Before reading, please note the following
This story follows the following Japanese naming conventions; surname (family name) before given name, and the use of honorifics.
Given that this is (supposedly) a manga, and majority of the characters have Japanese names, let's assume that this story is set in Japan - Tokyo most likely... or a fictional town that I have yet to name, and that the characters are speaking in Japanese.
This story is set in the same universe as Touch, only two decades later. You do not need to read one to read the other. Currently focusing on writing Touch so updates for this story will be sparse until the aforementioned has been completed.
We are souls unworthy of the afterlife; condemned to walk this earth searching for a way to redeem ourselves, or otherwise fade into Oblivion...
But there are those who seek to postpone their Fate...
And they will stop at nothing to avoid judgment...
He turned in a full circle, but in each direction he found himself smothered by an impenetrable veil of shadow. It swallowed him, suffocated him, it chilled him to the bone.
Where am I? What is this place? Have I gone blind?
Terror engulfed him; it made his hands shake, his mouth dry and his knees feel weak.
A voice echoed around him. A stranger's voice. It was young, male, and it sounded somewhat bored. He spun on his heels and tried desperately to follow it.
"How long are you going to stay like this?"
It was louder now, clearer; its direction more distinct. He ran towards the voice, squinting in the gloom.
"I know you can hear me. Guess I need to give you a bit of a push…"
He thought he saw something… a pale blue pinprick glimmering in the distance.
A light… is that a light?
He stopped running. Was it his imagination or was the faint glow growing larger and stronger? His hair stood on end as the air grew hot and began to sizzle. Beads of sweat collected across his brow. Too late he started to turn as the flare grew brighter and swallowed him whole.
He jolted as a white-hot, stinging sensation ran through his body and beat the darkness away. Slowly, he opened his eyes with a groan. His temples were throbbing, and his chest felt burned, almost as if someone had pressed a live wire against his flesh. He lifted his hands to his face and frowned. They looked strange… foreign… almost as if they weren't his own. He blinked, now that was a weird thought. They were most definitely his hands – they were attached to his arms, which were attached to his torso, which was most certainly attached to his head. Yet his mind was not registering them as his own. Something was wrong here… very wrong.
Where the hell am I? He looked around, but found that his vision was too bleary to see anything. What's that? Looks like… a headstone?
He sat up and rubbed his eyes to clear them. That was definitely a headstone. He squinted at the epitaph. "Saiko Tetsuya and Saiko Kazumi, rest in peace…" he murmured out loud. Why did those names sound so familiar?
He jumped as the Voice chose that moment to speak up again. "Kazuya..." it said coolly, the word reverberating inside his head.
No… my name is… he paused, his memory blank.
"Your name is Kazuya."
"Kazuya," he repeated with a slight frown. It felt strange on his lips; familiar yet alien at the same time – as if it belonged to a stranger, or a little-known acquaintance. "Are you sure that's right?"
"Your name is Kazuya," was the insistent reply.
The boy paused. Wait... Why the hell was he even listening to the damned voice in his head?
The Voice let out a chuckle. "First sign of insanity, perhaps?"
Kazuya groaned, the ache in the back of his head growing worse.
He probably had a concussion. Yes, that had to be it; a perfectly rational explanation for the headache, memory loss and—well, it didn't explain the Voice, but he conveniently chose to ignore that fact. He must have fallen down and knocked his head on something… the base of the tombstone perhaps?
"I should go to a hospital," he muttered absently. "Get my head scanned... yes… that would be a good idea…"
"It probably won't help..."
"Oh, shut up, you."
Carefully, he got to his feet, moaning quietly as the ground spun in a sickening manner. When the world finally came to a standstill he gave his surroundings a proper look – and froze. He stood in the centre of a cemetery. All around him were rows of cold, grey headstones and crosses, and between them lay sprawled the broken, withered bodies of at least a dozen young men and women. He swallowed and staggered over to young man nearest to him, silently checking for signs of life, but the man was dead. He quickly checked the others, the colour draining from his face.
They were dead.
They were all dead.
