Volume 1 Chapter 2

Chapter 2


file 02: the dark tunnel


That tunnel was the shortest path from the residential area to the shopping district, but nearly no locals used it .

It was a famous tunnel for having a high accident rate .

There was a death every year .

Inside the tunnel, there were no lights, and it was dim and hard to see even during the day .

There was a sharp curve right outside the tunnel, and unlucky cars got into accidents there so often it was almost guaranteed .

However, the reason for the accidents appeared to be more than just bad visibility .

There had long been endless rumours about how something mysterious appeared in the tunnel –

Some drivers said they’d seen human heads fly by their window .

When they tried to escape in their fear, then their brakes stopped working – they would barely avoid hitting the guard rail .

Others said they’d seen countless human faces in the tunnel walls .

Some cab drivers said they’d taken on a drenched woman in front of the tunnel, but when they looked in the rear-view mirror after exiting, she would suddenly be gone –

Nobody knew the truth .

All that was certain was that many people had died at that tunnel’s exit –




It was a quiet night –

‘It’s cold . ’

Haruka tried her best not to be hit by the wind, putting up the collar of her beige coat and hunching over as she walked .

It was late at night on Sunday, so even though she was in front of the station, there was practically nobody there .

She just heard the echo of her boots hitting the ground .

She had gone to a party because Miki had forced her to, but when she went in, it had turned out to be a mixer .

Perhaps she was outdated, but she didn’t really like parties of that sort .

Miki would die from loneliness without a boyfriend . She was like a rabbit . But Haruka wasn’t desperate to find someone .

'Haruka, you’ve never really fallen in love . ’

Miki often said that to her .

It was true .

Even when she thought back, she felt like she’d never had a romance that felt like a romance .

'So just go date someone . ’

Miki said that too .

However, Haruka didn’t feel like trying desperately to meet somebody to find love .

She thought that love would come about naturally – that it wasn’t something to be decided, like with shopping when deciding on goods and checking a wallet’s contents .

'I really am old-fashioned…’ murmured Haruka, letting out a sigh that came out white .

After reaching the roundabout in front of the station, she heard a car horn .

A white car slowed down and rolled up to her, stopping in front of her .

It was a bit suspicious . Haruka was on guard as she stepped back .

Then, the passenger seat window opened and the car’s lights turned on .

'Haruka-chan, I’ll give you a ride . ’

Why do they know my name? She felt even more suspicious .

'You can’t have forgotten already, right? We were just together earlier . ’

Haruka recalled upon hearing the man’s quick speech .


It was one of the people from the party earlier . If she remembered correctly, his name was something like Nakahara Tatsuya .

He had a medium build and a rather plain face, but his hair was like a famous soccer player’s . That said, it seemed like he didn’t actually like soccer that much .

'Get on already . ’

Tatsuya smiled as he hit the passenger seat .

'It’s fine – the trains are still running . ’

Haruka refused with a bow of her head and started walking again .

'Hey, wait a sec . ’

Tatsuya quickly got off the car and ran up to stand in front of Haruka, grinning as he pointed at his left wrist .

'What time is it now?’

What’s this all of a sudden?

Haruka didn’t understand, but she checked the time on the wristwatch .

'11:50 . ’

'Sorry, but the last train’s already left . ’

'Eh? The last train is at 12:06 . ’

'Ah, that’s on weekdays . This is Sunday – a holiday . Trains stop earlier . The last train on holidays is 11:48 . You just missed it . Though for me, I just made it . ’

Haruka hadn’t known . She was really out of it today .

'That’s why I said I’d drive you . You live in the same direction as I do, Haruka-chan . ’

As Tatsuya said that, he opened the door on the passenger side .


'Please . I’m frightened of going home alone . ’

Tatsuya put his hands together as if praying and bowed his head .

Frightened, he says –

She didn’t mind getting in the car, but…

'Nakahara-san, you weren’t drinking?’

'Ah, I’m no good with alcohol, so I drank oolong tea the whole time . ’

After this exchange, Haruka lost and sat in the car .

Tatsuya started talking about the car they were riding in the moment he started the car .

He spoke energetically about how it was a famous sports car that he’d got cheap from an acquaintance who was a car mechanic, but since Haruka had no interest in cars, she didn’t really understand .

Though she didn’t know what sort of car this was, Tatsuya had turned the heat on higher than necessary, and the air freshener made her want to lean away .

Not just that – the rap music in four-four time sung by a Japanese group was so loud it echoed in her belly .

Being shut in this place would make her feel uncomfortable in just five minutes .

She felt bad and kept quiet since he had offered her a ride, but she was at her limits –

'Sorry, could you turn down the volume a bit?’

Haruka spoke to Tatsuya in the driver seat .

'Right? This song is the best . ’

What was the best? He wasn’t listening to her at all .

Hair mimicking a soccer player and Japanese rap . And he was wearing a rather seedy suit . What on earth were his interests?

It felt like a comedy – a mix of everything that was popular .

Haruka used the panel to turn down the volume .

Tatsuy looked at her dubiously .

Haruka ignored Tatsuya’s gaze and opened the window slightly, breathing the outside air, unpolluted by the air freshener .

'Ah, it’s a left at the next road,’ Haruka told Tatsuya when they reached the corner with the police precinct .

'Left . Got it . ’

Though Tatsuya said that, he turned the wheel right without even putting on the turn signal .

Haruka lost her balance at the sharp curve .

What dangerous driving –

'It isn’t right . It’s left . Please turn around . ’

'There’s a place with a beautiful night view ahead . Did you know?’

'I didn’t . ’

'Let’s go take a look . ’

'It’s fine . ’

'It’s really beautiful . You’ll definitely like it . Just at the top of that hill . ’

It was no use . He wasn’t listening at all .

It was like he thought everybody in the world had the same perspective as he did .

It was useless no matter what she said .

If she went with him to see the night view, hopefully that’d satisfy him and he’d go back . Haruka gave up and looked out the window .

Come to think of it, she knew another man who did whatever he wanted, no matter what anybody else said .

He was stubborn and contrary . Even though he hated things that were crooked, he was slightly crooked himself . A man full of contradictions .

But even though he also did whatever he wanted, Haruka felt like there was something fundamentally different when comparing him to Tatsuya .

It had been a month since then .

How was he doing? Haruka thought about that sleepy-looking face and ended up smiling slightly .

'Just ahead of this tunnel . ’

Tatsuya’s voice brought Haruka back to reality . She looked forward .

Just as he said, there was a tunnel in front of them .

By the entrance, she saw a sign that read 'High Accident Area . Watch Your Speed!’

It looked like there were no lights in the tunnel – an ink-black darkness opened up in front of them .

The moment the car went into the tunnel, the air suddenly felt heavier .

The sound of the engine echoed against the tunnel walls .

Ooooooooh .

It sounded just like a person moaning .

The tunnel was really eerie .

Just as they were approaching the exit, Haruka suddenly felt like something had passed them .

'Ack!’ yelled Tatsuya, suddenly slamming the brakes .

The tires screeched .

Haruka was forced forward and hit her head against the window .

Tears welled up in her eyes from the pain .

They had stopped sideways right outside the tunnel .

They’d almost hit the guard rail .

The car was filled with the smell of the burnt tires .

Haruka looked at Tatsuya in the driver’s seat .

Tatsuya was clinging to the wheel, looking down while shivering .

Sweat was rushing down his forehead and his jaw was chattering .

'Hey, what’s wrong?’

Tatsuya didn’t look normal .

Tatsuya tried to respond, but his mouth just moved – no words came out .

'Say it clearly . What happened?’

Haruka shook Tatsuya’s shoulders .

Then, Tatsuya lifted his head for the first time . His face was completely white . Even a mannequin would have more colour in its face .

’…A k-kid…’

'Eh? What about a kid?’

’…Again… I might have hit… Suddenly… a kid…’

Tatsuya’s shaking finger pointed out the front window .

'Hit… You can’t mean…’

A kid? Haruka didn’t think there was any impact after the sudden brakes .

However, she couldn’t be optimistic . Anyway, she could go check .

Haruka opened the door and tried to leave, but Tatsuya grabbed her arm .

'Don’t go . ’

'Why? I need to check . ’

'It wasn’t my fault . the kid – the kid… suddenly jumped out…’

Tatsuya was frantic as he grabbed Haruka’s arm .

There were tears in his eyes .

'It’s not a problem of who was at fault . We need to call an ambulance . ’

'You can’t… If you hit… a person, you can’t drive any more, and university and finding a job… And your parents won’t keep quiet… My life is a mess… Please, Haruka-chan, if you keep quiet…’

'I can’t believe you . ’

What a man . The moment he might have taken somebody’s life, all he could think about was how to protect himself .

Arguing with somebody like this was itself pointless .

'Let go of me!’ Haruka yelled, forcing Tatsuya’s arm off her and getting off the car .

The intense difference in temperature shocked her .

Though it was dark outside, with the car’s lights, she could see .

Haruka timidly walked to the front of the car .

She felt like they were driving pretty quickly .

If somebody were hit at that speed, it’d be no use .

Haruka’s legs shook when she imagined a child, collapsed and covered in blood .

However, there was nothing there .

She just saw black lines on the asphalt from the burnt tires . She checked the car’s bumper, but there wasn’t even a dent .

Haruka checked the side and rear as well .

However, she couldn’t find anything . Was Tatsuya just seeing things? That would be fine . They could laugh it off –

Step step step .

There was the sound of someone running .

She thought it might be Tatsuya, but he was still in the car with his head down .

Step step step .

Again .

She heard it from the opposite side, beneath the car .

Haruka crouched and peered under the car . She saw a foot that could be a child’s .

It can’t be! Haruka hurriedly stood up and went around .

However, nobody was there . She might have just imagined it since Tatsuya had said he’d hit a child .

If that was all, it’d be OK .

Haruka was about to go back in the car, when she felt a piercing gaze on her back and stopped .

