Volume 5 Chapter 1
VOLUME 5 – CONNECTED FEELINGS
file 01: missing (TRANSLATION NOTES)
Hijikata Makoto treaded firmly along the sloping road .
The road was narrow and winding . Fallen branches narrowed the road, making it seem thick .
A wind was blowing –
She wore a down coat and gloves, but her exposed ears hurt so much it felt like they might come off .
Makoto stopped walking and turned around . The shopping district and apartment buildings looked like miniatures .
She took a hand warmer out from her pocket and put it against her cheek and ear . After she had warmed up a bit, she started walking again .
She would arrive at her destination soon .
Makoto was going to a house where a murder occurred fifteen years ago .
Her boss had instructed her through email to take photos of the scene .
If possible, she wanted to write the story . She typed a reply email along those lines, but she hadn’t gotten a response .
Until half a year ago, she had been a police reporter . However, that had been because her father was the chief of police rather than because of her own ability .
To prove that, when her father resigned from the police, she was taken out of the journalism scene and put into the planning department .
There was no sense of emergency . She gathered material for suspicious articles that might not even be used and her boss assigned her tasks that were essentially odd jobs .
She was going in a considerably different direction than the one she had aimed for . However, that didn’t mean she cut corners . That would make her just the daughter of the ex-chief of the police .
While Makoto was being sentimental, she saw the end of the sloping road .
She saw a house with a brick wall and black iron gate .
It was much bigger than she had imagined .
She had walked because she’d thought there would be no place to park, but she could have just driven here .
The building that imitated a Tudor Renaissance church had a pointed roof and showed its wooden pillars .
It was in an area of heavy snowfall so it had been built to be strong against snow . A building of this sort had double walls to keep in the heat, but each of those walls was thin . It wasn’t strong and didn’t have good soundproofing .
So they could hear the screams outside –
Makoto took a digital camera out of her bag and took many shots, changing the angle and zooming .
She checked the images she took on the screen .
The house was built like a church . The large premises encompassed it . Coupled with the lone tree in its autumn colours in the corner of the garden, it was just like a painting .
Did a murder really occur here fifteen years ago – it made you doubt that .
It began with a report from A-ko-san who lived on the corner .
Fifteen years ago, February tenth . 12:07 AM . A-ko-san reported to the police that she heard a scream from the next house .
At the time, Nanase Kanji and his wife lived in this house, along with their eldest son Katsuaki and his wife . Katsuaki’s daughter Miyuki also lived there to make five .
The Nanase family had owned the nearby land for generations . Kanji had made a name for himself as the director of the private middle school . There had even been rumours he would step into the world of politics .
The first to arrive at the scene was Detective Miyagawa, on his way back .
He met with A-ko-san at the scene and received an explanation of the events .
Miyagawa determined that it was an emergency and went to the Nanase premises to confirm the situation before reinforcement arrived .
However, there was no response . Since the front door was open, Miyagawa went inside through the entrance .
In the living room at the end of the corridor, he found the bodies of men and women who had been stabbed repeatedly –
They were Nanase Kanji and his wife and his son Katsuaki and his wife .
Just as Miyagawa was heading for the entrance to call for help, he spotted Miyuki, Katsuaki’s daughter . He tried to secure her, but someone hit his head and he fainted .
Reinforcements found him collapsed in the corridor and he was taken to the hospital . Fortunately, it wasn’t life threatening .
However, by the time reinforcements arrived, they couldn’t find Miyuki and was thought to have been kidnapped by the perpetrator .
The investigation division was immediately mobilised, and an investigation from a robbery and enmity angle started .
Miyagawa had seen the perpetrator, so a speedy resolution had been expected, but because of his head injury, he had lost the memory of the incident .
Makoto passed the gate and walked down a brick path to the entrance .
The garden had probably had grass growing in it, but now it was knee-high with weeds .
After that case, nobody would buy this house .
Not only that – there was a rumour that you could hear screams when the time of the murder rolled around, and the first person to report the crime, A-ko-san, moved away as well .
Since nothing valuable had been stolen, the police earnestly continuing the investigation narrowed it down to possible suspects with grudges .
There were many people who disliked Nanase Kanji, so the names of many suspects came up .
Finally, they found conclusive evidence .
Fingerprints left at the scene matched one of the suspects, Takeda Shunsuke, who had been thirty at the time .
Furthermore, the victim’s blood had been on the fingerprint, so it was clear that Takeda had been there after the crime occurred .
Takeda also didn’t go along voluntarily for questioning from the police during the investigation .
He had no clear alibi, and they got testimony that said he had visited the victim’s house on the day of the incident .
The police determined that Takeda Shunsuke was the murderer . They got an arrest warrant and went to the apartment where Takeda lived . However, Takeda had already disappeared .
A knife with the blood of the victim was found at his flat . The police put Takeda on the nationwide wanted list .
However, the earnest investigation was futile . Even now, there was no news of Miyuki, let alone any trace of Takeda .
After reaching the entrance, Makoto took another photo with her camera .
The formerly white walls were now completely yellow with age and spotted with black .
If it were raining and thundering, it would look like it had come out of a horror movie .
There was the sound of metal on metal . When she looked over, she saw that the front door was slightly open .
But I was told that it’d be locked and I wouldn’t be able to go inside –
Makoto peeked inside through the gap between the door and the wall . However, she couldn’t see well in the dark .
She took out her handkerchief, wrapped it around the doorknob and slowly pulled the door open .
The outside light lit up the stairs to the second floor and the dusty corridor .
When Makoto squinted, she spotted footsteps going down the corridor .
‘Is anyone here?’
Just as Makoto spoke up, there was the sound of something falling .
She leapt reflexively from surprise .
– Somebody’s inside .
Makoto pulled herself together and walked through the front door .
She felt something at her feet . She looked down to see a Handycam video camera .
Why’s something like this here –
She stooped to pick it up when somebody passed behind her .
Something cold pierced through to her core .
Though she was terrified, Makoto slowly raised her head and looked forward .
She saw something black at the end of the hall .
What is that?
While she was thinking, that object fell sideways and changed direction .
It’s a person . A woman – she was very weak and her face was pale .
Her eyes met Makoto’s . Her cracked, purple lips moved slightly .
'He… lp… me…’
After orchestra circle practice ended, Haruka quickly put her beloved flute away in its case and left the music room .
She refused a friend’s invitation to lunch and headed on foot to the prefabricated two-storey building in the back of Building B .
Each floor of the building was lined with ten small rooms which were lent out for circle activity use by the university .
The room she was headed for was at the very back of the first floor .
There was a plate on the door which read <Movie Research Circle>, but that was just a cover – no circle activities were held .
Here stayed the eccentric man Saitou Yakumo . He had tricked the school and was living here .
Normally, he hid it with a colour contact lens, but Yakumo’s left eye was red and had the unique ability to see the spirits of the dead .
Haruka had first met Yakumo about a year ago –
She had become acquainted with him when he helped her with her friend Miki, who had been possessed by a ghost .
Every time she met up with him, he complained, saying things like 'Do you have nothing better to do?’ and 'Are you an idiot?’ , but to Haruka, being together with Yakumo was as natural and comfortable as watching television with her family .
Perhaps it was because she didn’t have to pretend with him .
Still, why was it?
Her heart was beating wildly and her palms were sweaty . Why was she nervous to meet him?
It wasn’t that difficult . She just had to say one thing: 'We’re putting on a performance soon, so come if you have the time . ’
Since it was him, he’d just say something like 'I refuse’ and that’d be the end of it .
She was nervous because she had strange hopes . But if she knew she was going to get rejected, why was she asking – she didn’t know herself .
The only reason she felt strange now was because she had been thinking about bringing up that topic .
And what would happen if he came to the performance anyway? It didn’t matter anymore . Haruka forced the contradiction within her to the pit of her stomach and forcefully opened the door .
Yakumo’s here –
He sat in his usual chair and had sleepy eyes and messy hair as usual . Even though he was inside a room, he was wearing a down coat and was shivering .
He could just buy a heater . That was what Haruka thought, but she didn’t say it aloud . He’d definitely say 'Then you buy one’ if she did .
'H-hey . ’
Haruka greeted him in a bright voice and sat in the opposite chair .
Yakumo raised his left eyebrow in response . He looked displeased, like a cat that had had its nap disturbed .
'Yes, yes, I have a lot of time on my hands,’ said Haruka before he could say anything .
How about that? Was he stumped? Haruka could tell what Yakumo wanted to say easily now that she’d known him for a year .
Yakumo scratched his head, put his chin in his hands and looked the other way, seeming irritated that his line was stolen from him .
He was sulking .
'So what trouble do you have for me today?’ asked Yakumo was a yawn .
'Stop making it sound like I’m a troublemaker . ’
Yakumo spread his hands wide and shook his head exaggeratedly .
'Do you know how many times you’ve brought trouble to me?’
'That’s… I’ve asked you for help a number of times, but…’
'Five times in a year . Do you understand? Even Michael Jackson doesn’t make as much fuss as you do . If you’re not a troublemaker, who is?’
Yakumo smirked triumphantly .
'I’m just going to say this, but I didn’t bring trouble this time,’ said Haruka sharply .
'If it isn’t trouble, what are you hiding?’
He really was sharp .
'I-I’m not hiding anything… Why do you think that?’
'Replying to a question with a question is against the rules . ’
'You’re saying that? That’s your special ability, Yakumo-kun . ’
Yakumo’s cheek twitched and he had an unpleasant expression on his face .
'I said this before, but when you come into the room saying something like “Hey” in a bright voice, it’s usually trouble . You force yourself to act cheerful because you’ve got a guilty conscience . ’
What did he mean, guilty conscience?
It really riled her up .
'I don’t have a guilty conscience . ’
'Then what did you come here for?’
'There’s a performance coming up and I just thought I’d ask you to come if you have time . ’
She’d ended up saying that in a strong tone .
Yakumo’s brow was furrowed and he looked grim, like he was facing the mystery of the century .
'Mine . ’
'Didn’t I mention this before? I’m in the orchestra circle . ’
'I know that . But I don’t understand…’
Yakumo crossed his arms like he was pondering something .
'What don’t you understand?’
'The reason I would go to your performance . ’
The way he said it, it was like he was thinking about the motive behind a murder .
'Obviously it’s because we’re friends . ’
Yakumo’s eyes went wide at Haruka’s words, like he was surprised .
'Me and you, Yakumo-kun . Was I wrong…?’
When he said it like that, she felt a bit anxious .
What on earth did Yakumo think of her anyway? Did he really think of her just as a troublemaker?
It was true that she’d brought him a lot of trouble up until now . But she’d done a lot of other things too . She’d helped out with investigations before, and –
Haruka sighed . She didn’t care anymore .
She lay down on the table and glared up at Yakumo’s face . He was still thinking .
'Even though I thought we were friends all this time…’
She hadn’t planned on saying that, but it just came out .
It felt like tears were going to come out too .
'You and I are friends, eh… I’ve never thought about that . ’
Yakumo covered his eyes and scratched at his cheek, like he felt awkward .