A trickle of ice ran down Kazuya's spine. What the hell happened here?
Kazuya lurched as an agonising stab of pain coursed through his skull. Images flickered before his eyes like a movie stuck on fast-forward; iron gates, tombstones, raindrops falling on his skin, an old man in a trench coat, an elaborate silver knife, ice-cold pain in his chest, a little girl with flaming hair, blinding blue light, screams, bones cracking, bodies falling…
Faster and faster the pictures flowed through his mind like a never-ending stream, blurring together in a kaleidoscope of colours and sensations – until finally they slammed to a halt, showing him one final image. Someone stood in front of him, their features blurred by his foggy memory. Their lips moved silently, urgently.
Then suddenly, the vision was gone.
Kazuya reeled and fell to his knees. His brain felt like it was about to explode and his stomach threatened heave. He swore and gulped air to settle his stomach and nerves. What the hell was that!?
He accidently touched the hand of the corpse on the ground beside him and shuddered. These people – I was here. I – I watched them die. But why? What the hell was I doing at a cemetery in the middle of the night!?
Red and blue lights flashed on the edge of his peripheral vision. He could sirens wailing in the distance, getting louder and louder with each passing second. Kazuya's felt his mouth go dry. The police? Did someone call the police? He looked around at the bodies surrounding him. Beads of sweat gathered across his brow. Shit… I can't be here. If they see me here – they'll think that I…
I – I need to get out of here.
He scrambled to his feet and somehow managed to stumble his way over the fallen bodies and out through the cemetery's iron cast gates. Luckily there was no one in sight, but the lights of the police car were getting brighter and the sound of the siren was getting closer. He staggered down the nearest alleyway and hoped that he would be out of the vicinity by the time the police arrived. His body felt so heavy and sluggish; he'd have no choice but to give himself up if the police pursued him. And given the scene he'd just left behind, he doubted that they'd believe his claims of having amnesia – they'd probably arrest him for the murders and be done with it. The very thought sent gooseflesh rippling across his skin.
He stiffened and crouched in the shadows as he the screech of tires skidding to a halt broke the silence of the night. The headlights flickered, illuminating his face, so he huddled down even more. The car doors thudded as the officers got out of the car, and the iron gates creaked as they were pushed open. Kazuya watched in silence as the policemen hurried into the cemetery. He hurried to his feet and moved down the alley as quickly as his leaden limbs would allow him too. He had to get out of the area before they started checking the perimeter.
After a few twists and turns, Kazuya emerged from between a ramen shop and a Western restaurant and onto a fairly crowded main road lined with various other eateries and leisure facilities. He glanced over his shoulder to check if he'd been followed, but saw no sign of the officers. He lurched down the street, worried that someone would stop him and begin to ask questions about his condition, but no one paid him any mind. Instead they just walked past him without even a glance in his direction.
Odd… thought Kazuya. Given that he was stumbling around like a drunk, he'd thought that at least one person would look at him and offer some help. He really needed to get his head checked out and find out if there was any way to reverse his memory loss – if that was even possible. But first he needed to get directions to a hospital.
He walked up to a girl in a school uniform reading a book at a bus stop and cleared his throat. "Excuse me, miss?"
She didn't respond. Heck, she didn't even look up.
Maybe she didn't hear me… He hesitated then tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me."
Again she ignored him. She simply flipped to the next page of her book and continued to read.
He made a few more attempts to get her attention, but the girl had oblivion down to an art. He finally gave up and tried to hail a young couple, but they simply walked past him. Same thing went for an old man, and for a middle-aged woman trying to usher her two children down the street. Defeated, Kazuya sat on the sidewalk and ground his teeth together. Someone listen to me, damn it!
"Do you need help, young man?"
Kazuya turned to find a tiny old lady with a walking stick beaming up at him. He looked around and then blinked and pointed at himself. "Are you talking to me, obaasan?"
"Indeed I am. You appear to be hurt. Shall I escort you to the hospital?"
"Ah, no, that's ok. If you give me the directions I'll be fine on my own."
