Volume 2 Chapter 2

Chapter 2


file 02: exorcism (TRANSLATION NOTES)




Why was he being treated like a maid? He had a lot of work to do since this was a serial abduction murder case .

Hata took a file out of the cabinet .

It was an autopsy report for a traffic accident that had occurred a few days earlier . Wasn’t it just a regular old traffic accident? He didn’t understand at all why something like this was necessary now .

The accident had occurred three days ago .

The male victim had ignored a red light and suddenly ran into the intersection .

There were reports from eyewitnesses as well . A housewife on the way home from shopping and a middle-aged man who worked at the management office for the water gate . However, the car was still at fault . The driver hadn’t watched the road .

Didn’t watch the road? If somebody suddenly ran into the intersection, you wouldn’t be able to avoid it even if you had been watching .

Traffic law was written in a way that completely ignored human reaction time .

It could only be called bad luck .

The driver found at the scene of the accident had seemed serious . He had been extremely pale and just barely managed to stand .

It had hurt to look at his cowering figure as he spoke in a trembling voice . He might have been imagining his future .

Hata, who had seen scenes like that many times, had decided not to drive a car .

He knew how terrifying it was to have your life crumble down around you in an instant .

‘We’re coming in . ’

At the same time as Hata heard that casually loud voice, the door opened and Gotou came into the room . Hata felt that it must have been suffocating for Gotou to come into the extremely narrow room lined with cabinets and shelves .

'Excuse me . ’

A slim young man followed Gotou in .

A light bulb turned on over Hata’s head – he didn’t even need to hear an explanation . Since Gotou had brought him along regarding the case, there was no mistaking it .

'Might you be Saitou Yakumo-kun?’

'There’s no might about it – that’s correct . ’

He gave a brusque reply to Hata’s question .

During the previous case, they had only spoke on the phone, but he could still tell immediately from that tone of voice .

The young man had been born with an exceptional genetic make-up that allowed him to see the spirits of the dead .

Hata stood up and shook hands with Yakumo . His body temperature was normal .

Still holding his hand, Hata took a close look at Yakumo’s face .

Oh – he usually wore contacts then . The size of his left and right eyeballs and pupils didn’t appear to differ much .

He wanted to confirm how it felt . Hata reached towards Yakumo’s left eye, but Gotou pushed that hand away .

'What are you doing?’ Hata had been so close .

'Shut up! You perverted old man! Do you plan on dissecting it?’

'Will you let me?’

'Are you an idiot? Control yourself and stick to mice!’ Gotou yelled, spitting as he did so .

What a noisy man .

Even if Hata didn’t go so far as to dissect it, he wanted to thoroughly examine Yakumo’s left eye one day .

That which connects the body and the soul, the barrier between the living and the dead . It was likely that Yakumo’s left eye could see that . Yakumo knew the answer to the question Hata had been chasing for so many years .

Gotou plopped himself down on the folding chair by the wall, and Yakumo stood by the wall with his arms folded .

At that point, another person came in – a man who felt rather frail .

'Er, please excuse me . My name is Ishii Yuutarou, and I’m working as Detective Gotou’s subordinate . ’

Compared to Gotou, the man seemed so fragile it was pitiful .

He bowed from the waist – it was so polite it was stupid .

'You’ve been paired with Gotou-kun? My condolences . ’

'Your condolences? You’re the one who’s got his feet stuck in the Sanzu River[1] . ’

'My, what an annoying man . ’

Hata laughed scornfully at Gotou’s insolent words and tossed the file onto the table .

'That’s the material you want . ’

'Thanks . ’

Gotou started flipping through the material on the table . Yakumo leant over to look as well . Since the room was too small, Ishii couldn’t move and stayed by the door .

'There’s no mistaking it . This is the man,’ Yakumo said, pointing at the photo taken of the corpse’s face at the time of the autopsy .

The skin from the cheek to the nose was cut . The blood had been wiped off before the photo was taken, but the flesh and bones still showed .

He was so thin it seemed sickly, and his face looked extremely nervous .

His name was Andou Takashi . He was twenty-five years old . His father was a member of the Kyushu prefectural assembly . He had been a legal apprentice until the end of last year, but he’d caused a little incident and had been unemployed at the time of his death .

'But why are you interested in an old traffic accident?’

He hadn’t heard anything from Gotou before he came . Hata asked his question while sipping at the tea in his teacup .

'A number of reasons . ’

Gotou crossed his arms standoffishly .

'I’m asking about those reasons . ’

He should have guessed from the flow of the conversation, but this man was just too straight . Hata thought that it was more appropriate to call him an idiot than a hot-blooded detective .

'The spirit of the man who died in this accident has possessed a woman . ’

Yakumo explained in Gotou’s stead .

Hata then understood that Yakumo had probably stuck his neck into this case since they believed a ghost was involved .

'That is interesting . ’

'This man has an attachment to life that knows no bounds . Furthermore, he also has very bad intentions . There must be something serious for a spirit of the dead to possess somebody living . I want to know what that something is . ’

So it wasn’t just seeing the spirits of the dead – he could feel so much?

It was becoming even more fascinating .

'Hata-san, was there anything you noticed?’ Yakumo asked .

'Things I noticed, eh?’

He thought it over .

The cause of death was a cerebral contusion . There were no other injuries, and there had been no response from drugs . Nothing particularly strange had showed up during autopsy .

'Anything is fine . ’

Even if he said that –

'There wasn’t really anything . ’

'I see . ’

Yakumo raked a hand through his hair, looking irritated .

'Old man . Where’s the corpse?’

Gotou asked an inappropriate question .

'It was cremated a long time ago . It’s already been three days since his death . ’

'Makes sense…’

'His family came to pick him up soon after . I think his flat’s already been vacated . ’

'His family must’ve been disturbed since their son died at such a young age in an unexpected traffic accident,’ Gotou said seriously, looking through the materials .

At those words, Hata recalled his memories from three days ago anew . Andou’s family hadn’t been emotional like Gotou had suggested . On the contrary –

'It was so cold-hearted . They finished the paperwork in a business-like manner and that was the end of it . ’


Gotou mulled over that .

'Seemed like he hadn’t really been a member of the Andou family in the first place . ’

'Kid from a previous marriage?’

'It’s a bit more complicated than that . He and his mother had lived by themselves when he was young, but that mother killed herself about ten years ago so he was adopted into the Andou family . ’

'Do you mean…’

Gotou was an idiot, but he had a good nose for this sort of thing from his experience as a detective .

'That’s what I mean . Seems his birth mother had been a mistress . That makes him a blood-related son . ’

'But why do you know so much about this, old man?’ Gotou asked . His doubt was natural .

'At some point during the procedure, I got to contact his family . A servant gossiped away about this even though I hadn’t asked . ’

'What a disaster . ’

'Well, I didn’t mind since it was interesting . If you’re interested, try giving a call . You’ll hear much more from a servant than the family themselves . ’

'Can’t stop rumours, eh . ’

Gotou leant back on his chair .

'After that, there was something a bit strange, though this might not be related . ’

'What is it?’

It seemed like Yakumo had felt something, and he spoke with his brows furrowed .

'I think it was yesterday . A few of the things he’d had on him were returned – said they weren’t their son’s . ’

'What were they?’

'If I remember correctly, there was a bible . A small one about the size of a notebook . There was also a key,’ Hata replied as he recalled his memories .

'Where are those?’

This time, Gotou was the one who spoke up .

'In storage . ’

'Ishii! Dash!’

Gotou yelled authoritatively, like he was calling a dog .


Ishii had just been listening silently . He suddenly turned around and jumped in surprise . He was fidgeting like he didn’t know what to do .

Gotou was awful at talking . He’d definitely just brought him along without explaining properly .

'Hurry and go bring it here!’

This time, Gotou stood up and pointed at the door as he yelled .

Ishii finally understood . It was nice how he responded with an 'Ah, yes sir!’ and rushed out, but he might have been too hurried because he banged into the closed door .

'What are you doing? Get a move on!’

Gotou lost his temper at Ishii, who was crouching while pressing a hand against his nose .

Ishii replied, 'Yes sir,’ in a nasal voice and left the room .

'It’s a light blue envelope that has Andou written on it!’

Hata called out to Ishii’s back .

He couldn’t be sure whether he heard him .

'I feel really bad for your subordinate,’ Hata muttered .




Gotou’s irritation had reached its peak .

It had already been almost an hour since Ishii went out of the room . Hata had already left, saying he had some other work to do .

He acknowledged Ishii’s enthusiasm, but he had probably run off in the wrong direction .

'That guy’s late…’

'Then why not help him out?’

Yakumo looked up from the materials he was perusing as he sat in the seat Hata had been in it .

'If you’re going to say that, you go . ’

'Ishii-san is your subordinate, Gotou-san . I’m a complete stranger . ’

'Ah, that’s true . ’

He really couldn’t beat Yakumo in an argument .

'Gotou-san, you’ve been a bit strange lately,’ Yakumo said, his lips turned up in a smirk .

Whenever Yakumo looked like that, he always had something unpleasant up his sleeve .

'I’m the same as usual . ’

Gotou denied what Yakumo had said, but it was true .

It had only been one day so far, but being paired up with Ishii was driving him mad .

That guy had an unnatural interest in the occult, which ended up with him proclaiming that Gotou was a spirit detective or something .

'Gotou-san, why not be a bit nicer to Ishii-san?’ Yakumo said with a big yawn .

'I never thought I’d hear about being nicer from you . ’

'Gotou-san, have you really not noticed?’

'Notice? Notice what?’

Gotou put himself on guard, though he couldn’t figure out what Yakumo was thinking .

'Ishii-san has feelings for you, Gotou-san . ’

'He has earrings?’

'You said that on purpose . Feelings . I meant that he likes you, Gotou-san . ’

'W-w-w-wha – ’

What was he saying? Gotou’s heart was beating wildly . Why was it thumping so much? Calm down .

It wasn’t like Yakumo’s words didn’t echo with him . When Ishii looked at Gotou, his eyes were like that of a puppy that had been given a treat . Gotou didn’t know what to do when a man looked at him with eyes like that .

'Got this, Yakumo? There’s a limit to how much you should joke . I’m a man . He’s a man . Understand?’

'You have an unexpectedly obstinate way of thinking . If you like someone, gender doesn’t matter . The important thing is how you feel, Gotou-san . ’

Yakumo replied with a serious look .

'There’s nothing to feel! I don’t swing that way . ’

A strange sweat ran down his forehead .

'Is that really true?’

'What do you want to say?’

Damn Yakumo . What the hell is he thinking? And why am I taking this so seriously?

'Nothing really . I’m just saying that it’d be better if you were honest with yourself . ’

'I don’t want to hear that from you . ’

'Please answer honestly . Gotou-san, men or women – which do you prefer?’

'I obviously prefer women!’

Just as Gotou stood up and shouted, Ishii opened the door .

Ishii’s mouth was gaping, and he stood stock still with a surprised expression on his face .

Yakumo was holding his stomach as he shook with laughter . He had just been making fun of Gotou to waste some time . What was he going to do with this atmosphere?

It’d just be annoying to explain everything .

'Was it there?’ Gotou asked, sitting back then .

'Ah, yes . I f-found it,’ Ishii said hesitantly, a light blue envelope in his hand .

'Let’s confirm what’s inside at once . ’

Yakumo’s face quickly turned serious, like nothing had happened .

Ishii put the contents of the envelope on the table . Just as Hata had said, there was a notebook-sized bible bound in black leather and a key that looked brand new .

Gotou reached out to take the bible, but Ishii had been thinking of doing the same thing, and their fingertips touched on top of the table .

'Ack . ’

He hurriedly pulled his hand back .

For some reason, things felt a bit strange .

He couldn’t look directly at Ishii’s face . What was this hazy feeling?’

'Gotou-san . Let’s stop those thoughts there . ’

Yakumo’s lips were turned up in a smirk .

That bastard . It’s because you said something strange . You haven’t even noticed Haruka-chan’s feelings . I’ll get you back someday –

Gotou bit his lower lip and changed his mind, taking the key on the table .

It was still new . There was a sticker with <E-3> written on it on the bow . It was a key for a disc tumbler lock . It was probably for some room .

For a moment, he thought it might have been for the flat Andou lived in, but it’d be strange for his relatives to return it if that were the case .

Yakumo took the bible in his hand and flipped through it .

Ishii looked like he didn’t know what he should do, so he stood upright like a kid who had been scolded .

Can we really save Makoto from the spirit by doing this –

'Gotou-san, please look at this . ’

Yakumo broke the silence and placed a photo on the table .

It had probably been carried around for a while . The photo’s corners were worn .

There was a girl in the photo . Her hair was tied in a ponytail, and she wore a school uniform with a blazer .

The photo looked like it had been taken in a room . There was a smile on her lips . She looked happy at a glance, but her eyes weren’t smiling .

Her eyes were wet, and it looked like she was afraid .

'Where’d you find that?’

