I Become You
Watching us in our nightmares is to become something we fear becoming. And fear is a parasite in the body of a ghoul.
This piece of fiction is a continuation to I See My Legs In Front Of Me. I Become You is inspired by Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human.
Such an early riser to be knocking on the door at this hour, I thought. The steaming hot coffee in my mug I keep holding to wake me up accompanies me to the door. As the door opens, my mug screams fracture when it hits the floor.
“S-Sanka!?” I yell at the person in front of me. Frail, scratches scattered while lacking the blood running in her face. The face I had missed and mourned.
I’m not sure if the coffee hasn’t woken me up completely, but this feels like a dream. Like seeing a ghost in front of me, I’ve yet to conclude what kind of dream I’m currently having. Sleepless nights I had gone through for weeks. My worries, anxiety, anger, and denial of the person I love gone, and I wasn’t even there to witness it, come rushing into my brain all at once. There she is, the ghost of my loss, standing right before me.
“Sanka... Is that really you? You.. came back?” my voice trembles as I reach for her. She stares at me, empty-like. Her eyes tell nothing and everything at the same time. I wrap my arms around her, but the lack of warmth on her skin scares me worrisome.
“…Hey,” her first word faintly audible in the morning air. She looks to where my head is laid, and her shoulder stays still.
“I swear, what the fuck were you thinking… Sanka, I-I thought... you were fucking dead,” the tremble in my voice was not getting any better. Tears I can’t keep in anymore. Every bit of ego I almost toss out the window for this moment, and I could not care less if the neighbors complain about my raising voice. My fear of her dying passes in a glance. “I…” says Sanka, a breath of hesitation lingers in her word. Silence carries forward. She looks down. “It’s fine. Let’s get you in.”
She sits down on the couch, staring even longer. The cold silence beats the morning air, but she’s here nonetheless. She must’ve been through something.
“Hey, um… We can talk about it when you’re ready. It’s fine, just,” I make my way to her side on the couch. “Just know I’m here if you wanna tell me anything.” She nods slowly. Although her decision still upsets me, seeing her blank stares weighs me. At the very least, her physical presence boils down my anxiety. “Do you want anything? Have you had food? Want something warm?” She slowly shakes her head. Her favorite drink is worth trying to get something warm in her, and the thought runs into my head. “Want some coffee? I just brew for a few cups.”
She shakes her head again. Maybe she’s not feeling herself. Did something terrible happen to shake her up so much? How heavy must it have been for her to get shaken up like this? I ask myself. The Sanka I know is strong, and so this must’ve been something that crossed her boundaries. Slowly but surely, my concern seeps in. “I’m gonna be on my way to work. I think you deserve a week-worth of bedrest, firefly,”
As if I said something that triggers it, she suddenly moves her sight so fast in my direction. There’s an intensity that speaks to me in her eyes, like a muffled scream. While my eyes are telling me she’s here, my soul very well knows she’s not.
“O…kay,” she replies. I watch her walk towards our bedroom, following slowly from behind. Her walk is sluggish. I realized there are scratches on her trousers and tiny holes in some parts of her clothes. As if she walks through the woods, trips over, trying to run or something. “Let me help you get changed,” I offer. She sits on the edge of the bed as I change her clothes. Silence, as expected, fills the entire room again. “Better, now sleep,” I say as I pull the blanket up. “See you later, firefly. Please don’t walk away again. Just, at least call me first,” a peck lands on her temple.
My day at work is packed with assumptions running, trying to connect the dots. She must’ve carried through with the mission. I received the money, that’s one fact. Consistent payment, at that. Did something happen during the mission? She made it back here, but her clothes… Was she trying to escape? Did something happen at the end of the contract? Even with these thoughts, I can’t stop running on the walk home. I might have to contact The Company and get something out of them. Uneasiness soaks me in my thoughts. Something must’ve happened.
I open the door to my apartment, expecting to see Sanka in sight. But it’s the early December air that greets me instead. Thoughts run through my head again. Did the heater stop working? Did she turn it on at all? Haven’t I paid my electricity bills? I begin to inspect the living room. There, our windows are fully open, and curtains swing against the breeze. My uneasiness has fully submerged me, and I’m running out of air.