Come to think of it, Yakumo had said before that there were only two types of people in this world: those who were afraid of him and those who used him .
He’d been treated badly because of his unique ability ever since he was young . Because of that trauma, he’d built a wall in his heart to separate him from other people .
The decisive event concerned his mother .
When Yakumo was young, his mother tried to kill him . A detective, Gotou, had happened to pass by the scene and saved him . Though Yakumo’s life had been saved, his heart had been fatally wounded .
In one year, Haruka had thought she’d gotten a bit closer to Yakumo, but she might have been the only one who thought that way .
'It’s fine . I’m leaving . ’
Haruka put a smile on her face and stood up .
'When is it?’
Yakumo scratched at the tip of his nose with his finger .
'Didn’t you hear me? I asked what date the performance is on . ’
Haruka’s expression became less stiff .
'Next Saturday . ’
Haruka leant forward in her excitement .
'The school hall . ’
'If by some chance I am so bored I could die then and happen for some reason to be nearby, I might go . ’
What a roundabout way of saying it . He really wasn’t honest at all . But Haruka was happy .
That contrary Yakumo had agreed to her invitation .
'Got it . Come if you’re so bored you could die . I’ll bring a ticket next time . ’
She felt like she had gotten closer to Yakumo, just a tiny bit .
'It’s creepy, so wipe that grin off your face now . ’
Yakumo frowned at her like he was looking at something dirty .
This person really – wasn’t honest .
He was really riled up .
Gotou leant back in the passenger seat of the car . He lit his cigarette and threw the lighter at the dashboard .
In the driver’s seat, Ishii adjusted the position of his silver-framed classes with his finger and turned his frightened gaze towards Gotou .
'What’re you looking at?’
Gotou’s words were close to a threat . Ishii hurriedly looked away .
'Ah, no, nothing in…’
Ishii was flustered, as he always was .
'Say it clearly!’
'Ah, yes sir . Er, you appear to be rather angry…’
Gotou’s anger flared up again at Ishii’s words .
The Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room that Gotou was assigned to was under the jurisdiction of the police . His work was meant to be the investigation of unsolved cases, as per the name .
However, the instructions this time were for the investigation of a suspicious character near a building that was being demolished .
This was supposed to be the work of uniformed officers at the police station . Since Chief Miyagawa had directly given these instructions, he had to be making them do this on purpose .
He either thought they had a lot of free time or didn’t like them .
'Aren’t you riled up?’
'Chief Miyagawa is being considerate . ’
Ishii was as optimistic as usual .
'Yes . Recently, we’ve just been organising documents so we haven’t had a chance to go out . ’
'How’s that being considerate?’
'Ah, no… . that’s…’
Ishii’s shoulders went up, like a turtle hiding in his shell .
'What? Just say it already . ’
Gotou grabbed Ishii’s neck .
'No, er, Chief Miyagawa said that recently you… were… er…’
Ishii’s mouth was moving, but Gotou didn’t hear the important part .
The guy wasn’t reliable at all .
'Say it clearly!’
Gotou’s fist paid Ishii’s head a visit .
Ishii let out a scream like a cat that had had its tail stepped on . Maybe Gotou would grab him by the collar too .
'That is, er, Miyagawa said that he’d send you out for some exercise…’
'Am I a dog? Don’t make it sound like he’s taking me for a walk . ’
'Chief Miyagawa said that ever since you were hospitalised, Detective Gotou, er… you’ve gotten fat…’
– Fat .
Gotou looked at his own belly .
There wasn’t too much of it, but it wasn’t slim . He’d gone up two belt holes . His shirt buttons wouldn’t close . His slacks were snug .
He pinched his belly . It was as soft as touching a marshmallow . It felt kind of nice .
'What do you think?’
Gotou looked towards Ishii for his opinion .
'What do I think about what?’
Ishii repeated the question, acting confused .
When the bastard actually knows already –
'Did I, er… get fat?’ said Gotou with a cough .
'Honestly . ’
'You won’t hit me?’
'Just get to the point!’
Ishii gave him a distrustful gaze, but he reluctantly opened his mouth .
'I feel that there may be significantly more weight to you than there was before . ’
He said it politely, but the meaning didn’t change .
Gotou reflexively raised a fist towards Ishii . Ishii’s shoulders stiffened as he let out a strange shriek .
'Y-you promised that you wouldn’t hit me, didn’t you?’
'I haven’t hit you yet, right!?’
Gotou glared at Ishii and used his raised hand to scratch his head .
'Am I that much fatter?’
While throwing his cigarette into his portable ashtray, he repeated his question .
'No, it isn’t anything to worry about . Don’t bears eat large amounts before hibernating in the winter? In order to survive the winter, they need a lot of fat…’
Gotou couldn’t hold back any more . Who cared about a stupid promise?
Gotou hit Ishii’s head with his fist .
'What do you mean, bear!? Hibernation!? You fool!’
His yell rang through the car . Gotou grabbed Ishii’s collar and shook him .
'Detective Gotou, please stop it . It’s dangerous . ’
'Shut up! You keep going on and on…’
Before Gotou finished speaking, Ishii stepped on the brakes . Gotou tried to brace himself in his unnatural stance, but he fell forward and hit his head against the dashboard .
'Don’t step on the brakes all of a sudden!’
He gave Ishii’s thin chest a horizontal chop .
'E-er, Detective Gotou, we’ve arrived,’ said Ishii, looking pained as he gripped his chest .
Gotou looked – they had arrived, just as Ishii said .
Around the premises, there were plates that had construction dates and contact information printed on them .
Gotou snorted and got off the car .
It’s cold –
The cold felt like it went right to his heart .
While breathing out white puffs of air, Gotou went to the galvanised sheet iron door and opened it, entering the premises .
It was an iron and concrete five-storey building .
Including the premises, it was probably about three hundred tsubo . The inside demolition work was done, but the outer wall was completely untouched .
In the corner of the premises, the demolished rubble had piled up .
Gotou passed through the overgrown premises and stood in front of the building’s front entrance . The door had already been taken off .
He avoided the cords that hung down like ivy and went through the entrance .
The revealed concrete was cracked and the floor was covered in dust . The ceiling boards showed through as well .
He’d stepped on some glass .
Thanks to that, memories that had been buried deep in Gotou’s mind suddenly came up again .
I’ve come here before –
Fifteen years before – on a night when it was raining buckets .
Gotou had been a uniformed detective at a police station when somebody had told him a kid was going to be killed . Then, he’d headed for this building .
I’d had a bad feeling –
When he went inside the building with a torch, he spotted a woman’s crouching back .
That woman had been bent over, strangling a kid .
He stopped her, though she resisted violently, and finally he was able to get the woman to get away from the kid . However, before he’d noticed, the woman had disappeared .
He found this out later, but the woman had tried to kill her own kid .
The words the woman had said then were still fresh in his ears .
– This child will kill! If I don’t kill him now, he’ll kill, just like him . ’
Gotou still didn’t know why she’d thought a baby would become a killer in the future .
All he knew was that the kid from then had grown into a bratty young man .
That guy was still living with the burden of that event .
'What is it?’
Ishii called out to him, bringing Gotou back to reality .
'Nothing . Let’s go . ’
Cutting off the thread to the past, Gotou went deeper into the building .
When he reached the pillar at the very back of the building, Gotou spotted something . He crouched and picked it up .
A puff of white dust came up .
'Is that a… blanket?’
Ishii peered from behind Gotou .
'Yeah . ’
'Was somebody here?’
'Looks that way . ’
Besides the blanket, empty cans were strewn about .
Had construction workers left it behind, or was somebody else living here?
Gotou put the blanket on the floor and stood up .
There was the sound of something falling .
Gotou instinctively looked to the building’s entrance .
A man was standing there .
He wore a green half-length coat with jeans and had a heavy-looking Boston bag on his shoulders .
Was this the guy who was living here?
'We’re from the Setamachi precinct . We’ve got a few things we want to ask you . ’
Gotou held up his police ID and approached the man .
Then, he saw the man’s face clearly . A slightly wide face with thick eyebrows . Sharp eyes that looked straight forwards .
I’ve seen this face before . Where was it –
Ishii shouted in Gotou’s ear, interrupting his thoughts .
'You’re so loud!’
Gotou smacked the back of Ishii’s head .
'B-but . ’
Ishii was still agitated .
'Isn’t that Takeda Shunsuke?’ Ishii said quickly .
'Takeda Shunsuke? The soccer player?’
'That’s incorrect . And you’re mixing up the players’ names . ’
'Then who is it?’
'Fifteen years ago, he was the suspect for the brutal murder at the house on top of the hill – Takeda Shunsuke!’
Ishii stamped his feet in irritation as he shouted .
The man looked taken aback by Ishii’s words .
Gotou thought about that case . He hadn’t been directly related since he’d still been working at a police station then, but he’d seen that face on the wanted list a number of times .
It did look like him .
'Oi . You Takeda Shunsuke?’
When Gotou asked that, the man turned around and ran off .
Gotou ran right after Takeda .
Damn it! Why hadn’t he noticed earlier!? Ishii had had to tell him – he’d never been more ashamed in his life!
Gotou ran off the premises and turned at the first corner when his side started hurting .
It was hard to breathe . His body felt heavy .
Ishii passed Gotou as he was trying to stand up .
Damn! Why did he have to be passed by the fool Ishii!? He could still run!
Gotou tried to up his pace, but his feet were as heavy as if they were in water . Finally, he sank to the floor .
He had only run two hundred metres, so why was he like this? What had happened to his body?
Gotou forced himself to stand up and started running again, though he was staggering .
After passing the second intersection, he saw Ishii’s back .
Ishii was frantically looking around a dead-end road .
'Ishii? Where’s the guy?’
– Haa, haa, haa .
Gotou put both hands on his knees and was panting like a dog as he asked .
'That’s… I saw him turn into this street, but – ’
Ishii was restless as he answered .
'Did you lose him?’
'Rather than lose him… er… he disappeared . ’
'Yes . ’
In his anger, Gotou grabbed Ishii’s collar .
'There’s no way somebody could disappear! I’ll beat you up if you make stupid excuses!’
'I-I apologise,’ said Ishii, his face twitching .
Gotou thought about giving Ishii a punch, but his body was at its limit . His knees lost their strength and he sank to the ground .
Sweat was coming down his forehead like somebody had splashed him with a bucket of water .
– Even though I definitely would’ve been able to catch him before .
Gotou howled towards the sun .
When Makoto went into the hospital room, the woman on the bed slowly opened her eyes .
It was the woman who had fainted at the scene of the murder fifteen years ago .
After Makoto found her, she immediately called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital .
She was very weak, but there were no obvious injuries and she was clearly conscious . She could be let out of hospital after two or three days of treatment . Now, she had an IV drip with nutrients .
'Are you all right?’
When Makoto spoke to her, the woman tried to sit up .
'Please don’t strain yourself . ’
Makoto urged the woman to lie down and sat on the round chair by the bed .
