Archive > minakotomoka14`s Gallery > M/F Stories > Carousel of Innocence
Carousel of Innocence
 
By Minako Tomoka
 
The Sequel of Broken Sweetheart
 
 
Chapter One: The Children`s Village
 
  When I was in school, I was force-fed the propaganda about our tall overlords, about how they were gods that descended from the skies and ruled the Earth with love and kindness. They protected and watched over us, and in order to keep that blissful life, all we had to do was sacrifice a handful of our own people to them every now and then. But that logic didn`t exactly flow well when we knew that we could end up being sacrifices ourselves. It was all nothing but lies, invented to keep us livestock in our brain-dead, fearful ignorance. Our gods are here, demanding their satisfaction from humanity. They arose around ten years ago. They subdued our nation in their iron grip...and they are no longer kind.
 
  Usually, birthdays are meant to be a happy, joyful time, celebrating another year of life. Even if you got no presents and your birthday cake consisted of just a cupcake with one candle, you could at least pat yourself on the back for making it through another year without dying. Unfortunately, that logic died with our freedom a long, long time ago. Nowadays, birthdays were something to be feared, showing that you were only one year closer to death.
 
  That`s why on my 18th birthday, I slept in. I just flopped over in my bed, pulled the covers over my head, and tried my best to drift back to sleep. It didn`t really work. Icy wind whispered through the drafty windows, making my skin prickle. I slept for about another hour until the morning bell forced me to get up, along with the rest of the children in Five Wings Dormitory. I hated that thing. The noise pierced my ears like a knife. It was so loud and obnoxious, it would just ring and ring, and it wouldn`t stop until it was darn good and ready.
 
  Like me, no one else in the dormitory was particularly happy about waking up and turning 18. While my real birthday was April 24th, everyone`s birthday was celebrated on the 1st of June.
You know, `cause it`d be too much work for the State to celebrate everyone`s birthdays individually. Everyone, including myself, slowly crawled out of bed and began preparing ourselves for the day. I stripped off my pajamas and slipped on my school uniform, a jet-black outfit with a puffy plaid skirt, a buttoned blouse, and knee-high socks with gray strapped shoes. I sifted through my long, messy blonde hair, separating it and using a couple faded blue ribbons to tie it up into a pair of twintails.
 
  Once I was ready, I followed the others as we made our way down to the dining hall. Nothing special, just an empty, dusty room with massive paned windows lining the walls, showing the bright, verdant meadows of the courtyard outside. The orphanage where I lived- the Children`s Village- seemed like an okay place. While the dormitory was made out of a 150 year-old training house for nuns, had no heat, and was barely passable for a living space, especially one for children, at least the food was half-decent, and we got to run around outside in the afternoon, despite the fact that we were walled in from all sides, penned up like animals. From the State`s perspective, all of those things were huge pluses compared to the rest of Cordon 31. It used to be called California, but things have changed quite a bit since then.
 
  The headmaster of the Children`s Village, Mrs. Silver, stepped out to greet us. She surely lived up to her name, as she had long, frizzled, grayish-silver hair, matching the color of her nearly dead gray eyes. She plastered on a fake smile and cheered, "Hello, children! Good morning, and congratulations on your 18th birthday! How does it feel to be one year older? You must feel so much more mature now, right?"
 
  Her voice made me want to puke. She spoke in a sweet, sugar-filled tone, which would have been nice if she didn`t always look like a talking corpse. It was just unnatural, like a puppet trying to be human, but utterly failing. She went on. "Today will be your last chance to be adopted into a new family, so I suggest all of you be on your best behavior, okay?" I raised my hand. "Uhh, Mrs. Silver, what`ll happen to me if I don`t get adopted today?"
 
  She gave me a bizarre look, like she had just been slapped. "Well...Ms. Chihaya Kotori...then it is your responsibility to make sure that doesn`t happen, correct?" Of course she`d say something vague and stupid like that. Mrs. Silver had never been good at lying. But still, I already knew the answer. I would be eaten. Okay, I should probably explain that a little better.
I don`t remember much about what happened 10 years ago, since I was only 3 years old then, and I`m sure you probably don`t remember much from when you were 3 either, but I do remember the years after.
 
  Colossal human-like monsters called Giants appeared out of pretty much nowhere, demanding that they wanted control of the United States government. At first, we were defiant, and we attempted fighting back against them, but that didn`t last long once they started devouring our population. Thousands of men, women, and children were inexplicably eaten alive by these beasts. The entire world was given a system shock. We had never faced anything like this before. No one even really knew where the Giants came from. We heard a little something about secret genetic experiments going haywire, but that got swept under the rug pretty quick, and no one really talked about it after that.
 
  Instead, we were too busy cowering in terror as the Giants stormed the Capital and demanded that their needs be met. Those needs being mostly that of food. And the food in question...was human beings. If these Giants didn`t consume the blood of humans after a time, they would suffer extreme pain and shocks until they starved to death. At least, that`s what I heard from my mother. And she would know best because, well, she ended up being eaten herself.
 
  I still have nightmares about it to this day. My house in shambles, crushed into nothing, while I stood there, trembling, watching as her tiny body was dragged into the air by a 30 foot-tall monster much like a man, his sharp fangs gleaming with saliva. His eyes were just...horrific. Like the eyes of the Devil. I couldn`t forget his wicked grin, and the way he sighed in satisfaction after he tossed my mother into his huge mouth like a piece of candy and bit her, snapping her body in two. Blood seeped through his lips, and he swallowed my mother`s remains as if they were nothing. But he wasn`t finished yet. He lowered his eyes to me, licking his lips and saying something about how scrumptious I looked. I`ll never forget the venom in his voice.
 
  Although I was petrified and soaked in blood, I made myself get up and run into the woods, where he couldn`t find me. I just ran and ran, until I came to the Children`s Village. Mrs. Silver took me in, along with dozens of other horrified children who had their families devoured as well. To us, it seemed like a ray of light in the darkness. But it was more like the sweet scent of a Venus Flytrap, luring us to be swallowed whole.
 
  You see, there was an unwritten rule at the Children`s Village: Any children who have not been adopted by the time they reached 18 years old serve no purpose to society, as they leech off the State`s precious resources, and must be sacrificed to the realm beyond Cordon 31, to become food for the Giants. And because of that very rule, my stomach was in knots, and I was moments away from bursting into tears. The optimist in me tried to say I`d be fine, because of my doll-like beauty, someone would surely adopt me. But the pessimist simply said, 'Well, if no one took you after all these years, what makes you think they`ll take you now?'
 
  I couldn`t eat at all during breakfast. How could I eat when I might be eaten myself? I just picked at my food, wishing I could get out of this. And I knew the Giants would take me if I was sacrificed. Ever since I was little, nearly everyone I encountered commented on my beauty, admiring my flowing blonde twintails, sapphire-blue eyes, and flawless skin. Someone even called me Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. In other words, I was the perfect sacrifice.
 
  But really, 'sacrifice' wasn`t the right word. Here in the Children`s Village, all of us were livestock, to be eaten by Giants. With our spotless black uniforms, our lives structured like clockwork, and the tasty feed that we ate every day, we were no better off than cattle. Most of us weren`t adopted anyway. The Cordon was in such a state of squalor that no one could afford to raise children that weren`t even theirs. So what chance did I have?
 
  After breakfast, the open house began. We all stood straight and unflinching, not even blinking, watching carefully as a group of about ten adults arrived, to essentially decide who would live- and who would die. I smiled, fluttering my eyelashes, even pulling off my signature kitty-eyes, doing everything I could to attract their attention. Even Mrs. Silver said I was the most beautiful girl in the whole dormitory. Surely someone would notice, right? I tried to keep my hope up until the very end, but as the adults began to disperse and leave without making any adoptions, my hope was slipping away fast. I whispered a short prayer. "Please, God, please...let someone take me away from here!"
 
  My sapphire eyes blurred with tears. Unfortunately, my prayers reached deaf ears. I bit my lip until a crimson drop emerged. Sweat slithered down my armpits. They weren`t even looking at me. Images of my mother being torn apart flashed through my mind. I flung myself into a breakdown. I crashed down to my knees and screamed, "PLEASE! Someone, anyone, please take me out of here! I don`t want to die!" I started sobbing on the floor, and Mrs. Silver rushed to my side in an attempt to comfort me. "Ms. Chihaya Kotori, please calm down!"
 
  In the end, my crying fit scared everyone more than anything. One by one, they all left without making a single adoption. The other children began shivering and whispering to one another.
Now, guilt gnawed away at me. I shouldn`t have done that. If I hadn`t, then maybe the others would have had a chance. But because I couldn`t control my emotions, I doomed everyone. It was my fault.
I was going to be eaten alive, and I had no one to blame but myself. The rest of the day went on in a strange, emotionless manner, and that melancholy only continued until dinner.
 
  I was a nervous wreck. I squeezed my fork, staring at a plate of chicken. What right did I have to be eating right now, when I was nothing but food myself? I couldn`t make myself do it. I just couldn`t. Maybe, just maybe, I`d have one more chance to survive...if I ruined my perfect beauty. What if I made myself look gross and unappetizing to those monsters? Just because they needed to eat humans to live didn`t mean they didn`t have taste. They were a lot like us in that way. Some preferred to devour women or people of a specific age group, while others coveted children because of their supposed sweetness. As I was now, I`d make them drool. But I could make them turn away...maybe.
 
  I swallowed my saliva. I shut my left eye, closing myself in darkness. I raised my fork, and the silver tips approached my closed eye. Taking out just one eye should be fine. Sure, it`d hurt like heck, but if it kept me from dying, it was fine by me. Gouging out one eye should make me ugly enough to keep those hungry brutes away. I wanted to crush both eyes, because then I`d become even uglier, but I couldn`t blind myself. No way.
 
  Taking a deep breath, I drew the fork back...then drove it right into my eyesocket. A stabbing pain pierced my eye, the agony drilling directly into my brain. There was a red flash, then my left eye went dead. My line of sight got halved. I threw back my head, screaming until my lungs went dry. But soon, the screams turned to laughter. I laughed insanely, my cackles filling the dining hall. Blood poured from my eyesocket, staining my face.
 
  "Hahaha!" I cackled. "Look at me, everyone! Aren`t I ugly!? Those monsters won`t want to eat me now, will they?! Yes...with this...it ends! Now...I can finally be free!" My moment of painful victory was short-lived. Mrs. Silver gaped in horror. She called for backup, and seconds later, a storm of Enforcers charged into the dining hall, dressed in black armor and armed with liquid-filled needles.
 
  One of the Enforcers ran up behind me, grabbing me by my twintails. He jerked my head back and stabbed the syringe into my neck. I opened my mouth, trying to scream. All that came out was an empty, hollow gasp. Slowly, I slipped away, falling into darkness. I weakly lifted my arm, pawing at my bloody left eye. I glanced at the warm blood on my fingers. My vision faded in and out. Please, God...just let me die now, I thought.
 
 
Chapter Two: Food of the Gods
 
  But that didn`t happen. Fate wasn`t about to let me out of its grip that easily. Dying now would be too convienient. I had no idea how long I was knocked out for. It felt like days. Gradually, I began to stir. I swallowed, my throat dry as a matchbox. I had a vague metallic taste in my mouth, like blood. I heard large voices all around me, echoing in my brain. My mind was so foggy, I couldn`t make anything out of them. Trying to wake up was like attempting to drag myself out of molasses. My body felt like glass about to break. After about a minute of struggling, I finally got a hold of my consciousness.
 
  I thrust open my eyes, but only my right opened fully, leaving the other blind. I fingered the area around my left eye, feeling the rough outline of an eyepatch. Oh, yeah, that`s right, I thought. I poked my eye out last night. Mrs. Silver must have given me this eyepatch. But I don`t remember it...wait, where am I? I sat up, rubbing the blurriness from my remaining eye. I was certainly still alive, but I quickly wished I was dead.
 
  I sat up, finding myself sitting on a colossal table, gazing into the huge, gleaming eyes of Giants. There were three of them, two of which were Giantesses, or female Giants. The one in the middle looked like the leader of his harem. He had glossy black hair and wore a fur-lined coat. All of them were snappily dressed, wearing some kind of elegant Victorian or Aristocrat-style attire. My right eye was glued open, and I gaped in horror at the huge crimson-red bloodstains splattered and streaked across the table. That metallic smell I tasted in my mouth was nearly suffocating now.
 
  I soon discovered why. There was a massive ceramic plate in front of me, smeared with blood. Lying in the center of the plate was...a small girl around my age, dead. She was dressed just like me, in Five Wings` black skirt uniform. A giant fork was stabbed through her chest. Drips of blood ran down the sharp prongs. Her eyes were wide open, as if in stark terror, and her teeth were clenched. It was like she had been frozen or petrified that way, like an awful stone sculpture. I hunched over, coughing my lungs out until I vomited. I shoved a hand over my mouth, tears pouring down my face.
 
  All of that blood...including that girl`s...belonged to the children I shared Five Wings Dormitory with. It had to be. None of us were adopted yesterday. So that meant all of the classmates I spent my life with...had been eaten. They were mercilessly devoured alive...by these three monsters in front of me. They may have looked like humans on the outside, but on the inside, they were bloodthirsty demons.
 
  The trio of Giants looked quite content. For a while, they mostly chattered amongst each other, making out and licking blood from each others` mouths, but as I stood there, frozen in fear, they finally noticed me. One of the Giantesses flicked back a strand of silver hair, lowering her sharp, catlike green eyes in my direction. A snake-esque tongue slithered from her mouth, catching a crimson drop running over her large red lips. "Well, well, look what we have here," she sneered. "Seems like we left one behind. Any of you want her?"
 
  The other two shook their heads. "No thank you, I believe Beatrice and I are content enough," the Giant sighed, leaning over to the other chestnut-haired Giantess. "You may have her, if you wish, Cordelia." He dragged his tongue across her neck, and she moaned in ecstacy. "Ohh, Richter...you handsome devil..."
 
  I curled my lips in disgust at their promiscuous behavior. But I had no time to grimace at them. The purple-haired Giantess, or Cordelia, plucked me in her long, thin fingers, twining them around my legs before I could even move. I screeched in fright as she lifted me up to her mouth. "Any last words, little one?" she snickered, sticking her tongue out and licking at my face.
I thrashed about, screaming in horror. I stared before her wide-open maw, framed by jagged, fang-like teeth. I had to do something before she dropped me in.
 
  Although I was hanging upside-down, I thrust myself upwards and latched onto her finger, biting down hard enough to puncture her skin. She reeled back, howling in pain. Then, I was sent flying. She tossed me to the ground, and I hit the floor with a hollow thud. I gasped out, my lungs deflating. My whole body went numb. The impact sent a horrific shock through my bones. I was crumpled in a heap, like a puppet with its strings cut. Cordelia and her partners towered over me, gazing coldly. "What right do you think you have to fight me, stupid human?!" she spat. "We own you now!"
 
  She raised her foot, ready to crush me with the heel of her shoe. A weak, raspy gasp escaped my lungs. I staggered to my feet and took off, running as quickly as my tiny legs would let me.
I avoided the Giantess just as her foot came down to squash me into a bloody pulp. The monsters pursued me, probably not because they were hungry, but just because they had nothing better to do.
I weaved back and forth, trying to avoid getting crushed. Sweat soaked me to the skin. My heart raced a mile a minute. I didn`t even know where I was. From what I saw in front of me, it looked like some kind of restaurant or theater. That is, except for the fact that everything around me was ten or twenty times bigger than me. Tables and chairs towered above me like redwood trees. The field of carpet I ran on stretched ahead like the Great Plains.
 
  Where could I run to? Where could I hide? I didn`t know, and I had no time to figure it out. Wherever I was, it had to be outside Cordon 31, but this- this was just surreal. It felt like being on another planet. This can`t be real, I thought. This...this just has to be some kind of horrible nightmare! I bit at my arms as I ran, leaving red marks on my skin. This was no dream. Why...why is this happening to me?! I couldn`t keep running like this. I stumbled over my own feet. Eventually, I would collapse, and once that happened, I was dead. Tears streaked down my face. "Where do you think you`re going, little human?!" Cordelia bellowed.
 
  About a minute later, I had reached my limit. Since my vision was now halved, and my right eye was shaky and blurry, I could hardly see in front of me. I ended up slamming right into something. Or rather, someone. My muscles turned to mush as I fell-face first into the carpet. I couldn`t stop. I had to keep moving, or I would end up like the rest of my classmates. I dragged myself to my knees, but I had no energy left to stand. My body just wouldn`t do what I told it to. Suddenly, everything grew dark. A massive shadow cast over me. Reluctantly, I bent my back, straining my neck to look up.
 
  I was confronted by a man the size of a building. That wasn`t even an exaggeration. He even made the other Giants behind me look small. He had to be at least around 35 or 40 feet tall. He was dressed like a bartender, with black dress shoes, matching trousers, and an ebony waistcoat over a white dress shirt. He had jagged, spiky, rusty-blonde hair and sapphire eyes that resembled glass orbs. Not to mention he didn`t look too happy to have me at his feet, since his face was twisted into a stomach-churning scowl. "Huh? A human girl? What do you want?"
 
