World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 14: Ethics and Morals
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March 2, 7:30 am, Tokyo, Japan
As soon as the alarm sounded, Sakura's hand immediately fell down on it. The resulting silence permeated the room.
Her room was small, with only futon for a bed, some books piled next to it to function as a stand for the bedside lamp, and a work desk and chair in the corner. Sunlight filtered through the small window in the corner, looking out to the rows of other apartment buildings outside.
She lay in her futon for a few moments, gathering her thoughts and trying to shake the mental cobwebs off. Then she checked the date and time.
March 2. Shot day.
She groaned, and got out of bed, heading into the cramped bathroom. There was a shower/bath combo and toilet, next to the sink. Above the sink was the mirror/cabinet where to kept her hormones. She took out one vial, noted that she was running low on injections, and began filling it up.
Honestly, she was starting to miss the pills. Sure, she had to take them daily, but the whole process was easier. On the other hand, her everyday life just kind of...felt better with the injections, as much of a pain as they were. It could just be a psychological thing though, considering how long it had taken for her to get the damn things.
Once she was done, she washed her face and brushed her teeth, then started to get dressed. She was feeling pink today, but it was also a work day. Pink blouse, black skirt. Very professional. All she needed was a little white and she'd be a neapolitan ice cream she saw when she visited America in her teenage years. The thought made her smile. Neapolitan fashion it is.
While she dressed, she went over the day's schedule in her mind.
Sakura had one month to report on the mysterious dead body she found on her friend's grave in the cemetery. She had already informed the relevant departments that she was working on a story for the rest of the month, and so may not be coming into the office as frequently. Sakura recalled their look of surprise when the request had been approved, and smiled. It really was the small things in life that made it worth living.
She went into her kitchenette, opened the fridge, and took out some eggs. Kicking the door shut, she set the eggs on the counter and got out the rice and rice cooker. She hated washing rice, but it had to be donr. Once that was all taken care of, she took out a the frying pan from the drying rack, set it on the stove and started it up. It was only when the smell of cooking eggs wafted through the apartment that Sakura called the police.
To be more specific, she called the policeman that was on the scene of the crime. His name was Hanzo Kiritaka, which was especially memorable, given the kanji it was written with on the card he gave her. And the fact that his name was Hanzo. Who named their kid Hanzo these days?
Not to mention Sakura almost didn't believe it was actually a card for a mere policeman; it looked too professional for that.
"Hello, Detective Kiritaka speaking," said a tired voice. Sakura felt a twinge of sympathy for the public officer.
"Hello! It's Sakura, the woman you spoke with last week?" she said. "I was just calling about the dead body you found on my friend's grave."
The line was silent for a while. All Sakura could hear was the sizzling of the eggs on her frying pan.
"Yes...that investigation..." he said. "We're still looking into it."
"Did the body have anything to do with my friend?"
"No." he said, suddenly very certain. "We're sure it had nothing to do with your friend."
"Are you sure?" Sakura asked, flipping her eggs. "My friend had a very hard life. I would hate to know that someone was still out there, despising her and her name."
The detective said a few more consoling words, assuring her that it had nothing to do with her.
"It was just there at random, it looks like," he said.
"'It looks like?' So you aren't sure?" Sakura pressed.
"No, we're certain-"
"But you said 'it looks like.' That could mean it actually was something to do with her past."
"Ma'am, I can assure you that the body being at her grave was a mere coincidence."
So there had been an actual body. Unlike what the police department had implied over the phone when Sakura called before.
"Then who was it?" she demanded. "Please, for the sake of my peace of mind, could you please tell me who it was so that I know it wasn't something haunting her?"
The detective was silent for another moment. The rice cooker beeped, signaling that the rice was now ready.
"No one has spoken with you about this before?" he said suddenly. "From the police, I mean."
Sakura frowned, surprised by this sudden line of questioning.
"No?" she said, making sure to sound confused. "It's because no one called me, that I called you today."
"Right, right," he said. "Maybe it would be best if we met in person. Are you free today?"
"Are you asking me out?"
"Simply business, ma'am," he said, voice unchanging. Hmmm...either he was not a very jokey person, or this was something serious.
"I am free today," said Sakura eventually.
"In that case, let us meet at a cafe at 3pm," said the detective.
He gave her the address, and hung up, leaving Sakura feeling more intrigued. For one thing, the cafe was in Akihabara. He wouldn't be so bold to call her out to a maid cafe, or some other similar establishment...would he?
More importantly, the detective had something to say to her, something he couldn't say over the phone.
Maybe it was because it was something he didn't want the rest of the department to know? In that case, that would either make him a corrupt cop, or someone higher than him was silencing him. Then again, it could simply be because someone was supposed to speak to her before today, and he was simply doing it now.
Whatever the reason, Sakura had a hunch that it was bigger than anything she could dream of. Of course, she wouldn't be able to use any of what she found out here in her article. The reason for that was because she had not introduced herself as a journalist. If she used any information obtained during this meeting in an article, it would be breaking journalistic ethics, as she would have gained this information under false pretences.
