"As you wish ma'am."
Naomi walked down the long corridor to the high security cells. Why do I keep doing this, she thought. It must be curiosity, of a very persistent nature. The man was crazy; the last dozen trips she had made here to speak to him had proven that. There was no reason to think he would suddenly open up and confess his motives just because she had come a thirteenth time.
Still, she just had to know why Beyond Birthday had killed those three people. She hated that last piece of the mystery being left unanswered.
She arrived in front of Birthday's cell, and looked at the man. Man, though, was a fairly loose description of Birthday in Naomi's opinion. He was always hunched over like an ape, and his heavy makeup and eye shadow (which he somehow retained even in this jail) gave him the appearance of a corpse. His diet, as she had previously observed, was far too sugary for even Raye, who was probably the biggest sweet tooth Naomi knew. But the worst part was his eyes; Naomi had no idea how she had not noticed them properly when she was working with him. His eyes resembled that of a devil.
So, an ape, a zombie, and a demon. And also, somehow, a man. Everything about Beyond Birthday was a mystery.
Birthday looked up at Naomi from his menacing crouch. "Ah, Miss Naomi. I'm glad you decided to pay me a visit." He licked his lips wickedly as he spoke.
"Maybe I'm here on business."
Naomi bit her lip. That was the other thing that was so unnerving about Birthday. When he wasn't playing the quirky (and more than slightly creepy) detective, it felt like he could see into her soul. She felt like she was Agent Starling from The Silence of the Lambs.
Then Birthday smiled. "But I don't mind. I always enjoy your visits." It could been friendly, except when he said "enjoy," it seemed like he was referring to the way that one might enjoy a piece of cake.
Naomi composed herself. "Well, since you know I'm here for me, you must know what I'm going to ask you," she said.
"Of course!" Birthday laughed. "You want to know why I killed Believe Bridesmaid, Quarter Queen, and Backyard Bottomslash?"
"Yes, if you would be so kind as to tell me."
Birthday paced his cell like a caged animal. "What makes you think I had a reason?" Before Naomi could reply, Birthday went on. "There are hundreds of serial killers who kill people for no reason. What makes you think I'm so different?"
"Because those people do have a reason, however twisted it may be. They all have patterns based on some past trauma or fixation. Some people kill in groups of three, some people only kill on Sundays, and some people take a pinkie finger as a trophy. Often it has to do with something that they're obsessed with, which in your case...would seem to be the letter B."
"And Q," Birthday reminded her.
"Which, if you turn a lowercase q upside down, it becomes b. But B..." Naomi thought how best to put it "...doesn't make sense. It just seems like such an unnatural fixation."
"Oh, you wouldn't say that if you had grown up with me," Birthday chuckled (Naomi shuddered at the thought). "I was surrounded by letters. A, D, M, N...we all had letters instead of names. I was B."
An answer at last! "The killer is B," L had said, during the investigation. So he was literally B? And if L had known that much...
"Letters...so did you have any connection to L, the great detective?" Naomi asked.
"Connection? Oh my dear Miss Naomi, he occupied our every thought!" Birthday practically screamed. "It was the ambition of every letter to surpass L! He was our goal! Our target! Our ultimate challenge!"
"Surpass L? As in, become a better detective?"
"Most of the letters considered that to be the intended objective," Birthday snickered. "But the rules of the game aren't that specific."
"And so you decided that you would surpass L by actually committing a crime yourself," Naomi reasoned.
"One that he wouldn't be able to solve. L would think it was you right up to the end, and then when you turned out to be the last victim he would be stuck."
"Yes!" Birthday said. "Now, is that so hard to believe?"
Not really, considering how crazy you are, Naomi thought. "Beating L wouldn't have done you a whole lot of good if you were dead, you know."
"If I had succeeded, I would have been immortalized in the legends of the letters," Birthday cheered, then immediately slumped back down. "I guess it was not to be. It's hard to not know one's own fate."
Naomi scoffed. "I don't believe in fate."
"Oh really?" Birthday leered at her. "Then I don't suppose you would believe me if I told you that Believe Bridesmaid, Quarter Queen, and Backyard Bottomslash were all fated to die when they did, and at my hand?"
"Not really," Naomi said.
Birthday bit his fingernail. "You know, Miss Naomi, I'm going to tell you a secret. Something I've never told anybody, at least not so directly."
Naomi checked her watch. He had already told her what she wanted to know, and she didn't really need to hear any of his ramblings about fate or any other nonsense. Still, it couldn't hurt. She motioned for him to continue.
"If you had asked me yesterday," Birthday said, his face inches from the glass separating the two of them, "I could have told you exactly when you were going to die."
"And how exactly could you have done that?" Naomi asked, certain he was just making stuff up.
"Because I see it," Birthday said, widening his horrible eyes. "Anytime I look at a person, I see their name, and the day that they're going to die. I've always been able to do that."
