This chapter has some pretty strong stuff in it, strong enough to give at least one of my readers nightmares. There's a synopsis at the end if you'd rather skip over the rough parts.
DR WATANABE returned to his home, or what was once his home. Now it was a windowless box he spent time in. He put the car in the garage—the last time he had left it out, the tires had been slashed, and he'd had to call many times before he found someone who would come out to replace them. He'd spent the day driving up and down the coast, visiting beaches and picnic areas he'd used to go with Elaine and the kids, when they were tiny and she was alive.
But inside his box, he found his daughters, and his sister Wilma. He couldn't talk for many minutes while he hugged them and kissed them and they all cried together. But then he said, "You shouldn't have come."
Molly, his oldest—<grown so much!>—said, "We had to come, Daddy. We have to show them you're not what they say you are."
"But you don't understand. Reporters—"
"We've got plenty of asshole reporters in Seattle, Harry, and we've seen them all by now," said Wilma quietly. "They need you. And you need them." She got up. "We've been here since a little after noon, Harry, and we just stopped cleaning up a little while ago. You've really let this place go to hell. Not like you, brother. Not like you at all."
"Sorry, but I've had a little on my mind. And I didn't make the whole mess myself."
"Yes . . . I got most graffiti of your front door, but you'll have to paint it or replace it when this all blows over."
"The front door? You took all the writing off the front door?"
"Yes. Damn, there was stuff on there at least four languages. Including one I've never seen. It—"
Wilma Watanabe stopped talking. The front door was opening. And she knew she had double-locked it, and no one had used it since.
When that same day was beginning for Detective Sergeant Semyon Arteminski, it began with a problem.
"What's on your mind, Sime?" asked his Lieutenant.
"What isn't?" They laughed, but then Arteminski got serious. "Lieutenant, I've lost my gun."
"Lost it? How?"
"I don't know. I put it away last night, and it was gone this morning."
"Gone? You mean you were burglarized?"
"Apparently. But there is nothing else missing. Nothing! I left my cash in the same place; it was still there. Is still there; I haven't touched it."
"Well . . . file a report and draw another weapon. Nothing else?"
"Nothing else I've noticed, Lieutenant."
"Well . . . you'd better do it right away."
"Yessir." <He's suspicious,> thought Arteminski, <just as he should be.>
Arteminski thought of making the call from a pay phone so it was unlikely to be traced, but only for a moment. When he was finished reporting the missing gun, he pulled out Dr. Goodman's card, and began calling. He didn't reach her until the third number.
"This is Semyon. What did you do with my gun?"
"What? What are you talking about?"
"Sorry . . . It's missing."
"And you thought I took it?"
"Not any more . . . I'm sorry, but I'm still a cop. Really,I'm sorry. I didn't think it was you but . . . I hoped it wasn't you."
After a long pause she said, "Let it go, then. Can I help?"
"I want you to do . . . whatever it is you can do, with Dr. Watanabe."
"You still think he's the killer? Or one of the killers?"
"No. At least, I'm not sure. But there is a connection. There has to be a connection. If it isn't him, someone is working very hard to make it look like him."
"I'll have to make arrangements for Aura first, but I can be—"
"No, wait until I'm off-shift."
"When will that be?"
"I'm not sure. I'll try to get off by eight or nine."
"Should I wait for you at your apartment?"
"No, I reported the gun missing already. They will at least pretend that it is a burglary; there will be other investigators there . . . and I realize I should have asked you about the gun before I did that. I am sorry, Goddamit . . . Sorry. Sorry."
"I don't know anything about guns. And if you knew of all my Arts . . . Semyon, don't do anything foolish before you see me. Anything else."
"I will do my best."
"I'm going over there anyway. You did tell them I had a key, didn't you?"
"No? . . . I'll tell them you forgot . . . You'd better tell them, too . . . If I can get there first, maybe I can get a good reading."
Arteminski actually didn't make it home until after ten. He found Dr. Goodman waiting for him—and the older Kino girl. "Where's the other one?" he asked automatically.
"At her home watching over my daughter and the others," answered Dr. Goodman. "Semyon, I took a reading. It was very poor. But I know you have been visited by something."
"Yeah. A burglar."
"Perhaps, but whatever your friend was, it found its way through my wards."
"You did your magic thing here?"
"Of course. I had Aura with me. I never leave her unprotected. But I haven't renewed my wards here since we were last together. They weaken a bit over time. Still, whatever it was, it was hurt. It took terrible damage to visit this place."
"You got all that from a poor reading?"
"I did not find out what it was, or even when it was here. Last night, that's all my reading gave me. Except that it has tried to get in before."
"If you say so . . . what do you think, Sue?"
"I do not have the same magic. But I feel something evil here. I felt evil when Dr. Goodman called. That is why I made Jimmy and Nancy and my daughter all stay home."
Her daughter. "So Rebecca Biter was right . . ."
"What?"asked the girl.
"Nothing," said Arteminski.
Dr Goodman said, "I strengthened the wards there before I brought Usagi here. I should do the same for here, Semyon."
