Toshio returned from the house call and decided to at least show his face in the main wing of the house as he took in a late evening meal. In the main wing his mother was already waiting on him with a hard to read expression on her face.
With a response to Takae's "Welcome back," for the time being he focused on eating. He didn't have an appetite but his body wouldn't hold up if he didn't take in something.
"Are you going to be tending to Kyouko-san again tonight?"
Yeah, Toshio nodded.
"Kyouko-san, how is she?"
Who knows, was all Toshio replied.
"Are you sure we shouldn't contact her family. I don't want to deal with it, you know, her side of the family nitpicking about it to me when it's over."
"It's still not at that stage yet."
Toshio stared fixedly at the top plank of the table. The truth of the matter was that Kyouko had died and that four whole days had already lapsed.
Even if it was Toshio himself who could write out the death certificate, no matter how huge of quantities of ice he might have used to stall off the post-mortem effects on the body, he was nearing the limit. ---No, Toshio had the feeling he was already past that limit. He had to make a decision here soon.
While on the one hand Toshio urgently wanted her to rise, another part of him couldn't help thinking that she just couldn't. Maybe some part deep inside of himself didn't really believe in things like The Risen, or maybe he just thought that something so conveniently lucky couldn't happen for him.
(Normally, she'd already be long buried......)
The reason Shiki weren't known to exist was likely due to customs of cremation that made it so there weren't many of them, that was his own deduction, what Toshio believed. In other words, there wouldn't be a resurrection during any normal time frame of a wake and a burial. It wasn't unusual for the vigil to be the day after they died and for the burial to be the next day, and if it fell on Tomobiki then it was normal enough to put it off another day still. There were no shortage of cases in which 72 hours passed between death and when a body was turned over for cremation. In other words, didn't that mean that it would be fair to say that there weren't many who revived within 72 hours after their death? To put it another way, there was no point in waiting if one didn't wait at least three days, more than 72 hours. But that 722 hours had lapsed. There was no hope left, he thought as it drug on from the full fourth day into the fifth.
(All night tonight. I'll wait until morning, and if there's still no signs, I give up......)
Toshio convinced himself of that. No matter how he thought about it, any longer than that would be too dangerous. Beyond that Toshio himself didn't think he could bear the pressure of harboring a dead body any longer than that.
(Right...... At this rate, another night would be hopeless.)
Lately even during examination hours he'd mostly been absent-minded. Each time he lost sight of where one of the nurses were, he'd worry that they mustn't have gone to the recovery room, or that he'd made some blunder and that the body's decay continued on to the point of no return, a fear that he couldn't put out of his mind.
Toshio gave a faint, wry smile.
(Ironically, I might end up being the one who's turning to crime here......)
Making up his mind and looking up again, his gaze met with Takae's own dubious stare.
"You, are you quite all right?"
Takae peered into her son's face. It must have been sleep deficiency, his inflamed red eyes were cloudy and blurred, with shadows hanging beneath them. Her son looked past the brink of total exhaustion.
"How about if you were to have help in providing nursing? If not that, then have her brought to the National Hospital, or."
No, Toshio murmured. "......Probably, tonight will be the deciding point. Come tomorrow we might end up having to contact her side's parents."
Not even remembering whether he finished dinner or not, Toshio hurried to the operating room. There was no lock on the nurse's station. In the recovery room there was an inside-side lock on the door from the hallway but the door that went through the nurse's station didn't have a lock. If someone wanted to see how Kyouko was doing, anyone could get to the recovery room through the nurse's station. Feeling too uneasy leaving the dead body there, on the inside of the nurse's station door he'd added a make-shift latch, putting it where it wouldn't stand out. One could get in and out of the nurse's station through the operating room too but the operating room---the front room--was locked. Even so, with a duplicate key in the office, while this had been done to soothe his worries, it didn't grant him any peace of mind.
Hurrying up to the second floor he unlocked the front room. For a breath of time, he hesitated to open it. In the room where Kyouko's body was laid out, he was all to aware that there was no lock to any door beyond this one.
(I'm being an idiot......)
If there was somebody there when he opened this door, the person on the other side would be Kyouko. If it were the case that Kyouko had arose, there wouldn't be any need to put anything in place to barricade the door. From the inside she could open the hallway door and go out that way and go freely wherever she liked from there. So this was nothing but panic, and even knowing that, there was some part of him hesitant to open the door.