The old lady smiled down at him. "Don't be silly, young man! That would be completely unacceptable. I shall see you there myself!"
Kazuya flinched as she placed her hand on his shoulder. Her fingers were as cold as ice, even through his shirt, and there was an odd smell rolling off of her, something like rotting meat – he struggled not to gag. For some reason her touch sent a chill through him. He shook his head and the sensation was gone. What was he thinking? She was just a kind old lady trying to help an injured boy. He forced a smile onto his face and got to his feet. "Thank you," he said politely, "that's very kind."
"You're very welcome, child. What's your name?"
He hesitated. Honestly, he was still unsure of that himself.
"Your name is Kazuya."
Says the Voice in my head... he thought glumly. But nevertheless, he repeated the words out loud, "Kazuya. My name is Kazuya."
"Kazuya-kun is it? Very well, this way!"
Kazuya blinked as she bustled off down the street and hurried to follow. She was agile for an old lady, manoeuvring easily through the crowded sidewalk while Kazuya struggled to keep up. It wasn't long before he was lost. He stood in a deserted side street unable to spot a glimpse of the old woman anywhere. He glanced left, right then checked behind him. "Uh… obaasan? Hello?"
She didn't answer. He scanned the darkness, a trickle of anxiety running down the back of his neck. He couldn't hear anything but the sound of his own breathing, and the calls of creatures in the night. Darkness… He felt a surge of fear. This reminds me of that dream…
"It wasn't a dream."
Because that makes me feel so much better, replied Kazuya sarcastically.
Something flickered at the edge of his vision.
Something else moved in the corner of his eye. Again he turned but there was nothing there.
I don't like this. Something is wrong here… very wrong…
He flinched as he heard something move behind him. He spun – and found himself face to face with the old woman who was supposed to be guiding him. "Holy – you scared me!"
She grabbed him by the elbow and tittered at him, "Oh, I'm so sorry! I must have accidentally left you behind!" Kazuya winced as her fingers bit into his skin. Her hand felt like it was frozen.
"Ah, not at all, obaasan," he replied, still trying to be respectful. "It was my fault for losing you." He tried to pull out of her grip, but to no swallowed nervously. She's strong.
He glanced down at the old lady's face. Her mouth was smiling but the look her eyes was as frosty as Antarctica. A stab of fear hit him in the guts. "Where are you going, Kazuya-kun? I am your guide, remember?"
"Kazuya, get away from her. Now."
What do you think I'm trying to do!?
"That's alright," said Kazuya through gritted teeth, desperately tugging on his arm in attempt to escape her grip. "I've got it from here. Please let me go."
"Oh, no, no, no. You're much too scrumptious to let go." The old lady licked her lips, her black eyes shining with anticipation. "I just want to eat you all up…"
Kazuya felt his skin prickle. The air popped, almost as if it was charged with electricity. What the hell—?
The old woman cackled at him and dropped her stick with a clatter. Her mouth cracked open into a malevolent snarl and her hand shot out to smothered his face. Kazuya let out a muffled shout and tried to struggle. White-hot agony flared in the back of his skull. His eyes watered and his muscles contracted, forcing his body to stiffen and his head to snap back. It felt like he was being crushed—being squeezed by a giant fist. A thick, silver substance oozed from his pores. He could feel it welling up in the back of his throat and in his ears, bleeding across the surface of his eyes. He couldn't move. He couldn't scream. All of his strength was flowing out with the liquid.
The old woman smacked her lips, releasing Kazuya's elbow and letting the silver liquid gather into a ball in the palm of her hand. Kazuya screamed in pain as she opened her mouth and flicked a little onto her tongue. "My, my," she snickered. "You really do have such delicious essence, Kazuya-kun! If only Orion didn't want to—gyaaaaaah!"
Kazuya gasped and hit the ground hard as the old woman suddenly let out an ear-piercing shriek and released him. He looked up, his vision hazy, his hearing dulled. He could hear someone muttering something. The words sounded strange – foreign. Above him the old woman stood rigid, her eyes and mouth wide in an expression of horror. Blue light was crawling across her skin, emanating from the centre of her torso and spreading in all directions until she was fully encased in a film of brilliant, glowing light. She let out one final scream as it flared from her open eyes and mouth, and then fell to the ground, her body limp and broken.
