In a dark, empty theater room Ikeda watched in silence as the scarlet curtains pulled back. Dressed in his finest, green business suit and shoes, he remained seated in the sixth row; Ikeda’s chin rested on his elevated hand as he crossed his legs. His long, red hair reached down to his waist. The projector started running by itself. A large, white screen began to flicker of random images, of people.
The black-and-white film appeared spotted, even grainy at times. A soft melody played in the background; it was the only sound in the entire room. There were no other instruments on stage except a lone, black piano in the center. It looked ancient and covered in dust. As the keys moved on their own, the sad music echoed throughout the darkness.
Ikeda saw their miserable lives, their unhappy memories plastered on the walls and ceilings; his expression was in awe throughout a series of moving pictures. Ikeda curled his lips in satisfaction as he tuned in for his favorite show. He saw a black man and a young boy in the park one day. The boy cried.
As their mouths moved, the scene cut to some dialogue; their words appeared on the black screen.
“I love you so much. Can’t you see it? Don’t you want me? Don’t you love anyone else besides God? Why won’t you try? Don’t you want to live a better life than this one?”
The old man lowered his head and sighed. He soon faded out.
“I can’t do those things. Now, I must leave. Go home, Zander.”
Samuel turned his back on Zander and left the boy to deal with the pain. Zander reached out to the old man as tears streamed down his face. His cries for help were all but ignored, until he keeled over. Hidden behind Old Bridget and tucked away in the shadows, Rue Chang leaned against wall, waiting patiently. The camera had a close-up of his mouth, grinning. He laughed to himself.
“Now, the boy’s heart is mine.”
Rue watched Zander practically go insane with grief. In the scheme of things, they weren’t the only ones Ikeda observed. He watched many others, who struggled on their own. They did the same routines, day in and day out. He saw them working at their lousy jobs for forty or fifty hours a week, just to bring in a meager paycheck. Ikeda didn’t feel empathy nor pity for the humans.
He wondered why any of them would want to spend the rest of their existence, surviving in such horrible conditions. This wasn’t living. They were barely getting by. A lucky few had their dream jobs, but then again, they were filthy rich. Either way, they were so oblivious to the imminent danger that surrounded them.
Ikeda laughed out loud. He watched a girl be beaten to death by her own peers. A metal bat cracked her skull in. The projector flashed bright red. Then, he saw a little boy with dreadlocks, sitting on the street corner, in the pouring rain. He’d been raped by his stepfather that night, and Ikeda happened to see all the disgusting acts the boy had to perform, in order to survive. Rue magically appeared on screen, in a puff of smoke, and extended his hand to the child.
Static erupted. The film rolled abruptly, in a constant loop. Stephan Fairbanks appeared from behind, wearing his white suit and pointed shoes. His left earlobe had been pierced and there was a tiny, diamond earring.
“Did you enjoy that horrible film, Little Brother?” Stephan asked as he strolled down the aisle.
Stephan’s right hand was stuffed inside his suit pocket as he made his way over. Ikeda rose from his seat and clapped slowly, now that the movie was over.
“I find it tantalizing. The suffering of humanity has always been amusing to me. Wouldn’t you agree, Stephan?”
“Why do you always presume such things? You hardly know me.”
Ikeda touched Stephan’s hair, moving his right hand through it. “Do you often hide in your room and masturbate? Oh dear, it must be so lonely for you in there.”
“Unlike you, Ikeda, I read books to expand my knowledge. Don’t patronize me,” Stephan said, slapping Ikeda’s hand away from him.
Ikeda gasped when he saw a red bruise on his smooth, pale skin.
“Why do always push me away? How awfully rude of you. And all I ever did was try to love you.” Ikeda had fake crocodile tears, but he quickly wiped his face with a napkin from his coat pocket.
“How could you be so cruel to your own kind, to your own Little Brother? Look at what you did to my beautiful hand,” he said.
Ikeda narrowed his eyes at Stephan, turned away, and kept his hands to himself.
Stephan had a blank expression on his face. “Unfortunately for swine such as yourself, you’ll survive.”
“Oh, is that a fact?” Ikeda said, putting his other hand next to his left ear. “Come closer, Stephan. I may be hard of hearing but I’m not a nitwit.”
Stephan sighed, shaking his head. “I never said that you were, but you sure act like one, Little Brother.”
“My word! If Big Brother could see the look on your face. He might say, ‘you’ve become too hard on me.”
“Don’t flatter yourself. I have no time for your shenanigans.”
Ikeda touched Stephan’s shoulder, and then trailed down his arm. “Dear Stephan, are you trying to settle a score? You would love to fight me one on one, wouldn’t you? We could take off our clothes and give it a whirl. Let’s see what happens if I win…will you put it in your mouth?”
“Not to be ostentatious, Little Brother. But kindly fuck off.”
“Touchy touchy. When did you learn such naughty words, Stephan?”
“I have no grievances to settle. Logistics and logic is what keeps me equitable. Although, I do prefer if you left me alone and perhaps killed yourself—spare me this vexation. You and your debauchery…”
“I despise you and your big, fancy terms. Your vocabulary is so obtuse for such a modern time period. Please, desist and stop the charade. You’re always parading on about how delectable you are. Can I please have a little bite to eat?” Ikeda asked, fluttering his eyelids. “Just a nibble. You won’t even feel a thing.”
Stephan was not amused in the slightest. “Oh, how charming. Has your blood-thirsty cravings for all mankind’s misgivings, their insanity besieged you too? I will not repeat myself––the answer is no.”
“Don’t you dare lecture to me about the economics of wealth and suffering.” Ikeda shook his index finger in front of his brother.
Stephan could care less and moved away from his annoying, younger brother. “No need to elucidate your conjuring. You’ve already proven my point about how truly disgusting you are.”
