Disclaimer: I do not own Death Note or its characters. They all belong to Tsugumi Ohba and Takashi Obata. I also do not own Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, from which certain aspects of the plot are thus derived.
T for swearing and violence.
Saint Sentiment Presents
Ten Little Wolves
Cast of Characters:
Light Yagami: An intelligent high school student from Japan who might need a little more than parental guidance.
Nate River: The physically disabled albino boy native of Slovenia with no interest in social conventions. He prefers peace, quiet, and an assortment of dice.
Matthew Jeevas: A soft spoken young man with nervous twitches and a sore neck. He's got a heavy load to carry—that'dmake anyone nervous..
Lawrence Lawliet: With his hands in his pockets and an impassive stare, he doesn't strike anyone as particularly remarkable—but his deductive abilities come in handy when things take a frightening turn.
Naomi Misora: She is kind, taciturn, and often keeps to herself. For some odd reason though, she looks very pained. She's also considers the subject of children a disturbing prospect..
Brendan Bridgewood: Otherwise known as B. A wonder the manager hadn't assumed that they'd all feel safer in the hotel without a nut case in their group: apparently he's looking for a man that no one else can find.
Halle Lidner: Her snobby demeanor and meager patience is a turn off to men and women alike. She was headed to the airport until her tires suddenly popped, and now she's stuck in a hotel with nine other strangers.
Roger Ruvie: The amiable manager. He was never one to believe in ghosts, but this strange, incongruous group of people have changed his mind as of late.
Merrie Kenwood: A bombshell blond with a familiar face. Lately she's found herself in an impasse with the rest of the guests. As if the predicament weren't dire enough..
Tierry Morello: A suave, handsome, calm individual who sees this whole affair as a strange, childish joke.
Kiyomi Takada: The young Slovakian boy's adoptive mother.
Detective-Inspector Gevanni: The most imaginative man of Scotland Yard. He loves crime fiction and can be something of a Hercule Poirot at times. He was the first to suggest that the weird goings-on at the unassuming hotel were nothing short of astounding.
Chapter One: Going Out To Tea
The engine spurred and sputtered to a stop in the lonely road. He tried to see in front of him, but there was nothing ahead but darkness and ill weather.
"No...not tonight...come on, my life's already sucking as it is.." He hit his forehead gently on the side of the window, his lip quivering. "Dad.."
The young man sprang out of his car and kicked the door multiple times. He kicked until his foot hurt, then turned his back to the car and slid resignedly to the wet ground. Not even the skin under his clothes were untouched by the onslaught of rain. His dark brown bangs fringed over his eyesight and he rested his head in his palms.
"Where am I going to go now? What am I gonna do? I'm stuck here unless.."
"Dammit! Shit!" The woman screamed, stomping on the pedal while her windshield wipers waved to and fro in the tumult. "This is just great...great...I have a plane to catch and I'm caught in this shit!" She snatched her umbrella and possessions, got out of the car and slammed the door violently behind her.
With a growl of agitation she glimpsed one final time at her deflated, hopeless tires. Must have hit a sharp rock or other...tires don't pop for nothing!
And so she started down the road, her high heels tapping on the pavement. "This is a nightmare.." she muttered angrily, and expanded her umbrella to the anguished sky. "Just great..."
A few minutes into the seemingly never ending road her suitcases began to feel like a sack of rocks, so she dropped them onto the ground and bent down. Damn this whipping cold, this harsh onslaught of rain! The desire to rest was killing her..
Her eyes widened. Could it be? Someone with a car? Someone who knows the way to the airport? Ah, her luck!
"Hey, you there!" the voice called again. She lifted the umbrella from her view and peered out into the distance. It was a young boy in a high school uniform jogging toward her, unmistakably soaked and aggrieved. He looked lost, too.
Pff. Her luck..
She stood warily and motioned him to come closer. He did so obligingly. "Hi.." he began, swiping wet bangs from his eyes. "Uh...do you, by any chance, have a car? Mine just broke down a little off the road and—"
The woman began to groan. "Aw, damn.."
The young man frowned. Just seeing her walking alone with an umbrella over her head was proof enough of her being stranded, but he thought it was best to try anyway.
"You too, huh?" He forced a dubious laugh. "Ah, what are the odds.."
"Got a name, kid?" She held out her hand.
They shook quickly. "Yeah, it's Light. Light Yagami," he declared, in an almost intended imitation of James Bond.
"Japan, huh?" she said, disinterested. She didn't even care to make eye contact.
The question was rhetorical, but Light nodded anyway. There was an informality about her that he began to dislike. American, he assumed.
"My name's Halle." She peered away from him. "There has to be some form of civilization not far down the road.."
"I heard there's a hotel or an inn of some sort. That's civilized enough for you, huh?" He smiled genuinely now. "If you share your umbrella, we can find it together."
Halle smiled too, if only to preserve the feigned cordiality she needed to get to shelter. "Sure thing."
Light ducked under it and they made their way up the road, conversing about meaningless subject matter just to advert their thoughts from their rotten luck.
The woman glanced askance at the rear view mirror once more. It became a habit ever since he came in. Like there was something to look out for.
She'd never seen a man so completely composed of oddity. As he sat in the backseat, twiddling his thumbs as he'd been for the past fifteen minutes, she thought about what could've happened to make him this way. The man had his legs folded to his chest like a frightened child and he was only wearing a white long-sleeve t-shirt and aged, faded blue jeans. When she found him out there, he wasn't even wearing shoes. She'd asked him how he happened upon the road in the first place, but he only replied, vaguely, that he was "looking for someone". She wanted to know where he came from, among other things, but he didn't seem ready to spill at the moment.. Too caught in his meanderings..
Why was he so nervous? Is someone dangerous after him? Is he dangerous?
"U-um..lady.." A pallid, slender finger drew up to the rear view mirror. "U-uh, the-there's.."
"There's another lady and a man that wants to talk to you. They're out in the road. I think they're calling' you.."
She stopped the car immediately and looked behind her. Indeed, there was a woman and a man running up to them, in dire need of help. She grabbed her jacket and exited the car.