“Fire… fly…?” Sanka’s voice greets me on the other side of the living room. She has a clearer voice than the first time she came back home, but the stutter signals an effort to call out. She only looks at me, not saying anything further. Anxiety is stuck in my throat, so close for me to vomit it out. “Sanka?” “Firefly,” she lets out. Along with her word is that damn empty stare again, one that I’m still not used to. The vacant distance between us is not helping the terror I feel raising in my chest. One muscle move from either of us would probably be audible from this void of a living room.
She makes her steps toward me—one step, two, three, faster in each after another. I freeze, and the air is not what‘s holding me down.
“H-hey, did you open the windows-” before I could finish, Sanka hugs me, not repeating a word. Her skin, freezing cold. “Jesus Christ, you’re so cold, Sanka-” I tell her, distracting my uneasiness. “I want…”
My silence arrives deliberately, giving her some space to speak. My heart races, as if blood and heat are beating life into me, in contrast to her skin. “…You.”
Her arms grow tighter, suffocating almost, but it doesn’t distract me from what she just said. “H-hey, it’s not the time to be flirting with me. I take it you’re back now?” My anxiety withers, but her silence returns. “Fine, let me close these windows and get the heater running. You’ll get sick.”
I pull the blanket up, covering my lips as I get comfortable. Absence of sound I’m already used to fills up the room again. Fortunately, the heater has been left running for some time. I take a look at Sanka. She has closed her eyes. I suppose she still needs the rest. From this view, she looks peaceful. Too peaceful. No, she just must’ve been through something. I’ve decided to call The Company during my lunchtime at work tomorrow, should be far enough for her not to eavesdrop in case it triggers her. My thoughts run, but they drift me off.
I can feel rustling beside me. My eyes are heavy. With some effort, I open them up.
A pair of empty eyes stare at me. Shadow engulfs her face, leaving lights on the craters of her eyes.
I jump off my bed, putting an arm-length distance between us. My heart pounds for mercy, but the blank stare piercing right through me isn’t giving me any. The menacing darkness in front of me stops me from feeling the floor I’m sitting on. Until the rushing pain from my palms and bottom dawns into my nerves, telling me I just fell from my bed. I can feel the shudders all over my body from my heart’s effort to break out of my ribcage. I could flee, but there it is: the stare, unbroken, unmoving. She moves her body in my direction; eyes fixated on me. “Sa-Sanka?” Who am I kidding. There is no way. There is no more Sank-
Bang, bang, bang
Suddenly a banging barges on the front door. Our attention switches to the direction of the sound source.
“Mr. Bunka Shu-En? This is The Company Containment and Defense Force. Are you inside?” a woman’s voice, assertive and clear, breaks through the silence after the banging. “Are you with Ms. Sanka Ei? Shout ‘yes’ if you are. We request for you NOT to make a sudden move, Mr. Shu-En,” the woman continues. “Y-Yes, I am with Sanka.”
“Great. Would you cooperate with me and follow my directions, Mr. Shu-En? This is important to save your life, do you understand?” the woman continues. “My unit is here. We can only save you if you follow my directions.” My mind sprints for miles an hour. Dots are trying to connect themselves; The strange behaviors that haven’t been like hers. Turning down coffee when Sanka would never. The lack of warmth in her body, my apartment left open in the cold. The weird movements I possibly mistook for trauma response. The absence of words. How she hasn’t mentioned my name in the span of our reunion. And those damn empty stares.
“What the fuck is happening?! Tell me what the fuck is happening right now! Who the fuck is sitting on my bed-” Sanka returns her attention, making a slow move towards me.
“Do not fear,” the woman replies, audibly clear.
“What did you just tell me?!”
“I ask you to please remain calm and do not fear. It will sense it. Stick to my voice, Mr. Shu-En. Can you do that?”
“What the fuck did you mean by ‘It’!?” I shout in response. ‘Sanka’ makes another few moves towards me.
“If I tell you everything, remain calm, do not fear, and accept it. Can you do that?” the woman’s voice turns to a firm reassurance.
“Goddamn it, fine! I’ll try to stay calm and breathe or some shit. Now, hurry up and tell me,” I reply while trying to get a hold of steady breathing. ‘Sanka’ stops crawling.
“As you know, Ms. Sanka Ei took a carrier mission to the moon a few months ago. She came back to us, but as she interacted with our crew, she started attacking them. Ms. Ei was apprehended with reports of her unusual behavior. We theorized that something else might have ‘tagged along’ with her. We later found that it did not just tag along, but made Ms. Ei’s body its new home and inhabited it. However, our realization was untimely because it escaped your way,” the woman explains uninterruptedly.