'You saved me . Thank you very much,’ said the woman in a hoarse voice .
'I was just passing by,’ said Makoto as she shook her head . She looked at the woman’s face again .
She had a pencil-straight nose and almond-shaped eyes . Though her makeup had come off, she was still very attractive .
'My name is Murakami Yuki . ’
'I’m Hijikata Makoto . ’
'Why were you at that place?’
The woman asked the question first .
'I work at a newspaper agency . I was gathering material on the case that happened fifteen years ago . ’
'So that’s why you were there…’
Yuki nodded in understanding .
From that reaction, it seemed like Yuki knew that something had happened there in the past .
'Murakami-san, why were you there?’
Yuki’s expression stiffened at Makoto’s question . It seemed like she didn’t want to say .
Makoto couldn’t force somebody to speak when they’d just met, so she looked for another conversation topic .
'I work as a television reporter,’ said Yuki, breaking the silence .
'Is that so?’
Makoto followed up, though she was confused .
'Though it’s just a local cable channel…’
'Were you there to gather material as well?’
'Yes, well . But it was something more vulgar than gathering material . ’
Yuki smiled bitterly .
'There is a rumour that there are ghosts there, so with the plan of chasing after the mystery of the spiritual phenomena, I went there with a director and an exorcist . ’
'Is that how it was?’
Makoto understood the situation, but there was something else she didn’t understand now .
If they had gone there for a show, why had the staff left Yuki there –
'What on earth happened there?’
'I… was so scared… Everyone ran away, and I was the only one left…’
Yuki’s voice was shaking and there were tears in her eyes .
Makoto regretted asking her question so suddenly .
She might’ve been wrapped up in some sort of incident . An incident that caused her psychological damage as a woman –
In Makoto’s mind, she recalled the repulsive circumstances of an incident she was involved in in the past, and she felt her chest tighten .
'Are you all right?’
Yuki covered her face with her hands as she took deep breaths .
Makoto couldn’t think of the words to say so she touched Yuki’s shoulder – all she could do was wait for her to calm down .
'I don’t know if you’ll believe my story, but…’
'What is it?’
After a silence, Yuki wiped away her tears and started speaking .
'I saw something terrible there…’
'Yes . I was surrounded by people covered in the blood, and they told me to die too…’
Yuki’s eyes were wide, as if she were seeing the scene play out right in front of her .
'You didn’t run?’
'I tried to run away with everyone, but it was like my body was paralysed…’
Yuki’s voice was becoming quieter, and it trailed off at the end .
Nobody would believe her . She was hiding that resignation on her face .
However, Makoto didn’t doubt Yuki’s story . She had experienced something similar herself .
The incident one year ago – a dead person’s spirit had entered Makoto’s body and stolen her freedom .
She felt the chills just thinking about it .
'I believe you . I’ve experienced it myself . ’
Makoto gripped Yuki’s hand .
Yuki’s eyes were filled with confusion . Makoto nodded silently . She felt like Yuki’s expression relaxed just a bit .
Still, Makoto felt extremely angry at the staff who had left Yuki there and didn’t go to help her .
'Have you contacted the staff?’
Yuki shook her head .
'Actually, I called the company, but it turns out that the company hasn’t been able to contact the staff since yesterday…’
They’ve disappeared – no, it was too early to come to that conclusion .
Makoto erased that thought from her mind .
'I have a very bad feeling,’ murmured Yuki .
'A bad feeling…’
'Yes . ’
Yuki nodded and looked to the Handycam on the table by the bed .
'Did you use that to film?’
'It might be recorded on it . ’
Yuki turned hollow eyes towards the ceiling . It was like her soul was being sucked out of her .
'What we saw . ’
– What on earth?
When Miyagawa Hideya received the call, he almost dropped the phone .
Takeda Shunsuke –
These fifteen years, never once had he forgotten that name .
That day, Miyagawa had been the first on the scene .
In the living room at the end of the corridor, there were four people collapsed on each other . He didn’t need to check – he could tell that they were dead . There was no sign of life there .
An overwhelming death –
How many times had they bad stabbed? There were countless wounds and the blood from them was on the wooden floor and had even gotten on the white walls .
Thinking theoretically wasn’t Miyagawa’s strong suit, so he couldn’t explain it . However, he’d felt that the scene had been different from other murder scenes .
Rather than calling it strong, it might have been passionate . He hadn’t felt hatred or resentment there . It had been so inhuman –
The murderer had destroyed the people the way he would break a toy . That was the impression it left .
'Tsuda, Baba, Shimizu . Come here right now!’
Miyagawa slammed the phone down and yelled .
The detectives in charge came immediately to Miyagawa’s desk, surrounding it .
'The suspect from the case fifteen years ago, Takeda Shunsuke, has been spotted . ’
The three of them look like they had met with the dead .
'He escaped, but there’s a strong possibility that he’s hiding nearby . You know what to do . ’
Nobody responded, but each of them knew their roles . Their gazes were as sharp as hunters watching their prey .
'Catch him no matter what . There are five days until the statute of limitations . ’
When Miyagawa finished talking, the three detectives in charge went to the detective office . Shouts flew about – it was as loud as a festival .
After Miyagawa found the corpses, he encountered a man thought to be the murderer . He had been standing together with Miyuki, whose location was currently unknown .
The moment Miyagawa faced that man, he’d thought that he would be killed . He was just about to run when he was hit in the head and fainted .
That impact had made it so that he couldn’t clearly remember that man’s face even now .
However, that dark fire of oppression had stuck to his brain . And those eyes…
When he saw Takeda’s face in a photo, there had just been something off . Is this really the guy I saw at the scene? He’d talked to his boss, but nobody listened . It made sense . There was no point listening to somebody who couldn’t remember the guy’s face .
But it’d still felt off . Was that really…
Miyagawa decided to stop thinking about unnecessary things . If they caught Takeda Shunsuke, everything would become clear .
He didn’t have the time to be sitting about . The investigation this time wouldn’t get by with just the detectives . They’d need to mobilise everyone to catch the guy . There was no time .
Miyagawa took the phone to call the other departments for support .
It was already ten PM by the time Makoto finished organising her material .
Her work was delayed when she unexpectedly saved Yuki .
After sighing, Makoto turned off her computer and stood up .
Around this time, the people on the press floor would have been running about getting ready for the morning edition, but the planning floor Makoto was on was quiet .
She picked up her bag from under her desk when her eyes landed on the Handycam camera beside it .
– What we saw might be recorded on it .
Yuki’s words echoed in her head .
– Could you check the video to see what was recorded?
She had gripped Makoto’s arm as she asked that .
– I’m too afraid to watch it .
Makoto ended up taking the camera, since she couldn’t look at Yuki’s teary eyes .
To tell the truth, Makoto was interested in what was recorded . She might also be able to find out what happened there fifteen years ago .
Of course she was afraid, but that made her want to watch it more .
Makoto turned on the video camera .
There was still battery left . She wouldn’t have to connect it to the computer . The camera had a moveable camera attached to it .
Makoto put down her bag, sat down again and pressed the play button .
The sound was quiet so she couldn’t hear it clearly, but Yuki and a man in worship clothes were talking together calmly . It was probably set up like an appointment .
Makoto pressed fast forward .
Like scenery from the window of a car, the video sped along .
Makoto pressed play again when the house showed up .
Yuki stood in front of the house with a microphone and spoke as if she was giving a speech .
<Fifteen years ago, a terrible and bizarre murder occurred at this house…>
When she finished her explanation, Yuki invited the exorcist over .
After they talked with each other, a voice said 'OK’ and the screen went dark .
When the video started again, Yuki and the exorcist were standing in front of the front door .
<Now, I’d like to head inside immediately . >
Yuki and the exorcist opened the door and walked inside .
<I feel great spiritual power from the other side of this door . >
The exorcist spoke in front of the door at the end of the corridor .
Yuki was looking around restlessly like she sensed something . Her face was also pale .
The camera shook, as if Yuki’s anxiety had been contagious .
Even through a monitor, there was a strange atmosphere .
Finally, the lights suddenly went out –
The screen was completely black . However, the video was still playing .
In the dark, something was moving rapidly .
Clang, clang, clang, clang .
There was the sound of something hitting metal .
There was a voice that sounded like both a yell and a scream .
Then, the bloody face of a woman filled the scream .
Makoto screamed and leapt up from her seat .
The woman’s eyes were wide open and so was her mouth as she looked out of the monitor .
Blood dripped down the right side of her face .
'This is what she saw…’
The moment Makoto said that, the video stopped –
This is what Yuki saw –
Ishii sat on the lumber left on the building premises and let out a sigh .
He looked beside him – Gotou sat on the lumber as well .
His necktie hung around his neck in a sloppy manner, and his shabby old coat was pitiful . He looked just like the protagonist from a hardboiled detective story of the sixties .
After Gotou reported that they’d seen Takeda Shunsuke, a fully mobilised large-scale investigation started .
Of course the Shinkansen stations were investigated, and the citizens in the neighbourhood were questioned . There was even a special telephone number for information from eyewitnesses .
Naturally, the building premises they were at now were closed off . Lights were brought in for an expert inspection .
'Things have become serious . ’
Though Ishii spoke up, Gotou didn’t reply . He just glanced over at him, seeming completely exhausted .
Ishii’s legs were screaming from all the running he’d did too . He couldn’t walk another step .
'Worn out already? Pathetic . ’
Chief Miyagawa made a rude, bowlegged entrance . Though he was short, his bald head and sharp gaze made him look like a thug .
'Chief Miyagawa, thank you very much for your hard work . ’
Ishii hurriedly stood up and bowed .
'Stop being so formal,’ said Miyagawa in a thick voice as he waved his hand like he was chasing away a fly .
'Ah, yes . ’
'Just sit down . ’
'Yes sir . ’
Ishii sat on the lumber, just as Miyagawa told him to .
'What do you want?’ said Gotou with a glare .
'That’s quite a greeting . ’
'You’re just going to lecture us because we let him get away, aren’t you?’
Gotou clicked his tongue .
'Well, I want to, but to be frank, I was the one who let him get away fifteen years ago . ’
Miyagawa rubbed his head as he laughed self-derisively .
'Eh!? Is that so!?’
Ishii leant forward in his surprise .
He’d heard that the detective who went to the scene fifteen years ago encountered the culprit . He fainted after being hit by the culprit and was taken to the hospital by reinforcements .
That had been Miyagawa –
'Why you so surprised? I make mistakes sometimes too . ’
Miyagawa’s eyes narrowed as he remembered the event .
'You’re quite something . ’
Gotou snorted .
'Don’t get ahead of yourself!’
Miyagawa smacked Gotou’s head .
'That hurts . ’
'I was being nice 'cause I thought you were down, but aren’t you going to reflect at all?’
'I reflected enough . ’
Gotou rubbed at his head as he looked up at Miyagawa .
'Hmph . Guess so . ’
Miyagawa took an artificial cigarette out of his jacket . Gotou followed up by lighting a cigarette in his mouth .
Miyagawa seemed vexed as he bit down on his artificial cigarette, but he said nothing .