When he did push on the door, with a creek from the inside it opened. The small deserted room was cold and quiet. This was the front room, and to the right was the door to the operating room, and beyond that was the door to the sterilization room. With the light that poured from the pushed open door over his shoulder, Toshio could survey the small, narrow room, dark though it was. Of course there was no sign of anybody or their presence. Even when he turned on the light, of course there was nobody there. The curtain to the shower in the room was open. There was no place for anybody to hide here.
Crossing through the front room he went into the sterilization room. The lightswitch was immediately to his left at hand. In the dark room was the sink and the tool cabinet, the sterilization hatch and an autoclave and the like, things to hide beneath or other but really there wouldn't have been anyone there either, of course. Passing through the sterilization room into the nurse's station he stood before the door. He had to confirm that there wasn't the slightest noise, no presence within. Toshio himself didn't rightly know whether he believed it was possible she'd risen or not.
He resolutely opened the door. As he turned on the nurse's station light, his eyes went into the empty room. Of course there was nobody there after all.
He let out a light breath. For Toshio this was at once a breath of relief and yet a breath of disappointment. His eyes went to the wall clock. The date was on the verge of changing.
(Until tomorrow morning......)
Telling himself that he went into the recovery room. When he opened the door, there was a human figure laid out. It was the dead body of the woman who had been Toshio's wife. The light from the hallway was blocked by a partitioning screen and the light from the nurse station was obstructed by Toshio's own shadow. The bedside monitor shone on the wall, and so all he could see was Kyouko's shadowy outline. In the faint time before he'd turned on the light, a decayed and greatly bloated corpse rose to mind. If it had come to that, Toshio would have no way out. It was a hallucination that bore endless unease.
When he did turn on the recovery room light, he could clearly see Kyouko's face wrapped in gauze as it was until night time. Toshio approached the bedside and unwrapped the gauze with a sigh. At least it wasn't as bad as he'd expected it to be, he thought.
He was careful to keep the body temperature beneath ten degrees. Had that done the trick? Even though four days had passed, there was no sign of decay netting over her skin. There wasn't much swelling in her abdomen either. Just in case, he'd put a drainage tube into her abdomen to take care of the gas and fluid that would come from her decay but not much had really come out. He wasn't sure how much it would do against dehydration but for the time being he injected her with saline solutions and covered her face with wet gauze. It must have been because of that that her skin had mostly held off from becoming leathering. If this was the worst of it, he could still deceive them.
Toshio again gave a sigh of relief, checking her vital signs from the bedside. Her heart and breath remained ceased. Next he picked up the graph whose paper had run onto the floor. The machine reading for brain waves spit out a graph with a straight line. This's what it is, he thought with a wry smirk as his eyes followed the graph. Then suddenly Toshio's hand stopped pulling on the graph.
Without thinking, he looked between the graph and Kyouko. For an instant a very thin wave had appeared. Following the graph further, there was yet another one. Between the time Toshio had gone out on the house call and taken in a late dinner, even if only three times, that vibration occurred. It really was a tiny wave. He thought it was a mechanical error. It was far, far too faint to think that it was any sign of resurrection.
Not knowing how to react to it, each time he looked between Kyouko and the graph, the graph would form another wave before his very eyes. Then with that it would return to a straight line.
He peered down gravely at the dead body. He lightly tried touching the neck, but the skin was completely cold. Of course there was no pulse. Her heart had completely stopped. Nor was she breathing. Her blood pressure was zero. Thinking to test for a pupillary reflex, he touched her eyelid. Touching the skin further cooled by the water, when he pulled up the eyelid, Toshio's body went stiff. The hand holding the penlight trembled. Even shining a light over the eye there was no response. He could tell as much seeing the light go through the clouded corena. ---Yes, the cornea was transparent. That evening when he'd checked it, it had been completely clouded over in white.
Toshio swallowed down a small breath. Approximately 48 hours after death, the corena should have been completely clouded, and he shouldn't have been able to see the pupil. Due to the cold temperatures the fog may have been stalled off a few hours but was he supposed to believe that once it had clouded it could clear back up?