"Need help?" she shouted into the rain.
The blond woman got to her first. "We're stuck out here. Both of our cars—useless heaps of metal." Her hands dropped to her thighs and allowed her heart rate to slow.
"By the way, the name's Halle. This is Light—" she muttered breathlessly and pointed to him. Light half smiled; one could now tell that he no longer cared for formalities.
She grasped Halle's hands and shook. "Hello, Light, Halle. I'm Naomi Misora."
He leaned in with happy surprise. "Misora? And your accent—your Japanese, too?"
"You're...?" she began, "What part? Me, I'm Kobe."
"No sh—!" Light reproved himself. "I-I mean, I'm from Kanto."
"Hajimemashite!" Naomi shook hands with Light, much to his approval.
"—Hate to ruin your little reunion, but I was wondering if you could take me to the airport." Halle continued indignantly, "The young man'll settle for an inn or motel, but I've got a flight."
She shuddered in the cold, her beautiful blond tresses stuck to her face unchecked. Light was already quite soaked so it didn't matter either way to him. He stepped back and allowed her free reign over the small space under the umbrella.
"Yeah, uh—oh..." Naomi's eyes widened in realization. "I-I'm sorry, I don't think I'll be able to. There's another guy in the backseat who's stranded out here too. We're both headed to the hotel because—well, I'm too far down the road to go home and I don't have a lot of gas..." Ashamed, she cast her stare downward. "I'm sorry, miss."
Halle's brows furrowed together, but whether in anger or deep thought, Naomi nor Light could decide. "Okay, you know what? I'll just...go in your car, and I'll get a room. This is obviously—" Her voice raised a few octaves, then reclined to a murmur. "..Not my day."
Defeated, the bereaved blond and the high school student headed to the car with a now forlorn gait, believing circumstances couldn't get any worse.
Four strangers in a car, on a stormy night and a ominous road did not, in any way, appeal to Halle. The sentiment only deepened when she considered the odd man situated just inches from her. Light and Naomi were bearable because ever since they got in the car, they've avoided conversing with each other, especially in their native tongue. She felt fervently in the mood for a cigarette, but with one glance at her open purse, she sighed in annoyance, knowing there were none left.
Light's spirits, however, were rising, as he could do with a nice warm bed and a good night's sleep. He'd been depressed, lost, and utterly despondent these past few days, but he reasoned it could've just been the prospect of home. Home reminded him of everything, including his mom and sister. It wasn't that he didn't love them, it was just..
They brought up too much. All they ever talked about was..was..
"Dad.." Light rested his palm on his chin. He turned to look at the weird man perched, not sitting, on Halle's right side. With those wide, almost bulging black eyes and monstrously unkempt black hair, he appeared as a younger, more disheveled Tim Burton.
It was intriguing, though Light resisted the urge to quirk a brow. He didn't want to insult anyone anymore—he'd been fighting with everyone lately. "So uh...what's your name, stranger?"
The man remained unmoved and he received no form of acknowledgment. Light began to feel silly and thought perhaps he might be deaf or hard of hearing, so he returned his attention to the falling rain.
"Hey, weirdo!" Halle seethed, violently nudging his shoulder blade.
The mysterious, reclusive creature came to reality with a start. "Y-yes?"
"He's was talking to you, you know." She said, and folded her arms like a disappointed child.
The man's attention was now fixed on Light, as it should have been a few seconds ago. "What's..?" he trailed off.
"Your name." Light laughed to let the man know he wasn't severely offended.
"B-Brendan Bridgewood." He stuttered, "But it's just B."
Mr. Bridgewood looked very perturbed, to say the least. Light was at a loss as to how he could come off as so threatening.
"B?" Light inquired, "You mean people only call you by one letter? Weird.." He whispered, and turned his attention to the road ahead of him. Halle sighed in annoyance, though no one paid any mind to it.
The queer Mr. Bridgewood nodded and averted his stare to the window.
"Looking for someone?" Light asked, facing him again.
"Well, maybe we can help you get in contact with them—tell 'em where you are when we get to the hotel, I mean."
With an apprehensive countenance, B returned, "No need. He'll find his way here. He's been.." he trailed off and muttered something inaudible to himself. "Nothing, nothing..."
"Hey, you're not...running from anyone, are you?"
B looked at him again with eyes of a somber angel and said softly, "I don't have to. People run from me."
Halle's composure finally failed her and she directed a sour glare to Naomi. "You're a little kinder than you should be, definitely more trusting. I would use more discretion in choosing who I drive around. This guy obviously needs some serious medical attention!"
Light gasped and stared at her with incredulity.
Naomi muttered scornfully, "I'm beginning to regret you, so I see your point. I'll be more careful next time."
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Halle violently retaliated. "He could be running from the cops for all you know!"
All things considered, Light began to agree. "..Or a psych ward.." He added under his breath, his face toward the window to escape suspicion.
"So could you, but I let you in anyway! At least the man's being quiet!" Naomi shouted with a sudden force alien to her.
Halle's demurring words died on her tongue.
The conflicting selves of Naomi's being threw around the notion of pressing into the wound or giving out. Her inherent, detestable modesty pervaded and she relapsed into her initial silence. She was, after all, driving this woman, and there wasn't much sense in continuing the argument. She was too feeble to handle a confrontation.
As time passed and the yellow line of the road raced to oblivion, the awkwardness of the whole predicament abated. Light forgot and tangled himself in his own web of musings. Naomi effaced it from her mind, with many things to consider like Light. Halle noticed how severely her attitude had taken a turn. The cruel little demon returned though, and what she could once call remorse was no longer there.
Halle at once knew that there was something in Naomi that could be taken advantage of; whether that weakness had always been there or was drawn out by some unfortunate happening, she didn't know. But she knew the weak ones when she saw them.
Having identified Naomi's flaw, she recruited her mental artillery against Mr. Bridgewood, whose case was rather feasible. All things strange under the sun personified itself in him.
