not real, but only a figment of his mind? Maybe it was all a dream, and his brother Keith was playing a prank on him by printing out this fake newspaper. Keith always loved to freak him out.
Ryan tried to sit up, but a sharp pain in his shoulder caused him to lie back down. He lifted his hand and felt where it hurt, there was a large bandage wrapped around his shoulder, it had some blood on it. Ryan could remember that was where the wineglass had been stuck. He looked around, confused. On a table next to his bed he could see some medical supplies, and he heard a strange noise. The sound was . . . purring?
Ryan looked towards the opposite wall of his room, and his eyes started to adjust to the darkness. Someone was there.
“K-Kage? Is that you?” Ryan tried to sit up again, but fell. His eyes adjusted and he could see the person, it was not Kagekao, he had never seen this person before.
The person was wearing a light gray hoodie, the hood lined with a light beige fur. He also had dark brown hair, and was wearing a mask. The mask was a Japanese style fox mask; its colors were white, with red and blue details. He looked around the same age as Ryan, possibly a little older. But Ryan noticed that this person, instead of having normal fingernails, had sharp cat-like ones.
This person was holding the cat, Boots. He was petting Boots’ head and the cat was actually purring. Ryan was surprised, the last time he had heard that old cat purr was when it was a kitten. Ryan was watching Boots rub his head against the person’s hand, and he noticed that the person was looking at him.
“Hey who are-” Ryan started, but the person stood up and walked out the door, taking Boots with him.
“Hey where are you going!?” Ryan tried to get up again, baring the pain, he managed to sit up. He looked around; wondering if his mother was home. He hoped that that person wouldn’t freak her out. He sat there for a little while. Then he heard a noise from downstairs. He heard footsteps; he assumed that they were that person’s footsteps. He heard something drop, probably the cat jumping down onto the floor. But then he heard the door open, and someone talking. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but there was only one voice that seemed to be talking to someone, but the other person not talking back.
Then the door to Ryan’s room opened silently, and someone switched on the lights. It was Kagekao, that person was behind him.
“Kage! It’s you!” Ryan exclaimed, happy to see his friend again.
“Your shoulder feeling better?” Kage walked over and stood at the end of Ryan’s bed, the other person remained outside of the room.
“Well, better than when the glass was in it. But Kage! This!” Ryan held up the newspaper article and pointed to the word “Dead.”
“This says I’m dead! But-but I don’t feel dead! Am I a ghost!? Did you bring me back somehow!?” Ryan stared at Kage, wide-eyed. Kage merely chuckled.
“No Ryan, you’re not a ghost, you’re not a zombie either. You never died.”
“But it says they found a lot of blood on the floor; too much blood!”
“Yes, but who said it was all your blood?” Kage picked up something from the floor, it was a plastic bottle, the interior was stained with blood, but it was mostly empty.
“We can’t have them thinking there’s an insane boy on the loose can we?” Kage put the bottle back on the floor.
“After you passed out I bandaged your wound and carried you out of the asylum through the vents. I also emptied that bottle so that it would appear that you had bled out. Kai took care of the security guard.” Kage motioned towards the person standing outside the door. “Kai is my apprentice; don’t be offended if he doesn’t talk to you, he’s mute. He’s also a little shy so just let him warm up to you.”
“So I didn’t die . . . But, where’s my mom? Is she here? Can I talk to her?” Ryan questioned, worried.
“Your mother is gone Ryan.” Kage said bluntly.
“What!? What happened!? You didn’t do anything to her did you!?” Ryan shouted quickly, but then another sharp pain in his shoulder made him stop and calm down.
“No, she left on her own. The same day you were sentenced to that asylum. She just got up and left, didn’t take much; not even the cat. Poor thing might have starved to death if Kai hadn’t taken a liking to him. But I pulled some strings, electricity and water is still running in this place so you can stay here.”
