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One of These by Tsuki no Tennyo

One of These

Author's Note: I'd meant to get something supernatural/horror-ish out for Friday the 13th, but you know, life. Well, here's something else for October then.

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He had heard stories—many stories, in fact, which was not entirely unusual given his long lifespan. This one particular story of a fairly familiar maiden, however, had actually managed to pique his interest. Unfortunately, he wasn't quite sure which version was correct.

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So it went, there was a woman, torn with grief from the sudden loss of her family, she threw herself down her family shrine's well. The pain was harsh, the death was slow, but nothing hurt more than the realization of being all alone in her last moment.

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The night could be a magical time, but it was also the perfect cloak to hide her screams. Dragged into a dirty alleyway, she clawed and kicked, pled and screamed until she was hoarse in the throat, but no matter how much she fought she was still nothing but a weak little woman against this brute.

Once satisfied, he tightened his big hands around her perfect white throat, watching as the last light faded from her dull eyes.

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They said she was jilted, but still she remained in her childhood home waiting for the man who would never come to take her away. One by one, all the people she had ever loved left her, but even so she stayed. She waited and waited, letting herself waste away until she was just skin and bone. Long dull, brittle hair framed her hollow face as she haunted her family's shrine until one day her weakened body gave out on her, and she, too, left.

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A wild animal got her, they cried in alarm.

There are no wild animals in the city, others argued, though that only disturbed them even more as they examined those fatal injuries that could only be attributed to a feral beast.

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A monster had stolen her from her bed. Bound and gagged, she was a prisoner in the cage he had carefully crafted just for her. Nothing last forever, and eventually her beauty faded, and he tired of her, easily disposing her down a forgotten old well along with all of those before her.

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Wrong place, wrong time, she did not realize she was stepping into a crime scene until she had felt a sharp knife in her back as she dropped to the floor in her very own kitchen.

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Sick in the head, she told stories of the impossible of magic wells and demons and spirits. With fake smiles, they indulged in her mad tales for a while until one day they decided enough was enough.

Such a shame, they had lamented as they fed her medicine to tame her mind.

Such a shame, she had thought, brokenhearted, as she gorged on their pills.

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This was the work of spirits! the holy men and women uttered in fear, but their warning had simply been reduced to the ravings of madmen by nonbelievers.

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She was too good for this world, some believed, because it seemed far too cruel for a young beauty to be taken away in her sleep like that.

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He had never cared for rumors. It seemed more fitting to hear the words from her very own mouth.

With a flick of his wrist, he swung his life-giving blade.

"So which version is correct?" he asked her, though he had managed to narrow down the stories to three likely possibilities.

She inhaled fresh air back into her working lungs, her heart building up a steady rhythm as she looked at her savior with rosy cheeks. Confused for a moment, but then she remembered his name, its viciousness somehow seeming more merciful now.

"What was the question?" she asked, voice still a touch weak as she picked at the dried blood on her body.

"How did you die?"

"Oh," she responded, "I don't remember. It was all so very sudden."

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"I have no home now," she mused aloud when he turned his back on her. "Everyone thinks I'm gone."

He didn't say anything when she followed him.

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White fur glistened in the moonlight as she held on fast, feeling soft clouds brushed against her bare feet. She leaned forward, burying her face into his soft fur, her eyes wandered to the cruel world below. Everything seemed so small, so far away, just beyond her reach now.

With flushed cheeks, she inhaled deeply the brisk night air, feeling like tomorrow would never come.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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