She came to me once again, that unholy beast, as I levitated in a state of near-unconsciousness. I was in mid-fall between flights of stairs and she was stood before me, but now in her true form. No more was she the curvaceous figure with eyes of almond and skin of ivory, but instead she stood three metres high, her skin covered in boils and the colour of scorched earth. Her nose was tumescent and her eyes were bulbous orbs in triplicate that pierced into me like so many drips of fiery mercury. She had thick black horns growing from beneath a wild shock of black hair that quivered as her anger rose. Her tiger skin dress that had previously offered enticing glimpses of her sublime figure was now no more than the tatters of a loincloth exposing her foetid and overgrown genitals, and pendulous, globular breasts.
She raised a scaly palm and swung down with force as if to strike me, but just as she came to contact with my face, the sweat pouring over me hot and sour like the river Styx, she halted and stroked down my cheek with something akin to tenderness. She took my chin between her talloned thumb and forefinger, the heat emanating from them searing through me, and gazed at me. Her eyes flickered between her alluring human visage and the grotesqueness of her true form, and at last she spoke, her putrid breath tinged with cheap counterfeit perfume.
“Why do you resist me Josh-san? Why put yourself through the pain that is soon to come, the moment you strike the concrete below us?”
She ran her fingers, too many to count, over my face, the bruises resulting from the previous altercation with her angels of doom seething in agony at her merest touch.
“It does not need to be this way. I mean what I said. With me by your side, as your queen Josh-san, you can be the ruler of all that lies before us: Sakae, Shinsakae and even further afield should we so wish. Even Nakamura Koen could be ours if we stood together. Everything: the clubs, the bars, the parlours. Just say the word, and the pain will not only be over, but there will be no more to come. Your fall would cease to be. Just say it, and we will be back in my room, and we will rule it all. I will be yours and you will be king.”
With that she cupped my face and what could be flashed through my mind: the money, the women, the food, the power, the power, the women, the power and, dear reader, I would be lying to you if I did not tell you, for I am if nothing if not an honest man, that at that moment I wanted it. Recall, oh reader, that I was at my lowest of ebbs. I was jobless, penniless and near-friendless, and in that instant I could see a way that it could all change.
“What should I do? How can I do it? How can I be king? I am just a gaijin. Surely there is no way that it can happen.”
As she felt my resolve waiver her form changed back to the vision of loveliness I had first seen slithering through the Ikeda Koen streets.
“You need to do just one thing. Call on Him. Call on Him to save you.”
“H-him?” I stuttered. You mean…?”
“Yes, call on him to save you, and then everything, me included, will be yours.”
“But, I can’t, for it is written…”
At my faltering she returned to her true hideous shape her three eyes engorged in fearful rage, her sinuous muscles writhing like a snake pit beneath her enflamed skin, and she bellowed deep into my brain.
“Call on him, summon him and his feckless acolytes to rescue your from this fall, and then everything will be ours, and you will be mine!”
I can tell you now, friends, that I had never before felt such fear in my life, and every part of my being pleaded to agree with what this demon of hell was commanding me to do. But then.
But then somewhere it was like a light was ignited. Not through fear, not through pain, and not through greed. But it was through love. Because then I saw, in the street below, talking to one of the Chinese ‘massage’ girls, my new friend Jun. And I knew that he must be looking for me, and that I was not alone, that I had friendship. And if I had friendship, then all was not lost.
I knew then, that if I called on Him to save me, for his angels to lift me from this most precipitous of positions, I would be tempting Him as Satan tempted me now. And so I knew what I had to do.
“I will do nothing.”
At this the Oni was taken aback.
“You will do nothing?”
“No, I will do nothing. I will take the fall, I will take the pain, and I will be recuperated by the love of my friends and of my true Father. I will not be tempted by you, foul beast. I command you be gone, back to the hole from whence you have come!”
And with that, once more in her despicable image of blood red, horns, shock of hair, she swung down her iron club upon my skull and sent me sprawling out into the street below.