Halle once more scrutinized the damp, white, long-sleeve shirt that clung to B's emaciated frame, the worn blue jeans frayed at the heels of his feet, then his absently dark, reddish-grey eyes that gave little knowledge of reality, and finally—the unobtrusive pink scars under his wrists.
An inviting gape tugged at her lips. Had he tried to kill himself?
There was assuredly something that whispered abuse about him, probably mommy-daddy issues in childhood or perhaps a victim of domestic violence. But Halle could hardly entertain the thought of an abusive girlfriend...a relative was more likely...
Maybe she should've been a little nicer to him—"weirdo" was exceptionally mean...
Ah, to hell with it. Naomi seriously should not have let this man in her car.
Halle turned to Naomi once more. "So how long is this gonna take?" inquired the blond, as if the argument had never eased its way into existence. "I'm soaking wet...I don't expect you to have any towels either.."
Naomi shrugged. "I don't know. I've never been to this hotel or inn before. B..." It felt incongruous to even utter that letter in the sanctity of her vehicle. "...Suggested it. He said I couldn't miss it."
"You've been there before?" Halle sneered to B.
"He's very nice...like this lady.." B almost smiled at the morose brunette, but the desire to was quick at leaving. She probably didn't like him. No one did, really, so he could understand..
Then he realized that no one aside from himself understood what he said. A faint pink arose in his cheeks. He shouldn't say anything more, he decided. He only served to confuse and freak people out, and if he said something stupid, the sad, pretty lady would grow to hate him..
The student and the other woman were already on weird terms with him. No, he should be fair. The blond woman despised him. He wasn't sure what to think of the kid. He said something about his Dad, didn't he? Is he some sort of run away?
"B?" Naomi looked at the rear view mirror for the thousandth time.
"What did you mean by—hey, look! I see it!"
Everyone lurched forward in unprecedented interest to whatever it was that Naomi had addressed.
It was the hotel B had mentioned. Embellished over the front of the establishment bore the words 'Whammy's Hotel'.
The size came as a surprise to everyone. There were doubtlessly more rooms contained inside it than any possible number of tenants who would happen by this place at any one time.
Halle's lips broke into a great grin of self-assurance. This is nothing like what she'd been hoping for—far beyond that. It was so convenient it was frightening. By some turn of great fortune she'd stumbled upon this. Maybe this night wouldn't go as bad as she initially thought.
Halle was out of the car before Naomi had a chance to find the parking lot. She insisted that she be released immediately and abruptly thanked Naomi for the ride. She didn't even pause to apologize for her impertinence—if indeed she felt any sense of human decency behind all her pompous reasoning. With a grunt Light removed his legs from her path and opened the door for her. It was an unspoken agreement that she wouldn't exit on B's side of the car.
B, accustomed to far worse insolence than what Halle could dish out, stared at her blankly and uttered an emotionless goodbye. Halle didn't even bother to acknowledge it and strutted out of the car with an outspread umbrella and all her possessions in tow.
Light immediately closed the door as Naomi spun around in a semi-circle, a grunt confirming she'd found the parking lot. When the car was situated, Light said goodbye and headed out.
"Sayonara," he said.
"Sayonara," she returned, and threw her hood over her head and snatched her purse.
Naomi noticed as she closed the door behind her that B had not bothered to dismiss himself. Instead he stared intently out the window, utterly perplexed and amazed at something. Naomi glimpsed in front of her and saw nothing of interest, save for a few other cars parked juxtapose to her own.
What is he staring at?
She opened the other car door and waved her hand in front of his fixated stare. Still he wouldn't be moved. The smallest wisp of fear shot up her spine as his mental soundness came into question. Apprehensively she asked, "Mr. Bridgewood? Is something wrong?"
Silly question. Of course something was wrong. She just wished that B would tell her what it was. But her voice never reached him, and still he addressed someone else. Someone, Naomi knew, wasn't there: "It's you. I saw you there. It was you.."
Just as abruptly as Halle departed, B did also, except that he didn't follow the same path as Halle and Light. Instead, he disappeared around the corner. When Naomi entered the hotel to search for him, Roger, the manager, said he hadn't seen him.
"I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost track of him. Perhaps he's upset about something that he feels he can't disclose to anyone else. He could be in the back smoking a cigarette, I suppose," Roger offered, like he knew the ways of the young in and out. He was an elderly man leaning onto the front desk with his hands folded in front of his mouth, like this was some kind of discreet discussion of utmost importance. Sixty-ish, Naomi would say.
One could tell with only one look that B didn't smoke. She thought of what Roger might say if she'd informed him thoroughly of her companion's odd behavior.
With a quick glance she noticed a 10-piece set of wolf figurines behind him in a cupboard, all made of china, positioned to chase a small lamb.
She removed her hood. "Well, he has messy black hair and he's wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans so...if you see him please let me know. Oh, and he's not wearing shoes, either."
Roger quirked a brow. "I assume his shoes must have been soaked and dirtied beyond all repair in the storm."
"Yeah probably.." she murmured carelessly, walking away. She knew he'd waltzed out onto the road without them. He was running from someone. That she knew for sure. And he was looking for someone, too..
Naomi turned to face Roger. He had a black key with a white number painted on it.
"Your room, Ma'am." He laughed.
"Oh! Oh, I'm sorry," she tapped her head in light admonishment, "Man, I've been so absent-minded lately." She took the key and descended up the stairs to her room.
Absent-minded, indeed, Roger thought with another chuckle. She didn't even bother to ask how much the room was or tell him how long she intended to stay.
Meanwhile, Light had just entered the hotel to inform Roger of a simple inconvenience.
"Hello there, sir. You're the manager right? The phone isn't working. But anyway, I'd like a room."
Said Roger, "Sorry to hear that, son. Must be the weather." He snatched another key off of the wall and handed it to him. "Hope you enjoy your stay nonetheless. I'm sure the phones will be up and running smoothly tomorrow. But is it an emergency?"
"Nah.." Light trailed off with an apathetic shake of his head. "I was kind of hoping the lines weren't working—then I'd have an excuse.."
