Sunday, June 24, 2012

"The Secret Rule" Chapter 3: The Man on the Train

Death Note fanfiction
Rated T for mature themes associated with the Death Note manga

"Hello, Mrs. Fujiwara?" Taro asked.

"Yes, that's me," the young woman who answered the door said. A little boy, probably about four, stood behind her. Presumably, that was Shidou Fujiwara, who had been a hostage at the day care center. Perfect. "Who are you?" Mrs. Fujiwara asked.

"My name is Taro Nakamura." That way, if Hikari Fujiwara did turn out to be Kira and saw through the deception, she wouldn't be able to kill him. "I'm trying to prepare a presentation on current events for my history class, and I decided to cover the hostage situation at your son's day care about two months ago. Would you mind if I interviewed you?"

Mrs. Fujiwara looked a little shaken at the mention of the incident. "W-why are you asking me about it? I wasn't there when it happened."

"The teacher present, Mr. Hosokawa, said that your son was there, and I wanted to get the perspective of a parent whose child was in danger." Taro had already talked to Hosokawa, just in case any of the parents tried to check on his story.

"Well, all right. Come on in," Mrs. Fujiwara said.

"Where were you when the incident started?" Taro asked.

"Well, I was at home, doing chores," Mrs. Fujiwara replied. "One of the teachers called to tell me what had happened, and suggested that I turn on the television to stay informed. He told me that Shidou had been taken hostage, but assured me that everything was being done to protect him."

"Did you believe him?"

"I guess I had no choice," said Mrs. Fujiwara. "I wanted desperately to do something, but I knew that going down there and trying to rescue him or something would only make things worse."

"If there was a practical way for you to rescue him, would you have?"

The question seemed to confuse Mrs. Fujiwara. "Well, of course I would have. He's my son! But there was no way to do it."

"Of course not," Taro said. She didn't even seem to consider the possibility that there could have been a way to kill Otoharada and save her son. That was a point in her favor. But the interview was not over yet.

"When the news announced that the man's name was Kurou Otoharada, did you have any reaction to discovering his identity?"

"No. I didn't know him."

Another point in her favor. In this situation, the appearance of the criminal's name would have meant Kira's triumph; she would have felt something. She had answered quickly, but not too quickly; that was a good sign that she was telling the truth.

"Just one more question, ma'am," Taro said. "What did you make of the criminal suddenly dropping dead?

"Well, at the time, I didn't give it a thought, since Shidou was safe. Since then, I guess I realized it must have been Kira." It seemed unlikely that she would have mentioned Kira if she actually was Kira; no doubt she would want to draw attention away from Kira killing the man, especially since it was this supposed first murder that allowed L to pinpoint Kira's location. At this point, it was very unlikely that Mrs. Fujiwara was Kira. And if she was good enough to avoid the traps Taro had set so far, there was no way he would be able to catch her at it.

"Thank you very much," Taro said. "I don't have any more questions." Seeing that Mrs. Fujiwara's eyes were finally starting to glisten, he added, "I'm sorry if I brought up any painful memories."

"It's fine," Mrs. Fujiwara replied.

At that, Taro left.

One down, ten more to go.

After a few weeks of trying to track Kira down, Taro was becoming very discouraged.

So far, he had interviewed seven people (the parents of four kids from the day care, and three teenagers from the assault), and not one of them had stood out to him as being likely to be Kira. But what was worse, he couldn't shake the feeling that Kira was just good enough to slip through any questions Taro might ask him, which meant he would never be able to find him. The 19-year-old he had just questioned, Michiko Seto, had either clearly not been Kira, or had put on quite an impressive stupid-teenage-girl act.

Well, considering that every police force in Japan hadn't managed to find Kira yet, it was pretty unlikely that Taro would be able to, even though he actually knew what he was looking for.

Just then, his phone beeped. It was a message from his mother, saying that his dad was coming home from work early, and that they would be having dinner at 5. That gave him about two hours. Well, he was done "interrogating" people for the day; might as well head home.

He climbed down the stairs towards the subway station. Ordinarily, he would have taken the bus, but...the bus hijacking that had taken place last week had left everyone a little shaken. Taro himself had been at the next bus stop when it happened. He had been irritated, impatient that the bus was running late, and had only learned afterwards that he come very close to running into a madman with a gun. He doubted he would ever ride the bus again.

That, he supposed, was one good thing that had come about from Kira's actions. Because the crime rate had become rarer, crime was more shocking when it did actually take place, and people weren't nearly as desensitized to it. The only problem was that now the public was very desensitized to the horror of Kira's murders. Not only that, but many people actually approved of them.

