The Killing Jar - Chapter 2
You know, she killed me
Took me down to the sea
And killed me
Don't know why it happened
Like when you light a match
A click, and she was on fire
My name is Salt
I'm the reason there is salt in the sea
I'm the reason there is salt in you tears
That's how I come back, like boiling water
Everything will evaporate
Dissolve and disappear
I'll be there as a taste on your cheek
So you can remember those that are gone
Salt ~ Mugison
It crawled on top of him, balancing on Light's hips. Light strained towards him, feeling the weight above him, solid. The silence, the calm air, and only the rush of rough denim gliding over the cotton sheets, and Light was transfixed by his empty eyes, his twisted smile, and that he was there. Light curled towards him, but somehow he couldn't reach him so he fell back.
"I missed you. It bothered me," he whispered.
He felt his lips moving stupidly, all the air stolen from his lungs, words painfully frozen in his throat. As if his thought had been read, bony fingers crawled, feather-light across his lips, spiderlike and dancing with some demented enjoyment. Light shuddered beneath the touch, the fingertips were wet, trailing water across his lips. Sea water.
"Water of the last moment," the creature said.
Light had spent his second evening in Mansong as he had spent his first - holed up in his room. The jet lag had hit him but sleep hadn't. He'd dozed for a few minutes and dreamt of something which had almost physically shaken him awake again. He could hardly remember it now but he thought that perhaps it was L in his dream. Then again, maybe it wasn't.
He felt tired and stretched. Bones ached and muscles seemed thin and tight. Stomach pains which could have been a last ditch attempt at a hunger pang. He ignored it all and leaned heavily against the bed head, looking straight through what he saw. He must have slept a little, perhaps an hour of broken sleep, but he felt worse for it. He pulled on a jumper he'd borrowed from John, the hotel manager, who was so hopelessly obliging that he'd probably sell his wife and family if Light had asked for it. The jumper was unpleasantly robust, but warm, and that was all that mattered since the room had become so cold. He continued to listen to tapes; the same conversations over and over again as if they might possibly change and explain everything to him without riddles.
"You're laughing to yourself again, B."
"You're practicing laughter? You're not doing a very good job of it."
"Tell me about Los Angeles."
"Lights, fights, thugs, drugs, soak, choke, strange, strangle, crash, slash and Q. A question clue for you."
"Was it fun?"
"Always. I made them pretty for you. Always pretty for you. Number 2 had pretty eyes. I wanted to give them to you but they saw too much and squish. 3 was in the middle and made me angry."
"Because she didn't die from the beating?"
"You didn't know about that. I told you that. You thought it was just chopping arms and legs."
"If you say so."
"Then me you. It burns."
"That's what happens when you set yourself on fire."
"All equals B."
"I know the dates were all important but incredibly boring."
"My dates. 22 is 2 + 2 is 4 is 1 + 3 is B 31 is 3 + 1 reversed is B 4 is 2 + 2 is 22 and 1 + 3 is both B. 13 is 1 + 3 is 4 is B -"
"Yes, I get the idea."
"Don't interrupt meeeeeeee!'
"Do stop thrashing about. If you touch me I will not be responsible for the kick in the face that you will receive. Very well. Please carry on. I'll just read this. Let me know when you're finished."
"I tried hard for you. Address, names, death times. Condominium construction. 13 floors. BB on the 13th floor. 11 BB 4th floor 404 BB. Do you think he'll kill me now my face is all gone?"
"Are you scared of Kira, B?"
"Failed. And I would have got away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids! Hahahahaha!"
"I resent being called a pesky kid. Good grief."
"Thumb turn lock. Thread nails thumbs turn lock. Outside."
"Are you interested in necrophilia? People like you usually are. Couldn't you do it? You could have raped them before you killed them. That would have made it all so much more repulsive."
"Why would I want to do that when I could just kill them? There's no one like me. No one like me you. You really don't get this do you? "
"I'm sad to say that it's all becoming it perfectly clear actually. I thought there might be something underneath it all, shallow though it may be, but all I can find is the crazy raving loony party."
"Perfect murder. All four."
