At some point in the sixth grade, I realized that my only friend, Fullmoon Scarlet, was absolutely insane.
I don’t remember what my first hint was, but I recall him coming to school with fresh blood stains on the arms of his shirt and wearing cut-up clothes like he’d just been in the middle of an intense swordfight. No-one else seemed to notice.
At the tender age of eleven, my life hadn’t been very exciting yet. The biggest thing that’d happened in my life was my mom accidentally getting run over by a tank. Besides that, I spent my days indoors, playing The Legend of Zelda and drawing up plans for a video game which was exactly like The Legend of Zelda.
I was mature enough at the time to realize that I’d need to make a choice. I could stay somewhat casual friends with Fullmoon and maintain my satisfactory everyday life, or I could become closer friends with him and be dragged into an entirely new world of insanity.
—I thought it was choice, anyway.
“Hey Cirno,” Fullmoon called to me after school one day in a voice that was always low and quiet, despite sounding like a child. He was staring at me in his usual manner, wherein his face was angled just a tad lower than it ought to be, yet his eyes were glaring right into mine. (If that doesn’t sound creepy enough, then you should know that Fullmoon has scarlet-colored eyes and messy black hair, and that he always wore white, button-up, long-sleeve shirts with a black bow-tie under the collar.) His sentence concluded, “wanna come over after school?”
Yes, I did technically have a choice. Fullmoon had always shown himself to be a reasonable person, so I certainly could’ve turned down his offer. But these were the circumstances:
1. I had no plans that day
2. I wasn’t thinking about it in the heat of the moment; and
3. Curiosity over what Fullmoon did after school had been gnawing at my brain for weeks.
“Sure,” I replied. We lived on the same block, so we got on the bus together and decided I’d get off at his stop.
The rest of that hour was very straightforward. Besides my anticipation until arriving at his house, there was no buildup or foreshadowing. I didn’t get left in a room while he “made some tea,” nor see a strange-looking object in a room down the hall, nor hear a muffled heartbeat from under the floorboards. I simply walked through the front door and found that the entirety of the living room was covered in blood. Floor to ceiling, furniture, everything, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood; maybe an organ or two here and there—my memory’s hazy and the room evolved a number of times over the years.
“Say, Fullmoon? Is, uh… is that blood?” I asked, very shaken, but still resolute enough to humor myself.
“Yes, Cirno. Yes it is.” And with that, he stepped into the room, took off his shoes and backpack, and plopped himself down on one of the crimson sofas. “Come on in,” he beckoned.
Upon sights like this, some people are unable to retain their rational mind. They think, “my God, this child is the spawn of hell!” or, “I’m going to be killed!” or simply, “AAAAAAAAH!!!” These, however, were not my reactions.
Sure, at first sight, I was shocked, felt my fright mechanism kick in, and started sweating a bit. But I didn’t shut down—no, rather, I was thinking more quickly than I normally would.
One thing—lots of blood. What does that mean?
Fullmoon definitely killed something. I expected that.
No, a lot of things.
Okay. What? Animals? Humans? Both?
Is he crazy? Yes. Crazy how?
Is he going to kill me?
Even though we’re friends?
I didn’t have an answer to that question, but what could I do? I’d already made it clear that I had no excuse to leave. If I ran, it would be obvious that I was scared of him, and then if it turned out that he wasn’t planning to hurt me at all, I’d just look like a huge douche and ruin our friendship. Or worse, he’d decide he wanted to kill me because I ran away. No matter what, there was a high chance I could get killed, but it made more sense to stick with the option wherein I could potentially keep a good friend and not incur his wrath any further than I might’ve already.
I crossed the frame and stepped into the living room.
“What did you have in mind for us to do?” I asked, since at that point I had no clue what to do with myself. Fullmoon put his hand to his chin and seemed to be deep in thought for a second.
“What do you usually do when you visit a friend’s house?”
“Well, actually, I’ve never been to a friend’s house before.”
It was true. Throughout the early part of elementary school I was picked on because of my uncle having infamously raped and killed a girl, then gotten into a city-wide police car chase, gunning down five officers before eventually being cornered and shot over fifty times. Everyone knew he was my relative (even though I’d never spoken to the damn guy), so I never heard the end of it.
Then, when my family moved to a new town to escape the bad press while I was in the fifth grade, the aforementioned tank accident occurred, and I spent most of the year acting rather distant. Visiting the homes of friends was something I only understood from TV sit-coms.
“I see,” Fullmoon responded. “Well, what do you do at your house?”
“Mostly play video games and draw pictures.”
“Mmmmm. Sounds boring.”
“Yeah, it’s not really something to do with a friend. But instead, why don’t we do something you usually do?”
Fullmoon looked up at me (though his head was still tilted in that weird way) and flashed a smile so wicked, Malcolm McDowell would’ve been jealous. I’d seen this smile before, so it didn’t surprise me. (Fullmoon’s face only had two modes—depressingly downcast and frighteningly ecstatic.)
“Are you aware of what I do in my free time?”
“Nope.” (But I had a pretty good idea.)
“I play with knives.”
He didn’t say this with the sadism that his expression implied. I don’t think he was even aware of his face—he spoke normally.
“Exactly what do you mean by that?” I asked. I truly hate ambiguity.
“By that I mean that I have a knife, and I sharpen it, kill people with it, carve with it, et cetera.”
I couldn’t help but notice how “kill people with it” had been casually inserted into his explanation.
“Is that where all the blood comes from?” I finally asked, relieving a lot of tension in my shoulders.
“Mm, yeah, I guess. I’d say they’re two separate things, like, I enjoy playing with knives, but I also enjoy looking at this deep shade of crimson, so one hobby kind of lends to the other.”
“But anyway, I’m guessing that kinda stuff’s not your thing, so that’s why I didn’t say we should do it.”
Again, where I’d briefly stiffened with fear, his reasonableness calmed me back down.
“Alright; well, uh… what do you wanna do instead?”
He thought for a moment.
“Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons?”
My eyes must’ve lit up with excitement.
“Yeah! I love D’n’D! I think we’ll need a bigger group of people if we want to play, though.”
“That’s fine—I have some acquaintances I can call and get a game together quick. Are you allowed to leave the neighborhood? Just a block down the road to a comic shop.”
“Yeah, I’ve just gotta call my dad first.”
As those words left my lips, a thought occurred to me.
Fullmoon was dialing his phone as I asked, “hey, where are your parents at, anyway?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah. They’re dead.” He said this and then put the phone to his ear, cheerily conversing with his gaming buddy.
That night, for the first time, I hung out with a group of people—whom, for the next eight years, would be my closest friends. We played Dungeons and Dragons for three hours. Fullmoon was the dungeon master. It was the greatest game of D’n’D I’d ever played.
My life was never the same.