“Stephan, I hope for your own sake that you don’t go out in public, because no one ever talks like you. Not that they wouldn’t understand. No offense––”
“None taken, cretin.”
“But no human in this world is carrying an encyclopedia around to figure out what the fuck you’re actually saying. You do love me, don’t you? Underneath that inexpressive exterior, you do have one fatal weakness.”
Stephan paced around Ikeda, keeping his distance. “Who would anticipate that the fate of the world was set in motion with a single picture? And no. I detest you and everything you stand for. Furthermore, I have no vulnerabilities. I’m not like you.”
Ikeda’s eyes glowed with passion as he kept his gaze at his brother’s stiff posture. He monitored Stephan’s behavior closely around the theater; Ikeda rushed toward him, blocking his path. He started breathing down the back of Stephan’s neck, which made him crave for something he knew he couldn’t have. If Ikeda could have a taste of his brother’s flesh, he’d be simply overjoyed.
“Are you seriously keeping a track of our time together? You have any crucial and juicy details you’d like to share with me?” Ikeda whispered. “Do you dream about me being on top?”
“Is sex all you ever think about? What more is there to say? You are an empty-headed fool,” Stephan said, frankly.
Ikeda suddenly realized something. “Oh my! Look at the time,” he said, staring down at his watch. “I have business to attend to.”
Ikeda almost lost track of everything––he didn’t want to be late. It was nearing 3:45 P.M. However, Ikeda stayed a little longer than expected and inhaled his brother’s sweet cologne.
“If you didn’t smell so fucking good, I’d rip out your throat.” Ikeda grabbed Stephan’s crotch and then licked his brother’s ear with his long tongue.
Stephan turned to the side and hinted at Ikeda to stop playing around; he removed his brother’s pale hand from between his legs. “I’m not interested in you, and I never will be.”
“We’ll have to finish our discussion at some point,” Ikeda said, eyeing his brother’s movements. “Always playing hard to get, but I know you’ll come around. Stephan, you poor bastard. You’ll be sucking my cock in no time.”
Taking out a handkerchief from his pocket, Stephan wiped his ear clean in disgust. “Never do that again. Your threats are shallow as you are—it is a pointless endeavor. Do you understand now? Should I spell it out for you––that you will soon die?”
“You’re so much like us, dear Brother. Don’t try to hide it, Stephan. Keeping your emotions suppressed all the time makes you quite cranky—you really need a good release. Ever thought about fucking? I could surely help you with that department, since you seem to be lacking.”
Stephan paid no attention to Ikeda; he ignored his brother just the same and sauntered out the door, holding his head high. He exited the room without making another sound.
Oh well, another day then…
Ikeda didn’t care about Stephan’s cold demeanor; his smile widened as he adjusted his cufflinks.
At Cougar High the last bell rang, reminding everyone that school was closed. Similar to the film Ikeda had seen, he monitored their daily lives, despite the fact that he was bored out of his mind. He knew everyone’s dirty secrets. All their thoughts, their desires, their feelings. Yes, even their fears and their insecurities.
He closely monitored Zander in the classroom and his daily activities. Ikeda spied on the students, the teachers, the bullies, even the press; he was invisible to those around him, especially to the reporters standing outside. No one saw him coming or going. Ikeda could do whatever he pleased.
Humans are so easy to read, he thought.
Everything they did depended on a circumstance and the environment they were raised in. Nurture versus nature or was it really nature over nurture? Yes, even their DNA was to blame for their stupidity too. Every human had unique traits, particular behaviors, and a set of movements that defined them separately; however, it would change based on every emotion they felt.
None of it made any sense to Ikeda. Although, he understood perfectly that humans needed basic requirements: food, water, and sex to survive. These humans were far more complicated than he originally thought. Ikeda yawned in boredom. Students ambled past him in straight lines and stayed within a large crowd; they were in the narrow hallway, going toward the bus station. Like a herd of mindless sheep, they each dragged their feet along with them.
Humans are cows for the slaughtering. At least someone’s gotta eat…
To Ikeda, it was another dreary fallout. Each day came to a bitter conclusion, only to begin anew.
Deja vu? some of them thought. And yet, no one would dare admit it to themselves that something didn’t feel quite right.
Ikeda peered into each of their thoughts, seeing static images materialize from their brains as if he was watching live TV. Some memories had more static than others, due to the constant firing of electrical impulses in their bodies. Ikeda could see their insides on the outside: all their nerves, their cells, their muscles, and their skeletal frames. If only he had a remote to pause, rewind, and reverse time itself.
Now, that would be something, he thought.
Ikeda pushed down one of the cameras, which was on a tripod, with the mere touch of his finger. The heavy and expensive equipment crashed to the ground; a news crew gathered behind him to pick up the pieces. Why stay in the shadows when not one person knew he was even there? Ikeda’s eyes glowed brighter than ever. He enjoyed stepping out in the sunlight; he wore a thick fur coat with six, Arctic fox heads.
Ikeda loved it that no one cared nor bothered him about how he dressed. He could walk around naked in plain view, if he wanted to, and still not be seen. The power he had was invincible. Ikeda could do or be whoever he desired.
As Ikeda studied the humans, he jotted notes about their lifestyles in a journal; he found some had to literally drag themselves out of bed. Ikeda could get as close to them while they ate, slept, and talked. And nothing would happen.
He sometimes would poke a human in the eye, hoping to witness a reaction of some kind. To see the look on their faces. It got to a point, where he was poking people just for the fun of it. It was the same weekday as always, except they were reliving it, in instant replay. As if someone rewound their actions.
Ikeda viewed the school from afar and knew everything inside it would remain stuck, forever. These humans he called fodder. They were trapped, or rather yet doomed to repeat certain events that would soon bring an end to them all.