Ghost Hunt:Volume 6 Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - House by the Cove
Then after about an hour, Naru, the center of the confusion, returned. As usual, dressed in black from head to toe, his looks alone are excessively good. Although black clothing is stifling in the summer, Naru looks strangely cool wearing it.
Like he always is when he returns from his travel of an unknown purpose, Naru was in a remarkably bad mood. When he saw the two outsiders in the office waving, he openly frowned.
“What do you want today?”
His voice was thoroughly cruel. Despite this, neither Ayako, nor Bou-san, seemed to have answers.
“Well, I was in the neighborhood.”
“That’s right. I was just shopping—”
Naru gazed coldly.
“Every time with the same excuse, you can’t get enough of it, can you?”
...whoaa. He’s in an unexpectedly foul mood today.
Taka and I were already attempting to flee from enemy fire on account of letting sleeping dogs lie, however Ayako was as resilient as ever.
“Hey, Naru. I heard an interesting story.”
“And you want me to listen?”
Ayako leaned her face towards Naru, who sunk back on the sofa.
“Right. I heard there wasn’t a ‘child before.’”
Naru looked at Ayako with a questioning look.
“Even though you told Mai ‘the child before quit,’ in truth, there wasn’t a ‘child before’. Why would you tell her that? Surprisingly, you’re kind to Mai, aren’t you?”
Naru was expressionless. While directing a cold gaze, he spoke without hesitation.
“Are you jealous?”
Ayako reddened noticeably.
“Wait aー! Who, me?!”
Of course. Ayako is no match for Naru.
“It’s because I have a kind nature.”
“Oh, it doesn’t appear so? Don’t I always kindly listen to your inane conversation?”
Ayako put on a smile, her face twitching.
“Aren’t you actually interested in Mai?”
In response, Naru smiled sweetly. Like a flower, I’d like to say, but it’s disturbing since his eyes aren’t smiling.
“I’ll offer you a denial. Because it’s pathetic when you get sick with too much shock. Aren’t I kind?”
Looking at Ayako, as one would expect, she was struck speechless, her mouth agape. Then Naru said,
“There seems to be a customer. Please receive them.”
When I looked back in haste, the figure of a person could be seen peering inside from the opposite side of the door. I hurried to the door while inwardly breaking into a cold sweat.
At the entrance stood a man of about twenty years of age and a girl around kindergarten age.
I switched to a business smile as I opened the door.
“Excuse me, I don’t know how I should say this, but… you’re spiritualists, right?”
Pulling the hand of the girl, he came into the office. He had a very quiet voice.
“We’re a little different from spiritualists. Do you have a request?”
He nodded, then looked down at the girl.
“I would like you to examine this child.”
The girl was wearing a shirt with a sailor collar, and her neck was bandaged.
I looked back at Naru. There are some spiritualists that will treat illnesses, but in the case of ‘Shibuya Psychic Research’, that sort of thing is outside our area of expertise. Furthermore, in our case, we’re very different from spiritualists.
As I was thinking that, Naru frankly replied,
“I think you should go to the hospital if you need treatment for an illness.”
Being said as such, the man’s eyes grew wide a little bit in surprise. Then, he gently smiled.
“I agree....but, I don’t think it’s an ordinary illness.”
Naru stood up.
“Is there an illness?”
“First of all, you should consult a doctor.”
Naru’s voice seemed blatantly irritated. Hearing Naru, the girl looked up at the man.
“I hate hospitals.”
“It’s alright. We’re not going to the hospital.”
“Is this a hospital?”
“It’s different, Hazuki. You don’t smell medicine, do you?”
The girl nodded, but was still uneasy. She firmly clung to his arm as she looked around the office.
The one who interrupted was Bou-san.
“It’s alright if we examine her, right? In particular, it won’t take long, so there’s no reason to be so impatient, is there?”
Glancing at Bou-san, Naru lightly sighed. He offered the two the sofa.
“Please sit. —Takahashi-san, please serve tea.”
The man’s name was Yoshimi Akifumi-san. The girl’s was Yoshimi Hazuki-chan. She’s his niece. After introducing himself, he began to unwind the bandage that was around Hazuki-chan’s neck. From beneath the gauze appeared a sort of red eczema on her throat. It was simply a red line straight across the middle of her throat. Blood lightly seeped out of the sore skin.
“It looks like a skin disease.”
When Naru said that, Akifumi-san turned Hazuki-chan sideways.
“It’s around her entire neck.”
