That day, Toshio spent the entire day in the operating room watching Kyouko's transition from at her side. Her brain waves began to show consistent activity, small waves gradually drawing out a distinct pattern. Since noon there had been responses at times as if she were---funnily enough, the one dreaming, and yet her heart rate remained zero, her blood pressure was zero and her breath remained stopped.
The merciless keloid scars on her face had begun to heal since she had been brought to the operating room. The erythema gradually faded, the burst skin peeling away, the inner skin stretching out. By the end of the day, the approximate smoothness from before had returned. --No, if one considered the browning and the dehydration that had colored the corpse, then she might have even looked to be smoother and more glossy now by comparison. Now there was probably nobody who could look at her face and think that Kyouko was dead. There was a hint of blue to her but it only looked as if she were sleeping.
Toshio took blood samples several times. At first he had tried putting the catheter into an artery but that ended up being pushed back out. Since then he'd had to stick the needle in each time but even those needle points closed up quickly afterwards. They were completely closed by the time the blood smear preparations were put into a slide and under a microscope, to the point where one couldn't tell a needle had been stabbed in at all.
The blood was abnormal. The blood that had first presented as dark red gradually became florid bright red. In the dark red blood the decayed fragments of hemolyzed red blood cells were seen but they were not seen in the bright red parts. There was only a concentration of red granules of something so small that a microscope was needed to see them. No other structure could be seen in it. Gradually the entire body was encompassed by them until at last even the venous blood was the same florid red.
Even when left alone, the blood he collected from Kyouko didn't coagulate. Nor did it separate. It only took its time in changing back to a darker red. Even when Toshio tried adding a drop of his own blood to the test tube it didn't coagulate. Far from it, the blood that had turned dark red returned to bright red. The same thing happened with serum. When putting a lid on the test tube to keep it air tight, it changed to dark red quickly. If the dark tinted blood were left for a time---over half a day--it would begin to partition, to show deposits. Once it had reached that point even if a serum were added, it would not return to a bright red.
A fundamental change was taking place in the blood. Even Toshio could understand that. He'd tried mixing various chemicals with it but none of them could provoke a reaction. It only responded to human blood.
On the other hand, as for Kyouko's body itself, it still showed no change at all. He didn't have a control sample for comparing and contrasting but it seemed one could say that around the time the fourth day became the fifth day, or on the brink of such, was the point of interest. The dead body could be determined to be one that would rise or not based on brain wave monitors. Even without recoding brain waves, if there was a blood sample whose color was observed, an estimation could be made. Speaking from Kyouko's case, one could tell by the color of the blood on the fifth day after death. It showed a visible change.
(A survey up to five days after death......)
Toshio pondered. The problem was whether that would be possible or not. Since the bodies were buried in the village, burials took place quickly. Normally the vigils were on the day of death, and that meant the burial took place the next day. In the case of the Shiki there was a concentration of victims around midnight but normally the bodies would be buried within 36 hours of their death. Was there any way to drag that out until the fifth day? Even so, there was the possibility that Kyouko's transformation was exceptionally fast. It may have progressed more slowly on a case by case basis. If that were the case, it would be near impossible to know just by looking whether a dead body would rise up or not. It was probably safe to say that it was impossible to predict whether they would rise between the time when the patient died and when it left Toshio's custody.
Was there a way to delay the burial until five days after death? If only he could defer it that much, it might have been possible for the body to rise up right there before the very eyes of the mourners at the funeral. If that happened, even if they didn't want to they would have to acknowledge the situation.
(It's a dead end no matter what, eh......)
For example even if he could convince the villagers to put off the burial for five days, even if he could draw it out, he couldn't possibly get permission to leave them as they were for that entire length of time. At the very least he would have to put them on dry ice but if the temperature of the dead body were lowered too much, it was possible that that would delay the reaction. Taking that into mind, he would need to drag it out even longer until the burial. And so the same problem repeated itself.
(Then I guess after all I'll need to find a way to make sure no dead body will rise up.)
Or at least some way to stop the resurrection. --He'd need something like that to defeat the Shiki anyway.
Anyways, he knew that the blood was the fundamental thing to change. If that blood was destroyed, then that might have been the way to stop a rebirth. But at the same time, even as he injected every conceivable type of drug, there was no reaction.
It happened when he was deep in thought. There was a strange noise behind him. It was like a wheeze. Toshio slowly turned to look behind him. It was just after seven in the evening. ---Yes, he couldn't tell from within the operating room, but the sun was just setting.
Kyouko's eyes were opened too. Even without looking to the monitor, he knew that if there was no pulse, her respiration hadn't returned either. None the less, her bound body moved, confirming that she couldn't move, then turned only her head to look towards Toshio.
Toshio let out a single breath and then rose.
"......How do you feel?"
Kyouko moved her lips as if to say something but her voice wouldn't come out. For just a moment, there was a response on the breathing monitor, and then it again returned to a flat line.
