Chapter Twenty-One: Circle the Cage:

Anna walked through the darkness. There was that scent again. Rotting meat. But there was something different this time.

What… is that?

Her eye scanned the darkness. It’s been quiet for too long. Anna held her breath. Airi still wasn’t back yet. Anna reached into her pocket. Seven more stones to go. She couldn’t use them up right this over with. Find Tsuzuki, kill grandma, and end this.

Then, Anna heard feet shuffling. She couldn’t place the exact direction they were coming from. She closed her eyes and tuned them out.

Doesn’t she ever get tired of these tricks? So annoying. Anna now wished she had a knife by her side.

“I am behind you.”

“Is that right?” Anna asked. “Attack me then. I am right here.” She didn’t stop moving as she talked.

Step. Step. Step. Step.

Another pair of footsteps started following her. She held her breath. Was she really being followed? Only one way to see.

Anna froze and stepped to the right. Step. Step.

They moved to the right too.


Anna stepped back. Step. Step. She moved to the left. Step. Step. Anna moved two steps forward. Step. Step. Step. Step.

Let’s see. One… Two… It sounded like two people around her. But where were they? Anna counted down in her head. One behind her. But where was…?

Someone started running towards her. Anna shoved her hands into her pockets. She gritted her teeth.

“There you are!” the woman yelled as the running towards her got closer. She turned around and…


Anna looked down at her feet. A fox like creature lay at her feet. The skin looked covered in ash. There was no face. Only the ears and tail remained clear to see. She didn’t care to touch it. Anna shook her head.

“Really? This can’t be it,” she said. The woman looked around.

“Okay! Where are you?!” she shouted. “Come out and show yourself already! I’m sick of thi—”

A sharp pain went into her neck. Anna gasped and she dropped to the floor with a thud. The hands of the second figure dragged her away. They smirked in the created darkness.


Meanwhile, Tsuzuki’s phone rang.

“Hello?” he asked.

Asato-kun?” Anna asked on the other line. Her husband froze.

“Anna… -chan?” he asked. “Anna-chan, is that you?”