True to his words, the line went around her neck. A band of eczema, the width of about a centimeter, was around her neck. It was somewhat creepy. It looked like a wound. As though to cut the neck directly horizontal.
“It doesn’t seem painful at all, and it seems there’s no itch.”
“It’s not a rash from something?”
Akifumi-san shook his head ‘no’.
“If it was only that, I would have taken her to the hospital, but it’s also on her back.”
After he said so, Akifumi-san turned to Hazuki-chan.
“Hazuki, excuse me.”
After speaking, he opened Hazuki-chan’s shirt and dropped it from her shoulders. Looking at her small white back, I unconsciously spoke aloud.
“What… is this?”
Similar to the eczema that was on her neck, there was a line on her back. Something like this can’t possibly be a skin disease.It looked like nothing but characters. As if written with a brush, there were the kanji, ‘喘月院落獄童女.’
It was Bou-san who said that in a low voice.
“This is… a Kaimyou, isn’t it?
“Kaimyou, isn’t that a name given to a dead person?”
Bou-san made an unusually serious expression.
“Right…. this guy is malicious.”
“‘喘月’ means the foolishness of fearing something too much. ‘落獄’ would mean descend into hell. —Yoshimi-san, please dress the young lady.”
Descend into hell? What kind of Kaimyou is that?
“‘童女’ is given to girls. It’s a Kaimyou someone made with malicious intent. —It means, ‘This foolish child will descend into hell.’”
...this foolish child…
“‘月’ in ‘喘月’ is probably taken from the character in ‘葉月(Hazuki).’ This is a Kaimyou for this child.”
It was the evening of the following day when we arrived at the Yoshimi house, which was in Noto.
In the end, it was decided that Bou-san and Ayako would accompany us, so as usual, we crossed the simmering Japanese archipelago in two cars. Sheesh, it was a nauseating long journey.
The Yoshimi house was on a cape overlooking the Sea of Japan. From the road along the coast, a narrow side road extended through the forest to the seaside. Entering the road, an impressive building of Japanese construction immediately appeared. This was the Yoshimi house, a Japanese-style restaurant, which Akifumi-san’s family runs.
Akifumi-san, who had come back the previous day on an airplane, welcomed us and we were guided to the main building where the family lives. In the main building, which is connected to the restaurant by a corridor, was a tatami mat room in the very back.
In there, an old woman was sitting on a futon waiting.
“Grandmother, they’ve arrived.”
Saying so, Akifumi-san lead us into the tatami mat room.
“This is my grandmother.”
She was an old woman like a small guardian deity of children. She neatly placed her hands on top of the futon and deeply bowed her head.
“My name is Yoshimi Yae. I humbly beg you to look into our case.”
The grandmother is the actual requester— Akifumi-san and Hazuki-chan were the ones who came to the office of ‘Shibuya Psychic Research.’
“In truth, I should have gone to make the request, but as you can see, my health is somewhat impaired, so my grandson was sent as my proxy. I think even this was impolite, however, please pardon it.”
After Akifumi-san introduced us to his grandmother, there came a calm seeming man and a woman wearing a kimono who waited with tea. The man was Akifumi-san’s father Yoshimi Taizou-san, and the woman was his mother Yoshimi Hiroe-san.
The pair politely greeted us, and Naru lightly nodded in return.
“—I’d like to hear the details of the request again from grandmother.”
The grandmother nodded, pursing her mouth.
“...Where should I begin?”
Slightly tilting her head, she began talking.
“You’ll probably think this is foolish, but this house is cursed. A few days ago, my husband passed away...”
“No. He lived a long life. ...At any rate, there is a disquieting legend in the house of Yoshimi. It is said that accidents occur whenever there is a change of ownership...”
The grandmother frowned after saying this.
“It was also true in the previous generation— when my father passed away and my husband took over the house. After the death of the previous head, corpses from the family began appearing one after another. Gathered in a big house, relatives had been living merrily, then just like that the number of people had decreased and the house was empty.”
“Is that type of thing also happening now...?”
When Naru asked, the grandmother nodded.
“Yes. It was the same thing when the house was ceded to the previous generation from the generation before. Although, I don’t remember much since I was young at the time. However, among my six siblings, I alone survived. Because of that, I did not become anxious. Actually, that eczema began to form on Hazuki immediately in response to my husband’s death and in less than one week, it has become as it is now. Considering this, it doesn’t seem like an ordinary case. With regards to the bruises on her neck as well as the Kaimyou on her back, it seems as if someone is saying they’ll cut off Hazuki’s head.”