  The trio of Giants that chased me before approached him, and they looked pretty darn angry. The harem leader, or Richter, stepped foward and said, "Hi, there! What, are you looking for a little snacky-snack? Sorry, but that girl`s ours. We called dibs first, so get your own, blondie." I felt horrified to be sitting between two ticked-off Giants fighting over who was going to eat me. I didn`t know what to do. I glanced over to the blonde Giant. I couldn`t run between his legs, because he`d probably step on me, and going back was not an option. The Giant scoffed. "So, this is how you sick freaks get your kicks, huh? You really enjoy hurting other people, don`t you? Lowering yourself to eating children? You`re disgusting."
 
  "You`re one to be acting all high and mighty, Daisuke," Richter chuckled. So that was his name. "Don`t sit there and act like you don`t eat humans too. We all do. Plus, what does it even matter? They`re just food, so why shouldn`t we do as we please with them?" I could feel the tension growing in the air, like a thick miasma. "Shut your mouth," Daisuke growled. "I ain`t gonna sit there and act like I`ve never eaten a human before. But I`m sure as hell not gonna treat `em the way you freaks do. We were once part of the same species, you know. Can`t you have some damn respect for that, at least?!"
 
  Richter`s mood took a sudden turn for the worse. He didn`t act so teasing anymore. His face grew red with fury. "Don`t you talk to me like that, you punk!" He drew back his fist and slugged Daisuke in the jaw. He staggered back and hunched over. His pained moaning quickly turned to angry growling. "You...you bastard!" he bellowed. His hands curled into fists, and with a single punch to the face, he sent Richter flying back a good fifteen feet. The impact of his landing made the ground tremble, at least from my perspective. The Giantesses squealed in fright. They whirled around and sped off until I couldn`t see them anymore.
 
  Now, I was alone with Daisuke, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Giant. I shivered uncontrollably, trembling in his shadow. He was a beast, even among his own kind, which meant I was utterly powerless. He glanced down, regarding me with mischevious eyes. He grinned, showing the tips of his pointed teeth. His tongue emerged from his mouth and glided over his lips. "Well, don`t you look tasty?" he chuckled. "Sorry, but the five-second rule doesn`t apply to humans. You`re still fair game, you know."
 
  I shuddered. All that talk about treating people with respect was just so he could eat me himself? I flopped over so I could stand up, but he pinned me down with his foot, grinding his shoe into my lower back just hard enough to keep me from moving. He bent down and lifted me into the air, clasping me in his fingers. "No!" I screamed. "Please, let me go!" Daisuke sneered. "Ehh, that`s not gonna happen. You`re coming home with me." He lowered his arm, dropping me into his right pants pocket.
 
  I tumbled directly into darkness. I floundered about, trying to stand up. My legs were weak and wobbly, so I just collapsed. My once-flowing blonde twintails were now tangled and matted, and my once-beautiful face was now stained with tear tracks, marked by my mutilated left eye. I bit my lips until they bled. This was the end. This was how I would die. The monstrous brute would toss me in his mouth like a piece of candy and chew me up into bloody shreds, or worse, he`d just swallow me whole. Whatever the case, he was so huge, I`d be gone in one bite. I would be savored briefly, and forgotten even faster, just like my mother. This was the reality of my world, a world where human beings were finally knocked from their pedastal at the top of the food chain.
 
  The ride in Daisuke`s pocket was not pleasant. And it wasn`t just because I was about to die. The intense, humid heat made sweat pour down my face, and the inside was so cramped I could hardly breathe. Not only that, but the Giant walked as if I wasn`t even there, so I ended up slamming against his thigh a lot. Please, just let it end quickly, I thought. As if my prayers had been answered, Daisuke finally came to a stop. I heard the faint sound of a door closing.
 
  A huge hand reached down and wrapped around my midriff, tearing me from his pocket. I took a massive gasp of cool outside air before I was slowly lowered to the ground. I sat down on a huge wooden floor, in some kind of gigantic living room. I quickly found myself in the same place I`d been at the theater- right at Daisuke`s feet, trembling in his colossal shadow. He took a few steps back and glanced down, as if he was observing me. "You know, now that I look at you here, you seem even tinier than before," he said. "Or maybe I just got bigger. Is that possible? I don`t know. Anyway, the name`s Daisuke. What`s your name, little lady? I gotta call you something, right?"
 
  I immediately decided that I must comply with all of his requests if I wanted any chance to live. "I-I`m...Chihaya Kotori," I stammered. "I used to live in Cordon 31`s Children`s Village, in the Five Wings Dormitory." He smiled. "Chihaya Kotori, huh? That`s a pretty name. Perfect for a pretty girl like you."
 
  "You...you think I`m pretty?" I asked. "Even with how I look now?" He shrugged. "Sure, why not? You kinda remind me of my old girlfriend. You just need to be cleaned up a little bit, and you`ll be fine." He opened his mouth to say something else, only to be interrupted by his growling stomach. I shivered. "Damn, I`m hungry again," he muttered. "Guess it`s what I get for becoming a monster like this. Hey, Chihaya, why don`t I take you to the kitchen? You must be hungry too, maybe I can find you something. Plus, I think having you for lunch would be pretty nice."
 
  A pulse of fear shot through me. I staggered back. I didn`t know if it was a wrong choice of words or what, but his intentions didn`t sound good. "You...you`re going to have me for lunch?!"
I squealed. I whirled around, my matted twintails whipping behind me. I took off for the quickest place to hide- underneath the couch. I huddled there, quiet as a mouse, tingling all over.
 
  Daisuke`s bellowing voice sent tremors through me. "Hey, Chihaya! Where`d you run off to?! Why are you hiding from me, eh!? If you got something to say to me, come out here where I can see you and say it!" I had nothing to say to him. I was just utterly terrified of him. From under the couch, all I could see of Daisuke were his large shoes shuffling about. He began moving things, sliding tables, chairs, and other furniture around to find me.
 
  After about a minute, he quickly became aggressive and violent. He snatched up an end table and tossed it across the room. It hit the wall with a massive crash. "Where are you, Chihaya?!"
he bellowed. "You can`t hide from me! I can smell you, you know! I`ll find you! Why won`t you come out and face me!?" Apparently, he couldn`t connect the dots and realize it was because he was tossing furniture around and tearing apart the living room, making it look as if a hurricane had blown through. He reached for the couch I was hiding under, and a sharp pain pierced my heart.
 
  I sped off, crawling beneath the other sofa just seconds before Daisuke lifted the couch over his head and threw it across the room. I gasped with endless shudders. In the sprawling field of upended furniture, there was no place for me to run or hide. I couldn`t stay here, he`d get me eventually. Unfortunately, he got me much faster than I thought.
 
  As I was busy crumbling into a nervous breakdown, Daisuke thrust the sofa upright, exposing me completely. I gazed up at him, shivering uncontrollably. My blood froze in my veins like ice.
My throat went dry. He looked infuriated. His eyes seeped with rage. His fangs were clenched, and I could imagine steam hissing out of his ears. "There you are," he growled. "Why`d you run and hide, huh? I`m the one you saved you from those lowlife beasts! If it weren`t for me, you`d be dead right now! You should be grateful to me! I was trying to be nice, but now you`ve gone and made me resort to violence!" I didn`t know what to say. The only thing I could think about was how he`d crush me to a pulp. He hunched over, gritting his teeth. "Crap, now I`m even hungrier..."
 
  I swallowed hard as he reached down and grabbed me in his fist. He held me by the legs, dangling me upside-down in front of his massive face. His aqua-blue eyes gleamed. I knew the worst was yet to come. I thrashed around, trying to pry myself free from his clutches. Endless tears flowed down my face. "Let go of me!" I screeched. "Put me down! I don`t care what it is, I`ll do whatever you want, just please, don`t eat me!" Daisuke tilted his head, scowling a little. "Huh? You think I`m gonna eat you?" My eyes widened in confusion. "Am...am I wrong? You`re a Giant, aren`t you?"
 
  He replied with a deep, bellowing laugh that sounded like rolling thunder. "Ahh, I got you good, didn`t I? I gotta say, it sure was fun scaring you! You should have seen the look on your face!" I gasped. "Wha...what? You mean...you aren`t going to eat me? Then...why did you take me here? W-what about what you said before? You sounded like you wanted to devour me..."
 
  Daisuke flipped me upright, placing me in the palm of his hand. I nearly threw up because of the sudden shift. "I was just trying to scare you, that`s all," he said. "I wanted to see if you`d be just as afraid of me as everyone else. Turns out I was right. I`m a real monster, aren`t I? As for why I took you here...company, I guess? I mean, I could`ve just left you there to be eaten, but once I saw how cute you were, I kinda wanted to take you home with me. Sort of like picking up a stray kitten, you know?"
 
  "Company?" I repeated. "Don`t you have any friends?" Daisuke snorted. "Chihaya, does it look like I have any friends? I`m the monster of Kissaki City. No one wants to even come near me."
I nodded slowly. "What...what about your family? Are they still alive?"
 
  "They`re dead," he scoffed. "I killed them. It happened when I first became a Giant. At the time, I was in a daze. It was a pretty brutal change. I was so hungry, and I couldn`t control myself. I ended up devouring my mother, my father, and even my little brother. Of course, once I snapped out of my trance, I noticed the blood on my mouth and realized what I`d done. I was horrified, let me tell you. Still haunts me to this day. But that was a long time ago. I`m not going to hurt you, so there`s no need for you to be afraid of me."
 
  He leaned his back against the wall and slid down to the floor, slumping over and placing me on top of him. He steadily admired me, grinning strangely. "Hmmm...you`re real cute, you know that? You kinda look like a little doll. I`ll even say, you look cute enough to eat." As soon as he said that, I felt his belly rumble beneath me. I bit my tongue, trying to keep my knees locked so I wouldn`t run away again. Daisuke sighed. "Well, speaking of which..."
 
  He scooped me up in his hands and crawled to his feet, carrying me over to the kitchen. "Just wait here a bit," he said, placing me on the table. He then went off to prepare his meal, which I was overwhelmingly glad I wouldn`t be a part of. Whatever he was making, it smelled good enough to make my mouth water. I hoped he`d share with me. I hadn`t eaten anything since yesterday, and I was starving.
 
  Ten minutes later, Daisuke returned to the table and sat down, setting up a steaming bowl and a pair of chopsticks. The smell almost made me faint. It was too high for me to see what was in it, though. "You ever tried a pork cutlet bowl?" Daisuke asked. I shook my head. "I don`t think so." He shrugged. "Oh, well. That`s too bad." He grabbed a huge, delicious-looking slice of gravy-coated pork from the bowl with his chopsticks. He shoved it in his mouth and gulped it down, making his way to another piece as he did so. He wolfed down his meal, while I sat there, lips trembling, feeling left out. I even started drooling a little, but I was too scared to ask him to share some with me.
 
  Finally, he glanced down at my pathetic state. "Hey, you want some too?" I nodded quickly. "No need to be shy," he said. "If you wanted some, you should have just asked." He pulled out one of the pork strips and dangled it above my head, as if he was teasing me with it. I reached up and grabbed at the meat, biting it greedily. The meaty, salty flavor flooded my mouth like a waterfall. Daisuke chuckled. "Guess you were pretty hungry, huh?"
 
  I ate up the meat like it would be taken from me. And well, since the blonde-haired Giant in front of me had it clasped in his chopsticks, that was a real possibility. Once I finished eating, I laid over on my side, yawning contentedly. I wasn`t even feeling so scared anymore. Daisuke finished the rest of the pork cutlet bowl and said, "Well, I should probably get you cleaned up now. You`re all covered in blood, sweat, and tears." He picked me up and began carrying me over to the bathroom. "Why...why are you doing all of this for me?" I asked. "I`m a human, I`m just food to you, so why are you treating me so nicely?"
 
  "You`re my pet, that`s why," Daisuke replied. He entered the bathroom and placed me at the edge of the sink. He started filling it with water. "I`m not gonna have my pet all dirty or hungry on my watch. Just `cause you`re a human doesn`t mean you`re only something to be eaten. You and I were once part of the same species, so you should still be treated with respect. Plus, I`d never lower myself to eat a child. I`m not like the rest of those degenerates. I still got a sense of chivarly, so women and children are off the menu. Sure, eating those poor schmucks isn`t too great either, and they taste kinda gross sometimes, but hey, I gotta live somehow. Plus, you`re way too small to make much of a meal. You`d be like a drop in the bottom of my stomach. Now, hurry up and get in the sink so I can wash you down."
 
  I nodded quickly and began stripping my clothes away. "Okay, I`m going." After I took off my school uniform, I blushed in embarrassment as I crawled into the sink`s warm water, since I was completely naked, in front of this monstrous blonde creature. Daisuke snickered. "What are you so red about, eh? It`s not like I`m the one with my clothes off. I swear, I just don`t understand women sometimes."
 
  He rolled up his sleeves, revealing his huge bare arms, then slipped his hands into the water, sliding them beneath my tiny body. He rubbed me all over, clearing away the bloodstains, tear tracks, and sweat soaking my skin. I had to admit, it kind of felt...nice. Maybe Daisuke wasn`t so bad. Yeah, his short temper and imposing stature scared me to death, but he saved me from those monsters, and if he hadn`t, I`d have died a long time ago. And now, he was feeding me and giving me a bath. I guessed he could be nice when he wanted to. But what really worried me was his appetite. Hearing him describe how he devoured his own family made my stomach churn. What would I do when he inevitably got hungry for humans again? What was going to keep him from eating me up in one gulp? That thought gnawed away at me more than anything else.
 
  My bath only took about five minutes. Daisuke plucked me out of the water, wrapped me in a small towel, and rubbed me down until I was dry enough to put my clothes back on. I redressed and retied my twintails, turning to look at myself in the mirror. I looked much cleaner and less horrified, and I still resembled a cute little doll, with my short black dress, my tiny, flawless face, and my shiny, pigtailed platinum-blonde hair. The only thing detracting from it all was the white bandage-like eyepatch concealing my gouged left eye. I slowly lifted the patch, only to see a mutilated mess of reddened skin and flesh. I shuddered, covering my eye as fast as I could.
 
  "Oh, yeah, about that," Daisuke piped up, "why are you blind in one eye? Did one of those Giants do that to you? If they did, I`m gonna poke their eyes out!" I shook my head. "No. I did it to myself. I wanted to make myself ugly...so I`d be unappetizing to you. So you Giants would think I was gross, and wouldn`t want to eat me. I guess...it didn`t work." A heavy sigh escaped Daisuke`s lungs. "Poor thing. No wonder you`re so scared. Guess I took pity on you for a reason." He yawned loudly. "Well, looks like it`s time for bed. Come on, Chihaya. You`ll be sleeping with me tonight."
 
  He whisked me back to the living room, where the only piece of furniture that hadn`t been flipped over was the sofa. He collapsed onto it and dropped me on top of his chest. He snapped his fingers, and the lights instantly dimmed. "Umm, I don`t know about this," I said. "I`ve never slept like this before. Are you sure this is safe? I won`t be crushed, will I?" He shrugged. "Nah, you`ll be fine, trust me. Don`t worry, I`m not gonna roll over and squash you or something. And you don`t need to be afraid of me eating you in your sleep. I`m sure you`re probably worried about waking up in my stomach, but that would never happen, I promise."
 
  I slowly shifted into a comfortable position. "Oh...okay. Thank you for saving me, Daisuke. Good night, I guess." He grinned, showing the tips of his fangs. "Hey, no problem. Just try to get some rest now. I`d imagine you`re exhausted. Good night, Chihaya." I curled up on top of him, crunching myself into a ball shape to keep warm. Daisuke might have been a frightening creature, but whatever the case, I was alive because of him.
 
  I was very thankful to him, but at the same time, I didn`t want to stay here. Living among Giants was not an option for any human. I was a being considered food in this realm. I had to find some way to get back to Cordon 31. It sucked there, as I was under the State`s iron grip, but at least it was much, much safer than this place. But right now, I just needed to sleep. So I closed my eyes and wrapped myself in the fabric of Daisuke`s waistcoat, drifting off into the soft arms of sleep.
 
 
Chapter Three: Out on the Town
 
  That night, I slept a lot better than I expected. I guessed my mind could relax, since I was somewhat safe with Daisuke. I still didn`t fully trust him, but right now, he was the only person I had to guide me through this dystopian nightmare world. The next morning, I woke up, rolling over on a soft, warm, squishy surface. Only one of my eyes opened that day, just as it did yesterday, and just as it would for the rest of my brief, fragile life.
 
  I sat up and yawned loudly, stretching out my sore arms. I could hear my joints popping. Thin rays of morning sunlight shined through the window behind me. Daisuke was still fast asleep, his chest slowly moving up and down as I sat on top of him. His right arm dangled off the side of the couch, and drool dripped from the corner of his mouth. Admittedly, even though he was a man-eating monster, he looked pretty peaceful when he was sleeping. He was kind of cute, like a little boy.
 
  He opened his mouth wide, yawning loudly. He took a deep breath, creating a vaccuum effect that nearly sucked me into his fanged maw. The back of his throat slightly pulsed, and web-like strands of saliva dripped from his sharp teeth. His breath smelled awful, as foul as morning breath could be. I planted my knees on his chest and curled my fingers around his waistcoat to keep from being inadvertently swallowed. Thankfully, he sealed his lips, saving me from a horrific fate. All this happened while he was still sleeping, mind you.
 