'How is the investigation going?’ asked Gotou as he blew smoke out his nose .
Ishii wanted to know too .
'No developments for the investigation or inspection . He disappeared like smoke . But it seems like a bunch of people in the area saw Takeda . ’
'You were probably right . The guy you saw was Takeda Shunsuke . ’
Miyagawa’s expression hardened as he said that .
So it really was him –
When Ishii realised that, he felt even more mortified that they let him get away .
'But why would he come back now?’
Gotou cocked his head .
Ishii didn’t know either . Probably everyone related to the investigation felt that way .
The statute of limitations would have been finished in five more days for Takeda .
They couldn’t find him at all after the case . The investigation team for the case had been closed for it a few years back, so if he had just kept in hiding, the statute of limitations would have passed .
So why would Takeda come back to this town despite that danger –
Even if he had a reason that he had to come here, why now?
'I don’t know . I’ll ask when we catch him . ’
Miyagawa’s eyes as he said that shone like those of a beast chasing prey . Even though he was in management now, Miyagawa’s body was still indelibly stained with the blood at the scene .
Ishii looked at Miyagawa with respect .
'Of course . ’
Gotou stretched his arms up above his head, and Ishii stood up . Gotou was probably planning to continue questioning the people in the area .
'You guys can just go home,’ said Miyagawa, stopping them before they could start .
'It’s fine . We’re still good as new . ’
'I’m not worried about your health . ’
Miyagawa waved his hand, like he thought the very idea ridiculous .
'What do you mean?’
Gotou seemed to sense something as he approached Miyagawa .
'Go back to your regular work . ’
'Are you seriously saying that?’
Gotou’s voice cracked as he spoke .
'Of course . ’
'Since it’s out of your jurisdiction . ’
'I won’t accept that . ’
Gotou wouldn’t back down .
Though Gotou was riled up, Miyagawa was calm .
'You don’t have to accept it . Just think about my situation for a bit . ’
'This time it’ll be infiltration tactics with a focus on teamwork . There’ll be a bunch of problems if I let you guys loiter around . ’
Gotou didn’t appear to accept it, but Ishii understood even without Miyagawa saying all of it .
He was talking about the case half a year ago . Gotou and Ishii had disclosed the crime of the previous chief .
Because of that, there was an arrest in the police and police chief had been forced to resign .
They had done the right thing, but in the loyal organisation that was the police, that had been a betrayal .
If Gotou and Ishii were added to the investigation, the morale might drop .
'As if I care about that!’ shouted Gotou, his face red .
Ishii understood Gotou’s anger very well . They had been the first to discover the suspect, but they couldn’t be a part of the investigation . However –
Ishii tried to pacify Gotou, who looked like he’d spring on Miyagawa .
'Let me go, you fool!’
Gotou hit him –
'Anyway, even if you tell me I can’t, I won’t stop . ’
'Don’t say that . ’
Miyagawa refused Gotou flat . He turned around and started walking away right after the conversation finished .
Gotou’s tightly gripped fists were shaking .
'You bastard! I’m going to kill you one day!’
Gotou howled at the night . Then, in his highly strung state, he hit Ishii’s head with his fist .
Ishii’s glasses fell off his head from the incredible force .
Ishii was trying to pick up the glasses from the ground when his mobile phone rang .
'Hello, this is Ishii speaking . ’
<I apologise for not contacting in so long . >
The person on the other end was the newspaper reporter, Makoto .
He had met her because of a case with a ghost, and she was also the daughter of the old chief of the police .
'Ah, h-hello . Is it Makoto-san?’
Ishii had an unpleasant memory of Makoto . Whenever he heard her voice, he always ended up nervous .
It wasn’t that he disliked Makoto . However, she had been possessed by a ghost before . She had attacked Ishii in a number of ways then .
Even though he knew that that had been the ghost rather than Makoto, he just couldn’t erase the fear from his heart .
<I apologise for my rudeness, but I actually have a request . >
A request? For me?
Anxiety spread through Ishii’s chest .
'W-w-what is it?’
<There is something I would like you to look at . >
’…What is it?’
<A video . >
Ishii could feel his heart thumping .
I can’t watch this video – it was vague, but he had that premonition .
The next morning, Gotou took Ishii with him to the <Movie Research Circle> clubroom at Meisei University .
He was there to meet the contrary university student Saitou Yakumo .
Last night, Gotou had been furious at being left out of the investigation, but the call to Ishii had been an unexpected save .
A video taken at the house where the incident occurred fifteen years ago –
Gotou hadn’t seen it yet either, but apparently there was a terrifying image in it .
Even if they couldn’t take a part in the Takeda investigation, by following the puzzle of the spiritual phenomenon in the puzzle, they might be able to catch Takeda as a result .
However, in order to follow a puzzle regarding spiritual phenomena, Yakumo would be necessary .
The guy was always sarcastic whenever they met, but the red left eye Yakumo had been born with could see the spirits of the dead .
Without that ability, they wouldn’t be able to continue their investigation .
Yakumo was like a cat – he only did as much as he absolutely needed to . He’d definitely say something like 'That’s not my job’ this time too .
However, Gotou definitely wouldn’t let him go . He’d make him cooperate no matter what .
In the worst case scenario, he’d drag him out by the scruff of his neck .
'Sorry to intrude . ’
Gotou opened the <Movie Research Circle> door without knocking .
Yakumo sat in the chair at the front and was reading while running a hand through his hair .
'Please leave if you know you are intruding . Honestly . How many times do I have to say it before you’ll understand?’
Yakumo complained like a brother-in-law without taking his eyes off the book .
The guy had a comeback for everything .
'Yeah, my bad . ’
Gotou clicked his tongue and sat in the folding chair in front of Yakumo .
Ishii stood completely straight next to the door, like a plant . It looked like he was afraid of Yakumo as usual .
'I’ve got something I want to talk to you about . ’
'I refuse . ’
Gotou hadn’t even said anything when Yakumo turned him down . Just like usual –
'Why not? It’s just a small thing . You look like you’ve got some free time . ’
Yakumo looked up just a bit at Gotou’s words .
'I’m just going to say this, but I am a student . There are exams next week . I don’t have the time to play around with you . ’
'What do you mean, play around? I’m doing my work seriously!’
Even though Yakumo was just acting like he normally did, Gotou still got riled up .
His voice was louder too .
'You’re talking rather big . ’
'Though you say you’re working, haven’t you gained a lot of weight? You’re more like a pig than a bear now . ’
Yakumo snorted .
'My weight’s got nothing to do with it! Don’t look down on the police!’
'Aren’t you the one looking down on the police the most, Gotou-san?’
'You said that detectives who ask civilians to investigate are incompetent and depraved . Do you have no pride or morals as a detective?’
This guy . He just keeps on saying whatever the hell he wants –
Gotou’s anger reached the boiling point . He slammed both of his hands on the table .
'Shut up! I don’t want to ask somebody like you for help either!’
'The exit is over there . ’
Yakumo’s expression didn’t change at Gotou’s loud voice . He pointed at the door .
'Stop blabbing and just help!’
Gotou leant forward and gripped Yakumo’s by the collar, but Yakumo just scowled with his fingers in his ears .
The guy isn’t cute at all –
'Gotou-san, what is one supposed to say when asking for a favour?’
The corners of Yakumo’s lips were turned up in a smirk .
Anger boiled up in Gotou’s stomach . He resisted the urge to acquaint Yakumo’s well-defined nose with his fist .
If he got angry at Yakumo now, he’d lose everything . Restraint . Restraint . Gotou repeated that word to himself .
'I-I sincerely apologise for coming at a busy time for you, but would you do me the favour of cooperating with the investigation?’
Gotou let go of Yakumo and looked down at his feet as he spoke .
'Isn’t there one more thing you should say?’ urged Yakumo, his arms crossed .
'P-please . ’
Gotou gritted his teeth and lowered his head as he bore with the disgrace .
'Well done . ’
Yakumo clapped mockingly .
– Ah, I really want to punch him .
'That makes four favours . ’
Yakumo held up four fingers in an impressive manner .
What did he mean, favours? Who did he think saved him when his mother was about to kill him? What an ungrateful bastard .
Gotou’s shoulders slumped and he sat back down in the chair, exhausted .
'So what do you plan on making me do this time?’
'Oi, Ishii . Explain . ’
He’d get a hole in his stomach from stress if he talked to Yakumo anymore .
Gotou turned the conversation to Ishii .
Perhaps he was startled, because Ishii turned right and left and bowed, like a broken robot .
'Stop acting like an idiot and explain!’
Gotou gave Ishii a horizontal chop .
He was fixed –
'A-ah, yes . Er… Where should I start the explanation from?’ said Ishii, as hesitant as always .
'Think about that yourself!’ Gotou yelled .
Ishii leapt back with his head in his hands, like he thought Gotou was going to hit him .
'Ishii-san, there’s no need to pay any attention to the words of a sea lion who hasn’t gotten enough exercise . Please just talk normally in a chronological order . ’
Yakumo yawned, like he was bored .
– Who’s a sea lion, you monster cat!?
Gotou forcefully restrained the urge to yell .
Ishii appeared to have relaxed now that Yakumo told him how to speak . He adjusted the position of his glasses, though they hadn’t slipped, and started to speak .
'The story starts fifteen years ago…’
It sounded like he was talking about some old folktale .
'I will show you the documents afterwards, but a family of four were killed at a house and the granddaughter was abducted – it was an atrocious case . ’
Is this OK? Ishii seemed to be asking that as he looked at Gotou and Yakumo’s faces .
'Please continue . ’
After hearing Yakumo’s response, Ishii breathed out and continued talking .
'The investigation after that put the suspect on the national wanted list, but the police could not find him . ’
'Since it has been fifteen years, that means…’
Yakumo looked up .
'Yes . The statute of limitations is up in four days . Then, when we went to an abandoned building on another investigation yesterday, we ran into that suspect . ’
'Were you able to catch him?’
Ishii was lost for words when Yakumo interrupted, and he looked to Gotou for help .
Ah, what a pain . Since it was Yakumo, he’d probably figured it out already and asked that on purpose .
'I let him get away,’ said Gotou, swallowing his irritation .
'I couldn’t hear you clearly . Could you say that once more?’
Yakumo put his hand to his ear, like he really hadn’t heard .
Yakumo always complained about how loud Gotou’s voice was . He really was an infuriating guy .
'I said… I let him get away!’
'I see . As a detective with short legs and insufficient exercise, it’s natural that you let him escape . ’
Yakumo laughed aloud even though he said that himself .
Gotou didn’t even feel like rebutting any more . His mouth was a thin line across his face as he looked to the side with his arms crossed .
After Yakumo laughed for a while, he urged Ishii to continue .
'Ah, yes . Detective Gotou and I were left out of the investigation . After that, we received a call from Makoto-san . ’
'Makoto-san would be the newspaper reporter, yes?’
Ishii nodded .
'Yes, that Makoto-san . She had gone to the scene for material and found a video there . ’
'A video… is it?’
