Exclusive – Spirit Hunter: NG Novella Killer Peach – Prologue Story

NG Prologue Story: Killer Peach [Episode 2]
Author: Ayumu Hosaka

She wakes, refreshed.
She feels invigorated, having not dreamt that night.

Ruminating upon the contents of her speech she was planning to give at the ward assembly today, Tomoko gets out of bed and leaves the bedroom. The greasy smell of something cooking wafts up from the dining room below, along with the faint clattering of plates being placed on the table.

“Dad, I’m hungry.”

The high-pitched plea of her son asking for breakfast.

“Soon, just wait a little while until Mommy comes down, okay?”

The kind voice of her husband soothing their son. When pursuing the truth as a journalist, her husband is stern and uncompromising like Tomoko, but when he talks to friends and family, he’s a gentle and compassionate man.

Her first impression of him was that he was a mature adult.
Tomoko is deeply grateful that her husband’s not confined to old-fashioned, traditional values and instead supports her ideas and lifestyle. They had decided to alternate on breakfast duty, but as always, he once again had woken up early to make breakfast. Tomoko enters the dining room, feeling slightly sheepish about that.

“Good morning.”

Instantly upon hearing her voice, her husband and son’s expressions light up, and they turn towards her.

“Good morning, Tomoko.”
“Morning, Mama!”

Feeling the warmth of her son hugging her through the pajama, Tomoko counts her blessings and is thankful for what she has. Her husband gently smiles at her and plates a dish with sunny-side-up eggs and crispy bacon.

“Thank you for always cooking. It’s a great help.”
“It’s the least I could do. Here, the toast is ready, too. Let’s eat.”

Exchanging their pleasantries as part of their morning ritual, Tomoko takes a seat while stroking her son’s head. In front of her is a piece of freshly toasted bread.

——I suppose this is what happiness looks like.

Her job as a representative is by no means easy and is fraught with many hardships, but as far as her family life is concerned, it is quite fulfilling. Even considering complaining is out of the question and would probably merit capital punishment.

The only reason she finds the strength to tackle society’s problems and stand up against misogynistic male politicians as a mother is because of the support from her husband and son. Their presence makes Tomoko’s message more persuasive. She enjoys a wide base of voting support from both genders, thanks to the strong influence of her husband’s remarks to the media.

“Thank you for the meal.”

Her husband continues on with the routine words which Tomoko and her son follow.

——It was perfect.

Her husband’s kindness, her adorable son, the firmness of the yolk, toast that is burnt just the right amount.

——But.

Recently, Tomoko and her husband have had a few clashes over how to raise their child. She has no complaints about her husband’s actions. Or more truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with them. He’s always doing his best at work and is committed to raising their child.

——Maybe too serious.

Her husband takes on responsibilities that could be considered too much of a burden even for a traditional housewife, and he does it with a smile as if he’s enjoying it.
As if it’s a natural thing for him.

——As if anyone could easily do what he does.

Tomoko is an intense and serious woman.
She adheres to the truth and sincerely desires to revolutionize society.

Part of the reason her desire is so strong is that she hadn’t even reached the stages of preparing for a revolution. With society the way it currently is, a woman expecting to live Tomoko’s life would have been dreaming, and yet her husband easily provided that ideal for her every day.
Despite being a man. If the man beside her can live like that, then why did Tomoko need to have that intensity?

After finishing breakfast with perfect manners, her husband begins washing the dishes. She knows she should be thankful for him, and she truly is.

But their arguments only increase daily.

They clash about their son’s diet, about what books they should read him, about the quality of the nursery. She knows that the discussions were all coming from a positive place and that Tomoko is the one initiating these conversations. She wants to live a proper, healthy life, and she wants her husband and son to live in a happy society. That’s the reason she couldn’t accept compromise, even with her family. And her husband’s desires match Tomoko’s intense feelings.
It’s thanks to him that Tomoko resolved to start a family. But…

——The pursuit of the ideal is never-ending.