'It was in between the bible’s pages…’

Yakumo replied with his chin in his hands .

Why had Andou carried this photo with such devotion?

’T-t-this is Ayaka-chan!’

Suddenly, Ishii let out a loud voice which pierced Gotou’s ears .

'You’re so noisy . What are you making a fuss about?’

Ishii’s behaviour was unusual . His body was shaking, and he was so agitated it felt like he could faint at any moment .

'But that’s Ayaka-chan . ’

'I heard you say that earlier . She somebody you know?’

'No, I don’t know her, but… That’s not it . This is the first victim from the serial abduction murder case…’


Gotou became agitated as well and stood up .

Ishii was talking about that Ayaka-chan –

The police were currently in a frenzy investigating that case .

It wasn’t just Ayaka-chan . The other day, the corpse of the second victim, Miho-chan, was found at a dumpsite . Three days ago, Keiko-chan had disappeared .

It was a serious incident which had shaken society . A general mobilisation of the investigation team had been called and they were currently conducting an investigation, but since Gotou was being treated as an outsider, he hadn’t seen a proper photo before .

But why would Andou, who’d died instantly in a traffic accident, have the photo of the female victim?

'His relatives might have thought this wasn’t his because this photo was inside,’ Yakumo said, tapping the photo with his fingertip .

Surely that was it . And old Hata had just put it away without looking inside .

Thinking about it logically, there wouldn’t be a link between a traffic accident and a serial abduction murder case .

But –

'There might be something here . ’

'Detective Gotou, what will you do?’ Ishii said with a rare snort .

Even if he asked that, it wasn’t something he could answer immediately .

A man who died in a traffic accident had a photo of a victim of a serial abduction murder case . It was incredibly suspicious, but that was the limit of it .

Should I go talk to investigations –

No, that wouldn’t be necessary . They’d do it themselves .

'Ishii . Look into that Andou guy’s background again . His friends, his upbringing – any detail will do . Just look into it . ’

'Y-yes sir!’

Ishii stood up straight and responded energetically .

The way he responds is the only respectable thing about him though –

Gotou pinned down a tinge of anxiety and decided to start their investigation .




I could see a light –

A faint white light .

I can see someone’s face .

Who could it be –

The person is saying something .

I can’t hear .

I feel myself swaying .

Where am I?

I fell into the river, and then –

I couldn’t breathe –

Am I dead?

'I’m glad . It looks like you’re awake . ’

Haruka heard a voice .

Upon hearing that voice, the mist lifted from Haruka’s vision .

A middle-aged man with a long face was peering at her from above .

She remembered seeing him before . He had been at the river .

'Everything’s OK now,’ he said gently, smiling . His eyes closed when he smiled . Somehow, he made her feel at ease . 'I…’

Her voice was hoarse and didn’t feel like her own .

'You nearly drowned in the river . Uchiyama from the management office at the water gate saved you . ’

She recalled the middle-aged man in work clothes who had been at the river .

He was tan, with thick, forceful eyebrows and a sturdy body build .

That man saved her –

She was alive .

Haruka faintly but finally understood her own situation .


'Don’t worry . I’m a doctor, and this is my hospital . ’

So this man was a doctor .

She had been lucky .

An IV tube hung from her arm .

'My name is Kinoshita . What’s your name?’ Kinoshita asked .

'Ozawa… Haruka . ’

Though she had regained consciousness, her body still felt heavy, and her voice wouldn’t come out the way she wanted it to .

'You drank a lot of water . You should rest for today . ’


'Please don’t worry about it . This is a private hospital and the nurses have gone home already, but if you need anything, press that button to call me and I’ll come right away . ’

She decided to obediently agree to Kinoshita’s proposal .

She couldn’t go home by herself in this state .

'Well, have a good rest . ’

Kinoshita turned around and started to leave the hospital room .

'Um . ’

Haruka called out to Kinoshita, forcing the sound out of her throat .

'What is it?’

'Thank you very much . ’

Kinoshita smiled pleasantly .

'After you recover, please thank Uchiyama as well . ’

Haruka responded with a nod . Then, Kinoshita turned off the lights and left .

In the moonlit twilight, Haruka realised that she was alive .

She couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad, but tears flowed from her eyes and wet her pillow .

– Big sister . I’m still alive .




First thing in the morning, there was a regular investigation meeting .

Even though they conferred every day, they didn’t have much to report .

While Hata rubbed at his sleepy eyes, he half-heartedly listened to their exchange .

'When we investigated the call history on the mobile phone of the second victim, Miho-chan, it showed in the browser history that she had accessed an online dating site…’

'Regarding the white station wagon that was sighted at the scene, we currently don’t know who…’

'We obtained a list of customers for a pornography shop…’

'A former instructor who was arrested before for molestation was…’

The information was snarled . They couldn’t narrow down the targets .

He knew that they were just taking all the possibilities into account, but they would just be overwhelmed by all the information they gathered .

If they couldn’t find an opening, this stalemate would just continue .

Hata stifled a yawn as he mulled over these thoughts .

'What do you think, Hata-san?’

Suddenly, Chief Hijikata spoke to him .

He might have meant that as a reprimand towards someone who had yawned imprudently, but he was barking up the wrong tree . Hata was a coroner .

He autopsied corpses and showed up to investigation meetings like this, but strictly speaking, he wasn’t part of the police .

Hata accepted requests from the police – a subcontractor, so to speak .

'Are you asking me?’

He’d try playing dumb . Hijikata stared directly at Hata .

What an obstinate man . Since it didn’t seem like he would be able to get out of this, Hata reluctantly opened his mouth .

'If you are requesting my personal opinion, I think that the aim of this case’s perpetrator is to kill . ’

There were exclamations from every corner of the conference room .

Hata hadn’t meant to say something so surprising .

'What do you mean?’

'I mean exactly what I said . ’

'I don’t understand . ’

Hijikata looked sullen, like a child .

'From the impression I received after autopsying the corpses, there hadn’t been any injuries that stood out or indications of sexual assault, yet the ankles had been bound by something like a rope . ’

'Oi, couldn’t he have been planning to assault them only to have them die before he could?’

'I don’t know why he wouldn’t have assaulted them immediately after binding them,’ Hata replied, knowing his words would rub Hijikata the wrong way .

As usual, Hijikata was emotionally overwrought and had a bright red complexion .

'Then what is his goal?’

'I don’t know . He isn’t doing this to satisfy his libido or for money – something else . ’

'A grudge?’

'That’s probably not it . If it were a grudge, it would have been better for him to injure them more . Both their corpses were too clean . ’

Hijikata glared at him like he had spotted a cockroach .

'Keep your hobby in check . I don’t want to arrest you . ’

At Hijikata’s words, the conference room suddenly filled with laughter .

He didn’t remember saying anything laugh-worthy . As long as a man like that was in command, it would be impossible to solve the case .

Shouldn’t you be worrying about your daughter who’s been possessed? It’d be faster if you left a case like this to Gotou and Yakumo .

Hata muttered those words in the back of his mind and smiled bitterly .




Ishii first headed towards the police station in front of the station, in order to meet with Sergeant Yoda, who had been in charge of the violent incident Andou caused a month ago .

Yesterday, Ishii had stayed up all night to investigate Andou .

Ishii found out about the violent incident through that . Andou hadn’t been indicted or charged, but there was still a record of it with the police .

The truth was, Ishii should have come together with Detective Gotou, but the detective had refused bluntly, saying, 'Do something like that yourself . ’

Detective Gotou had to be testing him . Would he be an appropriate partner? Ishii had to stand firm here to prove that .

'Excuse me . I’m Ishii from the detective department . ’

He peeked inside from the police station’s entrance .

It was a small space that might not have even been four tatami mats in size . A plump policeman of about forty or so was sitting on a chair at the desk in the middle of the room, and he looked up and grunted to acknowledge Ishii’s presence .

It seemed that he was Sergeant Yoda .

'Well, please . Come in . ’

Invited in by Yoda, Ishii sat on the folding chair opposite him .

'I am Sergeant Yoda Tarou . Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come . ’

Yoda showed the identification in his police notebook and introduced himself .

'Ah, please don’t concern yourself with that . You must be busy with the serial murder case too . ’

'Yes, well . ’

Ishii was really an outsider, but Yoda ventured to reply vaguely without really saying anything .

'Er, you spoke about the Andou case, yes?’

While Yoda said that, he took out his work log from the desk drawer . He licked his fingers and then started flipping through the pages .

'That’s right . ’

'If the detective department is looking into it, does that mean Andou is the perpetrator?’

Such speculation was natural, but at this point, Ishii couldn’t say yes or no .

'I could ask you the same thing . ’ Ishii replied with a weak smile, which made Yoda scowl at him . He looked like he could start clicking his tongue at any moment . Ishii could almost hear Yoda’s dissatisfaction at not being able to be informed about anything .

'Well, it’s not a question we officers at the police station should be asking about,’ Yoda replied, his expression once again mild .

'I’m sorry . ’

'Why are you apologising?’

'Ah, er… even if you ask me why…’

'You have to be firmer . If you get flustered like that, even the perps will make fun of you . ’

'Ah, yes . ’

Ishii already knew what Yoda was telling him, but knowing and being able to do something about it were different stories .

Assertion was good, but what if that assertion was incorrect? He always ended up thinking about that . Naturally, that made him unable to say his own opinions .

He had ended up with his mouth shut many times because of that .

'It was unnecessary concern on my part . ’

Maybe he had seen how Ishii was completely depressed, but Yoda went back to their original subject while drumming the back of his neck . 'The Andou case, right?’

'Yes . It’ll be fine if you just say what you remember . ’

'I remember it well . It was about one month ago… I had gone to the station because of some fuss with another incident and was returning from that . While I was going up the stairs, somebody called out to me saying, 'Officer, there’s a molester . ’

'A molester?’

Ishii cocked his head .

According to his data, Andou had caused a violent incident .

'That’s right . She was a girl in middle school or so, and she had her hair in a ponytail . That girl said, “That man peeked up a girl’s skirt . ”’

'That man was Andou . ’

'Yes . His eyes were wide as saucers in surprise . I couldn’t leave things as they were since there was a female student in a skirt right in front of him, so I questioned him . ’

'Did Andou really look up a skirt?’

'It’s hard to find proof for molestation, so eyewitnesses and the victims’ testimonies get precedence . It’s easy to falsely accuse somebody of it . ’

'Then Andou…’

'This is just my gut feeling, but he probably didn’t do it . ’

Yoda rubbed his double chin and stared into the air for a while, looking like he was pondering something, before continuing his story .

'Andou also insisted that he didn’t do it . Well, it’s not like the victim pressed charges, so I thought I’d just end it by warning him . ’

'It didn’t end . ’

Yoda nodded at Ishii’s words .

'That female student said this to Andou: “Liar . Just go die . ”’

She said something like that to him –

They weren’t words that should be said lightly to a stranger . It was an unbelievable thought, but it might not have been that surprising to hear on a news programme from a middle school student .

'When the guy heard that, his eyes suddenly looked different . They looked like they had been possessed by something . And then…’

'He assaulted that female middle school student?’

'Yeah . Since I held him back immediately, the girl wasn’t harmed, but…’

'He was caught red-handed in his assault . ’

'Just as you say . ’

Yoda sat up in his chair, looking awkward, before continuing .

'I think that girl didn’t see Andou molest anyone . She probably saw an officer nearby and decided to play a little prank, that’s all . ’

Ishii hadn’t seen it happen, but it was probably as Yoda said .

Andou had been a legal apprentice . Even if he hadn’t been arrested or charged, the event would have made his future life very difficult .

If he had been aiming to be a police officer or judge rather than a lawyer, he would have already been despairing .

Just one word closed the door on his dreams .

What feelings did Andou have afterwards?

While Ishii imagined them, he felt as depressed as if a dark cloud had been hanging over him .

'It wouldn’t have ended like this if the guy had been just a bit calmer,’ Yoda said with deep feeling, ending the discussion .




'Why do I have to go with you?’

While driving, Gotou took a peek at Yakumo, who had his arms crossed sullenly .

Yakumo’s dissatisfaction was natural . Gotou didn’t think that he should be bringing a civilian into the investigation either .

However, the case this time couldn’t be solved without Yakumo .

They’d run into the serial murder case while pursuing the spirit possessing Makoto, but he had no idea where to go from there .

The reason Gotou had asked Yakumo to cooperate with him on the investigation wasn’t just because he had the unique ability to see spirits .

Yakumo’s insight and reasoning capability were essential for solving the case .

'Don’t say that . You won’t be able to accept things as they are yourself . ’

Gotou held a cigarette in his mouth as he handled the wheel .

'You’re the one who made me feel that way, Gotou-san . Also, if you light that up, I’m going home . ’

'Ah, my bad . ’

Yakumo really was fussy about everything . His hobby might have been making other people angry .