'Yes . The owner is a certain video company . It appears that they were filming a paranormal programme there . ’
Yakumo frowned for just a moment .
For Yakumo, who could actually see ghosts, programmes that joked around with the matter were probably not interesting .
'I haven’t seen the video yet myself, but according to Makoto-san, the ghost of a woman was recorded . ’
After saying that much, Ishii wiped the sweat from his forehead .
'Four people died at the place where that video was taken, yes? It wouldn’t be unnatural for a ghost to be recorded . ’
Yakumo yawned .
'If you’ve determined a suspect, I wouldn’t be able to do anything even if I went now . Well, there is still the question of why the culprit returned to the town where he committed the crime right before the statute of limitations was up, but it’s the police’s job to investigate that . ’
Yakumo rubbed at his eyes like a cat and propped up his chin with his hand .
He looked completely uninterested .
From the way the conversation had gone so far, there really was nothing to do . But there was still more –
Gotou stood up and put both hands in his pockets .
'Is there something else?’
'That’s what we thought at first, but according to the woman reporter, the ghost in the video – she’s definitely not one of the victims . ’
When Yakumo heard Gotou’s last words, his expression changed .
Haruka used her lunch break to head towards the <Movie Research Circle> .
He had been incredibly contrary about it, but that Yakumo had agreed to go to her performance .
That Yakumo had agreed . This could be called a case of its own .
But since it was Yakumo, he’d probably fall asleep like a cat in the sun during the performance . Still, it’d make her happy if he just went to the hall .
Haruka’s pace quickened .
She was almost running by the time she got to the prefabricated building .
Haruka stopped in front of the door .
If she went in with accelerated breathing, it’d be like she hurried here . She took deep breaths to calm her ragged breathing .
– OK, let’s go .
When Haruka tried to put her hand on the doorknob, the door opened .
She jumped back in her surprise . A bearlike figure suddenly appeared in front of her .
’D-Detective Gotou!’ exclaimed Haruka .
Perhaps it was because he was wearing a coat, but Gotou looked a size larger than the last time she’d seen him .
'Oh, Haruka-chan . ’
'I apologise for not keeping in touch . ’
'If you don’t cut your ties with Yakumo soon, you won’t be able to become a bride,’ said Gotou listlessly as he sleepily scratched his neck .
'I don’t want to hear that from somebody who lets his wife run away . ’
Gotou snorted at Haruka’s retort with a cigarette in his mouth .
If Gotou was here, that meant –
'Since you are rather large, please don’t stand in the entrance . ’
Yakumo pushed Gotou aside to leave the clubroom, running a hand through his messy hair all the while .
'What are you doing?’ said Yakumo, the moment his eyes met Haruka’s .
'Even if you ask me what I’m doing…’
Haruka was lost for words when Ishii came out of the room too .
'Ah, H-Haruka-chan, i-it’s been a while . ’
Ishii bowed in a stupidly formal manner .
'Hello, Ishii-san . ’
There was no mistaking it now .
Gotou had probably brought Yakumo another troublesome case .
'Is it a case?’
'Well, something like that . ’
After Gotou replied, he started walking away .
'Hey, what’d he mean by “something like that”?’
Haruka asked that question to Yakumo and Ishii .
Yakumo yawned – it didn’t feel like he wanted to reply . Ishii seemed divided as to whether he should talk .
'Oi! Hurry up!’
Gotou’s yell echoed back to them .
'Ah, yes sir . I’m coming now . ’
Ishii started running from a conditioned reflex .
– He fell .
He got up immediately and started running again .
Yakumo ran a hand through his hair as he followed him .
'Hey, Yakumo-kun . ’
Yakumo turned around .
'I brought the ticket for the performance I mentioned yesterday…’
'Leave it on the table . ’
Yakumo started walking again .
Why is it – Haruka felt that back was very far away .
Her heart felt strange . What was this feeling? She’d felt it before . When her friend got involved in a case and died –
She had a bad feeling for some reason .
Haruka called out to Yakumo’s back, unable to bear it .
Though Yakumo stopped walking, he didn’t turn around .
'Er, um… Be careful . ’
Haruka put the anxiety in her heart into words .
'It’s rare for you to worry about me . Do you have a fever or something?’
Yakumo shrugged and started to walk again .
– He’ll be fine .
Haruka gripped the red stone on her necklace tightly .
Ishii’s expression was still soft as he sat in the driver’s seat .
– Ah, Haruka-chan was really cute .
Just by seeing that face, the uneasiness in his heart lessened . Her hair had grown out a bit, so he felt like she seemed more mature now .
Gotou’s fist came down on Ishii’s fantasising head .
'How long are you going to keep smirking like that!? Hurry up and start the car!’
'I-I apologise . ’
Ishii bore with the pain as he started the engine .
'When was the video we are going to watch filmed?’ asked Yakumo from the back of the car, his arms crossed .
'I don’t know very much about it myself . ’
Ishii looked at Yakumo using the mirror .
Makoto hadn’t actually heard the details about when the video was filmed either .
'I see . ’
Yakumo leant back on the seat and looked up .
'Er… Would you find something out by knowing when the video was taken?’
Ishii didn’t understand why Yakumo wanted to know .
'There’s a possibility . The video was put out by a video company . ’
Ishii understood from that, even if Yakumo didn’t say any more .
'What are you talking about?’ asked Gotou, turning around in the passenger seat .
'If time has passed since the video was filmed, we won’t be able to determine whether the video was faked . ’
'Composite videos or CG or something?’
'Yes . Nowadays, it’s incredibly simple to edit videos just by using a computer . There are a number of those in the videos of ghosts that are shown on television . ’
Yakumo gave a supplementary explanation .
It was true that it was easy to edit videos using a computer now . Unlike the composite videos of the past, it would be difficult to determine authenticity if CG was used .
A question suddenly came to Ishii .
'E-er, there’s something I would like to ask . ’
'What is it?’
Yakumo’s eyes narrowed .
When Yakumo looked at him like that, Ishii couldn’t calm down – it felt like Yakumo was seeing straight to the bottom of his heart .
'Er… in photos and videos, ghosts you can’t see with your actual eyes are clearly recorded . Why is that?’
'You don’t even understand that?’
Gotou hit Ishii’s head, like he thought he was an idiot .
'Do you know, Detective Gotou?’
'It’s that… That… Yakumo, I’ll leave the rest to you . ’
Gotou pushed the responsibility to Yakumo .
Yakumo ran his hand through his hair like he thought the matter troublesome, but he started an explanation .
'First, it is necessary to define what a ghost is . ’
'The definition of a ghost, is it?’
'This is only my theory, but ghosts are not demons or some new life form . They are originally human . ’
'That’s right . ’
Ishii nodded in understanding .
In horror films, they were often portrayed as strange life forms that exceeded human understanding, but when he thought about it more, it was just as Yakumo said – they were originally human .
'Even after the human body dies, their emotions remain . I believe that the cluster of emotions that remains is the true form of the ghost . ’
'A cluster of emotions… is it?’
Ishii thought over Yakumo’s words .
It’d be difficult to explain if he was asked to, but he understood what Yakumo meant .
'There are two conditions for seeing these spirits of the dead . To put it simply, they are transmission and reception . ’
'Transmission and reception?’
'Correct . The spirit of the dead transmits . The stronger those emotions are, the easier it is for them to transmit to people . Please think of it like mobile phone radio emissions . ’
'So if the radio emissions are weak, people won’t receive them?’
Yakumo nodded in satisfaction at Ishii’s response .
'Exactly . The same could be said for reception . Depending on the person, they will receive the transmission better or worse . That is where the difference between seeing and not seeing comes about . Though the surrounding environment has an effect…’
Ishii understood . When the wavelengths from the transmitter and the receiver agreed and the surrounding environment was appropriate, the spirits of the dead could be seen by human eyes .
Then Yakumo’s left eye could be called a high quality receiver .
However, this explanation didn’t explain why ghosts could be seen in videos .
Perhaps he sensed Ishii’s concern, because Yakumo started speaking again .
'Human eyes read electromagnetic waves and send the information about colour and shape to the brain . However, there are only some wavelengths that can be recognised . ’
Ishii knew that as well .
It was called the visible spectrum . People could only recognise a certain range of electromagnetic waves . That was why people couldn’t see ultraviolet rays or infrared .
However, cameras were different . People couldn’t see the infrared from the television remote control, but cameras could recognise that a red light was being emitted –
'I see! So it’s a problem of electromagnetic wavelengths . Cameras can see things the eye can’t . So that’s how it is . ’
Ishii almost turned around in his agitation . Yakumo nodded in satisfaction again .
'Though this is just a theory . ’
Contrary to his words, Yakumo’s expression was full of confidence .
Yakumo’s left eye could probably see a wider range of electromagnetic waves than the normal eye, which is why he could see the spirits of the dead .
It wasn’t just Yakumo . The wavelengths people could see differed between people .
Some people found them easier to see and some people found them harder . Similarly, there were wavelengths for spirits of the dead . Some people’s eyes spotted them more easily while others’ didn’t .
Along the same lines, there was a difference between how eyes and cameras recognised light . From that difference, cameras could see ghosts more easily than human eyes could .
Using Yakumo, science might be able to understand ghosts – Ishii certainly felt that way .
Gotou’s fist came down on Ishii’s agitated head .
'Stop spacing out! You were supposed to turn right just now!’
– Oh no . He’d missed the road .
Ishii hurriedly stepped on the brakes and made a U-turn .
He parked the car in the guest parking at the newspaper company and they got off the car together .
Ishii explained their purpose at the reception . It seemed that reception already knew they were coming, and they were taken to the conference room on the second floor .
'Ishii-san, I’ve been waiting . ’
Makoto was already in the conference room . Her expression brightened as she greeted him .
Her long hair was tied up and she wore a grey pantsuit . She seemed somehow dignified – it felt like she had changed a bit .
It might have been because of her makeup, but she seemed much more mature .
'Ah, hello . I apologise for not keeping in contact . ’
Ishii returned the greeting .
'Hey, it’s been a while . You been doing OK?’
Gotou came in the room, acting like he always did .
'Yes, thanks to your help . ’
Makoto smiled with her whole face . The way she smiled seemed different from before too .
Ishii wouldn’t be able to explain if he was asked to, but the incident half a year ago might have had a great effect on her psychological state .
'Hello . ’
Yakumo came in while rubbing his eyes .
'Yakumo-san, you’re here as well?’
Yakumo yawned in response to Makoto’s greeting and sat on the chair closest to the door .
That’s enough with the greetings, so let’s get started . It felt like he was saying that .
Gotou threw his coat on to the desk and sat next to Yakumo .
'Ishii-san, please sit down as well . You’ll see the video soon . ’
After Makoto said that, she walked to the television on the rack and started the Handycam camera that was attached to the television with a cable .
Ishii sat down next to Gotou as he was told .
'Is it true that the person in the video isn’t one of the vics?’ asked Gotou as he lit his cigarette .
'This is a non-smoking facility . ’
Yakumo pointed at the <No Smoking> sign on the wall .