“No, you need to tell me what ‘it’ is, Company woman,” I ask, with impatience in my tone.
“A ghoul, sir,” says the woman calmly.
“A fucking what now?! Like creatures? Aliens?”
‘Sanka’ makes another move. Unsure, despite the steadiness. I collect my breathing.
“Yes. Something like that. Our company runs a research unit on the existence of intelligent and sentient beings. This Capture and Defense Force is… well, to contain them if we ever resort to something like this. And here we are,” continues the woman. The urge to question in me has just died. The dots have connected, and I was wary no more. In this very second, what lies in front of me, the truth of the world we live in, I wonder no longer.
“Tell me what it wants.”
“Fear. It senses your fear as it sniffs it. From what happened to Ms. Ei, the ghoul’s plausible objective is to inhabit. Inhabit minds, and bodies, which could very well lead to the inhabition of the global population. We suggest you stay away from the dark, Mr. Shu-En,” says the woman.
‘Sanka’ opens her mouth. So wide, almost to the point her jaw unhinges.
“Sir? Are you still there?”
Her jaw. No, its jaw. I can hear cracks. An unreasonably dark pit takes refuge in her mouth. “S-Sanka… no, it’s opening its damn mouth-”
Behind the door, the woman’s voice can still be heard, even muffled. “Boys, go right ahead. Remain calm, and cover the area with light.” Comms sound can be heard. “Copy that, ma’am. Charlie Delta Force breaching target’s location, the target is audibly Northwest.” A loud bang and cracks of wood can be heard. I can’t take my eyes off her. Off it.
Darkness suddenly falls in our room. The bedroom Sanka and I have spent years breathing life in, is now a mere void. Blasting frosty air abruptly captures me, as if the Alps sends its wind to where I’m sitting. Darkness slides over, and I’m suddenly standing on grey terrains. The light, rocks, craters. I recognize this place, this moment. I am standing on… the moon? I look around, and was proven right. The earth, small, and so far away. But if I were on the moon, that means…
In the distance, I see a space carrier. Hold on, it’s got to be… My mind travels. I run as fast as I can. Behind it I find a person in a space suit, lying on the moon grounds. No… please, no. As I close the distance, I can see cracks in the helmet. I kneel down. A face that’s been bursted out, frozen blood surrounding it. I come close to not recognizing that face, until I see the remaining beauty marks that only Sanka has.
I scream, shutting my eyes from the sight.
Suddenly, I’m standing in some sort of facility. Behind this thick glass window, I see Sanka in a space suit entering the spaceship. I bang on the glass, yet nobody moves their heads to where I am. The ship’s thrusters fire up and launches. This sight is too familiar. I scream from the top of my lungs to stop the ship — to stop her. A loud blast pierces across the sky. The spaceship is blown to pieces. Debris flying out, hitting the facility and the glass that traps me, puncturing through my body too. I’ve seen this before.
Wait a minute. Whatever the fuck this is, it’s probably feeding off my fear of her dying, her dying alone. But this isn’t just vision. I’ve been here before. No, the pain that I feel from the debris is real.
I scream again. The sensation of futility in the hands of the unknown submerges me in the physical and mental torment I fear facing.
Out of the blue, my running thoughts are interrupted by distant sounds of radio comms.
“Not too late, boys. It’s having a hard time getting into his body.” “Cavalry Container, Charlie Delta Force is proceeding capture, over.” “Issue at containment, target and Mr. Shu-En are unstable, over.” “You Godforsaken disgusting devil.”
I can’t see anyone else but debris falling out into the facility. My breath is taken right out of my lungs.
“Ma’am, permission to shoot before its complete inhabition,” the sound of a soldier follows through.
The debris piercing into me snaps me out of trying to hear what I was hearing, possibly from the other side of all… this. There are drops of blood and pieces of skin amidst the raining debris. “I got a clear shot, Ma’am, waiting for orders.”
Darkness falls over me again, covering the cries of my vain beg for mercy in ending the nightmare I’m witnessing,
“Fine. Do it.”
And a whisper in the distance greets me.
‘I’ll… see… you… soon… Bun…ka.’