quando Judex est venturus
when the Judge is come
“The door is locked….” The detective stares at the silver handle gleaming against the pristine wall. “The door is locked. Why is the door locked?” The detective turns back to the captive, his dark eyes glaring with unconcealed fear.
“Is the door even there, Lawliet? All I see is an empty wall—you simply imagined the door. You can not open it because you are looking for the handle that does not exist. Or perhaps you are attempting to turn the lock that exists only within the walls of your mind. There is no door, there is no handle, there is no lock.” The convict smiles coldly, his voice harsh and blunt in a way the detective had never heard it before.
“Open the door, Kira—open
the ******* door!”
The convict shakes his head, letting out low inhuman laughter. “What door, Lawliet?”
“You bastard, you little bastard, Kira. What do you want?” The detective lowers his hand from the handle and shuffles slowly back towards the table. He takes a seat within the confines of the steel chair, facing his enemy eye to eye.
“How considerate of you, Lawliet. And here I thought you didn’t care.” From the lower angle, the prisoner looks much larger than he had before. More lethal. “I want what you promised me at the beginning of this. I want justice. I want salvation. I want to die. But you seem incapable of such an act, so I’ll leave it at this—I want vengeance.”
“Vengeance? Vengeance for my generous sparing of your life?” His voice is growling, low. “How ungrateful, Kira. I think you should be content with your lot.” The detective’s fear changes to fury as he watches his silent captive with heartless black eyes.
“I will never forgive you, Lawliet—you or your god of justice. Remember that, even if you forget everything else.” The prisoner closes his eyes and leans back in his chair, his voice traveling across the length of the table. And without segue, without reason or logic, he continues the story.
“Now, this child had a parent. This parent was not any parent, but a parent who believed he always knew the truth, a parent who made that truth into a mask of plaster to wear instead of a face. And this parent knew of his child’s secret; he declared it iniquity. He searched for years and years, this parent who wore the stolen face of justice, and yet he never unburied the child's secrets—for their house possessed many locked doors and hidden hallways. The adult could find no proof.”
The words rush around the detective, swelling in great waves as they roil past him to crash against the blank surface of the walls. He hears them; he feels their malicious intent, but he cannot see
them. Their colors are empty of meaning, cold and transparent—he cannot see them. But he can feel them, just as he can feel the words and the looming presence of the omniscient white walls.
(Three four a wedding, four for a birth—five for silver, six for gold.)
Light Yagami has become a mask, a shining mask that speaks the words of a monster. “Every day, he begged the child to reveal to him the hiding place, to unveil the secret. He fed him lies of the vilest sort, promising compassion and mercy. The child, in turn, knew of this parent’s secret—that no matter how many times he claimed, with greater and greater fervency and conviction, that he would not be angry, that he would not punish the child, that the secrets did not matter—that the adult was always a liar. The adult would always
bestow upon him retribution fitting of his perceived misdeeds.”
And he looks, and then he realizes
—white is not the absence of color, but the presence of so much color that none appears without a filter of the purest sort. The walls are the words
, he thinks.
“And so the child was silent.”
Seven for a secret never to be told.
He has to say something, has to lash back—recover ground, reclaim standing, control. “What are you talking about, Kira—what are you even babbling about? Did you know that until Kira returned, the world had moved on without you?” It is all he knows to say. “That you were nothing but a shadow, a ghost of the past left to rot, cold and alone in a prison cell so plain they did not even bother to pad it? You are just a name in a textbook, one of the little blurps in the human conscience—nothing more, nothing less. I don’t know how you locked that door, or how you came back, but I do know this: You’ve already lost.” The detective’s eyes do not stray from the man locked to the chair; he attempts to dissect that bloodthirsty smile and the cold hate-filled eyes.
“You still don’t know why you are here, do you, Lawliet?” asks the killer almost thoughtfully, his intent obscured from view.
“I’m here to interrogate you, of course. Kira, what else would I come for? If I had known you were insane, perhaps I never would have bothered.”
“You didn’t win, Lawliet, when you stuffed me in this room all those years ago. You did not win. My victor, you are, as always, a fool. You cheated. I handed you my life with the full realization that I must die and rot away in an unmarked grave. That is war; that is life; that is death, and there is no changing it. Not even your god of justice deems it worthy of change. But you locked me in a cage to be your pet bird, your prize, the antlered beast mounted on your trophy wall. And so now, Lawliet, you are here to finish what you started.” Even in the brightly lit room, the detective can perceive dark shadows engulfing the murderer, curling against his bare feet on the white washed floor.
“You want me to kill you?” asks the detective.
