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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2. Dirty Streets Chapter Two

            A quiet whimper from Selma brought Kajal back to reality. “Bhaiya, I’m hungry,” she whispered.

            “I know,” Kajal replied. They hadn’t had any food that day, and they had drank very little water. Looking down at her thin, trembling form, Kajal decided he would have to get her some food, no matter what it took. She was malnourished and dangerously close to starvation, and she would need strength for them to continue their flight.

            Standing up and stuffing the scrap of paper into his pocket, Kajal had Selma sit in the corner. He crouched in front of her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Stay here, all right?” he told her seriously, “I’m going to find something for you to eat.”

            “No…don’t leave me,” Selma begged.

            Kajal didn’t want to leave her alone, even for a short while, but it was better than bringing her back out into the open. She was hidden here. Warily, he looked back at the starving man who was sleeping nearby. Kajal didn’t think he would be a threat. He looked much more likely to die than to wake up.

            That could be Selma and me, he thought, If I don’t get some food somehow.

            “It’ll be all right, Selma,” he assured her, “You’re safe here. Just stay quiet. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

            Selma looked like she was about to protest again, but then she stopped and nodded with understanding. “All right, Bhaiya,” she said, “But just come back soon. I’ll run if that man comes for me.”

            “Good,” Kajal replied, hoping with all his heart that that wouldn’t happen, “Stay safe, all right? I’ll be back.” He jumped up and hurried out onto the streets.

            It was late afternoon then, but still as crowded as usual. Kajal looked around, wondering what he would do to get food. He didn’t have any money, but maybe he could steal something from the fruit stand. That would be hard. The street vendors were wary, having had a lot of experience with thieves.

            Just then, Kajal saw something that made his heart jump. White people! A pair of tourists were going from shop to shop along the street, doubtless looking to buy a souvenir. Venturesome people. Most tourists didn’t come out to this part of Calcutta. There was a man and a woman, and the woman was wearing a fanny pack. Grinning to himself, Kajal thanked the gods for this windfall. Casually, he began walking along the street, coming closer to the couple.

            After several minutes of inching closer, pretending to mind his own business, Kajal was in reach of the woman’s fanny pack. Subtly, with the lightest of touches, he unzipped it and slipped his hand inside. He silently released his held breath when his fingers closed around the stiff paper of a few rupee notes.

            Unexpectedly, the woman turned to point at something and saw him. She screamed, and Kajal leapt back, clutching the notes. At the sight of her money in his hand, she screamed again: “Thief!”

            Before she could do anything more, Kajal took off running. He had what he needed. He sprinted until he felt he was far enough away and then stopped to count the money. 100 rupees. It wasn’t much. Kajal’s heart sank. This would be enough to buy a little food and water, but he didn’t know how he would take care of them after that.

            Going a little ways down the street, back in the direction of where Selma was hiding, Kajal noticed a fruit stand. Beautiful fruits of all colors were stacked up in pyramids, making Kajal’s mouth water. Hurrying over to the stand, he spent 70 rupees on two bottles of water and two apples. That would have to be enough for now. He needed to save a little for later, even if it wasn’t much.

            When Kajal came back into the half-finished building, Selma smiled and hugged him tightly. Kajal glanced at the starving man. He wasn’t sure whether the man was breathing anymore. Just to be safe, he took Selma’s hand and they made their way to another abandoned building. Thankfully, no one was inside. By then, the sun was beginning to set, so they sat closer to the door, just around the corner, where a little more light filtered in.

            Smiling, Kajal handed Selma the water and apple. Immediately, Selma opened the water bottle and gulped half of it down in one breath. Kajal smiled again. Clean water. She was getting clean water.

            He opened his own water bottle and drank from it, trying to pace himself. The water wasn’t cold, but it was so sweet and fresh, Kajal wouldn’t have traded it for anything. He took a bite of his apple, and clawing hunger leapt up in his stomach, making him want to wolf it down. Still, he controlled himself, savoring it. It was delicious.

            Selma ate her apple all the way down to the stem, and then sat chewing on that. Taking pity on her, Kajal gave her the last forth of his apple and turned back to his water bottle. His stomach wept for a bowl of hot rice. Well, it was no use pining for rice. He wouldn’t get any. Finishing his water, he tossed the empty bottle out into the street and lay down on the hard, stone floor.

