Blue Ash Crisis: Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

“Finally.“ Apricot says to herself looking at a crown and pitchfork spray painted on the sidewalk. The tail end points toward a dirty looking worn down automotive shop. “Grease Monkey’s” is displayed in large letters made of dead halogen tubes above the rusty doorway. Traveling the streets Apricot followed the signs and symbols all over the city. It is late evening, and the sun has begun to set. A repeated trek into bars and other shady looking places resulted only in ill regards. She has been kicked out several times today and is sure by now the police have been contacted at least once.

Apricot walks out of the shop with a hanging head. She lets out a low sigh grumbling “This is impossible.” Just as she was giving up on the entire idea of finding an illegal gun she hears a loud “Psst,” from across the street. She looks up to see a middle-aged man of Uchellan decent in normal attire waving at her. “Miss, over here.” the man directs her with his hand toward an alleyway. “Don’t worry, I got what you are looking for; we don’t do business in the front.” An extreme amount of apprehension reaps a hold of Apricot. This isn’t how she was expecting this to be. Then again, she was not entirely sure what she expected, but she knew for sure it was not this. Still walking into an alleyway with a stranger around this part of town seemed dangerous. Reluctantly, she battles against her stiffness and decides it is best to check it out. “Hey, kid, you looking for a piece all wrong,” he places his hand on her back leading her down the empty backstreet.

As soon as that hand touched her she knew she didn’t want to go along with this man. Memories from enough movies fill her mind to know this is where the girl gets kidnapped. The backdoor of the building she was behind flies open as several men pop out holding bats, clubs, and metal poles confirming her worst fears. Not wanting to find herself cornered Apricot tries to turn away from the man. She‘s greeted by three other men from the entrance to the alley blocking her escape. “There is no way out.” the man next to her sneers.

“Please, I don’t want any trouble,” Apricot yelps holding her hands to her face. Her heart pounding as being brutalized and trafficked comes to mind.

The man spits onto the ground as they circle her. “Sure, kid. One of my boys said a funny girl was moving around town looking to buy a gun. Real pretty girl with brown hair. You would not be her would you?”

Apricot turns her head to the man, her mask of horror is abruptly painted over with a large smile of joy. The horror of death and excitement of her excursion working to her benefit felt so strange together, like chocolate and onions. In stutters, she trembles “Y-yes, I-I am.”

“Sure kid, funny thing, you have no clue what you’re doing, yet you knew how to find your way around town.” the man does not appear amused taking several steps towards the brick wall. She is alone encircled by this group of dangerous men eagerly awaiting to tear her to pieces or worse and no one knew where she is.

“First-time buyer.” she jokes hoping to lighten the mood. She got a few chuckles and even a smirk out of the man she now believes is the leader.

The man nods his head. “Yeah, first, time, buyers.” he shakes his head. “You know, I got to have a hard time believing a, first-time buyer, just figured out our code. Who told you?”

“No one,” Apricot responds.

The boss man closes his eyes. “Sure,” he pauses “See I have a hard time with this because you did what the cops do. Sure we got those old pitchforks, but you did not ask properly. You kept pressing. I got to have a feeling a cop told you all this. Not a good cop cause even the cops are not as sloppy as you.” A lump grows in her throat as the man nods his head. “Heh, well I guess you don’t want to talk about it.”

“I would like to purchase a gun. I need one. For safety.” she burst out hoping if she insisted they may believe her. “Please.”

The boss man raises his hand to her. He cocks his head. “Yeah, you will need protection.” His eyes dart over to a young man dressed in a red hoodie and a white shirt holding a black plastic baton. The boss man nods his head towards Apricot. The young man lets out a grunt jumping up to Apricot. He weaves into her face forcing her to coward backwards.

She bumps into something solid nearly causing her heart to jump out of her throat. She gazes up to see a huge bald man grinning down at her. He wraps his arms around her lifting her. She kicks her feet as she dangles in his grip. The struggles do little more than provoke a snicker from the group. The man is about to strike her when someone out of the crowd shouts “Ji Li, man this isn’t right. We don’t need to do it like this.”

“Oh yeah? You willing to vouch for her.” Apricot’s eyes scan the group to find the guy who may save her but the two men in front of her are blocking her view.

The man hesitates. In that silence her mind races to the possibilities. Apricot could not tell if they were just going to beat her up, or flat out kill her. “I-I look, this girl, she ain’t no one. She has done nothing either. Just let her go.”