  Now that I was able to properly take in his appearance for the first time, he did have a certain degree of beauty. I had always been told that Giants were beautiful, yet terrifying creatures, and I could totally understand why. At least in my eyes, Daisuke radiated with terrifying beauty. But I couldn`t stay here. Even in Daisuke`s care, I still knew I was living on borrowed time. It was only a matter of time before he got hungry again, and I`d be the next one up for plucking.
 
  I carefully moved across his body, taking slow breaths as I swung my legs over the edge of the couch, diligently lowering myself to the floor. Once I stepped onto the ice-cold, sprawling expanse of wood floor, I swiftly ran through the aftermath of Daisuke`s last rampage until I reached the other side of the room, where a gigantic bookshelf sat. It towered above me like a skyscraper. Everything in the Giants` realm was bizarre, it was as if every object had been scaled up purposely for them, including the books.
 
  I searched the bottom shelf, scanning the huge binders. Finally, I caught sight of a map. I wrapped my tiny fingers around the wrinkled edges, gently pulling it free from the other books. After I tore it out, the remaining books slumped over, hitting each other with a hollow thud. I tensed up as Daisuke shifted a little at the other side of the room. I had to be quick here. Even if he took care of me, he made it very clear that I was his pet, and I was pretty sure he didn`t want his pet escaping.
 
  I unfolded the huge map, smoothing out the wrinkles as if it were a flag. It was a bit too big for me to make out at first, but I quickly figured out that this was a map of the State. Each district in the country was separated into different Cordons based on what order they were admitted to the union when this place was still called America. I only had a vague memory of most old states, but I did recognize a few. For example, Cordon 27 used to be Florida, Cordon 28 was once Texas, and of course, Cordon 31 was formerly known as California.
 
  Within each of those Cordons were one large city, fenced off by massive concrete walls bigger than even the tallest Giants. That was where each Cordon`s resident Giant population resided. From what it looked like here, Kissaki City used to be Los Angeles. Everything beyond that was the humans` realm, or at least, what was left of it. It was a very rigid system, rigorously structured like clockwork to keep our two species apart. The only time most humans ever came in physical contact with a Giant was when they were begging for their lives, about to be eaten.
 
  I knew how it usually went, because I`d seen the public devourings since I was six. People who defied or rebelled against the State`s rules were tortured, humiliated, then stripped of their clothes and eaten alive by a Giant in front of the rest of the Cordon`s human citizens, to set an example of punishment. They`d squirm around and scream, saying things like, 'have mercy,' 'spare me,' stuff like that. Of course, the Giant in question would completely ignore their begging and chomp down on them, spilling blood and guts everywhere. It was like a show to them, and blood and gore was an essential part of the performance.
 
  I wasn`t exactly sure where in Kissaki City I was, but there were several gates and checkpoints along the wall, so if I could just get through one of those, I could escape this awful death trap and return to Cordon 31. I didn`t know what I`d do when I got there, but that didn`t matter. Right now, all that mattered was getting out of here. The longer I stayed here, the faster I would die.
 
  I flinched as Daisuke started moaning and grumbling on the other side of the living room, slowly stirring out of sleep. My sapphire eyes widened, and I flipped back my blonde twintails,
racing off into the gargantuan, labyrinthine hallways of the house. For someone like Daisuke, walking down the hallway was just a normal thing. But for me, it was an epic odyssey. I ran swiftly
and silently, my black stockings whispering across the carpet. I vaguely recalled the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, how Jack escaped the Giant`s castle by sneaking out when the great brute
was asleep. I guessed I was living out that same story myself right now. Now I realized how terrified Jack must have felt. Who knew a story for little kids would be so relevant in today`s world?
 
  When I reached the end of the hall, I bent over on my knees, coughing and panting. God, I was thirsty. My throat felt as dry as a matchbox. Suddenly, I locked up at a loud crashing echoing across the house. Daisuke was awake, and I was sure he was currently throwing a fit looking for me. The banging noise gradually grew louder, increasing in my direction. Oh, crap, that`s right, I thought, mentally slapping myself for my stupidity. He can smell me.
 
  My heart pounded in my chest. I whipped around and bolted into the kitchen, speeding across the slick, slippery floor. I had no traction with my socks, and I remembered that I left my shoes
in the bathroom after Daisuke gave me a bath. Finally, I skidded to a halt in front of the colossal front door. I studied it for a moment, and my blood ran cold. I could not get out of here. The doorknob was too high to reach, and it was too big to turn anyway. There also weren`t any obvious gaps or cracks for me to slip through. My stomach coiled in knots. My vision blurred, and I began to feel nauseous. I had just made a very, very big mistake.
 
  "There you are, Chihaya," Daisuke`s voice rumbled. Just as I spun around to face him, a huge drinking glass was plunked over me, trapping me inside. I pressed my arms against my chest as I gazed up at the blonde-haired Giant, my knees quivering. He looked even bigger than he did yesterday. Must`ve been my imagination. "You shouldn`t worry me like that," he growled. "You`re my pet now, and I can`t let you out of my sight for a moment around here, or someone`ll gobble you up. What were you trying to do anyway? I saw the map you left on the floor. Were you trying to escape me?"
 
  I pressed my hot, teary face against the cool glass. I felt very sorry, but not as sorry as I was going to be. "Of course you were," Daisuke hissed. "You`re afraid of me. You think I`m going to eat you, and you want to go back home. Well, let me be very clear when I say that it`s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. You can`t leave this house, and even if you somehow made it outside, you`d be totally exposed. Trust me, you would never make it to one of the checkpoints. You wouldn`t last a day out there. Humans can`t just walk around freely in Kissaki City without being grabbed up and eaten. Plus, even if by some miracle you could get to a checkpoint, the guards wouldn`t let you in. Any human who enters Kissaki City will never come out. You`d be dead on arrival. So, now do you see how stupid you are? This is your life now. If you want to stay alive, you better get it through your head."
 
  He lifted the glass, and I fell over, scrabbling back on my rear end, struck with fear. "I-I`m sorry!" I squealed. "I-I won`t do it again! P-please, don`t hurt me!" Daisuke scowled. "Quit shaking like a leaf. Don`t worry, I`m not going to punish you. I`m just going to scare the crap out of you instead!" Before I could even flinch, he swooped down and snatched me up in his clutches. I stared at him with wide, fearful eyes. "Y-you`re not going to throw me in your mouth or step on me, are you?!" I screeched. "Nah, that`d be too easy," Daisuke sneered. "You need to get a good dose of reality, kid." He placed me on top of his shoulder and said, "We`re just going to take a little trip through Kissaki City. Hang on tight, I don`t want you to fall off and die."
 
  I gulped. I knew he had a lot more in mind for me than that. He left the house and whisked me away to the busiest section of Kissaki City- Downtown. The sight was completely breathtaking. Aside from everything being twenty times bigger than me, it looked just like a bustling city. It was a stark contrast from the rest of the Cordon, which was cramped, dirty, and shambled. We humans lived in abject poverty with barely enough resources to sustain ourselves, while these Giants took everything else for themselves and literally made the world their oyster.
 
  I crimped my fingers around the fabric of Daisuke`s waistcoat, clinging to his shoulder. Every step he took felt like tremors, so I lurched around quite a bit, making it even harder for me to hang on. I peeked over the edge of his shoulder, then quickly wished I hadn`t. The sight of the 35-foot drop below made me break into a cold sweat. "Umm, where are you taking me?" I asked, my voice quivering. "Oh, nowhere in particular," Daisuke replied.
 
  He suddenly stopped in his tracks, grabbed me by the nape of the neck, and lowered me down onto the concrete. He walked past me, beginning to stroll off into the crowd. "Hey, wait!"
I squealed. "Where are you going?!"
 
  "Eh, don`t worry about that," he said. "I`ll catch up with you later. See ya, Chihaya." Fear sliced through me like a hot knife. "Daisuke, no! Please, don`t leave me here!" Rather than listening to me, he vanished into the crowds of other terrifying Giants, leaving me all alone on the side of the street. I had never felt so exposed and afraid in my life. The crowds of Giants and Giantesses were so busy going about their daily business that they didn`t seem to notice me. Probably because they weren`t looking down. In one way, that was a good thing, but it also meant that I could be stepped on without a second thought.
 
  I couldn`t believe it. There just so many of them, moving in droves. How did there get to be so many Giants here? It had only been ten years since they took over, so there was no way all of them were offspring of the originals. From what I heard years ago, there were originally 200 human test subjects that became Giants, but that couldn`t have been true. There had to have been several secret genetic experiments to turn humans into Giants all over the country. Maybe Daisuke knew more about it, but at the moment, I was certain I`d never see him again.
 
  Just then, a small group of Giant children spotted me. They approached me, crouching down and surrounding me on all sides. "Look, it`s a human!" a Giant girl squeaked. "She`s so cute! I wonder if Mommy would let me take her home and keep her. What`s your name, human?" One of the boys poked a large metal stick in my face, knocking me over on my back. "She looks tasty," he said. "Can we eat her?" The girl shook her head. "You know we can`t eat humans that are still alive yet. Plus, she`s probably dirty. You might get sick if you eat her."
 
  "But I`m hungry," the boy pouted. "Hey, it`ll be okay if we kill her first, right? Then we could cook her." I shuddered. My stomach turned to lead. I didn`t know what to do. I had nowhere to run or hide. The children poked and prodded at me, pulling on my limbs and tugging at my hair. Even though they looked a few years younger than me, they were not my kind. They could kill me just as easily as the rest of them. I squeezed my eyes shut, blocking out tears. "Please...someone get me out of here!" I screeched.
 
  After three straight, agonizing minutes of torment, I could take no more. I threw back my head and screamed, "DAISUKE, HELP ME!" To my horror, he didn`t come. "What`s she screaming about?"
one of the boys asked. "Let`s just hurry up and kill her." The little monsters began pulling my arms and legs, stretching my limbs to their limit. I clenched my teeth, biting my lip in pain. This is it, I thought. These little demons are going to rip me apart, right here in the street. I closed my eyes and waited for death. Hopefully it`d be fast.
 
  A bellowing, gutteral roar pierced my ears and rattled my bones. My eyes flashed open. A giant shadow hovered over me. An empty gasp fled my lungs. For the first time in my life, I had never been so happy to see Daisuke`s furious glare. "Quit poking at her, snotnosed brats! Chihaya is mine! Didn`t your parents ever tell you that you shouldn`t touch things that don`t belong to you?! Now get out of here before I eat you!"
 
  The kids screamed in fright and released me, running off into the street. Daisuke knelt down and reached a hand out to me. "Are you okay, Chihaya? I guess I overdid it a little bit. Those brats didn`t hurt you, did they? If they did, I`ll give them the spanking of their lives!" I staggered to my feet, taking shallow breaths. I collapsed in his palm and burst into tears, sobbing into his hand. "Ohh, I`m so sorry!" I bawled. "I swear, I`ll never do that again! I thought I was going to die! Why did you leave me like that?! Where were you anyway!?"
 
  Daisuke frowned as I continued to cry. "I...I shouldn`t have done that. I`m sorry, Chihaya. I just wanted to show you how dangerous this place is for humans like you. I was watching you on the other side of the street the whole time. I wasn`t going to let those brats kill you. I promise, I won`t ever do that to you again. So please, stop crying. I don`t want you to cry anymore."
He gently petted my head with the tip of his finger. "Hey, I`ll do something nice for you, okay?" I nodded slowly, wiping away the tears and snot with my arm. "Okay...thank you."
 
  After the initial shock of the terrifying incident with the kids had passed, Daisuke took me to an old-fashioned sweets shop. A lingering sweet scent wafted in the air. I gazed at the huge-sized candies and cakes sitting behind the glass cases. I drooled a little. I truly was a kid in a candy store. "Hey, you like candy, Chihaya?" Daisuke asked, carrying me in his palm. "Okay, that`s a stupid question. You`re a kid, of course you like candy." I quickly wiped the drool dripping down my lip and replied, "Yeah, but I didn`t think someone like you would like sweets. I mean, it`s just a little strange."
 
  "What, just `cause I`m a Giant, you think I don`t have a sweet tooth?" Daisuke snickered. "I`ll have you know I`ve got quite the appetite for dessert." He bent over and lowered me in front of the glass cases. "Alright, just point out whatever you want, and I`ll get it for you. I`m hoping it`ll make up for before." I giggled happily. I didn`t think he`d do something like this just for me. He might have been frightening and violent at times, but he could occasionally be sweet. Maybe he really was still human on the inside.
 
  I ended up picking more cakes and candy than I`d ever eat in just one day, especially since all of it was giant-sized, but Daisuke didn`t even bat an eye. He just paid for it all and left the shop without a word. "Daisuke, thank you," I said, slowly looking up at him. "When I was first sacrificed, I was sure I`d be killed. It was why I took out my own eye. And even when I first met you, I thought you`d kill me without a second thought. I`m so glad you`re different from the others. I guess what I`m trying to say is...I`m very happy I met you."
 
  The Giant`s pale face grew a bright red. "Hey, don`t get all mushy on me like that," he chuckled. "When I grabbed you, I thought you`d be a nice pet, but turns out that you`re just a really good girl. Sure, I know you`re probably mentally traumatized now, but honestly, I don`t think anyone here`s right in the head anymore. Especially these guys." He nodded to the other Giants we walked past. "You say some people got a few screws loose? Well, they`re missing the whole damn toolbox. Even I`ve got my own demons. Everyone`s got their own skeletons in their closets. The real question is if you still want to accept them with those skeletons."
 
  I nodded slowly, taking in his words. He had a point. But I didn`t know if I could accept him, as a bloodthirsty brute that feasted on human beings. I didn`t even know if I could accept myself anymore. I couldn`t understand what I had become. A masochist, maybe? Or something else?
 
  On the way home, we had to cross through the center of Downtown, where there was a gigantic LCD screen planted up on one of the buildings. They were making some kind of announcement, and it had to be important, because everyone, including Daisuke and I, stopped in our tracks to listen. "General strife and revolt has been occurring in widespread fashion across the State," it reported. "Several Cordons around the State are currently experiencing riots, strikes, and food shortages due to citizens` revolt. Many attempts have been made to quell the fighting, but the uprising only continues to grow, spreading fast in Cordons on the East Coast and beyond. The Grigori believe the State`s human population plan to stage a revolution against their authority and attempt a militaristic overthrow of the government."
 
  "Who`s the Grigori?" I asked. "The Overseers of the State," Daisuke replied. "They`ve replaced the human government. Each Cordon has its own Overlord, but the Grigori rule over them all. They`re the absolute authority in the State, and whatever they say goes. If the Grigori`s worried about this, then I`d say we`ve got a problem on our hands."
 
  The report went on. "The uprising is believed to have been sparked after Seishirou, the Overlord of Cordon 27, was assassinated by Suzuki, a Giant resident of Hakutai City. He is rumored to be a human sympathizer, as he befriended a now-deceased sacrifice named Minako Tomoka, who he fought to protect from authorities. His public execution will now be broadcasted live." The screen flashed to a view of a massive metal platform, where a blue-haired Giant with green eyes stood with his hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck. I guessed he was Suzuki. I gasped. "What are they doing to him?" Daisuke grumbled. "What`s it look like? He`s about to be hanged."
 
  "I have nothing to say to any of you," Suzuki growled, baring his fangs. "But I will say now that I do not regret what I did in the slightest. You can continue your injustice all you want, but it`ll all end eventually. I know I will die a martyr, but I do not care. If it`s a war you want, it`s a war you`ll get! So go ahead! Kill me now! Slay the Giant with all of your power!" They did just that. There was a metal platform beneath his feet that slid out, and the crowd broke into gasps as he fell. I even heard his neck snap. He thrashed about for a few brief moments, making horrible choking and sputtering sounds. Soon, the thrashing degraded to slight twitching, until his life drained completely, and he was left dangling above the ground.
 
  The screen cut to static, then continued the announcement. "The Grigori have declared that any human sympathizers will be dealt with by execution, and the humans involved will suffer severe and brutal punishment. Due to these events, the Grigori and the Overlords have come into conflicts over power, creating tension between the two factions. General societal upheaval and unrest continues to spread through the Cordons, but we assure you that we are trying our best to resolve these problems. The State will come out successful, and peace and balance will be restored, I promise you all. This is Grigori Shinjiro, signing off."
 
  The address then ended, and the overall mood of the city changed almost instantaneously. It was like a dark cloud had suddenly come over everyone. My stomach curled up in knots. "I`m not surprised," Daisuke scoffed. "It was bound to happen sooner or later. It`s just how humans are. They don`t like being controlled or told what to do. Why do you think there`s been so many revolutions and uprisings throughout history? This is just another one of them. You can`t just turn the country into an all-you-can-eat buffet and expect that your prey`s just gonna lie down and accept it."
 