After they crossed the bridge over the Tama River and had just passed the shopping street in front of the station, a sign with the words <Kinoshita Surgery: Maternity and Gynaecology Department> .

'Oh, there it is . ’

Gotou turned on his hazard lights and parked his car at the shoulder of the road beside the park .

The white-walled building had three floors and a flat roof . It was as big as an apartment building . Its scale was acceptable for a private hospital that also functioned as a residential building .

Gotou got off the car and headed towards the hospital’s entrance . Yakumo followed after him, complaining the whole way .

A sign with the words <No Consultations> hung on the glass door, and the curtains were closed . Gotou stooped over to look inside through the window, but he couldn’t make anything out .

When he pushed the door handle, it opened without any resistance – it hadn’t been locked .

'We’re coming in,’ said Gotou, stepping into the hospital .

Nobody was in the lobby . Gotou took slippers from the shoe rack and changed into them before stepping up into the dim linoleum-tiled lobby .

'It seems like consultations are off for today only,’ Yakumo said significantly as he followed after Gotou .

Gotou wondered to himself as he took a look at reception . There was nobody here either .

A hospital with no one in it was uncanny enough in itself .

'Anybody here?’

Gotou yelled in a loud voice that echoed through the hospital .

'Sorry, there are no consultations today . ’

The door to the examination room ahead of the lobby opened, and a man dressed in white showed up .

'Are you Doctor Kinoshita?’

'Yes, I am, but…’

Kinoshita was a kind-looking man with an oval face and droopy eyes, but his cheeks were hollow and there were dark circles under his eyes – he appeared considerably worn out .

He was the father of the first victim of the serial abduction murder case .

The sorrow from the lingering memory of the incident surrounded him .

'My name is Gotou . I’m from the detective department . ’

Gotou showed his identification .

Kinoshita sighed, looking like he might cry while smiling .

'What do you require from me?’

'I want to ask you something about the incident . ’

'I see . Please come in . ’

Kinoshita smiled amiably, an expression completely different from his earlier one, and invited them into the examination room .

Gotou went into the examination room where Kinoshita was together with Yakumo .

It was a dreary room with only a desk and a bed .

The room in the back behind the partition was probably an examination room with a bed or something in it .

Kinoshita lined up two round chairs on the opposite side of the desk and gestured at them to sit .

'Please forgive me . The nurses are all off today, and I’m the only one here . I can’t be a good host…’

Kinoshita bowed his head several times, seeming apologetic .

'Don’t worry about it . We’re not here for a friendly visit . ’

Gotou waved his hand like he was chasing away a fly .

Kinoshita had said that the nurses were all off today, but that probably wasn’t actually it .

Gotou had heard a rumour that everyone from the nurses to the patients had stopped coming ever since the incident with Kinoshita’s daughter . Sadly, that was the way of the world .

Even though it wasn’t as if Kinoshita had become the father of the victim because he wanted to, he was receiving abuse from people who didn’t care about his emotional state .

'May I ask who is accompanying you?’

Kinoshita gave Yakumo a strange look as he asked that .

Well, his misgivings were natural . Gotou should have made Yakumo wear a suit or something .

'He’s a detective, even though he looks like that,’ Gotou replied in a very matter-of-fact manner . Half-baked lies would be no good in a situation like this .

'A detective? You are very young . ’

Kinoshita had his chin in his hand and appeared to be thinking about something .

'I am Saitou Yakumo from the detective department,’ Yakumo replied, as if to shake off Kinoshita’s suspicions .

'Saitou… Yakumo…’

Kinoshita repeated that name like he was ruminating .

He narrowed his eyes and looked like he was thinking about something again, but finally, he looked up in surprised realisation .

'Was your mother’s name Azusa-san?’

'How do you know that?’

Yakumo looked at Kinoshita with searching eyes .

'I was right then! You’re Saitou Yakumo!’ Kinoshita said happily in a loud voice, clapping his hands together .

'You know him?’ Gotou whispered .

Yakumo shook his head, appearing displeased .

'Ah, excuse me . I was too excited . So you’re Yakumo-kun . You’ve gotten so big . I must have aged as well . ’

Kinoshita crossed his arms and furrowed his brow, looking very emotional .

'Oi, looks like you do know him . ’

'Like I said, I don’t know him,’ Yakumo replied, as if to stifle the line of questioning . Somehow, it felt like there was a gap in the conversation .

'It seems I’ve confused you – please forgive me . It’s natural for Yakumo-kun to have forgotten me,’ Kinoshita said with a pleasant smile .

'Excuse me, but do you really know me?’

Even Yakumo couldn’t hide his bewilderment .

'Yes . Let me explain . I was the doctor present at your birth . ’

Oi oi, that was surprising .

'You were…’

Unusual for him, Yakumo looked like a pigeon that had been hit by a peashooter .

'Still, you have a good memory . ’

'Well, it left a deft impression, in a variety of ways . ’

Kinoshita replied to Gotou with a nod .

He was probably talking about Yakumo’s eye . His red left eye . Kinoshita was the first person in the world to see it .

'You’re hiding it with a contact lens then?’

'Yes . ’

Yakumo replied to Kinoshita’s question clearly .

The confusion had left Yakumo’s face, but he was stiff with tension .

Wow, what karma –

'To be honest, I’m happy that you’ve grown up like this . Please listen without taking offence . ’

Yakumo nodded silently at Kinoshita, who had become talkative .

'When I picked you up, I thought you might not have been able to live . Part of it was for medical reasons, but more than that, people can be unimaginably cruel to those who are different from them, so… you see . You’ve had the support of many people as you grew up . ’

Yakumo smiled bitterly, like he didn’t understand Kinoshita’s words .

'My mother tried to kill me . ’

'She tried to kill you? You must be lying . ’

Kinoshita’s eyes went wide from shock .

'No, it’s true,’ Gotou interrupted .

Whether it was good luck or bad, Gotou happened to be present then . Kinoshita shook his head back and forth fervently, as if saying he couldn’t believe it .

No matter how he tried to deny it, it was the truth .


'She probably loathed this left eye,’ Yakumo replied, refusing Kinoshita’s disavowals .

'There must have been some reason . I understand, since I’ve lost my daughter . A parent wouldn’t kill their child just because of loathing . She must have had a reason for coming to that,’ Kinoshita insisted with tears in his eyes .

Gotou could somewhat understand the doctor’s feelings . From the perspective of a man who had had his beloved daughter cruelly taken away from him, it would be inconceivable to take the life of his child with his own hands .

On the other hand, from the perspective of Yakumo, whose mother had tried to kill him, the bond between a parent and a child didn’t deserve his belief . If he didn’t tell himself that, Yakumo’s theory would fail .

Sadly, it wasn’t possible for everyone in the world to live with the same values .

That was why crimes occurred . That was just how it was .

'If I meet with her again, I would love to hear why a woman would try to kill her own child . ’

The corners of Yakumo’s lips were turned up into a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes . They were looking forward with incredible force .

'That’s true . No matter what reason she had, it isn’t forgivable…’

Kinoshita looked up at the ceiling to escape Yakumo’s gaze .

'Sorry, but could you have your emotional reunion some other time?’ Gotou interrupted .

It wouldn’t be good to let the two of them discuss any further . They would get even further off-track .

Their situations and positions were completely different . It wasn’t about who was right – they were both truths, respectively .

'That’s right . ’

Kinoshita fixed his posture .

Yakumo mussed up his hair, like he was resetting his emotions, but the sharp look did not leave his face .

Well, nothing could be done about that .

'Actually, we came because there was something we wanted to show you today . It might be tough, but could you cooperate with us?’

Gotou asked Kinoshita again . Kinoshita nodded silently .

'First, there’s this photo . ’

Gotou handed over the photo that had been in the bible that was in Andou’s possessions to Kinoshita .

In the photo, a girl in a ponytail was smiling while crying .

Did the girl know she was going to die when the photo was taken? That thought suddenly came to Gotou .

'Ayaka…’ Kinoshita said, his voice hoarse . The hand holding the photo was trembling and his eyes were red .

'Do you recognise this photo?’

'It’s the first time I’ve seen it . ’

'Are you sure?’

'All the photos of my daughter are in albums . There’s no mistaking it . ’

It didn’t sound like Kinoshita was lying .

Gotou noticed the photo in the silver frame on the desk .

Kinoshita’s daughter, Ayaka-chan . There was a man about Kinoshita’s age as well .

Had Kinoshita put this photo out after his daughter’s death? Or was it from before? Gotou couldn’t ask .

'Do you know about when this photo was taken?

Upon hearing Gotou’s words, Kinoshita rubbed at his eyes and moaned quietly while hunched over .

Gotou didn’t want to press Kinoshita for an answer when he was trembling like that; he just waited for Kinoshita to lift his head .

'This is… a photo that was taken after my daughter disappeared . ’

Kinoshita finally sat up and spoke, bright red all the way to his ears .

A balloon that was about to pop – that was what he looked like .

It felt like he was forcing himself to keep his unstoppable rage within himself . His emotion was so strong it was unfathomable to Gotou, who didn’t have a child .

'How can you be certain?’

At Gotou’s question, Kinoshita bit his lower lip so hard it looked like it would draw blood .

'There’s a plaster on her ear . The night before she disappeared, she had gotten her ears pierced . I had opposed at first, but she said she really wanted to… My daughter usually wouldn’t ask for much, so…’

Kinoshita was probably reliving the scene in his mind . He covered his face with his hands – he couldn’t finish speaking .

This man blamed himself .

Even though his daughter had been taken away from him for no reason, he turned that resentment towards himself . He was hurting himself .

'I see…’

Gotou wasn’t sure what he understood himself . There wasn’t any special meaning to it . It was just that he couldn’t think of anything else to say .

'Where did you find this picture?’ Kinoshita asked in a shaking voice . He was looking down .

'Currently, I can only say that we found it during the investigation . ’

For a while, Kinoshita just looked at his feet .

Gotou just waited for Kinoshita to move .

When he looked to the side, he saw Yakumo looking at Kinoshita seriously with a finger on his brow . That guy felt something . Though Gotou didn’t know what it was .

'I understand . ’

Finally, Kinoshita looked up with his red eyes and said just that .

'Actually, there’s one more thing I’d like to show you .

Gotou took a key in a plastic bag out from his jacket pocket and handed it to Kinoshita .

Andou had also been holding this .

'What is it?’

'A key . Don’t know what it’s for . Does it look familiar to you?’

'Unfortunately…’ Kinoshita said apologetically, and he handed the key back to Gotou .

They’d gotten no leads for the key, but if the photo really had been taken after the girl disappeared, they couldn’t say that Andou had nothing to do with the case .

This is getting interesting –




Haruka was in the water –

For some reason, she didn’t feel cold or pain .

She let herself be dragged along by the flow, and her body moved with the water .

Something surfaced in front of her .

It was the girl she had seen at the river . She was decaying – her skin had changed colour, and her flesh was falling off, exposing the bone .

Suddenly, the girl’s eyes opened .

She’s looking at me –

'Why… won’t you save me…’

The girl grabbed Haruka .

'Why am I the only one who died?’

Blood dripped from the girl’s face .

That face –

At some point, it changed to her sister’s face .

– Big sister!

She wasn’t in her room . Where was she? Haruka was confused for a moment, but she remembered soon afterwards . She had nearly drowned in the river and had been brought to this hospital .

She turned her gaze to the analogue clock on the wall .

It was already nearly ten in the morning .

Her body felt heavy, as if she had a weight on her back .

Her head ached with a throbbing pain .

But she couldn’t just stay here forever . Haruka got up from the bed .

Haruka’s belongings were gathered on the bedside table .

Haruka finished changing, picked up her things and left the room .

She didn’t see anybody in the corridor . Not only that, but the lights were also off, so the corridor was dim .

'Excuse me . ’

She tried calling out, but there was no response . It was a fairly quiet hospital .

She was forced to go to the reception desk, but there was nobody there either . She hadn’t paid yet, so she couldn’t just go home .

Suddenly, she heard voices talking . She strained her ears . The voices came from the examination room behind the reception .

She thought it would be rude to interrupt a consultation, but she couldn’t calm down if she just stood in front of the door, since it felt like she was eavesdropping .

Haruka resolutely knocked on the door .

'Come in . ’

She heard a voice . Haruka opened the door .

'You look better now . I’m glad . ’

Kinoshita was sitting facing her and spoke with a smile .

'Thank you very much . ’

Haruka bowed deeply . At the same time, the two people who had been sitting facing the other direction turned around .


She was frozen in surprise .

Detective Gotou . And Yakumo –

Why were they here?

'What are you doing in a place like this?’ Yakumo asked quietly, staring at her with sleepy eyes .

No, that was what she wanted to ask .




Haruka sat in the backseat .

She was being driven home by Gotou in an unmarked police car .

Yakumo, in the passenger seat, was gazing out the window with an expression full of displeasure .

For some reason, Haruka felt ashamed .

'Haruka-chan . Why’d you go to the river?’

