Mumei hovered a few inches above the rocky ground, ragged robes just brushing his cast-off skull at his feet. The violet sky glowered overhead with the threat of salty rain. Chaos slithered and ripped at the air, but Mumei took no notice. He had met Chaos once; Chaos could conjure up a storm of hoarse screams or a cacophony of loud laughter, but Mumei could shred him in seconds. He posed no threat. And the shinigami could not let his attention wander.
The boy had been hanging onto dear life for three weeks. What was so dear about life? The Inbetween, where Mumei now waited, had no clocks, no calendars, no notion of time; but he had kept track. For three weeks, he had peered into the human world, peered at the boy laid out in the stark white bed, peered at the mother whose tears had already dried up. Mumei could not fathom her mourning. She would see her son again: Mumei would soon collect her soul too. How many human years needed to pass until then? She had no reason to mourn.
Mumei caught sight of himself in a puddle. His reflection shattered with each drop of rain, but he saw himself as the boy would see him. A headless neck, crowned with a flicker of smoke, protruded from a mess of ragged sheet plastic, the kind that Mumei had seen used in construction sites. Hands fashioned from scrap metal rested at his sides. He picked up the horse skull that formed his head. This was how the boy would see–
The sudden absence of Chaos alerted Mumei. The moment had come. The boy was dying. Dead. The shinigami slipped through the rift to the human world. The boy was waiting. Mumei recoiled at the stark contrast of human flesh in his cold inhuman fingers. With his other hand he tore a section of his robe away.
“You can cover yourself with this,” he said as the rift closed behind him.
“Thanks!” the boy replied. He wrapped the torn material around himself then trotted to catch up with Mumei, who was waiting for him.