Near nightfall, two people were driving home. They were both men of around twenty years of age, and were roommates in an apartment. Discussing random thoughts that came to their minds, they were both content.
“Anyway, I think I’ll go check it out tomorrow.” One of them said, he seemed a bit younger than the other. He had a normal body type and was a little on the short side, his hair was dark brown; same as his eyes. His name was Jonathan.
“I haven’t decided what to do tomorrow, well, besides work of course.” The other responded. He had blue eyes along with dirty blond hair, and was a bit more fit than Jonathan.
“Well maybe you could . . . hmm, let me think” Jonathan began to ponder what his friend could do, something besides sitting in front of the television or computer all day.
“I guess I could-” Ken paused; something outside the car caught his attention. He was lucky he wasn’t the one driving, because he stared for a few seconds and may have crashed.
He saw a person; they were leaning against a building. They were dressed in all black, black hoodie, black pants, and mostly black shoes. This color choice helped them blend into the shadows that they were partially concealed by. They also had on a black and white striped scarf, which wasn’t too odd, but a little because it wasn’t a cold day.
But none of that really bothered him; it was the person’s face. Or at least, what was on their face. It was probably a mask, but their face was half black and half white. On the black side there was a luminous smile along with a happy eye shape to match, the white side was blank. It wouldn’t have bothered him as much if the person hadn’t caught his gaze and followed it.
“The only thing I can think of at the moment is online games, so-”Jonathan started, or maybe he was in the middle of a conversation; Ken hadn’t been paying attention.
“Did you see that?” Ken interrupted, looking back in the direction that he saw the person, even though he could no longer see them.
“See what?” His friend inquired, slightly annoyed when he realized that Ken hadn’t been paying any attention to his suggestion.
“That guy, he had like a . . . weird face”
“Well that’s not a very nice thing to say, maybe he-”
“No! I mean, not like that! Like . . . like he was wearing a mask or something!”
“Well . . . No I didn’t see anyone like that”
“. . .” Ken was still staring out the window, as if he would see the person again. “Whatever, so, umm, you were saying?”
“Alright then, I said maybe you could-” They continued discussing.
* * *
Parking the car and then getting out, Ken and Jonathan were now discussing a different topic. They were walking up to the apartment building’s doors when Ken stopped, he felt like something or someone was watching him. He looked around, Jonathan walked ahead; still talking and unaware that his friend had stopped.
An odd cackle was heard, very faintly, but Ken had heard it. He looked up, trying to pinpoint where it had come from. He quickly saw its source. It was that person again, the one in black and the mask. They were lounging on one of the balconies, looking at him.
“Look! There he is again!” Ken exclaimed and looked at Jonathan.
“Wha- . . . where you even listening to me?”
“Up there, on that balcony!” Ken looked back up, and then gasped a little.
“Huh? I don’t see anything” Jonathan looked up as well, the balcony was vacant.
“But, he was there! I saw him, and he-” Ken started to try and convince him that this masked person was real.
“Come on, maybe you’re just tired” Jonathan turned back to the apartment building, Ken grumbled; but followed him.
* * *
The next day after work, Ken took Jonathan’s suggestion after all and was playing an online multiplayer game; one of the World War II based ones. He was an amateur at it, but still enjoyed the gameplay.
After an hour or two of simulated war, he told his team that he would be right back and left the room to go grab something to eat. A few minutes passed by of him pondering what to snack on in the kitchen, and ended with him finding a bag of chips and taking it back to his room.
He told everyone he was back, only to see that they had been chatting with him while he was gone. The chat box was filled with comments such as ‘Dude, how did u get so good?’, ‘OMG nice kill bro!’ and other compliments of that nature.
Confused, Ken asked them what they were talking about. They responded with awe, saying that he had gotten an amazing kill streak. He noticed that he had, there was a small counter on the screen that displayed an amazing number of kills.
“But I was-”
“オレ様 が とても 得意 ですね~？” (I’m really good at it, aren’t I~?)
A voice interrupted him. He turned around quickly, only to face no one. The window was wide open and the curtains were billowing in the wind, but still; there was no one.
He was disturbed and frightened, but decided to try his best to ignore it. For a while he had that feeling again, the one where it felt like someone was watching; but he didn’t dare turn his head to look at the window. When he finally did, again, no one was there.