  "But aren`t you worried?" I asked, the horrific image of Suzuki`s hanging still fresh in my memory. "I mean, the entire State is going into civil war. Cordon 31 must be in riots and chaos by now." Daisuke shook his head. "Why should I worry? I can`t do anything about it. I don`t have the power of a Grigori, or even an Overlord. So that means the State cares about me just as much as they care about you, which is approximately zero percent. I don`t need them to protect me. I can take care of myself."
 
  A familiar voice sang out from among the sea of concerned voices. I remembered that voice. "Oh, are you sure about that? Or are you not worried because you already know you`re on borrowed time anyway?" I gripped Daisuke`s shoulder so I wouldn`t be thrown off as he spun around. "Richter," he growled. "What the hell do you want?"
 
  It was definitely Richter, the same Giant that I had encountered with his harem when I first arrived in Kissaki City. He wore a black jacket lined with faux fur. Strands of his wispy, jet-black hair dangled over his gleaming, blood-red eyes. They shined with a sadistic glint. A small smirk crept onto his face. "What, you think I wasn`t going to get back at you for punching me in the face the other day? That hurt, you know."
 
  His evil red eyes shifted to me. A shiver shot down my back. His grin grew even wider, revealing pointed teeth. "So, I see you`ve still got your little human pet with you. I`m surprised you haven`t eaten her yet. I thought your appetite would get the best of you by now. It`s been over two weeks since you last consumed human blood, right? There`s no doubt you must be starving by now."
 
  "Shut up," Daisuke spat. "I`m not like you. I`d never eat a little girl, no matter how hungry I was. I know you`re just trying to piss me off. If you want a lightpole to the face, I can make that happen real quick." I swallowed hard. I felt like I was in the eye of a brewing hurricane. "Daisuke, do you know him? Why is he doing this? What does he want?" He clenched his teeth. "Quiet, you!" His roar made me jump. He seemed to be zoned out in his own world right now. I wondered if I should have been sitting on his shoulder at the moment.
 
  "Ah, I see!" Richter sneered. "So she`s your girlfriend! You saw the hanging, right? That poor fellow fell in love with a pathetic little human girl he should have just eaten, and he died because of it. Do you really love her that much? Would you die for her? I could report you to the Overlord as a human sympathizer, you know. Then you`d have no choice but to gobble up your little friend just to cover your tracks."
 
  Daisuke`s rage was growing by the second. He ripped me from his shoulder and placed me down on a nearby bench next to the bag of sweets. "Stay here," he demanded. "Whatever you do, don`t get between either of us, understand? If you do, you will die." The rough, commanding tone of his voice alone was enough to hold me in place. "Okay. I promise, I`ll stay here. What...are you going to do?"
 
  "I`m gonna beat the unholy crap out of him, that`s what," he snarled. He wrapped his hands around a nearby street sign and tore it from the concrete with a single tug. "My, someone`s angry," Richter chuckled. "And hey, did you get taller since the last time I saw you? I don`t know, maybe I`m just imagining things." That last comment sent Daisuke over the edge. "Die, you little prick!"
He lunged foward and swung the street sign he wielded like a sword, striking Richter in the chest. He took the full force of the attack and went flying into a lightpole.
 
  Richter staggered to his feet. "Oww...that hurt. You really don`t hold back, do you? Well, guess what? I don`t hold back either!" He reached into his pocket and ripped out a large pocketknife, flipping open the glinting silver blade. "Unlike you, I don`t need to beat up my opponents in order to destroy them. I`ve learned to use my brain for that. You, on the other hand, rely only on brute strength and wild instincts. An interesting contrast, wouldn`t you say?"
 
  Daisuke responded by leaping in the air and swinging at him again, colliding with Richter`s blade. He kicked the black-haired Giant in the stomach, flinging him face-first into the pavement. He stomped up to Richter and grabbed him by the nape, lifting him a good ten feet into the air. He punched him until his face was bloodied, then tossed him across the street like a piece of trash. My jaw dropped open in shock. Sure, Daisuke was a Giant, but he was way stronger than I thought. If he went on a rampage in Cordon 31, there would be destruction on an apocalyptic scale. It`d be like one of those Japanese monster movies.
 
  Somehow, Richter was still able to move. He crawled to his feet, smearing blood across his sleeve. He eyed me strangely, as if he were intent on snatching me up the second he found an opening. I stood up, trying my best to stay strong and resolute, even though my mind was swallowed by fear. "Say, Daisuke, my current pet is beginning to bore me," Richter sneered. "Miyuki-chan`s been trying to take her own tiny life recently. I guess she doesn`t trust me enough to let me take her life for her. Would you be interested in handing over your teeny-tiny friend to me as a replacement? I promise I`ll keep my mouth shut to the authorities if you do."
 
  "Absolutely not!" Daisuke roared. "Chihaya belongs to me, and I`d never hand her over to scum like you! I don`t blame that girl of yours for trying to commit suicide. I`d kill myself if I had to live with you too!"
 
  "Oh, you`re so mean!" Richter cackled. "Well, if little Chi-chan is still so friendly around you, it must be because she doesn`t know your secret yet. Isn`t that right, blondie?" A low growl escaped Daisuke`s throat. "You shut up about that." I blinked. "Daisuke, what is he talking about?"
 
  Richter flipped his knife closed and tucked it back into his pocket. "Allow me to explain. In case you didn`t already know, all of us Giants came to be through a brutal series of genetic splicing and rearrangement experiments when we were still human. Our genetic code barely even resembles yours anymore. We`re more of a human subspecies now. But Daisuke here is different. He was only one of 20 subjects to survive the researchers` most horrific experiments. They literally ripped his DNA to shreds, rearranged it, then pumped his body with hormones and psychoactive drugs."
 
  "Tell me, Chi-chan, have you noticed that Daisuke always seems to be getting taller? Well, he is. And he`s still growing. The growth hormones he was force-fed really screwed him up, and they`re still affecting him now. He`s going to keep getting bigger, until he reaches around 50 feet tall, perhaps even taller. And as nature goes, a bigger body means a bigger appetite. Because he`s so kind, he hasn`t been eating nearly enough humans, and it`s putting an immense strain on his body. Of course, like all Giants, he`ll go into fits of pain and delirium when he gets hungry for human blood. And he`ll only get hungrier and hungrier...until one day, when you`re not looking, maybe even when you`re sleeping, he`s going to lose his mind and eat you up in a single bite!"
 
  Every nerve in my body bristled. My muscles tightened like taut strings. I swallowed hard. "Daisuke...is this true?" He forced himself to admit it. "Yes...it is. But there`s no way I`d let that happen! I`m not some monster, and I`m sure as hell not letting some bastard like Richter take you away!" He raised the street sign over his shoulder and tossed it like a javelin. Richter dodged swiftly, leaping out of its path. It hit the concrete with a metallic clatter.
 
  "You know, I think I`ve had my fun for today," Richter sighed. "It sure was nice meeting you and Chi-chan, but I think it`s about time I call it a day. See you around, you two lovebirds! Have fun! I`ll be back later!" And with that, the black-haired, red-eyed Giant sped off like an arrow, vanishing into the depths of the city.
 
  Daisuke growled. "What a coward. He dares to show his face to me, then goes running off like nothing happened? I swear, I`ll kill him one of these days." He knelt down in front of me, smiling softly. He extended a hand to me. "I`m sorry you had to see that. Let`s go home now, Chihaya." Richter`s words hung in my mind, repeating themselves over and over again. Behind that kind smile was a bloodthirsty monster, just like I thought.
 
  I took a few steps back. "I...I don`t know...if I want to be so close to you anymore...after hearing that. If you do get bigger...what`s going to happen to me?" He frowned. "What, are you scared because of what that slimeball told you? Yes, what he said was true, but I have complete control of my body, I`ll tell you that. I`d never do anything to hurt you. No matter how tall I get, it doesn`t mean I`m gonna forget about you or anything. Don`t listen to what Richter says, he feeds off of people`s fears and weaknesses. He`s like a damn parasite. Come on, let`s head back.
I wanted to do something special for you."
 
  I didn`t really have a choice but to go with him. I surely wasn`t up for spending a night in this awful place. So I reluctantly stepped into the palm of his hand, allowing him to take me back to my new home.
 
 
Chapter Four: Blood and Tears
 
  When we returned home, Daisuke placed me down on the kitchen floor and said, "Just stay there for a little bit, okay? I got a surprise for you." I wasn`t exactly sure what Daisuke`s idea of a surprise was, whether it was a nice one or not, but I nodded and answered, "Alright, I`ll stay here. Please, don`t take too long. I don`t like being alone here." He flashed a fanged grin.
"Of course. I`ll be right back."
 
  He took the bag of candy and marched off deeper into the house. Meanwhile, I just stood there, gazing at the colossal kitchen. The tile floors felt like ice beneath my feet. Whatever the case, I had really become Daisuke`s pet. I depended on him for pretty much everything now. I didn`t even want to be alone without him anymore, because I felt so vulnerable in this place. I couldn`t do anything properly in the Giants` realm, just because of the sheer scale. I also knew that nothing but bloodthirsty monsters existed beyond that front door.
 
  Cordon 31 was probably in riots right now, because of this so-called uprising. I wasn`t even safe there anymore, in the place I called home for most of my life. But then again, I guess I never was safe there. I wasn`t a sacrifice to anyone, god or not. I was livestock, penned up in that corral, where my only purpose was to eventually be harvested by these monsters. The other people I lived alongside knew that all too well, since most of them had friends or family members that had been sacrificed.
 
  It had gotten so bad within the walls of the Cordon that people didn`t even want to have children anymore. Women of reproductive age would be forcibly taken by the State and artificially inseminated just so humanity could continue to exist. Now I knew why I was never adopted. I didn`t blame them. Who would want to raise a child in a world like this, where they were destined to be eaten? Stuff like my eye mutilation was common in the Cordon. Suicide happened even more often. But it didn`t matter much, because their bodies were devoured anyway.
 
  At first, it seemed like living alongside a friendly Giant like Daisuke was my only ray of hope in this hopeless world, but even that was just a false flag. No matter how nice he was, he was still a Giant, he needed to consume human blood, and that`s all there was to it. Just knowing the fact that he would get bigger, hungrier, and more vicious in the near future was a major sign that my time was growing thin. The hourglass was draining to its end. But for now, I had to try to cope. It was the only thing I could do to keep myself from finding some way to take my own life.
 
  Daisuke returned with a large, toothy smile on his face. I didn`t think I had seen him so happy. He scooped me up in his hands and said, "It`s all ready, Chihaya. I hope you like it."
He whisked me off to the living room, where he showed off his display. He had set up a small table- well, small to him, anyway- and made a beautiful arrangement of cookies, cakes, candies, and tea. "What...what is this?" I asked, dumbfounded. "Is this for me? You seem a little too...masculine, for this sort of thing."
 
  "What`s it look like?" Daisuke asked. "It`s a tea party, and of course it`s for you. Who else would it be for? I know this isn`t usually my taste, but I figured if you`re going to be living here with me, this place might need a bit of a woman`s touch. I haven`t lived with a girl since my girlfriend when I was in college, but that was a long time ago. I thought about what girls like, and girls like tea parties, right? So I set this up to make up for the incident back then."
 
  I certainly wasn`t complaining. In fact, I was speechless. "Wow...that`s amazing. I never thought you`d do something like this for me. Thank you, Daisuke." He blushed, setting me down on the little table. "Heh, don`t mention it." He sat down on the floor across from me, his legs crossed. The Giant fumbled around a bit with my tiny-sized teacup, pinching the handle and trying not to break it, until he finally filled it with milk tea. He set it down in front of me and said, "Here you are, my lady."
 
  "Thank you," I grinned, sipping the tea. It tasted delicious, like a flood of sugar and cinnamon. "This is great," I said as I nibbled at one of the cookies. "I didn`t know you were so good at making tea." Daisuke scratched the back of his neck, blushing. "Well, my parents made me take tea ceremony lessons when I was a kid. I hated it back then, but at least I got some use out of it."
 
  "What were you like back then?" I asked. "When you were still a human, I mean." His blue eyes gave off a melancholy gleam. It was as if the past was replaying right in front of him. "You know, I was actually a pretty normal kid. Nothing special, just the typical boy next door you`d find in any neighborhood. My family was average, too. Overall, I had a normal life. Good parents, annoying little brother, nice neighbors, white-picket fences- all that good stuff. Believe me, if I knew back then that I`d end up like this, I would have made some very different life decisions. It`s not like I asked to be a Giant, you know."
 
  I listened intently, greedily gulping down my tea. "Then...how did you end up this way? What happened to you?" Daisuke let out a deep, wistful sigh. "Everything changed once I moved out and went to college. I wanted to get a degree in engineering. That was my original plan. Unfortunately, it didn`t turn out that way. I fell in love with Chizuru, my girlfriend, and we moved into an apartment together. At the time, Chizuru and I were just poor college students, struggling to pay the rent every month. We could hardly afford to even eat. It seemed like it was going to be that way forever. It was a bad time, we were going to be kicked out, and then we`d have to live on the street, so I was desperate."
 
  "I remember seeing a flyer for some kinda clinical trials or experiments or something. Whoever was doing it offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who participated. Ten grand. With that kind of money, Chizuru and I could live a much better life. We could even get married. But I was young and stupid. I should have never taken them up on their offer, because it was all a trick. I went to the place where the experiments were supposed to take place, but instead, a bunch of guys in black suits beat the crap out of me and shoved chloroform in my face. Those bastards kidnapped me, and when I woke up, I was in some kind of...screwed up laboratory, where these scientists were experimenting on people. They said they worked for the government, under the U.S. Military, saying that their goal was to create the ultimate soldier, or some crap like that."
 
  "I learned that they had kidnapped hundreds, even thousands of people, in different locations all over the country. Sometimes, they`d take advantage of poor people like me by putting up fliers, but most of the times, they`d just snatch people out of nowhere. The things they did to me were just...horrific. Unspeakable beyond words. It makes me want to choke every time I think about it. I still have nightmares about it to this day. The scientists put me through intense gene splicing and rearrangement experiments."
 
  "They pretty much kept me at 23 forever by cleaving my aging gene. I`ll probably live to 200 years, maybe even longer. They fed me all kinds of chemicals and hormones to increase my strength and other things. But that wasn`t all. Apparently, they thought I was a good lab rat for psychoactive drugs, so they drugged the crap out of me with LSD. Keep in mind, all this stuff happened to the other subjects too, so that`s why I`m saying all the Giants out there are crazy as hell. I was pretty much hallucinating every minute of the day."
 
  "And these experiments continued for months, every day, even when I started growing. Yeah. You know you`re in trouble when you wake up one morning and realize you`ve grown to around 10 feet tall. But it didn`t stop. I even ripped out of my own clothes. Whatever those slimeballs did to me, they altered my growth gene somehow, so I`d eventually turn into a giant. It hurt like hell.
My teeth started falling out, and they were replaced by the jagged fangs I`ve got now. Every minute of my life was pain. I was horrified at what was happening to me. I just wanted to die."
 
  "But then, the hunger came. I`m not just talking about being hungry for food. I mean an intense craving for human blood. Before I became this, blood usually had a bitter, metallic taste. Not exactly something you`d want to drink by the cupful. But after I was turned into a Giant, human blood tasted like the most delicious thing on the planet. Even now, I can`t describe how it tastes. It`s something a human like you wouldn`t understand unless you were like me. It`s like trying to explain sight to the blind. Turned out, all that genetic splicing gave me a special kind of porphyria."
 
  Chills ran down my back. It was harrowing to hear all this. I could only imagine the horror Daisuke must have gone through. "Porphyria?" I asked. "What`s that?"
 
  "A disease," Daisuke replied. "Means my body can`t create the enzymes and other things in my blood that I need to survive. It`s a pretty rare disease, and back in the day, people who had porphyria were thought to be vampires, even though they could only receive blood through transfusions. But this was different. The mutated porphyria I had let me metabolize the needed enzymes from the blood I drank. It`s why all of us Giants have to eat humans. If we don`t, we`ll eventually die."
 
  "But me...I still had a heart. How could I make myself eat another human being? That`d be cannabalism. I had to, though, because I wasn`t human anymore. You know, the reason why there`s such a rift between humans and Giants, even though we were once one and the same, is that the Giants have forgotten that. They`ve forgotten what it feels like to be human. All of their memories before taking on this form seem like a dream or a past life to them now. I am not like you, Chihaya. Not anymore. I am an entirely different species."
 
  Tears welled up in my eyes. "That`s...awful," I sniffled. "How could they do something like that to you? Why did they do it in the first place?" Daisuke shrugged. "I don`t really know, honestly. They said they were trying to create the perfect warrior, but I don`t think that`s all true. I think they did it just to see if they could. They wanted to find out if they really could turn men into giants. That`s how humans are. I know, because I used to be one of them. That sounds like they turned me into a monster just for the hell of it, but to tell you the truth, I think they did."
 
  "They were arrogant. They thought they could control us, but they were wrong, because our newfound appetite for blood drove us to escape. We devoured pretty much everyone involved. A few of us decided that if we wanted to survive, we couldn`t just hide in the shadows and take prey whenever we wanted. We had to make ourselves known to the humans, to subdue them and make them our prey. Many of us still remembered our lives as people, we thought that was wrong, but we didn`t have a choice. I know it sounds cruel, but that was just the way it had to be. I`m sure you probably remember when we first attacked, right? I can see it in your eyes. The painful memories of fear."
 