When she turned around, she saw the large half-circle hole into the dark tunnel .

There was a woman standing there with her back facing her .

Even though nobody had been there earlier –

Haruka couldn’t be sure from her back, but the woman was probably in her late twenties .

She thought that because the woman was wearing a grey suit, but she could actually be younger .

She wasn’t doing anything – just standing there .

Her brown hair shook in the wind .

What was she doing here at a time like this?

'Excuse me…’

When Haruka spoke up to her, the woman slowly turned around .

Haruka thought that her heart might stop from surprise .

There was a large injury on the woman’s forehead, and blood was pouring out, almost pulsing .

The chest portion of her white shirt was dyed completely red .

That wasn’t all – her right arm was bent in such an unnatural way it might have been broken .

It was mysterious how she could stand at all .

'This is terrible…’

Tatsuya hadn’t hit a child . He’d hit this woman .

'Are you all right?’

The woman didn’t respond at all to Haruka’s question . That wasn’t all – her expression was blank, like she didn’t feel the pain at all .

She was probably numb .

'I’ll call an ambulance right away . Please sit down for now . ’

The moment Haruka tried to touch the woman –

The woman shook .

Her body convulsed violently .

She was coughing when she vomited blood from her mouth .


Haruka screamed without thinking and leapt back .

Then, as if she had been absorbed by the scenery, the woman disappeared .

Why –

Haruka was disoriented . All she could hear was the wind going through the tunnel –




The next day, Haruka went with Tatsuya to Yakumo’s secret hideaway, the Movie Research Circle clubroom .

Yesterday’s experience had to have been a spiritual phenomenon .

If that were the case, it would be best to consult him .

However, while Haruka explained what had happened yesterday to Yakumo, he just played shogi by himself, as if to say he was bored .

'So it’s come to this…’

Yakumo seemed to be admiring something as he moved the pieces on both sides by himself .

What was interesting about playing shogi alone? Haruka couldn’t understand at all .

'Are you listening?’ asked Haruka, displeased .

'Yeah, at any rate . ’

'What do you mean, at any rate? Can’t you listen more seriously?’

'You should be more humble . You just barged in here without thinking about how I’d feel about that and suddenly started telling a ghost story . ’

Haruka couldn’t think of a comeback .

It was just as he said . She had become agitated and hadn’t thought about him at all .

'Sorry . ’

'Well, I get the gist of it . Business is business, so shall I take it up?’ said Yakumo, stretching his arms .


'I just have to save your boyfriend, right?’

'I’ll say this again, but he’s not my boyfriend . ’

'You’re so cold to him even though he’s right there . ’

Haruka let out an exasperated sigh and looked down .

Then, Tatsuya started smirking, though Haruka didn’t know what was so funny .

When she caught his eye, he brought his face close to her ear and whispered .

'We look like a couple . ’

'No, you don’t . ’

The one who denied that was Yakumo .

'We don’t, you say… Weren’t you the one who said we did earlier?’

'I don’t recall that . ’

Did too, did not – it was just like a kid’s fight .

Haruka didn’t feel like talking . For a while, Tatsuya looked at Yakumo’s expression, but then he suddenly seemed to remember something and then started laughing .

'Oh, I see . You like Haruka-chan too . That’s why you don’t like me getting friendly with her . That’s it, right?’ said Tatsuya boastfully .

'Hey, what are you saying?’ objected Haruka .

Tatsuya ignored her and continued .

'Unfortunately, an oaf like you doesn’t match Haruka-chan at all . ’

'That’s true . I don’t like stubborn women who get emotionally easily anyway . I couldn’t care less if you simmered her or boiled her,’ said Yakumo, his expression not changing even in the least .

'Is it really OK for you to say that? I’ll really eat Haruka-chan up . ’

'Do what you want . If you plan on eating her, you should watch out for food poisoning . ’

'Hey, what do you mean by that?’

That was just saying too much . Haruka objected while hitting the table .

'I mean exactly what I said,’ replied Yakumo in a flat tone without bowing his head .

Haruka’s face flushed in anger and she bit her lip .

Really – this man’s words always riled her up . He had to be a genius at making people angry .

'Then I’ll do what I want . ’

Tatsuya was still smiling triumphantly as he took a piece from the corner of the shogi board and moved it to another square .

'Checkmate . ’

Yakumo had been expressionless, but now there was a deep wrinkle between his brows .

His thin lips were a straight line, and his almond eyes were narrowed .

'I’ll give you just one warning . ’

Yakumo put the piece Tatsuya moved back in its original spot and pointed at Tatsuya .


'Yes . A warning . ’

'Oh? What is it?’

'You should use contraception and properly hold memorial services for aborted foetuses . ’

'W-what are you suddenly saying?’

Tatsuya pushed Yakumo’s finger away and stood up .

He looked terribly shaken . He was showing his true cowardly nature, that had been hidden behind his exaggerated confidence .

He was disturbed because it had hit home . Haruka looked at Tatsuya coldly .

'Haruka-chan, don’t get the wrong idea . This guy’s nuts . Oi, don’t just say whatever you want . If you don’t stop fooling around, I won’t keep quiet . ’

'I’m not fooling around . Would it be easier to understand if I said her name?’

'Who’d you hear it from?’ said Tatsuya, his expression stiffening .

He fell right into the trap . What he’d said just now proved everything . Tatsuya’s head was sweaty as Yakumo continued to pursue him .

'Not just one person either . Two . You didn’t learn your lesson, it seems . ’

'You’re wrong . They just selfishly got pregnant . It’s not my fault . ’

Tatsuya was so shaken he was digging his own grave . And it was pretty deep .

There was no doubt about it now .

Tatsuya’s careless words made Yakumo even angrier .

'They just selfishly got pregnant? What are you talking about? That might have been an acceptable excuse if it were a false pregnancy, but aren’t pregnancies only possible with a partner?’


'Though small, it was a new life born into this world . Did you say that they just selfishly got pregnant, like some awful joke, and cruelly kill that life? I rue the fact that Japan’s laws don’t consider people like you murderers . ’

Tatsuya’s mouth opened and shut as he frantically tried to think of something to say, but in the end, he said nothing .

Tatsuya had been foolish for getting ahead of himself and challenging Yakumo in an argument .

Tatsuya’s self-respect was probably in shreds .

Tatsuya stood up in a rage, slammed the door open and left . That was probably all he could do to protest .

'Is it all right for you not to go with him?’ said Yakumo, looking at the shogi board again .

'That person is the worst, but you don’t lose to him either . ’

'Thank you for the praise . ’

That sounded pointed .

'Are you angry?’ asked Haruka .

Yakumo sighed .

'Think a bit . You might like him, but I hate that sort of person . He thinks he’s the most important person in the world and doesn’t care about anything else . ’

'So that’s why you lied?’


'About whether there was an aborted baby or not . ’

'Decide that on your own . It’s completely irrelevant to me . ’

'That’s right . It was irrelevant . I apologise for causing you trouble,’ said Haruka, standing up . She tried to leave the room .

'There’s more to that story, right?’

Yakumo finally lifted his head .


In the end, she decided that her eyes must have been playing tricks on her and went home .

However, the situation changed the day after . Tatsuya’s front bumper had a bright red handprint the size of a child’s .

Like a bloody hand had touched it .

Tatsuya had been frightened of it and tried to wash it off, but even after using cleansing liquid and a brush, it wouldn’t come off .

He had been too frightened to drive it since .

Haruka gave a short explanation . Yakumo silently crossed his arms and looked up at the ceiling . Haruka couldn’t tell if he was listening or not .

'Hey, are you listening?’

'I am . It’s just that the story seems a bit convoluted . ’


'Yes, convoluted . For example…’

Yakumo started speaking, but then he ran a hand through his hair in irritation, like something was bothering him .

'What’s wrong?’

'No, it’s nothing . Speculation will start nothing . At times like this, the scene…’

'Let’s go . ’

Haruka finished Yakumo’s sentence .

'Exactly . ’

'Don’t leave me behind this time . ’

'Leave you behind? If you’re talking about the last incident, you were the one who wanted to move separately . Try not to get the wrong idea . ’

One sentence too many .

Haruka glared at Yakumo, but Yakumo didn’t care at all .

'It’s not walking distance, right?’

Even though Haruka kept glaring, Yakumo asked a question, as if he didn’t care at all .


'The tunnel where the incident occurred . ’

'Ah . I know where it is, but it’d be difficult to walk there . ’

'Do you have a car?’

'I don’t even have a licence . ’

'Don’t act proud of it . ’

'I’m not…’

'DO you have the address?’

'Should I ask Tatsuya-kun?’

'I’d rather walk . ’

Yakumo tapped his temple with his finger . It looked like he was thinking, but in the end, he slowly stood up and put on a black hooded coat that was in the corner of the room and started getting dressed .

'Do you have the address?’

'I have an idea . ’

Yakumo opened the refrigerator and took a key out . Why was there a key in the refrigerator?

'Promise me one thing before we go . ’

As he said that, Yakumo pointed his index finger at Haruka’s nose .


'For the next little while, don’t ask any questions . ’

'What do you mean?’

'To put it simply, shut that chatty mouth . ’


That was an awful way of putting it .

Haruka wanted to object, but Yakumo had already left the room .

'Hey, wait a second . ’

Haruka ran after Yakumo .

Yakumo suddenly turned around and threw something at Haruka . It was so sudden that Haruka almost lost her balance as she caught it with both hands .

'It’s cold – ’

It was the key from the refrigerator .

'Shut the door properly . ’


'Don’t forget to shut your mouth too . ’

What a guy . Talking to a girl like this –

He was really insensitive, selfish and unpleasant .


Haruka couldn’t stop herself from yelling .

However, Yakumo seemed to have mistaken what she said, as he just raised his hand and continued walking away briskly .

Haruka locked the door and ended up having to run after Yakumo again .




Haruka walked behind Yakumo .