While waiting for the light to change at the intersection, Gotou turned around and asked her a question .

Well, it was an expected question . Kinoshita, the doctor, had pretty much explained how she had nearly drowned in the Tama River and was brought to the hospital, but he hadn’t explained the reason .

'I was asked by a friend . ’

'To almost drown in a river?’ Gotou asked with a serious look .

Where would you find a friend who would request something so commendable? Even if she had been asked to do that, she definitely wouldn’t have accepted .

'That’s not it . Er… I heard that she saw a ghost there… and then…’

'I see . I thought you might’ve been hiding something the last time I saw you, so that was it . ’

It hurt to hear Gotou-san say that .

She hid her face in embarrassment .

'So you just stuck your neck in without thinking . ’

Yakumo mercilessly lined up harsh words .

I did go there without thinking, but that was because I didn’t want to cause trouble for Yakumo –

Even if she said that, it would just sound like an excuse .

'Come on, don’t say it like that . Haruka-chan kept quiet because she didn’t want to cause trouble for you . Isn’t that praiseworthy?’ Gotou said to pacify Yakumo .

'That is even more troublesome for me . If I’m just going to brought into the situation in such a half-baked manner, it would have been easier for me if she had just spoken to me in the first place . ’

'That’s quite a mouth on you when you’re the one who won’t stop complaining about people making trouble for you . ’

It was just as Gotou-san said . Haruka wanted to give him an award .

'Traffic light . It’s green . ’


After Yakumo spoke, Gotou hurriedly stepped on the pedal .

'I’d like you to reflect a little . Though that’s just if you actually have the ability to think,’ Yakumo said disagreeably .

Haruka felt she was in the wrong, so she hadn’t said anything, but the last bit had definitely been unnecessary .

'Hey . What do you mean by that?’

'Nothing in particular . Please take it exactly as I said it . ’

He was the worst .

Why was he acting so high and mighty? Haruka had been in considerable trouble herself . He could have been a little nicer .

'It isn’t as if I went there without thinking . ’

'You’re getting angry at me?’

'I know I can’t do anything, but Gotou-san had brought in some trouble for you too, and if I troubled you on top of that…’

'Oi, oi . Now it’s my fault?’

Gotou interrupted without a moment’s delay .

'Sorry, that’s not what I meant . ’

'Well, don’t worry about it . That guy’s going to complain no matter what you do, so there’s no point in worrying . Just ignore it and leave it to him . ’

'The reason I suffer is because there are irresponsible people like you, Gotou-san,’ Yakumo retorted in his annoyance .

'Hmph . You keep on running your mouth, but you’re just worried . ’

'It would be better for you to worry about your wife leaving you, Gotou-san . ’

'My wife’s got nothing to do with this!’

One sentence from Yakumo made Gotou raise his voice in anger .

'Eh? Has your wife left again, Gotou-san?’ Haruka asked seriously .

'Shut up . That’s not it . ’

Gotou looked so cute in his franticness that Haruka ended up smiling slightly .

'It seems that Gotou-san recently started an exchange diary with his wife, even though it’s unbecoming for his age . ’

'Oi, what a minute! How do you know that, Yakumo?’

Even though Gotou was driving, he took his hands off the wheel to grab him .

'That’s dangerous . ’

At Yakumo’s comment, Gotou cursed and took the wheel again .

'Gotou-san, you’ve got your cute points . ’

'Haruka-chan, you too? Please stop . ’

'If you don’t look forward while driving, you’ll get in an accident again,’ said Yakumo, pointing forward .

'Again? What do you mean, again? Last time it was to save Haruka-chan . ’

'Eh? It was my fault? That’s…’

Haruka covered her face on purpose and made it look like she was sad .

'No, that’s not it…’

Gotou looked flustered, like he had screwed up and didn’t know what to do .

'Come on, Gotou-san . Look forward,’ Yakumo said .

'Aah! Shut up!’ Gotou yelled, hitting the wheel .

It was so funny Haruka laughed so hard she had to hold her stomach .

Ah, no matter what’s said, I always end up being honest in front of these two . I realise that now .

It doesn’t matter how other people see me . My sister doesn’t have to switch places with me . I can get angry and smile and cry like I want to –

'Come tomorrow to explain properly . It would be troublesome if you died and came back to haunt me . ’

Yakumo muttered that as Haruka got off Gotou’s car .

He said one thing too much, but –

'I will . ’

The car started at the same time as she responded .

While watching the car leave, Haruka murmured 'Thank you’ in her heart .




'How was it?’

After Haruka got off the car, Gotou asked Yakumo that question while starting the car .

Yakumo ran a hand through his hair and spoke with a troubled expression .

'According to Doctor Kinoshita’s story, that photo was taken after the disappearance . ’

'Yeah, that’s right . ’

'That would make Andou, who died in the traffic accident, incredibly suspicious . ’

'You think that too then . ’

Gotou had also been thinking that .

The case with the serial abductions and murders of girls . He had a suspicion that Andou might be the culprit .

At this stage, he didn’t even have one shred of evidence, but he was almost certain .

'But isn’t that odd?’ Yakumo said, looking up at the roof of the car .


Gotou held a cigarette in his mouth .

'I won’t talk if you light that up . ’

'Damn . I got it . ’

Gotou threw the cigarette onto his dashboard .

It’s because there were people like Yakumo that smokers felt ashamed .

He didn’t know about those separated seating places, but recently, there were even cafés that forbad smoking completely .

'If, hypothetically, Andou was the culprit, why did he only have Ayaka-chan’s photo?’ Yakumo said with airs .

'What do you mean?’

'The case this time involves serial abductions and murders . Why doesn’t he have photos of the other girls?’


He had been going to rebut, but he couldn’t find the words .

It was just as Yakumo said . If Andou was the culprit, it wouldn’t be strange for him to have the photos of the other young women .

'There is another thing . ’


'There was a girl’s spirit in that hospital . ’

'The daughter’s?’

'No . ’

'Who was it?’

'I don’t know . It was someone besides his daughter . ’

Since Gotou couldn’t see spirits, he couldn’t comment .

Even if he could see them, he didn’t feel like thinking about what that meant .

'But well, it’s expected for a hospital to have one or two dead spirits…’

Yakumo spoke, almost to himself, and sighed .

'You might be right,’ Gotou agreed half-heartedly .

'Now, where are we heading next?’

Yakumo yawned in his boredom .

It appeared that he knew Gotou had not planned on letting him go yet .

'We’ll be going back a bit, but we’re heading to the flat Andou lived in . ’

'Hasn’t everything been taken out already?’

'Seems like it . ’

'Then wouldn’t going be a waste of time?’

Thinking normally, what Yakumo said was correct, but Gotou had different intentions .

'If Andou’s the culprit and his room was the scene of the murder, though there might not be any physical evidence left behind, there’s the possibility that something else has remained . ’

'So you are saying that the spirits of the girls who were killed might be there…’

'Exactly . ’

'You really just do whatever you want . ’

Though Yakumo complained, he didn’t object .

He might’ve also thought the same thing –

The flat had a green roof and was by the river .

That was where Andou had lived . Gotou’s suspicion that it was related to the crime was growing .

Gotou drove his car into the visitor’s parking lot on the premises .

'Is it here?’ said Yakumo, looking up at the apartment .

'Yeah,’ Gotou replied, looking up as well . It was a family-oriented apartment with ten stories . It was aptly called Riverside Apartment .

'It’s rather extravagant for someone who was a legal apprentice . ’

It was just as Yakumo said .

'Plus it came with parking and he drove a black Benz . ’

'He must have been of high status . ’

'Damn, it’s bigger than my flat . ’

'Gotou-san, you have a flat?’

'Yeah, though it’s company housing . ’

It was a 2LDK[2] . All of the residents were part of the police .

In police work, which often had transferrals, a feat like purchasing a flat with your own money wasn’t even remotely possible .

'What a waste,’ said Yakumo as he got off the car .

'What is?’

'It’s obvious that a wild bear should stay at a camp or the like . ’

'Don’t make it sound like I’m some monster cat that lives at a school . ’

Even though Gotou had actually replied, Yakumo started walking towards the entrance, like he hadn’t heard anything at all .

Damn, the guy just does whatever he wants .

They went to the management office near the entrance and were able to borrow the key to the flat Andou had lived in after they said they were further investigating the traffic accident .

Andou lived in a corner flat on the top floor .

When Gotou had heard from the manager that the rent was two hundred thousand yen, he thought his eyes were going to pop out . It felt kind of stupid to work so hard .

He rode the elevator with Yakumo and opened the door to Andou’s flat .

Like he had heard before, there were no belongings left . Though the walls and floor had a few marks, it would look like new with some housecleaning .

It was a 2LDK like Gotou’s company one, but each and every room was larger .

There were many windows to let light in, so it gave an open and bright impression .

They went around each room . Bathroom, kitchen, toilet –

As expected, they didn’t find anything important .

'Hey, Yakumo . Can you see anything?’

Gotou asked Yakumo, who was looking out the window in the twenty-tatami living room .

'No, I see exactly the same thing that you do, Gotou-san . ’

An immediate answer . He hadn’t been expecting much in the first place . There was no point being disappointed . They would go to the next place .

He moved to leave, but Yakumo was frozen, staring out the window .

'What is it?’

'Gotou-san . Could you show me the key Andou had?’


'Please just hurry and let me see . ’

After being urged, Gotou took the key in the plastic bag from his pocket and handed it to Yakumo . Yakumo took it and murmured while staring at it .

'E-3… I’ve found it . ’

'What? Really? Where?’

Gotou looked around the living room frantically .

On the floor? The ceiling? The wall? Where? Where was it?’

'Are you trying to sniff it out?’

'Shut up! If you’ve got the time to make fun of me, hurry and tell me where it is . ’

Yakumo’s lips turned up into a victorious smile, and he slowly pointed out the window .

Gotou’s eyes followed that finger .

He saw the river .

He also saw the water gate where the first victim, Ayaka-chan, had been found .

Yakumo was pointing a few hundred metres upstream .

He saw a building with a flat concrete roof . That was the old water gate . Then, he saw the large characters written in paint on the old water gate’s wall .

The characters were, with no doubt –

'E-3,’ Yakumo said .




Next, Ishii headed for the family restaurant in the neighbouring city, in order to meet with Andou Takashi’s older sister, Hiroko .

Inside the restaurant, which wasn’t anything special, he sat at a seat near the window . He ordered a coffee . His stomach was actually empty as well, but he hadn’t come to eat .

Hiroko wasn’t directly related to Takashi . Takashi was the mistress’s son . Hiroko was the wife’s daughter . It appeared that they did not have a good relationship .

When Ishii called Takashi’s home in Fukuoka, a chatty servant talked freely even about things Ishii hadn’t asked about . He also got the older sister’s contact information from the servant . The servant had suggested he talk to the sister, who was married and lived there for her husband’s job transfer .

The night before, Ishii had contacted Hiroko . After he had said, 'I want to talk to you about Andou Takashi-san,’ she had abruptly hung up .

At that point, he had passed the baton to Detective Gotou, and he ended up getting her to agree to meet for just thirty minutes in the evening at a family restaurant away from her home . Ishii didn’t know what sorts of negotiation methods were used, but that was Detective Gotou for you .

Five minutes after their arranged meeting time, Hiroko appeared at the family restaurant .

A slender woman with pale skin, she looked graceful at first glance, but her voice and choice of words were peculiarly malicious .

'So what did you want to ask?’ Hiroko said, sitting in the seat opposite him .

'I apologise for taking up time in your busy sche…’

'If you think that way, forget about the niceties and get on with it,’ Hiroko spoke, interrupting Ishii .

Haughty and overbearing . The type of woman Ishii didn’t know how to deal with .

'I apologise . I would like to ask about Andou Takashi-san, but…’

'Oh, it’s just you? Where’s the detective I spoke with yesterday?’

This time, she changed the subject on her own . An inconsistent woman .

'Detective Gotou had another case, so…’

'Too bad . I wanted to meet him . I’m a sucker for aggressive men like him . ’

Hiroko drank her black coffee like she was in a trance .

What was she talking about?

'May I continue?’

'Go ahead . ’

Hiroko lit up a cigarette and replied while the smoke spread .

'What sort of person was Takashi-san?’



Ishii didn’t understand how she could cut down her younger brother with one word like that, even though they weren’t directly related .

'Do you have another way of explaining his character to me which would be a bit easier for me to understand?’

'It’s appropriate . He was always moping around . He was the mistress’s son, but was there a need to adopt him? Since she was the one who went and gave birth to him, she should have gone and raised him . She just killed herself and handed him over to us – there’s a limit to shamelessness . ’

It was a horrible way to put it .

Even though he was the son of a mistress, being so awful about it was unwarranted .

'Why do you dislike him so much?’

'It’s natural, isn’t it? He tried to kill me before,’ Hiroko said, baring her teeth .

'He tried to kill you?’

