Kagome, kagome

Image from Vocaloid’s song: Kagome Kagome

Kagome kagome

The bird in the cage

When, oh, when will it come out

In the night of dawn

The crane and turtle slipped

Who is behind you now?

The song went on, with its hauntingly cheerful tune clinging to his ears like a ghost’s whispers.

He sat in the center of a great circle, his hands covering his ears and his eyes straining at the sight of the figures forming the circle. His eyes bordered on the verge of shedding blood; he hadn’t closed them for what seemed like an eternity. He dared not to, for he knew even a blink which lasted less than half a second could also snatch away his long-awaiting chance.

The circle was moving so fast that the figures’ features appeared a blurry grayness. The pace and the tune blended in a dissonant harmony.

The circle stopped only for a brief moment and he had but a slim chance to figure out the answer before it moved on.

He heard the soft giggles of a little girl behind him. He searched his disoriented memory, worrying every of his brain cells to put a name to that voice. Faces flashed in his mind, old and young, male and female, strange and familiar.

The sound grew louder in his ears, a cruel reminder that his allotted time was running out.

He blindly grasped a face, betting once more on his battered luck.

“My little sister, is that you?”

The giggles halted. As they did, all the chatters and murmurs came to a stop. Eyes stared down on him as if he were a convict at his trial.

Wasn’t he already one?

The voice behind him spoke grimly.

“You have no sisters, did you forget that?  I was your girl-next-door whose death you caused when you were eight. Did you forget that too?”

He really did forget. His memory held not an impression of any girl-next-door whose death was at his fault. He only remembered growing a lonely boy. But before he had any chance to rebuke, the circle started spinning and the song continued.

Kagome kagome

The bird in the cage

When, oh, when will it come out

In the night of dawn

The crane and turtle slipped

Who is behind you now?

When was its next stop?

Blurry countenances seemed to be laughing at him, mocking his helplessness of a bird trapped in a cage, a bird that had just allowed freedom easily slip through his wings.

Was it freedom soaring outside the cage?

Kagome kagome

He kept on staring.

The bird in the cage

When, oh, when will it come out

He didn’t know how long the song would last. The words revolved in an endless loop, going over and over in his ears like an everlasting curse.

He wanted to rip off his ears.

In the night of dawn

The crane and turtle slipped

A minute, an hour, a day, a year, a century it would last but once it started, it was bound to stop. Whatever force was controlling the circle, it was always kind enough to him give a chance.

Who is behind you now?

Behind him was a string of coughs weighted by long years of heavy smoking. Light flashed his mind because he knew these coughs.

An intimidating man with a pipe constantly on his mouth. His greatest horror from childhood to manhood.

“My father, is that who you are?”

The coughing stopped and the world went dead-still. Until a voice rose.

“Your father you never knew. He died when you were still an infant. I’m your uncle who had been taking care of your mother and you since.”

He heaved back a sign and continued.

“I was never too harsh on you. You, I love you as if you were my true son.”

It seemed the old man had already begun to cry.

It was already too late when he gathered enough courage to look behind. The circle had spun again.

His ears picked out the laughters mingled with the song. Louder and louder it got each time the song repeated, until all he could hear was derisive laughters and not a single words.

He ripped off his ears. The blood crystallized and scattered away like dust but he didn’t seem to see.

He saw nothing now.

When the song stopped he didn’t bother to wait for the usual hint. In a flash he turned around and seized whoever was behind his back.

The mocking expression on those strangers’ face turned ghastly.

His fingers closed around the neck, squeezing it, crushing it with all the strength of madness.

Above the circle floated a voice which was coldly calm.

“You want to kill him again, your twin of a brother?”

“I didn’t kill him!” His growl was akin to that of a dying beast. “I didn’t kill him!”

“For once you’re right. You didn’t kill him. The only one you killed…”

“… was yourself”.

All voices spoke in unison.

His bloodshot eyes stared down and met a pair of queer placid ones. The face which should have contorted in pain presented to him a tranquil expression.

He couldn’t help but see. Immediately his grip loosened.

Even when his mind was clouded with madness, he was still able to recognize that face as his own.

Aghast, he didn’t notice the pain that penetrated his side. When he looked down, he didn’t see blood.

His body collapsed and crumbled in a hazy shade.

Their facial features were vastly different but at the moment, they all wore a same wicked smile.

“He did struggle hard.”

A voice was raised.

“He was the strongest of us.”

Another spoke.

“The strongest hindrance.”

“He lived long enough.”

“That’s why he has to die. In order for us all to live.”

On that matter, they all agreed.

Note: Kagome kagome is a Japanese game. In this game, a group of children forms a circle. In the center of the circle sits an “oni” (demon). The children sing and move around the oni. When the song ends the circle stops moving. The oni has to guess who’s behind him/her. If the oni guesses right, he/she’ll join the circle and the one gets caught will replace his/her place and continue the game. If not, he/she will stay the oni.

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