Roger murmured something about the room being fifty dollars, of which he was vaguely thankful that he'd taken with him, and fished in his jeans pocket for it. He obtained a crinkled heap of some seventy dollars and passively dropped it onto Roger's hand.
"Want your change?"
Roger might as well not have asked—Light was in space. The old man faintly grumbled about people being so "aloof" and walked to the register.
At that moment Light didn't feel like going up to his room. If he was alone his thoughts would drive him crazy. Luckily the lounge was rather noisy with guests, thus inhibiting peaceful rumination. He searched around for a bench and found one by a pot with a plant long since dead. On that bench lay a young teenager, perhaps maybe a few years younger than him and definitely just as soaked, shivering. Apparently he was trying to sleep.
He mustn't have any money. There was also a suggestive looking bucket situated near him on the floor. Roger commented behind him, "Sick. Flu, stomach virus, pneumonia...don't know."
Light turned just in time to see Roger shrug. "Poor thing."
"Between you and me...he has no I.D or form of identification on him and I'm starting to think he's homeless...but when he came in here he was just so sad and needy I took him in."
So...another one like B who managed to find someone with Naomi's kindness.
"Hm." Light left the conversation and strode up the young stranger.
"What's your name?" he asked the shivering boy.
The teen peered groggily up at him through orange-tinted goggles.
The boy's hair was a chestnut color, similar to his, and fell flat around his head in an uneven, jagged heap. He had on a black and white striped shirt and tight skinny jeans that fit perfectly into padded winter boots. "...'S Matt," he grumbled, and dropped his head back on the wood with a dull thump.
Such strange characters—an obviously depressed Japanese woman, a rude blond, a slightly unhinged man with no shoes, and now a bum pilot trying to sleep on a bench. What diversity. Quite an influx of strange guests were coming in now, Light had noticed. B had finally decided to make his existence known and scurried up the stairs with muddy feet. Then came the newcomers: a beautiful woman with boyishly short black hair, chinky looking, and an albino boy in a wheel chair, wearing pajamas with a bloody nose.
Light struggled to withhold laughter.
"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have called you down—he was so angry—" was all that Light could pick up from the woman, who was most likely the boy's mother. Though, Light had trouble accepting that she married an albino and gave birth to that kid.
He studied the impossibly pallid boy very carefully, the way he gently dabbed at his nose, and the way he didn't seem affected by what his mother was saying or his profuse bleeding. The woman rubbed his shoulders comfortingly, or at least intending to comfort, as he accepted a key from the manager without throwing a glance Roger's way. The woman opened her wallet, eyes glued to her child, and Roger quickly accepted with a weak half smile.
Light could faintly make out Roger saying that he gave them a ground-floor key for their convenience and to have a nice day. The woman simply nodded and wheeled her son (who looked about a year or two younger than Light, who was 16) out of the lobby and into the hallway paved with doors on the left side.
Roger stared curiously after them, tapping his fingers on the desk. Light could only do the same.
Naomi discarded her leather jacket on the bed and briefly studied her room. A bed was situated in the middle, with white sheets and pillows. There were two small bureaus on each side. On the right side of the bed, next to the window, there was a single sofa chair. In concise terms, it was rather plainly adorned, save for a mantelpiece and a fake fireplace below it. Upon the mantelpiece sat a plaque. A poem. She read interestedly:
Ten little wolves went out to dine,
One choked on a bone and then there were nine.
Nine little wolves stayed up late,
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little wolves made a mockery of Heaven,
One was judged and then there were seven.
Seven little wolves played dirty little tricks,
One was beat and then there were six.
Six little wolves went awry,
One got in too deep and then there were five.
Five little wolves entreated on a man's door,
One was shot down and then there were four.
Four little wolves worked as a team,
One lost himself and then there were three.
Three little wolves out on the loose,
One tipped his balance and then there were two.
Two little wolves on the run,
One was caught and then there was one.
One little wolf spent and done,
He consigned to the hangman and then there were none.
What a horrible poem! She grasped the plaque and turned it around. Then she remembered: those wolves. In the cupboard. And the lamb. Funny. The poem never mentioned a lamb..
Naomi jumped as a knock resounded through her door. She quickly composed herself and went to answer.
B's rain-laden form awaited her, soaked and shivering. It reminded her of the way Halle shivered, and she actually felt sorry for her then.
"Come on in. I was wondering where you were at. Where'd you go?"
"I had to slip out to the back for a moment. I thought I—well, I really didn't think, I know I...never mind. I'm sorry I ran out on you. I came here to say thank you." He began to twiddle his thumbs again in nervous agitation.
Naomi decided not to probe. "Oh. Well, did you get a room?"
He shook his head. "No money. It doesn't matter."
"Then...where will you sleep?"
"I'll...sleep outside. It's really no problem. There's a bench out there." B saw the stupidity exposed in that statement and tried to change her perspective. "I-I mean, I'm used to—to—camping. I camp a lot, so I.." he fell into a timid mumble. "I camp.."
"You mean out in the woods? With other people?"
He's a terrible liar.
She snatched a towel from the bathroom and ran it through B's dripping mane. "You don't have to lie to me. I'll let you stay here tonight. I don't sleep much anyway."
An unmistakable blush attacked Mr. Bridgewood's cheeks. "U-uh—you don't have to do that!" He grabbed the towel and began to violently shake his hair dry with it. "It's really no problem!"
"It's fine." Naomi said softly, "Really."
He stopped in his frantic attempt to side-track himself from blushing at her, knowing he miserably failed. He covered the lower half of his face with the towel. "I'm sorry. I know I'm weird, and people don't like me much—"
"The person you're looking for—he's not here, is he?" Naomi intercepted.
"No. I mean, yes." He looked down. "He's here, but he just...vanishes, is all."
She stopped there. "Mm. Okay, why don't you just stay here? I'm gonna go downstairs and ask the manager a few questions about the hotel."
B nodded and sat on the floor, pulling his legs up to his chest. He looked as if he were going to break out in a fitful passion of tears. Naomi's heart lurched out of sympathy.
God, this poor soul..
Roger looked up from the newspaper he was reading and greeted Naomi with a warm smile.