She couldn’t say anything after he’d told her to shut his mouth . She had been silent for fifteen minutes .

They soon reached a steep slope .

On both sides of the road, there were gingko trees with yellow leaves .

It was a beautiful little road that made you want to stop and enjoy it .

However, Yakumo didn’t seem to want to enjoy it, as he briskly climbed the slope .

At the top of the slope, there were the gates to a temple . Yakumo stopped in front of them .

It looked like a fairly old temple, but it was well kept and didn’t seem wild .

Why did they come to a temple?


'Did you forget? No questions . ’

The moment Haruka tried to ask why, Yakumo glared at her coldly .

Am I that chatty? Though she couldn’t be called quiet in comparison to her friends, she didn’t think she was particularly chatty .

Of course she would have questions without any explanations, and it was human to want to ask about that .

I’m not chatty – Yakumo’s just strange .

'Don’t move from the gates . ’

'I don’t have to go?’

'No questions . ’

Yakumo refused her flat with an expressionless face .

Even a wooden Buddha statue would have more emotion .

It looked like he really didn’t plan on saying anything . Haruka gave up and went to the pillar by the gates and put her hands behind her back .

Yakumo seemed to be satisfied by that, as he started walking briskly .

He went on the path to the temple, surrounded by gravel on both sides, and went inside a separate building that was probably the priests’ quarters .

He hadn’t pressed the intercom button or greeted anybody .

Did Yakumo have some sort of connection to this temple? Perhaps that was why he didn’t want to talk about it .

It’s cold though –

She hadn’t noticed while walking, but the wind was biting when she stood here alone like this .

Why did she have to wait here by herself?

Anger rose within her as she waited .

'Hurry back!’

Unable to keep in her anger, Haruka picked up a rock at her feet and threw it towards the direction Yakumo had walked .


She was surprised by the sudden voice .

Somebody slowly walked out from behind the gates .

'I-I-I’m sorry . ’

Haruka hurriedly bowed her head .

Even though there shouldn’t have been anybody in the direction she threw the rock, she’d actually hit someone –

'You might get cursed for throwing a rock at a temple . ’

'I’m really sorry . ’

Haruka shrunk further .

'No, no, don’t look so worried . It didn’t actually hit . Now, lift your head . ’

Urged by the low and gentle voice, Haruka timidly lifted her head .

There was a middle-aged monk standing there in navy working robes and straw sandals .

He had an egg-shaped face and eyes thin like string . He had a warm impression to him, like Maitreya .

'Ah . ’

Haruka let out a voice of surprise upon seeing the monk’s face .

'What is it?’

'No, it’s nothing . ’

She recalled that Yakumo had asked her not to ask anything . Perhaps this was why .

The monk standing in front of Haruka had a left eye that glowed red like Yakumo’s .

'What are you doing here?’

'E-er, I’m waiting for Yakumo-kun – no, a friend…’

Even though it wasn’t like she was doing anything suspicious or like she was lying, she was fumbling for words .

'I see . Are you Yakumo’s girlfriend? Quite the curio . ’


'Ah, sorry . It’s the first time Yakumo’s brought a girlfriend over, so I got excited . ’

Could this person be Yakumo’s father?

'U-um, do you know Yakumo-kun?’

Yakumo had said not to ask him questions, but he hadn’t said not to ask anybody else questions .

Haruka changed the interpretation the way she liked and tried asking .

'I’m Yakumo’s father . ’


Yakumo had said his father was missing –

'Ah, no, to be correct, I plan on being his father . Since he definitely won’t accept it . I’m his mother’s little brother . His uncle . ’

Yakumo’s uncle smiled wryly as he scratched his shaved head .

'Well, let’s not just talk while standing . Come in . ’

'Eh, but…’

'It’s fine, it’s fine . Just ignore what Yakumo says . No matter what you do, he’ll complain . ’

Haruka was troubled, but she went through the gates, as urged by Yakumo’s uncle .


After she went into the priests’ quarters, she got under the kotatsu in the living room and waited for Yakumo .

His uncle brought tea on a tray and sat across from Haruka .

When she looked at him properly, he did look like Yakumo .

She wouldn’t know how to explain if asked what was similar, but if she had to say, it was probably the shape of the face .

However, the atmosphere around him was completely different from Yakumo’s .

'Sorry . I invited you in, but this is all I can offer . I should have bought some youkan . ’

'No, please don’t fuss over me . ’

'It must have been cold standing there by yourself . ’

'Yes, very . ’

Normally, she would have said something like 'Not at all’, but she ended up saying the truth .

'How honest . ’

Yakumo’s uncle smiled .

When he smiled, his eyes closed . It was a gentle expression .

'I’m often told I’m too honest . I think I need to fix that myself . ’

'No, honesty is best . There are probably people who have been helped by your words . ’

'Do you think so? I always just hurt people . ’

It was strange . This person found his way into people’s hearts with incredible ease .

However, it didn’t feel unpleasant at all .

'Not at all . I know at least one person who’s been helped by your words . ’


She didn’t think somebody she’d just met would say that .

Even though he has no way of knowing who I’ve met –

'It’s you, isn’t it? The one who said Yakumo’s eye was beautiful . ’

It was true that Haruka had said that the first time she saw Yakumo’s red eye .

Yakumo had laughed at her, saying she was the first person who’d said that .

'How do you know that?’

At Haruka’s question, Yakumo’s uncle leant forward before saying, 'This is just between us…’

'Uncle, you don’t have to say anything else unnecessary . ’

Suddenly, Yakumo interrupted .

Yakumo stood in the living room entrance, looking disapprovingly at Haruka . Even though Haruka noticed, she just slowly sipped her tea .

'What are you wasting your time for? We’re going . ’

Yakumo’s order irritated her . She decided to pretend that she hadn’t heard it .

I’m not a dog . Even if I were, like I’d listen to the words of such an oppressive owner .

'What, it’s you, Yakumo? Don’t interrupt . I want to talk with your girlfriend a bit more . ’

'She’s not my girlfriend . She’s a troublemaker . Don’t get the wrong idea . ’

'Oh, so you already have such a strong bond? Well done . ’

'Uncle, listen properly to what other people have to say . ’

'Saying things like that . If you dawdle too much, some other man will snatch her up . There must be a lot of takers since she’s so cute . ’

What on earth were they talking about with her right there? Haruka felt somewhat astonished, or rather –

'If there are people who want to take her, they can do whatever they want . ’

'I’ll do what I want even without you saying so . ’

Haruka had planned on saying that so that Yakumo wouldn’t be able to hear, but it looked like the words hadn’t escaped Yakumo’s ears .

His cold gaze came her way .

'Yakumo, can’t you be a bit nicer?’

'I wouldn’t mind thinking about it depending on the amount of money . ’

His uncle shook his head in exasperation .

'Uncle, sorry, but I’m borrowing the car . ’

'A drive with your girlfriend?’

'You’re obstinate . ’

Yakumo said just that and left the room .

Haruka thought for a while, but just as Yakumo said, this was trouble that she had brought to him . She couldn’t just let Yakumo deal with it . After politely thanking Yakumo’s uncle, she stood up .

'That’s the sort of kid he is,’ Yakumo’s uncle said quietly as Haruka was about to leave the room .

It sounded somewhat lonely .

'Though Yakumo can see more than most, he’s shut his heart . ’

'Are you talking about ghosts?’

After nodding, Yakumo’s uncle continued .

'Because he’s afraid of connecting too deeply with other people, he runs away . His emotions are a little twisted . Even though he’s like that, he’s really a nice kid… Hm… . That isn’t very convincing…’

His uncle cocked his head, looking troubled .

'I know . ’

Haruka replied with a smile and left the room .

She wasn’t just saying that to make Yakumo’s uncle feel better . At that time, she honestly thought that, for some reason .




'Hey, about your uncle’s eye . ’

When Haruka got in the white sedan, she timidly asked Yakumo in the driver seat this question .

There was no reply .

Haruka gave up and looked out the window .

Neither the car audio or radio was playing .

All she could hear was the engine and the sound of cold air blowing through the car .

In this car where there wasn’t even conversation, Haruka strangely didn’t feel uncomfortable .

'My uncle’s eye wasn’t like that from birth . He’s wearing a red contact lens . ’

Yakumo suddenly started speaking once they approached the slope leading to the hill .

Haruka looked at Yakumo’s profile .


'What? Isn’t that what you wanted to ask?’ said Yakumo, looking to his side .

For a moment, their eyes met . Haruka looked away in surprise . Her whole face felt hot .

'Why would he go out of his way to do that?’

'By going out of his way to make his eye red, he’s trying to get the world to look at him oddly and feel the same suffering and solitariness that I do . ’

'To the point of sacrificing himself?’

'That’s the sort of person he is . ’

Though Yakumo said that simply, what his uncle was doing wasn’t something that could be done simply .

’'Even though there’s somebody who cares so much for you, why are you living at the university, Yakumo-kun? You should think a little about how your uncle feels . ’

She was speaking unusually strongly .

'Your faults are blabbering without thinking properly and deciding everything with your own perspective . ’

'Your faults, Yakumo-kun, are your unfriendliness and your tendency to say insensitive things without thinking about other people’s feelings . ’

Haruka bit back, not losing to Yakumo .

Yakumo shook his head, as if he were talking to an unreasonable child .

'Do you know what sort of place that was?’

'A temple . ’

'Correct . A temple . ’

'What about it? Isn’t that unrelated?’

'Have you forgotten? My left eye can see the spirits of the dead . Regardless of whether I want to or not . ’


Haruka finally understood what Yakumo was trying to say .

That was right . If a person who could see the spirits of the dead were at the temple, he would have to see dozens – no, hundreds of ghosts every day .

He would have to live with all the negative emotions from the spirits of the dead – their hatred, their anger, their sadness .

It would be impossible to stay sane .

For Haruka, it was just a temple, but it wasn’t the case for Yakumo .