Ji Li snorts. “You gotta vouch for her.”

Who would speak up for her in a gang of hardened criminals? A gangster with a heart of gold, perhaps? Then again that kind of drama never occurs in real life. A cop maybe? It didn’t matter, all she knew is whoever that someone is just may get her out of this alive. “Please!” Apricot shouts. A thump bursts into her stomach as she lets out a grunt. The world in that moment stops. Everything blacks out as her eyes fall blank. She cases down to see the young man pressing the baton hard into her gut. The tea she had drunk earlier spews out of her mouth slapping onto the man.

“Whatchya you do that for?” Ji Li leers at the young man gesturing towards the man defending her. “Ah, shit she got it all over her. Get her something to wipe her face off.” Ji Li orders to a guy next to him. “Can’t you see we are talking here. Your ears broke?”

“She was disrespectful.” the man quivers.

“Your disrespectful, heh, Balbo let that girl down.” Ji Li gestures with his hand. “Spitting up shit, kid gets the L’ outta here. Shit, man walk her out. Make sure she is doing l’right.”

Apricot takes a deep breath as her situation appears to have improved. The men walk around her as they make themselves scarce. She looks up to another man with a half smile holds out a rolled-up towel. “Here, wipe up with this.” he says. Apricot accepts the towel and immediately places the white rag to her face. As she removes the towel from her face she feels a faintness come over her. “Don’t faint.“ she says to herself as she buckles at the knees and drops to her feet. Her gaze reaches up to the man who steps away from her. “Shit, what you thinking.” she hears Ji Li grunt as he walks inside the back of the building.

This left her and the other man alone in the ally. She likes that he man is clean shaven. Clearly of Uchellan decent. His face was a little androgenous and his short spiky mint green hair is bit strange to her. His clothes are of a more traditional Uchellan style, a red high collared neck along with black pants. The sleeves larger than they needed to be. A style Apricot had noticed becoming popular with some subcultures. Especially nationalist gangs which she assumed this one is most likely part of. “You ok,” he asks as Apricot tries to walk up straight. She found it difficult to move. Each breath takes a great amount of effort against her strained muscles.

Regardless of those facts, she huffs “Yeah, I am fine.” The man walks with her until they are several blocks away from the shops. The secluded alleyway provided perfect cover Apricot thought. “I was interested in buying a gun.”

“Kid, shit, stop that,” he tells her.

“You don’t understand, my life is in danger. I need help. I need a gun. I can’t explain it.” Apricot insists.

The man stands up straight. “Kid you are lucky to be alive. If no one had spoken up for you. You would have been dead. I knew you were not working for the cops though. They would never hire someone as obvious as you.”

Apricot smirks. “Yeah cause you’re a cop.” In response to her little joke the man rolls his eyes with an uncomfortable grimace. If she had any doubts, this reaction confirmed her earlier suspicion.“You are a cop.” Apricot remarks again.

“Don’t even joke.” the man snaps. “So what does a girl like you need with a gun?”

“I am fighting against phantoms,” Apricot states with a straight face to the man. If he really was a cop, he would have heard the rumors of spooks. He might even have seen some himself.

A grin slowly spreads over his thin lips. “Right, aren’t we all?”

“No. I mean phantoms. Monsters, things that come out of thin air and disappear right back into it. The terrorist attacks.” Apricot firmly says to the man. His gaze becomes uncomfortable. “You know what I am talking about because you are a cop.”

“Stop with the cop thing and anyone will look at someone funny talking like that, now get the hell out of here.” He turns his back towards Apricot taking a few steps away from her.

“He will not walk away.” Apricot assures herself. “He knows I am not lying.”

And just as she predicted the man turns back and sizes Apricot up again. After examining her he purses his lips blowing a puff of air. “You are not wrong about those things though. Do you know what they are yet?”

“I have not a clue. I know I have to shut up about them. I worked at Ichigari Grocery. That’s why I need a gun. One of them was in my home the other night. My little brother‘s room. Probably wanted to eat him no doubt. Some horrible wolf monster. I, got rid of it with his baseball bat. I wish I could say more, but I have to stop them.” the man takes a deep breath reaching into the pocket of his shirt. His hand returns with the item Apricot sought. A gun, finally. He takes a step towards her resting the gun in her palm. Apricot wraps her fingers around the handle feeling a sense of power and security coming over her.