* * *
Later that day, after Jonathan had returned from what he had wanted to do, they decided to order pizza for dinner. While waiting, Ken informed Jonathan that he swore he saw the masked person again, at least three times around the house. Even with how confident he was. Jonathan still didn’t believe him.
“He was like, right there!” Ken pointed to a spot in the kitchen. “I don’t know what he was doing, but I was too scared to approach him! And, he was just staring at me!”
“Well . . .” Jonathan looked at the kitchen, “The only thing I can determine for a fact is that he isn’t there now”
“And he was at the window as well!” Ken pointed to one of the windows, which was now closed.
Jonathan was silent, not really knowing what to say. He wanted to say something reassuring, and was racking his brain for something, anything to say. He opened his mouth to say something when the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it” Ken sighed and stood up, disappointed that his friend didn’t believe him. He walked over and opened the door; it was the delivery guy with the pizza. Ken took out his wallet and retrieved the amount of money to pay, when something made him froze.
Someone walked down the hall silently and passed by behind the delivery guy. Unsurprisingly, but still unsettling, it was the masked person. Their mask still displayed that cheerful, yet with a hint of sly trickery, smile. They turned their head slightly and looked at Ken. The smile grew wider by just a little bit, and then they were gone beyond his vision.
“Hey um, dude?” The delivery guy started; confused.
“You alright? It looks like you just saw a ghost or something” There was some fear in his voice.
“Yeah, umm, I’m fine” Ken paid for the pizza and then took the box back to Jonathan.
“I saw him again.” Ken stated dully. Jonathan didn’t reply, and they began to eat; Ken had a blank look on his face and Jonathan was worried for him.
* * *
The next few days were hell for Ken. Everywhere he looked he thought he saw the masked person. Jonathan never seemed to see him, but Ken always did. And the masked person seemed to realize this. It was like he was taunting him, showing himself only when Ken was looking and then hiding when anyone else looked.
Ken decided to try and ignore him; but somehow that was worse. He heard that weird cackle all the time. And even this Jonathan never seemed to pay attention to! He tried to pretend he didn’t hear it, but it was everywhere now; he felt as if it would drive him insane.
After a restless night of tossing and turning while trying to get some sleep, Ken heard something from outside his room. He looked at his clock; it was about two in the morning. He got up from his bed and opened the door; he wasn’t surprised at who he saw in the living room.
“You!” Ken exclaimed angrily, “Leave me alone, dammit!”
The masked person looked at him, and then laughed.
“いやだ！” (I don’t want to!) The masked person crossed his arms and laughed, “おまえとてもおかしいですね！” (You’re so amusing!)
Ken couldn’t understand what he had said, but his mocking tone made him angry. He stormed into the kitchen, the masked person watching his every step, and retrieved a knife.
“Get out!” He shouted, pointing the knife at the masked person.
They took one look at him and then laughed, raising their hands just a little bit.
“Watch out,” They said in a taunting manner, “Looks like we got a badass over here!”
Ken was a little surprised that they spoke English, but was still angry.
“I said, ‘get out!’” He shouted, jabbing the knife at them but keeping his distance.
“え?” (Eh?) The masked person hissed, the amusement going out of his voice. The smile disappeared from the black side of his mask; an unamused frown appeared on the white side. “ケン 面白くない” (You’re boring.)
He turned and opened the front door, and then exited. Ken went after him quickly and slammed the door shut, locking it in a hurry.
“Next time,” Ken commented, looking at the knife he held “I won’t be so nice”
* * *
The next day, Ken was feeling better. It was already dark and he hadn’t seen the masked person once. Maybe his last encounter with them had scared them off.
Jonathan had gone out, but Ken was a little concerned. He should have been back by now, but he wasn’t; not even a phone call. Ken decided that he had just wanted to stay out longer, and disregarded it.
He was sitting on the couch and contentedly reading a magazine when it started again.
Ken looked up immediately, first looking at the window next to him; but there was no one there. He turned back to his magazine when the laugh sounded again, this time accompanied by a knocking sound.
“こっち！こっち！オレ様ですよ～！” (Over here! Over here! It’s me~!)
He looked up at where the sound was coming from; it was another window. This one was closed, but clinging to the wall outside was the masked person; that tricky grin on his mask was back on the black side. He knocked on the glass and cackled once more.
Ken put the magazine down and angrily stood up; he had had enough of this. He walked towards the window, and the masked person laughed and then disappeared from sight.
