It was almost ready.
Kaoru held the spoon carefully over the small lighter. After checking his watch, he opened the small paper packet with his left hand, while carefully holding the spoon and its precious load with his right.
The young man sprinkled the contents of the packet into the spoon. As the icy crystals hit the liquid in the spoon, they fizzed slightly, releasing small wisps of smoke.
Kaoru inhaled deeply, breathing in the smoke. As the fragrance surged through his body, he giggled. He could feel it. His body salivated at the barest hint of the powerful substance awaiting him. He was shaking at the thought of it. It had been far too long.
Eagerly, the boy grabbed one of his needles, and greedily sucked up the liquid. Then, after he carefully tied off his bicep, he stabbed the needle straight into his arm.
His eyes widened as the liquid ecstasy surged through his veins, reaching his heart and then spreading from there, straight to his brain. As the drug hit, neurons began wildly firing, action potentials racing down axons, neurotransmitters jumping synapses.
He could feel his brain seemingly expanding. The world itself changed shape, warping, twisting, and blending into a dazzling array of light, sound, and color. He began to convulse, practically frothing at the mouth as his brain exploded into a burst of pain edged with pure joy.
The feeling defied words. It was as if every muscle in his body was thrumming with power. Every aspect of his body felt utterly sublime. The world itself was a canvas for him to work with, and to shape to his own liking.
Kaoru stood up, flailing his arms wildly as he began to giggle to himself. One of his friends ran into the room.
“Kaoru! What are you doing? I thought we told you not to use any mo-”
The upset reprimands of his friend were cut off, and turned into strangled gasps as Kaoru raised his hand and squeezed the air, choking the life out of his roommate from across the room. As he scrabbled futilely at his neck, the boy’s eyes were wide with pure, unrelenting, animalistic fear. The eyes that greeted him were huge, wide, and shimmering with color. They danced and flickered, never remaining one color.
Suddenly, the kicking and flailing of the boy ceased as he slumped over, still suspended in the air. Kaoru kept his iron grip until the boy grew cold. Turning, the once meek college student saw the bone-white face of his girlfriend, who had just entered the room.
He began to giggle. She began to scream.
As his partner, Yuudai, drove the car, detective Katsuo Tanaka leaned back in his seat, listening to the scanner.
“Initial call from the neighbors came in as public disturbance, but they found some bodies. The first unit there is already grabbing witnesses and neighbors.”
“Got it. We’ll take care of it,” Katsuo answered.
Speeding down the streets of Fukuoka, Katsuo stared out the window at the rapidly passing blur of lights and sound. The clamor and thrill of a Japanese city at night was at odds with the grisly scene unfolding in the apartment complex.
A swarm of police cars with blaring lights surrounded the entrance to the building. Police officers stood around, vigilant of the surrounding chaos. Stepping out of their car, Katsuo glanced up at the complex. It was utterly bland and generic, like any number of cheap apartments found throughout the city. Katsuo nodded at his partner as they entered the building.
The first responders had already set up a police perimeter. A few cops shooed away any curious onlookers while the two detectives passed the perimeter. As they entered, a uniformed beat cop ran up to them.
“Detectives? Come this way, please.”
Inside the elevator, Katsuo pulled out a notepad and began to ask questions.
“So, you were the first responder? What exactly happened?”
The beat cop sighed, rubbing his neck. “Well, I got a call saying that there was a public disturbance call. When I got here, there was no answer at the door. One of the neighbors who had made the call had a spare key, so I let myself in, after nobody responded.”
“And you saw the bodies inside?” Katsuo wrote down some notes.
The elevator door dinged open. More police officers crowded around the floor, keeping any neighbors in their rooms for questioning. Detective Tanaka threaded his way through the crowd with his partner and the beat cop.
“Yes, I saw the bodies there. I immediately called for backup. There were 5 bodies in there. As far as I know, nobody entered or left.”
Katsuo nodded as they found their way to the room. The door was open, and forensic scientists were already at work inside, gathering samples and investigating.
Yuudai visibly recoiled when the pair entered the room. The walls were streaked with blood, and everything was knocked over. A crumpled body with a crushed throat lay in front of one of the doorways. A once-pretty girl was marred with deep slashes that had painted the walls. Her throat had been torn out, and her chest ripped open.
In the center of the room, a thin, shirtless young man lay on the ground. Unlike the others, he bore no signs of trauma. He simply lay there, cold and lifeless.