  I couldn`t handle it anymore. A flood of horrible memories came rushing back to me. I broke down and started crying, sobbing into my dress. "My mother...was eaten...by one of you. I remember her screaming for me to run. She distracted the monster long enough for me to escape. If she hadn`t done it, he would have gotten me too. But in return...she was devoured alive. Her splattered blood soaked me to the skin. I remember running, crying, swallowed by fear. I was alone, and no one would come to save me. To me, it seemed like the end of the world."
 
  "There were other kids like me, children that had their families torn to shreds. We kept moving until we found the Children`s Village, where we were taken in. I thought we`d be safe there, but in the end...we were like our parents, just livestock waiting to be slaughtered. I couldn`t bear the thought of seeing one of you again...so I gouged out my eye, to make myself ugly. But it didn`t work..." I continued sobbing, smearing the tears and snot across my sleeve.
 
  Daisuke`s face fell. His sapphire eyes darkened. "I`m sorry, Chihaya. Really, I am. I wish things could have been different. I didn`t end up much better either. While everyone else went on rampages, I was worried about my family, so I went back home. I didn`t realize that the one thing they should have been worried about was me. I didn`t know what I was thinking. I was starving, and I needed blood. I was in a trance. Unfortunately, you can`t just go back to your family after transforming into a 30-foot monster and expect that they`ll welcome you with open arms. It`s like dying and coming back from the dead as a zombie. It won`t end well for anyone."
 
  "I wasn`t the loving son or brother that they`d known anymore. They were terrified. And they had every right to be, because I was ravenous. I just ended up eating them all. I threw them in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed them like they were food. When I came to my senses and discovered blood dripping from my mouth, I realized what I did. I remember screaming like I`d never screamed before. I wanted to rip myself to pieces."
 
  "I should have just left everyone alone after that. But I was still stupid. So I went off looking for Chizuru. I knew she`d never accept me like this, but I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could find her and keep her safe, at least. I did find Chizuru, and she was alive, somehow. Of course, she was petrified. She thought I was going to eat her. I promised I`d never lose myself like before again, so I tried to convince her, but she was still scared."
 
  "Around that time, the State was just starting to be established. A couple other Giants showed up and tried to take Chizuru from me. They were going to kill her, so I tried to fight them off, but in the process, I accidentally squeezed the fist I held her in and..." He stared at his shaking palm, eyes glazed with tears. "I crushed her. Because of that one movement, I broke every bone in her body, punctured every organ. She was bleeding internally, because blood was pouring from her mouth, her eyes, and even her ears."
 
  "That look she gave me...it was a look of pure horror. 'You monster.' That was the last thing she told me before she died. I can`t ever forget that. It was burned into my memory. After that,
I abandoned everything. I could never be seen as a normal person and not something to be feared again. The truth is, I hate myself. I hate what I`ve become. Since then, I`ve lived alone before you came along. I had to isolate myself. At least I couldn`t ruin any more lives that way. I thrust this eternal hell upon myself. It`s what I deserve."
 
  As I dried my own tears, I saw a side of Daisuke I thought never existed. On the inside, he wasn`t a monster, even with his carnivorous secret. He was just a very lonely man, who only wanted to be loved, but couldn`t love anyone because of the creature he`d become. Once upon a time, he was a person, just like me. I probably passed by him without even knowing it. Just thinking about the horrific things he had experienced through the years broke my heart.
 
  A hollow sigh escaped my lungs. I stood up and walked over to Daisuke, wrapping my tiny hands around his index finger. "I think I know why you took me now. You may look like a monster on the outside, but on the inside, you`re just an extremely lonely man." I gazed directly into his large, aqua-blue eyes. "Tell me, am I a replacement...for your Chizuru?"
 
  His whole body tensed up. He looked hesitant to answer. "To be honest...you do remind me of Chizuru. She looked a lot like you. But I never saw you as a replacement for her. I guess I just had a really strong craving for companionship. That`s why I couldn`t eat you. When I looked into your eyes for the first time...I saw paralyzing fear. I couldn`t bring myself to hurt you, not when you looked like that. But now...I`m afraid I`ve gotten way too close to you for your own good and mine. Giants eat humans and drink their blood, but with you...I just feel different. I can`t say why.
I really can`t. Maybe it`s my human soul coming back to me after all these years. Even still...I...I just don`t get this! I don`t understand...how I can have feelings for a girl...the size of a Snickers bar!"
 
  I smiled weakly. "Well, I don`t know how I could have feelings for a man the size of a building either. It`s just a very different world now, I guess." I took a few steps back and plopped down on the table, not paying attention to the large silver knife right next to me. Before I even realized it, my arm scraped the blade on the way down. I cringed in pain as my skin was sliced open, and a thin stream of crimson beads dribbled out. A metallic scent overwhelmed my senses. As I watched the red liquid flow down my forearm, fear boiled in my brain.
 
  Daisuke reacted almost instantly. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of my blood. His stomach rumbled loudly in response. This was bad. Really bad. I crawled to my feet, pressing my hand against my arm to stop the blood flow. A stinging pain shot through my muscles, but at the moment, I was much more worried about the blonde-haired, blue-eyed predator looming over me. He looked entrance, even hypnotized, to a degree. "So...hungry..." he muttered, reaching a huge hand in my direction.
 
  The tea party turned from a happy little get-together to a matter of life and death in the blink of an eye. I whirled around and ran away, clutching my bloodied arm. I leapt off the supposedly short table, which turned out to be a five-foot drop for me. My ankle twisted on impact, and a jutting pain stabbed into my foot. I cried out and collapsed, landing face-first on the floor. I swung my head over my shoulder, only to witness Daisuke lunging for me.
 
  He stepped on the table, crushing it beneath his feet. Tea and sugar spilled all over. He bent down and curled his fingers around my legs. I whimpered in fright as he lifted me up to his face. His lips quivered. "Put me down!" I shrieked. "Cut it out, Daisuke!" He barely even heard me. "I...I can`t..." At that moment, he was completely consumed by his bloodlust. His lips parted, showing a frame of jagged fangs. I gaped in horror as he brought me closer to those horrible teeth. "Stop it!" I screeched. "Please, I don`t want to be eaten!"
 
  He bit at my hand, and the next thing I knew, my bloody right arm was fully within his mouth. His tongue slithered over my cut, prying into the wound and drawing out blood. It felt like hot knives slicing into my flesh. I threw back my head and screamed in agony. I squirmed around, but there was no way I could free myself in this position. Daisuke gripped my small body in one hand, holding me in place, and his teeth dug into my shoulder. He didn`t bite hard enough to break skin, but I was well aware that just one wrong move could result in me losing an arm. Just one bit of too much pressure, and it`d be severed right off.
 
  I clenched my teeth, panting heavily. Sweat dripped down my face, mixing with my stray tears. "Daisuke...stop...it hurts..." He wasn`t listening. Finally, after two straight minutes of excruciating pain, Daisuke stopped slurping my blood. He removed his fangs from my arm, and I pulled away from his jaws as soon as I felt the pressure let up. My skin was drenched in saliva, but my cut wasn`t bleeding anymore, and the pain turned into a deadening numbness. I looked away. I didn`t want to look into his eyes. I didn`t even want to speak.
 
  The Giant let out a huge gasp. "Chihaya!" he shouted, poking and prodding at my limp body. "Are you okay?! Oh, I`m so sorry!" After a brief moment, I got my voice back. "I`m...fine. Richter...was right after all. I don`t have much time left, do I?" His face fell. "Don`t say stupid things like that! I promised I wouldn`t eat you, and I`m not going to! I just...lost myself. The smell of your blood drove me crazy. I tried to resist, but it hurts so much. With the way I`m growing, just slurping a couple drops of your blood won`t do me any good. It`ll maybe hold me over for a day. I know I`ll have to eat again soon, but...I don`t want to kill anyone! And if I die...then you`ll die too, because no one will be able to protect you. I`m sorry, Chihaya! Can you forgive me?"
 
  I didn`t have much of a choice. "You controlled yourself enough to not kill me," I said, "so I can forgive you for that...I think." I yawned loudly, tiredly rubbing my eyes. "I know I`m afraid to sleep, but...can we just call it a night?" Daisuke paused, considered for a moment, and replied, "Okay then. I`ll have to find another place for you to sleep, because I don`t think it`s safe for you to be sleeping with me anymore."
 
  I shook my head. "It`s fine. I`ll stay with you. I don`t want to be alone here. I just have to trust you. As long as I don`t spill my blood, I think I`ll be okay." I knew what I was saying was crazy, he nearly devoured me just a few minutes ago. But my mind was so broken, I didn`t care anymore. He bit his lip. "Well, if you think so," he said. "Your blood should hold me over for the rest of the night, at least. You`re really lost without me, aren`t you, Chihaya?"
 
  I didn`t reply. He was right, though. I never thought I would ever surrender myself to a person like I`d done for him. For the first time since I arrived here, Daisuke took me to his bedroom. I didn`t think he had one. He placed me on the bed, then went about changing into his nightclothes. He unbuttoned his vest and removed his dress shirt, revealing his bare chest. My face grew bright red. For a gigantic man-eating monster, he had an incredibly slim and muscular body. His chest was lean and tight on all angles. From this position, he looked bigger than ever.
 
  I was transfixed. So this is what they meant by 'terrifying beauty.' I kind of wanted to just curl up on top of his bare body. "What are you staring at?" Daisuke chuckled, slipping on a black t-shirt. "Sorry, but you`re a little too young for my tastes. And a little too small, at that." I quickly kicked the perverted thoughts out of my mind. I switched over to another topic that had been nagging me for a while. "Hey, who is Richter anyway? Why does it seem like he`s targeting you?"
 
  "He is targeting me," Daisuke replied. "It`s not like I did him dirty or anything. I didn`t even know him when I was a test subject. He came from another facility clear across the country. It`s just his job. He kinda works for the State as an informant. Or, in other words, a snitch. He`s like...some kind of secret police. He doesn`t get all the jewels the Overlords get, and he lives just like a normal citizen."
 
  "He lives among the rest of us, observing and watching people. When they break the rules, he reports them to his superiors, and the citizens he reports are punished. He does things to purposely get people`s attention, or piss them off, or make them break the rules. He gets some kind of sadistic pleasure from it, I think. That slimeball likes manipulating people to do what he wants. Not to mention he tortures humans and treats them like toys. You`re lucky you didn`t end up with him. As for me...I`m just another one of his targets. He wants to destroy me, but I won`t let him. I`ll die before I let him win. And I swear to God, I won`t ever let him touch you."
 
  I sighed deeply. "I see. Do you...think we have a future like this? I mean, with the way things are now?" He was silent for a good while. "I hate to say it, but I don`t think so. The State wasn`t made to last from the very beginning. It was just a heavy-handed way of securing food. The Grigori never had any real foresight for the future. I knew it`d all fall apart eventually. Honestly, I`m shocked it lasted as long as it did. The time will come when there`s going to be a reset. One of these days, it`ll all set back to zero. It always does. It may sound bad, but really, it`s just the way it is. You shouldn`t be afraid, Chihaya. The end is not as scary as you think."
 
  He crawled into bed, creating small tremors around me as he dragged himself into place. I climbed up onto his chest, curling up in his loose nightclothes. I wanted to ask him more, but I stayed silent. What did he mean by 'the end?' Did he know something I didn`t? It was obvious from the beginning that he knew more than he was letting on, but that sounded way too sinister. I tried to push the crowding thoughts out of my mind as best as I could.
 
  After around an hour had passed, I eventually worked up enough fatigue to fall asleep. Then, everything changed.
 
  My eyes flashed open. I stared into darkness. Everything around me was pitch-black. I arched my back, trying to stand. I could not. My arms and legs were stretched out in an X-shape, as if I were about to be sacrificed. Wait a second...sacrificed? What in God`s name is this? The darkness swirled like ink-black clouds.
 
  Daisuke appeared out of nowhere, towering above me like a monolith. A wicked grin was plastered across his face. My heart began to race. My breathing became weak and labored. I thrashed back and forth, trying to stand up, move, crawl away, do anything. "What`s going on here?!" I shrieked. "What`s happening!? Why can`t I move?!"
 
  "Take a good guess," he sneered. "Sacrifices aren`t supposed to move. It has to be said, you`ve been a good friend...but I bet you`ll be an even better midnight snack." My eyes nearly popped out of my head. "Daisuke, no!" I screeched. "You can`t do this!" He snickered. "Oh, yeah? Why can`t I do what I want with you? You`re just my snack."
 
  I was left frozen and paralyzed as the blonde Giant reached down, twining his long, snake-like fingers around my tiny, immobilized body. He raised me into the air. I nearly puked at the nauseating lift-up. Those large blue eyes of his seemed to stare into the deepest corners of my soul. They gleamed like glass balls.
 
  "Stop it!" I screamed. "Please, don`t do this! Don`t eat me!" Neither my struggles nor my screams would convince him to stop. In fact, my terror only seemed to make him even hungrier.
His tongue glided over his lips. "I have to say, you tasted way better than I thought," he chuckled. "I can`t wait to devour you, little lady. I`m going to enjoy this." He lifted me up even higher, dangling me above his gaping maw. I bit my tongue until it bled. I squirmed and screamed, but no matter what I did, it wasn`t going to change the fact that I was about to be eaten alive.
"Hey," Daisuke said, "it`s nothing personal. No hard feelings. Goodbye, Chihaya."
 
  His fingers loosened from the nape of my neck. Gravity pulled me down instantly. I fell straight into his open mouth. Pitch-black darkness swallowed me whole as wetness and humidity struck my entire body. I sprawled out upon the monster`s tongue, but I wasn`t there for long, as I was soon battered and slammed against the sides of his mouth. The appendage dominated me completely. I clawed and kicked out at the terrifyingly large muscle, but the blonde-haired brute continued to push me around the interior of his mouth like a jawbreaker. Drool drenched my clothes and pooled up around me as I was slowly savored.
 
  After a few minutes of being tossed about through the dark, wet, humid chamber, I had been tired out. I was way too exhausted to resist anymore. Turned out, that was exactly what Daisuke wanted, because then, the biting started. His pointy, saw-like teeth clamped down on me, piercing my skin and puncturing every part of my body. Blood gushed from the narrow wounds the fangs left behind. I threw back my head, screaming in excruciating agony. I had never, ever been so scared in my life. But it was far from over.
 
  The pressure of the fangs increased, pushing into both my back and my chest at the same time. I was lucky enough to not have my head in the way, but in my position, 'lucky' was a useless word. I was being crushed. I could feel my bones breaking and shattering. I gave a wet cough, hacking up a splatter of blood. At that point, I didn`t care anymore. I was in so much pain, I just wanted to die. "JUST HURRY UP AND KILL ME!" I shrieked, screaming at the top of my lungs.
 
  But Daisuke wasn`t going to let me die. Not that easily. I hadn`t suffered enough yet. Suddenly, the stabbing pain and pressure of his fangs lifted from my bloody, mutilated body. Every bone in my body had to be broken, because I couldn`t move anymore. All I could manage were small, weak twitches, and even those were painful. Daisuke tipped back his head to gulp down his meal. I slid down to the back of his throat, unable to resist or struggle.
 
  With a large swallow, I was shoved down into a rippling chamber of muscle that tugged and pulled at my tiny form. So, this is what happens to sacrifices, I thought. This is what it feels like to be eaten. I tried to squirm and thrash using whatever remaining energy I had left, but it was useless, because with another hard gulp, I was gone. I slid down even further, until I crashed into a tight, narrow chamber of gastric fluids and digestive juices- Daisuke`s stomach.
 
  I expected it to be a massive, cavernous space, but it was actually quite small and cramped. Tears poured from my only blue eye as I was enveloped by the darkness of his body. I took a deep breath, inhaling the sickening smell of rotting flesh- the scent of death. My lungs heaved, whistling weakly. I didn`t know how I was still alive, but I knew I wouldn`t be for much longer. Daisuke`s growing body was hungry. The stomach acid bit into my skin, making me feel like millions of hot, rusty nails were being embedded into my body. He was...digesting me.
 
  I couldn`t move, I couldn`t struggle, I couldn`t even scream anymore. All I could do was cry. The small, cramped room growled all around me, the tiny victim. How could Daisuke be this cruel? Richter was right. All Giants were the same. They weren`t human, not anymore. Now, they were only hungry monsters, something to be feared. I was stupid to believe that Daisuke was any different.
I couldn`t do anything for myself, so I just attached myself to someone who would do it all for me, even if that someone was a bloodthirsty predator. I was just a stupid masochist, the very definition of pathetic. Because in the end, I was only food to begin with.
 
  I continued to cry and sob for a few minutes after that, but before long, I collapsed beneath the rising pool of gastric fluids. Then...I woke up screaming.
 
  I threw myself upright, panting heavily. Once I realized I was sitting on top of Daisuke, I quickly leapt off of him, crawling across the huge bed on my rear end. My caterwauling woke him up almost instantly. "Chihaya!" he gasped, eyes wide. "Are you alright?!" I just stared at him, quaking in fear. "Please...don`t hurt me," I sniffled, choking back tears. He blinked. "Hurt you? What are you talking about?" He fell silent for a moment. "Let me guess, you had a nightmare about me, right?"
 
