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Summer. It’s always really hot here in the summer. And I mean REALLY hot. What makes it worse is that I have field work today. Tohru’s dad asked me to get the berries now that their ripe, and I can’t refuse them. I practically owe them my life.
My name is Aki. That’s all I know about myself other than the obvious. I’m a girl, but I’m not like other humans. I have something called an Ikimono kami. It’s an animal spirit that some people have. It gives them different instincts from humans, depending on the kind of animal spirt they harbor. I have a cat ikimono kami. It gave me dull cat senses and…some not very human parts. I have two long fluffy tails and cat ears, instead of human ears. The spirits will also do that to people. Some look more like animals, but still have basic human figures. Or, at least that’s what Takami-san told me. That’s Tohru’s dad’s name.
I have no memories of my past. Other than the last three or so years I’v been here, nothing. I remember waking up in the middle of nowhere, knowing only my name. When I first came across a human, I was scared. It didn’t look like me, and I thought everyone looked like me. That’s when Tamaki-san found me. The other human ran scared and told this village of me. I guess other ikimono kami lose their mind or become viscous due to their spirits. But Tamaki said he didn’t see that in me. He said he saw good, and let me stay with them. So I feel like I have to repay them.
I immediately became close with his son, Tohru. Now get your mind out of the gutter, he’s only, like, 9. He said he’s always wanted an older sister, and said that I make a good one, so that I’m his sister now. It makes me feel special.
“Tohru?” I turn to see him running up the hill, almost tripping over himself.
“Aki- chan, did you get those berries my dad asked for?” Tohru tugs on the basket I’m holding, dropping a couple of the berries that were in there.
“Yup! Got ’em all right here!” I lower it so he can take a look, but he only squints at it. Tohru can’t see well. He’s slowly going blind, says the town doctor. He can only see shapes and shadows now. In a couple of years, his eyes will be no good.
Tohru huffs and looks down, as if he’s about to cry. I guess he couldn’t see them. I take his hand and put on the basket. He smiles up at me and looks at me with huge eyes. “lets get these to the house.” I giggle and lead him home.
“Tamaki-Saaaaan~!” I call.
“Dad?” Torhu runs in and looks around.
“Im over here.” Says the tall man with an eye-patch. Tamaki san got attacked by a bear a while back. His arm was shattered and leg got snapped. He lost his eye, but at least he’s alive, he says. He walks out of the kitchen with a sloppy sandwich.
“Tamaki-san! What do you think you’re doing!?” I put the basket down and take the plate from him, leading him to the couch. ”How do you ever think you’ll get better when you’re up all of the time?”
“Oh, lay off, Aki” Tamaki laughs. ”it’s so boring around here.”
“So do something that dosn’t involve you exerting yourself.”
“Making a sandwich is exerting myself?”
I held up the the piece of bread that was falling off the meat.”Apparently so.” I cocked a smile. Takami just laughed and noogied my head.
That night, as Im doing the dishes, I overhear Kiara, tohru’s grandma, talking to takami-san. I swore, I heard my name, So I alk over to answer, but stop for some reason. I just stand there and start to listen, then I realize it’s rude so I turn to walk away. Then, I DID hear my name.
“You know she’ll turn into one of those crazed demons just like the rest of them, Haru, don’t pretend you don’t know it’s coming.”
“Mom, not all ikimono kamis change. Most stay perfectly healthy their entire life. No change, no loss of mind.”
“But the ones around here do most often. It’s not safe to keep her here in the house any longer. What if something happens to Tohru?”
“Look mom, I’ll tell you just like I told everyone else. Nothing will happen. She’s a good girl, I can tell. If anything, she’ll protect us.” Takami turns towards the kitchen and I hurry back to the dishes as if I heard nothing.
“Oww….”A soft voice whimpers.
“Tohru?” I walk over to him, rubbing his head.”Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“Can’t sleep. I heard you in here, so I wanted to hang out with you.”
I look to Kiara, and see her glare. I quickly turn away and smile at Tohru.”Ok, but you need to go to bed. You need sleep if you want to grow up strong like you dad.”I watch as a bubble floats and pops on tohru’s nose. He flinches, but then giggles when he realizes what it was. I just laugh.
“Good boy. I’ll take you out somewhere tomorrow to make up for it, ok?” I pat his head.
“Yay!” He jumps and hurries to bed. I can’t help but smile. I feel eyes burning into my back as I see Kiara walk away, but not before she mouths a word at me.
I’m outside taking care of the horses. I just finished filling the food barrels and putting the blankets on them, when I hear a crash. I hide behind one of the supporters. A burglar? But we don’t have a high crime rate around here…Maybe…Preparing for the worst, I jump out to face the crazed demon when I see the small silhouette come out of the dust. “Tohru?” I squint.
“Hi Aki…”He coughs.