Tomoko sometimes wonders if that is what her fatigue stems from.
Her family’s happiness is boundless, but society had yet to even approach the level that her family is currently at. That gap is agonizing to Tomoko.
Her life would be easier if she could give up this pursuit already, but Tomoko’s ambitions didn’t allow for that.

“Thank you for the meal!”

Her son finishes his meal last. He’s about to hop off the chair with his mouth still bearing the yolk from his eggs. Her husband interrupts his dishwashing in a hurry and begins wiping his son’s mouth with a tissue while laughing. Her son happily returns the laughter, saying that it tickled. Tomoko’s eyes meet with the two pairs of smiling eyes.

“You two are both so energetic, even though it’s only morning.”

It’s almost time for Tomoko to leave, so she distances herself a bit from the family bonding time.
If she were living a normal life, perhaps she would be satisfied with what she has. Her husband is most likely going to read their son a story, as was their usual routine. Because of the resemblance to his own name, her son greatly enjoys the story of “Momotarou,” especially the scene where Momotarou causes a ruckus at Onigashima.

Once her son goes to take a nap, her husband is likely going to put his favorite historical drama in the background while writing his article. Inside Tomoko’s bag sits a folded portrait of her drawn by her son for Mother’s Day, influenced by her husband’s storytelling.

“Mom is cool like Momotarou.”

“Don’t let the bad people beat you.”

Her son’s message is written in lettering that he only recently learned.
The picture reflects the understanding that her husband and son have of Tomoko’s way of life.
She tells herself how wonderful that is and that she should be grateful for it.

Her husband drives the point home by adding, “Tomoko’s going off to fight for everybody. So we can’t look glum, right?”

——What a wonderful husband.

“Good luck at work today, Mama!”

Her son waves his hand energetically, nestled in her husband’s arm.

——What an understanding son.

Tomoko heads off to the assembly, sent off by her perfect family, one that was an impossibility by modern standards.

——Ah, I have to fight hard today, as well.

◆◆◆

Enduring the painful ringing in her ears, Tomoko stands above the twilight.

She looks out over the throngs of humanity and the stream of cars passing by at high speed.
Like a heavy rain driving furiously sideways, or like a parade of the dead that can’t rest in peace.

And yet, she is surrounded by an eerie silence.

She had no memory of walking with her own feet. In fact, the memories she had of today were spotty, so she understands that this must be a dream.

——This is another dream. Same as always.

This is a lucid dream, a dream where she’s aware that she’s in a dream.

But despite being aware, she can’t control anything. She knows this isn’t reality, but she can’t run away. The scenery is somewhat familiar, but it isn’t somewhere that she remembers visiting.
An area that exists inside herself that separated from her consciousness. Even though it’s her dream, she always feels uncomfortable in it, like she’s in someone else’s house.

The realm of the dead…if it really did exist, perhaps it looks like this. If that’s the case, then what am I doing here? Tomoko doubts her own existence.

She’s thought about testing it out. Maybe if she jumps off right now, she’ll die. That’s what she thinks, but she doubts that she can actually go through with it.

And as she’s thinking, Tomoko holds it in her grasp.

Long and thin, yet with substantial heft and sharp edges that give the blade a surprising amount of realism. It’s similar to the cooking knife in her kitchen that she hadn’t held in quite some time, thanks to her commendable husband, but it’s thinner and longer a Japanese katana. Tomoko murders someone that appears in her dream with this katana.

One time it was only a young girl who was elementary school age.
She placed the blade next to the crying, screaming girl’s neck and pulled it across her throat in one fell swoop. Her fresh blood gushed out like a geyser.

One time it was an older woman she’d never seen before.
She placed the blade next to the half-asleep woman’s stomach and slid the blade in her. Her large intestine popped out like a surprised snake.

One time it was a handsome young man in a suit.
She placed the blade against the confused young man’s back and sliced along his spine. The man hopped around like a frog while vomiting blood.

There didn’t seem to be any logical connection to it each time, and that made her feel sick. If this dream is meant to be a mirror of her own life, then why is she murdering complete strangers?