“I want to talk to her! She thinks I’m dead . . . she’s all alone.” Ryan sighed forlornly, even though no one really took any action to help Ryan when he was depressed, she had done the most; even if it was just a small thing like a cookie to make him feel better.
“I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere for a while, which gives us the perfect time to talk. I have an offer for you Ryan.” Kage had something in his hand. “You have a few options here, you can go back to your mother and try to explain this all, probably landing a sentence back at that asylum if no one believes you; if they do believe you then you can go to juvenile hall for attacking those kids. You can try and live your life normally and probably end up being caught by the police, ending up locked up somewhere. You can simply quit, like how you did at the asylum. Or, you can stay with me, and you can become my second apprentice.” Kage held up the object in his hand. It was a mask, looking very similar to Kai’s mask. Its colors were black, red, and gold and appeared more wolf than fox. The eyes on the mask looked slightly open, and the mouth was slightly open, baring teeth.
Ryan gazed at the mask; he could become like them. No one would ever pick on him again; he could be the one picking on them instead. It was an odd thought, but slowly it turned into a happy thought. But then again, he did want to see his mother again. He pondered for a while, and then smiled at Kage.
“I think you know the option I choose, friend.” Ryan took the mask in his hands and looked it over.
“優れた選択肢と, 私の友人” (An excellent choice, my friend.)
* * *
It was a few days since Ryan had woken up. Kagekao was out doing something, and Ryan and Kai were spending their time playing a video game on co-op mode. Ryan’s shoulder was healing well; he didn’t feel it hurting very much anymore. He was a little nervous; he had something that he wanted to ask Kage. Ryan kept glancing at the door or the window, waiting for Kage to step into the room; Kai had to keep poking him to get him to stay focused on the game. Meanwhile Boots seemed happier than he had ever been; he had taken a liking to Kai.
Finally, Kagekao appeared at the window and stepped inside. He stopped and watched the game for a few minutes, but then started towards the door.
“Hey uh . . . Kage?” Ryan said nervously.
“ん？” (Hmmm?) Kage stopped and turned, Ryan paused the video game.
“Well, I know you said earlier that this option was to stay with you and all, but . . . well . . . I want to see my mom again!” Ryan said abruptly.
“I had a feeling that you wanted to; when do you want to go?”
“You-you mean I can? Really?” Ryan stood up and smiled.
“If you really want to, then yes. I’ll take you to where she’s staying. I made sure to mark where she staying just in case you wanted to go see her.”
“Thank you so much!” Ryan ran out the door to go grab his jacket; Kage sat down next to Kai and picked up Ryan’s controller to resume the game.
“おまえはどう思いますか？カイ？” (What do you think Kai?) Kage questioned. Kai made a complicated motion with his hand; sign language. Then he just gave a ‘thumbs up’ and patted Boots on the head.
“おれわいいとおもう; はい, 私はおまえがいつも猫を望んでいた知っている” (I think it’s good; and yes I know you’ve always wanted a cat.)
* * *
Kagekao and Ryan were on a rooftop; recently Kage had been teaching him more parkour to help him get around unseen. Kage pointed towards a house in the distance.
“She’s staying there; with a friend I assume.” Kage looked at Ryan “You sure you want to talk to her? Even though she thinks you’re dead?”
“Yes. Yes I’m sure. I can remember that house; I’ve been there a few times. They’re a nice couple, but that could of just of been them being nice to me because I was their friend’s kid.” Ryan sighed. Kage turned around and was about to jump to the next rooftop, back towards their house.
“Wait! You’re not coming with me?” Ryan looked at Kage, worried.
“I think it is best if you faced this on your own; if I was there I might scare your mother.” Kage got on all fours and jumped to the next rooftop, and then the next. Ryan watched him go until he was out of sight. He gathered up his courage.
As he approached the house, Ryan saw that his mother’s car was in the driveway, but the friend’s car wasn’t. She must be home alone. He reached out to open the door, but it was locked. So he walked around the side of the house. He spotted an open window and walked over to it. Peering inside the house, he saw no one. He opened the window wider and crawled inside.
