Enough with these non-choices already
"Fuck this, I'm outta here." "Did you say something?" "Er, I said I'll be right back. Stay here, k?"
"......... Doesn't look strange so far."
I walk down the hallway.
The noise from downstairs is like the sound of ocean waves.
Noisy--and yet so very solitary and inactive.
My fingers gripping the knife feel numb.
A chill runs over the back of my neck.
There's something near my temple.
Pain emerges from the back of my eyes.
Enduring it, I walk down the hallway.
My eyes... hurt.
My head grows heavy, and I feel a drifting sensation, like I'm about to collapse right here.
Yeah, I know what this is. This is the feeling I get right before I collapse from anemia.
It hurts. Unable to withstand it any longer, I remove my glasses.
The elevator rises.
...... Sixth floor.
............... Seventh floor.
.............................. Eighth floor.
............................................. Ninth floor.
"--Damn it, what's up with it?"
The elevator is awfully slow.
Something--a shapeless, shadow-like premonition of something fatally irrevocable clings to me--
.............................. Tenth floor.
Just one more floor until the elevator reaches this one.
My breath catches.
I realize all the noise I heard from below is now long gone.
With a ridiculous electronic 'ding', the elevator arrives.
The door opens.
There is no one inside.
The interior of the narrow steel box is surprisingly clean and tidy.
Well what did you expect, a couple of dogs feeding on human entrails?
Aw dammit, talk about a bad time to get stuck in the elevator.
Darkness. Total darkness.
Pitch black, utterly without light.
all I can see is the faint glimmer of the 'lines' of death.
My breath freezes in my throat.
From all around, something--some kind of rustling sound, like the sound of insects crawling around--can be heard.
*rustle* *rustle* *rustle* *rustle* ......!
I am about to cry out, but I hold back my scream.
"...... First, I've got to examine the situation..."
Just like Sensei taught me long ago.
"...... And then, think carefully..."
Taking a huge breath, I manage to calm my thoughts.
*rustle* *rustle* *rustllllllle*
Gripping the knife, I tense up.
The sound of the crawling insects is coming from around the elevator.
It feels like there are hundreds of giant cockroaches clinging to the outside of the elevator.
"--There's no point in staying here."
The display stopped when the tenth floor was lit.
Then it means that if I open the door, I should be at the tenth floor.
"----Guess I'll cut it."
I whisper to myself.
Thrusting the knife into the only 'line' I can see, I cut apart the door of the elevator.
But even so, if I were to take a step outside, I would be on the tenth floor's hallway.
In the distance, there is the faint glow of the lamp marking the fire escape.
Apart from that, the world is painted over in darkness.
I take a step outside.
"...... Is anyone..."
I'm about to say "there", but I stop.
I don't quite know why, but I feel as though it would be a bad idea to raise my voice.
Yay! His danger sense got fixed!
I take another step.
Slowly, I enter the hallway.
The corridor reeks of the terrible smell.
A raw smell. The smell of beasts.
That, and a grinding sound coming from somewhere.
There's been a stinging pain in my neck for a while now.
The darkness is frightening.
This silence is frightening.
...... To find out what happened here is more frightening than anything else.
The pain from the back of my neck running to the top of my spine holds back my nervousness.
That throbbing pain,
it's the price of my desperate attempts to repress the urge to just scream and flee.
My breathing goes wild.
My body is drenched in sweat.
...... Knife in hand, I am unable to take another step.
I have the feeling that if I were to move even a little, I would see something unimaginably horrible.
"So instead I'll just stand here and get eaten. "
But I'll really be in trouble if I don't get back upstairs.
...... To stay on this floor is worse.
It feels like each second passing is grinding a year off my life. That's how fast I feel 'death' closing in on me.
My breath comes quicker and heavier.
Fortunately, I can see where the fire escape is, thanks to the lamp.
It's down the end of the hallway.
If I can reach that green emergency light, I can go back upstairs.
Gripping the knife, I set off down the dark hallway.
I guess the hallway is soaked in water.
In addition, my feet keep bumping into things as I walk.
Even so, I stay silent.
Bearing with the terrible stench smothering me, I head for the emergency light.
Only a few more meters to go.
Then, I see something squirming beneath the emergency light.
I break my silence.
A squishing, lukewarm sound.
A dry, grinding sound.
The wild panting breath of beasts.
Under the green light of the fire escape...
All sorts of animals are swarming around some human-shaped object.
I can't tell what sorts of animals are eating it.
The hallway is dark, and the emergency light is too weak.
That's why all I can gather is this image.
---Numerous cockroaches are devouring the human corpse while emitting a laughing buzzing sound.
That's the only way I can make sense of this nightmare.
I turn around.
Perhaps it's because my eyes have adjusted to the darkness?
Or maybe it's thanks to light from the fire escape, but I now see exactly what sort of condition the hallway I just passed through is in.
