Ashes to Ashes
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“Hello, human.”

Hana kept walking, ignoring the weird man who had been following her persistently for the past ten minutes. Her head was hurting, and the last thing she wanted right now was to deal with this obnoxious person. Or anyone at all. With her eyes set on the boardwalk in front of her, she walked on, holding her purse tightly just in case he turned out to be a thief. Given how bizarrely he was dressed, it wouldn’t surprise her if he had lost his sanity…

“Hey, are you ignoring me?”

Keep walking, just keep walking, Hana, she told herself. Her nose was clogged from when she’d been crying earlier, and she still held a crumpled tissue in her hand. She just wanted to go home, to fall in her bed and never get up again. There was no point anymore.

“Human!” the annoying guy shouted right into her ear, making her flinch. She stumbled away from the psycho, staring at him with wide eyes.

“W-What do you want?” she hissed in a raspy tone, her voice weak and hoarse.

“You’re ignoring me,” he said and sounded oddly offended as if she’d committed a terrible crime in doing so.

Now that she looked at him more closely, she was almost a hundred percent sure that he was a psychopath. The bright yellow leather jacket he wore was cropped, showing off his abs, and his pants were made of shiny black leather. His green hair was messy, hanging into his eerie eyes. Their light-green iris was nearly white, scaring her since they made him look deranged. Black smudges stained the skin under his eyes, and his full lips were curled into an overconfident smirk. In short, he was the kind of man she usually stayed far away from. Especially when she wasn’t feeling well.

“Leave me alone,” she said, but he didn’t listen to her, leaning in to stare at her face with narrowed eyes. Freaked out, she took a step back.

“Who even are you?!” she asked.

He cackled, tilting his head. “I’m a demon. My name is Kāi.”

“A demon, sure,” she said sarcastically. “More like a clown.” Hana turned away and walked on, leaving him standing there with his mouth hanging open.

“But it’s true!” he persisted, easily catching up with her since he moved faster. If she hadn’t felt this bad, she would have run away from him, but she needed to preserve her strength. Her body was reaching its limit already, tired from walking alone.

“Yeah, of course it is true,” she muttered, her words dripping with sarcasm. “And I’m the Queen of England. Nice to meet you.”

Kāi’s eyes lit up and he grinned. “Nice to meet you, Queen of England,” he said cheekily. “I thought that person was an old woman, but maybe I mixed something up. Haven’t kept up with human gossip lately.”

Hana was baffled, staring at him like he’d lost it. This guy seemed to be convinced that he was a demon, and his strange rambling told her that he was more than a little crazy in the head. She had to get away from him before he randomly decided to become the devil or something equally ridiculous. As if she didn’t have enough problems to deal with already. She didn’t need a lunatic to make them worse.

“Just let me go home and bother someone else,” she mumbled bitterly.

“But I want to bother you!” he chuckled obnoxiously. “You know, it’s rare for women to ignore me. They usually are all over me when I talk to them. You not into men?”

“That’s not the issue,” she grumbled, but she realized that she should have kept shut when his smirk widened.

“So I do have a chance with you,” he said, shoving his hands into his pockets as he continued to stalk her. Could she even walk home when he was with her? If he found out where she lived, then what? She quickly willed the thought away. What would it matter if he knew? It wasn’t like she had much time left anyway.

“Tell me, human, what’s your name?” he asked, assuming the same slow pace she was walking at.

“None of your business.”

“Don’t you think I’m attractive?”

“No,” she said tersely.

“Why do you look so glum?”

“Shut up!” she yelled. “What do you want from me? Can’t you see that I don’t want to have you around?”

“You’re weird,” he muttered.

“No, you are!”

“Don’t you ever smile?” he asked.

“Go away,” she hissed, gritting her teeth.

“No,” he replied. “As a demon, I’m not letting a weak human boss me around.”

“You are not a demon, get your head checked. Something’s wrong with it,” she said.

“You’re a strange one,” he mumbled. “I should keep an eye on you.”

“No, no, no!” she shouted, losing her nerves. Her headache worsened, and her knees felt weak. She knew that she ought to rest and calm down, but with this guy around, she couldn’t. “I’m not interested in you and I don’t believe in demons either.”