He squints down at the gun not letting go at first. “It’s a 45, that means the bullets it uses have point four, five on them. Don’t get caught with that.” the man warns letting go of the pistol. “It holds a death penalty on it.” The man shakes his head. “The numbers have been filed off and there is no tracking devices on it. It should work even in jammed areas as well. It’s the real deal. I don’t even know why I am doing this but, I feel like it is the right thing to do. Whatever you are doing, I hope it works.”

The man turns away from her heading back the way he came down the stretch of road. She places the pistol inside of her purse zipping it shut. She pats the side of the purse with her hand, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

“Paranormal Experiences Of Eastway Park And The Eastway Monster ………………………………………………………………P. 04

Paranormal Experiences Of Eastway Park And The Eastway Monster
If you have been out at Eastway Park at night and have found yourself lost, you are not alone. A startling number of reports from passers-by have said this small little park at night appears as an endless labyrinth. So many in fact the city of Blue Ash has put a ban on entry after dark. So you won’t be able to check this one out for yourself. We would not suggest you try, anyway. If you thought those reports were strange, what lays inside police records might have you even more on edge.

People said inside that labyrinth, there were monsters. Strange creatures of various description. Some reported seeing strange shadows along the walls. We have also received many letters pertaining to this matter. One letter detailing out a monster that reminded us much of a flying squid. The only thing we know for sure is something strange is going on in the Eastway Park.”

Jumping off the small metal bars of the barricade Apricot peers into the dark of the Eastway Park. She is determined to see for herself how true those claims were. If this one panned out, there may be something to the rest of those stories. A thought while walking home crosses her mind. What if all these “paranormal” things are the phantom‘s effect? She already knew they could cause electrical disturbances and alter the temperature, so it does not seem like that much of a stretch they may do other things. If that was the case she would have to investigate these weird urban legends around town. With the gun firmly pressed against her hip, a certain assurance pervades her peace of mind.

Passing by a fountain at the core of the park she walks around the pavement loop. It is not long before she found herself at the start again not finding this “labyrinth”. With the roll of her eyes, she walks towards a small patch of trees, the overgrowth battling against the man-made order. As she continues strolling around the park, she felt increasingly like an idiot for even trying this stupid charade.

Apricot decides it’s best to leave, all but done with this embarrassing fiasco. During her abandonment of the park, her eye is drawn to something she had not seen the first few times around. It is a tunnel, with strange markings on the outside. Painted symbols and signs of spirals, circles, and triangles. “If there was a labyrinth, then this must be the place.” Apricot surmises.

The smell wafting from the labyrinth is rancid, reminding her of the sour smell of rotted meat. Placing her hand on the pistol’s grip she slowly slides it from the waste of her blue jeans leveling it into a stance she has seen on TV before. She approaches the tunnel gazing into the interior of the foul place. Its walls are painted with some kind of off-white color, timeworn and pealing exposing the blackish brick stone masked beneath the fading coat. As she walks deeper, she notices puddles of red on the floor. No bodies though, she supposed that was a good thing. Then again, this red fluid certainly reminds her of blood. Further, into the dark tunnel a warm wetness hits her head. She glances up to see that the ceiling is composed of some very large veins. With the touch of her fingertip it is painted a deep ruddy red color. It is blood, and it is streaking down her face.

Her heart jumps as they wiggle like they are pumping. In fact, as she listens it sounds as though there is a heartbeat deep within the walls of this tunnel. She lets out a shriek as fingers touch the side of her arm. Her eyes latch onto a ladies pale fingers resting on her arm. Looking up from her arm she is welcomed to cold dead eyes staring toward her face. “You scared me,” Apricot laughs. The thin lady utters not a word but instead moves her face closer towards Apricot. Far too close, she immediately takes a step back, feeling a sudden sense of danger grip her chest.

“How long have you been here?” Apricot asks noticing that her clothing is all wrong. Like it is from another era entirely. The woman opens her mouth still stretching her face towards her. A tongue snakes out of her mouth and then retreats inside. “Do you understand me?” she asks without reply. The strangeness has her on edge. This is not human, she fears.