Gotou clicked his tongue and put out his cigarette in his portable ashtray .
'I would like you to confirm that,’ said Makoto . She took remote control, turned off the lights and sat next to Ishii .
'Before we watch this video, please tell us the events that brought it into your possession,’ said Yakumo, interrupting Makoto from pressing the remote control .
'This was taken by a video company . They were making a local cable television show . ’
'I see . ’
'When this was taken, it appears there were three people there: a reporter, an exorcist and the director . When they saw the spiritual phenomenon, the two besides the reporter ran off . ’
'Leaving the video camera behind?’ asked Yakumo .
'It seems to be the case . After that, I went to the house by chance to gather material and found the reporter collapsed there with this video . ’
'Has the video company been contacted?’
'The reporter Murakami-san contacted them . ’
Yakumo didn’t seem to be satisfied with Makoto’s explanation . There was a furrow in his brow as he ran a hand through his hair .
'Well, we can just look into the details later . Let’s see the video first,’ said Gotou, sounding irritated .
Ishii agreed with Gotou’s opinion . It would be better to make an opinion after seeing the video .
'Then I will replay it . ’
Makoto pressed a button on the remote control .
Ishii gulped .
The video that was going to play had a spiritual phenomenon on it . When he thought about that, his hands became sweaty in his nervousness .
An old house appeared on screen –
They’d gone to take a look yesterday, so he had seen the place before .
In front of the house gates, a woman and a middle-aged man in worship clothes were talking calmly .
She was probably the female reporter who had fainted .
The video stopped . Then, the house exterior showed on screen .
Then, the setting changed again . There were burst shots of the female reporter . The director gave a signal . At the same time, the woman started speaking .
<Fifteen years ago, a terrible and bizarre murder occurred at this house . . >
'I feel like I’ve seen this woman somewhere before,’ said Gotou with a sharp look .
'It’s because she’s a talent . It wouldn’t be strange for you to have seen her somewhere before . ’
In reply to Ishii, Gotou mumbled, 'Makes sense . ’
After that, nobody spoke . In the tense atmosphere, they kept their eyes on the video .
Finally, the camera followed the exorcist into the house –
Then, when they arrived at the door at the end of the corridor, the disaster occurred .
The female reporter insisted that somebody had touched her .
It wasn’t just the reporter – the cameraman appeared to sense something as well .
The electrifyingly tense atmosphere came through the screen .
'Please rewind a bit . ’
Suddenly, Yakumo spoke in a sharp voice .
His gaze was so sharp it felt like they could cut .
Yakumo refused to answer Gotou .
'Where should I rewind to?’ asked Makoto .
'When they went through the entrance . And please raise the volume . ’
Yakumo quickly gave instructions .
Makoto rewound to the part of the video where they were at the entrance, raised the volume and pressed the play button again .
This tension – Yakumo had definitely noticed something in the video earlier .
Ishii leant forward to look at the video .
On the television screen, there were the backs of the reporter and the exorcist as they walked down the corridor .
– Kill me too .
There was suddenly a voice . Like a whisper in the ear .
'Eek!’ shrieked Ishii . He leapt out of his chair .
He felt a shiver down his spine . Gooseflesh had risen on his skin .
– What was that voice?
Makoto looked shocked as she pressed the pause button .
Normally, Gotou’s fist would be flying at a shriek like that, but even Gotou had his mouth wide open . He couldn’t speak .
Ishii turned his eyes to Yakumo for an answer .
Yakumo’s lips were in a thin line . He had his left index finger on his brow and appeared to be thinking about something .
A suffocating silence continued in the conference room .
'What the hell was that just now?’
Gotou was the first to speak .
'I don’t know yet,’ Yakumo said grimly .
'You don’t know, you say…’
'In any case, let us view the rest of the video . ’
At Yakumo’s instruction, Makoto pressed play .
The reporter and the exorcist stood in front of the door . It was where they had watched up to .
<I feel great spiritual power from the other side of this door . >
The exorcist spoke .
Right after that, the reporter insisted that somebody had touched her . Then, the cameraman said the same thing .
The exorcist was more frightened than necessary . Yakumo had had his doubts before, but this video wasn’t staged . After the video shook furiously, the lights suddenly went out .
The screen went black .
However, the video was still playing .
There was the sound of somebody moving around .
Clang, clang, clang, clang .
The sound of something hitting metal echoed .
Then, there was a loud sound – like something falling – and noise ran across the screen . The camera had probably been dropped .
A blood-covered woman filled the scream .
Her wide eyes were red and her mouth was wide open . It seemed like she would jump out from the television .
Ishii threw his body back as he screamed and fell from his chair .
'You’re so damn noisy!’
Ishii hurriedly sat back on the chair with the encouragement of Gotou’s fist .
After that, the video stopped .
Nobody opened their mouth . They were in mute amazement .
Even Yakumo, the most composed of all of them, was looking down with his face in his hands .
It looked like his shoulders were shaking slightly .
It certainly had been a frightful video . However, for Yakumo, who could see the spirits of the dead, it shouldn’t have been anything for him to be afraid of .
What on earth has made him like this –
There was no way for Ishii to know .
After a silence, Yakumo stood up soundlessly .
He had always been pale, but his face was at a different level from that now . It was completely white, as if all the blood had left his face .
Yakumo left the conference room, as if he hadn’t heard Gotou’s words .
He looked like a living corpse .
'I wonder what happened,’ said Ishii to nobody in particular .
'Probably couldn’t hold his bladder,’ said Gotou lightly, stretching his arms out behind him .
Though Ishii didn’t deny it, he felt that it was a different matter .
After that, Yakumo didn’t return to the conference room again –
After Haruka came out of the bath, her mobile phone started vibrating on the table .
Who could it be? Her hair wasn’t even dry yet .
She had been planning on calling back afterwards, but she changed her mind when she saw who was calling .
It was from Yakumo . It was almost a miracle for him to be the one to call her .
Haruka dried her hands on a towel and answered the phone .
'Hellooo . ’
<You sound like you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands, as usual . >
Yakumo made a scornful reply .
How could he say something like that all of a sudden when he was the one who’d called?
'I just got out of the bath . My hair isn’t dry yet and I’ve got to take care of my skin too, so I’m busy . ’
<Those are pointless measures . >
Honestly . Yakumo had no delicacy at all .
'I don’t need to hear that from you . Why not try fixing your bedhead?’
<I’m just going to say this, but it’s not bedhead . My hair grows that way . >
'It’s definitely bedhead . ’
<You probably wouldn’t be able to understand it with your sense . >
She heard Yakumo yawn on the other side of the phone .
He just kept on saying whatever he wanted . Haruka wasn’t good with comebacks, so in a way, she admired him .
'So what task do you have for me?’
Haruka brought up the topic at hand .
It hurt her to admit it, but Yakumo wasn’t the sort of person who’d call her just to talk . Did he want her to help with another case?
She felt suspicious because of her past experiences .
<I wouldn’t call it a task, but…>
Yakumo’s enunciation was somewhat off .
'What is it?’
<I need to apologise to you . >
– Who was? To whom? Why?
Haruka was confused by Yakumo’s completely unexpected words .
She couldn’t think of Yakumo apologising to someone else . And he hadn’t done anything that would need apologising .
Did he hit his head on something?
<About your performance…>
'Ah, OK . ’
Haruka didn’t understand where Yakumo was going, so she ended up sounding hesitant .
<Something came up, so I might not be able to go . >
It felt very out of place –
Yakumo’s attitude was completely different than it was usually . Plus, he hadn’t even promised to go, so he didn’t actually need to apologise .
'When you say something came up, do you mean the case Gotou-san brought to you?’
<Well, something like that . Sorry . >
Yakumo spoke in a low voice .
It really was strange . Haruka couldn’t shake that feeling away .
'Hey, did something happen?’ asked Haruka as she leant on the bed .
'You sound different . ’
<Nothing’s different about me . >
She heard Yakumo sigh from the other end of the phone .
'You’re lying . ’
<How can you be so sure of that?>
'Women’s intuition . ’
Plus, I’ve been looking at Yakumo for a whole year –
Haruka swallowed those last words and waited for Yakumo’s reply .
<Your intuition can’t be counted on either . >
Yakumo laughed .
'What do you mean by that?’
<Exactly what I said . Anyway, I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise . I wanted to see what sort of foolish concert you’d perform…>
'You know, I can perform properly . ’
This is what happened if she was a little nice to him . Even though she’d been worried about him, she felt like she’d lost somehow .
<Anyway, sorry for everything . >
Yakumo ended with that and hung up without waiting for Haruka’s reply .
After Haruka hung up, she still couldn’t shake that strange feeling .
It sort of felt like he’d been saying goodbye –
While driving, Ishii looked over at Gotou in the passenger seat .
He had an unlit cigarette in his mouth as he flicked his hundred-yen lighter on and off . Ishii could understand why Gotou was irritated .
Yakumo didn’t come back after that no matter how long they waited .
They walked around the newspaper agency to look for Yakumo, but they couldn’t find him .
Even when they contacted him by mobile, the phone just kept ringing – Yakumo didn’t answer .
They thought he might have gone home by himself, so they went to his secret hiding place, but he hadn’t been there . Thinking that he’d come back if they waited, they’d sat there until night, but it had been of no use .
'I wonder where Yakumo-shi has gone,’ said Ishii with a disappointed sigh .
'How would I know!?’
Gotou threw his lighter at the front glass .
'What are we going to do now?’
'We won’t do anything . It’s all over without Yakumo . ’
Gotou’s resigned voice echoed through the car .
It wasn’t like Gotou . Yakumo’s sudden disappearance was probably a part of it, but being left out of the investigation was probably taking a toll on Gotou .
He’d been treated this way a number of times before .
It had been particularly bad with the previous chief, Ideuchi . The <Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room> had been a post in name only – it had really been a do-nothing job .
However, Gotou still hadn’t been discouraged . It didn’t matter what people he hated said . He’d go his own path . He was that strong .
But this time, Miyagawa had been the one who’d told him to keep out of the investigation .
Miyagawa had been Gotou’s boss before – Ishii had heard that Miyagawa had been the one who’d taught Gotou the investigation ABCs . Gotou had the greatest confidence in Miyagawa .
That was why he was so irritated . That was probably it .
'If we discuss with Chief Miyagawa once more…’
'It’s obviously no use!’ yelled Gotou, drowning out Ishii’s words .
'But Chief Miyagawa had no ill will…’
'I don’t need you to tell me that . ’
Gotou clicked his tongue and reclined on his chair . He crossed his arms and closed his eyes .
All Ishii could do was silently devote himself to driving .
– Ever since we spotted Takeda, the gears haven’t been turning correctly .
It was a sudden realisation, but that was how Ishii felt . Like it was an omen that something unfortunate was going to happen .
Gotou didn’t move at all – he kept his eyes closed until they reached the police parking lot . Did he fall asleep –
'Detective Gotou, we’ve arrived . ’
Ishii shook Gotou’s shoulder .