Ryan looked around, this place brought back a few memories, although they were neither happy nor sad; just memories. He looked around some more, and then he remembered that this place had a guest room. He tried to remember which room it was, and could finally recall that is was upstairs, the furthest down the hall. Ryan reached the room, but he stopped before he opened the door. He could hear weeping; it was his mother.
Ryan opened the door and saw her. She was sitting on the edge of her bed and crying into a tissue. He saw something in her hand. She looked up at him and screamed.
“W-wait I-!” Ryan remembered that he had his mask on; he quickly took it off, revealing his face. “Mom! Mom it’s me!”
“. . . Ryan?” His mother said quietly. She sniffed and shed a few more tears. “I . . . I had a feeling you were going to appear to me . . . I’m sorry Ryan . . . I feel like I could have prevented your death . . .”
“’prevented my death’? No mom! It’s me! I’m not dead! Honest!” Ryan took a step forward.
“I should of done more to help you with your situation at school, I’m so sorry Ryan. Now you’re just a spirit, go on to heaven dear, you shouldn’t stay on this wretched earth.” She didn’t believe him when he said that he was alive; she thought that he was a ghost.
“No mom! Really! Please believe me!” Ryan began to tear up; he wanted her to believe him so much.
“Dear go on, off to heaven, you’ll be happy there. So will I.” Ryan saw what she had in her hand, it was a gun.
“Wait! Mom! What are you doing!?” Ryan shouted; he didn’t know what to do.
“Please forgive me Ryan, but we’ll be together soon sweetie. I love you.” She lifted the barrel of the gun towards her head.
“Mom! Wait! Please don’t! I love you mom! Mom! NO!”
She pulled the trigger.
* * *
Ryan was lying in bed. He had the covers pulled up over his head, and had been that way for a while. Kage and Kai had tried to comfort him, but nothing helped. She had shot herself; right in front of him. The scene kept replaying itself in his mind, over and over. The worst part might have been that she had expected to be with him again, wherever she was to end up. But he was still alive, she couldn’t be with him.
Ryan sighed and wiped the tears from his face. Pulling the covers off of him, he sat up. He should stop crying, crying would fix nothing. He stood up and put on a black and red hoodie, he planned on going out. He opened the door; walking down the hall, he stopped and looked at Keith’s room. It was odd, seeing it and remembering it. It felt like something that was to be seen but not touched, like an exhibit at a museum. Ryan continued down the hall and then down the stairs. Reaching the living room, he saw Kai but not Kagekao.
“Kai where’s Kage?” Ryan asked. Kai turned and looked at him, he pointed towards the front door, meaning that Kage was out.
“Oh alright; well, I think I’m going to take a walk.” Ryan walked out the front door and looked around. He didn’t see anyone; he was once again glad that it was a quiet neighborhood.
Ryan began to walk along the path that he had used to take to get to school. Nostalgia swept over him as he saw the familiar trees and nature, he even recognized some of the animals that were around. It was like old times. He took a barely visible path into the woods; it felt like forever since he had been here last.
Ryan reached a small stream, and sat down on a rock near its edge. There were a few small fish and other organisms in the streams, swimming around without a care of what was happening in the town nearby. Sometimes he wished he could be like them, off in his own world, not caring about how he affected other’s lives; living for himself and his friends.
Something made he stop thinking about the fish and the nature; he felt like someone was watching him. Ryan looked around, he didn’t see anyone, but he felt like there was a presence. It was unnerving, so he got up and returned to the path.
Ryan kept walking until he saw his old school in the distance. It must have been a weekend, it was around the time when school finished but there was no one there; only possibly staff inside. He walked towards it, looked at it for a little while, and then began walking the town route.