'He did . It was right after he came to the house . I tried to be friendly at first, but he was always moping around, so I said this to him: You should’ve died with your mother . Then, he suddenly put his hands around my neck . ’

That didn’t really seem sudden .

Saying to someone whose heart was damaged after his mother had killed herself that he should have died with her –

Hiroko hadn’t even thought about how much her words could hurt the person who was listening .

'He was influenced by his mother’s death . ’

'That’s not it . He was just crazy . ’

That was her comment .

'Did you have no love for your younger brother?’

'Why would I? He was my sibling because I had the courtesy to accept him . We were only half-related by blood . Plus, isn’t that suspicious? I don’t know what that woman did or where she did it . ’

What you’re saying isn’t courteous at all –

Ishii almost said that aloud .

'In the first place, we took him in because we had to . Even Father said again and again that he’d throw him out if he didn’t become someone the Andou family wouldn’t be ashamed of . ’

Someone the Andou family wouldn’t be ashamed of –

Who on earth could that be referring to?

Had he been saying that having a mistress and having a child with her was an appropriate act for the Andou family? Ishii didn’t understand .

'Well, though he tried hard to become a legal apprentice, that all went up in smoke with the incident . What an idiot . Father was so angry he said he’d dissolve the adoption . ’

What is so strange –

Even though only four days had passed since Andou Takashi’s death, she was talking about it as if it was some event from the distant past .

Hiroko spent the next two hours after that letting out her pent-up resentment, flying by the thirty minutes they had agreed on .

Still, how could Andou have felt staying for so long in the same house as somebody who resented him?

After experiencing his mother’s death, something must have taken root in Andou’s damaged heart .

Then, he was cast out like his mother had been in the end .

Everything is warped –

That was what Ishii felt .




It was already dark when Gotou and Yakumo arrived at the old water gate .

Since it could be seen from the flat, they decided to leave the car and head there on foot, but when they tried to walk there, it was actually unexpectedly far .

It seemed that it had been built to observe the water level and was built like a small guardhouse .

Because of the large water gate that was built five hundred metres upstream, it wasn’t in use .

Unlike the rusted iron door, only the keyhole was brand new .

The building itself wasn’t in use and had been abandoned for a while, so it was considerably old . Somebody had probably installed the lock afterwards –

Gotou put the key in question into the keyhole and turned it .

There was a click . It opened .

'Bingo,’ Yakumo said, standing behind him .

Gotou stepped in while opening the door .

There was something like a light switch on the wall by the entrance, so he tried pushing it, but there was no response .

It’s dark –

The torch was in the car . He should have brought it . It’d be a pain to go back to get it now .

Gotou flicked his lighter and lit up the room .

It wasn’t a reliable light, but there wasn’t anything he couldn’t see .

The stink of humidity tickled his nostrils .

There was a massive motor that had probably been used when opening and closing the gate .

Clang .

There was the sound of crashing metal .

Someone was there . Behind the motor . Yakumo tapped Gotou’s shoulder . When he looked over, Yakumo was holding a iron pipe that he had picked up from who knows where . What kind of concern was that supposed to be?

Gotou switched the lighter to his left hand and gripped the iron pipe in his right .

– Gotou-san .

Yakumo lowered his voice as he pointed to the right of the motor .

Gotou nodded in response and turned to the right to head behind the motor .

Yakumo turned towards the left .

This way, they would attack from both sides .

Gotou put out his lighter . He’d be able to see once his eyes got used to the dark . He made sure not to make noise as he advanced while hiding himself behind the motor .

Rustle .

There was another noise . The sound of something being dragged .

Now, there was someone ahead . Gotou wiped the sweat from his palm on his trousers and gripped the steel pipe again . He took a deep breath and jumped out at the right time, brandishing the steel pipe over his head .

The source of the noise appeared .

'What the hell!?’

After Gotou threw down the steel pipe, he hurriedly rushed over and flicked open his lighter .

There was a long-haired girl .

She was emaciated – even her breath was faint . She perceived Gotou’s figure with clouded eyes and her dry lips moved as if trying to say something .

'Yakumo!’ yelled Gotou, but he didn’t need to give instructions .

Yakumo ran at full strength .

'It’s fine . You’ll be OK . ’

Gotou draped his coat over the girl and laid a hand on her head .

It was possible that this was Keiko-chan, the girl whose whereabouts were unknown .

What the hell had happened? Gotou was seething with a boiling-hot anger .




By the time Ishii rushed over, the scene was already crowded with patrol cars, police and curious onlookers .

His time was taken up looking for a place to park his car .

Since he was Detective Gotou’s subordinate, he felt like a failure for not being able to be present at the time the case was solved .

'Where are you going? What’s the point of you rubbernecking too?’

Just as Ishii was trying to push his way through the crowd, Gotou’s baritone rang in his voice .

'Ah, Detective Gotou . ’

Ishii spotted Gotou siting slightly apart from the commotion on the stairs at the embankment, smoking a cigarette .

The young man called Yakumo was there too, beside him .

'What on earth has happened?’

He had heard that Detective Gotou was guarding the girl who’d disappeared and had come quickly, but he didn’t know any of the details .

'Andou is definitely the culprit . ’

'Is that the case?’

Although Gotou glanced over for a bit, he then blew out smoke towards the sky and didn’t say anything more .

'The key Andou had . It was the key to the old water gate . ’

Yakumo started explaining in Gotou’s stead .

'Why did he have the old water gate’s key?’

'Keiko-chan, the girl who would have been the third victim, had been confined in the old water gate . Though there had been no concrete evidence until now, something horrible had been left inside . ’

Just as Yakumo finished speaking, he let out a huge yawn .

Ishii was happy that Yakumo had explained for him, but Yakumo’s tone suggested he was the one who had found the answer to the case .

Even though Detective Gotou is the one who solved it –

'I see you’re all together . ’

Hata appeared abruptly out of the darkness .

Ishii swallowed the scream that had gone all the way up to his throat . Since the man himself was already ghastly, Ishii wished he would just show up normally . It was bad for his heart .

'Why’re you here, old man?’

Gotou put out his cigarette with the heel of his shoe and threw away the cigarette butt .

'Don’t just throw your cigarette butt away like that,’ said Hata without a moment’s delay .

With a click of his tongue, Gotou picked up the cigarette butt and put it in his pocket .

'Answer the question, old man . ’

'I came because I heard there was a corpse, but isn’t she still living? I came for no reason . ’

'Old man, don’t sound so disappointed . ’

Hata didn’t pay Gotou’s words any mind and just giggled . He really was just like a demon .

However –

'It’s surprising that she’s fine . She’s been trapped in there for four days already since Andou died,’ Ishii said to Gotou .

He was partially talking about her physical strength, but it wouldn’t have been strange if she had died of dehydration .

'There were plastic plates scattered around her . There had probably been water and food in those,’ Yakumo replied .

'There were things like that?’

Gotou put a hand on his chin and cocked his head .

'Really, it’s surprising that you can work as a detective with that humble power of perception . ’

Yakumo’s manner of speaking didn’t bear decorum in mind .

It felt like their places were switched around .

'Shut up,’ Gotou spat out, and he lit another cigarette .

'How was your investigation, Ishii-san?’ Yakumo asked extremely matter-of-factly .

Why did he need to inform a university student of his investigation? Why wasn’t Detective Gotou saying anything? Ishii couldn’t understand, so he looked at both of their faces .

'Yakumo . What’s the point of asking Ishii now? The case is already over,’ Gotou said, scratching at his face .

'It hasn’t ended . Have you forgotten your original objective, Gotou-san?’

'Original objective?’ Gotou said shrilly .

Yakumo shook his head dramatically, like he didn’t know what to do with Gotou .

'We weren’t following the serial abduction and murder case, were we? Our original objective was to find out what to do with Andou’s soul, which has possessed a woman . ’

'Ah, that’s right . ’

'That was why we needed to know his motive for murder . ’

'I see,’ Gotou muttered, looking bitter .

That was certainly the case . Ishii had forgotten himself . Just as Yakumo said, their goal this time was to save a woman who had possessed by a ghost .

Saving the girl this time had only been a side-line event .

'So, Ishii . How was it?’

Gotou turned the conversation to Ishii .

'Ah, yes . ’

Ishii took the memo from his inner suit pocket and spoke in as much detail as he could about what he had heard from Sergeant Yoda at the police station and Hiroko, Takashi’s sister, while sharing his own thoughts .

'It feels a bit sloppy . ’

That was the first thing Gotou said after he finished listening to Ishii’s explanation .

Ishii felt the same way as Gotou . Even while he was explaining himself, he thought that the story didn’t add up .

Hata was idly watching the investigation taking place at the old water gate, like he wasn’t paying attention at all .

'Hey, Yakumo . You understand anything?’ Gotou asked Yakumo, whose index finger was on his brow like he was thinking about something .

In response, Yakumo suddenly raised his lowered head .

His expression was so cold that Ishii trembled .

'Thanks to Ishii-san’s investigation, I have begun to understand, though this is simply my reasoning,’ Yakumo said quietly .

'Then tell us,’ Gotou said, walking towards Yakumo without hesitation .

'This is only a guess, but… if we put everything we have learnt so far together, doesn’t it seem like Andou had necrophobia?’

'Necra… caviar…?’ Gotou said, sounding like he didn’t understand .

'Necrophobia . You said that on purpose, didn’t you?’

'You’re so fussy . So what is it?’

'It is a psychological condition wherein one feels extreme fear towards corpses or death itself . ’

'So, different from this perverted old man then?’ Gotou said jokingly as he pointed at Hata .

'The exact opposite,’ Yakumo confirmed indifferently .

Gotou made a 'hm’ sound, like he didn’t understand fully .

'It is an extreme fear towards specific subjects . They are nothing special to normal people, but they are frightening to the person with the phobia . In Andou’s case, the subject was death . ’

Ishii didn’t know the specifics, but he had heard something like it before .

A type of phobia . An extreme fear would grip the heart when confronted with a specific subject or object .

In severe cases of the condition, some people would become panicked, have spasms or find it difficult to breathe .

Though most people knew about the fear of heights and the fear of pointy objects, it seemed that there was also a fear where death itself was the subject…

'So, what does that have to do with anything?’ Gotou asked disinterestedly .

'Andou’s mother committed suicide . We cannot know for certain without looking into it, but I think that the young Andou may have seen his mother die . That would have been very traumatic for him . ’

His mother had committed suicide in front of him .

How much would that have hurt Andou? Ishii couldn’t even imagine .

Inside his head, the image of a boy staring at his mother’s hanging corpse appeared . Ishii shivered at that unsettling scene .

'After he was adopted by the Andou family, he lived in great fear of death . He must have tried fervently to be accepted as part of the Andou family so that he wouldn’t be abandoned like his mother… In his eyes, which had seen his mother’s death, abandonment probably equated to death . ’

Yakumo continued to speak in his disinterested tone .

'In that sort of situation, his adopted sister had said this to him . 'You should’ve died with your mother . ’ This was like a switch that made him go on a rampage . Those words were taboo to him . ’

'I see,’ said Gotou to show his comprehension .

'One wouldn’t often hear the words “Go die” often if living normally . That happened at the violent incident one month ago . Andou’s rampage switch was turned on again when the girl said, “Just go die . ”’

In Ishii’s mind, he recalled Sergeant Yoda’s words: 'If the guy had been just a bit calmer . ’

Andou must have known himself what would happen if he was reckless then, but he still couldn’t stop himself –

'With that, Andou lost the confidence he had built up to live as a member of the Andou family . He was probably terrified that he would be abandoned and die like his mother . ’

'But wouldn’t that girl have been the target then?’ Gotou asked immediately .

'Yes, that would have originally been the case . However, the police restrained him, correct?’

Yakumo turned his gaze to Ishii .

'Ah, y-yes . ’

Ishii replied, feeling flustered at the sudden attention .

'Afterwards, Andou happened to find that girl . At the riverbank…’

'That was Ayaka-chan…’ said Gotou, dumbfounded .

'Actually, it was Andou’s misunderstanding . The girl that time was not Ayaka-chan . Just…’

Just what? Ishii wished Yakumo would stop putting on airs and just tell them .

'Ayaka-chan looked similar to the girl from the incident . ’

'Oh, the ponytail . ’

Ishii spoke up without thinking .

Right away, everyone turned to look at him . He felt like he would flush at all the attention .

'It is just as Ishii-san says . Andou mistook the girl’s identity because of her hairstyle . ’

That was right . Ayaka-chan had just been unlucky . She had just looked similar to the other girl .

'Andou, after abducting Ayaka-chan, probably interrogated her about the day his life had been ruined, but Ayaka-chan didn’t know anything . At some moment, Ayaka-chan might have said, 'You should die,’ to Andou . Then, Andou ended up killing Ayaka-chan . ’

After he finished speaking, Yakumo bit his lip . His expression suggested that he regretted what he had said .

'Then what about the next incident?’ Gotou said, putting out the cigarette he had smoked to the end with his heel .

