Chapter Twenty-Six: Hang-Ups:

February 23rd, 2011.

10:00 a.m.

“I can’t stand it,” Charlotte complained. “His mentor is so creepy.”

“Are you ready to start?” April asked.

“Yes,” the American woman said. April walked over to the other side of the room. An ornate box sat on the table. The shinigami took in a breath and opened the lid. Charlotte peeked up.

“It’s a nightmare,” she said. “He just stares at me, judging.”

“How are things with you and Takashi?” April asked.

“Good,” Charlotte said.

“Any progress yet?”

“Nope. I worry there won’t be with his master around.”

“That bad, huh?”


April examined the box’s contents. “What’s he like? His master, I mean.”

Charlotte frowned. “Mean and creepy. He sticks his nose up at me.”

“I’m going to look at something really quiet for a few minutes, okay?”


April picked up a metal rod. She poked into the box. Charlotte winced and closed her eyes.

“Ow,” she whispered. The English shinigami poked around in the box a little bit longer.

“Hold on,” she said. “I just need to see something a little bit longer. Just bear with me.”

“Yes,” the test subject said. April poked around in the box for a little bit longer. She set down the rod.

“No good,” the shinigami said. “I can’t get close enough. The tissue keeps growing back.” April lifted her head. Charlotte sat across the room, panting.

“What happens now?” she asked. The English shinigami sighed.

“We’ll keep looking for a way to see the core,” she said. “We’ll have to do it without harming the tissue.”

“What should I do for now?”

“About which… this or Takashi’s master?”

Charlotte leaned back with her arms behind her head. “Both.”

April closed the ornate box. “The experiment, wait until we have a way to look at the core without damaging the tissue.”

“And Takashi’s master?”

April gave her a sympathetic smile. “Are you free for the rest of the day?”


“Let’s have lunch together on my break. You look like you want someone to unload on.”

For once today, Charlotte perked up. “That would be so helpful to me.”

The English shinigami locked up the box. “See you at one?”

“Text me?”


“Fine.” Charlotte left for the morning and April went back to work.