Ryan would hide whenever he saw someone nearby; he wanted no one to recognize him. Pretty soon he reached the alleyway where he first met Kagekao. Happy memories flooded his mind; they were happy, even though they were of watching that woman die. He walked down the alley, remembering the scene clearly. He laughed at himself; remembering how scared he was of Kage. He smiled when he thought he saw a spatter of blood from the woman who died, but it was only his imagination. He also thought he saw the suicide note that Kage had planted, but it was only a scrap of blank paper. Ryan leaned against the wall, letting the happy memories push away the sad ones.
Then Ryan heard voices. He recognized the voices; they belonged to kids from school. He backed up against the wall and put his mask on so that if they did see him then they would not recognize him. He watched as they passed by the alley. There were six of them, four boys, and two girls, probably two of the boy’s girlfriends. Ryan was going to ignore them and let them pass by when suddenly he heard what they were talking about.
“Did you hear? His mom killed herself!”
“Ha! I guess crazy runs in the family!”
Ryan tensed up, anger boiling up inside of him. Subconsciously he bent down and picked up a rusty pipe that must have fallen out of the dumpster near him. He didn’t take his eyes off of the group of people.
“Crazy woman with a crazy son!”
“Well they have that in common; and they’re both dead!”
The group began to laugh, Ryan’s hands clenched into fists, shaking with anger.
“Maybe the men in the family were sane, still losers though. And the two women in the family were crazy!”
Ryan began breathing hard; he couldn’t believe this. They had supposedly driven a kid to insanity, and eventually suicide; and they were joking about it?
“I guess that makes him a psycho son of a psycho bitch!” They all burst out laughing again.
“You want to see?” Ryan whispered; even though the laughter they all heard him. They stopped, looking around to see where the voice had come from.
“You want to see psycho son of a psycho bitch? Huh? Do ya? DO YA!?”
They began to get scared, and continued looking around.
“I’LL SHOW YOU PSYCHO SON OF A PSYCHO BITCH!!!” Ryan jumped out from the alleyway, knocking over a trash can. He swung the pipe upwards; it hit one of the boys on the side of the head. The pipe harshly caused the boy’s head to twist, and it broke his neck. The boy fell down lifeless.
One of the girls screamed, the other girl fled along with two of the boys. The last boy, seeing a chance to be heroic, stood in front of the screaming girl to protect her.
Ryan let out an insane laughter. The boy gathered up his courage and threw a punch towards Ryan, but he dodged it, and stabbed the pipe forward. It jabbed him in the stomach, causing him to lose his breath and fall. He looked up, crying, at Ryan. Staring horrified at that mask.
“I guess I am pretty psycho, aren’t I? AREN’T I!?!” Before the boy could respond, if he would have responded, Ryan lifted his leg and stomped down hard onto the boy’s neck. The boy coughed and gagged, Ryan stopped and stared at him. Meanwhile the girl who had screamed stood petrified with fear. Ryan lifted his leg and stomped on the boy’s neck three more times, even though the last time was not necessary. The boy was already dead.
Ryan looked up at the girl, she screamed again. He cocked his head to one side and laughed.
“I guess Kage was right; I do enjoy watching bitches die!” He swung the pipe and it hit her in the side of the head. She fell to the ground, not moving. Ryan didn’t know if she was dead or not; but even if she wasn’t, the loss of blood due to the new wound on her head would kill her. Ryan ran towards the direction where the other kids had run; he didn’t notice someone watching and following him.
He could see them running in the distance, he laughed to himself when he saw one of the boys fall. He ran forward swiftly. The girl and the other boy were trying to help the one who had fallen get up; but they saw Ryan running towards them, so they dropped him and ran. Cowards.
Ryan recognized the one who had fallen; he remembered being beat up by this one. He was going to enjoy this very much. He reached the boy who had fallen down, and the boy turned around and let out a frightened noise. Ryan stopped and looked down at him.
“I remember you, yes I do. But you probably don’t remember me right? Well tell ya what; I’m in such a very good mood right now. Unlike you have ever been to me, I am going to be nice. I’m going to give you a five second head start.” Ryan casually said, watching the boy. The boy freaked out, wasting two of his seconds. Then the stumbled to his feet and ran. Ryan gripped the pipe he was holding and grinned. He walked forward.
