Book 0: Chapter 3


Naoki looked down at his mother. She laid on her bed in a strange state of peace. Her hair was frayed, and she wore the same outfit from several days before. She had a pleasant smile and stared straight towards the ceiling in a daydreamed state. He remembered that smile well. It was the same smile she had when she served pancakes, or hosted family dinners when Akihiko was home from university. He could almost smell the syrup and taste the flavors of her fresh baking. He turned to the kitchen in the present day and was met with the harsh reality. Dirty dishes were stacked in the sink. Twelve different bags of different cookies were scattered about the countertops. The horrible smell of expired food reeked from the refrigerator. It was all he could do with the money they had left. He was only fourteen. He didn’t have the money or experience to do it all himself.

“Akihiko?” his mom asked, looking up at him.

“No Mom, it’s Naoki, hi, how are you feeling?”

“Oh, I’m alright, just a little stiff.” she rustled, “Where’s Akihiko?”

Naoki paused and forced a smile, “He died Mom. After he came home, and started working, he died.”

“But my Akihiko, … I” she stammered, confused, “I thought I just saw him.”

Naoki saw the confusion and fear in her eyes. It was the same way he looked when his brother died. But there was no one else now, and he felt the overwhelming urge to be strong for her.

“Listen, Mom” Naoki grabbed her face in his hands. She stared back at him with a glazed expression. “Hi,” Naoki said, tearing up, watching her face glaze over, “I know we don’t have a lot of money right now. But I’m going to take charge of this, okay? I’m going to start earning more money and provide for us, alright? I’m going to make sure that we’re secure, and our bills are paid, and you can afford your medicine.” Naoki saw that her stare had turned empty. Her eyes were open, but her conscious mind was in a dream. Naoki stared down and breathed heavily. “I’m going to join the gang that killed him. I’m going to make some money, find their leader, and make him pay! If that’s the last thing I do, they’ll pay for what they did to Akihiko - to our family!”

Tears started falling from his face. His mother started looking up at him again.

“Akihiko” she asked, “Why are you crying?”

Naoki smiled, “No reason Mom.” he said, “No reason.”

Thunder clashed in the distance as the rain poured down to the ground. Naoki stood outside as the flood of rain overwhelmed his vision. He clenched his fists and stared at the pitch black door before him. He had followed the graffiti to the shadiest building he could find. According to the kids at school, this was the part of town to avoid. This was the building the older kids at school thought their suppliers went for their drugs. This had to be the place, but as he walked up the doorstep, he was overwhelmed with doubt. Was he doing the right thing? What would his mom say if she understood? As the freezing rain overwhelmed his body, he was reminded that he didn’t have a choice anymore. This was the only option for him left.

He knocked on the door three times and waited.

He heard slow footsteps behind the door and looked up as it opened.

A man in a black and red suit opened the door. The man had a grizzled face and a dark smile. His face was covered in disheveled stubble, but Naoki didn’t dare look at his eyes. The man emanated a dark sense of purpose and a commanding aura. Naoki had no doubt that the man was everything he feared he would be, and didn’t have to ask if he was the leader. Instead Naoki looked down, trembling in fear.

“What is it?” the man smiled in dark curiosity, “Why is a child knocking at my door?”

“I…” Naoki started shaking, “I want a job here sir.”

“What use could I have for a little kid?”

“Please.” Naoki said, “I know I’m young, but I need the money. Please, let me work for it.”

The man knelt down to Naoki’s eye level. Naoki kept looking down.

“You know what I see in you?” the man whispered, “Potential. I do like desperate men, but a boy?” he stood up, “I need more than potential from you. I need ferocity!”

“Ferocity?” Naoki said.

“YES!” the man smiled, roaring, “Show me your ferocity!”

“What?” Naoki said.

The man flexed, screaming at Naoki , “I need someone with an edge! Someone who is ready to kill to do what is necessary! I don’t want a child! Show me that you’re a man!” He stepped into the rain and violently kicked at Naoki. Naoki barely dodged to the right, but slipped in the rain and fell hard on his face. As his head was shaking in a haze, the man tapped Naoki on the head with his shoe. “Is that all you have for me?”

Naoki pushed his hands to the ground and slowly stood back up. He could feel the blood on his face mixed with the rain water. He remembered Akihiko’s autopsy report. Three shots to the chest, and seven separate slash wounds all done in a slashing motion. Only a monster could have done that to his brother, done that to his family. All that was left of it was in shatters. He looked the cruel man in the eyes. His eyes were blood red and echoed an evil entertainment. This was the man who had killed his brother. Naoki would kill him if it was the last thing he did. He wanted ferocity? Naoki would show him ferocity.

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” Naoki screamed at him, staring him directly in the eyes with all the rage he could muster.

“Yes!” the cruel man smiled. “That’s exactly what I wanted from you! Come on!” he grabbed Naoki by the shoulder, ushering him inside. “I’m going to show you what it takes to be a man.”