'His objective must have changed after that . ’

'His objective changed?’

'Yes . By killing Ayaka-chan, he must have felt the fear towards death that had filled him before be mitigated . His goal became killing to divert his fear . ’

'What a disgusting guy,’ Gotou said, clicking his tongue .

So Andou was killing to make himself feel better from the second person on –

'I feel the same way,’ Yakumo said quietly, looking down .

'I understand that much . But what do we do now?’ Gotou asked Yakumo .

Why was he doing this? He was the psychic detective . Yakumo was just a university student . Why was Detective Gotou asking Yakumo for instruction despite that?

'That’s right…’

Yakumo started thinking and put his index finger to his brow again .

Nobody opened their mouth . Everyone’s eyes were on Yakumo .

'I have thought of one method . If we can use his fear well…’

Finally, Yakumo spoke .

'OK, let’s go with that!’ Gotou said .

'I haven’t said anything yet . You really are an irresponsible person . ’

Yakumo gave Gotou a sidelong glance, looking like he felt that Gotou was making fun of him .

'Well, this is also the first time I’ve tried this method, so I can’t guarantee its success . ’

'I get it, so just tell us . ’

'In this plan, Hata-san’s cooperation will be indispensible . ’


Hata, who had suddenly been brought up in the conversation, pointed at himself and spoke in his confusion .

'Yes . I apologise for the inconvenience, but I would appreciate it if you would prepare what I ask of you as quickly as possible . ’

What on earth was starting?

Ishii felt gooseflesh rise on his body .




The following afternoon, Haruka visited Yakumo’s secret hiding place .

As usual, his hair made it look like he had just gotten out of bed, and his eyes looked so sleepy that Haruka almost suspected he had lost consciousness .

Then, once she arrived –

'You’re late . Do you have no sense of time?’

He said something fault-finding like that .

'What do you mean, I’m late? I don’t remember setting a time . ’

Haruka sat on the chair facing Yakumo, who rubbed at his eyes and yawned . He looked like a cat washing its face .

'So tell me what happened in order . ’

Haruka placed the phone strap she had received from Mayuko on the table and explained what had happened in the past two days in as much detail as she could .

While she explained, Yakumo had his arms crossed, and his expression didn’t change .

'So you put the ghost that appeared in the river and your older sister together and went crazy . ’

'Went crazy? Don’t make me sound like some wild ox . ’

She objected, but she really had gone a bit crazy .

When she was chasing the girl’s ghost, Ayaka had always been in a corner of her mind . That was why she had been more absorbed than necessary .

'Honestly . Even you have a head to think with, don’t you? You’re not Gotou-san, so I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t act instinctively like an animal . ’

'Yes, that’s right . I was wrong . ’

Haruka clenched her teeth angrily, but it had no effect at all .

'If you had just talked to me from the beginning, this wouldn’t have caused so much trouble . ’

'Sorry . ’

She really did feel it was her fault .

She had tried hard on her own not to cause anybody trouble, but in the end, she had brought the case to Yakumo .

'In the first place, this incident is linked to the one Gotou-san brought in . ’


What did he mean, linked?

'You really are special, aren’t you?’

She wasn’t special at all .

'I’m saying that the ghost your friend saw is related to the case that Gotou-san brought it . ’

'It is?’

'The case Gotou-san brought was about a woman who has been possessed by a spirit . When looking for the identity of the spirit possessing her, we found a man called Andou who had died in a traffic accident . ’

From what Haruka had heard so far, she couldn’t think of how it was related .

'In that man’s possessions, there was a photo of the daughter of the doctor at Kinoshita Hospital who took you in . Gotou-san and I were looking into that . ’

Ah, so that’s how it is .

That’s why the two of them were at the hospital too –

'Doctor Kinoshita’s daughter was abducted and murdered a month ago . ’


'Yes . She was murdered and thrown into the river, and she washed ashore at the water gate . ’

'That’s terrible…’

Haruka remembered Kinoshita’s worn-out face .

The shadow that he was burdened with . That had been the cruel reality of his daughter’s murder –

'His daughter’s name was Ayaka . ’

Yakumo pointed at the phone strap Haruka had brought .

She understood now . They were linked .

'I wonder if the ghost I saw at the river was the girl who had been murdered . ’

'That’s probably the case, from what I’ve heard,’ Yakumo said with a yawn . 'Honestly . This might have been solved faster if you hadn’t been so oddly secretive and just told me in the first place . ’

'Even if you say that…’

There was nothing she could have done – she wouldn’t even have thought in a dream that the two cases were linked .

'Still, something doesn’t fit…’

'What doesn’t fit?’ Haruka asked, not quite understanding .

'Honestly . Are you a dinosaur?’


'I’m saying that your responses are slow . ’

This monster cat always said too much –

'That girl’s ghost said to “stop already”, right?’

Haruka nodded .

The girl had said that at the river then .

'That’s what doesn’t fit . What on earth did that girl want to stop?’


Haruka didn’t know .

'She probably can’t rest because of that something we don’t know – what she wants to stop . ’

Yakumo rested his chin in his hands .

'What are you going to do?’

'Well, there’s no point just speculating . Anyway, first, we’ll go there…’

'Let’s go then . ’

Haruka followed Yakumo’s words and stood up .




There’s somewhere I want to go before we head to the scene –

First, Yakumo went to the temple that his uncle lived in .

The last time Haruka came, she had had to wait at the door, but this time, since Yakumo didn’t say anything, she followed him in past the gravel garden towards the priests’ quarters .

Yakumo opened the sliding door at the entrance and had just taken off his shoes when he looked over at her, like he had just remembered something .

'Wait in the living room . ’

'Excuse me – I’m coming in,’ Haruka said to nobody in particular . Then, she took off her shoes at the entrance and went into the living room as she had been told to .

The room was at least eight tatami mats in size . Nobody appeared to be here .

'Sit over there and wait . ’

After Yakumo said that, Haruka said, 'Excuse me,’ and she sat at the horigotatsu[3] in the living room .

'Don’t scamper about . ’

After saying that, Yakumo left the room .

Scamper about? He was treating her like a child . She wished he would speak with her on a more equal footing . Plus, she didn’t mind waiting, but he could have at least told her why they were here .

Yakumo just likes always being the only person who ever knows anything .

He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks .

If someone comes, what excuse should I make –

When she was all alone in a quiet room, it made her feel a bit uneasy .

Haruka sighed .

Suddenly, she noticed somebody else was there and looked up .


She had been surprised . At some point in time, a girl had sat right in front of her . She was probably around seven years old . She was a cute girl with big, round eyes and glossy black hair in a bob cut .

The girl didn’t say anything and just had her chin in her hands as she stared at Haruka with a smile .

Who was she? Since she was in this house, was she Yakumo’s cousin?

'Hello . ’

Haruka tried speaking to the girl, but she didn’t respond .

She’s just looking at me with the same expression . Did she not hear me? Or does she just not want to respond –

Haruka didn’t know what she should do . For a while, she just looked back at the girl .

'What’s your name?’

She tried speaking to her again, but still there was no response .

While Haruka was still bewildered, the girl cocked her head curiously .

'Are you one of the children here?’

The girl still didn’t answer .

'She’s my cousin, Nao . ’

At some point, Yakumo had returned to stand at the living room’s entrance .

Once the girl called Nao saw Yakumo, she started clapping her hands and smiled without speaking .

'There’s no use talking to her directly . ’

'No use? What do you mean?’

'Nao can’t hear . ’

'Can’t hear…’

I hadn’t realised –

Even though this girl was burdened with a handicap, she was relentlessly cheerful . Unlike a certain somebody .

'You don’t need sound if you want to speak with Nao . Try speaking with her in your head . ’

Haruka didn’t really understand what Yakumo was saying .

What did he mean by speak in her head? To test it out, Haruka said <Hello> to Nao without opening her mouth .

<Hello . >


She had definitely heard a voice just now .

Nao hadn’t opened her mouth . Yakumo hadn’t spoken, but she felt like she had heard something directly in her head . Nao clapped her hands again and laughed .

The way she seemed so delighted made Haruka feel happy too .

'Nao, that’s great . ’

Yakumo patted Nao on the head . Nao nodded proudly .

'It’s the way she communicates, since she can’t hear . I don’t understand the principle behind it, but she creates mutual understanding through a method besides sound waves, though she can’t do this with everyone . ’

Haruka felt like she understood at least some of it .

'OK, we’re going . ’

Haruka stood up after Yakumo spoke .

Then, Nao rushed over and clung tightly to Haruka’s leg, looking up at her with a face that looked like it could cry at any moment .

'Seems like Nao likes you . ’

After Yakumo said that, he bent down so that he was eye level with Nao .

He had a gentle expression on his face that Haruka had never seen before . The two of them were almost definitely talking about something .

Finally, Nao reluctantly let go of Haruka’s leg .

'Good girl . ’

Yakumo patted Nao’s head and left the living room .

Haruka tried to follow Yakumo too, but she stopped and tried to speak to Nao once more in her head . <Bye bye . See you again . > Nao jumped and waved her hand . Her message had got across –

It made her feel cheerful, somehow .

'Oh? Haruka-chan was here too?’

When she left the living room, somebody called out to her .

She looked over to see Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin, standing in the corridor in monks’ working clothes . He had a red contact lens in his left eye as usual .

'Hello . Sorry for intruding . ’

'That Yakumo didn’t even say anything . If I knew, I would have poured you some tea . ’

'Oh no, that’s not necessary . You don’t have to pay me any attention . ’

'No, it’s not too late . I’m going to get some tea, so relax a bit . ’

'Eh, but…’

'There’s youkan[4] in the fridge too . ’

'Uncle . We don’t have much time . ’

Yakumo had his arms crossed sullenly in the entranceway .

'Spoilsport . ’

Yakumo’s uncle’s lips were pursed like a sulky child .

'Honestly, Nao was more obedient . Uncle, you know the place, right? Please don’t forget, since you are the key man this time . ’

'I get it, I get it . ’

Yakumo’s uncle spoke in a light tone . Haruka didn’t know what they were talking about, but she felt like whatever she heard, it couldn’t be counted on .

'We’re going . ’

Yakumo was rushing her, sounding irritated, so Haruka thanked Yakumo’s uncle once more and followed Yakumo out .




'Old man, you did pretty well . ’

At Gotou’s words, the corners of Hata’s mouth turned up in a proud smile .

To put it plainly, it was gross . Gotou slightly regretted praising him .

It felt like the old man would eat a person someday .

The unique atmosphere of the autopsy room might have strengthened that feeling .

The combined smell of disinfectant and blood irritated his nostrils, so he had been breathing with his mouth since earlier .

'Thanks to that, I had to stay up all night,’ Hata grumbled, all the while triumphantly looking at what was on the stainless steel autopsy table .

On it was an elaborately reproduced model of a person from the neck up .

From the texture of the skin to the feel of the hair, it was just like the real thing .

'But you really made it well . ’

'Since it’s not my area of expertise, I wasn’t confident . ’

As Hata said that, he covered it with a cloth .

'What material did you use?’

'Synthetic resin . ’

'What’s that?’

'It’s a rubber often used in films for special makeup . ’

Gotou understood .

In old sci-fi films, you could tell right away that the makeup was fake, but the techniques had gotten better so you couldn’t tell just by looking .

'Well, I’ll expose the trick – I had help from an acquaintance who does special make-up for films . ’

Hata’s shoulders shook with laughter, like he found something funny .

But that would mean –

'Didn’t that cost you money?’

'There was some give and take . ’

Gotou didn’t understand what a coroner and special make-up artist had to give and take . 'What do you mean?’

'Since my acquaintance said they wanted to study in order to make things more realistic, I agreed to let them witness a few autopsies . ’

So the old man had done something like that secretly? Gotou was so shocked he couldn’t even be angry .

'By the way, is that young man called Ishii all right?’ Hata asked, like he had suddenly remembered about him .

'No idea . He’s not a kid . He’ll get by . ’

'You’re in an unpleasant mood, I see . ’

'Unpleasant isn’t the word I’d use!’

Of course he was in a bad temper .

Even though he had saved the girl and should’ve been praised, Ideuchi had gone on and on about how Gotou had stuck his neck into a case outside of his jurisdiction .

Well, Gotou could understand why Ideuchi wasn’t happy . The whole investigation unit had run around wildly for this case . White station wagon, dating sites, people at schools who might have been clues – they’d gone around everywhere but found no leads .

Then, Gotou and company, who were completely unrelated to the case, had solved it somewhere completely unexpected .

However, Gotou couldn’t agree with them taking all the credit .

Girl’s dramatic rescue! That was how the press release put it . Gotou’s existence had been completely erased .

It really pissed him off . Gotou’s anger, which had no outlet, had been turned completely towards Ishii .

'Under no circumstances would I want to work under you,’ Hata said, showing his yellow teeth .