The girl said, "Mr. Ferrara thought the Grey Lady was crazy, but Ms. Leary did not—she feels something, too. She does not tell anyone because she does not want us to worry. I had to use my power on her a little—"
Dr. Goodman cut off Usagi. "We need to get to Dr. Wanatabe."
As they left his apartment, Dr. Goodman took some powder from her bag, smeared it on the door in a peculiar pattern, and chanted. Then she said, "If our friend checks in again, it won't check out."
They reached Dr. Watanabe's home about twenty minutes later.
"Isn't he still under surveillance?" asked Dr. Goodman, genuinely puzzled.
Arteminski, who had been rubbing his eyes to try to lose his headache, put on his glasses again and looked at the house. The front door was open—the knob was hanging off, clearly broken.
"Stop! There!" He said, pointing to the van he knew had to hold the surveillance team. He banged on the back, got no response, and tried the door. It was unlocked. He looked in—
He ran to the front of the van. He picked up the radio mike—and saw the cord was cut.
He heard a scream, and ran for the open door. He saw that Dr. Goodman and Sue Kino were just getting out of Dr. Goodman's Hummer.
There were four bodies inside: a woman just behind the front door, and two young girls on the couch. Between them, was the body of Dr. Watanabe. They had all been shot through the head.
And there, in front of him, was his gun. He picked it up, ignoring a career of procedure, overwhelmed by the sheer diabolical evil of it.
"Oh, I'm disappointed. The Russky-Kike cop picked up his own gun. And after all the trouble I went to to leave your fingerprints on it."
Arteminsky turned around. Standing in the doorway behind him was a man he'd only known from records, old photos, a little faded videotape from old news shows: Roberto Iturbe.
"You survived that fire, didn't you?"
"Obviously . . . Well, sorry to rush, but I have to be going now. You've got a daughter. Older than I like, but she's going to have a baby. I'll wait until she has it, and then I'll kill it in front of her. Of course, I'll get her to suck me off first. Then I'll do it. I might let her live after I do the baby. Of course, I might be merciful. I was almost going to let that Louisa live, but she begged me to kill her, and I just didn't have the heart to let her go begging."
"You won't survive this!" Arteminski shot him through the head.
Iturbe just smiled. "That stings a little. You can't kill me, Kike cop. But you can kill her, if you like."
Iturbe's body swelled, and opened up. Inside was a dark mass of twisting forms—and a girl, terrified, screaming.
The thing still had Iturbe's head, and the head spoke again. "I'm so glad you dropped by. I don't get to work in front of an audience very much. Now, you can kill her, quick, or you can just let me have all of my fun."
Claws, blades, jaws formed and began tearing away at the child. But her face was free and she cried out, "Help me! God, help me!"
Arteminski aimed at her forehead and pulled the trigger.
"Now that's odd . . . I only used one bullet on each of them. Well, I'd let you get more ammo, but since—"
Ateminski's gun had begun to crumble away. Then the thing's head flew off as a white-hot disk cut through it. The mass of obscenity convulsed, and the girl fell forward onto the floor. Arteminski grabbed her and pulled her away with all his strength.
"GET OUT OF THE WAY!
Arteminski rolled with the girl. He saw the thing shimmer and begin to melt. The house began to collapse. Arteminski picked up the girl and crashed through the plywood covering what had been windows. He rolled with the girl again as he landed on the lawn, just as it lit up with an orange glow. He heard a great, low whoomp and saw the roof lift up a few feet, and then settle down. In another moment, it crumbled inward, and flames shot up.
He saw Dr. Goodman bending over him, holding something long in her hands. "How many inside?"
"Four. All dead."
"Too late, again . . ."
Someone else was bending down over him, taking the girl out of his arms. It was the Kino girl—no, not quite. And not the angel he had seen her turn into before, though she had wings—. She had jewels in her hair now, which floated out in two ponytails about three meters long. Floated.
The little girl was dripping blood all over him. And then she seemed to glow, in the arms and wings of the Kino girl. The ponytails enwined the the dying child as well, and he saw them soaking up the blood.
He saw the little girl open her eyes again, and heard her say, "Sailor Moon. You're real. You really came."
Artiminski saw tears fall from the Kino girl's eyes—which glowed. Where they splashed down on the girls ruined skin, it became whole again. When the tears finally stopped, the girl was still badly injured, but—
"I must get you to hospital. Doctors will help you," Arteminski heard the Kino girl say.
And then she flew off with the little girl in her arms.
Watching them vanish into the night above him, he felt tears of his own, and said a prayer he hadn't said for most of his life.
"Awww, how touching. The kike cop is crying."
Arteminski turned around. Roberto Iturbe's head was floating a few paces away.
"That moon slut didn't get all of me. I've still got a date with your daughter. And I'll make one with your featherbrained friend and her kid. Buenos Noches." The head vanished, leaving a sickly green after-image for a moment. Areteminski saw that Dr. Goodman was pointing something at him—a long rod with a silver skull at the tip.
"I couldn't throw my spell without hitting you," she said.
"You should have."