The boy ran, looking for a place to hide. Then he saw an alleyway that was closed off by a gate. He ran forward and pulled on the gate, it was unlocked. He ran inside and closed the gate, and then he pushed a large box that was in the alley in front of the gate.
Ryan casually strolled towards the gate. He tried to open it but the box blocked it. The boy began to panic when Ryan climbed over the fence and box with ease. Ryan walked towards him at a pace one might take when strolling through a store.
“I’ve realized,” Ryan announced, talking as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on. “This would be much more fun, if you knew who was about to kill you.” Ryan adjusted his mask so it was now on the side of his face, the boy gasped.
“Ryan!? But you’re-! You’re-!”
“Dead? Is that the word you’re looking for? DEAD!? D-E-A-D!?” Ryan let out a laugh. “Well Mr ‘Fraidy cat, what do YOU think!? Do I look D-E-A-D to you!?”
The boy backed up against the dead end of the alley.
“But the papers! They said you were dead!”
“Well well then, I guess it must be true! If the papers say it, then it must be true! Am I a zombie then? A member of the undead here to eat your brains!?” Ryan took a step forward, the boy pressed up against the wall.
“Well isn’t that odd isn’t it just very very odd! Aren’t the humans usually the ones wielding the pipes? Not the zombies!? Maybe you’re the zombie! After all, the zombies are the ones usually getting their heads whacked off by the pipes!”
“Please! Whatever you are! Let me go! Don’t hurt me! I’m sorry about everything I’ve ever done to you!”
“The irony! Oh the irony! It’s killing me!” Ryan began laughing; he heard someone else laughing too above him. “I don’t suppose you remember, when you had me cornered in this very same alley, and I said things very much similar to that!?” Ryan swung the pipe back and forth slowly, causing the boy to flinch each time in swung past him.
“Someone! Anyone! HELP!!!” The boy shouted. Surprisingly enough, someone actually heard and wanted to help. Ryan remembered when he shouted for help, no one had come to his rescue.
A man opened a door that led from the building to the alleyway; he saw the situation and gasped. He started to run towards Ryan to stop him, but something stopped him. A chain was thrown out from the shadows and it wrapped around the man’s leg, causing him to fall forward. The man tried to get up, but the chain pulled back into the shadows. The one who threw the chain jumped out of the shadows and onto the man’s back.
It was Kai, and he took an end of the chain in each hand and wrapped it around the man’s neck. Then he began to pull, and in a few seconds the man was dead.
Ryan could hear laughter again, he looked up. He saw Kagekao clinging to the side of the building. Kage laughed maniacally, he motioned for Ryan to continue.
Ryan stared at the boy eye to eye, and then swung the pipe; it struck the boy in the side, splintering a few ribs. The boy screamed; Kage and Ryan laughed. Ryan struck him again, cracking more bones and breaking skin.
“THAT’S RIGHT! I’M A D-E-A-D PSYCHO SON OF A PSYCHO BITCH! I’M A D-E-A-D PSYCHO SON OF A PSYCHO BITCH!” Ryan screamed. Kage continued to laugh hysterically, Kai looked like he was laughing, even though he emitted no sound.
Ryan continued to beat him with the pipe until the boy was dead. Even then he didn’t stop; he continued to beat him, wanting to break every bone in his body. Pretty soon the screaming and the laughter caused others to come near. Someone called the police, and sirens were getting closer.
Kage dropped down and Kai walked forward.
“You’re going to fit in perfectly.” Kage grinned, and Ryan readjusted his mask so that it was back on his face.
“Us three against the world right?”
“That’s right; now let’s get going, police are coming; you’re not ready to face guns yet, you D-E-A-D psycho son of a psycho bitch!” They burst out laughing, and ran out of the alley.