It's not because there are no lights that they look black.
They are black to begin with.
They don't seem to have any solid shape, sticking to the ceiling and walls like some sort of liquid.
But I know they are animals from the eyes.
The glinting eyes of the many beast-like forms are trained on me, the only surviving human-----
I manage to suppress my scream.
The beasts are staring at me intently.
They hold their breath, waiting to assault me the moment I scream out.
I manage to regulate my ragged breathing.
I can feel it, awfully so, that the moment I cry out, they'll all attack me at once.
None of the creatures on the wall possess the same eyes.
It's almost ridiculous to see even shark-like eyes clinging to the wall.
I order my feet to move, but they won't budge an inch.
----I can't move.
My feet will not move, after having seen a world like this.
*grind* ...... *grind* ...... *gr* ...... *ind* ......
But my legs would not move.
This world is too different, my mind doesn't operate properly.
---I've made a mistake.
I shouldn't have come to this floor----
My numbed mind infuses strength into my paralyzed legs.
Kicking up soaked blood in the hallway, I dash towards the emergency light.
I have to get away from this place as fast as possible...!
But that was a mistake.
Reacting to my dash, the black things clinging to the wall and ceilings crash after me like a wave.
I dash towards the stairs with everything I have.
But the black wave is so many times faster than I am, and in an instant, my body is--
If you don't get the ring from Ciel, this is where you die.
With a cry, the black wave halts before my eyes.
I don't get it.
I don't get it, but this probably is my last chance.
Saved by 'Chris-chan'
I run. I run towards the stairs.
Instead of running towards me, the beasts beneath the emergency light are heading towards the elevator I was just in--towards the sound of footsteps.
Ahead of the animals, I can hear what sounds like a kitchen knife slicing vegetables.
Something--a human silhouette is slashing the black animals--
...... I climb back up to the eleventh floor.
The surroundings are still pitch black.
But here, there is no trace of that stench.
That raw stench of beasts, blood, and entrails.
I manage to get up, and tracing along the wall, I walk back towards Arcueid's room.
That would be about the time I light myself on fire in sheer horror.
So that's how it was.
I should have realized it when I was in front of the elevator, the moment the noises from downstairs ceased.
At that point,
there was no longer anyone else still alive.
What was that?
What was that just now?
A sea of blood.
If the floor below this one was like that, what were the other floors like?
What was that scene of carnage?
What was that scene of hell?
This---and that and this and that... all of it has been the work of the "enemy" Arcueid was talking about-----!?
Told ya you'd be longing for curry by now.
My teeth grind together.
They clench together so tightly it feels like they're going to shatter.
My body is still trembling.
My consciousness is still numb.
But more than all of that---I can't accept that spectacle.
What was that just then?
What, all those incomprehensible animals devoured all the guests staying on the lower floors?
Had they all been killed and eaten?
One-sidedly, pointlessly killed without a chance to argue, escape, or even call for help...!?
I turn back to face the elevator, now about ten meters down the hall.
The door opens.
Within---are two black dogs.
Music: play track 4
...... I see. You guys came after me.
I grip the knife with both hands.
The black dogs burst out from the elevator.
They break into a run.
Of course, toward me, the last prey.
the other black dog bounds towards me.
Its speed belies all human comparison.
It don't even take two seconds to cover the ten meters down the hallway.
I line up the knife again, but not quickly enough.
The black dog opens his mouth.
That mouth is filled with fangs so many times sharper than the knife I have, and they are aimed straight at my throat.
Oh goddamn it
But that's not right.
I can't killed be by something like this and I refuse to die.
Oh wait, just kidding!
This tragedy would not cause me to hesitate.
----A hot summer's day.
It happened long ago, eight years ago.
I've seen something even more terrible----
The gaping maw of hell itself?
It was done rather perfectly, even for myself.
Like a machine whose sole function is to cut, I plunged the knife into the dog's forehead without any useless or wasted movement.
Because that is where the first dog's "point" was.
Normally, even if the brain is destroyed, the muscles try to execute the commands they have received from the brain.
The black dog would have probably ripped through my throat even if I had simply pierced its head.
Well--normally, that would happen.
But the black dog is "dead".
Death is a complete stoppage. At the point when I killed it, it lost every form of validity.
The second black dog also collapses onto the floor.
It becomes a black stain on the hotel's hallway.
Right beside me lie the corpses of the two black dogs.
One of my arms is covered in blood, the other clutches a red knife.
...... Also, there are a quite uncountable number of dead bodies downstairs.
"----Ha, haha, hahaha."
All I can do is laugh.
Because this isn't real.
There's no way this can be real.
At what point did I, with my eyes wide open, start seeing a nightmare----?
A terribly out-of-place cheerful sound rings out.
"Damn it, what's with this headache--?"