"Three. Yours would have been a suicide but you failed. In fact, as you said, you failed in the three murders since the crimes are solved. Forgive me for being pedantic."
"It's alright. I know more than you ever will."
"I'll take your word for it."
"You know how a B is an exaggerated L?"
"I'm afraid so. Lovely speaking with you, Your Madness, as always."
"Shall I just sleep now until you come back?"
"I think you should go back to California."
"The sun might do you some good."
"I think there's nothing else I can learn from you, B. This is all very self-indulgent of me. Watari doesn't approve."
"No! I... I have more!"
"That you'll just make up on the spur of the moment. My time is very precious."
"No, I really do. I could help you! With Kira! I could help!"
"Could you now? Kill, kill, slash, slash?"
"See, that's tempting. Not that I think for a minute that you could ever 'help', as you put it, but because, without realising it, you give away so much to the workings of an unhinged mind that I find it illuminating and possibly useful. But no. I think our time has ended."
"Don't do this to us!"
"Us? B, we are two separate entities. I hate to break it to you. Look, I raise my arm, you do not. My mind goes one way, yours in an endless spiral of mischief and insanity, and on it goes. I think you should go back to California and review your life choices."
"Don't play with me!"
"It's hard not to. Didn't you set yourself up as part of a game?"
"Not like this. I was supposed to break you. I'd be the anchor that weighed you down for the rest of your life. You big failure. You'd go mad and burn yourself up like me. Just like me."
"I think you've spent far too much time at the seaside if you're going to compare yourself to anchors and albatrosses and start talking like an angry pirate."
"Please. Just keep me. Here."
"Visit me sometimes. All the time. Or let me go. We could try again. I'll be better this time. I'll make it unsolvable for you."
"I can't do either. I'm going to Japan soon."
"Damn you, stay!"
"It's so nice to be wanted. But no. I have to work, B. If I spend more time here with you I might as well book myself a cell next door because your head issues are catching."
"Just like before. I thought you'd come for me, but you never did. You sent that little girlslutwhore. Some cheap cop. Not even Gene Hackman! And just one. Like that was all you thought of me. I nearly put her in a jam jar. Don't go! Please. Please, please put my head back on the wrong way. I think it's upside down and back to front. I swallow glass right down the back of my throat."
"This isn't really the heart wrenching goodbye I had anticipated."
"Don't leave me for him. Backup! Backup!"
"Why? Won't he love me like you do? Well I shall cry about that later. I'll pencil it into my diary right after I win the ice skating championships. Come on, B. I expected better from you, I really did. Not much better, granted, but more all the same."
"Don't go! He'll kill you. He'll kill you dead!"
"Oh I do hope so. At least then I won't have to listen to your whining any more. Look, California has a lovely gas chamber but I doubt they'll ever get around to you. Also, you're completely insane and childlike. Although you can't always be sure of that being a safeguard against execution, I think in your case it's so obvious that it wouldn't make for good press if they killed you. So you really have nothing to worry about. Then again, you did kill a minor..."
"I don't want to die!"
"But, B, you set yourself on fire. That was a hell of a cry for help. Don't tell me that it was a mistake. Were you just trying to light the oven and it all went horribly wrong?"
"L, please don't laugh at me. Please, please, please don't go to Japan. Stay here with me. I wouldn't kill you much."
"You die, I die, remember? Don't lose us."
Light propped his laptop onto his knees and swathed himself in a blanket, thankful that no one could see him wrapped up like a infant inuit. The room was completely dark now apart from the soft light of the computer screen which eased the gritty pain in his eyes. He typed for a while. Things that he wished to discuss with Mikami in the morning, and lastly, some note about arranging for some flowers to be sent to Misa and his Mother, which he added with a sigh. He could have arranged it himself online but it seemed like such a waste of time.
Pressing the enter button with a finality, Light took a moment for his eyes to drift around his dark surroundings and for his ears to take in the faint roar of the waves outside and the high-pitched whistle of a draft through the ancient window panes.
