Chapter XVII: The Death Note
The Death Note was surprisingly thorough, I soon found out. Perhaps that’s why, once the author had finished crossing his t’s and dotting his i’s, he then continued on to dot his d’s and o’s as well.
If Light was anxious to see the Death Note, he showed little sign of it. He waited patiently as I meticulously took notes. Occasionally he looked over my photographs or inspected my security system, but for the most part he simply sat there and watched me think. He reminded me of someone I once knew.
After the odd cover there was a list of rules for using the notebook. The language was odd, as if it were written by someone who isn’t a native speaker, though I couldn’t place the accent.
Though there were many conditions and exceptions neatly spelled out, the rules boiled down to this: anyone whose name is written in the notebook shall die. The author has to have a specific person in mind so there won’t be confusion in the case of duplicate names. Aliases would not work. A date and time of death must be provided. Any cause of death written will happen, so long as it is plausible; if it is not, the cause will default to whatever is most convenient at the given time of death.
Those were the rules, although they were written in a more roundabout manner with more specifics and minutiae of law. I took the time to outline potential limitations or loopholes. Others would have skipped ahead to the list of names, but I knew I needed context before viewing them. If one of the names—just one—violated the rules as stated, then I would have a focus point.
Once my outline was done, I proceeded to go through the entries, one by one. On the top of the first page, written in a spiky, backwards script that appeared nowhere else in the note, were the words:Luke Shine. October 10, 2004 11:00PM. Sexual exhaustion.
The rest of the entries were neatly printed in an unsteady hand. I supposed that Kira was using his left hand to disguise his handwriting. That bothered me—one, it suggested that Kira’s handwriting would be recognizable and two, it also suggested that Kira knew the notebook would end up in someone else’s hands. It could also mean that Kira was extremely paranoid, although that didn’t fit with his over-confident profile. That bothered me more.
I gave in to curiosity and flipped ahead in the book to when Misa’s attack had occurred. I was rewarded with a different example of handwriting, just as I had suspected. The page detailed Takuo’s argument, departure, and subsequent death. There was a specific note emphasizing that no one else was to be harmed—apparently, the note’s control extended that far.
I flipped back to the front of the book. It seemed that Kira’s work had begun five years ago with some rather high-profile deaths—ones that Kira had never claimed credit for. Had Kira changed his methods recently, and the notebook was genuine? Or was it all a hoax and he was merely lending credibility to his recent claims? I took detailed notes. Light watched me.
He leaned over the desk. “Do you really suppose Kira killed all those people?” Light asked me, trailing a finger down my page of notes.
“Perhaps,” I said. “Once I check these notes for discrepancies against the police’s files we’ll have a better idea.”
“The Policeman’s Ball is tonight. If you like, you can come and ask my father there,” Light said generously.
I hummed a response.
“You know...” Light said slowly, and the forced casualness caught my attention. He splayed his fingers over the page, assuring that my focus would be on him and him alone. It was a deliberate move, and one I didn’t like very much, which also might have been part of his motivation to do it. “There’s an easier way to test if the Death Note is real.”
I locked eyes with him. “No. There isn’t.”
We froze like that for a moment.
Light smiled a little smile and looked away. “You’re right. There isn’t.” He fiddled with a framed photograph I’d thought I had hidden well. “I don’t know who else I’d trust with that notebook. I don’t even know if I’d trust myself.”
“Neither do I,” I said, not knowing if I was referring to Light or myself.
Light laughed and turned the photograph until it caught the light and reflected it back onto his face. “That’s a good picture of you,” he said lightly. “I’d like to see you smile like that, just to know you still can.” A moment later, he realized what he had just said. He ducked his head and set the photograph on my desk. “I have to get going. Got to be ready in time for my date to make us late,” Light said smoothly and eased his way out of my office.
It seemed emptier with him gone, even with Watari slinking out from under the chair and announcing his presence in the most sophisticated manner. I continued my note-taking in the same slow, conscientious manner as I had when Light was here.
I turned the page and my world ended.
The words were simple, clear, and impersonal. There were few differences between them and the names surrounding them, except perhaps the level of detail involved and the fact that they couldn’t, they shouldn’t
I looked at the photograph Light had left on my desk. My younger self was smiling shyly and looking off to the side, but Ray and Naomi stared back at me. I looked away, to the notebook, where Ray and Naomi continued to haunt me.