Author's Note: I've been meaning to write more Nightmare Inspector stories, but I'm afraid I've had too much schoolwork to write anything. This will hopefully be the first of as series three or more mini-nightmare stories of mine. Oh, and same deal as always, I don't own Nightmare Inspector. I do own a lamp. If anyone's, willing to trade, I'm totally up for it.

Under cover of darkness…

They come to the Silver Star Tea House…

Seeking Solace…

The boarder Hifumi trolled into the serving room of the old building, carrying a bottle of saki and wearing a grin.

"Hiruko!" he shouted to the silent baku, "You really need to get out and have more fun. Woohoo!"

Hiruko sighed. "The world is not meant to be a fun. Besides, I am content here." He placed the ever present briefcase on the table and rested his chin in his hand.

Hifumi stuck out his tongue. "Oh, come on! Nots everythingsss leads to immeadiatesss deathssssss…"

The tea house's landlady and waitress entered, and let out a note of surprise before daintily running over to the inebriated young man. "Hifumi! Did you get drunk?"

"Haaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiii—" He then collapsed. Hiruko rubbed his temples, trying to wipe the idiocy around him from his brain.

There was a light tinkling sound as the silver bell over the door chimed, and a cautious figure limped in.

"Oh—I—I'm sorry…" stuttered a timid voice, "I—I can leave…"

Mizuki's head snapped to face the customer. "No! Not at all!" She ran behind the counter, dropping the unconscious Hifumi to the ground with a resounding thunk.

"Oh… I—I came to see the baku… is he real?"

"I'm right here." Hiruko hadn't moved, retaining his ever-serene expression. He surveyed the young man who had entered the teahouse, making note of his unkempt black hair, wild eyes, and his too-big kimono top with overly long sleeves that hid his hands entirely. He looked pale and sickly, but this seemed justified as most of the tea house's customers hadn't slept in days before their visit. "I assume that you've come about a nightmare?"

"Y—yes… how does this work?" he stammered.

"Tell me what it is, and what happened when it started. Then, we'll get rid of it together."

The young man sighed in relief. "Thank you."

"I haven't done anything yet."

The visitor cleared his throat. "My name is Maebara Hisoka. I live on the outskirts of this city, and I'm apprenticed to a painter. Or at least I was, until recently. My parents sent me here to 'further my education' and I've been living at the school. And then the dream started." Hisoka shuddered.

"Continue."

I 'wake up' in my room to find myself strapped down to my chair, surrounded by my peers, but their faces are white and featureless. Except for cold, staring eyes. I know who they are only because they wear the same traditional-style white uniforms that we all wear. No matter what I say, they do nothing to help me, and my vision goes black. When it returns, I'm in pain, and missing a part of me. A literal part. First it was my left ear, then my right. Then my feet at the ankles over the next to nights, followed by groups of finger and then both hands. Last night it was all of my left leg. Still, my classmates are watching me from afar. Soon there will be none of me left to cut off, and I've heard that if you die in a dream, you die in real life.

"Hiruko, stop me from disappearing. Help me get everything back!"

"… This will be interesting, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a dream to eat out of it…"

"What do you—?"

Hiruko held Formalin high in the air. "Sleep now, leave this world behind."

There was a flash.


"I assume this is it?" asked Hiruko.

Hisoka looked around from the bed he was on. "Yes. Just like always."

"You have a very bland room."

"Do bakus even care about that? You need to help me!"

Hiruko was slightly annoyed by the turn of events as he saw movement in the corner of his eye. "… And those are your classmates, those other young men if the white masks?"

"Yes! Hiruko, Help me! I don't want to disappear!"

"I'm working on it. I have a good idea of what is going on. Now that we're in the dream, will you let me see your wounds, Hisoka?"

The young man whimpered as the moved a stump of a hand into view. Hiruko studied it carefully. He made his final appraisal of the situation and decided to prompt Hisoka in the right direction.

"Your classmates in the dream… they are all dressed the same. They mask their faces. They dress you in the same manner."

"They do."

"But you have no mask," said the baku, enunciating the final words.

"Yes… you're right…"

"Do you see?"

"I think so, Hiruko. They cut away bits of me, but I still keep my face. I'm still here. Still me," he murmured.

"That's true." He began pacing around the room, waiting for the connection to be made so he could return to the teahouse.

"They're cutting me away piece by piece, trying to take away my individuality and make me like them. I know what this dream is now. I can face it, without the confusion."

The baku picked up his cane.

"Th—Thank you, Hiruko! And when I wake up I'll be whole again! Thank you!"

"…I'm not so sure about that." Muttered the baku. "It's time for me to go."


There was a flash of light.

"Oh!" exclaimed Mizuki, as a very tired Hiruko rematerialized in his chair. "Um… Hiruko, where's Hisoka?"

The baku remained silent.

"How odd…" she muttered. "Well, at least you got a nightmare to eat. There hasn't been one for a few nights now."

"No, actually." He said, flatly.

"…What?"

"I didn't enter his dream, so I have no nightmare to eat."

The waitress's face revealed her shock. "Then—Then where did you go?"

"Mizuki, baku's have powers other than the obvious. You should know that by now. I didn't go into his dream, I teleported him to its location."

"But… but…"

"Maebara Hisoka is a very sick young man. His parents sent him to the hospital in town when he contracted leprosy and his mind began to give way. The little lie his parents told him, of going to the city to study, took root in his mind because he had never been lied to before, and he assumed everything was a dream."

"So the people with the white robes and masks were doctors… but what about his…body?"

"He had no hands. Did you ever see them when he was here? His hair covered his ears, and I'll bet anything that the limp was from a wooden leg. The dream seems a lot less dreamlike now, doesn't it?"

The waitress looked quite sad. "He was messed up enough to delude about living a normal healthy life… and you left him in there? No helping him? No telling him the truth?"

Hiruko remained stoic. "He had no dream to offer me. I was just doing him a small favor—it will all be over faster for him now."

The baku picked up his briefcase and returned to his chambers. Mizuki was disturbed by this visit, and did not know what to think. She wished that more nights would end happily, and was almost tempted to sample Hifumi's saki.

Hifumi?

She remembered her lovesick lodger lying under the table, and quickly set about restoring his health. Maybe she could do someone some good this night.


Author's note: Yeah, that was a weird one... I had to go to the emergency room a few nights ago and I saw another guy there who didn't have any hands, and I'd been trying to think of a decent NI plot and so this was born in my weird fever-dream state and 4 o'clock in the morning. Like always with my twist endings, I really hope I didn't make this one obvious! When reading the manga I'd always re-read each chapter after I knew the end so I could get a feel for how Shin Mashiba would foreshadow and drop clues, and I think I'm getting a little better at it. Reviews are much appreciated! This is such a tiny fandom that its so saddening to actually get a view but have no review ):

Please check out my to other Nightmare Inspector stories; they're written in much the same vein as this one!