Ken went over to his room quickly and opened the bottom drawer in the dresser. He reached to the back of the drawer and pulled out a box that looked like it hadn’t been touched in a while. After brushing off some dust, he opened it. It contained a handgun, one which was kept in case of an emergency. He checked to see if there were bullets in it; there were, but only three of them. That was alright, he only really needed one.
He ran to the window and opened it up. This one faced to the back of the building, which was near the woods. Three floors up, Ken could see someone down there. They were walking, no, running towards the woods. Because of the night, it was hard to see details; but he was sure it was the masked person.
Ken ran out the door and down the stairs. When he went behind the building he was tired, but ran faster when he saw the masked person there. They were faced away and he couldn’t see their hands, they were running towards the woods. Ken shot at them, but missed. The masked person ran faster, now at the edge of the woods. Something seemed off about him though, he seemed disoriented.
Ken shot again, and this time hit him in the ankle. The masked person fell, right past the edge of the woods and surrounded by trees now. As Ken got closer, he could hear them making a muffled noise. Disregarding that, he shot them in the other leg as they tried to get up; causing them to fall.
Now out of bullets, Ken dropped the gun. He spotted a moderately sized tree branch, about the size of a baseball bat, and picked it up. The masked person tried to make another sound, turning his head a bit. Ken only caught of glimpse of the blank black side before he began to pummel him with the branch.
“I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE. ME. ALONE!!!” Ken shouted, enraged; saying each word loud and clear. The masked person writhed on the ground in agony. This went on for a few minutes, until Ken realized that they had stopped moving. A trickle of blood dripped out from the masked person’s face and pooled by his head. Ken nudged the body with the branch, turning it over. The masked person’s hands were in the conjoined pocket in the front, so he couldn’t see them. His scarf was there, along with that mask. But the mask was blank now; there was no grin to taunt him anymore.
Ken sat down and panted, he was tired; but very satisfied.
“I told you,” He said between breaths, “that the next time I wouldn’t be so nice”
He leaned against a tree while trying to get his energy back, just staring at the dead body. Despite the blood, it was quite peaceful there. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, it was a nice moment.
His eyes shot open. The laughter again? But the masked person was dead!
“. . . Must be my imagination” Ken sighed and leaned against the tree again.
This time he knew he hadn’t imagined it. Ken stood up and looked around. The laughter had come from right in front of him. He took the branch and prodded the body; sure enough, it was dead.
But the laughter continued, uncontrollable laughter; sounding more deranged by the second. Suddenly a hand reached out from the bushes and towards the dead body. Ken stared, frozen by shock and fear, as the hand grasped the mask on the body. They took the mask off it, and then drew it back into the bush. The hand reached out again and took the scarf, and then the person stepped out from their hiding place and revealed themselves; the masked person. They were laughing hysterically, hardly able to make out their words.
“Y-you! ケケケー！” (Kekeke-!) He had to stop to laugh some more, “You’re so damn gullible!” He pointed a clawed finger towards the body.
Ken looked down and then gasped, mortified. The body wasn’t the masked person, of course it wasn’t the masked person; it was Jonathan. Dressed in a black hoodie and hands stuck in the pocket along with tape over his mouth and eyes, it was Jonathan. He had killed him.
Ken looked up, horrified. But the masked person was gone.
After a few minutes, Ken returned to his apartment, unsure of what to do. He thought he heard police sirens in the distance, but ignored them. He felt numb to his surroundings.
He opened the door and stepped inside, only to be greeted by a familiar face; or mask. The masked person was standing there, a cheerful grin on his face and Jonathan’s cell phone in one hand. The police sirens grew louder.
“No one called the police,” The masked person stated with a giggle, “So I did!”
* * *
Ken had been arrested for murder and placed in jail, although a mental institution would have been a better choice. He seemed to lose more sanity each day, claiming to hear laughter. He never saw the masked person again, but he heard him. He heard him almost every waking minute. The masked person wasn’t there, but his memory lived on in Ken’s mind; playing over and over.
A few days later, Ken was found dead in his cell. He had managed to break his hand and write with the blood that was shed on the wall, and then impaled himself in the neck with a spoon.
What the guards found was his dead body, a spoon sticking out of his neck and caked with blood, and a broken hand; along with a message on the wall:
‘I don’t want to hear his laughter anymore’