He closed his eyes for a moment, surprised to find that a deeper blackness was actually possible beneath his eyelids. Upon opening them again, the room seemed more of a dark blue than the void-like darkness it had been before. Certain objects were dimly highlighted by the artificial light of the laptop. A ceramic cats high gloss finish, a star-like effect in the mirror, a white shirt in the corner of the room. But he didn't remember hanging a shirt there. He peered at the shape, lowering his knees and easing down the unsteady computer as he leaned forward. The shape didn't move, not that he expected it to, but he could not think what it could be. Slowly, he tilted the laptop screen towards the corner to illuminate it better, and watched as the shape slowly showed itself to be a person with his back to Light, facing the corner of the room, slouching like a dunce at school. His arms hung sleepily by his sides, his back was clothed with a white t-shirt and the back of the head covered with a ragged mass of black hair...
The realisation that he wasn't dreaming, that there was someone in his room standing so unnaturally not 10 feet away from him, stunned his heart into taking up a violent rhythm which almost immediately covered him in a cold sweat. His rapid breathing was all he could hear. The light of the laptop shook slightly as his hands that were holding it trembled. It seemed like minutes passed as he stared at this thing in front of him, unable to bring himself to confront it, though it must only have been seconds before the figure's head seemed to slowly look behind itself - towards Light. In turn, the body rotated, but so slowly were the movements and yet so shocking, that Light's grip on the laptop grew weak and the machine fell to the floor with a heavy clatter against the floor. The light went with it. Horrified by being plunged into darkness with the knowledge that here was a strange person in his room, Light grasped around at the floor, finding the laptop and desperately hammering at keys in an attempt to make it work. Finally it gave off a blank white screen which he immediately pointed in the direction of where the man had been, only to find him there no longer.
Breathing raggedly for a few moments, trying to take in what was happening and yet terrified to move, Light stared at the empty corner of the room, almost willing the figure back. Then he moved his legs from under the warm blankets, immediately hit by the cold air, and lowered his bare feet to the floor. He began to stand, when he suddenly felt a cold grip around his ankle which shocked him so that he dropped the laptop again. The light didn't go out this time, instead facing underneath the bed and illuminating Light's foot, and the blue white hand which gripped his ankle like a vice, the finger tips digging into the soft flesh with a manic possession. Light jumped up instinctively with a cry and pulled himself free of the hand which released him as soon as he moved. He ran to the light switch and then the room was swamped in an almost blinding floodlight. As his eyes adjusted, Light could see no figure underneath the bed, or indeed in any part of the room. His reactions were slow from the shock of what had happened, but an anger rose that whatever had been there, was not there anymore. Grabbing a poker from the fireplace, Light searched under the bed, in the wardrobe, behind the heavy drape curtains, the bathroom, expecting to find the intruder in each place but instead, found nothing. He stood in the middle of the room and dropped the heavy iron rod to the floor, hearing it roll from side to side. And then silence.
Had he imagined it? He must have done. The door was still locked. How could someone had got into his room? Even if they'd managed that, how could they have left it without him seeing or hearing them go? He considered his panic and his senses which had flared up in jolting spikes. It could have been done. It must have been done.
He rushed to the phone and listened to the endless dull rings which he could almost hear echoing somewhere else in the great building. His fingers tapped the dresser nervously. Then a sleepy voice answered. John. Light explained to him what had happened. Someone had been in his room and was now somewhere else in the hotel. John tried to calm him which the sort of 'shhh' noises used to ease children back to sleep when woken by a nightmare. Light found it both soothing and patronising. John assured him that it was probably a dream or his imagination. It was very late at night and the mind can play tricks on people. But he was not to worry. They would take the situation seriously and search the hotel. He would meet Light in his room as soon as he could. The call ended and Light heard the dull thud of footsteps downstairs and the checking of the front door as John swept through hotel, probably cursing Light the whole time for waking him up at 3 in the morning. Light sank on the bed again, quickly drawing his feet up fearfully. He realised with disdain that he was rocking slightly, his arms wrapped around his knees like some kind of huge, vertical foetus. His eyes darted across the room at every tiny and imagined noise and movement in this old house as his breathing eventually evened out. After some time, there was a knock on the door which almost threw Light out of his own skin.