What made her feel even sicker was the smell.

Every scene was filled with vivid scents that made it hard for her to believe it was just a dream.
From the young girl, it was the smell of her freshly washed shirt. The older woman’s stomach disgorged the scent of the natto with green onions. She must have eaten for dinner. The young man’s suit left Tomoko, remembering the strong scent of countless menthol cigarettes that had seeped into the fabric. All of those smells mixed with the smell of blood to create a realistic, unnerving cacophony of scents.

She remembers hearing somewhere that the sense of smell had the strongest ties to human memories. By smelling these intense scents in her dream, these dream murders had become deeply ingrained within her.

Tomoko stands at the footbridge, looking at the pitch-dark path, waiting for her victim. Even if she wanted to leave, Tomoko’s body wouldn’t move. This dream didn’t let her do anything other than actions that would lead her to murder the victim.

She sighs dejectedly, exasperated by her situation when she sees a figure coming towards her from a distance. Lit by the moonlight, the shadow’s outline gradually becomes clearer.

The shadow walks barefoot.
The scent draws closer.

——I know this smell.

The scent triggers her memory. It isn’t a distant memory at all.
It’s the smell of Tomoko’s house.

More accurately, it is the smell of her living room. Her husband is partial to the scent of lemongrass and had placed an air freshener with that fragrance in the room.
The citrus smell draws nearer to Tomoko as she holds the Japanese sword.

——I’ve only murdered scents I didn’t know until now. Why?

Why is a scent that she knows present?

Tomoko’s distress makes the sword shake, and it reflects the image of the figure to her.

Walking towards her is her husband.

Her husband, who diligently accomplished his work, did the housework, cherished his son, and loved Tomoko, who is now looking at her with a pale, plastered-on smile that looks like a noh mask.
A chill runs down her spine. The lack of color in her husband made her think that he was already dead.

——My dead husband is coming to kill me.

Her thought process is entirely illogical. Are these her thoughts because of this disturbing dream, or because these were the thoughts she’d been harboring all along? Tomoko wants to believe that it is the former, but there’s no one around to ask.

Her husband is only about 7 feet away from her. She can smell her husband’s own scent mingled with the scent of her home. It’s a familiar scent, something that she’s grown accustomed to smelling for all these years.

It’s a scent that usually calms Tomoko down, but that only amplifies the eeriness of her current situation.

Her husband’s lips twist further as if he somehow found all this entertaining, which makes his mechanical, half-moon smile more pronounced. Without blinking at all, he slowly comes closer, his footsteps making soft sounds on the asphalt.

The number of footsteps and his distance didn’t match up. Perhaps Tomoko’s senses are all muddled because she’s in a dream.

Her husband’s eyes give her a glimpse of the endless abyss as they creep closer to Tomoko, threatening to swallow her heart.

——I’m going to be taken.

Before she could let out an instinctual scream, Tomoko’s arm reacts.
Her shaking hand, fingers, blade point to the hazy moon.

——Stop it. Don’t move.

This person is different.

Tomoko pleads to her own arm, but her pleas go unheard. The silent weight of her sword weighs heavily on her muscles.

3 feet.

The breath from her husband’s nose tickled her bangs and intertwined with Tomoko’s ragged breathing to create a ripe mixture of scents.

Even though she’s only facing her beloved husband, a sour-taste fills her mouth. Tension runs through her arm muscles.

Another wet footstep from her husband.

——Please, stop it.

Pitter, patter.

——Forgive me. It’s thanks to him that I can be so strong in life.

Pit, patter, pitter-patter.

——He’s different. Even though he’s a man, only he was…

Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat.

——He deserves to live!

Pit.

Her screaming laments are in vain, and the blade is swung down.

Tomoko cuts down her still smiling husband.
Blood that should not be lost from society showers down upon her, as she waits to wake up from this macabre dream.

In her slowly waking consciousness, she wishes for someone to destroy this dream, but the only one who might possibly be able to do so is the husband that Tomoko herself had just slaughtered.


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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.