Tanaka ignored the gory spectacle in the room, and immediately proceeded to look around for evidence. The still stricken Yuudai followed along after a moment.
The senior detective kneeled down at the couch. Frowning, Katsuo put on a pair of sterile gloves, and gingerly picked up a discarded syringe, and palm-sized paper envelope that had been lying on the ground. Opening the packet, he saw a few green crystals at the bottom.
“Unknown green powder substance here, with a syringe. Possible drug use? What do we know about the residents?” Katsuo handed the evidence off to a waiting forensic scientist.
“College students, all of them. No history of drug abuse or crime in any of them,” a police officer said.
“So, why’s this one dead in the middle without a scratch?” Katsuo scratched his chin while kneeling on the ground. The boy’s skin was cold. No pulse could be found.
“I wonder i-”
Suddenly, the boy’s eyes opened, and he flailed his arms. The air exploded outwards with a force that launched Katsuo backwards onto his back. Yuudai immediately stepped backwards and drew his gun in one fluid motion. The other police officers did the same.
The lanky boy slowly stood up. He might’ve passed for normal, if not for his eyes. They wildly changed color every few seconds, from shades of deep brown to bright yellow and dull lavender. And yet, despite the rapid flashes of color, the eyes were dull and lifeless at the same time.
The boy giggled at the police officers.
Yuudai began to speak. “Sir, ple-”
With an almost casual wave of his hand, the boy flicked Yuudai backwards, launching the police officer against the wall with a crash. The officer fell to the ground in a heap.
The police officers in the room opened fire at the once-lifeless young man. The bullets stopped in mid-air, slowing their spinning, and finally falling to the ground. The boy giggled again, and raised his arms.
The cops were levitated into the air, each one spasming and convulsing. With a gesture from the boy, their chests exploded outwards, showering the room with blood and gore. Their bodies fell to the ground. On the ground where Tanaka lay, the beat cop’s body flopped to the ground, eyes wide with terror as he stared at the detective.
Katsuo drew his pistol and fired at the boy. The bullet stopped in mid-air and fell to the ground harmlessly. The boy turned his head at the defenseless police officer.
“Got a few more minutes left until I come down. That was fun, wasn’t it?” The boy was visibly shaking, while a mad grin split his face.
He raised his arm and pointed at the fallen detective.
Suddenly, overwhelming waves of pressure began to pound on Katsuo’s skull. It felt like an elephant had fell on top of his head, and the pressure only increased. The officer began to scream.
“What would it be like if your head popped?” The boy stared at Katsuo. “That would be cool.”
Tanaka held his head, screaming as he curled into a ball. He felt the pressure mount. As it reached the breaking point, he heard a loud bang.
And then the pressure was gone.
As he looked up, the young man had fallen to the ground, a pool of blood quickly spreading around the remnants of his head. Across the room, Yuudai stood with his gun leveled.
Katsuo fell backwards, panting. He firmly shut his eyes, feeling the throbbing pain that still raced through his skull. After a long time, he finally sat up, still in pain.
Slowly, the officer pulled out a small remote from his coat pocket. Tanaka pressed the button on it and quietly said into the microphone, “Confirmed anomaly present. Requesting cleanup team.”
“Ma’am! Reported hazardous anomaly in the Oita Prefecture!” An anxious young intern ran up and yelled at Minori Iwata as she briskly stormed through the office.
“Deploy Containment Team Ko-3. Cleanup team should be on standby,” she replied, waving him aside.
“Yes ma’am!” The office worker scurried off.
Iwata sighed. This was really something that the local prefecture level commanders should be handling, not her. Shaking her head, she continued to march through the office, ignoring the lower level clerks that she nearly bowled over.
She passed a massive bulletin board, covered with a huge map of the island of Kyushu, and neatly tagged pins marking all reported anomalies in the region. Workers, researchers, and guards alike hurried from place to place in the massive site, the largest of its kind in Japan.
Iwata finally reached the large conference room, and pushed past into the room. Inside, representatives from all of the containment teams, field operations groups, and Mobile Task Forces in the Japanese region were inside, talking to one another. At the sight of Iwata, they quickly quieted down.
She quickly took her seat. In front of her, a neat placard read, “Minori Iwata, Regional Containment Commander, Kyushu.”
She cleared her throat. “My apologies for my tardiness. I was held up elsewhere. Thank you all for managing to reach this emergency meeting. Let’s begin.”