"It's me, Mr Yagami."
John. Light rose and fumbled with his shaking hands to turn the key and open the door. John was standing there in striped pajamas and an obviously hurriedly thrown on jumper.
"I can't find anyone here, Mr Yagami. There's no sign of a break in. Are you alright?"
"I... But... I must have dreamt it. I'm sorry."
"Would you like me to search your room? Would you like to move to another room?"
"No. No, I'm sorry for waking you. It was silly. It just-"
"These things seem real. It's perfectly alright, don't worry about me. I can only assure you that there is no one here. Can I get you some tea to calm you down?"
"No. Thank you. You should get back to bed. I'll be fine. I just feel ridiculous."
"Hey, nothing to feel ridiculous about. My wife is always jumpy. Thinking that someone is in the house. Once you get some decent sleep you'll be ok. God, it's cold in here though. Let me put the heater on for you and then you might sleep better. Leave the TV on. That helps my wife when she has these turns."
Light shuddered at his stupidity being called a 'turn' and 'jumpy' but then that was probably all it was after all. He apologised again as John left, then locked the door, ignoring the fire safety warnings once again. He turned to face the room, seeing it as a passive enemy, a chamber of horrors which his mind had crafted. Running his fingers through his hair, he felt the slimy film of sweat across his forehead and, disgusted, walked to the bathroom to wash his face. He'd have a shower in the morning. He couldn't face it right now. When he returned he picked up his computer which was still showing a white screen of death. Some of the keys had broken free and were lying on the floor where it had fallen. Wonderful.
He climbed back into bed but after a few moments of the still silence, he turned on the TV for the noise and the people of the box as some makeshift company as John had suggested. He berated himself for reverting to some idiot child who thought that there were monsters under the bed and couldn't distinguish dreams from reality.
He leaned back against the pillows, his eyes defiantly trying to stay open and fix upon some old man with a monocle on the TV who was trying to teach Light about Venus. As his eyes closed, the man's funeral march of a voice seemed to change into someone else's. Someone Light knew. Calmly, almost kindly, the voice told Light that Venus was once like Earth. They were twin planets but Earth would sustain life while Venus would not. It was its nature. Covered by volcanic plains, peppered with a thousand craters, hotter than Mercury. Meteorites burn up in its atmosphere, never reaching the ground. Imagine living there, Light. As the Godhead, and we would war. If anyone could, you could. Though gentle with its milky clouds from afar, the surface is Dante's Hell. It reflects light, We don't see its flames, yet from those flames, no light but rather darkness visible. It is the Light-Bringer, Lucifer.
When Light woke in the morning, the room was dark still. Sunlight punctured the weave of the curtain but didn't enter. The television was on, but mute. Some man in a dinosaur costume was prancing around with a child who was laughing, though God knows why. He was clearly simple.
Light dragged himself up against the headboard and rubbed the source of a dull ache above his eye. Last night came back to him in waves. As consciousness dawned upon him fully, he realised how stiflingly hot the room now was. He stood to turn off the heater and to open a window, blinded momentarily by the bright light. Still grey. Would the clouds never lift from this place? He heard the sea which sounded strangely far away. and the wind rushed in carrying the voices of seagulls with it. It must be about noon. He'd never slept in this late since... he couldn't remember. After a quick half-hearted shower, he got dressed, pausing for a moment to palm the bracelet from the beach, feeling the inscription beneath his fingertips. He should phone Mikami., but decided it should wait until he didn't feel so terribly groggy. Now clean and shaven but still having to wear that damned borrowed jumper which was rough like horsehair, even itching through his shirt.
After grabbing a coat, he decided to go for walk, hoping that he wouldn't run into John on the way. He didn't want to be pained with having to apologise for last night again.
He half stumbled down the stairs after locking his door and heard voices coming from the little hiding place of an office behind reception, but his step was soft and he knew he could pass without them knowing. Two women were having some heartfelt conversation out of sight.
"Life just seems empty. Pointless."
"Maybe it's God's way of telling you to cheer up?"
When Light slipped out the door he was hit by the cold sea breeze with some force. It was low tide and the sea was far out, revealing a huge expanse of wheat coloured sand, flat like a fallow field.
