I dreamt of the dog, the head slamming into my vision with a scream. There was a figure in the shadows, encased in black so only the face was somewhat visible.
At his legs, I saw thousands of hands reaching, grasping, clinging and dragging and I realized the figure was sinking down into the muck. I opened my mouth to shout something.
The figure turned his face up to me. “Subaru.”
And…called my name? “Subaru.”
Suddenly, there were jabbing pains along my arm and I watched as the images crumbled.
“Subaru!” I woke up with a snort, eyes still bleary and staring at my blank notebook. I could feel the imprint of the wire spiral on my cheek.
“I see you’re finally awake, Mr. Kanda. I hope we weren’t disturbing your sleep.” The teacher, Mr. Endo said sharply.
“Oh, no sir.” I wiped my face with a sleeve in case there was drool. “Couldn’t be more stimulated.”
Mr. Endo gave me a look of complete disbelief, which I couldn’t really blame him for, and went back to the blackboard.
“What page are we on?” I whispered to my best friend, Mitsuo who had the misfortune of sitting next to me.
“Ninety-seven.” He hissed back at me. “You were snoring. I kept poking you and you wouldn’t wake up.”
“Had a dream.” I mumbled, flipping to the assigned page.
Mitsuo perked up, pushing at his glasses and asked quietly, “About what?”
“Dog. Person.” I shrugged, “Vague stuff.”
“It’s supposed to mean something.”
“They all do.”
The prophetic dreams of an Onmyouji could be nerve-wracking if you weren’t used to it. I still remembered my first. There had been a lot of blood and fire and screaming.
The screaming had been mostly on my part, and I had apparently been loud enough to wake up all of my brothers. I had three, from oldest to youngest: Hajime, Akira and Shou. I was the baby of the family.
As it turned out, my dream had been the first sign of my parents’ death. Hindsight and all that, dreams were never clear until after it was too late. That was also about the time when I was officially appointed the future Onmyouji in the Kanda family. I was five years old.
To say my life was never the same again would be something of an understatement of the century. Onmyouji were sort of like Asian ghost-busters. There was training and studies and rules, I had duties and assignments and all that crap. I also had a lot of sleepless nights – my dreams were often unpleasant and for a long time, I simply dreaded having to sleep at all. Being an Onmyouji also had a lot to do with tradition, one word that had a lot of heavy, burdensome implications. Traditions were both fascinating and a bitch. Take my hair. The red color was the product of a curse and the reason why I, although the youngest, had been chosen to inherit the position. Only a true Onmyouji of the Kandas would have this peculiarity. The legend was that over the years, there would be a Kanda progeny who was born with hair that had been drenched in the blood of youkai the family of Kanda had slaughtered. That individual was gifted and cursed. Gifted with powers beyond that was normal, and cursed by this hair that would serve as a warning to all the demons that this person had the ability to kill them all. It was like having a big bulls-eye on your head. And since no normal Japanese boy has red hair, everyone assumed I had dyed it and I was permanently labeled ‘that delinquent Kanda boy’ and everyone assumed sooner or later, I’d join a gang or deal drugs or something else dubious like that.