She was grave. "Mr. Ruvie. I think the young man in my hotel room is confused."
"The one who came in here all wet and soggy and ruined my carpet?" He laughed.
"Yeah. Black hair, white shirt, blue jeans." She didn't see the humor. Halle was right; this man needed help.
"Confused about what, may I ask?"
"I believe he could be hallucinating. He's looking for someone. When he came out of my car he chased after something that wasn't there, and now he's saying that person just up and 'vanished'. He needs help."
"Lady, you have no idea—he's not the only one. There was a woman who came in here with 'er boy—he had a bloody nose and some bruises. Like he'd gotten in a real spot of trouble with his father. Alcoholic, I bet. And look at that young man there," Roger pointed to the boy on the bench.
Naomi took a double-take at both the boy and Light, who was sitting next to him. "Him? Is he sleeping on that bench?"
So B wasn't the only one who thought that was a good idea.
"Yeah, and I've got no idea what's wrong with him. He twitches and scratches his neck a lot. He's pale and skinny like he does drugs or something. I don't think he has a home. I'd call the police to swing by and pick him up, but.."
Naomi pursed her lips together and nodded. Calling the cops on the boy would be impudent of him.
"Everyone's having a bad day, huh?" she commented. The wolves met her line of sight again. "Hey, what's the story on those things?"
Roger glimpsed back. "Oh, those? Yeah, those are the wolves of that poem. There should be one in every room about them."
She wrinkled her nose in distaste.
He laughed. "I know, it's not a pretty poem, is it? I'm thinking of taking it down because it seems to offend some of the guests—yet others are fascinated by it. It's a nursery rhyme my brother used to love, God rest his soul."
Before Naomi could inquire, a man strode up to her with a sudden "Hello" and turned to the manager to pass the greeting.
"Why, hello, Lawrence," Roger smiled. "How's the room?"
"Splendid, thank you."
He appeared very refined. He stood upright, dressed casually, and wore clean, white sneakers that would put B to shame. The odd thing about him, Naomi realized, was that he had wide black eyes and messy black hair like B. If she had not just happened by Mr. Bridgewood in the road she would've immediately assumed they were siblings.
He also suffered from a lack of sleep: conspicuous black lined the underside of his eyes.
"As you've heard, my name is Lawrence Lawliet." He announced, and offered her the long, spidery fingers of his left hand.
"Naomi Misora," she returned, and shook.
"I am a regular tenant here. Mr. Ruvie is a very nice man, and I hope you enjoy your stay here."
Taken aback by his kindness, she said nothing.
Naomi felt a slight tug as he walked away and scratched her hair. It was weird for him to just walk up to Roger and her and say hi. He must be quite the social butterfly, then—approaching strangers just for a fleeting introduction.
"Lawrence is a regular, as he's said. He likes to escape from the hustle and bustle of Southampton and stay here for a few days."
Naomi had completely forgotten why she had addressed Roger in the first place, and so did Roger, apparently. She made for her bedroom and was immediately reminded. B was still sitting on the floor when she came in, but now he wore a smile. His eyes were faintly red-rimmed and he was murmuring absently to himself. He had probably cried in her absence.
"..Now I lay me down to sleep...I pray the lord my soul to keep.."
"Oh, hi!" She said, surprised. She really needed to stop being so aloof about things. She'd actually forgotten he was here! "Are you alright?"
He stopped mid-song and blurted, "Oh, yes, of cour—!"
"Order in the court! Silence everyone!" blared an unprecedented voice. It was heard above the heads of every person in every room, but no source of the noise could be identified.
"You are charged with the following indictments:
Light Yagami; obstruction of justice. Your deliberate heartlessness and unwillingness to act allowed the killers of one Misa Amane to unjustly obtain their freedom.
Naomi Misora; voluntary manslaughter via infanticide. Upon the devastation of your marriage you saw it fit to murder your child in cold blood.
Halle Bullock; murder by proxy, perjury. Convinced the court with staged evidence that your lover, Lind L. Tailor, murdered your husband Anthony Rester to obtain insurance money.
Nate River; murder in the first degree, perjury. In a lethal bout of rage you caused the death of your step brother, Mihael Keehl.
Tierry Morello; 6 counts of murder in the first degree, 2 counts of grand theft, 13 counts of embezzlement, 7 counts of racketeering, and 18 counts of robbery, burglary, espionage and extortion. Your latest crime pertains to the death of one Soichiro Yagami, in which you impersonated a physician in order to poison him.
Merrie Kenwood; 17 counts of grand theft, 8 counts of espionage, embezzlement, robbery, burglary, extortion, solicitation, and murder in the first degree. Your guilt also correlates with several of the crimes upon which your apprentice Tierry Morello has been accused.
Lawrence Lawliet; 3 counts of malfeasance in office, compounding. Your conduct during a judicial proceeding caused the death of one Hirokazu Ukita, also in which three jury members were severely injured.
Brendan Bridgewood; 2 counts of second degree felony murder. In an alleged state of psychosis you brutally killed Lucille Queen and her daughter, Quarter Queen, which led to the suicide of her father, Believe Bridesmaid.
Matthew Jeevas; 12 counts of 3rd degree manslaughter, illegal drug abuse. Unwittingly you crossed a busy street while under the influence of narcotics, commencing a catastrophic domino effect that resulted in the deaths of 9 drivers and 3 pedestrians.
Roger Ruvie; negligent homicide. You turned a cold shoulder to your brother, Quillish Whammy, until his death from a debilitating illness in order to collect inheritance.
Prisoners at the bar, have you anything to say in your defense?"
In the course of a minute they all congregated into the main lobby. Naomi jogged downstairs with B in tow. A blond woman smoking a cigarette pushed open the door and peered up at the ceiling, and her companion followed suit. The woman and her disabled son wheeled in with almost no time to spare. Roger and Light glimpsed around frantically while Lawrence strode in with a curious demeanor. Matt sat up abruptly and began copying them.
"Who said that?" The woman at the wheelchair cried. "Where did that voice come from? And how did—!"