            Selma snuggled up next to him, falling asleep immediately out of exhaustion. Kajal, however, couldn’t sleep. He rolled onto his back, staring at a patch of moonlight on the wall. It wasn’t the hot, muggy air that kept him awake; it was the turmoil of hatred in his soul. He hated Hakim. He hated Hakim for trying to manipulate them, and for driving him and Selma away from her family. He hated Hakim for his intentions toward Selma, for even the way he looked at her.

            Pulling the crumpled scrap of paper out of his pocket, he stared dully at it. It was too dark to read the words, but he could remember them: “I will release your hatred.”

            For a long time, Kajal lay there, helplessly angry, longing for this. A Web address. He needed to use the Internet. But there was no way he could, was there? He didn’t have access to a computer, much less the Internet. And would it matter, anyway? How could searching an Internet address help him release his hatred against such a rich and powerful person?

            Finally, Kajal sat up. He couldn’t bear this any longer. However futile it might seem, he was going to find a way to access this website. He looked down at Selma. She was sleeping soundly. She would be safe here for a little while. Carefully, so as not to disturb her, Kajal stood up and slipped out onto the moonlit, packed-dirt streets.

            What could he do? Kajal hesitated. Could he find a rich man’s house and sneak in to use their computer? No, rich men’s houses were too heavily guarded, and they had high walls with barbed wire around the top.

            What about an Internet café? Kajal had a little money. He hated to use it on anything besides food or Selma, but it might buy him enough time to open that website. Drawn by an irresistible desire born of hatred, Kajal started down the road.

            As he went, a dull discouragement weighed on him. All Internet cafés would be closed this late at night. Even if he did have money, there would be no way for him to go in and pay for Internet time. He should wait until morning.

            No…not morning…morning will be too late. Something told him he should access the website now, with midnight fast approaching. He pressed on with hopeless, foolish determination.

            Just then, he saw a pale woman in the darkness. She was standing next to the door of an Internet café. Kajal cursed in his mind. Why did the first café he came to have to have some woman guarding it? She was tall with long, black hair put up in a partial ponytail. Though she wore Indian clothes, she was far too pale to be of Indian descent.

            Still, maybe this was good. Maybe this woman was the owner of the Internet café, or perhaps worked there. It was awfully late to be closing up shop, but maybe she would let him in if he begged her.

            Kajal’s hair stood up on the back of his next when he realized the woman was looking straight at him. It was too late to turn back. Cautiously, he approached her. She looked Chinese or Japanese, and she was very beautiful. Suddenly, Kajal noticed something about her that made his heart twist inside his chest. She seemed to carry herself like a prostitute, and her sari and petticoat were worn loosely. What if she worked for Hakim? With bitter disappointment, Kajal turned to flee.

            “Where are you going?” the woman asked, and he stopped. “Didn’t you want to access Jigoku Tsuushin?” she said

            Kajal froze. He hadn’t tried to pronounce the name in the Web address, but that sounded like it could be it. How would she know? He slowly looked back over his shoulder.

            Motioning for him to be quiet, the woman swung open the door to the Internet café. Kajal was surprised. Did she work there, or didn’t she? But he could get in now. Like a frightened animal, he darted inside.

            Once Kajal was in the Internet café, the woman, whose name was Hone-Onna, turned and began walking away down the street. At the corner, she was stopped by two people like her. One was a slim, young man with straight, black hair that fell over one eye. He was pale and of Japanese heritage like Hone-Onna, and his name was Ichimoku Ren. The other person was an old man with a wide, brown face and bushy eyebrows, though he also was clearly of Japanese descent. His name was Wanyuudo.

            All three of them wore Indian clothes, but they were certainly not from India. Perhaps they were not even from this same, physical realm.

            “Why did you do it?” the young man, Ichimoku Ren, demanded of the woman.

            “He had no other way to access the site, did he?” Hone-Onna returned sharply. She regarded him with a haughty gaze.

            Wanyuudo rumbled deep in his throat. “Hmmm, what you have done is very serious, Hone-Onna. It is not our place to compel people to access Jigoku Tsuushin. Young Miss will not be pleased.”

            “He would have done it anyway, if he only had some means to do so,” Hone-Onna defended herself.

            “But why did you help him?” Ichimoku Ren asked again, folding his arms.

            “You know why I did it!” Hone-Onna snapped. Tears seemed to appear in the corners of her eyes, but she turned proudly away. With nothing more to say to them, she went around the corner and disappeared. Wanyuudo and Ichimoku Ren followed her. They would soon have work to do.

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