Saying so, the old woman fixed her gaze on Naru.
“Just as I had thought there was no option but to rely on people from another profession, I received a referral to you by a guest named Ohashi-sama.”
Ohashi-san was the man who came with the request of the previous incident.
While Naru took notes, he said,
“I’d like to hear about when the predecessor, your father, died. When was it?”
“It was thirty-two years prior to now.”
“Several people seem to have passed away, but do you remember the number and the causes of death?”
The grandmother nodded.
“There were eight people from this house. The five youngest of the seven children of this house, the oldest grandchild, my cousin, and my uncle. Half died in accidents, and the rest from illnesses with unknown causes.”
I looked around the Japanese-style room, which had begun to darken. There was a large Buddhist family altar by the grandmother’s bedside. Eight people from within the family. The heavy number of eight.
“From this house —that is to say, there are people who died in addition to the family?”
When Naru asked, the grandmother nodded.
“Two restaurant customers, in accidents...”
When Naru looked down at his notebook to brood, Akifumi-san’s mother Hiroe-obasan, who had been silently sitting beside the futon, spoke up.
“Mother, wouldn’t it be better to tell them everything?”
The grandmother looked down. Naru stared back at Hiroe-san.
“My mother… is worried whether all of you will return from here.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Three spiritualists died.”
‘I see,’ Bou-san muttered quietly.
“We invited two people from a spiritualist company, however, when they began their prayer, they soon died in accidents. The person we also invited after that died in an accident, too.”
When Hiroe-obasan said this, the grandmother nodded while still looking down.
“We would very much like your help, but considering the risk, it’s unreasonable...”
Bou-san interrupted Hiroe-obasan.
“If it’s too dangerous, we’ll desist and leave. We understand what’s involved. However, I’m not so cowardly that I’ll leave without seeing what I’m up against.”
Bou-san smiled at Hiroe-obasan, who completely bowed her head.
“However, Naru-chan, it’ll be troublesome if customers are also in danger.”
Naru nodded. He spoke to Hiroe-obsan,
“Right now, are there any customers in the shop?”
“There aren’t any here. The restaurant has been closed since my father died. Mother...”
Hiroe-obsan stared at the grandmother.
“She absolutely insisted. Employees were also asked to take a vacation after the funeral ended. Only the family is in this building now.”
“I think that’s a sensible action.”
Naru nodded lightly. Then,
“Have you experienced any incidents, or seen anything strange?”
The one to reply was Akifumi-san.
“After grandfather’s funeral, it started with the death of grandmother’s hill myna, and over about three days, all the birds and dogs we had raised died. There were the two canary birds my niece had raised and the three dogs. The birds died in their cages, but the dogs were found washed up on the shore.”
“Other than that?”
Akifumi-san looked at his mother. Hiroe-obsan replied,
“Some of the employees said they saw a ghost in part of the restaurant. It was peeking into a room from the window.”
“Is it a definite location?”
“No. I think it was perhaps the cove side room, but...”
“Cove side room?”
“I think you’ll understand when we show you around afterwards, however… since there’s only the cove side, it’s a strange location for someone to peek in from outside... ”
‘I see,’ Naru muttered as he closed his notebook.
“For the time being, we’ll decide where to put the equipment. Did you prepare a room?”
Akifumi-san stood up.
“Certainly. I will guide you.”
We walked in succession down a long corridor following Akifumi-san.
Walking in the shop’s corridor, we went down a straight hallway and turned one corner. There were white walls on both sides, and lattice doors lined up here and there.
“Here it is.”
Akifumi-san stopped and opened a lattice door. Behind the lattice door, there was ordinary entryway.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t a Western-style room.”
Akifumi-san opened the sliding front door. It was three continuous rooms. It went immediately into a small four tatami mat sized room. Behind that was an eight tatami mat sized room. Additionally, another eight tatami mat sized room could be seen through an open sliding door on the left.
Ayako cheered. In front of the two side-by-side eight tatami mat rooms was a paper sliding door that opened both ways. Akifumi-san opened it, and beyond was a wide veranda. Simple, Ryokan-style tables and chairs were placed there, although the ones here were three times as wide. It had the overall appearance of a simple wooden floored room.
“It’s fine if the sliding doors are removed. It’s a room where customers stay, but will it work?”
Akifumi-san asked Naru, who was overlooking the room. There are a number of beautifully made low tables placed against the wall, which seem a little too good for placing equipment on.
“It’s more than enough.”