He rubbed his hands together and blew hot air into them with a whistle and a sharp sting. After descending the steep steps down to the beach, he took in the enormity and bleakness of the landscape from its own level. The sea was so distant and clouded in mist that it was no more than a line on the horizon. Were it not from the savaged cliffs, he would have thought himself on a lunar plain, completely devoid of life. After walking along the beach for some time, the air slowly woke him. His stomach groaned, his head ached but he felt himself alive and sharp again. He passed the bracelet in his pocket around between his fingers while he had a stern talk with himself. 'I must look after myself more. What would be the point of this if I were to get ill or go mad? Ryuk would probably kill me at the first sign of it. It's not hard to look after yourself. You've been doing it for a long time.'
He looked up as he reassured himself and saw someone far ahead of him. How strange it was to see a lone figure, tiny against a canvas of bleached sand. He appeared to be wearing a black waxed jacket and jeans; something Light should have brought. While his style remained intact, he would probably develop pneumonia unless he bought an ugly coat too. Light looked down at his feet again. He would meet the man soon and he'd have to make some attempt of greeting, some show of camaraderie for being two men who happened to be in the same unusual place at the same time. Such was the strangeness of proper etiquette.
The next time he looked up, the man was much closer, but it was clear now that he wasn't wearing a black jacket as Light had thought. Instead, it was a sheetlike coat which billowed around the man. Light wondered how he could have been so mistaken on what he saw originally and rubbed his the soreness in his head again. He looked back at the man and saw that his clothes hung from him like from a coat hook and scraped stiffly over his limbs. The glimpse Light took of his face, because he didn't wish to stare, was of a pale man, scrawny, awkward; the kind whose presence seemed to be an invitation for mockery. The lower part of his face was mostly covered by his coat. His skin was the colour of bone and whatever tones ran through him were sallow and sickly. He had a haunted, self-involved look in his eyes, which were unnaturally large and glasslike. Every tendon, sinew and wasted scrap of muscle he possessed flexed under his skin as if for the benefit of some medical display. It was the unmistakeable look of someone who was dying. Whatever disease he was suffering from was eating him alive. Light felt guilty for his perverse desire to stare for the sake of staring at something unusual and clearly close to death. It was that morbid fascination with the havoc death could wreak as it approached.
The man continued onwards without even seeming aware of Light at all. Now silhouetted against the jagged cliff face, the moss covered hazard of stones echoed the rough angles of his body. Light kept walking and the two men passed each other.
Eventually Light come upon a little harbour. He walked up some stone steps to the sea wall and surprised a fisherman who was tethering up his boat. Light apologised for startling the man who cheerfully let forth a salty babble of burring words which could hardly be understood. Instead, Light saw and fixed upon a jackdaw whose blue eyes were empty and cold as he let forth his choking caws. The man had stopped talking, having lost interest in Light's lack of interest. They parted ways with a tip of the man's cap.
A child leaned on a railing, too near the edge of the sea wall, Light thought. The boy's small face rested on the rusted rail, his cherubic features solid with young displeasure and boredom. His eyes followed an older boy cycling past on a bike and the envy in his face become pronounced. Light smiled at the child. He didn't smile back.
Three men were smoking outside the pub. They sized Light up as he walked past but continued with their conversation.
"Are you kidding me? She's the only woman I've ever known who had a shop sign saying 'come inside' when she opened her legs."
"That didn't mean that you had to."
"I wasn't going to be rude."
"Yeah. Some mate you are."
The pungent smell of fish slowly rotting seemed to Light to be ingrained into the grain of every man, woman and child in that county and he was filled with a hatred for them that he could only excuse with jet lag.
He bought the newspapers and a horrible coffee in a polystyrene cup from a girl whose social life didn't stop for work. Then he walked around the village, taking it in like a waking dream. The three smoking men were now laughing at two dogs that were copulating with focused silence behind a well placed van. As Light passed, one of the men wheezed the start of a new conversation.
"I saw Mr Shaw."
"Our old History teacher?"
"Yeah. I miss him. He was the best shag I ever had."