  "How...how do you know that?" I asked. He sighed. "Well, why else are you shaking like a leaf and begging me not to hurt you? You`re not that hard to read, you know. Listen, I know you`re afraid of me because of what happened when I drank your blood. But I promise you, that won`t happen again. Whatever happens, I will not eat you. I`ll take care of everything tomorrow."
 
  "What...do you mean by that?" I asked. "You`re going to devour other people, aren`t you?"
 
  "It`s the only thing I can do," he replied, his eyes filled with regret. "If I don`t consume human blood soon, I won`t be able to control myself. I`ll end up hurting you, or even killing you. I don`t exactly know what you dreamt about me, but I think I have an idea. That nightmare will be reality if I don`t do something. As it stands now, I have no right to have you sleeping alongside me. I need to distance myself from you, or else, my instincts might take over, and I may try to taste your blood again. I`ll take you someplace else."
 
  My mind snapped. "No!" I shouted, standing up and running into his lap. "Please, don`t leave me alone! Everyone else left me alone...they left me to suffer and die...I don`t want you to leave me too!" In the back of my mind, I couldn`t believe I was saying these things. The memory of that nightmare was fresh in my mind. I could still feel the piercing force of his fangs biting into my body, crushing my bones and spilling out blood. But it seemed like I was way more afraid of being left alone than I was afraid of being eaten. In the end, it was all just a scary dream, right?
 
  Daisuke smiled, gently petting my head with the tip of his finger. "Okay, then. If that`s what you really want, then I won`t leave you alone. But you can`t keep freaking out on me like that.
I understand you`re scared, but if you want me to be with you, you have to learn to trust me." He was right. I had to quit being afraid of everything. I needed to stop crying and screaming every time something scared me. What I really needed was to trust. While that was a hard thing to do in a world that only wanted me dead, I had to learn to trust Daisuke. It was the only way I`d ever survive here. Being weak and pathetic wasn`t going to help me, because nobody cared.
 
  I nodded in firm resolution. "Alright, I understand. I won`t act like that again, I swear. I`ll be stronger. I don`t want to be weak anymore. I`m not going to die here. Whatever I have to do, I`m going to make sure I survive. I will trust you, Daisuke." Daisuke grinned. "Good to hear it. Just don`t let all that newfound courage go to your head. Being weak may kill you, but being too strong can kill you just as easily." I didn`t really know what he meant. I`d probably figure it out eventually. Daisuke and I then returned to sleep, but if I knew what I`d be facing that next day, I would have taken his words much more seriously.
 
 
Chapter Five: Toryanse
 
  The next morning, I woke up alone. I dragged myself upright, my tangled twintails falling over my face. I rubbed sleep out of my tired, drowsy eyes. I sat in the center of the bed, all by myself. "Daisuke?" I called. "Where are you?" Maybe he was making breakfast. I staggered to my feet and took a few steps foward, until I stepped on a large piece of folded paper. It was a note.
I began reading it.
 
I have some important things to take care of in town today. I can`t bring you along, because I don`t want you to see me like this. The pain and shocks are getting worse. I won`t be able to handle it much longer. If I don`t do something about it, I may hurt you. I have no choice but to stay away from you for a while. It`s for your own good. Don`t leave the house, and please, don`t come after me. I will come back. - Daisuke
 
  I remembered what he said last night. He went out to devour humans, and he left me behind because he didn`t want me to see him eating another person. After all, what if it was someone I knew? Someone from the Cordon? Just because he refrained from eating women and children didn`t mean his other victims didn`t have families and friends and people they cared about. He was destroying someone, no matter who they were. But he didn`t have a choice. The only way he would survive was if he killed and ate humans.
 
  Knowing that alone was horrifying enough, but there was something else that bothered me. I didn`t know if it was because I was alone in the Giants` realm for the first time, but I didn`t feel right for some reason. I just couldn`t put my finger on it. I had a very, very bad feeling about this. What would happen when he came back? Would he be even taller and more ravenous? Would he even come back at all?
 
  I decided I couldn`t just sit there and worry about it all day, so I left the note behind and climbed down from the bed, taking the time to properly explore Daisuke`s home. There were so many rooms and areas I hadn`t even seen yet. There were also some rooms that I couldn`t access, because the doors were closed and there wasn`t enough space to squeeze through, so I left those alone.
I even started looking through some of his stuff, just to see what he had.
 
  I was fascinated, but at the same time, I felt like a bad girl. I wasn`t supposed to look through someone else`s stuff. Daisuke probably wouldn`t be too pleased if he knew I was rooting through his belongings. What if I found his collection of dirty magazines or something? I`d never be able to live with myself. Just because of that, I decided to stop nosing around before I accidentally discovered an issue of Giantess Monthly.
 
  It was so strange. Even though I`d only been living here for less than a week, I felt like I had lived there forever. The memories of my life in the Children`s Village felt like a dream, or a past life. I barely remembered Mrs. Silver or any of the other children I lived with back then anymore. I couldn`t explain it.
 
  I heard the massive front door creak open. I jumped to my feet. Daisuke`s back early, I thought. I imagined he`d be gone for much longer than that. I guessed devouring people and drinking their blood didn`t take too long. Maybe he was worried about leaving me alone. I bolted into the kitchen, slipping on the slick tile floor. I fell to my knees as a giant shadow closed over me.
 
  A strange scent filled the air. It wasn`t of someone I knew. I looked up, then gasped in horror. My stomach tied up in knots. Daisuke wasn`t in front of me. Instead, Richter beckoned me, regarding me with a fanged smirk and gleaming red eyes. How did he get in here? I was too stunned to even speak. Richter grinned. "Why, hello there, Chi-chan." He gave me no chance to react.
A split-second later, a black sheet fell over me, and I found myself unable to move.
 
  Darkness swallowed me like the jaws of a predator. I wasn`t sure what Richter threw over me, maybe it was his jacket or something, but I did know that it was way too big and heavy for me to crawl out of. The enclosure was lifted into the air, and I fell over on my back, still clawing at black fabric. Everything was pitch-dark. I might as well have been blind. I sucked in shallow, rapid breaths. My lungs felt like they were filled with rusty nails. Stay calm, I told myself. Just stay strong, and you`ll be fine.
 
  My optimism was impossible in a situation like this. I had been snatched away by Richter, the State`s top informant, the heartless monster notorious for treating human beings as his personal playthings. I recalled when he mentioned a girl he had kept as his pet trying to commit suicide. If whatever he was putting this girl through every day was enough to make her kill herself, what chance did I have? I hoped and prayed that Daisuke would come to save me. That wasn`t going to happen.
 
  During the trip to Richter`s lair, it was obvious that he had no respect for my well-being. I violently lurched back and forth as he swung around whatever it was he held me in. I must`ve slammed against his thigh over a hundred times by now. My head started spinning, and I had to hold my breath to keep from vomiting up the gush of fluids rising in my throat. Out of despair, I pressed a hand against my patched eye. This man- no, monster- was the reason why I stabbed out my own eye, forever ruining my once-flawless beauty. Flashbacks of the dead girl with the bloody fork stuck in her chest flooded my memory. Was that what would happen to me? What would it feel like to be impaled by a gigantic fork?
 
  I had no idea how far I was from Daisuke`s home, but it must have been miles, because this horrific ride seemed to be taking hours. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I sure felt that way. Had Daisuke returned home already? Did he know I was gone? What did he think happened to me? How would he find me? Giants had an incredibly keen sense of smell, so he might have been able to track me down by my scent, but even that seemed like a longshot at this point. All of these thoughts raced through my panicked mind like cars on a highway.
 
  After what felt like over an hour, the brutal trip finally came to an end. I was suddenly dropped, because I hit the ground with hard, numbing force. Shocks wracked my body from the impact.
I bit my tongue to keep myself from screaming. Once I was able to move again, I pried my way out of the dark enclosure, taking in a deep breath of cool outside air. I was nestled in a bed of itchy faux fur. He really did catch me in his jacket.
 
  I crawled out of the massive garment and tumbled to the carpeted floor, alongside a few stray papers. I sat up, finding myself in what looked like an office, or maybe just a really small apartment. Like usual, even things like desks and chairs towered above me like skyscrapers. I felt a little dizzy. I noticed lots of documents, maps, pages from books, and newspaper clippings tacked all over the walls. Some of them I couldn`t even read because they were written in other languages. All of them, however, seemed to be about political turmoil, wars, and revolutions, whether they were recent or in the distant past. What did that mean?
 
  I scanned over to the papers lying next to me. It appeared to be some kind of document from the State, about a group called the 'Crimson Patriots.' Apparently, they were a growing organization of human rebels and guerilla fighters creating an uprising against the State. Their supposed goal was to 'return the 50 blessings of America to their original, rightful owners.' According to the report, they had been churning up dissent and revolt against the Giants in Cordons all over the country, in order to flare up tension between the two races and create a violent revolution, which was meant to end in a human victory. Many of their top officials consisted of skilled ex-government and military operatives. The Crimson Patriots` prime objective was apparently to assassinate all of the Overlords, and then the Grigori, to reclaim the country. The report even mentioned rumors of a small handful of Giants colluding with them to achieve their goals.
 
  Things began to make sense now. Maybe they were the ones causing all the riots and chaos across the Cordons. Perhaps Minako Tomoka and Suzuki`s assassination of Cordon 27`s Overlord was the catalyst they needed to push their plans into full swing. Even the State didn`t know everything about the Crimson Patriots. What would happen if they did complete their mission? Would humans like me really be free, without ever having to fear being eaten again?
 
  I didn`t have time to daydream about it. The distant, soft sound of a young girl`s voice snapped me back to attention. I whipped my head back. A small figure crawled out from beneath the nearby desk. It was a girl around my age, maybe a couple years older. She wore a tattered gray Five Wings school dress, which meant she was from one of the Cordons. Her blue hair was done up in braided twintails that fell over her shaking shoulders. Her purple eyes were swollen with tears, hidden behind a pair of large round glasses. She was a pile of pure fear. She couldn`t stop shaking. "Who...who are you?" she stammered, forcing her words out.
 
  "I`m Chihaya Kotori," I answered, beginning to feel frightened myself. This is what would become of me here? "My name is...Miyuki Nagatsuki," she said, her chapped lips quivering. "You`re his new toy...aren`t you? You need to run...now...before he comes back. If you don`t...he`ll do horrible things to you!" I took a quick glance at her inner forearms, noticing they were marred with cuts and knife wounds, like she`d tried to slit her wrists on several occasions.
 
  My eyes widened in shock. "What are you...waiting for?!" Miyuki snapped. "He`ll hurt you and hurt you until you beg to die...but he won`t stop torturing you! Get out of here...while you still can!" I decided to take her words seriously. I ran over to Miyuki, grabbing her by the hands. "I`m taking you with me." She shook her head, glancing down to her legs. They were twisted back in a horrific, inhuman position. "I can`t...move anymore. He crushed my legs. Please...just save yourself!"
 
  My brain froze as the door swung open. Miyuki gaped in horror, crouching down like she was bowing. "W-welcome home...Master," she stuttered. Richter entered the room, sneering down at Miyuki and I. His blood-red eyes shined the like the eyes of the Devil. He wore a black v-neck shirt with matching socks. "Hello there, Miyuki-chan," he snickered. "I trust you`ve been a good girl while I was away?" The blue-haired girl nodded quickly. "Yes, Master."
 
  Richter rubbed his hands together, smiling greedily. "So, it looks like you two have already gotten aquainted with each other, but I`ll introduce you anyway. This is Chi-chan, and she`ll be my new servant. From now on, you`ll call me Master, okay, Chi-chan?" A look of concern flashed across Miyuki`s face. "What...what about me?" Richter scratched his chin. "Hmm, good question. Well, because I have no use for a servant that can`t walk, and since you want to die so badly, why don`t I just put you out of your misery right here and now? Doesn`t that sound fun, Miyuki-chan?"
 
  My skin bristled. I was pretty sure I knew what was about to happen. Richter reached down for Miyuki, and since she couldn`t walk, she could do nothing but quake in fear as he carelessly scooped her up, pinching his fingers around the back of her neck. Her dead legs were left dangling below her, as if she were a doll. He opened his fang-lined mouth, sticking out his tongue and licking at her face. "Master, please!" she shrieked. "Please don`t eat me!"
 
  "But I`m hungry," Richter whined. "I`m sure you`ll be tasty. Don`t you want to perform your last duties for your Master?" I couldn`t watch this anymore. "Stop it!" I shouted. "Just leave her alone!" Richter shook his head. "Sorry, but you have no say in this, Chi-chan. If Miyuki-chan wants to die so badly, then I`ll grant her wish. I wouldn`t be so gracious as to let her meet her maker on her own terms. Now, Miyuki-chan, perhaps you should pray that your precious God sends you to Heaven!"
 
  He dropped her into his maw, clamping his teeth around her midsection. My stomach lurched at the sound of her bones crunching like snapped twigs. She let out a piercing scream, then hacked up a puddle of blood. The blood dripped from her mouth and leaked from her eyes. Richter tilted back his head, and with a long, drawn-out slurp, sucked Miyuki into his mouth and swallowed her in one gulp. She appeared as a small bulge in the middle of his throat before she disappeared entirely.
 
  I hunched over, fighting off the urge to puke once again. It felt violating on so many levels. That was what happened to me in my nightmare. But for Miyuki, that nightmare became her reality.
Now I was alone, left trembling in Richter`s shadow. He licked blood from his lips. "Ahh, that was good," he sighed contentedly, patting his belly. "This is why I just love humans! They`re tasty and delicious to eat, and they`re lots of fun to play with! I love humans so much!" His red eyes shifted in my direction. "So that means all my little humans should love me, too. Don`t you agree, Chi-chan?"
 
  I curled my lips in disgust. "Screw you! You don`t deserve to be loved by anyone! What happened to your two sluts, huh?! Did they decide not to come today!?" Richter`s wicked grin morphed into a scowl. "My, where did you learn such foul language? Let me guess, it was that Daisuke, right? Nothing good can come from a vulgar man like him. You should just forget about him, because I`m your new owner now. I`ll teach you how to be a proper lady."
 
  "Shut up!" I hissed. "I am no one`s property!" Richter sighed. "Well, I suppose it can`t be helped. You`re just ill-bred, untrained livestock, after all. That`ll all change very soon, trust me. So, instead of being my servant, how about you become my wife?" He snatched me up in his fist and raised me to his eye level. "Miss Chi-chan, do you swear to be my loving and loyal wife, till death do us part, and all that good stuff?"
 
  I spit right into one of his red eyes. Richter`s face grew red with rage. "I see. You want to do things the hard way. I have no problem with that. I love a good challenge, it`s lots of fun.
I can`t wait to break you!" I gasped as he released me from his grip, then proceeded to drop-kick me across the room. I slammed against the wall and slid to the ground, my body numb with shock.
The wind was knocked out of me.
 
  Richter stepped in front of me. "Okay then, why don`t you be a good girl now? Bow before me and say, 'I will forever be your servant, Richter-sama.'" I would do no such thing. "Like I`d do that!" I snapped. "How about this instead?" I lunged foward and bit one of his toes with all my power. He gritted his teeth and kicked me into the wall again. The impact rattled my bones, but I could still stand, even if I was in total pain doing it. Thank God he didn`t have his shoes on, or I`d be dead. But I kept resisting. I`d die before I bowed to him. At least, that`s what I thought then.
 
  "What a stupid girl," Richter snarled. "Do you want me to kill you? Girls who don`t listen to my words aren`t allowed to exist. It makes me so happy to tear them apart to death. How do you want to die, Chi-chan? Just the very thought is making me feel aroused!" I stared at him, my mouth hanging open. "You`re crazy. What is wrong with you?"
 
  Richter burst into thunderous laughter. "Oh, there`s nothing wrong with me, my dear! You`re just so cute, Chi-chan. I think I`m beginning to like you even more than Miyuki-chan. I don`t want to have to break your legs, though, that would be a shame. You see, I like to make girls feel good. I don`t feel anything when their faces are distorted in pain. But you`re not giving me many options. How about we do something different, then? I know! How we play a game of Jack and the Beanstalk? You can be Jack, and I`ll be the Giant, of course. You can hide wherever you want, and
I`ll hunt down my tiny prey. If I catch you, you`ll have to be my servant forever!"
 
  I didn`t have much choice in the matter. Although I was trying to stay strong, my strength was fading fast, especially after being kicked into the wall full-force twice. Maybe this could give me a chance to escape. I knew the horrors the outside world had to offer, but at this point, being poked and prodded by Giant children sounded pleasurable compared to being tormented by Richter. Bottom line was, if I stayed with him, I would die. That`s all there was to it.
 
  Once the door was open, I bolted across the room at full speed, rushing out into the hallway. "My, I didn`t expect you to run off so quickly," Richter called. "What else did you think I`d do?!" I snapped. "You think I want to be tortured by you!?" Richter`s lair was just as much of a sprawling, labyrinthine maze as Daisuke`s place. Except this time, I didn`t have the slightest clue as to where to go. The front and back doors were out of the question, as I`d already learned. There had to be some other loose gaps or cracks for me to squeeze through. But as I raced through the gigantic house, slipping in and out from behind furniture and other fixtures, that wasn`t looking likely. Every entrance or exit I came across was shut tightly and way too tall for me to reach.
 