Her son put a finger to his mouth with a gentle 'hush'. His mother acquiesced. He then twirled it in his colorless hair. The initial reaction wasn't an emotional disturbance, but a desire to investigate.
Halle was the last to appear. She sauntered out of her room, a towel wrapped around her head and body, fearless and infuriated. Lawrence could be no more passive as he sat next to the frightened Matt, drew up his legs, and placed his hands upon his knees. "Needless to say, this is pretty odd," he muttered.
Light, however, was petrified beyond all belief, with Naomi, Roger, B, Matt, and the albino's mother sharing similar sentiments.
If only for a moment, the deadening quiet hung in the air like a noose.
"Who said that?" the woman repeated incredulously. Tears began to materialize in the rims of her eyes. "There's no way! No way! How would anybody accuse my son—!"
"You mean your step son," barked Halle.
That was the only catalyst the tenants needed to explode into an uproar of vicious screaming. Restless, stomping feet and violent movements of the hands were abound.
"..You killed 12 people! You on the bench there..!"
"..No I didn't! That was a fucking accident..!"
"..There was someone that was accused of murdering my father! Soichiro Yagami! Who the hell is Tierry Morello? I'm gonna murder his ass..!"
"..What the hell? You killed a mother and her daughter? What the hell is wrong with you..?"
"..Is it true someone in here killed their baby? Whoever it is.."
"..You sick psychopath..!"
"..Call the cops..!"
"Everyone calm down!" Lawrence shouted with vehemence. The noise eventually died away into latent hostility. All eyes were on their neighbor. He took a long look at every one of them, studying their countenance, processing information. "We can discuss this calmly. It would be better for all of us, considering everyone in this room wants answers."
"Let's all introduce ourselves then, so none of us are strangers any more." Halle crossed her arms. "That way we know who all the sick fucks mentioned on the intercom are."
"Intercom?" Matt gasped. "What intercom?"
Halle threw a thumb behind her, which in turn indicated something behind Roger. Roger slowly turned and, stepping out of the way, they all saw one built into the wall. It was situated right next to the cupboard. Too easy to miss.
"I'd forgotten..." Roger darted his eyes around, wide and vacant. "I...only use that...for emergencies, though..."
"How do we know it wasn't you that said all that shit about us?" Matt cried. His head twitched and his frail heart began to throb.
Light countered, "We're getting off the matters of real importance! We should be talking about what the voice accused us of! Besides, that voice was pre-recorded, and I was in the room at the time. It wasn't Roger. It didn't even sound remotely like him."
Said Halle, "That doesn't prove his innocence. He could've—"
"It doesn't prove any of ours, either," said Light immediately to keep universal attention on him. He needed a moment to breathe, though, and closed his eyes. A few seconds later he regained his composure. "Like she said, let's introduce ourselves. I'm Light Yagami." He then intimated to Halle.
"Matthew." He averted his eyes from the crowd.
Naomi squeezed B's hand for support. "I'm Naomi Misora, a-and this is—Mr. Bridgewood." She nodded at him. B returned it solemnly to confirm.
"I'm Kiyomi Takada and this is my son, Nate River." It was the Asian-looking woman who spoke. A cold glare was then directed toward Halle, who retaliated with a flip of the bird.
"I've introduced myself to you all already," said Roger.
"Merrie Kenwood," the blond woman at the door offered. The man placed his hands on her shoulder, and met Light's furious eyes and quavering lips precisely. "And I'm Tierry Morello."
Lawrence said, "That's good."
"Wha'd ya do?" Halle asked indignantly.
"I was just about to get to that. And I would also appreciate it if no one interrupted me while I explain myself. Is that understood?" He proclaimed this as one who is used to great authority.
"Wait a minute." Matt took off his goggles. "Sorry, but I have to know—are you a cop or something?"
"No. I'm a lawyer." He paused and to allow the last of any interposing questions. There were none left, and the crowd was all ears. Lawrence nodded in approval. "Okay. Now, the intercom mentioned a guy—a serial rapist named Hirokazu Ukita." He began to scratch his knees. "I was defending a victim of his at the time. The problem was that someone in the jury was a former romantic companion of the plaintiff. When I took out photos of her battered body—with her permission, might I add—the man jumped from the jury box and began to viciously beat Ukita. He was apprehended, but he managed to stomp on Ukita's face with brutal force, thereby killing him. Several of Ukita's relatives lunged themselves at his murderer, and the whole court room burst into violence. Like what just happened right now."
He stopped momentarily to survey their reactions. The crowd, as a whole, had sunk into a very morose mood. But regardless, they knew he was telling the truth.
He continued, "Three jury members had to be ushered into medical care after the chaos, and I admit I somewhat started the whole grave affair, but other than that I am guilty of nothing else. I didn't directly cause his death—after all, I didn't stomp on the guy's face with my foot."
"That isn't as serious as some of the other ones I heard," replied Takada. "From what you said, you didn't kill anyone. There was this one guy, and some woman in league with him—" She began laying down all the crimes by smacking her hand, "They had embezzlement, robbery, murder, and all this other shit."
"Yeah, that was that guy and her." Matt pointed to the taciturn pair. "They're husband and wife. They told me.."
"But they can't be husband and wife. They have different last names," Naomi said.
"Yeah? So they lied!" Light cried in bitter enmity. "How about telling me what you did to my dad, you sack of shit!"
Tierry tried to speak, but was droned out by another outburst of pandemonium.
Roger's hands flung up as he addressed the crowd. "Please! No fighting! The man who accused us of those crimes is obviously insane! You can't just put your fists up against everyone else just like that! I mean—you don't even know if any of those allegations are true!"
"But how did he know all our names?" Light turned to him. "And it's true, what he said! About my dad, at least. My dad is dead. He died in the hospital. And he was poisoned. And now it's tellin' me the one who did it is that man over there!"
"Nonsense. I've never met your father in my life." Tierry replied coolly. "I know I've never met a man called Yagami. I've never murdered anyone, threatened anyone if they didn't give me money, or any of that. I will, however, admit to embezzlement, which I did time for. Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds. This guy's pulling all of our legs. He wants us to kill each other. This is nothin' but a bad joke."