“Then I’m going to prove to you that we do exist!” he said with a smirk, and then he vanished into thin air before her very eyes. He was there one second and gone the next.

“What the ?” she said. “I-I’m hallucinating. Did I just… make this guy up? W-Well, at least he is gone now.” She made her tired mind responsible for the strange encounter, not believing for a second that he truly had been a demon.

Kāi reappeared on the roof of a nearby building, observing the woman from afar. He was intrigued by her and her unwillingness to speak to him since humans never refused him. It was easy for him to wrap them around his finger, to make them fall for him. He wanted to know more about this stubborn woman, who she was, why she didn’t smile, and why she wasn’t interested in him. Perhaps she would prove to become a worthy entertainment for him.



Hana unlocked the door to her apartment, throwing her purse carelessly on the ground along with her jacket. She left her shoes right next to them and trudged on to her bedroom, massaging her aching temples. The pain had been getting worse lately. Her body was gradually losing its strength, and at this rate, it couldn’t be long until the inevitable happened. Part of her had already accepted her fate while a smaller part clung to her shortening life, desperately fighting against her impending doom even though it was fruitless.

She fell on her bed, burying her face in her pillow. Her fingers clutched the blanket covering the mattress so tightly they started to hurt. What a terrible day it had been… Her appointment couldn’t have gone any worse. The doctors at the hospital hadn’t made a secret out of what was going to happen to her, giving her an ultimatum of one month.

In the past year, Hana had successfully battled cancer, getting rid of it and recovering. However, when she least expected it, the damn thing had returned worse than before. It had spread to other organs and couldn’t be contained anymore. She’d seen the looks on her doctors’ faces, had understood that there was no hope for her. They had proposed for her to stay at the hospital from now on, but she had refused. If she had to die either way, then she didn’t want it to happen in the confinement of those dull white walls, surrounded by strangers. She wanted to live her life freely until the last second.

Being a university student, she didn’t have much money on her hands. It hadn’t bothered her before, but now she wished she had saved up some more. She would have used it to travel and to see as many beautiful places as possible in the short time span she had left. It wasn’t possible, given her current financial situation.

As soon as she’d been an adult, she’d left her family and since then, she had been fending for herself. She hadn’t been close to her parents, their gambling addiction only causing problems for her. There had been no future for her with them. Ironically, even without them, there was no future for her. She’d had hopes and dreams, but they were all destroyed now.

With a deep sigh, she rolled on her back and stared at the ceiling. The weird stranger from earlier crossed her mind, and she wondered where he had come from. He had looked like a figment of her imagination. That he’d disappeared without a trace only proved that he hadn’t been real. Maybe her illness was messing with her mind. It wasn’t unusual for her to get dizzy, nauseous even, and since she hadn’t felt well today, maybe she had made him up somehow.

Kāi. What a strange person.

She didn’t move from her bed for hours, trying to get some rest, but her headache didn’t go away. It stayed and made her night a tedious mix between lying awake and briefly falling asleep. When the next morning arrived, she was anything but ready for the day. The same depressing thoughts she usually confronted herself with were already waiting to pull her down again.

Why get up? Why make an effort? There was no reason to pull herself together. Her month would be up soon anyway. Heaving a deep sigh, she looked at the window, seeing the early morning sky, hearing the distant traffic noises from outside mixed in with the chattering of some neighbors. She felt envious of them. If only she had a healthy body like them, one that didn’t betray her.

“When will you get up?” a voice suddenly asked, scaring her to death. She flinched and let out a strangled cry, pulling up her cover to hide beneath it. The voice had sounded familiar, but not in a good way. Horrified, she pulled down the blanket a fraction and peered at the green-haired stranger from yesterday. How he had broken into her apartment without her noticing was beyond her. How he knew where she lived was a mystery. Then again, if he wasn’t real, what did that matter?

“You,” she said and pointed at him. “Go away.”

He widened his eyes, his jaw-dropping. “Huh? That’s all you’re going to tell me?”

“What else would I tell you? Go and vanish like yesterday,” she grumbled, rubbing her temples. “Damn it. Maybe this is a new side effect.”


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