Chapter 15 - FloodMature

Toshi Senior had returned home long after Kenta had left. As he and Mariko spoke of his visit, their son was watching the television alone. A music video from some Idol played with a sugary melody though Toshi wasn't paying attention. He was deep in thought. The past hour felt like an uncomfortable blur. As the rain softly patted the windows, he thought of Katsu.He knew this was a futile process; no matter what he said, he couldn't shake the guilt.

Katsu had made it a personal mission to torment Toshi whatever chance he had. Being the golden child of his class made it worse. Even the sensei's seemed hesitant to instill any discipline. There were times, late at night in a tear-stained rage, where he wished Katsu would suffer. He often scared himself with how much he wanted Katsu hurt. Now the pendulum had swung and every vile thought clawed away in his mind.

He wondered what of Ko. Since Katsu's death, he hadn't heard from her. Tomorrow was another day at school; would she attend? She had every reason not to. But she rarely missed a day as her parents instilled a strong work ethic in her. There was a reason she was often top of her class. For a brief moment, Toshi wondered if Katsu had copied her work to achieve his high grades. Even now, a germ of anger still existed within him.

A sound - not unlike teeth scraping plastic - cut through the air. Toshi froze and the remote dropped from his grasp. The television screen turned to static.

"Toshi-chan." came a creeping voice.

Toshi slowly turned to the doorway. And there, against all laws of Nature, stood Katsu. His body was dripping and his eyes mere beetles against his porcelain flesh. It was as though he lost all colour in death.

"What.. how?" Toshi gaped. A strange, bruised fruit was lodged in Katsu's hand. He chewed it thoughtfully. Toshi suggested it was an apple but its innards pulsated like a cancerous organ.

Katsu grinned. His lips split across his face like damp tissue. His arm arched backwards and flung the apple with the power of a practiced pitcher. It hit Toshi who shielded his face from the blow. Rolling onto the floor, it began to bleed.

"Everything is so flavourless now. Tastes like bad water. Lucky for you, eh?" said Katsu. He stepped towards Toshi who backed to the other end of the sofa. His voice has a mournful edge. His vile lilt was now a broken croak.

"I'm so cold." he continued. His flesh began to ripple softly.

He stumbled onto the carpet. His wet hand prints stained with an unwelcome presence.

"You're dead." gasped Toshi. He looked on helpless. Then a familiar blue bathed him in a cruel glow. That spidery font patterned his television screen.

"You broke the rules, Toshi. It breaks my heart and it will break yours."

The television snapped off instantly. Katsu howled painfully as a surge of water poured from his mouth. His eyes, ears, nose.. every orifice began to expel the crude water.

"Don't let him get you." he gurgled. "Get Ko and leave. He'll.."

Katsu's last words were lost in the sudden cascade of water. Toshi pulled his legs from the floor to escape the rising fluid. It rose with an unnatural speed threatening to pull Toshi into its depths.

"Son, are you okay?"

Toshi looked around. His father and mother had walked into the now dry lounge. Katsu's corpse was no longer there. Toshi Senior tilted his head in confusion as Mariko switched off the television. It was back on the music channel before she hit the off button.

"Do you want to talk about what happened?" asked Toshi Senior. It wasn't a question and Toshi did not respond. He and Mariko sat either side of Toshi. Parenting wasn't his strong suit but it was a necessity. With the recent headlines and the death of his classmate, Toshi Senior felt he had to speak lest his son became another headline.

"Well, your mother said-" he began. He raised his hand to his chest as he broke off. Toshi watched horrified as though it were happening in slow motion. He saw a smile, broken and vague, flash in his mind's eye.

"Apologies. Just a little heartburn." said Toshi Senior, finally. Stifling a sigh of relief, a cold sweat broke over Toshi as he listened to his parents talk. Words flew by with no relevance to him, as his eyes drifted over to the spot where Katsu had fallen. Maybe it was his imagination, but he thought he could see two damp hand prints.

The End

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