  In the Giants` realm, my size hadn`t changed a bit, but the sheer scale of everything made me feel like I had shrunk down to nothing. Being small was really starting to suck, especially when there was a bloodthirsty, raven-haired predator trailing me. I had no idea where Richter was right now, but he knew exactly where I was, I realized that much. He could sniff me out just as easily as Daisuke could. Those fears were confirmed when I heard his booming voice rattle the air. "Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a human girl! Be she alive, or be she dead, I`ll grind her bones to make my bread!"
 
  My bowels quivered. Someone was feeling in-character today. As for me, trying to properly play my role as Jack was the furthest thing from my mind. Richter`s footsteps seemed to echo all around me. I just kept running and hiding aimlessly, shivering all over. I couldn`t control myself any longer. A flood of tears poured from my eyes. I prayed and prayed that I could be somewhere else, anywhere but here. Even the depths of the underworld sounded like a nice destination compared to this awful place.
 
  My lungs heaved for air. I couldn`t keep this up much longer. I turned a corner and blindly ran into the living room, only to slam directly into Richter`s ankle. I collapsed on my back, winded. When my blurry vision cleared, his murderous red eyes greeted me. "Well, looks like I win," he snickered. "So now, you have to hold up your end of the deal." He raised his foot and stepped on me, pressing his toes against my tiny, weakened body. "Please...stop," I moaned, my face stained by tear tracks. I squirmed, trying to pry myself out from underneath his foot, but it became pretty clear that I was fighting a losing battle. I was no match for the sheer size and weight of his body.
 
  I felt the pressure loosen a bit. I sucked in a deep breath, hoping that Richter had decided he`d tortured me enough. No such luck. Every organ in my body warped as he kicked me once again, sending me flying into a shelf on the other side of the room. My back slammed the hard wood, and I cried out in agony, coughing up blood. I flopped over on my side, wracked with pain. I wished I could just die. At least I wouldn`t have to deal with this anymore. Why was the universe so intent on making me suffer?
 
  I glanced at Richter, who still wore a wicked, toothy grin on his face. "Well? What are you waiting for? Come to me, bow down, and tell me, 'You are my Master, Richter-sama.' Or, you can lay there on the floor, and I`ll stomp on you. You don`t want to be squashed, do you?" It was obey or die at this point. Despite the fact I was in utter agony, I staggered to my feet and shuffled foward. Each step sent shooting pain through my whole body, but I kept moving, because if I didn`t, I`d be crushed into a bloody mess. I crumpled at Richter`s feet, sucking in heavy breaths.
I opened my mouth, forcing out the words as if they were a curse. "You are...my Master...Richter-sama."
 
  "Good girl," Richter sneered. "You just needed proper discipline, that`s all. That was a bit harder than I expected, but I did have a lot of fun. I`m sure you`ll have lots of fun too, Chi-chan. I can be a very nice guy once you get to know me." Yeah, right, I thought. Like I`d believe that load of crap. "Looks like you coughed up some blood," Richter continued. "That smell is making me hungry again. Since you were a good girl today, I`m going to give you a reward."
 
  He scooped me up in his palms, crimping his fingers around my waist. "What...what are you doing?" I panted. "I`m going to make you feel good," Richter replied, drawing me closer to his mouth. His lips parted, revealing his jagged, shark-like teeth. "You sure do look yummy, Chi-chan," he said, biting into my midsection. I was halfway within his mouth, and his huge tongue smothered me.
It felt like the time when Daisuke tasted me, only a hundred times worse. I clenched my teeth and curled my hands into fists, trying not to scream. I saw what he did to Miyuki. He could slurp me up and gulp me down just as easily.
 
  He drooled all over me, coating me in sour-smelling fluid. He rigorously licked the blood splatters from my clothes, and he wouldn`t stop. His tongue even peeled up my blouse, just so he could get at my tasty bare skin. I gulped as I saw his pointed teeth right above my face. I hoped he wasn`t about to sink his fangs into his squirmy treat. "Tell me, Chi-chan," Richter piped up, "what do you think the most perfect death would be? A peaceful death like falling asleep isn`t allowed. That would bore me."
 
  "If it was me, I think a death overflowing with ecstacy would be nice. What are your thoughts? Don`t you think it would be wonderful to die by the pleasure of my fangs? Or perhaps I could just swallow you whole. You`d slide down my throat, perish within my stomach, and then become a part of my body. Doesn`t that sound romantic, Chi-chan?"
 
  I didn`t like where this macabre conversation was heading. I would have given anything to be with Daisuke right now. "Why...why are you doing this?" I croaked. "Why are you treating me this way?" Richter raised an eyebrow. "Why? Because it`s fun, that`s why. I love all my little humans, so of course I would love playing with them too. But I do have a job, you know. I work for the State, and the Grigori have placed your precious Daisuke on an elimination list. With his incredible strength, unbridled anger, and monstrous appetite, not to mention the fact that he`s growing bigger and more violent every day, he`s a threat to Kissaki City and Cordon 31`s safety. So in that way, we`re protecting you humans, too. Can`t you at least appreciate that?"
 
  My eyes narrowed. "You know something about him, don`t you? What did you do to him? Where is he?"
 
  "Oh, I didn`t do anything to him," Richter replied. "I don`t know where he is, either. He left of his own free will. If he cared about you so much, he wouldn`t have left such a tasty little treat wandering around defenseless all day long. But I do know that he is looking for you. Whether that is to protect you or eat you is not my problem. You know what, I`ve had a lot of fun with you today, Chi-chan. And I am a nice guy, so I`ll do something nice for you. I`ll return you to him. How does that sound?"
 
  His words made me more than a little skeptical. He was going to return me to Daisuke, after he`d gone through so much trouble to capture me? He was clearly lying. I didn`t need a lie detector to figure that out. "Really?" I asked. "Yeah, really!" Richter cheered. "I have a mission to complete, so for now, you and I are going on a friendly little excursion." He brought me back to his bedroom, snatching up his knife and slipping on his furry black jacket. He carelessly dropped me in the right pocket. "Have fun in there, Chi-chan," he said. "This trip won`t take long at all."
 
 
Chapter Six: Cruel Angel
 
  I wasn`t counting on that. And no, I was not having fun. It was just as much of a rough and bumpy ride as when he first took me. I swallowed hard. Where was Richter taking me? Would Daisuke really be there? I was surprised to discover that the raven-haired Giant was actually telling the truth about how long the trip would take. It only took about fifteen minutes. "We`re here, Chi-chan," he said. "Come out here and tell me if this place looks familiar."
 
  He plucked me out of his pocket and dropped me into the palm of his hand. I waited a moment for my eyes to soak up every bit of what I was seeing. It almost didn`t seem real. It was Cordon 31. Abandoned buildings and shantytowns littered the land below. There were still tall buildings, even taller than Richter, but they had long been deserted, or turned into apartments for the citizens. Behind me was a massive steel wall, the wedge between the land of Giants and the land of humans. Beyond that wall was the place where I lost my innocence, my freedom, my beauty, my everything.
 
  I assumed Richter`s status as a State lackey gave him clearance to pass into the Cordon. But even that didn`t seem right. Down below, the citizens of the Cordon were whipped into a frenzy. Richter squatted down, playfully poking at the fleeing crowds of people. "Hello down there, my little humans!" he cheered. "Chi-chan, look at them all, running around like ants! Isn`t it funny?"
He acted like a toddler. That is, a demented, criminally insane toddler who took pleasure in tormenting small animals.
 
  He stood back up and placed me in the hood of his jacket, so I`d be able to see everything while Richter got down to whatever evil business he had planned here. I gulped. "Are you going to destroy this place?!" I shouted. "Destroy it?" Richter asked. "Nah, I won`t do that. But I am getting bored now. Maybe I should just trample a few buildings instead!" He raised his foot and stomped down on a nearby building, pulverizing it. I stared in shock, mouth agape. "Richter, stop! Please, this is my home! Don`t destroy it!" Richter shrugged. "Too bad! I own you now, so why should I listen to a word you say? I`ll crush everything and terrorize all the tiny humans!"
 
  A booming voice cut off his speech. "Like hell you will!" I flinched. A colossal crash battered my ears. I whipped my head around. About 100 feet away, the steel wall bulged. It was always thought to be unbreachable, but now, it looked like it had taken an oversized bullet. Something was about to smash through. Another ear-bursting, metallic smash echoed across the Cordon, and then...the wall gave way. It crumpled and shredded like a tin can. Several structures were blown away in the process. A cloud of dust and debris erupted into the air.
 
  A hulking, monstrous figure emerged from the dust cloud. A hollow gasp escaped my lungs. Daisuke beckoned me, his face contorted into pure rage. His mouth was stained by streaks of blood.
I barely even recognized him anymore. Even from this height, he looked utterly gargantuan. He had to be a good 20 feet taller than Richter, at least. His clothes hardly fit him. They looked so tight, it seemed like he`d rip out of them at any moment. The buttons of his vest were bulging, and the pockets were squeezed shut by the pressure of his belly. He walked foward, crushing cars and buildings beneath his feet like they were nothing.
 
  "There you are, Chihaya," he rumbled. My heart skipped a beat. I didn`t know who I should have been more afraid of- Richter, or Daisuke. He stared daggers at the crimson-eyed Giant. "What have you done to her?" Richter didn`t look afraid at all. "Me? Don`t worry, I didn`t hurt your little Chi-chan too much. I had to knock her around a little bit, but she`ll live. Also, did you have a growth spurt or what? I guess all that human blood you consumed must`ve sped up the growing process. This might be a bit harder than I thought."
 
  Daisuke bared his fangs. "You bastard! I`ll kill you!" He lunged foward, clawing out at Richter. The black-haired Giant jumped back, and I latched onto the fabric of his hood so I wouldn`t be thrown off by the intense force. Daisuke skidded to a stop, whirling around to face his nemesis. "Damn you," he growled. "I`m pissed off. And I`m hungry."
 
  He craned his arm down, scooping up a handful of fleeing civilians. My eyes grew as big as saucers. I knew exactly what he was about to do. Although I was stuck in Richter`s hood, I clawed out into open air and screamed, "Daisuke, STOP!" He ignored me. In one fell swoop, he drove his fangs down on his tiny prey like a guillotine, splattering blood across his bulging vest. Once the remnants of his prey were well within his maw, he tipped his head back and swallowed hard, gulping down what used to be citizens of Cordon 31.
 
  I clamped a hand over my mouth, unable to even breathe. My eyes burned from refusing to blink. This was what Daisuke really was. A monster, a starving beast with an insatiable thirst for blood. This was the creature I thought I loved. The fact that he was a former human meant nothing. Because in the end, this was reality. Richter`s lips curled into an evil smile. "Oh, I didn`t expect that. Didn`t you eat before you came here? Shouldn`t that have held you over for a while?"
 
  Daisuke scowled. "Well, it`s all digested now, and I`m hungry again! I don`t care how many humans I have to eat, as long I save Chihaya and kick your smarmy little ass, it doesn`t matter anymore!" He swung out his right arm, plowing through the top of a building. The ground trembled as the mutilated structure crashed to the ground. A fang-lined grin worked its way onto Daisuke`s face. "Actually...this is kinda fun. Now, hand over Chihaya before I shove the bottom half of this building up your ass."
 
  Richter chuckled. "Go ahead. Destroy this whole city, what do I care? The more you rampage, the more it proves my point that you`re a monster that needs to be put down. You see, no matter how much blood you drink now, it won`t do you any good, because what you crave is the very human you love most. Hate to say it, but you`re falling down the same path as Suzuki. If a Giant tastes the blood of a human without eating them, he can very well become addicted to that human`s blood. For you, Chihaya`s blood is like a drug, and you`re going through withdrawls. You can try to control your appetite all you want, but you`re going to devour her eventually. That`s just the simple truth of the matter."
 
  A sharp pain pierced my heart. "Daisuke...so that`s it. You never loved me. You just wanted to drink my blood." A deep swirl of heavy emotions churned within me. I ripped myself out of Richter`s hood, standing up on his shoulder. I spread out my arms and said, "Well, if that`s how it is, then just go ahead and eat me! Don`t take it out on these people!" Daisuke`s blue eyes widened. "Chihaya, that`s not true! If I ate you...I`d never forgive myself! Don`t listen to him!" I shook my head. "Stop it! I`m tired of being lied to! Just because I`m a human doesn`t mean I`m stupid!"
 
  Richter sighed. "Oh, my, a lover`s spat. Such a dilemma. What will you two do? Whatever the case, I believe this love story will end much like Romeo and Juliet!" Daisuke coiled into rage.
"SHUT UP!" he roared. He tore a piece of the collapsed building from the ground and threw himself foward, swinging the gigantic metal chunk like a sword. Richter whipped out his knife, smashing it against the sharp steel. Sparks erupted into the air as the two Giants clashed their makeshift weapons, pushing and shoving against one another. Richter was moving so much, I could barely keep myself on his shoulder. I dug my nails into the fabric of his jacket, but I still lurched back and forth, about to be thrown off. My vision blurred as I gazed down at the 30-foot drop below me.
If I fell, I was dead, simple as that.
 
  Daisuke raised his foot and kicked Richter in the stomach, sending him flying across the city. My body felt like it was being torn apart as the sheer force ripped at every inch of me. Richter crashed to the ground, taking down several structures along with him. A storm of dust and debris was kicked up into the air, reducing my visibility to nearly zero. Then, my sweaty fingers slipped from his coat. A horrified scream left me as I took a tumble- straight down to the abyss. Or it would have been, if the raven-haired Giant hadn`t landed in exactly the right spot.
 
  Instead of smashing my face against the concrete, I plopped down on Richter`s soft, squishy stomach. Daisuke`s strike must`ve really hurt him, because he seemed incapable of moving for now.
I took that opportunity to leap off of Richter and run away as fast as my feet would carry me. Once I got on ground level, I realized firsthand how bad this situation really was. Horrified citizens fled the city in chaotic droves, but they wouldn`t be going far, because once they hit the wall, they were trapped in this city-sized cattle pen, giving Richter and Daisuke free reign to pretty much devour the entire population of the Cordon. Of course, that meant there was no escape for me, either.
 
  As I watched the two titans continue their catastrophic duel in the place that had been my home for most of my life, the harsh reality sunk in. I was stupid for believing that Daisuke could protect me. I should`ve just trusted my instincts from the beginning. This was the end. I would die here, regardless of who won this battle. Because when it all came down to it, I was no better than the people that the Giants devoured. I was prey, and I would be treated as such. But I couldn`t just sit here and watch this. I had to do something, to stop this destruction before everyone here was killed.
 
  I took off into the apocalyptic streets, my eyes closely following Daisuke and Richter`s fight. "I`ll end this once and for all!" Daisuke bellowed. "I`ll kill you, and no one`s gonna have to look at your stupid face ever again!" He tossed a massive chunk of concrete at Richter, but the red-eyed Giant dodged with a swift deflection, launching a piece of metal in Daisuke`s direction.
I gasped as it speared right through his shoulder, releasing a spurt of blood. Just a few inches lower, and it would have stabbed directly through his chest, killing him.
 
  But the blonde Giant acted like he`d just been pinched by a needle. He tore the bloody metal piece from his flesh and dropped it to the ground. I rushed to hide behind a lightpole, as it crashed down about only ten feet from where I was standing. "You think that`s gonna be enough to kill me?" Daisuke growled. "You`re gonna have to do better than that!" Richter sneered, gazing at the destruction all around him. It almost looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off. "What a shame. The Grigori certainly aren`t going to be happy about this."
 
  "Like I care about what they think!" Daisuke snarled. "How about I just piss all over this city and cause a flood, huh?!" Richter replied, "Oh, you don`t even need to do that. The humans may be our prey, but you can`t just go and destroy their homes. You`ll probably be executed for this, you know."
 
  "I don`t give a damn," Daisuke hissed. "I`m sick and tired of living like this. All I want is Chihaya. That girl...she taught me what it felt like to be human again! I`d never dream of hurting her!" Richter bent down, picking up a fallen power pole to use as a club. "You shouldn`t be so angry at me. I`m just doing my job. The Overlord knew about your condition for years. You`re a menace to humans and Giants alike. We just needed a good excuse to kill you off. And what better reason than this? Even if you kill me, I`ll still have accomplished my goal, because you`ll be seen as a monster and put to death for murder."
 
  "As for your precious Chi-chan, she`ll just be devoured by someone else." He tilted his head, lowering his eyes to me. I shivered. "If you really love that girl, then why don`t you just eat her now?" he asked. "She`s right over there, so just hurry up and do it. I`d be honored to watch. Prey putting complete trust in her predator, even when she knows she will be devoured and become one with her predator`s body...it sounds absolutely romantic!"
 
