Story IV – Part 04

Translator: Kell

Insert the blade through the side. Cut the liver into thin slices while it’s still fresh. The soft organ wraps around my tongue, its sweet fat melting. Cook the breast without removing the bone, and bite the cheek off. Stew the brain. My eyes are tearing up. No parts wasted at all. Even the bones make a fine broth. This should satisfy my hunger for a while. I just wanted to tell everyone how wonderful this meat is.

***** meat is so delicious.

When I woke up, I could taste iron on my tongue. Feeling nauseous, I headed to the bathroom. I gargled straight from the tap, but the smell of rusty iron on my tongue remained.

And the taste of meat that I found delicious.

I had a strange dream, perhaps because of what Chihana told me. It was a dream about eating some kind of meat. No, I knew exactly what it was. If her story influenced my dream, it could only be one thing.

It was demon meat. But there was something off.

I peered into the mirror at bloodshot eyes. Mayuzumi and Kugutsu were asleep in the living room. Mayuzumi was on the sofa, while Kugutsu should be under the table.

I tried to bring Kugutsu back to my apartment, but he refused, saying there was no point in guarding me. He had a point, but I couldn’t leave him and Mayuzumi alone. Since I brought him, I decided to stay. Mayuzumi’s place was a two-bedroom apartment, but except for the living room, she had filled it with books and clothes. Mayuzumi herself used the living room as her bedroom, so I decided to use that as well. Kugutsu then happily crawled under the table. Apparently the space was enough for him.

Where does he usually sleep, I wondered.

When I returned to the living room, Kugutsu was not there. There was some noise coming in the kitchen. I didn’t know when he moved, but he had his face in the fridge and was wearing a thoughtful look on his face.

“See? There’s nothing there.”

“Oh, good morning, my good sir. You’re right, not much at all.”

With a sigh, Kugutsu closed the fridge. There were only ingredients for porridge that I bought inside. We’ve got Chinese and Japanese style food, but they were destined to be thrown out without being eaten anyway. I didn’t eat in Mayuzumi’s apartment, so the fridge was almost empty every day.

“We can’t make a decent meal out of this. Egg, rice, chicken breast strips, dried plums, and stock.”

“I can cook some rice, make boiled chicken with plum, and rolled omelettes,” I said, taking out an egg. “Though the only ones eating are me and you.”

Kugutsu looked suprised. “You know how to cook?”

“Well, yeah. More or less.”

“Oh… But you don’t seem to be too particular about the ingredients,” he muttered, taking out a pack of the strips.

It ticked me off. I paid for the porridge ingredients myself. I made sure it tasted good, but I didn’t feel like using high-quality ingredients since it would probably end up in the trash anyway.

I bought them from a sale. You got a problem?

“I apologize,” he said. “I don’t mean to criticize your judgement. This is the fault of the store. They don’t mind selling poor-quality meat. I’ll go and buy it myself next time, so please don’t worry.”

Kugutsu opened the packaging. He stared at the raw meat and then suddenly let it dangle in the air. The long strips disappeared deep into his throat. He snapped his mouth close and licked his lips.

“I’ll dispose of this for you. Let’s have plum porridge and egg rolls for breakfast. If you could wait for a bit, good sir. I’d like to make some sweets for Mayuzumi-sama. Where’s the sugar?”

I just stared at the empty tray, dumbfounded.

When I asked about Kugutsu, Mayuzumi, scooping her chocolate pudding, said, “A man who’s lived like a dog wouldn’t have a stomachache.”

The breakfast he had made was delicious. The egg rolls were soft and the plum porridge had an elegant flavor. Kugutsu, however, did not touch any of it, and instead, he gobbled up the egg shells and plum seeds. Right now, he was out grocery shopping, like he said.