The men all laughed and playfully slapped each other about like naughty schoolboys. Light returned to the beach having dismissed the village as a quaint industrious mishmash inhabited by the uneducated, the whole of which could be fully experienced within five minutes. He returned to the empty beach, sat on the dry sand and thumbed the bracelet in his pocket as he watched the sea approach quickly, like someone who had been away from home for some time and was eager to return. The seabirds accepted him as part of the scenery and dug for worms as the sea rolled in, deep and mournful. He felt his mind ebbing and flowing with it, like time.
After an hour or so, it started to rain so he used the paper as a cover and walked back to the hotel. There were people milling about. The hotel manager's wife, Sandra, tried to ply him with food and he accepted toast.
His door was open. He tensed and went inside, not sure of what to expect and angry because of it. He squashed the empty plastic cup in his fist.
A young girl, about 15 and dressed in a lopsided imitation French maid's outfit was changing the sheets on the beds.
"Oh, hello, sir. Afternoon!"
"That bed hasn't been used. There's no need to change it."
"I'm sorry. It looked as if it had been slept in."
"Why would you think that?" But he was already looking at the bed, the girl still gripping the sheet in her hands. The pillow was decompressed in the outline of someone's head. The sheets were rumpled like sand dunes. "But there was no one else here. I am alone." he said. She looked at him stupidly. "It doesn't matter. You can go. Thank you." The girl shrugged, her expression full of teenage nihilism, picked up her things and left.
Light approached the bed cautiously and gently moved his hand along the impression along the length of the bedding but careful not to disturb it. Had he slept here at some point last night? He was steadily losing all conviction in his own actions and memories when it came to last night. He could easily have slept in both beds in his nervous, sleep deprived, practically psychotic state. Thinking that there were men in the room that weren't there. Imagining men grabbing his ankles from under the bed, making him break his laptop.
He ran his hand up towards the pillow again and noticed that it seemed a little damp, as if he'd gone to bed the night before with wet hair from a shower. The bed smelled faintly of the sea.
Light left the bed as it was and 20 minutes later had rallied himself to go somewhere to find a replacement laptop. The same startled looking chamber maid directed him towards the nearest major shopping town which was a short train journey away. Light took a bus to the station, took the train, found a computer shop and bought the most expensive laptop in the place which thrilled the salesman, not expecting such a big sale with so little fuss at that time of day.
On the journey home his stomach lurched like it was echoing the motion of the train. He didn't understand why such short distances should take so long to cover. He didn't understand why strangers insisted on telling you their life story. He longed for the anonymity he'd enjoyed in the city. The further you travelled, the more unkempt, peculiar looking, unstable and talkative people appeared. While in London, you were never more than 10 seconds away from your reflection and the constant forced appraisal of self. The country lived up to his low expectations. It was definitely all country shows and pig farming from here on in.
His reflection in the glass was cloudy but by far the best thing to look at on the train, the view included, which was probably why he was constantly being approached by strangers. Always the same, the cautious bending over and honky tonk toothed smile like a mouth full of old piano keys. The quiet apprehension as they asked if the seat opposite his was taken like his good looks was a door between them. He was out of their league, couldn't they tell? People should stay with their own kind. He knew and they knew that they just wanted to talk at a good looking face for half an hour and it didn't really bother him. He was polite, they were ridiculous. They rattled on, he recalled case summaries and prosecuted in his mind, filing it away to inform Mikami of his verdicts later. There was something enabling about these people talking at him. He could delve into his old habit of appearing to be one thing while being another.
But all this time, since the moment he had arrived in fact he kept wondering why L came here. In these years since his death, now that he was ashes, and perhaps because of that, he was unfathomable. He seemed to grow even more of a mystery after death. Maybe that was why Light couldn't seem to let him go. No, that wasn't it. He dreamt about him. The dream was often the same - back in HQ, L's presence heavy in the air, his letter large on the white screen. L was staring at Light. He was angry in a silent, seething way. Nothing was said but all was understood. Don't forget about me. What you did. "You would have done the same thing." Light would reply. L's eyes would widen, impossibly moon like, and roll back into his skull so they looked as blank as the large white screen behind him now did without his letter. Then Light would wake up.