Toshio stared at Kyouko's face. Again the sound of the EEG needle moving was heard. Maybe it was just because of that noise, but something about Kyouko looked too peaceful. Her skin that had taken on an aging tone looked to have recovered a strangely fresh luster.
"It can't be....."
He timidly pulled back the futon. He undid the belt securing the body to it. He tried gently lifting the arm. The stiffness had completely abated. It should have taken three or four days for rigor mortis to be relieved, but Kyouko's corpse had been preserved at low temperatures. That stiffness shouldn't have faded this quickly. Even the post-mortem lividity on the bottom of her arms looked to be fading, he thought. Those purplse spots had been faint to begin with but were they always this light? Beside the worried Toshio's side, the EEG needle moved again.
He took in a deep breath several times, drawing blood from the catheter in her artery. The blood appeared to be a dark red but when he shined a light through it, there were thin, thread-looking lines of a fluid within it. When putting them under a microscope, the erythrocytes were completely fused but within those crimson parts he could see granules.
Toshio once again looked down at his wife.
This corpse was not entirely dead. It wasn't that it was not dead, it was very slowly----though quick, in terms of the physical processes involved---changing in a way different from decay.
Toshio leaned over Kyouko, staring pointedly at her features, then cupped his hands on the side of her face. For a time, he simply held her face there, framing it with his hands.
When it started to near dawn, the brainwaves began drawing waved lines incessantly. Those thin lines it had started as began to die out and could no longer even be seen. At the same time her rigidity had laxed, and the post-mortem lividity had clearly completely vanished. Her skin returned to a clean and fresh pallor, the clouds cleared from her cornea. Even so there was still no pulse. Her breathing too was still ceased. Her blood pressure remained at zero; Kyouko was unmistakably still a corpse.
Pupilary reflexes began to show around the time it began to grow light out. It was quite faint, but the pupils did clearly curtain when a light was shone. As the rays of the sun shone in with the light of dawn, Toshio could see Kyouko's complexion returning. Even so there was no change in her vital signs.
It was about seven in the morning when things began to feel abnormal. It looked like the color was returning to her face. A reddish tint began to rise, and within that clear red spots began to form. That was when he had opened the recovery room window blinds to take a better look. Before his very eyes, blisters twinkled into form. Where the light touched her face and forehead, deep crimson spots and small blisters spread out. As he watched over this, quickly several of them burst, the skin tearing off, exposing the epidermis. Was it because of the sunlight, Toshio at last determined.
Kyouko showed no reaction. She didn't let out a scream, nor did she move her body. None the less, red growths and blisters covered and burst upon her white face like a film in fast forward. After a few minutes it came to a state that was painful to look at, when the burst and peeling skin began to blacken. ---It looked like it was carbonizing.
Toshio hurried to lower the blindes. When even that didn't stop its progression, in a panic he took out a stretcher. Transferring Kyouko to it from the bed, he transported her to the operating room. The front room and the operating room had no windows. It was carrying her into a room completely devoid of natural light that at last stopped the unusual response.
"This is a Shiki, huh?" Toshio murmured to himself. This was why they were prevelant in the night. Then---Toshio bit his lip. Kirishiki Seishirou and Tatsumi were not Shiki. In horror movies, vampires often had human servants. It was possible this was a similar affair. The fact of the matter was that Toshio had been completely played by Seishirou. He only showed himself at night, all intentionally to put on that display.
He'd have to swallow that bitter loss, but Toshio had a chance to turn things around. Kyouko, laid out on the operating table, was that chance. Toshio gave a thin smile. Locking up the recovery room and the operating room as before, he picked up the telephone. On the sixth ring, the other end picked up.
"Yes, this is the Hashiguchi residence?"
"Yasuyo-san? It's Ozaki."
Oh my, Yasuyo said. "What's happened? To call at this hour."
"Sorry it's so last minute but there won't be any medical examinations today."
Toshio managed to conceal his laughter, but it was a considerable struggle.
"Kyouko's condition isn't good. It looks like it's about at the critical point. Sorry to say, I just can't see any patients today."
Yasuyo was at a lost for words, though she would quickly offer a sympathetic voice. "I understand. I will contact the others. Doctor, do you need help?"
"No, I'm fine on my own. Sorry, but rather, please let me do this myself. ---No, there's not anything else that even can be done at this point. I just don't want to take my eyes off of her."
"I understand," Yasuyo responded mournfully.