Chapter 1

"Daisuke Matsumoto!" Sang a young woman's beautiful voice.

Her words bounced off the walls and echoed throughout our dark and silent home. Normally I'd be overjoyed to hear a pretty girl call my name, but the sound of her voice sent nothing but terror down my spine.

"It's her, she's coming," whispered Akito.

I expected my teacher to be freaking out in terror like me, but his black eyes were calm and his brow was narrowed in concentration.

"But Mana!" I hissed hysterically. "We have to help Mana!"

I couldn't forget the image of Mana lying face down unconscious on the floor. Her short black hair was messed up, bloody, and she looked like a broken doll beyond repair. The cute girl who helped me on several occasions could be moments away from death if someone didn't aid her soon.

I jumped up and attempted to climb over the desk we were hiding behind, but Akito quickly grabbed my shirt and pulled me back.

"Don't worry about her! There's nothing we can do now!" He hissed.

"What! You can't be serious!"

Mana wasn't my only concern. It was also uncertain if my other friends were alright. I lost track of them among the madness.

"How can you say that?" I cried. "Aren't you supposed to protect them? Isn't that your job?!"

"It's not them she's after!"

My mouth clamped shut. He was right. It wasn't poor Mana she was targeting.

She only had one target in mind, and that person was me.

I gave up and went limp.

He was right, it wasn't his fault, it was all mine.

The situation would have been more acceptable if I had done something to deserve it. Like throwing rocks at baby animals, or being a terrible person, but I didn't do anything to incur her wrath. Everything went to hell just because my name is Daisuke Matsumoto.

Akito was holding Nina back with his other hand, but she wasn't making any attempt to run.

Like me, Nina was also another one of Akito's students who had been caught up in this madness and probably wasn't going to live to see tomorrow. Her long brown hair was stuck to her forehead with sweat. She wasn't shaking with fear, but was abnormally silent and staring anxiously at the door like she knew what was to come.

I couldn't understand how she could endure being so still. But maybe like me, she was counting on Akito to protect her.

The monster stopped calling my name in her morbid game of hide and seek, and all was silent in Akito's Japanese style home.

Suddenly I could hear moans of pain from somewhere outside the room. I prayed that whoever it was would stay quiet, otherwise they'd be next on her dinner plate.

I heard the floorboards creak and groan with every step the vile monster took as she crept closer and closer towards us.

Did she know already? Had she heard us? Or maybe she was going to finally give up and return to whatever hell she came from.

My thoughts screamed "Please don't stop here, whatever you do, please don't open this door!"

BANG!

Suddenly the paper screen door went flying across the room. It hit the desk and splintered into two. We all ducked down and covered our heads to protect ourselves from the debris, but something must have hit Nina because she let out a cry of pain. Nina realized her mistake instantaneously and her hands flung to her mouth, but it was already too late.

That was all it took.

The monster knew we were here.

We were done for.

I peeked through a gap in Akito's hasty barricade of chairs and furniture, and found myself staring at her in horror, unable to move or look away.

In my mind, she was a possessed demon, but all that stood before me was an abnormally beautiful woman with long raven hair, dressed neatly in a red summer Kimono. She was smiling pleasantly which would have caught anyone unaware. I certainly was.

She was completely unharmed, except for her charred left sleeve which was almost blasted off by my friend's lightning charm.

You may be wondering why we were all so terrified and currently bleeding because of this pretty young woman, and the answer was incomprehensible but simple.

She was a fox monster.

"Found you!" She called.

I expected Akito to have a plan (he had to have a plan) but all I could hear was his sigh of defeat.

"Looks like it's come to that," he said.

What! It can't be? Don't tell me he's given in. I thought to myself.

My teacher Akito had always gotten my hopes up and then quickly smashed them. Apparently now wasn't going to be any different.

I tore my eyes away from my approaching death and back to Akito, who was now holding a knife in his right hand instead of Nina. I was uncertain if he procured it from his clothes or desk, but the details don't matter anymore.

I forced myself to feel hope. Maybe it was a magical weapon that was highly effective against fox monsters.

"Hey, Akito," I whispered hopefully. "What's up with the knife?" I was looking for words of reassurance but his face was stone cold. "Akito?" I asked again.

He grabbed me by the shoulder to stop me from fleeing and held the knife to my face.

"I'm so sorry Daisuke, but I don't think we have any other choice."

"What? What are you talking about Akito?"

"I'm so sorry Daisuke," he apologized again.

"What, so this is it?" I said. My eyes flicked from the knife to his face which wasn't giving anything away. "Don't tell me that I'm going to die here?"

They say that your life flashes before your eyes once you know you're going to die. I could see it all before me in the reflection of Akito's blade. I was standing under the slide on my first day of elementary school, eating cake at my sister's wedding, outside praying that the monster wouldn't come tonight.

I'm sorry. You don't know what I'm talking about do you?

I've become so immersed in this world that I often forget that regular people don't know about the monsters lurking right under their noses. Maybe it's best if I explain to you the events of that morning, or the previous month, or from my first day of high school?

No, that still wouldn't be far enough.

How about we go way back?

Let's start from the beginning.

Let's go back to the day when I learned about monsters and the fox monster for the first time.