Ultimately L was a prover. Light was the judge with no need for a jury. Not always complimentary partners. It so pervaded his thoughts however that he could think of little else, especially since he had accomplished the most tackling obstacles and defeated everyone of any importance. So he went back to L. He kept being dragged back into that room in his mind
He had made it his business to take control of Wammy's House. There was little resistance. In it, he found a wealth of information. 15 years worth of files detailing L's prodigious work from juvenilia to adult detective. It didn't impress Light. After all, he'd helped his father on police cases himself in his teens. L wrote the notes like an unfolding story, taking the role of an dispassionate narrator, although they would have made quite a dry adaptation. There was something dusty and drab about L's relating of his own exploits. After the solving, there appeared to be no interest left in the case for L and there was little short of an "It's elementary my dear Watson!" in his documents written completely without pride. It wasn't illuminating. It didn't even do L justice, Light thought. In fact, L seemed to have had quite a gift for making interesting stories, boring.
So involved was he in his mental vivisection of L, Light must have closed his eyes, offending the woman sitting opposite him, who had been rabbiting on about sites he simply must see while he was in the area and how she'd be so happy to take him on a tour and did she know him from somewhere? He noticed the peace after a few minutes and when he opened his eyes again, she had gone, and so had everyone else by the look of things.
Light turned in his seat again and looked not through the window, but at it. In the reflection he saw a fish eye view of his face and the empty train around him. Then he saw, a few seats back, a pair of crossed legs clad in denim, a slither of white jersey over a thin chest and a flash of black hair seen between the headrests. He was doubled up as if in pain, or crouching in his seat directly behind. The sight made Light spin around in his chair and look over the back of his seat, only to see a startled man look up at him above his newspaper. Light tried to apologise but the words stuck to the sides of his throat, so he bowed quickly and resumed his seat.
Once back in Mansong, he decided to actually go into the village itself, which was larger than the little fishing village he'd visited that morning. He felt fortified having eaten and was intent on leaving this place as soon as possible, which meant he had to start his investigative work.
On such a clear day, it was possible to see much farther out to sea, past the cliffs and hovering mists, to the small islands and outcrops covered in seabirds. Chapel Rock, which he had heard about, was a small outcrop of stone capped with a wooden celtic cross. It was said that a hermit once lived there and made the land holy simply because he was a mad old coot. Light put the map and guidebook away as soon as he had sight of the Doctor's surgery which could have easily been mistaken for just another house.
He asked the receptionist if there was any chance he could speak to the Doctor and was surprised that he didn't have to wait very long. The inhabitants of the place must be hardy folk because there wasn't a soul in there. In the Doctor's room, he was welcomed at the door by an elderly man who was stout with a red nose, large glasses and a thick mop of grey hair which he had carefully styled and was obviously very proud of.
"Hello Mr... Yagami? How can I help you?"
"Yes, hello Doctor. This might be a little odd but I'm doing some research on the local area. I'm looking for information on a mental institution which was once in Mansong. I can't find any indication of where it was or when it ceased operation. I was wondering if you could help me."
"Oh. Ah. You're not ill then? This is rather unusual."
"I'm sorry but I am only here for a short time in order to do my research. I understand that you have been practicing in this area for a long time."
"Thirty years last year."
"So you must have been familiar with it then. I'm trying to find out information on a patient who was here for a short time a several years ago."
"Mr Yagami, I am just a general practitioner. I know nothing about any patients in that place or what became of them."
"I know what became of the patient. He was transferred back to a secure prison in America and died in 2004."
"Well, I'm sorry I can't help you."
"But where was the building? And where will the records be now?"
"I'm afraid there was a fire and all the records must have been destroyed, I presume. After that there was some talk of funding being withdrawn, and as it was a private hospital, the decision was made to raze the majority of the site to the ground. I believe the land was sold for housing. What sort of research are you doing?"
"All the records were destroyed? But what about the computers? This is recent history. Missing medical records can't be explained by fires."