“It’s small on the inside, but there is a bathroom. In addition to this room, we’ve prepared the rooms on both sides, so please use them for rest.”
While casting a side glance at Naru, who lightly bowed his head, I approached the window of the veranda. When it’s this wide and empty, I feel like wandering aimlessly. Looking out the window, I raised my voice. It was a superb view.
Under the window was a small round cove. In front of the window, the opposite shore of the cliff could be seen nearby. The cove directly below looked very deep. The entrance to the sea was narrow and there was also no crossing. The thick, dark colored water was hauntingly calm.
“So, this is the cove side room?”
I understood. Certainly, it would be abnormal to see a person from outside this window. This room is built so that it projects from the cliff facing the cove. There is nothing under the window until the surface of the water. The distance is approximately four floors, or perhaps more.
“Do you understand now?”
Without noticing, Akifumi-san had appeared next to me. But it wasn’t just Akifumi-san. Everyone was looking out from the window.
“Yes, I understand. It’s impossible to look in from outside.”
“This cove, can you swim in it?”
“If you’re good at swimming. It’s very deep.”
“If you want to swim, you can swim at the beach on the opposite side.”
Akifumi-san pointed back.
The opposite side… hmm, I can’t quite grasp it well.
The last time we went to a haunted house, the house was really large, and I would become frightened when I got lost. Though this house is smaller, it seems wide enough to get lost in. As might be expected from a Japanese-style restaurant, there are many rooms, and corridors that bend back and forth. I’ve barely been able to comprehend the fact that we’re in the restaurant rather than the main building. I wouldn’t like to make a floor plan again…
Perhaps thinking the same thing, Naru asked,
“Yoshimi-san, is there a floor plan of the building?”
“I think there is. I’ll bring it afterwards.”
Bou-san gave a wry smile.
“That would be helpful.”
“Since it’s not such a complicated building, I think you’ll become familiar with it immediately.”
“I hope that’s so. Incidentally, I’d be happy if there’s also a map of the building’s surroundings.”
When Bou-san said this, Akifumi-san smiled and raised his right hand.
“Please make a circle with your right thumb and index finger.”
“An OK mark?”
“That’s right. The circle is the cove. Where the thumb and index finger join is the entrance of the cave. The shop is around the base of the index finger. The opposite shore is where the thumb appears opposite now. The garden over there has a tea house.”
Hmmm. I stared at my hand.
“From the place around the wrist, the main building is where you enter from the road towards the index finger and the shrine is where you enter towards the thumb.”
“There’s a shrine?”
“Yes, right next door. The middle finger is the beach. A small fishing port is on the far point.”
Ah, I see. It isn’t simple.
“And there is a small cave on the part of the nail of the index finger.”
“Yes. It’s a marine erosion cave. Waves hollow out the cliff and a cave is made. It’s only from the pointing part of the fingernail, it’s missing from the cove.”
“Amaazing. Can we see the cave?”
“Yes. Since today is too late, I’ll show you tomorrow if that’s alright with you.”
Bou-san raised his voice.
“I realize the building is splendid and the location is good, but is a restaurant really profitable in the middle of nowhere?”
Indeed. The town we passed through was by no means large, and this place is on the outskirts of town.
“We’re a little different from an ordinary restaurant. If I told you it’s a member’s only restaurant, would you understand?”
Oh, is there such a thing?
“Amaazing. Isn’t this great for you, Mai and Bou-san.”
Ayako put her hand on my shoulder.
“You certainly wouldn’t be able to come to a place like this in your entire life. Aren’t you lucky to have this lucrative job?”
After all, I am a poor person.
“Just what are you implying with that, Ayako?”
“Ah, I can seize this chance to marry into a rich family. Hohoho.”
This— this woman.
“Hmph. There’s a charm woman and children don’t understand.”
“Then, why don’t you hurry? I think it’s too late after you pass your eve.”
“Not yet! There’s still time before my eve!”
“It’ll pass by while you’re speaking so ambitiously.”
“Well, I’m easy.”
“Is that in terms of what a lover is allowed to do?”
“Even being loved by Ayako is just creepy.”
—To say such a thing. Sorry, it was bad. Akifumi-san’s shoulders trembled. When our eyes met, he made an apologetic expression.
“It’s fine. Please don’t overstrain yourself by laughing too much.”
After all, we're a pair of stand-up comedians.
Ayako suddenly pointed a finger at Akifumi-san.
“That’s right. How old are you, Yoshimi-san?”
Akifumi-san had a blank look.