Now the woman seems like she is straining her neck to stretch it further. Her arms going straight as she tries to lean forward. Her face splits down the middle like dried paper, a skin-covered skull pushes through. It stretches several feet away from the body while its pulsing muscles turn visible as the woman stands to a height of at least ten feet to Apricot’s estimation. Its chest bursts out revealing a larger shell like carapace and arms like a praying mantis’s scythe. Its shell is brown and her thorax wiggles out from its rear and its legs arc oddly.

Apricot screams pointing the gun at the creature. She pulls the trigger; the force knocking her hand in the air, pain surges through her wrist. But worst of all, the creature does not seem phased by the bullet. Instead, it slashes, Apricot ducks to hear the blade scraping across the wall.

She turns and runs towards the entrance but she cannot see it from this distance. Instead, the tunnel is an endless dark hall. The only light coming from the dull red glow of the veins above her. The vibration of the creature’s steps is a sharp suggestion it is not far off behind her. It hisses at her as it continues down the tunnel. Turning around Apricot takes another shot at the creature. She watches this time to see the bullet impact its chest. It hits and sparks and then disappears. “What!” Apricot screams. This is it. She will die. The creature dives as she huddles into a ball screaming.

“That will not help you.” remarks a male voice. She swivels her head to see the creature’s scythes held back by a young man in a suit holding a decorative rod.

It stuns Apricot. “Who are you?”

Pushing with his arm he forces back the creature. “So you like picking on little girls huh.” he growls walking casually towards the creature who is now screaming a high-pitched roar at him. “Yeah yeah complain all you like.” The creature lunges swinging its blade. The man parries the strike knocking the claw aside. This repeats several times until he uses the back end of his rod to hit the creature in the face. A large spark flies out of the creature. The skin from it’s face is falls free revealing the skull tucked beneath, the few parts left on the creature’s visage are melting, dripping off like slime. It turns away from the man darting into the stretch of darkness. “What? Don’t like silver?” he sneers throwing the rod into the creature’s back knocking it to the ground. The body sparks convulsing as though it is being electrocuted. The shrieking monster come to silence as the flashing tunnel returns to darkness.

The man takes several careful steps toward the rod lifting it from the pool of gunge. He turns to gloat back over towards Apricot. “Hello madam, my name is Shiori Kinjo,”

“Kinjo!?” Apricot feels a sense of shock come over her. “He is royalty!”

As if able to read her mind the man confirms her thoughts. “And yes I am that Shiori, the heir to the Kinjo family nobility. Now my dear, what has you walking in tunnels like these with an illegal gun.” his tone is firm and makes Apricot consider her response.

“I, am hunting phantoms,” Apricot mutters.

The man smirks rubbing his chin. “How interesting. I think I might like you. But I never seen someone hunt a “phantom” while curled up in a ball like a coward.” Apricot had not realized, but she is still on the ground. As he approaches, it reminds her of that fact. Quickly she darts to her feet. “I will forgo this chance encounter for now. I will ignore that pistol of yours even. If you will be using that, however, I suggest you learn how to shoot that thing.”

Apricot is at a loss for words. Unable to speak she simply nods her head. “Appears you are not the talkative type. Star struck? Hmm?” he gloats.

“I almost got killed,” Apricot tells him.

Shiori nods “You better get used to it miss “phantom” hunter. Most things are not too friendly when you are trying to kill them.” He continues walking past her towards the end of the tunnel.

Apricot quickly snaps to face him yelling “Wait!” Shiori turns his head to glance back at her. “Do you know what these things are? Why were you here? What is going on!?”

“I will only answer one of those questions. Take your pick.” Shiori smugly replies. Apricot quickly ran through the questions. Which one was more important? Which one would give her the most information? “If you are going to waste my time I have elsewhere to be. This night is not over yet.”

Apricot rushes her decision on her first. “Do you know what these things are?”

“I do.” Shiori resumes his walk, laughing.

“What! Aren’t you going to tell me?” Apricot yells.

“Not a chance my dear. I would answer one question and true to my word I did.” Shiori snickers. “However, if you survive, I might consider it later.”

Apricot follows him “You are a jerk you know that?”

“A jerk that saved your life, my dear. Remember that,” he chuckles. “I will give you one thing. The Crisis. Start there.”

Apricot scrunches up her face. “What do you mean the Crisis?” This time he did not reply. Instead, he increases his pace. At the entrance to the tunnel Apricot expected Shiori to at least give her a farewell but he does not even bother to break his stride. “What an asshole.” Apricot growls to herself. “But at least I am not the only one doing this.”

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