In order to be able to use information in an article, one needed to have the explicit consent of the person being interviewed. "Off the record" meant that journalists could not use that information in the article, but they could use it as research.
For this meeting, Sakura was simply planning to gain information. If the detective did give any interesting leads, then she would simply reveal that she was a journalist, and ask if they could come on the record. With their name changed, or with any other condition, of course.
Sakura wondered just what could this detective possibly want to tell her.
March 2, 3:02 pm, Tokyo, Japan
"Sorry for being late," said Detective Kiritaka. "The trains were delayed a little."
"Oh really?" said Sakura. Train delays were pretty uncommon. She placed her phone on the table as the detective took his seat.
The cafe that the detective had chosen was indeed a maid cafe. Sakura watched, amused, as the detective looked uncomfortable as a cheery maid took his order.
"A co-worker recommended this cafe to me," he explained, once the maid left. "I didn't know it was this sort of place."
"It's alright," Sakura giggled. "I don't mind places like this from time to time."
The detective laughed awkwardly as the maid came back with their drinks.
"If you need anything else, give me a ring Master!" said the maid cheerfully. Sakura smiled widely back at her, whereas the detective simply looked awkward. Sakura wondered what the maid thought of this whole situation; an old man looking awkward in a maid cafe with a woman in her twenties.
"So can you tell me the body wasn't someone from Ai's past?" Sakura asked. That was enough fun. Time to get to business.
The detective shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"We still haven't identified the man," he admitted, surprising Sakura once more.
"However, we are sure this situation has nothing to do with your friend."
"How?" Sakura asked immediately. "How do you know?"
The detective looked like he really didn't want to be here.
"Look," he said in a low voice. "It's not my place to say this but..."
He leaned in, motioning for Sakura to do the same. She obliged.
"There have been a couple cases like this for the past few months," he said. "We haven't said anything to the public, because we didn't want to give this serial killer any attention."
He went on to explain that he and the rest of the department believed that this serial killer was the type that wanted attention, as seen by the escalation of his theatrics.
"We know that he only targets victims with...particular fetishes," he went on. "Which is why we believe that he left his latest victim on your friend's grave."
Sakura sat there in silence for a moment, absorbing all this information.
"You're saying..." she began. "That he left a dead body on my friend's grave...because she was married to a woman?"
The detective simply sipped his coffee.
Suddenly, Sakura didn't feel very safe.
"When you say his victims have 'particular fetish-'"
"Yes," said the detective.
Sakura fell silent once again.
"Ms. Watanabe, you seem like a very caring and open-hearted person," said the detective. "Which is why I am asking you: please let this go. This has nothing to do with your friend."
Sakura heard his words, but they didn't register. Her fists were balled in anger under the table.
A serial killer?
That targeted the LGBT+ community?
And this was the detective that was investigating them?
A detective that described the victims as 'people with particular fetishes?'
"What are the police doing to find this killer?" Sakura asked quietly.
"We are doing all we can," the detective started.
"Then why isn't he behind bars?"
"Serial killers are slippery, they-"
"And in the meantime, thousands of people are unaware that they might be targeted!"
"Ma'am, I don't believe there are that many people like the victim, or...your friend," he said, slowing down at the end as he realized his mistake.
Sakura glared at him, and to his credit, he looked ashamed.
"The situation is delicate," he said, being more careful with his words. "Letting people know that there is a serial killer around will cause panic."
"And not letting anyone know will keep them in danger," Sakura argued back.
"We've considered this, Ms. Watanabe," said the detective. "We realize the risks-"
"But take them anyway, because catching the killer is more important than the safety of citizens."
"Catching the killer will save the citizens quicker!"
"And how well has that been going so far?!" Sakura stood up. "You said it's been months!"
"Ms. Watanabe, please calm down," said the detective. "I am simply asking for you to place your trust in us. Please trust that we have the public's best interest at heart."
"I would trust the police more if they were more transparent in their investigation!" Sakura snapped. "I called the police the other day and they stated that there wasn't even a body! What do you have to say to that?"
Sakura expected the detective to be shocked, or to start backtracking. Instead, his eyes narrowed.
"You called to ask about a dead body?" he said.
"We don't give any information out like that to the general public," he said. "You're not from another government body, I know everyone they've sent..."
Sakura's eyes widened, which she tried to play off, but the detective noticed.
"Are you a reporter?"
She got too invested. A careless mistake.
"Yes," said Sakura reluctantly. "I am Sakura Watanabe from the Yomiuri Shimbun."
The detective looked at her coldly. That look confirmed Sakura's worst thoughts; now that he found out what she was, there was no way for her to convince him to come on the record.
"All of this is strictly off the record," he said curtly, before standing up. "Good day, Ms. Watanabe."
He left. Sakura sipped her tea, and picked up her phone, turning it over, and stopping the recording. Sure, she had managed to get what she came for...but she could help but feel like the entire thing had been a huge failure.
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