'Uncle knows that . It’s too noisy there for me . ’

Haruka felt like she had peered into Yakumo’s heart for the first time .

Just as Yakumo says, I might just decide things based on my own perspective .

Haruka opened the window and stuck her head out slightly .

The wind hit her forehead . The wind which was too cool felt pleasant now –




When they got close to the tunnel in question, Yakumo stopped the car by the road .

At the tunnel entrance, there were chrysanthemum flowers in an empty can .

They had probably been a fresh white colour before, but now they were withered and brown .

Even in the day, the tunnel felt eerie .

'This is the right place, right?’

Haruka responded with a silent nod .

It made her think of how frightening it had been then . Yakumo leant back on the seat and looked into the tunnel with a serious gaze .

Though it wasn’t that long a tunnel, perhaps because it was curved or because i sloped, she couldn’t see the tunnel’s end .

It was just a pitch-black hole, like an entrance to another world .

The wind coming through the tunnel made a low moan, like a beast’s howl .

The fallen leaves on the road danced up, rustling as they did so .

'Did you see something?’

Haruka asked Yakumo’s profile .

'It’s certain that there’s something, but I can’t clearly tell what it is from here . ’

'So we have to go?’

'We do . ’

After saying that, Yakumo slowly put down the side brake .

The car moved forward, as if being sucked in by the tunnel .

The car went inside the tunnel .

It suddenly grew darker . The air became heavier, and Haruka’s ears were ringing . Just like then .

Oooooooo .

For a moment, she felt like the wind’s moan grew louder .

After going through about half of the tunnel, the sound of the engine clearly changed . It was the sound an engine made when failing to climb a steep slope .

'This is bad…’

Yakumo said just that and bit his lower lip .

His usual sleepy expression was gone from his face . They were the eyes of a wolf on his prey . There was sweat on his forehead .

'I was too careless . ’


'Cover your face until I say it’s OK . Don’t look outside the window . ’

'Why not?’

'Just cover your face!’ yelled Yakumo . He probably saw something .

Something incredibly frightening . Haruka did as she was told and covered her face with both hands, hunching over .

At the same time, Yakumo slammed the accelerator, making the engine roar . However, it felt like the speed didn’t go up that much .

Haruka was bent over with her eyes closed, but she felt something outside the car .

Oooooo .

She heard something like a moan that was clearly not the sound of the engine . There was also a sticking sound of something gluing itself to the window .

What could it be? Haruka tried to lift her head .

'Don’t look! Cover your face!’

Haruka’s shoulders jolted and she returned to her previous posture . Suddenly, something brushed Haruka’s neck .


What just passed? She didn’t know .

Stick .

Something touched her cheek .

Cold . Very cold .

Ooooo .

She heard the moan again . What was happening?

She didn’t know .

No . I can’t stand this any longer –

Haruka lifted her head .

She saw the tunnel exit . There was a sharp curve there .

Yakumo was in a daze, as if he wasn’t looking forward at all .

'Watch out!’

She yelled immediately .

Gripping the wheel, Yakumo came back to his senses .

'Hold on!’ shouted Yakumo .

Hold on to what?

Before Haruka could ask, Yakumo slammed the brakes . The tires locked and let out white smoke as the car started to veer .

In the end, Haruka couldn’t find anywhere to hold on to and was swung about by the centrifugal force . Her cheek hit the side window hard .

This was the second time . Her vision went white .

She came back to reality with the smell of burning tires .

Yakumo was bent back on the driver’s seat, breathing deeply with his eyes closed .

The car had stopped after turning around so that it was facing the tunnel again .

It was just a few centimetres from the guard rail . It was a cliff ahead of that, with ten metres to the bottom .

They had narrowly escaped death .

'If you’re going to slam the brakes, tell me earlier,’ said Haruka, rubbing the cheek she had hit .

'Ask me earlier . ’

'Why can’t you apologise honestly? There’s going to be a lump here . ’

'I want you to be grateful that it’s just going to be a lump . ’

Really, whatever this man said, it was always acerbic .

'Hey, was there something there?’

'Yeah . ’

When Yakumo finished saying that, he made a U-turn and put the car by the side of the road . He got off the car .

Haruka followed him .

Yakumo went to the front of the car and pointed at the front glass .


Haruka was lost for words . Shudders crawled up from her toes to her head .

There were handprints on the car’s front glass, like somebody had touched it with their bare hand .

It wasn’t just one or two . There were handprints everywhere, with almost no cracks .

She had felt like something was there, but for there to be this many –

'At first, there was one person . A man in his thirties was on the car’s bonnet . ’

Yakumo put his index finger to his brow and started talking .

'After that, more and more stuck to the car . It was like there were trying to stop me in the tunnel . ’

'They made the handprints?’

The strength left Haruka’s body and she sank to the floor .

It made her think of zombies she’d seen in a late-night movie before . They had surrounded the protagonist’s car – an endless number of the dead .

'An amazing number of people have died in this tunnel . ’

'Why – ’

'At first, they were probably just accidents . Then, the spirits that died but couldn’t rest in peace wandered here and caused the next accidents . Then the spirits that couldn’t rest in peace grew in number . A cycle of that . The dead call the dead, causing the same thing to happen endlessly . ’

Hearing it was enough to make Haruka’s spine feel a chill . A chain of death .

'Hey, what are you going to do?’

At Haruka’s question, Yakumo slowly walked towards the tunnel .

'There’s nothing I can do . ’

Yakumo said just that .

'Can’t you get them exorcised?’

'It’s pointless . That wouldn’t solve anything . ’

'You said that before, but what do you mean?’

Yakumo smiled bitterly at Haruka’s question and ran a hand through his messy hair .

'I don’t believe in curses or exorcisms . It’s heresy . Chanting to get ghosts to leave and exorcising them – it’s really hard for me to believe in that . ’

'To me, it’s just as hard to believe in your eye that can see ghosts, Yakumo-kun . ’

'You’re mistaking spirits of the dead for something like demons . ’

'What do you mean?’

'What do you think ghosts come from?’

It was a sudden question .

However, it wasn’t like she couldn’t answer . Naturally –

'Living people . ’

'Correct . It’s not like they’re born from eggs or like they come from space . They were originally people with emotions . However, what do you think ghosts are?’

That was –

'I don’t know . ’

'This is just my theory, but I think that they might be a cluster of the dead person’s wills and emotions . ’


It didn’t really make sense to her .

'Human memory and emotion are said to be electric signals . Some people even say that the whirlpool of information flowing in the internet resembles the construction of the brain . ’


She kind of understood, but she kind of didn’t –

'If you think that way, the moment human emotions lose their container, they don’t just all return to nothing, right? Electricity flows without a container, and the information on the net moves to another container once it loses its original . It wouldn’t be strange for the dead’s thoughts and feelings to wander . ’

'That’s true . ’

'It’s a theory I’ve made from my experience, so I wouldn’t be able to explain it scientifically if asked . ’

'So they don’t have a physical body and exist just as emotions?’

'Well, something like that . If ghosts are just emotions, returning to exorcism, what effect would mediums chanting curses and performing exorcisms have on people’s emotions? I’ll say this again, but ghosts aren’t demons . ’

Haruka kind of understood . Perhaps it was as Yakumo said .

Whether they were alive or dead, ghosts weren’t new living things . People didn’t become different life forms after dying .

They were still human .

'Let’s say mediums have amazing powers and can exorcise ghosts and send them to the underworld . But that ignores the people’s emotions – they would just be forcing them . ’

'That’s true . ’

'That’s the same as beating up people who don’t listen to make them submit . To put it clearly, it’s savage . ’

It felt like he was a bit prejudiced, but Haruka could understand what he was saying .

Still, it was a bit unexpected that Yakumo saw ghosts as people .

The words Yakumo’s uncle had said came up in her mind . ’ His emotions are a little twisted’ –

It suddenly seemed funny to Haruka, making her laugh .

'What’s so funny?’

Yakumo’s brows furrowed in displeasure as he glared at her .

Ooh, scary .

Haruka hurriedly swallowed her laughter and decided to ask another question .

'Then how about with Miki?’

'I just restricted the spirit, found out the reason it was suffering and explained that to the spirit . In short, it was only persuasion . ’

Haruka nodded a number of time in understanding .

Now that she thought about it, it was true .

Yakumo hadn’t done anything to Miki directly . By finding out the reason the female spirit that possessed her had died, she had taken away her fear .

As a result, he saved Miki .

'You said you saw a woman in front of the tunnel,’ Yakumo said suddenly .

With a sharp gaze, like a beast, he looked at the tunnel . There was a tension she’d never seen in his back .

'I did, but…’

'In her late twenties . A woman with long hair and a grey suit?’

Haruka recalled the scene in her head .

With blood flowing from her brow, a woman with long hair, standing there emotionlessly –

'That’s right, that’s the person . Do you see her?’

'She’s standing right in front of you . ’


Haruka looked around frantically, but she couldn’t see anything .

At the time, the woman was trying to express something, but I didn’t understand .

But if it’s Yakumo –

Yakumo slowly walked up to the guard rail and leant over it, looking down .

Was something down there? Haruka did the same, looking down .

On the sharp cliff, weeds and pine trees were growing wildly like a forest .

When she looked carefully, there was oversized rubbish there in the back of the forest, like refrigerators, televisions and bicycles .

It looked like people had used it as a dump because it was difficult to see from the road .

'Here…’ murmured Yakumo, jumping over the guard rail, gripping tree branches skilfully as he climbed down the cliff .

It was starting to grow dark .

The large entrance to the tunnel felt eerie .

It even felt like she might be sucked in .

It was getting harder to see Yakumo .

She didn’t want to be left behind here . Haruka climbed over the guard rail too and went after Yakumo .

She was naive .

It had been a much steeper cliff than it had seemed from above .

Haruka tried futilely to advance and lost her balance, practically rolling down the cliff .