I rush over to pick him up. “What are you doing here this late? Why aren’t you in bed!?” I pick him up off the ground.
“I want you to go straight to bed, right now--”
I look at him a bit dazed. He’s never raised his voice to me before.
“I wanna prove that I can be just as helpful as any other kid! All the other kids here tell me how they helped with chores and such and how strong they are, but I can’t say anything like that cuz I can’t see!”
I smile a little, feeling proud. “Ok, but I want you to keep close to me. I don’t want you getting hurt.” Tohru smiles and walks with me to the watering fountain.
I wanlk over and turn on the water. Tohru is a bit behind me, but I don’t think much of it. He must be completely blind, it being so dark tonight. There’s no moon out. Over the sound of water, I hear him mumble something behind me. “You’ll be ok, Tohru. Just stay right there.” I call. I look back to see him shaking a bit. He dosnt like not being able to see, but I think little of it. He wanted to come.
“Aki?” I hear him whisper.
“It’s ok, Tohru, Im right here.”
“I said it’s fine. I’m almost done here. We can go take of the horses when Im do_--”
The most ear-piercing high pitched scream comes from behind me, muffling a low growl. It’s sadness is enough to make you weep from hearing it, let alone turning around to see the boy you’ve looked after for the last three years being eaten alive by some hideous monster.
“TOHRU!!!” I scream to where my lungs ache. The monster looks up at me and hisses. Tohru’s screams have stopped at this point, probably from the bite marks going into his chest.
First instinct I have, attack. I lung for the “demon” eating my little brother, only to be lunged back at and knocked to the ground. I screech at the monster on top of me, trying to push it off. It screeches back. I find myself rolling away and up on my feet in only seconds. The demon isn’t too far away, but it makes it’s sights on the motionless Tohru again. When I see it advance for him, I’m running faster than I ever thought I could. I’m on it, scratching and punching, doing anything I can to get it away from him. It pushes me back, like I’m only a play thing.
Even with this new found adrenaline powered strength, I’m no match for it, and I know that, but I can’t stop. I scream, scratch, even bite it, but nothing. As I fly backwards for the third time, I see it pick up Tohru and bite into him like a sandwich. Im up and screaming, crying for it to stop. My hands fly together, and I feel a strange tingling feeling flow through my arms to my hands. Next thing I see, is a bright red. Only a blinding light all around. When the light desipates, the demon is getting up off the ground as if had fallen over, and runs screeching. Feeling accomplished, I can’t help but smile.
“What was that light?” I say to myself. Then I snap back into reality when I smell the blood. Yeah, SMELL it. I turn to see the horror.
On the ground, almost in a ball, is the mangled leftovers of what was once Tohru. His little lifless body stares up at me as if asking why I let it die.
I stop breathing. Me hands shake and the tears start again. I can bearly bring myself to say his name over a whisper. “Tohru…” As I pick him up gently, his blood seeps my clothes. Even in the dark of the night, and through the black of my clothes, I see the blood. I scream. I drop Tohru and stand up, holding my head, not wanting to believe the madness.
As I bend over to look at him again, I hear a familiar voice.
“Whats with all the racket at this time of night? Can’t you take care of your chores qu…et…ly…” Obaba-san screams almost as loudly as Tohru did when he was attacked. And all she sees is a Ikimono Kami covered in blood hovering over a dead body of her grandchild. “YOU KILLED HIM! DEMON!!”
“No…Grandma, you don’t understand. It wasn’t me--”
“MURDERER!!! YOU KILLED TOHRU!! OUR PRECIOUS TOHRU IS DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU!!”
As Obaba screams this, other villagers come out of their homes and stare in disbelief.
“Takami said she was good…”
“That’s what they get for trusting an ikimono kami…”
“She better get out of town…”
“I don’t want my kid going around her anymore…”
“And to think I gave that THING food!”
The words kill me inside. Framed, by a monster. And then, Haru walks out.
“Whats going on?” Hes says, oblivious to the mood. He walks over to me and looks down. He stops. Kneels down and gently touches the head of his now dead son. The only part of his family, other than his mother, who was left, and they all think I Killed him. “Aki…Why….what?”
“No, Haru, you don’t understand, NONE of you understamd! I didn’t do it! Why would I--?”
“She lies! Look at the blood on her clothes! She’s caught red handed!”
I feel a rock hit my head and I topple over. I’m weak from the fight with the monster, and all the adrenaline has left my system now. But then I feel another rock hit me. And another. But too fast for one person to be throwing it. I look up from the falling stones hitting me and see the practically the whole village joining in. everyone, trying to stone me. I see families I’v helped, people who cared for me, and even children throwing stones.
I get up and try to crawl away, but fall down over and over again from the hits. I manage to get to my feet and look back when they stopped.
“Never come back.” Growls Obaba. “This town will now forever know not to trust any animal spirit.
I run. Just run. And all I hear behind me are tears.