Gotou took in a deep breath and opened his eyes . His expression was weak – he looked ten years older .
'Maybe I’m not fit to be a detective,’ Gotou said, his voice hoarse .
– What are you saying? The police need people like you .
Ishii wanted to say that, but the words wouldn’t come out, as if something was caught in his throat .
He just stared at the darkness on the other side of the front glass .
Knock knock .
There was a knock on the side window . It was Miyagawa . He peered in from the passenger side .
'Do you need something?’
Gotou opened the window and said that, sounding annoyed . Like a rebellious child .
'Come with me for a bit . ’
Miyagawa pointed his chin out, gesturing for Gotou to get off the car .
Gotou frowned but moved to open the car door, like he didn’t think there was any way out of it .
'E-er, Detective Gotou . ’
Ishii had seen their exchange the other day, so he felt a bit anxious and called out to Gotou .
If he let the two go like this, it might end up in a fight .
'Shall I come with you?’
'Go home first,’ Gotou replied curtly . Then, he walked away, shoulder-to-shoulder with Miyagawa .
Ishii watched the two of their backs grow farther away through the front glass .
Finally, the darkness swallowed them up and he couldn’t see them anymore .
– What if Gotou disappears like this?
That thought crossed Ishii’s mind –
Makoto spread out the documents on her desk and turned once again towards the case of fifteen years ago .
There had to be another story to this case . She believed that .
It wasn’t that she thought the true culprit was somebody else . It was probably Takeda Shunsuke .
A knife thought to be the murder weapon was found at Takeda’s flat .
Blood was on it . The blood matches the victims’, and the shape of the knife matched the wound .
Furthermore, clothes with a large amount of blood on them had also been found .
The possibility that somebody had hid them in Takeda’s flat couldn’t be denied, but the decisive proof was that Takeda’s fingerprints had been found on the wall at the scene . And the victims’ blood had been mixed in .
It was clear that Takeda had touched the wall after he touched the bleeding victims .
Takeda’s refusal to go with the police and his escape also corroborated the crime .
Though they hadn’t been able to get testimony from him, he had a motive .
Takeda had been following a case as a newspaper reporter . He ended up going to a certain case .
At the middle school that Nanase Kanji was director of and that his son Katsuaki was employed at, there was a suicide from bullying .
That father accused Katsuaki, the homeroom teacher, of participating in the bullying .
Takeda had written a number of articles supporting that father before .
However, the charge ended with the school’s win .
Still, Takeda continued writing the article .
Katsuaki thought that disagreeable, so he put pressure on the newspaper agency behind the scenes .
Though they were a newspaper agency, as long as they were managed as a company, those sorts of things would happen .
The agency told Takeda not to pursue the matter further, but he didn’t comply . He knew that he couldn’t write the article, but he persisted in gathering material .
In the end, he was dismissed from the agency .
Afterwards, Takeda had to take out a number of loans .
They did not know this for certain, but Takeda insisted that he was unfairly burdened with loans at Katsuaki’s instigation .
– Moving the story forward .
Takeda’s ex-colleague said that Takeda had headed for the Nanase house on the day of the crime .
There was no way to determine what they discussed .
Then – the incident occurred .
'What on earth happened?’ murmured Makoto, pressing against her eyes .
There had definitely been strife between Katsuaki and Takeda . He might have lost himself because of something and ended up committing murder .
Even though there shouldn’t have been anything to doubt about this case – something didn’t fit .
One of the reasons Makoto felt that way was Kanji’s granddaughter, Miyuki .
Why had Takeda taken Miyuki with him without killing her?
Escaping with a young child would be rather risky .
There was the possibility that she had already been killed, but her corpse hadn’t been found . But why wouldn’t he have killed her at the crime scene then?
And the biggest puzzle – why did he show up again just a few days before the statute of limitations was up?
Since they hadn’t been able to get Yakumo’s analysis, they couldn’t say anything for certain, but if there was a ghost there, it meant that somebody else had died in that place fifteen years ago .
And Yakumo’s behaviour then had clearly been off .
Though he hadn’t said it aloud, he had definitely felt something from that image .
Something unbelievably frightening is happening without our knowing it –
Miyagawa brought Gotou through the entrance of a small counter-only bar .
This was unexpected, since Gotou had thought that he would be reprimanded in the meeting room .
The ceiling’s beams stuck out . It was so low that Gotou might hit his head if he stood up straighter . There were no patrons except for Gotou and Miyagawa .
At Miyagawa’s suggestion, Gotou sat on a crude round chair that could often be found at counters .
'Could you take the bottle out for me?’
After Miyagawa said that, the bartender, cigarette in his mouth as he stood on the other side of the counter, disagreeably took a bottle of potato shochu from the shelf behind him and placed it on the counter .
'And please just get us something else . ’
The bartender didn’t reply to Miyagawa’s order . He just took a bowl from the refrigerator and placed it on the counter .
It was boiled daikon that had changed colour from sitting in the broth for too long .
Meanwhile, Miyagawa took two glasses from on top of the counter, poured out shochu and placed one glass in front of Gotou .
'There’s nothing to celebrate, so I’m not going to say cheers,’ said Miyagawa, and he gulped down a mouthful .
What was he doing, taking him to a place like this all of a sudden?
Gotou didn’t understand, but he didn’t dare to mention it aloud . He took a gulp of shochu . The cheaper the alcohol the better it worked . He did have an empty stomach, but he felt his stomach warm up in an instant .
'Yesterday was my bad…’ mumbled Miyagawa . He finished the rest of the glass .
'What are you talking about?’
When Gotou asked his question, Miyagawa stared at his glass and muttered, 'Damn . ’
Gotou had been afraid of and looked up to the demon that Miyagawa had been in the past, but the back of the man he had followed looked smaller now .
'About how I left you out of the investigation,’ said Miyagawa as he held the shochu bottle at a slant .
'What? You were worried about that? That’s not like you . ’
Miyagawa snorted at Gotou’s attempt to poke fun .
Gotou had acted like that then, but it wasn’t like he didn’t understand Miyagawa’s position .
He could’ve just acted freely in the past, as somebody at the scene, but Miyagawa couldn’t do that anymore .
He had to lead dozens of investigation members while stifling his own emotions .
Teamwork was the priority . It was the right decision to leave Gotou out, since he was somebody who stood up .
Gotou had been the one who’d chased the chief of the detectives to retirement and arrested the old chief .
The people who thought that Gotou’s very existence was a nuisance were not few in number .
'Calling me a chief makes me sound high and mighty, but I’m just middle management . I’ve become a useless old man . ’
Gotou swallowed his words .
He was no good with situations like this . Work before grumbling . That was the only way Gotou knew how to live .
'It was fun working the scene with you, but it’s not fun at all now . ’
Miyagawa hit the counter, like his emotions had reached their limit .
'There’s nothing you can do, right? In your position . ’
Miyagawa glared at Gotou sharply, like he hadn’t liked his words . However, he didn’t say anything . He emptied his glass again .
To Gotou, Miyagawa was definitely somebody he could trust .
However, he felt that that relationship of trust had changed a lot . It was unfortunate, but it couldn’t be helped . He knew that .
'Oi . Got a cig?’ asked Miyagawa, after pouring his third glass of shochu .
'Didn’t you stop smoking?’
'Shut up! Just give me one . ’
It was practically extortion . Gotou gave Miyagawa a cigarette, just as he was asked, and lit it for him . Miyagawa slowly took in the smoke .
'I’m going to say this just 'cause it’s you . ’
Miyagawa made that his preface before beginning .
'I forgot the face of the guy when he hit my head during that case . ’
'It’s laughable . ’
Gotou had heard that Miyagawa had been the first on the scene for Takeda’s case .
'Shut up . I forgot his face, but there’s one thing I remember…’
Miyagawa slapped his hand against his neck . It seemed like it was difficult for him to say .
'What is it?’
'His eyes . ’
Gotou raised his eyebrows .
Miyagawa took another deep breath of smoke .
'The man’s eyes were red like fire . ’
'W-w-w-what did you say!?’ yelled Gotou from the bottom of his stomach, standing up .
A man with two red eyes . Could that guy be connected to the case –
'Do you have any ideas?’
'Those eyes weren’t human eyes . That was… a demon in human skin . ’
If the person Miyagawa was talking about was the person Gotou was thinking of, the word 'demon’ was perfect .
'Why are you bringing that up?’
Gotou sat down again and drank his shochu .
'I wonder… Something just bothers me about that case . ’
'You’re investigating it now, right?’
'That’s not it,’ said Miyagawa disagreeably . He put his cigarette out in the ashtray .
After coming this far, even Gotou could tell what Miyagawa was trying to say .
’… Are you telling me to investigate along a different route?’
Miyagawa finished his glass of shochu without replying .
Damn . No matter what he said, the old man was cunning .
The next morning, Ishii went together with Gotou to the house where the incident occurred .
Nobody had touched it for years, so the house had been left alone –
Even though it should have already died, there was an overwhelming feeling of existence from the house for some reason . The sound of the wind sounded like the house’s roar .
He had heard before that scenes where there had been murders had a unique smell, so maybe this was it .
His knees were shaking, but it wasn’t from the cold .
'Er, Detective Gotou, are we really going in?’
Ishii called out to Gotou’s back .
'Of course . ’
Gotou threw down the cigarette that had been in his mouth and crushed it with his foot before walking towards the entrance .
Gotou had been sulking so much the day before, so when he’d said 'We’re going to the house where the crime occurred!’ this morning, Ishii had honestly been happy .
But I really don’t want to go inside this house –
Especially after he’d seen the video yesterday and they didn’t have Yakumo to rely on, this was near suicide .
This wasn’t just a house . There had been the horrific murder case fifteen years ago, and a ghost had been caught on video . It could be called a real haunted house .
'Er, wouldn’t it be better to wait for another day?’ suggested Ishii as he followed Gotou .
'You’re so obstinate . Things’ll work out even without Yakumo . ’
'But we can’t see ghosts . We should go together with Yakumo-shi . ’
'Yakumo’s not here . Nothing we can do about it . ’
'That’s true, but…’
Gotou had called Yakumo a number of times this morning and had visited Yakumo’s secret hiding place before coming here just in case, but in the end, he hadn’t been able to contact him .
'Things’ll work out even if we don’t see the ghost . ’
Ishii was lost for words . He was just afraid .
Gotou placed his hand on the door knob and slowly pulled . The door opened with something that sounded like a shriek .
That was enough to make Ishii want to shriek himself .
Perhaps because all the shutters were closed, the house was completely dark even though it was day .
Gotou turned on the torch in his hand .
That light lit up the way from the wide entrance . Ishii could see a long corridor . It was covered in dust and there were footsteps in the fallen leaves .
At the end of the corridor, there was an old wooden door .
That was – the door they’d seen in the video .
'Detective Gotou, we really…’
Gotou’s fist fell on Ishii’s head, interrupting his words . He bit his tongue .
'Stop whining . You don’t have to come if you’re so afraid . ’
Ishii knew that he should say, 'I’m fine . I’ll go . ’ However, his fear stopped him from speaking .