I stand up, enduring the pain in my head and look toward the sound.
It seems the sound is the other elevator coming up.
The door opens.
Inside stands a man wearing a black coat.
Silently, he walks towards me.
I ready my knife as I glare at him.
But he doesn't react at all as he walks towards me.
It's as if he doesn't notice me at all.
"I thought I killed everyone, but it seems like there's still someone left."
The man turns and looks at the corpses of the two black dogs.
"--You pieces of filth. If you can't even take care of a scrap of meat, you're unworthy to be a part of my body."
The man voices his displeasure as he raises his hand.
His coat lifts like a mantle.
With a splash, the black dogs' remains liquify and disappear into the man's coat.
I can't even scream.
Below the man's coat is pure darkness, without even the traces of an outline.
All that exists there is a mud-like darkness.
This is dangerous.
This guy is just too dangerous----
My instincts sound the alarm wildly in my head, but I can't even lift a finger.
The man in the black coat approaches me.
It's not good if I just stay here.
The unstopping headache grows to an unbearable level, telling me this place is dangerous.
Whatever the means, if I don't get out of here soon, I am going to lose my life.
----But it's too late.
The man is right before me.
Those eyes aren't looking at me at all.
---My consciousness bursts.
In panic, I slash at the crocodile's mouth.
But it's a futile act.
There is a squishing sound.
We can stop dying any day now.
...... I can hear a voice.
But I can't hear it very well.
Just kidding, still not dead!
"Not very impressive for a guard dog of yours."
...... The man's voice.
"---I can't believe a vampire named Chaos would play such trivial games. It's like a poorly-scripted nightmare, Nrvnqsr Chaos."
...... Arcueid's voice.
"I feel the same way. To catch one of the surviving True Ancestors... I never dreamed I would be a part of such foolish festival. This is a nightmare for me, too."
...... The man's. deep. voice.
"...... It is difficult to understand. There are only a limited number of conceptual weapons capable of harming you. The only people in possession of those are the Church's assassins, and I don't think the Burial Agency would dispatch anyone this far east. Either way, this is most fortunate for me. I shall not ask why you have been weakened. All I am going to do is claim your head while I have a chance of winning."
...... The sound of footsteps.
It seems despite having said he was going to claim her head, the man in the black coat is now leaving for the elevator.
I don't, understand.
It's just--so hot.
My consciousness blurs and fades--
Music: play track 9
"----Huh? ...... How come I'm still alive?"
I get up and check my body.
...... There isn't any pain.
The right side of my stomach is back to as it was before.
...... Though it does seem rather black and blubbery.
"What did you say?"
"Wh-what is this...!?"
I point towards the soft blubbery thing on my stomach.
It's true that there's no pain and that I'm feeling a surge of strength there, but I have the feeling that I saw something similar just a moment ago... I hope it's just my imagination...
"That's right. Isn't that great, Shiki? It's just that part, but you've powered up!"
YOU GOT -BLACK BLUBBER-
Arcueid gives a genuinely happy laugh.
For me, of course, this is no laughing matter.
"W-what the heck have you done...!? What were you thinking, attaching weird stuff to someone's body like that without even asking...!?"
"What do you mean? I helped you, didn't I? I can't heal others, and you would have died if I left you like that.
Or would you have rather died?"
"--Well, I'm thankful you helped me, but--how am I supposed to live with a body like this from now on...!?"
"That color totally doesn't go with my purse. I'd rather DIE than be caught wearing a prosthetic torso like that. "
"Ah, don't worry about that. Once a familiar has been severed from its master, it's just a scrap of flesh.
It's a bit unstable in form at the moment, but in time, it'll begin to imitate the properties of your body, and you'll be back to normal.
Plus, it'll be tougher than your body's ever been up until now, Shiki. If you study magic, you might even be able to return it to the original crocodile form."
Arcueid says, sounding more envious than happy.
"Aren't you happy, Shiki? Now I wish you'd been wounded all over!"
"You idi----there's no way I can be happy with having something like this put onto me...!"
"No way! You're not happy, Shiki!?"
"Not one bit! ...... Well, I suppose I can survive thanks to this, but I don't want to survive by this method ever again...!"
"Really? That's an odd thing to thank me for, Shiki. I haven't done much."
"--It's okay. I'm thankful, so be thanked. You don't have to feel bad about it."
"...... Yeah. You're right, I suppose."
Arcueid seems lost in thought for some reason.
"--Okay. Anyhow, let's get out of here right now. With all the fuss that's been raised, it's going to get inconvenient if we stay here any longer."
"All the fuss--?"
---Ah, that's right.
...... None of the people in this hotel are alive anymore.
"I assure you, officer, this is just a big misunderstanding. I was asleep in my room the whole time."
I get up.
My stomach doesn't hurt, but--it feels as if my body belongs to someone else--and my mind swims.