“It is not about what I want; this is a game, Lawliet, nothing but a game. And once you start the game you cannot quit as you did; you cannot cheat and call check mate. You have been coldly tolerated by the gods until now—they have brought you back a crippled old man. The tables are turning. We shall see which of us has really lost the edge to war.”
when the damned shall be cast down
“So where is your chessboard, Kira?—as that is what I assume we are doing. Or what you are doing; I confess I’m not sure what game we’re playing at.” The old man’s face becomes lethargic, conveying a false sense of boredom. This causes the jailbird to smile.
“Chessboard, Lawliet? We have been playing this game far too long for such a useless tool. But tell me, Lawliet—how do you expect to escape the confines of our prison now that you still find the door to be locked every time you glance surreptitiously in that direction?” The captive’s lips quirk into a smirk before falling back into the careless serene expression.
“I’m not entirely certain, Kira,” answers the detective truthfully. “You should tell me. How do I get out?”
“Kill yourself, as I do not think you have the courage to kill me. Unlock my chains and I will use my hands to throttle you. I do not require a notebook to do that, Lawliet.”
“Why do you do that?” he queries slowly, covering his face with his veined hands (and it is purple against pale, blood against white). “Why do you call me Lawliet? I have never asked you to call me that; I have never even told you my name.”
The prisoner stares across at him, his face curiously blank as he answers, “Because it’s your name. That’s all.”
“That’s all—is that your answer? That’s it, nothing more? No games
trying to get into my head; no subtle complex riddles hidden inside that one single phrase! Well, damn, and here I thought you hadn’t changed a bit.” The detective slams his fist on the metal table; the sound echoes through the room.
“And yet, Lawliet, you still have not found your exit. I’m starting to wonder if you’re even capable.”
The detective watches the white-painted wall behind the prisoner’s head; his gaze drifts towards the ceiling where he finds nothing. Nothing. The room is comprised of nothing but a table, two chairs, and two prisoners. There are no light fixtures; there are no one-way mirrors; no cameras—nothing. He knows that’s not right—he knows there are lights, were lights, should still be lights (eight for heaven). He turns in his chair to search for the door that had let him into the room, to find that silver handle that gleamed seductively under his eyes.
“The door is gone,” he whispers slowly, waiting for the information to sink in.
“I didn’t think so….” The murderer almost sounds disappointed, as if he has been hoping that L could have walked through the door that isn’t there.
The detective feels his eyes widen as he searches his memory. “I don’t remember how I came in. How I came through the door, where the door was, what the hallway looked like. It’s all gone. All of it. I don’t know why I’m here.”
“There was no hallway either, Lawliet. Perhaps I should explain. You look confused.” The prisoner leans forward in his chair as if about to confide a great secret. “You don’t remember coming here because you never did; you have been here just as long as I have. I have been waiting for you to realize the walls of your prison cell—it has taken you longer than I expected.”
“Am I dead, Light-kun?” asks the detective bluntly. The prisoner drew back suddenly, his eyes dilated.
“Light-kun? What does he have to do with anything? What has he ever had to do with anything, Lawliet?”
The detective feels all his cynicism drip away and simply stares blankly forward. “Light Yagami—you were once Light Yagami…. I am dead, I am dead. You are standing on my grave, staring blankly, laughing, screaming….” The detective feels the steel walls of his mind melt away and leave nothing in their trace—nothing!
He leans back in his chair and begins to laugh, a strange sobbing laugh as he shuts his eyes and waits for the room to disappear, waits for Kira to disappear, so that he can see his grave. He briefly wonders how old he had been when he died, and that sets him into even deeper hysteria. He is drowning in laughter, white laughter….
“Are you done yet, Lawliet?” asks the prisoner patiently
flammis acribus addictis
into the searing flames
Days. Minutes. Hours. Seconds?
And then the story.
Nine for hell.
“But now that the deed was done, the secrets hidden away, the cat with green wings had no fun. And so he, like the parent, told the child lies. Every night, he whispered softly to him. He confused the child, made him doubt. He assured him that the game could not be won because it was no game at all, that redemption and absolution were the only options. But he said also that he could not redeem him, and that the child was doomed to live forever tangled in the unbeatable contest.
‘And the child was afraid.”
“This story is getting better and better. I have to wonder, though—what happens at the end?” The detective smiles once more, stifling his giggles as he glances at his captive, his caged bird.
“You still think you’re dead?” asks the prisoner almost casually, glancing down at his feet in mock interest.
“But of course, Kira-sama. What else would I be doing here?” The detective stuck in the word sama with a snide smile, watching his prisoner’s face remain an expressionless mask.
“Interrogation is what you said, Lawliet.”