He couldn’t look at Gotou’s face, so he looked at his feet .
– I’m so useless .
'Though you’d be no use,’ muttered Gotou .
Normally, Gotou would yell and hit him with his fist . But –
Ishii felt something was off so he lifted his head .
Gotou had already gone inside and was walking down the corridor .
– I’ve been left behind .
Ishii gathered his courage and took the first step after Gotou .
At the same time, the wind blew loudly and the front door slammed shut with a bang .
It was like it was telling him not to come in .
Ishii didn’t have the courage to open the door again .
* * *
Gotou turned around at the sound of the door shutting .
He’d been sure Ishii would follow him, but it seemed like he’d been wrong .
So he really was going to wait outside . That fool . Gotou would punch him once he got back .
Gotou clicked his tongue and started walking down the corridor again .
The floor groaned underneath him .
Maybe it was worn out . Or maybe it was because of his weight . Well, it didn’t matter .
His breath was white when he breathed out . He’d thought it’d be better inside the house, but it was colder inside than out . Gotou blew on his hands and rubbed them together .
– Now, what’s going to coming out?
Gotou went straight down the corridor until the door at the end .
All the corpses had been found in the living room on the other side of this door .
From the situation, it seemed that they’d all been killed in the same room rather than carried there from other rooms . There was something Gotou didn’t understand .
– Why didn’t anybody run?
Since there’d been four of them, even if it’d been a brawny guy, at least one of them should’ve gotten away, but they’d all been killed . None of them had been able to get past the door .
Well, there was no point thinking about it . Gotou knew best that he wasn’t the type to come up with theories and put his logic to work .
He’d go to the scene . Look with his eyes, listen with his ears, feel with his skin and just go with his gut .
Gotou licked his lips and opened the door .
The door opened with an unpleasant creak .
It stank . The air was stagnant .
Gotou covered his nose with his coat sleeve and entered the room .
It was darker than the corridor had been . The clammy air wrapped around him .
There had been a sofa, table and television on the day of the crime, but now it was just a wide space with nothing in it .
He could see that the floor in the middle of the room was stained .
The four corpses had been found piled up there .
Gotou stooped in front of the dark stain and lit up his surroundings to look around .
There were dark stains on parts of the floor and wall . That was – blood .
Miyagawa had said this yesterday .
– It was hell .
And the guy he’d seen there . The man with two red eyes . Had it been that man, or had Miyagawa’s eyes just been playing tricks on him?
Gotou wanted him to be wrong .
That man’s methods made Gotou want to vomit .
The bastard wouldn’t stick his own hands into matters . He’d get close to people with his way with words and manipulate their hearts . He provoked people’s weak points and drove them to crime .
He’d used this trick a number of times in cases, but Gotou had never caught him . Even if he did catch him, he wouldn’t go to trial .
The bastard hadn’t done anything . That was why he infuriated Gotou . All his cases left a bad aftertaste .
It was ironic that the bastard’s son, Yakumo, was the one plucking the seeds he sowed .
The moment Yakumo had seen the video this time, he’d disappeared – what the hell was he thinking?
The man with the red eyes . And that video –
Gotou suddenly thought of something while musing .
– I see . So that’s why Yakumo ran off .
Gotou clapped his hands together in his excitement and stood up .
If what he was thinking was correct, things were going to get serious . Gotou took up his mobile .
That moment – he felt somebody behind him .
– That idiot Ishii . So he’s finally come? Honestly .
'What are you standing there for? Hurry up and come over . ’
There was no response to Gotou’s yell .
Even though he’d normally respond right away and run over like one of Pavlov’s dogs –
The footsteps slowly approached .
– Oi, oi . This some kind of joke?
Right before Gotou could turn around, something cold was thrust against his neck . Ishii didn’t have the guts to fool around like this .
'Who’s there? What are you doing here?’
There was no reply .
All Gotou could hear was ragged breathing, like the person was agitated .
A druggie – if that was the case, Gotou wouldn’t be able to talk to them . He’d have to use force .
Gotou prepared himself .
'I don’t plan on resisting . Let’s talk a bit . ’
A growl came instead of a response .
– What a creep .
And where’d the guy come in from? Ishii should’ve been at the entrance .
Maybe Ishii could’ve been easily held down, but it’d taken way too little time . The guy might’ve been in the room from the very beginning .
'OK, I’m going to turn around . ’
Gotou raised both hands to show he had no intention of resisting and slowly turned around .
He was confident that things would work out somehow if they faced each other .
He’d grab the arm with the weapon and twist it away . Since they were so close, that would be the quickest method no matter what weapon it was .
'I’m just going to turn around . I’m not going to do anything,’ Gotou repeated .
For just a moment, he felt whatever was against his neck lift away .
Gotou tried to turn around, but he had only let down his guard .
An impact ran through his body, making him bend over .
Gotou didn’t even have the time to feel pain before his consciousness disappeared into a deep darkness –
After her morning lecture, Haruka headed towards the <Movie Research Circle> club room .
The conversation she’d had with Yakumo the night before wouldn’t leave her head .
It was also strange that Yakumo would call her himself, and it wasn’t like he’d promised to go to the performance . Something really was off .
That feeling only grew as time passed .
– Sorry for everything .
It didn’t sound like he was just talking about the performance .
I might just be thinking too much, but it’d sounded like he was saying goodbye –
That negative thought came to Haruka during her lecture .
If she was going to worry about her own delusions, it’d be better to ask the person directly . Haruka decided to come here for this reason .
She took deep breaths in front of the door .
If she opened the door, Yakumo would be there . He’d definitely say 'What did you come here for?’ like he always did .
Haruka put a smile on her face and opened the door .
– No one’s here .
The clubroom was dark and quiet .
– Is he sleeping?
Haruka looked to the back of the room, but the sleeping bag was empty .
The ticket Haruka had brought yesterday had been left on the table .
Haruka sat on the folding chair and stared at that ticket .
If this was left here, does that mean he hasn’t come back ever since he left with Gotou –
She almost relaxed, thinking that he’d gone to lecture or was investigating the case with Gotou, but the phone call from yesterday had definitely been off .
Haruka took her mobile from her bag and tried calling Yakumo .
<The number you have called is unavailable…>
The automated voice that came through sounded more hollow than usual .
Haruka had come here to reassure herself, but now she was even more anxious .
Maybe something happened to Yakumo –
Her thoughts were becoming more negative .
'No, that’s impossible for Yakumo,’ said Haruka, cheering herself up .
She was just thinking too much . It wasn’t the first time she’d come to this room when Yakumo wasn’t here .
She felt a chill down her spine –
Haruka reflexively turned around, since she felt like somebody was watching her .
She felt like she saw a black shadow run off in the corner of her vision .
However, when she got up to look around, she didn’t see anybody .
Are my eyes playing tricks on me –
'Honestly, where’d he go…’
Haruka sat back down and picked the ticket up with her fingers .
The sparrows on the tree flew up all at once .
Ishii jumped with a shriek .
He had stayed outside because he was too afraid, but he felt anxious since Gotou still hadn’t come out .
He felt guilty for letting Gotou go alone too .
– I should really go inside the house too .
Ishii gulped and brought his hand close to the front door .
A shock ran through Ishii’s fingertips, making him stand up straight .
His heart was throbbing . His breathing was ragged .
– Do your best, Ishii Yuutarou .
Ishii encouraged himself and stood in front of the door again .
He slowly reached out and touched the doorknob . This time, there was no shock .
There was a metallic shriek as the door opened .
He had to calm down . That was just because of a rusty hinge . Ishii told himself that as he walked through the entrance .
The door shut with a slam .
It was so dark that he couldn’t see his feet clearly .
– I should’ve brought a torch .
Ishii took his mobile out of his pocket and lit up the floor with its faint light before continuing down the corridor .
Every time he took a step, it got harder to breathe and his body felt heavier . It was like he was underwater .
His palms were sweaty and his knees were shaking .
Clang, clang, clang, clang .
Suddenly, there was the sound of something hitting metal .
Ishii turned around at the sound . At some point, the front door had opened .
Fear and anxiety made his head feel dizzy .
The floor was shaking .
His ears were ringing .
– What? What? Isn’t this just like that video?
Ishii couldn’t stand it . He fell to his knees .
'Calm down, calm down . ’
He shut his eyes and told himself that while taking deep breaths .
He felt a bit better after doing that .
Ishii stood up again and looked down the corridor . The door at the end of the corridor . He just had to go there .
'Detective Gotou . ’
Ishii called out . However, there was no response .
He leant forward and spoke more loudly .
He didn’t hear anything at all .
Ishii raised his voice even further, but there was still no response .
Could something have happened to Gotou – no, that was impossible .
'Detective Gotou, please respond . ’
The floor creaked .
His forehead was drenched in sweat . The image he’d seen in the video kept flashing back in his head . He really was afraid . His knees were shaking terribly . He had to use the wall to support himself .
'Detective Gotou! Please respond!’
There was still no response . Oh . He could use his phone . Ishii called Gotou’s number using his mobile .
However, it seemed like there was no service here, so the call didn’t connect .
Ishii bit down on his fear, focussed on his shaking legs and slowly took steps forward . Every time he took a step, the floor creaked underneath him . It made Ishii feel even more afraid .
He was terrified . But he had to go . Something might have happened to Gotou . With the wall as support, Ishii walked to the door .
On the opposite side of the door . Ishii’s throat was dry . He wiped the sweat off his forehead and adjusted the position of his glasses before placing his hand on the doorknob . His heart was beating furiously . He slowly opened the door .
There was nothing . The room was empty .
A torch had fallen in the centre of the room . And a mobile phone beside it . The moment he saw that, Ishii’s fear vanished .
He walked to the centre of the room and yelled .
'Detective Gotou! Where are you? Please respond!’
He looked around frantically, but he couldn’t spot Gotou anywhere .
He picked up the torch and the mobile and looked in every corner of the room, but Gotou was nowhere to be found .
There was only one door to the room . And all the windows were shut .
Had somebody come into the room while Ishii was standing outside? Did Gotou leave the torch and mobile here on purpose? That made no sense . Then where was he?
Ishii suddenly felt somebody’s presence in a corner of the room .
Ishii turned around . A woman stood there . A woman in a black dress . She was looking down so he couldn’t see her face . Ishii was frozen in his fear .
He couldn’t even scream – his breath had caught in his throat . The woman slowly approached Ishii .
Stay away . Stay away . Stay away!
There was no way for the woman to hear the screams in Ishii’s heart . She walked up to him and suddenly raised his face .
Her cloudy eyes were wide open as they stared at Ishii . Then, she opened her mouth so wide it felt like her chin would come off and vomited a large amount of liquid .
Ishii frantically wiped the liquid off of his face . When he looked at his hands, they were dyed red . It was blood . It was too late . He was going to be killed .
No . I don’t want to die . I don’t want to die . I don’t want to die .
 A tsubo is a unit of measurement used for buildings and is equivalent to 3 . 31 square metres .