  Daisuke`s anger rose by the second. The tension hung in the air like a smog. I had to act before this situation got any worse. I rushed foward, stepping between the two colossal predators. "Stop it!" I screamed. "That`s enough! Cut it out, both of you! If you don`t stop this, everyone here is going to die!" Daisuke backed up, for fear of stepping on me. He looked nothing less than a monster. If I said I wasn`t afraid, I`d be lying. I was terrified. I had to lock up my muscles just to keep myself from quivering in his shadow. His pointed fangs shone with blood. In the back of my mind, I imagined he`d swoop down and eat me up any second.
 
  "Drop the act," Daisuke said. "I can practically smell your fear. You`re scared to death of me, that much is obvious. And I don`t blame you. After seeing me do what I`ve done, who wouldn`t? But I don`t care how scared you are, I`ll die before I lose you."
 
  "But I don`t want you to die!" I snapped. "Just stop this, please!" Daisuke shook his head. "Sorry, but it doesn`t work that way. This won`t stop until one of us is dead."
 
  "That`s right," Richter piped up. "Either way, I`ll have accomplished my job, so I don`t really care, but if you think I`ll go easy on you just because of that, you`re sorely mistaken!"
He lunged foward, forcing me to duck and roll to avoid being crushed. Richter swung the power pole, smashing it against Daisuke`s chest. The blonde Giant clenched up in pure agony before being thrown into a ring of tall buildings. He took them down as he fell, the rubble crashing down on top of him. "Daisuke!" I screamed.
 
  Long, slender fingers wrapped around my waist, dragging me up into the air. I flailed about in a panic. Richter sighed. "Sorry, Chi-chan, but it looks like you won`t be meeting your end inside of your dear predator. I`ll be taking that honor for myself!" Daisuke writhed beneath layers of concrete and steel, crying out for me. "Chihaya! Leave her alone, you bastard! If you eat her...I swear to God, I`ll cut you open and rip your guts out to get her back!" Richter shrugged. "Whatever you say, blondie. Then so be it. Have a nice trip down, Chi-chan!"
 
  He parted his lips, dangling me above his gaping jaws. "NOOO!" I screeched. Richter loosened his grip, dropping me into his maw. I fell into his mouth, then was suddenly jerked downwards as the Giant leveled his head, gliding his tongue over the lower half of my body. My upper torso was still outside, but it wouldn`t be for long. Tears streamed down my face as I was slowly savored.
I thrashed back and forth, thrusting my arms against the roof of his mouth to keep his jaws open. Nothing was working.
 
  Richter, on the other hand, was enjoying me to the last bit. "Mmm...you really are tasty, Chi-chan. Go ahead and squirm all you want, but it won`t do you any good. At your size, you`re puny enough to slide right into my gut! It makes me a little aroused..."
 
  Just then, gravity shifted. I let out a shriek as I was dragged backwards, sucked into his mouth, and propelled down his throat. I screamed the whole way down, kicking out at the chamber of slick, rippling muscle grabbing hold of me. In the end, my feeble struggles proved fruitless. I crashed down into Richter`s stomach, landing in a pool of fluid that burned my skin on contact.
My surroundings were humid, wet, slimy, and reeked of death, like rotting flesh. Just like my nightmare. I should have expected nothing less from a monster who ate people alive.
 
  I rushed back and forth, pounding at the contracting stomach walls. Tears, blood, sweat, and gastric juices soaked me to the skin. Then, the shallow pool beneath my feet began to rise. I would be digested soon. Even if it was pointless, I continued to fight against Richter`s body, kicking, scratching, punching, doing anything I could to get the monster to throw me up. I would not die like this. Not here. I refused to just lay down and become this beast`s snack. But my time wore thin. The sting of stomach acid hurt more and more. "Someone...get me out of here!" I screamed.
 
Meanwhile, in Cordon 31...
 
  Daisuke was trapped beneath tons of shattered stone and steel, watching helplessly as Richter slurped up Chihaya like a wet noodle. He briefly saw her as a small lump in the center of Richter`s throat, before she was...gone. She`d been...eaten. His stomach turned to lead. He clenched his fangs, grinding them so hard, he thought he`d break them. For the first time in a very long time, hot tears flowed down his bloodied face. He couldn`t lose Chihaya. He just couldn`t. He loved her too much. The Giant shuddered at the thought of what she was feeling inside of that monster right now. She must have been horrified beyond words. He could still smell the fading traces of her sweet scent. Even if he was addicted to her blood, what difference did it make? He still loved her, and he refused to let her die.
 
  While Daisuke continued to struggle, Richter leaned back against a pile of rubble, gently stroking his belly. "You know, I can feel your adorable little Chi-chan squirming about inside me.
It feels delightful!" Daisuke`s nostrils flared out in fury. If he waited much longer, Chihaya would soon be digested into a pile of mush. He summoned every last ounce of his waning energy to burst free of the debris.
 
  Dust enveloped him as he rose up, and he let out a bowel-quivering roar. "YOU`RE DEAD!" he bellowed. He grabbed a stray piece of twisted scrap metal, shot out like lightning, and sliced across Richter`s stomach, cutting him open. The black-haired Giant cried out in pain, collapsing to the ground with a hollow thump. Blood gushed from his open wound. He smiled weakly, a thin stream of blood dripping from his shaking lips. "You...you were telling the truth...after all..." Daisuke snorted. "You done talking, dead man?"
 
  Richter never spoke again after that. He fell still, and within the next few seconds, the last shreds of fading life force left him completely. Now that Richter was dead, Daisuke had to get Chihaya back- fast. He ripped open the monster`s stomach, pawing around in the mess of innards until his fingers coiled around something small, squishy, and squirmy. His blue eyes lit up. With a bit more prying, he pulled free a blood-soaked Chihaya, her tiny, fragile face stained by tear tracks. He sighed and held her close to his chest. "Oh, Chihaya..."
 
  Just when I thought I was about to die, someone came to my rescue. A sudden force flung me against the walls of Richter`s stomach, and after what felt like an eternity of shaking, I heard the slicing of flesh. A sea of blood poured down on me. A blood-stained hand emerged from the abyss, as if it was the hand of God Himself. The hand wrapped around my waist, and tore me from Richter`s belly in a single tug.
 
  Once I felt the cool outside air on my face, I sucked in a huge gasp of air, as if I`d been ripped from deep water. When my vision cleared, I gazed straight into Daisuke`s sapphire-blue eyes. Even though he should have looked just as fearsome and menacing as before, to me, he looked like an angel. After all, he saved my life. He gently pressed me against his chest. "Oh, Chihaya...are you alright?" I stayed silent for a few moments, just listening to his heartbeat. It calmed me down. After my heart rate leveled, I replied, "Yes...I`m fine. Thank you...Daisuke. I`m sorry I said all of those things about you...you must hate me now, right?"
 
  "Of course not," Daisuke answered. "I wouldn`t hate you for that. Really, I should be the one apologizing. I`ve done so many horrible things. I nearly got you killed, and I destroyed your home. Chizuru got it right the first time, I am a monster. But I don`t care about that anymore. I`m going to take you out of here. We`re going to find a place where we can live without the State. Someplace where we can truly be free."
 
  He spun around and began making his way through the ruins of Cordon 31, stepping over crushed buildings and slumped highways. I wondered if the Crimson Patriots had gotten wind of this. Would they come here later on, to take care of the human citizens? No, that would be stupid. The Crimson Patriots were an army of revolutionaries, not the Red Cross. No one would be coming to help, or to rebuild this place. Whatever civilians left here would probably be relocated to another Cordon, but this city would just be abandoned.
 
  At the same time, I wondered. Was there really a place the Giants didn`t have their iron grip around? As far as I knew, the Giants` overthrow was limited to America. Maybe the rest of the world was spared from their wrath. But even if we somehow made it to another country, I don`t think they`d let Daisuke in with open arms. They`d probably kill him. I had a feeling he knew that as well, and was only undertaking this journey just to protect me, so I could have a real life. So I wouldn`t have to live as prey anymore. But as luck would have it, we weren`t getting away that easily.
 
  As Daisuke turned a corner, an army of human Enforcers stood, aiming their high-powered rifles at what they saw as a monster. The Giant scowled at them. "If you don`t have a death wish, get the hell out of my way and I won`t hurt you." Apparently, the Enforcers must`ve had a pretty big death wish, because they completely ignored his warning and began firing, shooting until their clips were spent. In the end, Daisuke`s body was riddled with tiny, puckered holes, but he didn`t look mortally injured. In fact, that only made him explode with rage. He clenched his teeth, grinding his fangs against each other. "Stupid humans!" he bellowed. "I`ll squash you all!"
 
  I didn`t even bother to protest anymore. I just let him act like the brute he was. As the army pumped hundreds of rounds into him, he raised his fist and drove it down in the blink of an eye. A streak of blood splattered across my face. I couldn`t see much, but I could see the gory, mutilated mess he left behind. I looked away and tried not to throw up. Daisuke then took off at full speed, flying across the shattered city. I could tell he was aiming to smash through the other side of the wall, into the unoccupied land beyond the Cordon. A tiny kernel of hope rose up in me.
 
  Unfortunately, that hope was quashed in a matter of minutes. I guessed fate decided it hadn`t screwed me over enough yet. Daisuke suddenly skidded to a halt. He froze up, like a deer in headlights. I quickly figured out why. Someone had stabbed him in the back with a massive spear. At least a dozen Giant Enforcers rushed into the city, tackling Daisuke and forcing him to his knees. Even though he must have been in utter agony from the stab wound and the bullet holes, he still clutched me tightly. He wasn`t about to lose me again.
 
  The other Giants latched onto him, roughly pressing him into the ground. "You...you bastards," he snarled. "Why can`t you just let me go?!"
 
  "You cannot be allowed to endanger the other Cordons," one of the Enforcers replied. "Hence, you will be executed for the destruction of Cordon 31 and the murder of State Informant Richter."
He paused for a brief moment. "I smell a human. Search him!"
 
  "No!" Daisuke snapped. He tucked his arms against his chest, doing everything in his power to keep me hidden from those monsters. But as strong as he was, he was exhausted and wounded.
He didn`t stand a chance against 11 other Giants, even at his size. They just wrestled him down and pried his arms open, leaving me exposed in his clenched fist. I shuddered at the sight of them. They were going to kill me. I tried to push back against the prying fingers trying to rip me from Daisuke`s grasp. I clawed and bit at them like a wild animal.
 
  Daisuke`s eyes flared up with desperate rage. "STOP IT!" he screamed. He jerked his arm back, squeezing his fist TIGHT. Way, way too tight for me to handle. At first, I didn`t realize what happened. I didn`t feel any pain, just a brief, intense pressure, like the entire Earth crashed down on top of me. I heard my bones crack like snapping sticks. My eyes nearly burst from my skull.
I reared my head back and coughed up a splatter of blood. That was when the pain came. It pierced my body like a huge, hot knife, cutting into every fiber of my being. I swallowed a deep breath and screamed at the top of my lungs.
 
  Daisuke`s face twisted into an expression of pure, untainted horror. He looked like he`d just watched his entire family get mowed down by a firing squad. "No, no, NO!" he shouted. "Chihaya! Chihaya, no, please, don`t die! I`m so sorry!" I vaguely remembered when he told me about his old girlfriend, Chizuru. He tried to protect her, but he ended up crushing her instead. I think I knew what the phrase 'smothered by love' meant now.
 
  Warm blood poured from every part of my body. My mouth, my eyes, my ears, everything. I could feel my squashed internal organs bleeding to death. I sucked in shallow, weak breaths. My lungs whistled with each inhale. My vision blurred, and I began to fade in and out of consciousness. This must be what death feels like, I thought. I knew I would die here, but I never thought it would be like this.
 
  "Chihaya, no!" Daisuke begged. Tears the size of my own body flowed down his face. It was crying on a grand scale. "Please, keep your eyes open! Don`t fall asleep! Listen to me, if you fall asleep, you will die, do you hear me?!" His words were useless. I was bleeding to death. I was dying, and no amount of pleading would change that.
 
  Surprisingly, even the other Giants looked sorry for me. "What should we do?" one of them asked. "She`s going to die. We should have been more careful. He really loves her." The captain sighed. "Well, there`s only one way for a Giant to confess his true love to a human. It`s time to put the girl out of her misery. Hold him down."
 
  The other officers obeyed, clutching a defeated Daisuke down on his knees. I didn`t have a clue what was happening, but he must have, because a look of fear crossed his face. "No, please, don`t do this!" he shouted. He thrashed and flailed, but once they got him still, long fingers twined around my blonde twintails, pulling me from his loose grip. The Giant dangled me above Daisuke`s face, while the others peeled back his lips. He bit at them and attempted to keep his teeth gritted, but they eventually pried his jaws wide open.
 
  Pain shot down my scalp as the Giant gripped me by the hair. I screamed out in agony, feeling like my hair was about to tear from my skull. He brought me down lower, until I hung just a few inches above Daisuke`s open maw. I shuddered. "Please, don`t make him do this!" I shrieked. "Stop it! Just let me die!" They didn`t listen. Of course. Why should they listen to a pathetic human like me?
 
  Darkness consumed me as the Giant released his grip from my hair, sending me plummeting straight into Daisuke`s throat. I let out a horrified screech, expecting to fall all the way down. Daisuke must have still had some control over his body, because his throat muscles latched onto me, holding me in place to keep me from falling any further. His throat shifted and contracted,
in an attempt to force me back up. It wasn`t working particularly well.
 
  I slowly slid down the slick, narrow chamber, hearing the rumbling of his stomach below me. I buried my nails into soft flesh, straining my arms to pull myself up. But the more I moved, the faster I slid. Daisuke couldn`t keep this up forever. Where I was now, I completely blocked his throat. At this rate, he`d either suffocate or swallow me. It looked like the former was in place. His natural instincts took over. His throat muscles pulled back, and I slipped, falling all the way down to his stomach.
 
On the other side...
 
  He couldn`t hold her back any longer. He`d choke to death if he did. On instinct, Daisuke swallowed Chihaya, and his entire body trembled as he did so. His eyes widened in horror as he felt her squirming around in his throat, until she made her last descent toward his stomach. He let out a whimper, which soon transformed into a soul-shaking scream. "CHIHAYA!" he bellowed. He hunched over, sobbing, tears pouring down his face. The Giant still tasted the lingering remnants of her sweet flavor in his mouth.
 
  A few moments later, he felt her weak struggles inside him. The poor girl must have been terrified, trapped within his belly. "Chihaya...I`m sorry!" He had broken all of his promises.
He promised to protect her, to never let anything happen to her, and above all, not to eat her. Now, his body would treat her as food, and there was nothing he could do about it. Daisuke squeezed his fists as he heard his stomach churn. Chihaya`s tiny attempts to resist soon faded. He couldn`t let her suffer like this. If she would suffer, then he would too.
 
  He gazed up at the captain with teary eyes. "What have you done?!" he sobbed. The captain`s face fell. "You should have known better than to let yourself fall for a human. This is why humans and Giants can never coexist." Daisuke spit at him. "Damn you!" He lunged foward, snatching up one of their spears. He stood up, raising the spear above his head. "This is the end."
 
  With a deep breath, he drove the spear directly into his heart. He ripped the blade out and crashed to his knees, collapsing in a pool of his own blood. "Chihaya...Chizuru...I can`t love anyone...because I hate myself..."
 
  For the second time in one day, I had become food for a Giant. Just like before, I crashed in a puddle of gastric juice. I dragged myself foward, clawing at the slime-coated walls of Daisuke`s belly. His stomach growled softly, as if his body was pleased to finally claim me as its own. Why? Why did it have to be this way? Because of some slimeball scientists who didn`t know when to quit until human beings were reduced to nature`s popcorn? It wasn`t fair. This never should have happened. Daisuke and I should have lived happily, at our normal size, even if we never knew each other. Maybe we would have met one day and fallen in love.
 
  Then, I realized what my nightmare really meant. How could I have been so blind to not see it this whole time? Premonition or not, that nightmare was a glimpse of my future, and I ignored it.
I would die here, and poor Daisuke would have to live with that guilt for the rest of his life. The guilt that he killed me, even when he promised to protect me. I was still bleeding out, and my vision began fading. Soon, my entire essence would be absorbed into his hungry body.
 
  I decided to put my last breaths to some good use. Even if it wouldn`t get me into Heaven, I didn`t care. I flopped over, clasped my hands together, and sputtered a short prayer my mother taught me. It was one of the last memories I had of her. "Now I lay me down to sleep...I pray the Lord my soul to keep...if I should die before I wake...I pray the Lord my soul to take..."
 
 
The End...
 
May 9th, 2017.
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Carousel of Innocence By minakotomoka14

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The bloody saga of the State`s Orwellian dystopia continues with the tale of Chihaya Kotori, a girl who is banished from her home of Cordon 31 to become the prey of the State`s gigantic, bloodthirsty human-like overlords, the Giants. When she is rescued from her devouring by a frightening, yet kind Giant who takes her in as his pet, Chihaya is marveled at how far he will go to protect her, a being considered as food in their realm. But in this cutthroat world, no happiness lasts forever, and their carousel of innocence soon draws to its end...

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haterq

Posted by haterq 13 days ago

this is fucked up

haterq

Posted by haterq 13 days ago

"Now I lay me down to sleep...I pray the Lord my soul to keep...if I should die before I wake...I pray the Lord my soul to take..."