Iwata stood up, and opened up a digital presentation. She began to pace in the front of the room.
“At the beginning of this month, we were notified of a reality bender incident in the Fukuoka prefecture. We handled it like any other, and thought nothing of it. However, this was followed by another incident, in the same prefecture. And then another. And another.”
She stopped and turned to the audience.
“Most global regions experience at most, 2 reality bender incidents a year. Fukuoka Prefecture has experienced 5 in one month. Until this most recent incident that linked it all together, we could not explain why this was happening, and we could find no link.”
“Yesterday, field agents Katsuo Tanaka and Yuudai Shibata were in the middle of the most recent incident. 5 civilians dead, and 4 police officers as well. However, they made a breakthrough in interrogations.”
“According to a friend of the latest subject, he’d been getting some kind of drug for weeks. Supposedly, the drug itself, some kind of green powder called “Spirit Dust” gave the users those temporary anomalous abilities. That drug’s supplier? Yakuza. Dojin clan, headquartered in Fukuoka Prefecture.”
A sharp intake of breath could be heard from the entire audience. The Yakuza were the major force in Japanese organized crime. The Dojin were known to break with most traditions, and actively work in drug trafficking. Like all clans, they were ruthless, professional, and very dangerous.
Minori Iwata pressed a button, ending the presentation before turning to the audience, and handing out a personnel dossier stamped with a large “129022.”
“We have an undercover agent embedded in the Dojin. His name is Naoki Koga.”
Naoki Koga strolled along the street. He was dressed crisply, in a sharp, high-collared business suit. As he walked down the street, throngs of people simply stared at the well-built young man as he went by. Those who were more familiar with the area sought to look away, or to avoid his path if possible.
Koga kept his hands in his pockets, nonchalant. He seemed not to notice the waves of people who sought to hide from him. His eyes betrayed his nonchalant demeanor. If anyone had dared to meet his eyes, they would’ve seen the spark of something brilliant and deep that stood utterly at odds with the persona that he seemed to cultivate.
He came to a road crossing. Glancing both ways, the man crossed the street to come in front of a small convenience store. He calmly smoothed his tied-back hair, and strolled inside.
The clerk glanced up at him. Recognizing Naoki’s impassive face, the clerk whitened as he immediately bent over in a deep bow. Koga gave the smallest of bows in response, and walked past, deeper into the store. He entered the backroom of the store, where a group of men lazed about in a makeshift lounge.
A few welcomes and greetings were thrown at Koga, who acknowledged them in return. Koga made his way to the back of the lounge, where a man reclined in a chair, reading a book.
“Hello, Yoshida-san,” Koga said, as he made a bow.
“Please, stop with the honorifics, Naoki. We’re friends, no?” Satoru’s face was split with a broad smile. The man pushed his glasses up his face, somewhat sweaty.
“So, what’s a big time man such as yourself doing in a little place like this?”
“I came to ask you about something. Have you heard of something called ‘Spirit Dust?’”
Yoshida’s face froze while maintaining the same glib smile as before. “Yes. What about it?”
“Can you tell me what you know about it? Our branch wants to know more,” Naoki said, calmly looking into Yoshida’s eyes.
“I see. Well, it’s some new thing that they’ve cooked up, and it’s selling fast. Come over here.”
Yoshida stood up and walked over to a pile of boxes, motioning Naoki to come closer as well. The dealer opened up the first box, revealing stacks and stacks of small paper envelopes. He shook it slightly, so that Naoki could hear the rustle of powder inside.
“This is it. Each one of these envelopes? Almost 11000 yen.”
Naoki whistled. “Steep price. What’s it like?”
Yoshida shrugged. “I don’t touch this stuff. From what I’ve heard, most people shoot it with heroin.” The overweight, balding man leaned closer.
“You know, they say that it gives people…..magic powers.”
Koga threw his head back in a laugh. “Come on, Yoshida. You can’t be serious.”
Yoshida scowled, and pulled a small omamori from within his shirt. “You don’t understand. You’re not faithful, like some of us.”
“I stopped believing in any gods or spirits or whatever when I was a child.”
“Regardless, that’s what they say about the drug. I don’t know. I just sell it.”
Naoki nodded. As he bowed, and said his farewells to the other yakuza in the room, he left the convenience store. The yakuza lowered his head, pulling out a plain smartphone, and quickly firing off a text.
“129022. Confirm traced anomaly.”