"Uh huh," Naomi said, "And when do your magic eyes say I'm going to die?"
"August 14th, 2013," Beyond Birthday said without a moment's hesitation. "Your boyfriend, Raye Penber, will die on the same day. You'll probably both get in a car accident or something, although I can't see that much."
Naomi was taken aback, both at how quickly he had answered and at the fact that he knew Raye's full name. While Raye had been with her a few of the times she had interrogated Birthday, she was certain she hadn't spoken Raye's name in front of him. Certainly not his last name. "What about your death?"
Birthday studied the glass in front him, squinting at his own reflection. "Sadly, I can't see my own death. If I could, I would have known that I couldn't die that day in Room 404, and that any attempt to kill myself would be unsuccessful. But I didn't, so I couldn't. Oh well; where's the fun if there isn't any risk?"
"But you could see when Believe Bridesmaid and the others would die," Naomi said, still somewhat skeptical. "And you concluded that, since their deaths corresponded to the times you had arranged, that you were 'destined' to kill them?"
"Destined to kill them. And also destined to fail in my attempt to surpass L. Destined to be a failure. Never a master," Birthday wailed maniacally. "So now you see why I became a killer. I couldn't help it; I was surrounded by death from the very day I was born." He laughed, then looked at her quizzically. "You don't suppose that would be considered 'extenuating circumstances?'"
"Not a chance."
"Good. They shouldn't let me out. I'm dangerous. Hahaha!"
Naomi ignored him. "So, if you don't mind my asking, why didn't you mention any of this before now?"
Birthday flashed his teeth. "Other than the fact that you wouldn't believe me?"
"Yes. Other than that."
"Truthfully..." Birthday leaned closer to the glass, and for the first time since he had been in jail, he looked completely serious and sane. And there was genuine fear in his eyes. "...I'm scared."
"Really?" Naomi didn't think anything could scare this monster. "Of what?"
"Morgan Rodgers died in his cell last night," Birthday said, motioning to the empty cell next to his. "Heart attack."
Heart attack. Whenever Naomi heard those words, a shiver went down her spine. So many criminals had been killed by the mysterious string of heart attacks, and there was no explanation for them as of yet. Apparently, L had announced that the deaths were the result of murder, but Naomi didn't see how that was possible. In any case, L was looking into it, so the whole thing was sure to be cleared up in no time at all.
To Birthday, she said, "Well, other criminals have appeared to suffer heart attacks as a result of this...phenomenon."
"Oh, but you see, that's impossible," Birthday insisted. "You see, he wasn't supposed to die for at least another month, at his execution. I saw it." Sensing that she wasn't comprehending him, Birthday seized the glass barrier, causing Naomi to jump backwards. "He died too early!"
"Birthday, no one can predict the future," Naomi snapped. Although how he had known Raye's real name was a little unnerving.
Birthday ignored her. "We in here know people outside don't like to talk about these deaths. How do they think we feel? We're the ones who are criminals! We have a name for these deaths. Kira. Don't let anyone tell you that what Kira does is any accident or natural disaster, because we know better. We're killers ourselves; we know. There's deliberation and finality in what Kira does. Some of us think that Kira is just another murderer. But I know the truth."
"What truth?" Naomi asked, then immediately wished she hadn't.
Birthday motioned for her to come closer. Naomi leaned forward, praying that the glass was as thick as she had been assured it was.
"Kira is God," Birthday whispered.
God? "Don't be ridiculous," she said. "Even if Kira exists, he's just a man. A selfish, bitter, and horrible man."
"Really?" Birthday laughed. "How could a mere man cause people all over the world to die of heart attacks?" When Naomi didn't answer, he went on. "How could a mere man change someone's fate?"
"He can't change fate!"
"For the first time in my life, Naomi, I saw a man die who was not supposed to die. I saw his fate, and Kira changed it. For years, I have wondered why I could see people's deaths before they happened. Now I know. Kira sent me ahead, to prepare the way for him. He will rid this land of its filth! He will cleanse this world of its hideous sins! He will do what I could not, and the great L will finally be crushed! Even L is no match for God!"
He's insane, Naomi thought, even more certain now than any other time she had seen him. He's completely lost his mind.
"I am Kira's prophet! A warning for the world! Kira is our God now! And all who defy him will be destroyed!"
Naomi finally decided she had had enough. Without another word, she turned and walked away.
"He'll come after you, too, Naomi!" Birthday shouted after her. "Do not think he will hesitate to break that pretty face of yours! If you or Raye dare to try and stop him, he will strike you down! Even I am not worthy to live in Kira's new world! But don't worry about mourning me: we'll be together again soon!"
After Naomi was out of sight, Birthday sighed. "Very soon," he said, to no one other than himself.
The second call was from the prison.
Beyond Birthday had died of a heart attack.