“Yes, I did say that, didn’t I?” The detective sighs. “But I don’t believe it either; not anymore. It’s not worth the effort.”
“I screamed for you, I cried for you, Lawliet; I laughed over your grave and damned you to Hell.” The prisoner smiles suddenly, his head lifting and revealing not the knowing smile the detective expects, but an innocent, light expression. “But that was a dream, and that died long before I was locked in here.”
voca me cum benedictis
call me with the blessed
“One day, the child opened the closet door. That day was the day the parent broke all of his promises.”
The detective can no longer tell time. The meaning of the words slip through his fingertips. Instead of a clock, he sees those blank looming walls that surround him—he sees Kira’s spiteful amber eyes. He doesn’t recall the sound of a ticking clock, only the silence that hangs over him. Is Hell nothing more than empty box? Is that all that is needed for unending torture? No fire, no brimstone, no agonizing pain, just blank empty walls?
“But how? What happened next?”
“Why, the parent took the key from his hand and pushed the child into the closet, of course. And then, he turned off the lights and locked the door.”
Kira himself seems to be made of the same white paint, the same eerie light that seems to stem from the walls itself. The same patience oozes from his skin. ‘I will kill you; I will destroy you; I will eat your heart out of your chest….
’ His thoughts are tiny needles pricking into the detective’s skin, pulling out to draw a single drop of blood.
He can’t remember where he put his cane; somehow, that constant tapping has not followed him into the whiteness, into nothingness. Perhaps, like the door, it has never existed, leaving him stranded as the lock turns and the demon smiles.
He cannot remember his name, ‘Lawliet
’—even that small fact manages to evade him as he stumbles blindly in the room. He can’t remember pounding against the walls, and yet his fists are bruised; he can’t remember fighting Kira, and yet he tastes blood in his mouth and sees the bruise on his opponent’s face.
Nothingness is eating him alive. His bones, his eyes, his ears, his mind are all melting away into those blank walls.
He doesn’t know how to fight it.
‘I want you to suffer as I have suffered.
“Am I blind?”
‘You were always blind, Lawliet—to everything.
“Is this what insanity feels like?”
‘No, we’ve always been mad, you and I. This is nothing.
And he can hear Kira’s voice through the nothing, whispering his deadly story—words always have been his greatest weapon.
“The green cat had no more use for the child, and so he flew far, far away. And then the closet child was left all alone in the dark,” he says, sinking back into silence.
when the damned shall be cast down
“Lawliet, it’s still your move.” The prisoner stares at him through those amber, inhuman eyes, his thoughts more evident to the detective then they ever were before.
“Is it?” he asks slowly, his mind still washed away on the sea of silence that had surrounded him.
“Do you even remember what we were playing?” asks the murderer solemnly, his eyes searching the detective’s face.
“Can you, Kira?” he replies in return, his dark blank eyes uplifted towards the ceiling, still searching in vain for that light source.
“Lawliet.” The murderer lets the word vibrate and drift into the nothingness that still surrounds them, even in the absence of the silence.
“I just wanted to say it one last time, before it loses its meaning….”
“Like the door? Like my cane? Like my hatred?” The detective is losing himself; he no longer feels the urge to fidget as he used to. He has gained the unnatural stillness of the chamber.
“No, those things never existed in the first place. It will be a shame to lose you, Lawliet.”
“Can you hear that, Light? It sounds like… bells….”
The murderer does not answer. He sits still and silent, his eyes cast down as he waits patiently. He realizes, with a sad smile, that the detective is no longer talking to him.
“Church bells… for a wedding… or a funeral….”
The detective stands, knocking his chair over in his haste. His great black eyes close and his hands lift towards the ceiling. The prisoner still says nothing, watching the detective with a sorrowful expression.
gere curam mei finis
help me in my final hour
“How does the story end?”
He doesn’t answer, but instead brings the tale with them into the nothingness.
“The closet child may be alone, without both his friend, the cat with green wings, and his enemy, the parent…. But once in a while, if you look closely, you can see the silver handle turning, opening—if only for a moment. Perhaps the parent stumbled into the closet during one of these stray moments; perhaps his own hand closed around the brightly-beckoning handle. And when the door opened, perhaps he didn’t see the closet child or the cat with green wings.... Perhaps he saw something entirely different and fled from the horror that it created in him, or perhaps... perhaps he saw this atrocity and he stayed and stared for ever and ever, until he grew bent with age and even forgot his own name.
‘But then, I don’t suppose even the story-teller knows. The door has been closed and locked, anyway—ever since he swallowed the key.”
“That’s not an ending.”
“No. It’s an exit.”
(And ten for the devil’s own sel’)