The Roof is on Fire
Azure walked along the side of the road, on her way home from school. She was lonely. Her friends were gone, and the kids at school refused to talk to her.
Ketsuniku has been her best friend, but Azure hadn't really befriended Inochi, her sister, or either of their boyfriends. She just clicked with Ketsi.
And now, all of them were gone, in one way or another. Ketsi and her boyfriend had died in a fire. The police said a candle caused it. But the fire had burned for so long . . .
Inochi's boyfriend had been found dead. The next morning, her parents had been found dead, too. Inochi disappeared. More murders occurred, people killed in the same fashion Inochi's parents were killed. It was only obvious the police pointed at Inochi for the murders.
But they pointed at Azure for information about Inochi. Azure didn't know anything. She'd never been friends with Inochi, why would she suddenly know everything about the girl?
And now, she was alone. Because of all the murders, no one from school would talk to Azure. They were all sure she was somehow involved, though the police couldn't prove it. And so Azure had no one to talk to, no one to care about her.
As she walked up her drive way, a police car pulled up in front of her house. Sighing, she waited for the man to get out. It was 'Official Friendly,' a name she'd given to Detective Hiretsukan to mock him. Every time she saw him, he always forced a fake smile. Every time he spoke, she could hear the forced friendliness in his tone.
"Azure," said the detective, "another body was found last night. No ID, but we've had a few girls identify it as the same man who'd sold them onto the streets."
"Oh . . . So, why tell me this?" Azure asked, already knowing the answer.
"Have you seen Inochi? Talked with her at all?"
"No, I haven't. We were never close. Why would she come to me because she killed someone?" Azure answered, slightly irritated.
"Just checking. It's part of my job, Azure," Detective Hiretsukan replied.
Azure nodded and turned toward her house.
"Are your parents home?"
The redhead looked back over her shoulder. "No. They don't get home till after dark." Her brown eyes seemed to glare at the detective.
"Well, have them call me when they get home, all right? I'd like to talk to them some more." Without waiting for an answer, he turned and climbed back into his car and drove off.
"Sure . . . Why not?" Azure replied sarcastically to no one as she unlocked her door and headed inside.
Darkness fell a few hours later as Azure's parents pulled into the drive.
"Azure!" her mother called as she and her husband walked in. "Detective Hire- what's-his-name called me as the office. Said your little friend killed someone else. I'm glad she's gone. You don't need someone like that for a friend Azure. That's just pathetic."
"She wasn't my friend, Mom . . . "
But Azure's mother wasn't listening. She was already on the phone talking to the Detective.
"Guess I don't need to tell you he wanted you to call him . . . " She muttered as she headed into the kitchen where her father was busy preparing dinner. "Daddy, can I go for a walk before dinner? I need to get out of the house."
"Sure, honey. Be back in about an hour okay?"
"Thanks, Dad," Azure responded absently as she left through the back door. After hopping the small fence surrounding their yard, Azure disappeared down the alley.
A single pair of fire red eyes watched her, a figure silently following behind.
The last one alive that might care. She couldn't die, she wouldn't. But she would know.
Dark brown eyes closed in pain as Azure felt a strong force hit her from behind. As she stumbled forward, her foot caught something and she hit the hard dusty alley floor.
Feeling weight on her back, Azure gave into the fact there was no way she could stand up at the moment. It was probably just as well, she didn't think she could stand anyway, let alone run away from whatever had hit her; she was too scared.
"Who are you?" she whispered fearfully.
"You know who I am. They keep asking you about me," came the reply.
"Inochi?" The brown eyes widened as images of the murders flew through her mind. "You, you aren't going to kill me, are you?"
Inochi took a deep breath. "I- No, I won't kill you. You don't know how badly I want to, how hungry I am, how much I want to just rip into your neck, but I won't, Azure. I won't." Her red eyes showed no mercy, only anxiety for someone to understand.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Azure asked, "So why are you holding me down?"
"I needed to make sure you wouldn't run away. That you wouldn't go home and call that detective. I need to tell someone. Someone needs to know the truth, someone I'm not going to kill," Inochi answered, slowly getting up off Azure's back. "You're that person."
Azure pulled herself into a sitting position, her deep brown eyes searching Inochi's red eyes, looking for anything.
"You know me before," Inochi replied simply.
"Before I started killing. Before I knew and acknowledged my fate."
"What fate? Inochi, what are you talking about?"
"Ketsi died in that fire. But her boyfriend was dead before the fire ever started. Ketsi killed him. She was a vampire."
"Shut up! I don't have the time. Just listen. She was half-vampire. Her father was a vampire. She knew she was, our mother never hid it from her. One night she finally acted on her urges to feed. All her life she'd felt them, and finally she couldn't resist any more. But Ketsi was too soft. She couldn't handle killing someone, so she started the fire to kill herself."
"Yes, she did. And like her, I always felt the hunger, but I never accepted it. Our mother told me I was fully human, so I believed that what I felt was just my heart wanting to be like my sister. She was someone I looked at as a role model. But after she died, my mother told me that my father was the same as Ketsi's, that I was also half vampire. It finally became clear that I wasn't just wanting to be like my sister. I really did want blood."
"So that's why-"
"Yes, that's why I killed my parents, why I disappeared. And why people keep dying. But I only kill the bastards of the streets. Rapists, thieves, you get the picture. And only when I'm hungry . . . " Inochi's eyes changed into a dark blood red color. "Azure, go. Now."
"Go! If you stay, I'll kill you, because I haven't fed tonight. I'm hungry. I don't want to kill you, Azure. You've done nothing wrong. And don't you dare tell Hiretsukan you saw me." Inochi stared at the frightened form in front of her, biting her own lip till she tasted blood, then she stood up and forced herself to run away from her helpless prey. Azure wasn't the one that needed to die.
'The sinners of the streets need to die, not the innocent and lonely.' Inochi thought as she headed to find her prey.
Azure remained sitting for a moment, watching Inochi's quick figure fade away. A few minutes after the darkness swallowed Inochi into its depths, Azure stood up, pain raking up her spine as each bone of her bruised back remembered Inochi's hit. Slowly, she headed home.
Reaching her backyard, Azure recognized her mother's shadow falling from the kitchen door.
"Azure, Detective Hiretsukan wants to speak with you again."
"Gee. I feel so loved," she replied in a deadpan voice. She headed into the kitchen and dialed up the detective.
"You wanted to talk to me?"
"Azure." That forced friendliness was back. "There's been another murder. About ten minutes ago it was reported. The squad says it's just like the others. So, I again, ask you the age-old question. Have you seen Inochi lately?"
"...No, I haven't."
"You don't seem too sure."
"I haven't seen Inochi. I went for a walk, saw a cat or two, but no Inochi." Then Azure smiled. 'I heard her, talked to her, but it was too dark to see.' She thought.