Countless tree branches hit her arms and legs . It hurt, but she couldn’t stop . It was better than waiting alone . It was too late to regret now .

After getting down the cliff, she fell forward from the force .

It was like being hit hard in the knee . There was a jolt of pain .

She felt pathetic and wanted to cry .

When she held back her tears and looked up, she saw Yakumo holding out a hand in front of her .

She gripped the cold white hand and was pulled up .

'I told you to wait, didn’t I?’

'You didn’t say that!’

Haruka’s tone was rough because of the pain .

Haruka sat on a nearby rock and looked at the knee she had hit . Her jeans were ripped and she could see her knee clearly . The skin was broken and it was bloody .

'It hurts…’

The words slipped out of her mouth .

Yakumo went to stand in front of Haruka, knelt on one knee and pressed a handkerchief against Haruka’s knee .

'Hold it until the blood stops . ’

She couldn’t say thank you .

'Explain why we came here so suddenly . ’

Instead of gratitude, dissatisfaction came out of Haruka’s mouth .

Yakumo shook his head in exasperation and stood up . Then, he pointed at the ground a few metres ahead .

Haruka looked where Yakumo was pointing .

Her breath caught .

There was a woman in a grey suit lying face-up there .

Perhaps that woman –

Haruka didn’t have to check to know that the woman was dead .

The blood from her forehead was dark, sticking to her lifeless skin . What could her cloudy eyes see as they looked up at the sky?

'There was probably an accident on that road,’ said Yakumo .

How many days had she been here?

The woman must have shown up there wanting somebody to find her .

If I could see clearly like Yakumo, I could have found her sooner .

I’m sorry .

Haruka murmured that in her head and closed her eyes –




When Haruka went to Yakumo’s secret hiding place, there was the man she’d seen at the police precinct during the last case .

If she remembered correctly, he was a detective named Gotou .

He had a large frame with sharp eyes . It made Haruka think he could be a professional wrestler .

Yakumo had told her to come if she was interested because there was something he’d found out about the woman they found yesterday .

Haruka closed the door, thinking she could come again if he already had a guest .

'Great timing . Come in – I’ll explain . ’

Yakumo urged her to sit, and Gotou pulled out the chair .

Now she couldn’t not go in .

Haruka sat next to Gotou . When she thought about how a detective was next to her, it made her a bit nervous .

'You’ve met Gotou-san before, right?’

Haruka nodded .

'Oi, Yakumo . Introduce me properly? I don’t know her name . ’

Yakumo scratched his back, looking annoyed .

'She’s Ozawa-san . ’

'Oi, oi, that’s all? There’s gotta be more, right?’

'Please ask her yourself afterwards . ’

'Ah, what a cold guy, really . So what’s your given name?’

Gotou suddenly turned towards Haruka .

Though he had a full-faced smile, with the shadows under his eyes and his stubble, it was weird .

'Ah, it’s Haruka . ’

'Oh? You’re too cute for Yakumo . So how’d you get to know each other?’


'I said afterwards, didn’t I?’

Yakumo cut the conversation down . Gotou muttered 'Stingy’ under his breath .

Haruka couldn’t tell how these two knew each other .

Gotou was a detective and was older than them .

Though Yakumo used polite language, his attitude made it clear he was making fun of Gotou . Gotou seemed to be talking to Yakumo as a friend .

'Now, introductions are done . Please start explaining . ’

Yakumo urged Gotou to continue . So that’s how it was, thought Haruka .

Yakumo had set the time to make Gotou explain everything .

'Ah, that’s right . I almost forgot . ’

Gotou completely ignored Yakumo’s acerbity and took a notebook out of his wrinkled shirt . He cleared his throat and started speaking .

'For the corpse of that woman, the cause of death was probably a brain contusion . ’

'Was it murder?’ asked Yakumo .

'No . According to the coroner, the body had car paint and a light fragment on it – it’s clear that she was hit by a car . ’

Gotou rubbed the stubble on his chin with his palm .

Haruka was bewildered . Gotou was talking about police information .

'E-excuse me . Is it OK to talk about this?’

Haruka interrupted without thinking .

Yakumo and Gotou looked at Haruka at the same time .

She hadn’t thought she’d said something strange, but that made her feel anxious . After a silence, Gotou continued like nothing had happened .

'So about the female victim, her bag and wallet – all the things we could get her identity from – were taken off of her . ’

'Somebody hid her identity on purpose . ’

Yakumo put a finger on his brow .

'Exactly . We found out her identity immediately from her dental records . The victim lived in a nearby residential area . Let’s call her A-ko-san . She was spotted leaving her office a couple days ago and went missing after that . ’

'The search request?’

'Parents put it out . We got the parents to identify the corpse . A-ko-san’s parents were confused, but they said they wanted to thank the person who found their daughter . ’

Gotou glanced at Yakumo, but he didn’t respond .

'And the culprit?’

'Ah, because of the fragments of the car, we figured out the type of car . It didn’t take that long . ’

'So everything’s settled?’

'Man, it’s an awful story . The culprits were two middle school students who live on the same street as the victim, A-ko-san . ’

'So they didn’t have a licence . ’

'They were full of themselves, took the car for a spin, and hit her . They say they were driving like mad out of the tunnel 'cause they were being chased by ghosts, and they couldn’t turn the curve and hit the woman . ’

'That story’s true . ’

Haruka interrupted without thinking .

'I believe it too, but unfortunately, Japanese law doesn’t acknowledge the existence of ghosts . ’

'Somebody’s dead . The existence of ghosts isn’t an excuse,’ said Yakumo, bringing the off-track conversation back on topic .

'How harsh . ’

Gotou smiled wryly . He loosened the already loose tie around his neck and took out a cigarette from his inner pocket .

'I think you know . ’

'I know . No smoking, right? I won’t light it . just gonna hold it in my mouth,’ said Gotou in irritation at Yakumo’s retort .

Gotou cleared his throat and started talking again .

'Well, putting aside those kids, their parents are the problem . After the two kids caused this incident, they got afraid and called their parents . And the parents…’

'Hid the incident,’ said Yakumo, biting his lip .

'Correct . They stole the wallet and bag and then tossed the corpse off the cliff…’

Haruka’s shoulders shuddered upon hearing Gotou’s words . She felt uncomfortable, like she would vomit .

They didn’t treat her like a human .

Throwing away a corpse . How cold could people be to protect themselves –

'Well, that’s the gist of it . Pretty much as you expected, Yakumo . ’

Gotou concluded the story and clapped his notebook shut .

As expected? So Yakumo had seen through the whole case?

Haruka had just been confused, unable to see the truth ahead at all .

It even made her want to suspect that Yakumo’s eye couldn’t see just the spirits of the dead but the future as well .

'Ah, I forgot to say one thing . The car that caused the accident’s already been repaired . Seems like they requested some car shop somewhere, but there must’ve been a lot of blood . ’

'They fixed it knowing it had hit a car . ’

Yakumo finished Gotou’s words .

'Well, that’s it . We’re asking the parents now where that car shop was…’

It really was an unpleasant case .

However, there was something Haruka didn’t understand .

'So what will happen with Tatsuya-kun’s case?’

'Can’t go near that tunnel again if he doesn’t want to die,’ said Yakumo with a yawn .

Well, that was probably how it would be, but the uneasy feeling didn’t leave her chest…




Tatsuya was driving the car for the first time in a while, when he spotted the back of somebody unexpected on the hill leading to the university .

When he honked the horn, the person turned to look at him with sleepy eyes .

Saitou Yakumo . He’d embarrassed Tatsuya in front of Haruka earlier .

If he loitered around any more, to say it clearly, it’d be a hassle .

It’d be better to warn him here .

Tatsuya opened the car window and drove up to Yakumo .

'Thanks for earlier . I heard from Haruka-chan . I won’t go to that tunnel any more . ’

Yakumo was clearly displeased as he continued to walk silently .

'Wait a second . I’m trying to thank you here . ’

Tatsuya matched Yakumo’s pace and slowly drove the car as he spoke .

'You have no reason to thank me,’ said Yakumo, giving Tatsuya a glance .

He really didn’t like this guy . That thought came to Tatsuya again .

When those eyes looked at him, like they could see to the bottom of his heart, he just couldn’t relax .

'Don’t say that . I’m counting on you the next time something happens . ’

'There’s no next time . Do something about it yourself . ’

Tatsuya clicked his tongue .

'Don’t want to help your rival in love?’

'Are you talking to me?’

'Is there anybody besides you?’

'If you’re talking to me, you’ve missed the mark . I couldn’t care less about what the two of you do . I won’t get in your way or interfere, so do whatever you want . The reason I’m cold to you is because of a physiological dislike . Don’t read that much into it . ’

Tatsuya somehow managed to restrain his growing anger .

'Got it . I’m going on a make-up date with Haruka-chan now . No complains, right?’

'Do what you…’

Yakumo started speaking, but he didn’t finished . His brows were furrowed as he looked at the back seat .

'Oi… Who’s the kid in the back?’


Tatsuya didn’t understand what Yakumo was saying at all .

He moved his eyes to the back of the car . He didn’t have to check . There was nobody there .

This guy –

'You talking about aborted babies again?’

Tatsuya didn’t know who the hell this guy had heard it from, but his rumour mongering pissed Tatsuya off .

'No, not an aborted baby . That kid… maybe…’

'Man, like I can deal with you! Go die!’

Tatsuya spat that out and slammed the accelerator .

Yakumo’s figure grew smaller . That guy . He was still looking this way .

What a creepy guy –




Haruka was waiting at the train station’s traffic circle, which was where Miki had called her out to .

Miki was going to introduce her new boyfriend or something . To be honest, Haruka didn’t care .

It was probably just the guy from the mixer last time .

It wasn’t a judging fair, so what was she supposed to do upon seeing her friend’s boyfriend? Normally, this wasn’t the case, but when it was romance, Haruka didn’t get along with Miki at all .

