Jigoku Shoujo: Dirty Streets

What could a young, teenage boy from the slums of India want with Jigoku Shoujo?

This is a Case Story fanfiction set in the world of Jigoku Shoujo.

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4. Dirty Streets Chapter Four

            Once he was back with his little sister, Kajal lay awake for another hour, his mind buzzing with the events of that night. However, tiredness overcame him, and he slept soundly for the rest of the night.

            He was awakened by a scream from Selma.

            Before Kajal could even register what was going on, he was on his feet, confronting Hakim, who had a kicking, biting Selma in his arms. How had he found them?

            “You let her go, you bastard!” he shouted.

            Hakim laughed, backing away with her. “Or you’ll do what? Call the police? They won’t pay any attention to an untouchable like you!”

            Kajal knew he was right, but he moved carefully closer. No matter what it took, he wouldn’t let Hakim get away with her. “What I will do is far worse,” he said threateningly. Now was the time. He pulled the black straw doll out of his pocket and showed it to Hakim. “I can curse you with this,” he declared, “If I pull the string, you’ll go straight to Hell!”

            Hakim laughed again, but this time he looked a little uncertain. The threat of a curse—even one that seemed unbelievable—was not to be taken lightly. Suddenly, he whipped out a switchblade and pressed it against Selma’s throat. “You even try to pull that string, and I’ll kill her,” he spat.

            “N-no you won’t,” Kajal argued, trying to speak boldly but stammering instead, “She’s too valuable to you.”

            “That’s right,” Hakim sneered, “I know she’ll make a huge profit—that’s why I went to the work of following you. Of course, it’s a profit I never intended to share with your pitiful family. But think. Are you really willing to risk me killing her in the hopes that that stupid doll will curse me?”

            Kajal hesitated. He knew the doll would work, but he didn’t want Hakim to kill Selma.

            Suddenly, Hakim picked Selma up and ran.

            “No!” Kajal shouted. This was when he should do it. He should pull the string and make Hakim disappear. But terror suddenly overwhelmed him when he remembered he would go to Hell too. Instead of pulling the string, he ran after Hakim, stuffing the doll back in his pocket. If he couldn’t catch him, maybe then he would do it.

            Yet when he emerged out onto the street, Hakim was already gone. Which way had he run? Kajal stood there, shaking with indecision. If he went one way, he might be heading away from them.

            “No…” he whimpered desperately, “No…” Choosing to go right, he sprinted down the alleys as fast as his legs would carry him.

 

 

 

 

            Hakim ran, delighted at his getaway, but suddenly a woman stepped out right in front of him so that he had to pull up short. She was beautiful and wearing her clothes immodestly, but he didn’t have any time for her. He moved to one side to get around her, but she stepped in front of him again.

            “Hey!” he barked, “Get out of my way!” She didn’t look like she was from India.

            Hone-Onna only stepped closer. “I want to give myself to you,” she purred.

            Hakim grinned suddenly. Well, if that was the case, this was perfect! Two profitable acquisitions in one day! “All right, come with me,” he said.

            Hone-Onna came a little nearer, grasping his shoulder with one hand and leaning closer as if to hiss him. Suddenly, one half of her flawless face faded out, replaced with a horrifying, skull-like visage.

            With a terrified scream, Hakim leaped back, dropping Selma. As soon as she was free, she fled as fast as her legs would carry her, but Hone-Onna kept advancing. “Come back,” she pleaded, “What’s wrong?”

            Still screaming, Hakim fled as well, in a different direction.

            Ichimoku Ren was laughing. “That was great!” he exclaimed as soon as Hone-Onna stepped back around the corner where they had hidden. Enma Ai was there too, her face still expressionless, but Wanyuudo wasn’t around.

            “You interfered,” Enma Ai stated softly.

            “That boy wasn’t going to pull the string,” Hone-Onna returned bitterly, “I wasn’t about to let the girl be taken!”

            “Hone-Onna, I know you were a prostitute in the past…” Ichimoku Ren began carefully, “But…”

            “Me?” Hone-Onna snapped, “No, Tsuyu was a prostitute—sold by her worthless lover! I am the sadness and hurt of all the abused women from that brothel, whose bodies were dumped into the same river that Tsuyu’s was! I still remember that pain, even after these hundreds of years! If you think I’m going to sit back and watch that sweet little girl get sold too—”

            “It is not your place,” Enma Ai interrupted.

