Disclaimer: I don't own Furuba.
Note: The setting of this story is somewhere in Europe. This is my first time to write a horror story so please bear with me. Haha. PLEASE READ AND REVIEW. Constructive criticism highly advised.
The Sixth Victim
They had been staying there for about three days. They told her that she was just a "crazy innkeeper," telling stories about people that have long been gone, people with beautiful yet sad tales woven throughout an intricate passage in time.
She believed them. It was hard not to.
Whenever she saw the innkeeper running her wrinkly, pale, skeletal fingers through the pages of her books, humming that strange little tune, she saw a woman past the ages of sanity; an old woman gone crazy, to put it accurately.
But tonight, she heard it again. And she began to wonder if what her companions said was true.
There it was. The same tune the old innkeeper kept on humming. But she knew it wasn't the hag's voice now. It sounded…
Tonight was different, though. The nights before, she heard the same melody yet it felt so far away. To put it in a less confusing way, whoever sung it seemed like she was… keeping her distance from her. Like the voice was teasing her.
Hush my pet…
It was beckoning her.
… Mama will keep thee from harm.
Tohru hastily wriggled her way out of her bed. "Hello? Who is it?"
"Hello?" She walked cautiously towards the door. She stopped for a moment, waiting perhaps for the sound of the lady's voice to signal her to come out.
Tohru shivered for a moment. Maybe it would be better if she told the others—
Tick…tick…Tick, tick, tick…
"What's that?" Tohru felt breathless for a moment. It sounded like someone was turning something. Something like the handles at the side of those jukeboxes her mother used to own. Those little boxes that gave off sounds that seemed so dead to her right now; sounds that were dead along with her childhood.
It stopped for a while. What came next was the same tune she heard all the time ever since she set foot in this villa. The same song the innkeeper hummed; the same song she heard the young lady just behind the door of her room half-sing and half-hum. But this time, it sounded like there were pieces of metal clanging along with it. Tohru listened for a while. It was like she was in a trance.
She remembered the story her mom used to tell her: about the emperor and the nightingale. The music she heard sounded like the mechanical nightingale the emperor received from Japan… the mechanical bird that almost cost him his life.
Hush, my pet… hmm… hmmm… mama will keep thee from harm.
Unhurriedly, Tohru's hand came in contact with the door knob. It was cold to the touch. She didn't know why, but at that moment, she felt so alive. It seemed like the flesh of her body knew no barriers. All of the emotions humans were inclined to feel but weren't allowed to, she felt coursing through her mortal blood. Indifference, lust, greed… but ultimately, she felt the warmth of danger… of freedom. And at that very instant, she heard it.
"A beautiful maiden with golden hair and skin as fair as day
Was kept in a house as big as could be, oh, how she wanted to stay.
But then one night our dear maiden was, oh, how do we say this…"
"Ah! She was taken by a demon in the form of a human!
She fell in love and soon enough, she bore a child.
But oh, the demon got quite hungry and all he wanted to eat was human flesh
The maiden was blinded by love and soon offered what she only could
And so, alas, the child was gone the next day and so was the maiden, yes yes.
Oh, woe is me, and all that was left was their story."
It was all recited like a mocking chant. The voice sounded familiar. Tohru swiveled around only to find herself out of her room, staring at the innkeeper's gruesomely white face. The innkeeper's skin hung on her like any wretched hag's skin would, her wrinkles seemingly translucent once the light from the blaze of her lamp flickered upon it. The reflection of the flame seemed to dance in glee on the innkeeper's eyes. Her lips puckered in delight as she grabbed Tohru's wrist. She yelled frightfully at her:
"You saw her, felt her, heard her, didn't you?! And you told me I was crazy! That I was beyond my years of sanity! Didn't you?! I heard it coming from deep within your soul and she heard it too! Well, I curse you as you cursed us! Spin around, foolish girl! You'll see I'm not lying!"
Tohru cringed, wide-eyed with fright. The innkeeper's face seemed to distort in a mad, almost enraged way. "TURN!"
Tohru did as she was told, the old hag's wisps of white hair kissing her bare neck as she leaned closer to her.
And indeed, she realized that what the innkeeper said was true as she saw the woman from her story.
Her hair hung loose, beautiful shades of honey blonde and chrome yellow shining beneath the lamp's fire. Her blue eyes looked like that ocean Tohru's mom used to take her to: vast and alive. The woman seemed… human at that time. Her gown was like those of the princesses Tohru thought she would only see in picture books and movies. It was a vivid color of violet.
Tick, tick, tick…
Hmm, hmmm, hmm… the lady hummed, as if lulling a child to sleep. Tohru couldn't bring herself to move. Even her eyes didn't blink. She found out soon enough that the mechanical sounds she heard earlier on came from an intricately designed music box. It gleamed even if the only light came from the innkeeper's lamp. An eerie melody emanated from it and the woman with the ocean-like eyes sung along to it. Slowly, leisurely, she danced along to it, her agile limbs and her snow-white arms moving graciously to the beat. Whichever movement she made, however, her ageless, almost glass-like face remained still, keeping her eyes on Tohru.
…Mama will keep thee from harm.
Tohru closed her eyes for a moment as she felt like she would drown if she stared too long at the woman's eyes.
Mama will keep thee from harm.
Once she opened them, her mouth widened in shock as she let out a silent scream.
Right before her eyes lay a child with eyes as blue as the ocean, bathed in a fluid, crimson blanket. The child was dead while his mother clutched his heart. And in the woman's usual graceful manner, she ate it, never keeping her eyes away from Tohru's face.
The next day, the innkeeper excitedly ran her bony fingers through the pages of her books. She couldn't wait to write down Tohru Honda's story. Her hands shook fervently as she wrote down in big, spidery letters
The Sixth Victim