Haruka looked up at the sound of a horn .

A car was stopped in front of Haruka . If she remembered correctly, this car – but the colour was different . It had been white before, but now it was a garish red .

'Hey . ’

Haruka had hoped she was wrong, but the face that popped out was Tatsuya’s smirking one .

Tatsuya had kept sending her texts since . All he wrote about was himself .

Haruka had been making sure not to respond .

'What are you doing?’

'I’m waiting for a friend . ’

'Ah, I see . Great timing . I was ordered to pick up a princess who was waiting for a friend . ’

Oh no .

Haruka should have refused Miki’s invitation today .

Now that she thought about it, she understood . If Miki’s new boyfriend was somebody she knew from the mixer, naturally, Tatsuya would be a friend of Miki’s boyfriend .

'Let’s go . Everyone’s waiting . ’

Haruka felt uncomfortable just thinking about riding this car again .

She couldn’t cancel at the last minute now .

Haruka reluctantly got into the car .




Gotou was in front of the car shop in the suburbs .

It had a garage that could hold three cars with a small building that was probably the workshop .

There were a number of police cars surrounding the area with officers running about .

Gotou had went to the road to avoid the noise so that he could make a call on his mobile .

After three rings, Yakumo answered .

That was miraculously quick for him .

<What do you want?>

That was the first thing he said .

'Continuation of that case . We found the mechanic who we think repaired the car…’


Yakumo urged Gotou to continue . Another rare thing .

Gotou started explaining while Yakumo was still in a cooperative mood .

The mechanic used to be in a biker gang in the city and was working at the car shop after his dead father .

The people around him thought he was bumbling .

When you brought your car in for repair, it always came back with something broken in another place . He was famous for it .

With testimony, the police searched his place, and a kid’s corpse was found in the backyard .

After questioning him, the story was that the kid had been hit when he was in a car with an acquaintance . Then, they’d buried the corpse in the backyard to hide the evidence –

Everyone was rotten to the core . They were looking into the kid’s identity now .

It would take time to settle things, since they didn’t know the identity of the kid the mechanic hit, and the body was too damaged for easy identification .

Their own perverted coroner would probably be happy .

<So what are you telling me to do?>

When Gotou finished explaining, Yakumo said that, sounding displeased .

'I won’t tell you find out who that kid is, but I thought that maybe you could at least find out any special facial characteristics,’ said Gotou, though he thought it wouldn’t work .

If Yakumo could see the spirit of the dead boy, the investigation would go a bit more smoothly .

Well, he’d probably just refuse, saying he wasn’t interested .

<Gotou-san . Could I see a photo of the corpse?>

Yakumo’s reply was unexpected .

'Really!?’ exclaimed Gotou happily .

It had been worth trying .

He quickly arranged to meet up with Yakumo and hung up .




Haruka gloomily sat in the car’s passenger seat .

The four-beat hip hop music played as usual .

'What do you think of the car colour?’

Haruka didn’t really car . She gave a vague 'Hm’ as a reply .

'Well, it had been a red handprint, so I changed the colour with that . Pretty cool, right?’

More importantly –

'Where are we going?’ she asked Tatsuya in the driver seat .

The plan had been to go to Miki’s house, but the direction was clearly different .

They had left the town and were climbing a mountain road .

'I was thinking we could take a look at the night view we didn’t get a chance to last time . ’

'Miki’s waiting, and I don’t really want to see the night view . ’

It was like she watching a replay of a tape of last time .

'It’s fine . Miki-chan knows about this . ’


Haruka spoke without thinking in her confusion .

'She’s being considerate of us,’ said Tatsuya with a smirk .

She knew about the both of them and was being considerate .

This was just harassment .

Haruka would complain to Miki at length afterwards .

But –

'The place with a nice night view is through that tunnel, right?’

'It’s fine, it’s fine . There’s another road . ’

Why do only self-centred people surround me?

Haruka felt miserable . Her shoulders slumped .

* * *

Gotou parked a ten-year-old white sedan in front of the university gates .

His beloved car, which had never been washed even once .

When Gotou stopped, Yakumo ran out from the gates and got into the car .

Had he been waiting for Gotou in this cold? Yakumo had never done something like this before .

'Please show me the photo,’ said Yakumo after catching his breath .

Gotou turned on the lights and took an envelope out from the dashboard, handing it to Yakumo .

Yakumo took the photos out and looked at each one assiduously .

They were photos that you’d want to look away from, but Yakumo’s eyes were serious . His power had probably taken away the fear of death from him .

Yakumo saw blood, flesh and bone – and their decay – on a daily basis –

Yakumo put his head in his hands and sighed .

'Do you have an idea?’

'Unfortunately, I do . ’

Though Yakumo smiled, his eyes weren’t smiling at all .

'Tell me . What do you mean?’

'I’ll explain later . More importantly, we have to confirm it . ’

After saying that, Yakumo took his mobile phone out of his coat pocket and made a call .

* * *

In the passenger seat, Haruka noticed her mobile phone vibrating in her bag .


<Where are you now?>

She heard Yakumo’s restless voice .

'In a car . ’

<When you say car, is it the car of that guy named Tatsuya?>

'Yes, but…’

<Get off that car right now . >

There was no arguing with Yakumo’s tone .

'Get off? What do you mean?’

<Just get off the car if you don’t want to die . >

Eh? If you don’t want to die –

It was true that she didn’t feel good about being together with Tatsuya, but she wouldn’t die from that .

While Haruka was thinking, her mobile was taken away from her .

It was Tatsuya . What was he doing all of a sudden? While Haruka was flustered, Tatsuya started talking into the phone .

'This isn’t what you promised . It’s got nothing to do with you, right?’

That was a considerably pointed tone .

He’d regret talking to Yakumo like that .

'Shut up! It’s got nothing to do with you!’

As expected . Tatsuya was furious – it seemed like Yakumo had said something .

He deserved it from doing something as thoughtless as taking somebody else’s phone .

'Anyway, let me do what I want!’ yelled Tatsuya, hanging up and putting the mobile on the dashboard, as if he didn’t even want to give it back to Haruka .

HE had no manners at all .

To be honest, she was sick of this .

'I’m getting off,’ she said, while putting her mobile phone in her bag .




'Oi, Yakumo . What was that? Explain . ’

Gotou asked that question to Yakumo, who was gripping the mobile phone with a disappointed expression .

'I’ve seen the child in the photo,’ said Yakumo, handing the photos back to Gotou .

'You know the kid? The face was wrecked, so…’

'Though it isn’t certain, you should be able to figure it out part of it from gender, height and shape, right?’

Made sense . Gotou accepted that .

Rather than looking for an identity, Yakumo was just putting faces together .

Still –


'He was sitting in a car’s backseat today . That was probably the car that hit him . ’

'I see . ’

Gotou opened the window and lit his cigarette .

'If you’re going to smoke, please go outside . ’

'Oi, oi – this is my car . You’ve got no right to complain . So does it seem like that kid’s ghost is going to do something?’

'Perhaps… Though I didn’t notice when I was in the tunnel, now that I think about it, I should have known . I regarded something completely different in the same light…’

Yakumo bit his lip in his frustration .

It meant that an accident could occur somewhere .

Gotou wanted to do something, but to be honest, it’d be difficult . If he used his wireless to follow the car, he might be able to avoid the accident .

However, there was no reason to do so . Police couldn’t move because a ghost might cause an accident .

Even if he tried to explain that it was a car that had hit a kid, all he had to prove it now was Yakumo’s testimony .

'Is the car owner your friend?’

Gotou asked the question that suddenly came to his head .

'No . I wouldn’t be the friend of somebody like that even for a request . ’

'I see . ’


'Just… what?’

Even while asking that, Gotou had an idea .

He could tell from Yakumo’s restlessness .

'My acquaintance is in the car . ’

'That girl?’

The face of the female student called Haruka appeared in Gotou’s head .

She was so cute and amiable that she didn’t match with Yakumo .

'Yes,’ said Yakumo .

'Damn . ’

Gotou threw the documents into the backseat and leant back on his seat .

'Anyway, it was helpful . ’

Yakumo ended the conversation and opened the car door .

'What are you going to do?’

'It’s not like she’s my friend, but I can’t leave this alone . ’

'You got any ideas?’

'I’ll come up with them now . ’

Acting tough as always .

Even though he didn’t have any ideas . He could just honestly ask for help . How troublesome .

'Oi, Yakumo . ’


'You owe me one . ’

Yakumo looked surprised .

It was the first time Gotou had seen him look like that . Gotou could get used to this .

'Just get on . I’ll take you . You’re in a hurry, right? Don’t dawdle . ’

'Thank you very much . ’

It was probably the first time Yakumo had thanked Gotou .

'Forget about the thanks . It’s as unpleasant as being told "I love you” by my wife . ’

'Have you ever been told that?’

'Shut up . ’

Damn, even at a time like this?

'Hold on tight . ’

Gotou slammed the pedal and sped up, spinning the wheel to make a U-turn .

Yakumo lost his balance and hit his head against the side window .

'If you’re going to make a U-turn, please tell me . ’

'You didn’t ask . ’

Gotou laughed aloud in triumphant .

Yakumo put a hand against his injured head and looked like he wanted to say something, but in the end, he didn’t say anything .

Gotou felt like he’d won .

'Do you always drive like this?’

'I always need to hurry for work . ’

Gotou turned on the siren and drove even more quickly, caught up in the moment .

There were honks from behind him, but he didn’t care .

'That was a red light . ’

'I’ve got the siren on . The other cars will avoid us . ’

'What an astonishing officer you are . ’

'If you complain any more, I’ll drive at the speed limit,’ said Gotou as he drove even more quickly .

The mountain of documents on the dashboard fell down, scattering through the car .

'I don’t want to ever sit in a car you drive again, Gotou-san . ’

Though Yakumo said that, he was smirking .