'I wouldn’t want you to either,’ Gotou said brusquely, which made Hata’s shoulders shake with laughter again for some reason .

Like I said, stop . It’s gross –




Do your best, Ishii Yuutarou . You’re a man, right?

Ishii encouraged himself and faced the door .

It was the same as the last time he came . A feeling of chilling oppression so strong it was difficult to breathe .

On the opposite side of the door, there was a woman who had been possessed by a ghost .

When Ishii thought that, the extremely ordinary door felt like a gigantic gate leading to hell .

Though the chief’s wife had said that she was sleeping now, Ishii still couldn’t relax .

He recalled the nightmare he had the day before yesterday of the first time he had seen her .

That voice that resonated to his stomach . Those wide-open inflamed eyes . It was no exaggeration to say that it was the most terrifying thing he had ever seen .

I really don’t want to go .

But I have to –

Ishii wiped the sweat from his palms on his trousers and placed a hand on the doorknob .

He took care not to make any noise, turned the knob and slowly opened the door .

The dim room –

The suffocating atmosphere –

He saw Makoto sleeping face-up on the bed .

Her chest went up and down quietly with her breathing .

He definitely wouldn’t have her notice him while he was here . Ishii matched his steps to the rhythm of her breathing as he approached her bed .

A wheelchair had been prepared by her bed .

Ishii had asked the chief’s wife in advance to have it put in the room .

He just had to sit her in the chair and push her out . It wasn’t anything difficult . Ishii repeated that to himself .

He put his hands on both sides of her and tried to pick her up . At that moment, Makoto’s eyes opened .

She’s awake . She woke up –

Ishii stopped thinking . His head went blank .

While he was frozen, Makoto twisted herself away and bit Ishii’s arm .


Ishii’s scream echoed through the room .




Haruka went with Yakumo to the embankment of the Tama River .

There were white herons flying .

The little waves glittered with sunlight .

'It’s beautiful,’ she said while quickly glancing at Yakumo’s face .

However, her words were drowned out by the sound of a Keio Line[5] train running along the overhead bridge .

'Did you say something?’

'No, it was nothing . ’

Haruka shook her head .

Yakumo didn’t ask any further either .

Haruka could see the water gate .

She remembered what Yakumo had said earlier .

That water gate was where the murdered Ayaka-chan had been found . When she thought about that, somehow, that area alone looked stagnant with darkness .

Yakumo went down the embankment silently and climbed the rock that Haruka had been standing on the day before yesterday . He looked at the river from there .

Those narrowed eyes could definitely see something .

Something that only Yakumo can see –

Like a flashback in a film, the scene that she had seen in the water came back to her .

'Stop,’ that girl had said . Even though she was dead, she kept asking this . What did she want to stop?

After a while, Yakumo came back to the riverside .

He looked depressed .

'Did you find out anything?’

'You always rush to conclusions like that . It’s because you try to reach a conclusion without looking at the whole picture that you do things like falling into rivers . ’

The two things weren’t related . He really was ridiculously cynical .

'But I’ve understood a few things . ’

'What are they?’

'There certainly appears to be the spirit of a murdered girl wandering in this river . ’

After Haruka heard Yakumo’s words, her chest started feeling tight .

'Is the girl wandering because she resents having been murdered?’

She said exactly what she thought .

Yakumo raised a shoulder and made a face at her .

'Do you really think that?’

'I don’t . ’

'Then don’t say that . ’

It was just as he said .

When Haruka had been drawn into the river, she had felt like the girl’s emotions were flowing through her .

They hadn’t been hatred or resentment, but something mixed with sadness, though I can’t explain properly what that something was –

'Something is keeping her in this place . ’

'Something is keeping her?’

'Yes . A strong sentiment which is trapping her here… probably…’

Yakumo’s last words sounded like they were meant for himself, and she couldn’t hear until the end .

Yakumo probably hadn’t put everything together yet himself .

'Missy, you were all right then?’

When Haruka turned around at the voice, she saw a man standing there in work clothes . He was Uchiyama-san, the man from the management office who had saved her .

'Thank you very much for saving me the other day . I apologise for being so late with my thanks,’ Haruka said quickly, bowing her head .

'Really, I told you to be careful but you fell right in . Well, the most important thing is that you’re OK . ’

Uchiyama’s smile filled his face .

The man’s smile seemed to have the effect of easing wariness .

'I really don’t know how to thank you…’

'It’s fine . Ah, is this your boyfriend?’ Uchiyama said, staring at Yakumo’s face .

'It appears that you have taken care of my sister . I truly apologise . This girl is clumsier than the average person . ’

Yakumo bowed his head . Did he hate being seen as her lover that much?

'Oh, you’re her older brother? You look alike . ’

There was no way they looked alike . They didn’t even share one drop of blood .

'Anyway, try not to fall in again . ’

Uchiyama started to leave with a smile on his face, but Yakumo called out to stop him .

'Excuse me . I’d like to ask one thing . ’

'What is it?’

'Does Doctor Kinoshita come here often?’

For a moment, Uchiyama looked surprised, but then he started speaking after a sigh .

'Before, he would come once a week or so . He’d come with his daughter to take a stroll and invite me to dinner . ’

'Is that so?’

'Ayaka-chan’s cooking was incredibly delicious, like Kinoshita’s wife’s . I always looked forward to eating her cooking . ’

'So you were acquaintances with Doctor Kinoshita from before . ’

'Kinoshita and I were in the same class in middle school . He was the most successful of our classmates . He became a doctor, married the school idol and had a daughter with her…’

Uchiyama gave a self-derisive laugh .

'Childhood friends then . ’

'Well, I guess that’s right . I played a lot with Ayaka-chan as well . Especially after Kazumi… after his wife died, Kinoshita and I said stupidly that we’d raise his daughter with two fathers to make up for the mother she lost . ’

Uchiyama’s eyes were glistening with tears .

His voice was trembling a bit as well .

'I’m not joking – she really was like a daughter to me . That was…’

Uchiyama snivelled and took a towel from the pocket of his work clothes to wipe his face .

'Were you the one who found Ayaka-chan’s corpse?’ Yakumo asked, examining Uchiyama’s response .

'I was . What a fate,’ Uchiyama said quietly, biting his lip in frustration .

'Where did you find Ayaka-chan’s corpse?’

'Ah, there’s a control tower in the river, right?’

Uchiyama pointed at the concrete tower nearly at the centre of the river .

There was a cubic building on top of the tower and about one metre of walking space around it, which was surrounded by an iron fence . It was connected to the management office by an iron bridge .

'I found the corpse just underneath there when I was checking on the water level . ’

'I see . ’

'I couldn’t forgive the person who did that . ’

The conversation didn’t go any further .

Haruka couldn’t look directly at Uchiyama’s face and just gazed out at the moving surface of the river .

Finally, Uchiyama laughed bitterly like he felt he had said too much . After saying, 'I’ve got work to do,’ he got into the truck parked nearby and left .

That man had feelings for Ayaka-chan that were greater than just those towards a friend’s daughter . That’s what Haruka felt .

'Somehow, he seems so pitiful . ’

'Losing somebody important isn’t something that can be so easily put away with words,’ Yakumo said . Haruka understood that all too well, since her older sister had died .

The feeling of loss wasn’t temporary . It followed you forever .

It appeared that Yakumo had seen something near his feet, and he stooped over to pick it up and stare at it . It looked like a notebook .


'It’s probably something Uchiyama-san from earlier dropped . ’

If they had noticed earlier, they could have handed it right to him –

Yakumo opened the notebook . He shouldn’t just look at other people’s things – is what Haruka thought, but she ended up peeking too .

There was a photo on each of the pages the notebook was open to . One was of Uchiyama-san, twenty years younger than he was now, with a woman about the same age . The other was a photo of Ayaka-chan .

'Oh! So you really were here!’

A loud voice interrupted her thoughts, and she saw somebody waving from the top of the embankment . It was Detective Gotou .

'Please don’t speak in such a loud voice . It’s embarrassing,’ Yakumo said, covering his ears pointedly .

'I’ll push you into the river . ’

'Please, do as you like . ’

'This guy…’

Gotou was gnashing his teeth .

'So, have you finished with the preparations?’

'Yeah, everything’s perfect . All that’s left is you . ’

'Then shall we go?’

Yakumo put the notebook he found earlier into his pocket .

'What will you do, Haruka-chan?’ Gotou asked, pointing at her with his chin .

'What will I do?’

She didn’t understand what the two of them were talking about at all .

'We’re going to set a little trap,’ Yakumo said .

'A trap?’




Haruka decided to follow Yakumo and Gotou without understanding the situation .

They drove to an autopsy room in the basement of a general hospital in the city .

In the centre of the windowless room, there was a stainless steel bed .

A mobile tray with tools for surgery was placed next to it .

On one side, there was a line of something that looked like doors to large refrigerators . She had seen them before in movies . Human corpses were stored inside them .

It felt much chillier than it had been outside, and gooseflesh had risen on her skin . That might have been because of the atmosphere of the autopsy room .

To be honest, Haruka had started regretting her decision .

'Are you scared?’ Yakumo whispered in her ear . His mocking tone got on her nerves so she curtly retorted, 'Not really . ’

'Oh, you’re all together, I see . ’

A small-framed old man in white appeared from the back of the room .

'This is the coroner, Hata-san . ’

Gotou introduced him to Haruka .

'It’s nice to meet you . ’

Haruka bowed, but Hata didn’t reply, like he didn’t see her at all .

'Hata-san . Where is it?’

When Yakumo asked his question, Hata smiled proudly .

Though this old man had a rude way of speaking, he felt a bit like an apparition . Like he drank blood or something .

Hata opened one of the cold storages and pulled out a sliding bed .


Haruka jumped and shrieked without thinking .

There was a man’s corpse there . There was a large cut from the left cheek to the nose .

'Don’t get surprised at everything . That’s a fake . ’

Yakumo’s expression didn’t change as he spoke, and then he approached the bed and turned over the white sheet that covered up to the neck .

Only the portion from the neck and up had been accurately reproduced, while the lower portion was just a mannequin .

'That perverted old man made it . Only the face has been constructed to be identical to the real thing . ’

Gotou added to Yakumo’s insufficient explanation .

'That’s a fake . ’

It was exquisitely created .

Just looking at the portion above the neck, anybody would think it was real .

'Hata-san, it’s perfect . I didn’t think it would be done so well . You truly are talented . ’

Hata laughed happily like a child at Yakumo’s words .

'Gotou-san . Please take that out . ’

'OK . ’

Gotou took a cage out from beneath the table by the bed .

There was a white mouse inside . A mouse? Things were just getting more cryptic . What on earth were these people trying to do?

Gotou put the mouse in the cage by the replica of a man .

'Now, our trap has been set . ’

Yakumo covered the fake man up to his neck and said that, sounding satisfied . Gotou and Hata also smiled in the same way .

'Wait . What are you planning to do?’ Haruka asked, unable to hold back .

Even she knew her voice was shaking . She felt like she had been caught by a fox .

'An exorcism,’ Yakumo replied innocently .

'Exorcism? But Yakumo-kun, you…’

Can’t do exorcisms . Yakumo had said that before .

During the last case, Yakumo himself had said, 'I can only see them . I can’t pretend to be skilful enough to exorcise anything . It’s hard to believe that chanting spells would make the spirits of the dead disappear . ’

Despite that, he says he’s going to do an exorcism –

'Just as you say, I did say before that I can’t exorcise spirits . ’

'Then what is this?’

'I said this before too, but the spirits of the dead aren’t demons or a new species . Though there is the difference of physical life or death, in the end, they’re still human beings . ’

Haruka nodded . She certainly had heard that before .

'That’s why I’m going to negotiate with the soul of the dead man and have him leave the physical body he’s possessing now on his own . ’

She didn’t understand what he was saying at all .

'Well, it’ll be quicker if you watch it happen rather than if you listen to my explanation,’ Yakumo said, raking his fingers through his hair .

That might be true .

'Sorry . What should I do?’

Suddenly, the door opened, and Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin, showed his face .

Instead of his usual monks’ working clothes, he was wearing a proper robe[6] . It was natural since it was his actual job, but it looked good .

'Why are you saying something so inane all of a sudden? I gave you a proper explanation already, didn’t I? You’re the key man this time, Uncle . ’

Yakumo walked towards Isshin .

'Don’t put so much pressure on me . I don’t do well when I’m nervous . ’

Isshin scratched his head, embarrassed .

'Also, please remove that tasteless contact lens . That’s my duty this time . ’

'I like it though . ’

While Isshin said that, he took the red contact lens out of his left eye .

'Now, preparations are complete . It’s show time . ’

'Yeah!’ Gotou said loudly . He took out his mobile and made a call to somewhere .

'There’s still time now . If you find this unpleasant, you can leave . ’

Yakumo stood next to Haruka and whispered in her ear .

She really was frightened . She was frightened, but now that she had been shown such an incomprehensible scene, she couldn’t just leave without seeing it end .