“A dog…”

“Yes, a dog. Chihana trained him poorly. The Mayuzumi family is full of savages, but they wouldn’t create someone so self-deprecating. Chihana must have raised him so that he thought he was less than human, creating a human shield that will die willingly if ordered. Chihana is from the branch family, but because of her recent performance, she became the acting head. It is a great achievement for a woman who’s not an Azaka to be able to break into the heart of the Mayuzumi family. A woman who couldn’t become an Azaka doesn’t deserve to live, is what they say. Unfortunately, she can be very irritating.”

Mayuzumi gave a mocking smile. Chihana’s image popped into my mind.

Every time she spoke of her precious Azaka-sama, her cheeks would flush. She was too fond of Mayuzumi.

“Shield, my foot,” Mayuzumi spat. “Watching a man like that die is boring.”

Her words were harsh, but I understood how she felt. Mayuzumi hated being shackled more than anything.

She didn’t want to be protected by a shield.

“Isn’t the reason why Chihana would go that far is because you’re a god to her?” I asked, thinking of those gray eyes.

Mayuzumi smiled a different smile, a look of near resignation filling her face. “I dislike blind devotion, Odagiri-kun. If you can’t see, then just keep your eyes closed.”

I sensed complex emotion. What appeared in those gentle eyes were close to sorrow.

“All I can do is make contact with the netherworld. By using my parasol, I can connect with a different realm. I can listen to the voices of the dead and channel their grudges into curses. I can also dispel them. Under the right conditions, I can even walk through dreams. But that’s all. If that makes me something other than human, then so be it.” Her lips lifted into a thin smile. “Their definition of a god is too vague. I am no one’s salvation.”

I gulped. It was the first time I’d seen this expression on her. Mayuzumi put down the spoon and closed her eyes. Just when I thought she was going to fall asleep, she suddenly spoke.

“What did Chihana tell you?”

You are owned by the god of the Mayuzumi family.

Replaying the words in my head, I told her everything.

Mayuzumi’s smile deepened. “I see, I see. The origins of the Mayuzumi family.” She turned to me, then asked an unexpected question. “Odagiri-kun, do you believe that demons really exist?”


Do demons exist?

My brows knitted. If someone asked me that, I would say no. I would love to dismiss it as mere folklore. But right now…

There was something in my belly.

“Yes, that thing conceived in your belly is a demon. Human emotions sometimes give birth to things that are not human. Those whose flesh have been transformed by resentment and rage can be called demons. But I’m talking about classic demons. There are many demon folklores out there. The Onibaba of Adachigahara, the Shuuten-douji, the Ibaragi-douji, the maiden of the Uji bridge, and many more. There are many legends that tell of calamities brought by demons, both with form and otherwise. We, the Mayuzumi family, ate one. But, was it really a demon?”

She flashed an unpleasant smile. “They say that in the past, children who grew too tall, or had teeth much earlier than normal, or had spiritual predispostion were labeled demons and abandoned.”

Those who were born different might become monsters. Fearing this future, children who were different were abandoned and died in the mountains.

But sometimes they survived.

“Perhaps what my ancestors ate was a person who was abandoned in the mountains and luckily survived, but was detested by the villagers.”

“So they ate a human being…?”

“The belief that you can obtain everything from a person by ingesting their flesh has been around since ancient times. Perhaps the reason why the power manifests stronger in girls is because they ate a young woman.” Grinning, Mayuzumi picked up a piece of chocolate. “What’s more, supernaturally gifted members of the Mayuzumi family all live short lives. Direct descendants that manifest the power died of illnesses and unnatural causes. Obtaining power is wonderful? What a joke.”

I remembered the impression I felt that one time. Melted chocolate resembling placenta, an organ that’s found only in women. Oblivious of the things running in my mind, Mayuzumi graphically crushed the candy with her teeth.

Snap. It crumbled.

“What I’m saying is, maybe we were cursed for eating a human being.”

Curses, like chickens, come home to roost. If you killed someone, you would get your due punishment. The same goes for cannibalism.

Leave a Reply