And speaking of Kira's murders, a man busy sweeping in front of a coffee shop suddenly dropped dead on the floor. A crowd started to gather, but Taro kept walking, not eager to get a closer look. By now, it wasn't the first time that Kira had killed someone in front of him, and he doubted it would be the last. He was no longer startled by them, just sickened.

As he looked away from the scene, he bumped into a man, who was also walking away from the now-popular corpse. Before Taro had time to say, "Excuse me," the man jumped about a foot in the air, muttered a quick apology, and continued on his way, at a quickened pace. It looked like he had been spooked by the man killed at the coffee shop. Or was it something else?

Keeping several paces behind the man, Taro managed to get a good look at him. He was probably in his late twenties, with thick black hair and a long trench coat. He was carrying a suitcase in one hand and a large manilla envelope under his other arm. He gave the impression of a man on a mission.

Taro couldn't put his finger on it, but something about the man's composure made him uneasy. He had obviously been unsettled by what he had seen, but he had neither walked closer to the scene to investigate nor deliberately avoided it; he had simply done his best to ignore it. Taro had also done that, but it was because he was familiar with the Death Note; he knew enough about it to know that it simply caused death, and there wasn't really anything more to it than that. Had the black-haired man reached the same stoic conclusion? Or had he ignored the dead man because he was putting on an act? And if it was an act, who was the audience? Taro didn't know, but both of those possibilities were worrying enough that he knew he needed to find out more.

Luckily, the Man got on the same train that Taro needed to take to get home. Once on the train, the Man sat down and barely moved a muscle. Taro sat down several seats down, and picked up a magazine that someone had left, so he could pretend to read while keeping an eye on his target. Briefly, he glimpsed a picture of a girl with blonde pig tails who was apparently called Misa-Misa. He groaned; well, hopefully, no one would think it was weird that a 14-year-old boy had his nose buried in a magazine full of scantily clad models.

The Man was now talking into his phone, very quietly. He certainly seemed to acting secretively, like he had something important to hide. Taro started to suspect that maybe he had gotten the wrong idea about Kira. If Kira was someone who had taken it upon himself to create a better world, but who secretly despised the murder that necessarily came with the Death Note's method, then Kira might not be a genocidal madman at all, but someone who was just as disgusted with the killings as Taro was, and who had become so appalled at what he had become that he jumped at every sound and carried out his daily routine with nervousness of a guilty man. And yet someone who had no choice but to continue his crusade.

Could it be that he had gotten so lucky (or unlucky) as to run straight into Kira? Purely by coincidence?

Now the Man had taken out his laptop. Taro checked the train's progress; if the man had gotten on the subway with a clear destination in mind, he should be getting off soon, as the train was almost done with its run. So why was he getting on his computer when he would just have to put it away in a few minutes? Taro strained his neck casually to try and get a look at what he was doing.

As far as he could tell, there were pictures of people on the screen. A shiver went down Taro's spine.

Then the Man pulled pieces of paper out of the envelope and began writing on them. Sheets from the Death Note? By now, Taro's frantic mind was sure that the Man was Kira, especially since he had been on the train through its entire circuit, with no indication he was going anywhere in particular. Kira spent a few more minutes writing on the paper, then put them back in the envelope. Then he just sat there, staring straight ahead, barely blinking.

Taro lost track of how long Kira sat there, but it seemed like he was waiting for something to happen. Then-
"Excuse me, could I borrow that once you're done?"

A pimply-faced teenager asked him about his magazine. Taro was too stunned to say anything, but then he looked back at Kira and-he was getting off the train. "Uh, here, you can have it," he said, trying desperately to make his way off the train while it was still stopped. He didn't want to lose his quarry.

He stepped off the train one car over, and looked at Kira. He-

-clutched his chest-

-and collapsed to the ground.

No. Impossible.

Yet another crowd started to gather. What had just happened? Could he have made a mistake? Still, what was the odds that someone Taro was specifically following was one of Kira's targets?

Only then did Taro realize that the manilla envelope was still on the train.

The Man, writhing in agony, reached up and deliberately looked at someone inside the train. That was where the real Kira was! Taro tried to get back on the train, but the doors were already closed, and the train began to move away.

It didn't make sense. Had the Man been following Kira, just as Taro had been following him? But if so, why had he been writing on what must have been sheets of the Death Note? Still, Kira had been here; the man's reaction at the moment of his death was almost proof of that.

In any case, Taro knew better than to stick around. He was already late for dinner.

No comments:

Post a Comment