A few nods here and there. Whispers and murmurings to one another. Light lapsed into helpless silence. He knew he had nothing to go by, no proof or solid evidence. Making a scene would solve nothing.
Naomi saw that Roger was extremely upset at the mentioning of his brother. She approached him with a gentle pat on the shoulder. "It's alright. It's okay. Calm down. This guy—whoever it is—he's crazy."
"Roger, your brother died? I didn't know that." B asked.
Quiet. All eyes on Roger. Under the pressure he burst into tears. "Yes, he did. I-I don't...I mean...my brother, I loved him. Of course I loved him. H-He was really sick and...t-they say I took the pills from him on purpose but I didn't. I didn't. He was really sick! T-This one morning I went upstairs to give him his medication but he...he was already dead..." He wrapped his arms about him and trembled violently. "I swear he was already dead...he'd died in his sleep...peacefully, I tell you!"
Their eyes shifted to Naomi. They were going to go down the line, playing the tell-all game. Her eyes evaded the crowd as if she were propelled into distant memory. She began: "The person on the intercom. He said what happened to my baby—"
"So you did kill him?" Matt asked. Takada quickly shushed him.
"I was bathing him in the sink." She twiddled nervously with her fingers. The same absent look pervaded throughout her face. "I was really stressed at the time and...no, I was depressed. I was taking pills, therapy..." A shaky exhale was released.
"Why?" asked Takada.
"They said I was suffering from postpartum depression and it was exacerbated by my husband's infidelity...but it wasn't true. I was.." Her voice broke and she slowly fell to her knees. A river of black fell upon her expression and darkened it. "I was supposed to be watching him...but I was so caught up in everything, and I wasn't paying attention—"
"Huh. Your baby drowned then." Halle placed a careless hand on her hip. "And the courts didn't believe you. Well.."
"You heartless bitch!" Takada said in disbelief. "She's here telling us how her baby died and you say something like this?"
"I am this close—!"
"Anybody wanna hear the truth?" Tierry said with a smile. He entranced everyone with his suave, laid back Gatsby voice, and tranquil blue eyes. Not a damn thing disturbed him at all about this situation. In all its seriousness, it was comical.
He'd received everyone's undivided attention without effort, especially Light's. The fight that was about to ensue between Halle and Takada was immediately forgotten.
"Alright." He ran his fingers through his hair to keep himself from laughing outright. "From what the intercom's sayin', everybody's got a lot on their plate," his smile only widened, "And I say—this is a fucking joke. Either this is some kind of sick, warped police version of Boiling Points, or this is somethin' out of a cheesy ass horror movie."
"I was accused of the most deplorable things—first degree murder—to think." Merrie Kenwood sipped her cigarette. A serpentine dragon disappeared into the air. "I'd be on the electric chair by now if any of that shit were true."
"So some of what the voice said wasn't true?" Matt furrowed his brows together. "But the story about the guy's dad and Roger's brother and the lady's baby.."
"Oh, don't believe everything you hear, kid! People are liars. All they do is lie, lie, lie.." Halle shook her head.
"Why don't you tell us your story then, Miss Lidner, and I'll reciprocate. We must keep the game going," said Nate with a finger fervently at work on one white curl. All were in awe again. This was the first time the kid spoke since the turbulence started.
She crossed her arms. "Fine. I'm a widow. And yeah, I was having an affair. He was never home. All he ever did was work, work, work—a fucking workaholic! Then when he came home, all he did was sleep! So eventually I met someone else. Bad thing was, looks can be deceiving. He was a lunatic. He was telling me all these things about how he wanted to marry me and shit, and I told him no, I wasn't going to. So he gets really mad, and then one night, he bursts into my home and kills my husband. He's arrested, put on trial, found guilty, and executed. The end."
Miss Kenwood's eyes narrowed.
"You don't seem terribly affected by this," observed Lawrence. "Why is this?"
"It was two years ago. Life moves on," Halle retorted, "My marriage was in the toilet anyway, and he never paid any attention to me. And the guy I was with was verbally abusive and persistent, and I'm done with it. It's behind me."
Naomi and Light were beginning to see how Halle was shaped into the woman she is today. It made perfect sense to them. Secretly, B was thinking the same.
"Hm. Right. Now to correct the matter concerning my false allegation." Nate's grey eyes met the whole crowd. "While it is true that I had a step brother by the name of Mihael Keehl, I had taken no intentional role in his death. It was purely an accident. We had the typical sibling rivalry common of any household. At the time of his demise, we were arguing in the hallway about trivial things. He began hitting me, so I called out to our father."
He rested his hand on his chin as if relaying this story was so meaningless it was beyond all conjecture. "My brother's disposition was often violent, and he always responded with hostility to any form of authority. When I made another attempt to get our father's attention, he tried to fling me over the steps. If I was going to fall down the stairs, I at least wanted to drag him down with me, so I held on. At the conclusion of the altercation, I heard a faint crack. When we had tumbled down the last step I immediately noticed he was not breathing. He had broken his neck along the way."
A few gasps. Others shook their heads.
"So that's why you're in a wheelchair?" inquired Matt.
Takada nodded to her son. After a slight pause, Nate said, "Yes."
He turned to Matt, and their accusatory faces followed. He fidgeted under their combined stare—alternating between shifting in his seat and biting his lip. Finally he spoke: "Yes."
"Yes, what?" asked Nate.
"It's true. What the intercom said about me. I did...cause the deaths of those people."
"'While under the influence of narcotics'.." Nate reiterated. "That accusation is founded, then. I assume the proper authorities are pursuing you as of this moment."
Everyone exchanged frightened glances, gasps, and began murmuring to one another.
"A murderer.." someone said under their breath.
"That doesn't not necessarily make him a murderer," Nate added, surveying the intercom. "The intercom said 'twelve counts of 3rd degree manslaughter'. If you know anything of legal terminology, you should know that '3rd degree' means it's not premeditated, and 'manslaughter' is unintentional killing."