'That’s my line . I won’t give you a ride ever again . ’

'Please turn left at the next intersection . ’

Gotou spun the wheel as Yakumo instructed .

The tires squealed .

'Oi, Yakumo . If we’re going on this road, are we…’

'Yes, we are . ’

A heavy atmosphere .

He’d been the one who said he’d drive him, but it made him want to back out .

'The ghost tunnel, eh…’

'Yes . That child is probably also heading for that tunnel . ’

'How can you tell?’

'There’s a call . From the amazing number of spirits that died there in similar accidents…’

It was true that the number of accidents there was abnormal . There were a quite a few of them in the photos taken by forensics after the accidents .

It wasn’t just one or two .

Heads all over the tunnel . And all of them looking right at you .

Honestly, if people were seeing that, an accident or two would be a matter of course .

But –

'Yakumo . Can I ask one thing?’

'If it isn’t a stupid question, yes . ’

Yakumo frowned, troubled by the smell of the cigarette, and opened the window as he replied .

'I’ve always thought it strange, but you can see dead people all the time . Putting that aside, though normal people can’t see them, that isn’t always the case . There are some people who can see them sometimes . ’

'Yes . ’

'Even for spirit photography, the people in the photo don’t notice, right?’

Yakumo seemed to think as he ran a hand through his hair .

Gotou forgot to tap the cigarette against the ashtray as he waited for an answer .


Yakumo started to speak, like he was thinking to himself .

'I think that it changes depending on a number of conditions . ’


'Yes . For example, there might be a change if the spirit of the dead has a strong will . Perhaps the will of the person who is looking has an influence . It’s often said that telling ghost stories calls out ghosts . ’

'Yeah . ’

Gotou had heard that a lot .

There was an urban legend that if you turned off the lights and told ghost stories, another person would show up .

'There is also the possibility that neither of those matters, and that it changes depending on natural phenomena . Temperature or humidity or light…’

'Like mirages?’

'There are many possibilities, but to be honest, I don’t know . If I could explain the cause, I would be able to heal my eye…’

'Right . That was a stupid question . ’

Gotou smiled wryly and apologised honestly .

'Please don’t be concerned about that . Though I wish you would be more concerned about the cigarette smoke . ’

'How many times do I have to say this? This is my car . ’

Gotou pressed his cigarette into the ashtray and lit a new cigarette .




Yakumo didn’t call again .

What on earth did he mean, saying something like 'if you don’t want to die’?

Though Haruka had said she was getting off? the call earlier, Tatsuya ignored her .

She didn’t have the courage to jump off a moving car .

As Haruka looked out the window, she noticed something strange .

This scenery . She’d seen it before .

Tatsuya had said he’d take a different road to avoid the tunnel .

However, the scenery was the same as last time .

'Hey, Tatsuya-kun . This road…’

No response . She looked at the driver’s seat .

His face was completely pale . His lips were trembling .

'Hey, Tatsuya-kun . Won’t we get to the tunnel if we go this way?’

’…I-I know…’

Though Tatsuya said he knew, it didn’t look like he was turning around .

Rather, he was speeding up .

There was a curve in front of them, but he still didn’t slow down . It was dangerous .

The tires screeched as they just managed to make the turn .

If she was in a car like this, she could actually die, just as Yakumo said .

'Hey, Tatsuya-kun!’ said Haruka frantically as she glared at Tatsuya .

A cold sweat ran down Tatsuya’s forehead . His eyes were bloodshot, and it looked like he was stuck to the wheel .

'Hey, wait . ’

Tatsuya didn’t reply to Haruka’s repeated questions, but he kept looking at the rear-view window pleadingly .

Haruka looked at the rear-view window as well .

There was a boy there .

With narrow eyes and plump red cheeks, the boy was looking at them with a smile .

Haruka hurriedly turned to look at the backseat .

There was no boy there . She looked at the rear-view mirror again .

She saw the boy smiling in the backseat .

However, when she turned around, there was nobody there .

A boy that only existed in the rear-view mirror –

'What is this?’

’… The brakes… The brakes aren’t working…’

Tatsuya sounded like he was going to cry .

'Aren’t working? What do you mean?’

'It wasn’t me . It’s not my fault . Help . Please help . ’

Tatsuya started yelling as tears rolled down his cheeks .

He couldn’t drive properly in this condition .

What on earth should she do? Haruka was confused when she heard a police car’s siren .

When she looked to the side, she saw a white car with a siren on .

The man in the passenger seat was leaning out and yelling something .

A face she’d seen before –

It was Yakumo .

* * *

'It’s great that we found them, but what are we going to do now? If a car comes this way, we’re wrecked,’ said Gotou in his irritation towards Yakumo as he drove .

There were two cars going in the same direction on a road with one lane for each direction .

They couldn’t keep doing this .

'First, I’ll confirm the situation . ’

'How? By yelling from here? They won’t hear . ’

Yakumo took his mobile from his pocket, opened the window, leant out and gestured .

'Turn on the power! The power!’

Yakumo yelled as loudly as he could .

Shit! Another car!

'Yakumo, come back in!’ yelled Gotou, slamming the brakes and grabbing the belt of Yakumo’s jeans so that he wouldn’t fall out .

Then, he swung the wheel to the right and followed the car Haruka was in .

Next to them, the truck let out a honk as it passed .

That was dangerous .

Yakumo leant back on the seat and took deep breaths .

The wind was strong . With the sound of the engine, Gotou didn’t know whether Yakumo’s voice had reached .

All he could do was hope it did .

Suddenly, Gotou noticed that there was a kid in the back of the car in front of them .

He was looking back at them, with his face stuck to the window . He had a cute smile .

That’s the kid’s ghost –

* * *

Haruka couldn’t hear what Yakumo was saying .

At first, she was confused about what Yakumo was doing here, but she didn’t have the time to think about that .

Yakumo had been trying to expression something .

He had been yelling with his mobile phone in his hand .

Ah . Mobile .

Haruka took her mobile out of his bag .

She couldn’t believe it – the phone was off . Did Tatsuya turn it off earlier?

Haruka hurriedly turned it on .

That moment, her mobile started vibrating .


<Are you OK? Though I’ll head back if I’m getting in the way of your date . >

It was Yakumo’s voice . He was speaking spitefully even at a time like this . Really, what a hateful guy .

However, Yakumo’s spiteful voice was her only hope now .

'It’s not a date . What should I do?’

<First, stop talking and explain the situation . >

If Haruka got back alive, she’d definitely poke him in the forehead .

'He says the brakes – the car’s brakes suddenly stopped working . ’

<Can you turn the wheel?>

'Tatsuya-kun, can you turn the wheel?’

Haruka covered the mobile phone’s receiver and spoke to Tatsuya .

Perhaps Tatsuya couldn’t speak, as he just nodded a number of times while sniffling .

'It seems the wheel’s OK . ’

<And the hand brake?>

'Tatsuya-kun, how about the hand brake?’

Haruka asked Tatsuya another question in the same way .

Tatsuya’s mouth just moved – she couldn’t tell what he was saying .

'Talk properly! What about the hand brake?’

I’m frightened too . Haruka yelled at Tatsuya .

'I don’t know . I didn’t try…’

Tatsuya finally spoke .

* * *

'It looks like the brakes are completely dead . The wheel is working . He hasn’t tried the hand brake . ’

Gotou drove as he listened to Yakumo’s quick explanation .

'That’s bad…’

A hand brake on this downward slope .

The car wouldn’t be able to stop completely .

What to do?

'Isn’t there any method? They’ll reach the tunnel soon . ’

'Wait . I’m thinking now . ’

Gotou took out his cigarette case, but he saw that it was empty and threw it out .

'It’s dangerous, but there’s no helping it . ’

After saying that, Gotou took the mobile from Yakumo .

'Sorry, but could you hand the phone to the driver?’

Soon, he heard the trembling voice of a man half in tears say <Hello> .

'OK, listen carefully to what I’m going to say . ’

Gotou spoke as slowly as he could so that he wouldn’t startle the guy .

'When I give the signal, put the car in low gear . Then, use the hand brake and turn the wheel slightly to the left . ’

<I-if I do that, the car’ll hit the guard rail…>

'It will! Don’t move the wheel after it does . Stick to the rail . Got it?’

After a while, Gotou heard Tatsuya’s weak reply .

Is this guy really OK?

Gotou was anxious, but all he could do was try . He took in a deep breath and waited for the right time .

'Got it? I’m going… Now!’

The car slowed slightly . Looked like Tatsuya was going along with the instructions . Then, the car slowly approached the guard rail .

Crunch .

The front of the car hit the guard rail and let out sparks .

However, the car continued moving .

They’d be out if they hit the curve .

'Any other methods?’ yelled Yakumo .

'Damn it!’

Gotou threw the mobile in his bad mood .

It hit the front glass and broke into parts .

'Yakumo . You’ll really owe me . ’

As Gotou said that, he stepped on the accelerator and drove parallel to the other car again .

'Hold on tight . ’

After saying that, Gotou used his own car to hit the one beside them .

There was the sound of metal hitting metal as Gotou’s car hit and drove erratically, but he forced it back again .

They hit once more, and this time, Gotou’s car didn’t move away and instead pushed the other one into the guard rail .

There was an unpleasant high-pitched screech as metal hit metal, letting off yellow sparks .

Finally, the sparks stopped, and the unpleasant sound of metal stopped too .

The two cars stopped just in front of the curve before the tunnel, letting out white smoke .

'If you’re going to ram into the car, please say so,’ grumbled Yakumo as he held a hand against his left shoulder .

'You didn’t ask . ’




Her head was dizzy .

Haruka’s feet were shaking, but she somehow managed to get out of the car on her own .

'Oi . You OK?’

Somebody hit her shoulder . Haruka’s blurry vision became clearer .

She saw Yakumo’s red left eye .

Unusual for him, he looked worried .

'Somehow…’ said Haruka, rubbing her forehead, which had been hit .