"Mr Yagami, it was a small private facility. I doubt it was run to the same standards that you or I would expect it to be. These places are left to run themselves as they please, more or less. All the patients were relocated, I would think that any current records would be transferred with them."
"But what about previous patients? The prison hold no information about this man's time in Mansong."
"Pardon me if I speak out of turn but it seems like you've traveled an awful long way for very little information."
"I don't intend it to be left a mystery. Do you know who owned the hospital?"
"I'm afraid I don't. No private individual, I'm sure. Probably an estate. Are you writing a novel?"
"But whose estate?"
"Sir, I have patients to see. I'm sorry I can't help you."
"What about ex-employees. Do you know any names? Perhaps some still live in the area."
"I doubt that anyone would wish to talk about it after this length of time, Mr Yagami. Life goes on. People move away."
"So for all intents and purposes this place never existed?"
"People don't like to talk about such a place."
"Didn't it have a good reputation?"
"It had no reputation. I am sure it performed its purpose but people don't want to know about a mental institution on their doorstep. Brings the house prices down and such. You understand. Who are you looking for exactly? Who was this patient?"
"He was brought here some time after his capture in America. He had attempted to commit suicide and was brought to Mansong to recuperate, although why here, I'm not sure. That's another thing I was hoping you could help me with. You see, the man who placed him here, the man who caught him in the first place was someone I once knew. Doctor, please don't take offence by this but I have the means to make you a very wealthy man. This isn't a bribe, just an influence incase you are labouring under some misplaced loyalty. The man I knew could be very generous, I'm sure, especially when there were secrets to be kept but there's no need for any loyalty now as all involved in this case are now dead."
"And who is this man? The murderer catching generous man?"
"He was... have you heard of the detective, L?"
"L? No, I can't say that I have."
"Mr Yagami, I promise you I haven't. I wish that I did, especially since you're offering to throw money at me. I'm an old man, Mr Yagami. I would love to retire knowing that I would leave something for my family apart from a fisherman's cottage and debts. I have no conscience of which to speak of when it comes to loyalties, I'm not ashamed to say."
"Well you may still be able to help me, Doctor. L was here, I know it. I know that he stayed here at least once, and I believe he was here for a considerable amount of time while he had that murderer in the institution. You may have met him without knowing since he used many aliases. I know he was here. I just don't know why. Why Beyond Birthday was brought here. Why L had some kind of attachment to his case. That's what I want to find out."
"What did you say?"
"The patient was a murderer called Beyond Birthday. I know, stupid name."
"Mr ..." the doctor said, his previously unbroken attention seemed broken. He looked behind Light and stood, his mouth slightly open and levering up and down slightly as if trying to say something. His face was ashen, like a sink which had been suddenly drained.
"Are you alright?" Light asked, looking behind him briefly to where the Doctor was staring. There was nothing there but two pictures on the wall. One was a seascape, the other a photograph of a young girl.
"Yes. I... just remembered I have an emergency appointment callout. You really must go. I'm sorry."
"Oh. Well, nice to meet you," he said, shaking the man's unpleasantly clammy hand. "May I talk to you again? In your own time perhaps? If I describe L to you and tell you all I know about Beyond Birthday, you may remember something."
"Doctor, I'm not leaving until I find what I need to know. Please help me. Let's see if we can do something about your retirement. Here's my number," he said, writing his phone number on a piece of paper. "And I'm staying in the Mansong Hotel. Please call me whenever you have the opportunity, only don't leave it too long otherwise I'll have to call here again. My patience is hampered by urgency."
"Goodbye, Mr Yagami."
"Goodbye for now, Doctor." Light, taking a quick look at the two photographs on the wall as he left.
We don't see its flames, yet from those flames, no light but rather darkness visible. - Paradise Lost by John Milton which I'm well aware I'm obsessed with. No need to point that out to me.
This chapter is a late Christmas present for Wordbombs since she'll poorly. Go and read her fics and give her a nice review to cheer her up, please. I'm hoping when she's better she might edit this chapter for me *smooth hint* because bits of it are very clunky. Apologies for that. It was written in one session. Probably not a good idea.
Happy Christmas and New Year to you all. xxx