'I’m fine . ’

'You should stand in the corner of the room so you don’t stand out . ’

Haruka obeyed Yakumo’s instructions and stepped away from everyone .

'He’ll come soon . ’

Just as Gotou said that, tension filled the room .

After that, there was a long silence during which nobody opened their mouths .

Haruka held her chest – she could hear the sound of heart beating quickly in her nervousness .

After a while, there was the sound of a knock and the door opened .

Ishii stood in the doorway, pushing a wheelchair .

For some reason, there was a bruise on his eye, and his hair was all mussed up . His tie, which had been in a proper triangular knot, was also a miserable sight .

A woman sat in the wheelchair Ishii was pushing .

She hung her head, so her long hair hid her face . Both her wrists were bound to the chair’s armrests . This was the woman who had been possessed –

After Ishii carried the wheelchair into the room, he collapsed onto the floor right there .

Isshin walked until he stood in front of the woman in the wheelchair and he knelt there .

'You’re Andou Takashi-san, aren’t you?’

The woman’s head slowly tilted up .

Inflamed eyes peered out from between strands of hair . Haruka shivered at the feeling of intimidation .

'Whooo aaare youuu?’

Her dry and cracked purple lips moved .

The voice was hoarse and low – it didn’t sound like a woman’s at all .

'I am a monk . My name is Saitou Isshin . ’

Once she heard that, the woman’s shoulders shook with laughter . She opened her mouth up wide, and spittle flew out .

It was a viscid laughter that followed you around .

'I’m not leaviiing . Thiiis booody is miiine . ’

'Please do as you like,’ Isshin said innocently . 'If you don’t want to leave that body, you can just stay there . ’

The woman cocked her head and stared at Isshin, like she found his words odd . Isshin accepted the gaze directly and even smiled .

'Today, I have come to give you a warning . ’

The woman growled .

'It’s fine that you’ve possessed another body, but it doesn’t move like you want it to . Am I wrong?’

The woman didn’t respond . All Haruka could hear was the sound of heavy breathing .

'There is only one soul in a person’s body . That is the way of things in this world . Though the body is called the vessel of the soul, that does not mean that any soul will do . Though the body and the soul are seen as separate things, the truth is that they are the same . The body and the soul . They are connected as one . ’

Isshin said that much and paused to check his listener’s response .

'If a soul enters a body that is not its original vessel, in the end, that soul will disappear…’ said Isshin quietly .

His tone of voice was perfect . Haruka couldn’t tell if it was an act or the truth .

'Shuuut uuup . ’

The woman raised her voice and her body squirmed left and right .

'Do you remember this person?’

Isshin gestured at Yakumo, who bowed and walked to Isshin’s side .

'From the moment he was born, this man has had the unique ability to see the spirits of the dead . ’

'Liiies . ’

'It isn’t a lie . If it were, there would be no way for me to know that you are Andou Takashi . ’

The woman started growling again .

'Yakumo . Show the proof . ’

'Yes . ’

Yakumo knelt in front of the woman and took out the contact lens in his left eye .

He looked at the woman with his completely red eye .

'Eeeeek . ’

There was an inappropriate shriek .

When Haruka took a look for the owner of the voice, every muscle in Ishii’s face was stiff in shock .

That was right – he didn’t know about Yakumo’s red left eye . Gotou-san should have at least given him a bit of an explanation .

'Don’t make such shameful noises . ’

Gotou struck Ishii’s head with all his strength .

'This red eye is better proof than anything else . Yakumo, do you see something?’

Isshin paid the outside commotion no mind and spoke to Yakumo .

'Yes . There are two spirits in one body . They are both resisting,’ Yakumo said indifferently .

Isshin nodded several times at Yakumo’s words .

'Now, Yakumo . What will happen if we leave this as is?’

'They will probably disappear . ’

'They’ll disappear?’

'Yes . The body has rejected the soul so it is considerably weakened . The situation is like a flame before a gust . If everything stays as is, it will not even last a day . ’

'Shuuut uuup . ’

The woman bent forward, and after she coughed several times, she vomited something onto the floor .

Shlop .

A dark red clump of blood .

'Uwaaaa . ’

Haruka heard Ishii shriek again . Then, the sound of his head being hit . There was no point in even looking over .

'Hm, this is not good . ’

'We do not even have a moment to waste,’ Yakumo said, adding to Isshin’s words .

'Andou-kun . I know a way to save you,’ Isshin murmured into the woman’s ears .

Perhaps those words had been a sign, because Gotou pushed the wheelchair the woman was sitting in over to the imitation corpse covered with a sheet .

In response to the movements around her, the woman started flailing .

Hata took the sheet off of the imitation corpse to reveal an exquisite face of a human being . Haruka felt uncomfortable no matter how many times she looked at it .

The woman stopped moving –

'This is your corpse, is it not? This corpse is no longer functioning, but it is still alive . It only appears to be dead . However, there has been a fair amount of time since it lost its soul . Soon…’

Isshin left a moment of silence .

'It will have reached its limit . ’

The woman looked down and muttered something .

Haruka could understand just from looking . The spirit’s heart was shaking . The scenario Yakumo had written, the work Gotou and Hata had constructed, and Isshin’s realistic performance –

So this was the trap Yakumo had been referring to .

'What will you do?’

The woman muttered something at Isshin’s question .

Haruka couldn’t hear what she said .

'You have the choices . I will not force you . You should make your own decision . ’

Isshin touched the woman’s head with a hand holding a string of beads .

The woman shook her head back and forth, throwing her hair about .

'I see . You don’t want to . There’s nothing to do then . That is unfortunate . ’

Isshin signalled with his eyes . Hata and Gotou put their hands on the bed .


Isshin whispered the finishing blow in the woman’s ear .

'You should die . ’

'Ooooo . ’

At Isshin’s one phrase, the woman screamed and started trembling .

Hata made a face and tried to push her down onto the bed .

'Not yet,’ Yakumo said . Hata stopped his actions .

Yakumo looked at the woman with serious eyes .

The woman’s body continued to convulse .

Everyone was waiting to see what would happen next, and the tension was so thick it felt like it could be cut with a knife .

Even Haruka’s fists were clammy with sweat, though she hadn’t done anything .

She could hear her heart beating loudly .

'Gyaaa . ’

At the same time as her scream, the woman’s body bent backwards . Hata and Gotou were restless .

'Not yet,’ Yakumo said immediately .

Yakumo was waiting for the right timing for something .

Suddenly, the woman’s body lost its strength and it pitched forward .

'Squeak . ’

There was the cry of the mouse .

That was the trap .

'Now!’ Yakumo shouted . Hata pushed the bed into the cold storage . Gotou kicked the door shut . To finish, Hata locked the door .

Silence –

Nobody said anything . It felt like they couldn’t believe that the plan they had come up with had occurred before their eyes .

'Is it done?’

Finally, Gotou spoke, a thin layer of sweat covering his forehead .

'Yes . It’s done . ’

A smile appeared on Yakumo’s lips .

'What happened to the man called Andou?’ Hata asked with a sniff .

'His soul left her body and tried to return to its own . However…’

'He couldn’t go back, since it was a doll . ’ Gotou continued Yakumo’s sentence .

'Exactly . Currently, he has probably possessed the nearby mouse . ’

Yakumo raked his fingers through his hair and let out a deep breath, sounding exhausted .

'How was my performance?’

Isshin asked a question that was inappropriate for the situation .

Yakumo glared at him, but Haruka couldn’t help but smile .

The tension that had built up had left her .




Ishii held his dizzy head and left the autopsy room to sit on the bench in the corridor .

He had heard from Gotou that they were going to exorcise the spirit from the woman today .

Then, just as he had said, the exorcism had taken place .

The exorcism had been drastically different from what he had imagined .

He didn’t know how to explain it . Rather than an exorcism, it might have been more appropriate to call it bargaining or negotiation .

However, that was still more than enough to terrify him .

Especially the young man called Yakumo . What was that red eye?

It looked like something was burning in the back of his eye . Why was everyone OK with looking at it? He could excuse Gotou and Hata, but Ishii couldn’t understand how even she was calm about it .

'Are you OK?’

Ishii raised his head when somebody called out to him .

Haruka stood in front of his eyes .

'Yes, I’m fine . Something of this level is nothing to worry about . ’

Ishii was so surprised he stood up reflexively .

'You’re bleeding . ’

Haruka pointed at Ishii’s right arm .

He had been so frantic he hadn’t noticed at all . There were clearly teeth marks on his right arm, and blood was oozing out .

'I am . ’

Even he thought his response was stupid .

Haruka burst into laughter . Ah, the way she looked when she laughed melted away his pain .

'Please use this . ’

Haruka held out some gauze .

She treated even someone like him so kindly . What a gentle woman .

'There is a lot of gauze in that room . It should be fine if you use a little . ’

'Th-th-th-thank you very much . ’

'Ishii took the gauze from Haruka and pressed it against his wound .

'You should have it examined properly afterwards,’ Haruka said, sitting down on the bench .

If Ishii sat down now, that would make it so that he was sitting side-by-side with Haruka-chan . Wouldn’t they almost look like lovers then?

'Are you not going to sit?’

'Ah, no, I like standing!’

His mind had gone blank .

Ishii had gone to an ex-boys’ middle and high school . When Ishii had enrolled, it had been co-ed, but the number of female students had been overwhelmingly low .

He had been in science and engineering for university as well, so most of the students had been male . He had been invited to mixers and things like that, but he had obstinately refused since university was a place to work hard on his studies – not to play .

He hadn’t had many opportunities to interact with woman even at this age . He had no immunity .

Ishii gave a sidelong glance at Haruka sitting next to him .

Ah, how lovely . She’s just like an angel –

The door in front of him opened and Yakumo came out .

He was wearing a contact lens now, so his eye was black . Still, that red eye came up again inside Ishii’s mind .

He hurriedly covered his mouth with both hands to stop himself from yelping .

'We’re leaving . ’

In response to Yakumo’s words, Haruka stood up .

'Hey, give me a proper explanation about what happened . ’

'I explained already, didn’t I? Are you already trying to play the fool?’

What was he saying to Haruka-chan?

'Play the fool? … That’s not it – I’m saying explain it in a way that I can understand too . ’

'Shall I draw you a picture book?’

'You – Stupid!’

Haruka rushed after Yakumo, who was walking away briskly .

Haruka-chan, don’t . If you stay with that demon-like man, you’ll become demon-like yourself –

Ishii’s call in his heart didn’t reach her .

'What are you spacing out for?’

Suddenly, he was hit in the back of his head .

When he turned around, he saw Gotou standing imposingly with a difficult expression on his face .

'We’re going . ’

After Gotou informed him of that, he went down the corridor with his long strides .

Ah, please wait –

Ishii hurried chased after Gotou .

I fell –




Hadn’t it already ended?

Even Hata couldn’t hide his surprise .

Andou was supposed to be the culprit .

That Andou had been exorcised by Yakumo yesterday .

In the first place, Andou had already been dead then .

Even if he hadn’t been exorcised, he shouldn’t have been able to commit another crime .

Despite that –

The scene of the crime was right in front of him . It was exactly the same as before . The early morning dumpsite . There was the drowned corpse of a fourteen-year-old girl .

There were lacerations on the ankle which suggested that something had bound it .

Her name was Hashimoto Rumi-chan .

After she left school yesterday, she didn’t return home . She had stayed out overnight without giving notice many times before .

The parents had thought it was just her doing what she always did, so they hadn’t asked for an investigation and had just waited for their daughter to return –

Then, this morning, she had been found as a corpse .

The other investigation team members probably thought the same thing . Everyone was silent . They didn’t know how to accept the reality in front of them .

Hata suddenly felt somebody’s gaze upon him .

Again . Somebody was looking at him again .

Hata focussed his eyes on the surrounding onlookers .

He’s there –

It was him . He had been at the previous scene . The man in sunglasses .

He had a bold smile on his face . What was so funny in this turmoil? Once could have been overlooked, but twice –

Who on earth is he –



[1] To put it simply, the Sanzu River is the Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx .

[2] Japan uses letters in real estate to describe housing . 2LDK means that there are two rooms and an area which is used as the living room, dining room and kitchen . You can find some actual examples HERE .

[3] A horigotatsu (掘炬燵) is a type of kotatsu . It is a low, covered table – sometimes heated – that is placed over a hole in the floor, so one sits at it like one would on a regular chair . HERE’S an example of a heated one .

[4] Youkan (羊羹) is a type of Japanese dessert made of red bean paste, agar and sugar to form a jelly (the youkan) .

[5] The Keio (京王) Line is a railway line in western Tokyo, where the Tama River is .

[6] Isshin would have clothes for non-spiritual duties, called samue (作務衣) and proper robes for when he was doing spiritual duties, called houe (法衣) . Here is a LINK to a site that sells houe and accessories, while THIS SITE called Samue Life sells samue and accessories, so you can take a look at them (and gawk at prices, my heavens) .