Chapter Twenty-Two: Drowning Beast:

Mike lay in a ball on the bathroom floor. When was the last time he felt this way? The screaming ripped through his mind. He thought he would die. Hotaru sat on the toilet, watching.

“Mike, talk to me,” she said. Her voice sounded so distant. He told in slow, long breaths.

This has happened before.

Mike couldn’t remember when. The pain rang through his head. Tears ran down his cheeks.

“Vivian… Vivian…” he wailed. Hotaru shook her head.

“She’s gone,” she said.

“What?” he asked.

“I sent her away. From you.”

“But… Why?”

“You hurt her really bad.”


This happened before. He couldn’t remember her name. Lauren. Laura. Or maybe it was Holly. He hurt her too. She ran away. When he found her again, she wouldn’t open the door. Her family chased him off. She looked a little sad under her fear.

“I’m scared,” he whispered.

“I know,” Hotaru said. “You can beat this. I will help you.” Her voice went in and out. But, Mike could see her clearly. She stared at him as she waited. Mike tried to reach out to her. Why was she so far away?

“I want to die,” he moaned.

“I won’t let you,” Hotaru said. She sounded cruel in her words.

“Damn it.”

“I can understand your pain.” No, she didn’t. Mike rolled over onto his side. The tears wouldn’t stop. His heart felt like it was tied up in knots.

“Can I get you anything?” Hotaru asked.

“No!” Mike shouted.

“I won’t leave you, you know?” the loli demon said.

“Go away!” he yelled. Hotaru shook her head.

“I can’t do that,” she said. Mike groaned with his back to her.

“Deep breaths,” Hotaru said. “Deep breaths.” She sounded like she was underwater. He saw her lips move.

Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Whish. Whish. Whish.

A cool hand rested on his forehead. Mike looked up. There was nobody there. But, there was a voice whispering over him.

“You will live through this. Don’t make the same mistake.”

More tears ran from his cheeks. “Hotaru-san…”

The loli demon looked up. “Hm?”

“Please… Don’t leave me,” he pleaded. For the first time, Hotaru got up. She knelt down and patted him on the head.

“I won’t,” she said in a low voice. “I’m here for you. I will help you through this.” Mike lay on the floor, sobbing. Emiko had to do this before. That took days to get Mike back to normal. Hotaru took a breath and put on a brave face. This would only be day one.

Meanwhile, Mike sniffled. Hotaru wiped away his tears.

“Shhh, it’s okay,” she whispered. “We’ll stay here as long as you want.”

“Thanks,” Mike murmured. Hotaru had just noticed that it had started to rain.