She was moving. Surprised, in spite of her looking right at Toshio, her heart remained stopped. There was no tremor at all. The woman before his eyes was certainly dead.
He tried to use an ambu bag for artificial respiration but as expected her breath did not return. Trying to sooth Kyouko who had a terrified face, Toshio had tried a heart massage but while she let out a voice, as expected her pulse did not return. Likely, the abnormal dead body would not return to breathing or having a heart beat.
Kyouko wanted to voice some complaint. At times a dry voice would come out. When her voice did come, her chest moved. While it was only natural, if there was no breath, then she couldn't vocalize.
"You don't need to worry. I'll put you to sleep soon."
Kyouko's face was clearly in terror. Her mouth moved as if to gasp, as if to protest. Her chest moved several times as if convulsing. Intermittently her voice broke through. He had to put something over her mouth to keep the screams from getting out.
The nitrous oxide gas had no effect. The thiopental and ketamine likewise showed no response. Pentazocine and and morphine also showed no sign of effect. Anaesthetics and analgesics also showed no sign of taking. It was likely, beyond doubt, that even administering a heavy amount of morphine wouldn't have any effect.
In any case, if I can't anesthetize her, there's no choice but to make her die as peaceably as possible, Toshio thought.
With her mouth bound, Kyouko tried to twist her body to escape her restraints but that was in vain. So it seemed like they didn't have any superhuman strength to worry about. There was no sign of her becoming smoke to escape, and it seemed like she couldn't become a bat to get away either.
"I'll make it easy on you in just a minute. So bear with me for just a little longer here."
Toshio borrowed the honzen from the family altar. Kyouko responded to it on sight. He tried spreading salt but the salt didn't evoke any particular reaction. Kyouko seemed to viciously hate the incense powder and burning incense but she had no response to ordinary scents or aromatics. Even if they both gave off a strong scent, the ingredients to incense powder were completely different from those in perfume. When thinking of it like that, that one would have a reaction and the other would not was not so strange, but reacting to the honzen was itself mysterious. He did try touching it to her body but no burn marks formed as one would expect in novels or in comic books. It just looked like pure fear. It was possible that there was a change in the brain, and because of that perhaps there was a fear response to certain images, patterns or shapes. She also hated the sound of bells. Clear metallic sounds in general evoked a fear response.
It was possible that magic was effective. It was no ordinary disliking, so as long as the Shiki weren't absolutely desperate, this might have been one way to avoid being attacked.
(The problem is......)
It came down to how to put a stop to them existing, in other words. In Toshio's case, he wanted to find some secret way to treat the corpses. How helpful would it be if everything could be stopped with an injection before it started?
He'd tried administering barbiturates but as expected they didn't have an effect. He sought out pesticides and tried injecting paraquat but as expected there was no change. Cresol and steroids and disinfectants had no effect, and even injecting a large amount of air directly didn't show any change.
With no other choice he tried to cut open the thigh and slice the veins there for her to bleed out but as the cut closed up immediately it wasn't an effective means of bleeding her. He punctured the external jugular vein and tried to draw blood from that but as if that vein were being deprived specifically, suctioning the blood ceased to be effective. An incision was made in the antecubital region to expose the veins there and cut them open but again as if that portion were being cut off the blood ceased to flow. When he gave up to let that be, the next time he'd looked the incision wound itself had closed up.
They were frightfully strong against injury. It seemed their regenerative ability was absurdly powerful. It would probably be hard to harm them just lashing out wrecklessly.
Even plugging up the nose and mouth had no effect, since she wasn't breathing to begin with. Hermetically sealing off the blood itself would cause it to turn a dark red color so some sort of exchange of gasses must have been taking place but it might have meant that cutaneous respiration was good enough. He would know for certain if he could cover all of the skin, for example if he could submerge the body completely in water, but unfortunately he lacked the equipment to do that in the operating room.
Now that things have come to this, Toshio thought turning his eyes to the brain wave monitor. The first thing to revive from "death" had been the brain. If the brain were destroyed, it might become unable to move. Using a puncturing needle and a catheter, he tried to plunge into both the nose and ear to destroy the brain but it still didn't look to have any effect.
(Is it regenerating......?)
It might well have been. It might have all started because of recovering from damages. Considering the miraculous recovery ative abilities being shone, it might not have been impossible. There was no point in destroying tissue. Likely, isolating the blood--cutting off the oxygen supply was the way to go. I see, so the classical method should be the most effective. Cutting off the head, heart or liver, in other words to crush in the area where the aorta and vena cava were concentrated. If it was only a small pinhole, it would recover, and in fact the needles pushed into the body ended up being pushed back out. If it wasn't something alrge and decisive like a stake, it would be forced out and the wound would probably recover.
What would work was a stake. Possibly completely destroying the head. If that didn't work, then it meant that they were perfectly immortal.
Toshio took the stake he had prepared in hand.