"That doesn't change the fact that twelve people are dead because of him." Light responded, to which Matt buried his face in his hands. "How did you manage to get away from the cops after doing something this bad?"
"How did you manage to elude the proper authorities with what you know?" Nate countered.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Light crossed his arms defiantly.
"Pertaining to the Amane girl, of course."
Nate raised a brow. "As I said, we must keep the game going. Tell us about little miss Misa Amane, and why her killers were allowed to escape justice."
"How do you remember all this?" Light groaned. "Okay, like Tierry said, it's not as—whatever..." And he sighed. "Misa Amane was a girl I knew from a party I went to with a friend of mine. I went out with her for a few weeks, but later I found out she was cheating, so I broke it off. After that we completely ignored each other. And about a week after that she was found dead in a dumpster, raped and everything. They suspected the boyfriend she'd been cheating on me with, who was supposedly with her before we hooked up. Apparently he was a really jealous guy and even hit her once or twice. He's on the run now, I suppose, and the cops are convinced I'm withholding information because I had a grudge against her. So is her family. They've been bringing me back to court ever since. And now that my dad's dead, it's just one thing after another.."
"But wait. The intercom said there was more than one guy that killed her." Tierry said.
He shrugged his shoulders and acridly retaliated, "Well then I guess he brought a friend, then."
"Hm." Nate searched around the room. "Let's see who hasn't gone yet—oh, Mr. Bridgewood. Care to tell us your story?"
Naomi butted in, "Hey, I don't think this is a good time—"
Halle approached B. "I knew it. I knew there was something wrong with you. And the intercom confirmed it. You're mental, just like I thought you were. You don't need to explain nothin'. One look at you and we all know you did it." She pointed to his feet. "You ain't even wearing shoes, for—"
"Don't." Takada said sharply.
Everyone dragged their attention to her. She muttered, "I don't like it...when people say His name in vain like that..."
"He probably got off on an insanity plea," Nate chewed on his thumb. "But then they'd ship him to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. He must've..."
"Escaped!" Light said with astonishment. The agitated whisperings continued unwarranted.
"Fucking joke, man.." Tierry muttered. He popped back into his room for a minute or two as Merrie leaned on the door and sought solace in her cigarette, then returned with his strong hand on her shoulder and a bottle of scotch in the other. "Don't worry, babe. You see? Someone's calling the cops."
Takada murmured, "My cell phone isn't in my purse." She tapped Nate's shoulder, who was quite irritated to be brought back from the world of dire rumination.
"What is it, mother?"
"Honey, I can't find my cell phone," she whispered. "I'm thinking I left it—no, I couldn't have." Takada pressed a hand on her hip. "I came with it, too. I know I did. You know what? These people are psychos."
"I do not agree. They are not psychotic so much as devious." Nate demurred.
"I am not going back to that insufferable house. You may leave me here if you wish."
"Are you sure? Do you really—? Okay, you know what, I'm gonna go to my car, and then I'm gonna drive up to a police station to get this sorted out. I can't take you with me, anyway, can I? Someone would notice.."
"Why not ask someone for their cell phone? Or for someone to call the police for you?" Nate suggested.
"Great idea, Sherlock. No, are you crazy? Their behavior is bordering on mass hysteria. They could be killers, too. I need them here so they can all be arrested when the police get here."
Nate reconsidered. "Yes, I'd say that is a fair assessment. Please go forth and contact the proper authorities discreetly. I will stay here."
"And do what? I can tell you don't want me to wheel you back to our room."
"And you are correct. I prefer to observe the situation."
Takada smiled and placed him next to the elevator. "Just in case someone goes ballistic. Quick exit." She ruffled his hair. "My little detective."
Nate rolled his eyes. "Please—"
"Don't have a heart attack," Takada interposed, and left.
"Oh my god!" Merrie screamed. A large thump resounded and the sound of breaking glass followed.
Tierry was seizing violently and holding his throat. His eyes rolled back, his skin immediately discolored, and his veins protruded. "No! Aiber! Aiber! What's happening? What's happening?"
Lawrence stood. "Everyone stay calm!"
"He's having a heart attack!" Halle screamed, "Someone help him! Some—"
But it was too late. Lifeless, Tierry slumped into rigidity in Merrie's arms, his wide, frightened eyes still alive with terror.
"Oh.." Merrie cried with the little breath she had left in her lungs. "He...! He...!"
"My God." Naomi said, "He's dead."
"B-but how?" Light said, "T-that makes no sense! Unless he choked or something! He had to have choked!"
Merrie sniffed Tierry's mouth and slowly backed away. "Almonds...?"
"Almonds?" Light echoed.
"Bitter almonds, I assume. Potassium cyanide." Nate confirmed. "That's the only possible explanation."
"You would know!"
"Mr. Morello's death isn't the least of our woes." Nate turned to Naomi. "Your cell phone is missing. And so is everyone else's."
Everyone checked their pockets. To their mutual horror and astonishment, it was true. Bags were searched, purses were inspected, and every shelf, nook and cranny was sifted through. Nothing turned up. Their phones had effaced themselves from existence.
"Dammit! And all the lines are jacked up because of the storm!" Light announced angrily. "We're screwed big time!"
"I'm out of here!" Naomi shrieked, and dragged B outside. "Come on, Light!"
Light and the majority of the guests accompanied her, though Halle and Roger stayed behind to help Merrie lift the body to the bed, and Nate watched, frighteningly speculative and dead in the face.
Naomi tried to start her car, but it only wheezed helplessly and gave out. B exited and strode to the back. "It's the gas tank! There's gas all over the ground!"
"Mine too!" Lawrence yelled. "It's been punctured! The gas is everywhere!"
The entrances were attacked. The door was locked and barricaded almost immediately. The windows were closed. The rule had been established: no one goes out until they find out what the hell is going on. Left only in the hands of confusion and fear, some paced back and forth, others shouted wild accusations, and everything became the Lion's den.
Nate tranquilly twirled his malleable curl as he eyed the incongruity in the cupboard. "Ten little wolves went out to dine; one choked on a bone and then there were nine.." he murmured.