It didn’t hurt that much, but her consciousness was fuzzy .

'It’s good that you’re safe . ’

'Couldn’t you have saved me in a better way?’ complained Haruka, pushing Yakumo’s chest .

'Do you have a complaint?’ Gotou interrupted immediately .

'Sorry, that wasn’t…’

Haruka hurriedly bowed her head towards Gotou .

Yakumo smirked upon seeing it .

'What’s so funny? This is your fault anyway, Yakumo-kun . ’

'Stop shifting the blame . It’s just deserts, right? I even lost my contact lens – I’m really suffering here . ’

'Can’t you be a bit nicer?’

Thank you – why can’t I say that simple phrase honestly in front of Yakumo?

Haruka tried to make sense of her inexplicable feelings, but she didn’t come up with a reason .

Ooooo .

The moan of the wind interrupted the conversation .

Yakumo suddenly looked towards the tunnel .

It looked like he saw something there .

Haruka looked as well, but all she could see was the pitch-black tunnel .

Yakumo staggered towards the tunnel .

'Hey, what is it?’

It looked like Yakumo hadn’t heard Haruka’s words .

'Stop! You can’t go there!’

Yakumo suddenly yelled out and started running towards the tunnel .

'Don’t go! You won’t be able to come back if you do!’

Yakumo continued to run . Like he was chasing something –

However, it looked like he couldn’t catch it .

He stopped in the middle and fell to the asphalt, as if exhausted .

Then, he didn’t move for a while .

Only the cold wind proved that time hadn’t stopped .

How long was he there –

'Why… Why didn’t you understand…’

Yakumo finally murmured that and stood up, swaying as he did so .

'Yakumo . ’

Gotou called out to him .

In response, Yakumo very slowly turned around .

Haruka’s spine jolted .

Yakumo was as expressionless as a dead man . But –

His red eye was trembling with anger .

'You… That child was still alive . ’

With a slow but steady gait, Yakumo walked towards Tatsuya .

Yakumo’s red left eye glowed in the darkness, focussed on Tatsuya . Tatsuya let out a shriek .

He backed away in fear .

'Oi, Yakumo, what’s wrong?’


Yakumo didn’t respond to Gotou’s or Haruka’s voices .

He just continued to walk straight towards Tatsuya .

'You hit that boy with this car . ’

'Y-you’re wrong . ’

Yakumo continued, ignoring Tatsuya’s excuse .

'But that boy was still alive . You killed him . Thinking it’d be better for him to die, since he wouldn’t be able to be saved anyway – ’

'W-what are you saying?’

'You hit his head again and again with a hammer and killed him . ’

Tatsuya’s fear had reached its limit .

Under the intimidating pressure emitting from Yakumo, Tatsuya started crying as he continued to back away .

However, Yakumo didn’t let him get away .

'Who the hell decided that it would be better for him to die?’

'That isn’t it . There wasn’t anything we could do . ’

'You killed that child to hide the accident! Do you understand what you did!?’

Yakumo grabbed Tatsuya’s collar and rammed his head into Tatsuya’s nose .

Tatsuya’s nose and upper lip seemed to have been cut, as they were bleeding as he collapsed to the ground right there .

'Oi, Yakumo . You’re not saying that these guys – ’

'They did! They killed a child who was still alive and buried him to hide their accident . He was still breathing – he was still conscious!’

Yakumo’s words stabbed Haruka deeply in her chest .

What Tatsuya had done was completely unforgiveable .

'That isn’t just illegal disposal of a body – that’s murder . ’

Gotou approached Tatsuya with a sharp gaze .

’S-shut up . Shut your mouth! You have no proof . Where’s there proof? This guy’s nuts . Nobody’ll believe this story,’ yelled Tatsuya, waving his hands wildly .

'I believe it,’ said Gotou, looking down at Tatsuya .

'You don’t have any proof . No proof . ’

Tatsuya’s shoulders heaved as he screamed frantically .

'Got this? That child has been wandering here this whole time . Do you understand? This whole time . Should I kill you here and have you experience the same thing?’

Yakumo grabbed Tatsuya’s hair and forced him to sand up .

Tatsuya had been bluffing as well as he could, but his mind was at its limit .

Yakumo raised a tight fist .

'Stop it . ’

Gotou grabbed Yakumo’s arm to keep him in check .


'You don’t need to do that . I’ll take responsibility for this guy and send him to prison . So bear with it for now . There are other things you can do, right?’

Yakumo and Gotou glared at each other, unmoving .

A tension that felt like it would explode at any moment –

'Yakumo-kun! Stop!’ shouted Haruka, unable to bear it .

Yakumo slowly lowered his raised fist .

'Gotou-san . Please find the evidence afterwards . You must . ’

'You don’t even have to ask . ’

After saying that, Gotou pushed the resisting Tatsuya into the car’s backseat .

'Oi, I’m going back . ’

Gotou called out to him, but Yakumo didn’t move .

He was looking into the dark of the tunnel, which looked like the entrance to another world .

Haruka looked at Yakumo’s back, which seemed sad .

'I’ll come to pick you up after . ’

After saying that, Gotou made a U-turn with the car Tatsuya was in and drove away, climbing the slope .

'You found out the truth . That child must…’

Haruka spoke towards Yakumo’s profile .

How on earth must Yakumo feel? Is he angry? Sad? Haruka didn’t know .

'It’s frustrating sometimes . ’


'I told you this before, right? I can’t exorcise ghosts or anything . ’

'Yeah . ’

'I said that exorcism was like heresy, but the truth is, it’s frustrating that I can’t do it . ’

'Yakumo-kun – ’

'I can’t do anything but see them . ’

Haruka slowly walked up to Yakumo and stood next to him .

I don’t have a red eye, but if I thought that I might be able to see the same things if I were in the same place .

'Just because I can see them, everyone treats me like a monster . Despite that, all I can do is see them . I can’t do anything . ’

That isn’t true . Haruka tried to say that, but her voice wouldn’t come out properly .

'Why can I see with this eye, when I can’t do anything…’

Yakumo said just that .

At least I was saved by Yakumo-kun .

Because of that eye, I was released from my older sister’s accident, which I had been suffering from for thirteen years .

And he’s saved my life three times .

Haruka whispered that in her heart as she looked into the dark tunnel as Yakumo was doing –




Haruka pedalled the bicycle frantically as she climbed the slope to the tunnel .

In the bicycle’s basket, she had put white chrysanthemums that she had bought at the flower shop in front of the station .

The crime Tatsuya had committed had been proved as murder through Gotou’s investigation .

If he hadn’t thought about trying to get away with it, it would have just been an accident, but this incident had caused many people misfortune .

With more investigation, they found out that the boy’s parents had had an accident at that tunnel and had already passed away .

When he was hit by a car, that boy might have gone to his parents .

Thinking that made Haruka feel a bit better, but it didn’t change the fact that a life that didn’t have to be lost had been –

Though it was winter, it was intense exercise .

Haruka was completely sweaty when she reached the tunnel .

She took off her brown jacket . She was just about to take the flowers from the basket when somebody called out to her .

'You came all the way here by bike?’

Haruka lifted her head and saw Yakumo’s uncle, the priest, standing in front of the tunnel .

Unlike the last time they’d met, he was wearing black robes with a monk’s stole .

Haruka greeted the priest and walked up to him .

On the path beside the tunnel, there were beautiful white chrysanthemums in a vase along with incense, which let off white smoke .

'Did you do this, sir?’

The priest shook his head .

'It was Yakumo . ’

Haruka sat down and looked at the white chrysanthemums .

It was unexpected that Yakumo would do something like this .

'Yakumo called me out here . After talking about this tunnel, he told me to do something about all the spirits wandering here,’ continued the priest, smiling wryly .

'Even if he tells me to do something, I can’t see the spirits of the dead like Yakumo can . I really can’t do anything…’

'Yakumo-kun said it was frustrating,’ said Haruka, recalling the incident from before .


The priest cocked his head .

'Yes . He said it was frustrating for him, since he can see them but can’t do anything . ’

Suddenly, the priest laughed, nodding a number of times .

'Is something funny?’

The priest stopped laughing and cleared his throat before speaking .

'Before, Yakumo just hated being able to see them . Wondering why he was the only one who could see them . When he was a student, he even tried to stab his own eye with a knife . ’


'If he couldn’t see them, nobody would be afraid of him, and he wouldn’t have to be afraid . ’

If Haruka had been in the same position, she might have thought the same things as Yakumo .

'Is that so?’

She felt like her impression of Yakumo had changed a bit .

'It’s quite an improvement for that Yakumo to say that it’s frustrating to just be able to see them without being able to do anything . ’

'An improvement? It doesn’t seem like that at all to me thought . ’

The priest started laughing again .

What is so funny? Haruka didn’t understand at all .

'I’m the one who gave Yakumo his name . ’

The priest sat next to Haruka and started talking .

'When there are many layers of clouds, it’s called “yakumo” . ’

'Is that so?’

'When that child was born, and I saw that red left eye, I thought that he would definitely have to undergo many trials . Like thick layers of clouds that block the sun’s lights . ’

'So you called him Yakumo . ’

'I didn’t want him to lose to those trials . The path ahead is long, but I think that Yakumo has broken through one of those clouds . ’


Haruka said that name once more .

She heard the sound of a bird from far away .

No matter what changed, time continued to flow .

'Ah, that’s right . ’

Haruka took out the flowers that she had brought from the basket and placed it beside the vase Yakumo had placed . She put her hands together and closed her eyes .

Did Yakumo come here and talk to that boy?

She suddenly wondered that .

'I think it’ll be tough, but take care of Yakumo for me . ’

'Yes . ’

Haruka replied to the priest’s words with a smile . Then, she stood up, thanks the priest and left .

When Haruka looked up, a cloudless blue winter sky spread above her .

Will a day like this come for Yakumo too?

That thought suddenly came to her –