"Are you alright?"
Kazuya ripped his gaze away from the lifeless corpse in front of him and looked up at his saviour. She had long white-blonde hair that shone silver in the moonlight, eyes that were a startling pale grey, and ivory skin stood stark against her black coat. "Foreigner?" he blurted without thinking.
She narrowed her eyes. "I beg your pardon?"
Crap, did I say that out loud? "I mean – yes, I'm ok… I think…" He tried to move only to feel a surge of pain tear through his body. "On second thoughts, no, I'm not…"
He shrank back as she leaned forward and placed two fingers on his forehead.
"W-what are you doing?"
A wave of warmth rushed over Kazuya as another flash of pale blue light exploded from the girl's fingertips and washed away the pain that wracked his being. Without another word, she straightened up and began to walk away.
"You should stop her," commented the Voice mildly. "She probably has answers."
"H-hey, wait!" he shouted before the girl could disappear into the shadows. "W-what's going on here? What was wrong with that old bat? And what the hell did you do to her? Explain!"
For a second he thought she was going to ignore him and continue walking off, but to his surprise she stopped and glanced back over her shoulder. He stiffened as she locked her gaze with his. Her eyes were so pale that it was unnerving, he felt like she was studying him – like she could see right through him, and he couldn't look away. Finally she blinked and the spell was broken.
She pointed at the street on his right. "There's a church a few blocks from here. If you have nowhere else to go then I suggest that you go there. The streets are not safe for people like you, especially at night."
"People like me?" repeated Kazuya, mildly affronted. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
She turned to face him properly; arms crossed, eyes narrowed and chin raised. Kazuya swallowed. He couldn't help but feel somewhat cowed – like a commoner being addressed by a queen. Too busy feeling intimidated, he missed what she said next.
"Uh, sorry I wasn't listening – what did you say?"
The girl stared at him, the expression on her face unreadable. "I said; this city isn't safe for the dead."
Kazuya blinked as his brain slowly processed what she'd said.
For the WHAT—!?
a/n: Thank you for reading the first chapter of Revenant, hopefully the next chapter will out soon. I would be most grateful if you could leave a review with your thoughts on the story so far!
Please also check out Touch, which is set in the same universe, but before the events of this story.
honorifics explained (courtesy of Tanoshima Manga books)
-san: This is the most common honorific, and is equivalent to Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs., etc. Used with people you are not very close with, and when being polite.
-sama: This is one level higher than "-san". It is used to confer great respect.
-dono: This comes from the word "tono", which means "lord". It is an even higher level than "-sama" and confers utmost respect.
-kun: This suffix is used at the end of boys' names to express familiarity or endearment. It is also sometimes used by men among friends, or when addressing someone younger or of a lower station.
-chan: This is used to express endearment, mostly towards girls. It is also used for little boys, pets, and even among lovers. It gives a sense of childish cuteness.
sempai/senpai: This suggests that the addressee is one's senior in a group of organisation. In this story it is used by younger students to address their upperclassmen.
kouhei: The opposite of "sempai", used to address underclassmen in school, or newcomers in the workplace.
sensei: Used for teachers, doctors, or masters of any profession or art.
-[blank]: Usually forgotten in these lists but perhaps the most significant difference between Japanese and English. The lack of honorific means that the speaker has permission to address the person in a very intimate way. Usually only family, spouses, or very close friends have this kind of permission. Known as yobisute, it can be gratifying when someone who has earn the intimacy starts to call someone's name without an honorific, but when that intimacy hasn't been earned, it can also be very insulting.
family name vs. given name: The way in which a name is used in conversation depends on the circumstances and the speaker's relationships with the listener and the bearer of the name. Typically the family name is used, with given names largely restricted to informal situations and cases where the speaker is older than, superior to, or very familiar with the named individual.
obaasan — "grandmother", also a respectful way to address old ladies