"We'd better leave. We're beginning to draw a crowd."
It had not occured to him that there were other people around—and there were, spilling out of the surrounding houses.
"You can go. No point if I do. My fingerprints are all over that van. And the bullets—"
"Your gun is gone. And I doubt if the bullets will be recovered in any usable condition . . .What will you tell them?"
"I'll tell them the fucking truth. Then they'll put me in the mental ward."
"Want some company? I can show you the ropes."
"Shouldn't you stay out to fight him . . . it . . . whatever?"
"It won't be dangerous again for awhile. Not until the next new moon, if my divinations are correct. If it had enough energy to attack us, it would have." She shook her head. "Why did he do that to the door? He broke my wards. They would have been safe."
She began to weep. He took her into his arms.
He could hear sirens.
"Can you do anything to protect my daughter?"
"Yes, if she'll believe me."
"Then get out of here and find her. Make her believe! Do whatever need to do."
"How do I find her? You never told me, Semyon."
"Her name is . . ."
Hiram Khan spent every moment he could beside Stephanie's bed. He had to go to court, and of course arrange and attend the funerals, but he had resigned all his positions to take care of the last survivor of his wife's family full-time. She was all he had left of his wife; they hadn't been able to have children of their own.
He spent thousands getting shoppers to buy up all the Sailor Moon books, so he could read her favorite stories whenever she was awake. The lady who had created Sailor Moon came to see her, and left her a big Sailor Moon doll (though unfortunately Stephanie had a bad turn that day, and wasn't conscious).
They let him stay past visiting hours. He would have paid any bribe for that, but the staff didn't ask. But he was very surprised one evening after visiting hours when two girls came in wearing Sailor Moon costumes. It wasn't the first time he'd seen something like that, but it was late. Their costumes were very well done, especially the very realistic-looking wings.
The taller girl said, "Sorry. You are Uncle?"
"I'm Stephanie's uncle."
"We saw you on television," said the smaller one. "May I wake her up? I made this for her." She held up a lei—no, looking closer, it was made up of tiny, colored paper cranes.
"You came so late—" But the little one melted his heart with her gaze. "I'll see if she'll wake up." He went over to her, and said gently, close to her ear, "Stephie, there's someone to see you." He knew better than to touch her—that woke her up screaming.
She opened her eyes. In a tiny voice, she said, "Sailor Moon. You came back."
"And Sailor Chibi Moon," said the little one. "I made this for you. A thousand cranes. Wear it and it will protect you." She saw that the girl could not lift her head, and said, "You can wear it when you get better. Or you can hang it over your bed now. I will do it for you."
"Thank you . . . Thank you, Sailor Moon, for saving me."
Mr. Khan watched the taller girl bend down over the bed and kiss Stephie on her head. She folded her great wings over the girl . . .
<Folded her wings?>
Shocked, Mr. Khan stepped back. And he saw that the little one was hanging her paper cranes over the bed. She was floating just below the ceiling as she stapled her cranes into place. Then she floated down. "Okasan, is she all right?" She was speaking Japanese, which Mr. Khan understood. Perfect Japanese.
"Yes. But she is asleep again. We shouldn't wake her."
The door began to rattle. A voice said, "Open up. Are you all right in there?"
The big one stood up and put her finger to her lips. Then she went to the window and opened it. She flew out, but hovered, waiting for the little one. Before she left, the little one kissed Stephie. Then she flew out the window, and both of them vanished into the night.
In maybe another minute, the door opened. By now, there was a security guard as well as the night nurse.
"What's going on?"
"Going on? I was asleep."
"Why did you lock the door?"
"Lock the door? I didn't. How could I? I don't have a key."
The night nurse came in, and closed the window. "Fresh air is good, but it's getting chilly."
"Yes . . . I just woke up."
The guard and the nurse stared at him. Then the nurse checked over Stephie. Then she returned to the door and looked at Mr. Khan for another long moment. Then she said to the guard, "Let him stay. She get's scared when she wakes up and he isn't here." But she said to Mr. Khan. "But don't lock the door again. And leave the windows alone."
Hiram Khan almost said that he didn't have a key again, but didn't. But he did wonder about how the door got locked.
Then he shrugged. He had just seen something he could never explain. Had it really happened?
He looked up. A thousand cranes guarded Stephie in her bed.
For those who decided not to read the gory stuff in the middle, here is what happened: Sergeant Arteminski, who had decided to visit Dr. Watanabe again, found his gun was missing. He called Argent Goodman, who used her arts to determine that the thief had supernatural powers. Dr. Goodman called in Sailor Moon, and they went to Dr. Watanabe's. Unfortunately, they were too late: the Ghost Killer had killed Dr. Watanabe and all but one of his family, using Arteminski's gun to frame him for the murders.
The killer was Roberto Iturbe, back from the dead and infused with demonic powers. When the Iturbe-monster started torturing Stephanie Watanabe, Sailor Moon attacked it and rescued the the little girl.
The killer was defeated, but not destroyed.
There's a kidsafe scene at the end, after the fight.Back to the Top