            “I don’t care! That man should go to Hell!” Hone-Onna screamed. She abruptly covered her face to hide her weeping.

            “We must not wish for anyone to go to Hell,” Enma Ai said in her soft monotone.

            “Like you care! You’re the one who takes them!” Hone-Onna accused her.

            Enma Ai was silent.

            In the long, wordless moment, Hone-Onna suddenly regretted what she had said. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly, “I know you don’t do it willingly.”

            “Go back home,” Enma Ai ordered. Her voice was quiet, but it was a command that could not be refused.

            “What?” Hone-Onna gasped, “But…we’re not done here!”

            “Ichimoku Ren will take care of it,” Enma Ai said.

            “She’s right; you’re too emotionally invested in these people,” Ichimoku Ren put in, “We aren’t permitted to do anything that will influence the outcome, and you’ve already done such things twice. You even want Hakim to go to Hell.”

            “You’re right; I do want that,” Hone-Onna replied proudly, “But if the Young Miss says I should go, I will.”

            “Go,” Enma Ai said.

 

 

 

 

            When Kajal saw Selma running to him, he caught her in a tight hug, weeping with relief. “Selma, I’m so sorry!” he cried, “I should’ve…I should’ve…” He didn’t want to say to her what he should have done, which was to pull the string from the doll’s neck.

            “Come on,” he said instead, “We have to get away from here.” He didn’t know how Selma had escaped, but he was sure Hakim would be coming after them. Bending down, he let Selma climb onto his back and then ran away as fast as he could go.

            It wasn’t safe to stay in Calcutta. They would have to get out of the city, flee to another town. There were buses that went to other parts of India, but even the cheapest ones would be too expensive. Maybe he could catch a ride on a truck that was traveling out of the city. A lot of people did that.

            For now, they just had to keep moving. When Kajal was too exhausted to keep carrying Selma, he let her down and they walked a ways, holding hands. Then they ran again. Kajal hoped they were heading in the direction of the city’s edge. He tried to keep going in the same way so that they wouldn’t end up going in circles.

            As evening drew near, Kajal became more distressed. He couldn’t risk sleeping in Calcutta again, but Selma’s eyelids were drooping, and she kept falling behind. They couldn’t stay awake all night either. They needed to find a way to get out of the city.

            There was a pickup truck going past on the crowded road, with people sitting in the back. Practically jumping out in front of it, Kajal waved it down. As the truck stopped, the driver, who sat on the right side, opened the passenger door to see what the boy wanted.

            Kajal was surprised to see that the driver looked Japanese, but it didn’t matter. “Where are you headed?” he asked.

            “South from Calcutta, to the town Kakdwip,” Ichimoku Ren replied, “It’s about an hour’s drive.”

            “How much to take two passengers?”

            “Just 10 rupees,” he said.

            Kajal let out a sigh of relief. He pulled a 10-rupee note out of his pocket and gave it to the driver. Then he and Selma scrambled up into the back of the truck with the other people as it started off down the road.

            They sat on the edge of the truck bed, and Kajal held on to Selma as the old vehicle bounced, swerved, and lurched down the crowded street.

            Before the sun began to set, they were out of the city. They stopped for a while to buy gas, and vendors swarmed around the truck, balancing mounds of food on their heads. Kajal asked what he could buy for his last 10 rupees, and he was able to purchase two, small plastic bags of water. He gave one to Selma and took the other one himself.

            Biting into the corner of the bag, he sucked out the cool, sweet water. It wasn’t enough to quench his thirst, but it was better than nothing. As soon as the bag was empty, he let it flutter away. Selma did the same, giggling a little with amusement.

            After a while, the sun sank below the horizon, leaving a purple and brown dusk. By the time the stars and moon were out, they had reached Kakdwip: a small, ocean-side village with grass-roofed houses.

            Kajal and Selma got off the truck at the edge of town, then collapsed against the wall of the first building they came to. They were weak with exhaustion and starvation, and though Kajal licked his parched lips, he couldn’t moisten them. His lungs hurt.

            Selma was already asleep. Sitting up against the wall, Kajal fell asleep too. 

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