“I’ll be twenty soon.”
Hehe, he’s her junior. That’s unfortunate, Ayako.
When I was laughing with all my might, an unparalleled ruthless voice sprang from behind.
“Mai! How long are you going to play around!”
Uh-ohh. Boss is angry. Work, work.
Akifumi-san helped me carry the large amount of equipment to the base.
“Put the equipment in the center of the shop. Bou-san and Matsuzaki-san, go to Hazuki-chan. For the time being, prepare talismans to ensure her safety.”
Yeah, yeah. Carry the camera and connect the video. To the thermography and the vibrometer and the infrared radar and all the rest of the measuring instruments.
“Somehow, you don’t seem very much like spiritualists.”
Akifumi-san said while he carried equipment into the empty room.
“Yes. Please call us ghost hunters. Excuse me, could you please grab the cable with the yellow tape on it?”
“So, you also handle this kind of machinery, Taniyama-san? —Um, cable?”
“It’s a cord. —Somehow I have a simple connection. The majority of it is still gibberish to me.”
“I feel even a simple connection is incredible. I’m not very good with machinery.”
“Not very good?”
“When I touch machines too much they seem to break. When face to face with machinery, I’m the type that gets nervous.”
Ah, I see.
fumi-san, I started to say and quickly covered my mouth.
“I don’t mind going by Akifumi.”
He gave me a smile, but still, to call a man by his given name after being acquainted for such a short time is a little...
“I’m— I’m sorry. All the family members are ‘Yoshimi-san’, it was unintentional...”
“Please, don’t worry about it. Because even without the large number of people, it’s confusing.”
“Then excuse me, Akifumi-san. You said you’re twenty years old, are you a college student?”
“Yes. I go to the University of Tokyo.”
“Oh, so that means you don’t usually live here, right?”
“That’s right. But I try to come back to visit as much as possible during holidays.”
“Do you help in the shop still?”
Akifumi-san smiled and shook his head.
“My grandmother gets lonely. Since the family members are too busy with the shop.”
“Eeeh. Do all the people of the house work in the shop?”
“That’s right. But my youngest elder brother is a government worker.”
“Youngest elder brother— does that mean you have two or more brothers?”
“Two brothers and two sisters. I’m the youngest of five siblings.”
“Five… that’s a lot of people.”
Akifumi-san gave a somewhat mixed smile.
“If you die a lot, you have to have a lot of people or your house will become extinct.”
“Hmm... and along with your parents and grandmother?”
“Plus, my oldest brother and sister have children with their spouses. Three children in all. My brother has two children, and my sister has one child. Hazuki is the youngest child of my brother.”
“That— that many people all live here?”
I looked at my hands and counted on my fingers.
“Thirteen people in all? That’s impressive.”
Akifumi-san gave a pained smile.
“Nevertheless, if eight people die, not even half will remain.”
I thought this to be an unpleasant story. This was a cursed house where a large number of the family die. As such, a lot of damage is caused. And so as to not become extinct, the house produces a lot of children. It may be because I have no house or family, but that feels very wrong. It’s as though the children are tools to keep the house going. The parents will of course love the children, but I wonder what percentage of the love will be love for the human being.
Akifumi-san bowed his head a little.
“...I’m sorry. It’s a dark conversation.”
“No, it’s— it’s I who should say so.”
“Taniyama-san, what about your family?”
“Oh. I’m on my own.”
Akifumi-san looked surprised.
“...I’m sorry, that was inexcusable. I spoke callously.”
“No way! It’s natural to ask if you don’t know.”
Despite this, everyone apologizes.
Everyone gets stuck with this topic.
“Please, don't trouble yourself. There’s a lot to a person, and that means there’s also a lot to me.”
“Besides, if I had parents, they wouldn’t let me have this unusual part-time job. Then I wouldn’t have been able to come to such a luxurious restaurant and—.”
“...is that so?”
“That’s right. It’s easier like this. Especially, when I think my friends would quarrel with my family, among other things. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I think it’s good to have dead parents.”
“Perhaps that’s true.”
“Hmmm. Of course, it’s also lonely.”
“Add me and Taniyama-san and divide by two and the number is exactly right.”
“...seven people? Even so, according to social norms, that’s a little bit more.”
“Well, that’s true. My house really does have a lot of people.”
Akifumi-san said this as if just realizing it.
“Umm, this is something strange, but—”
“What is it?”
“How do you eat your meals?”
With thirteen people, I wondered if they all ate side by side in a row.
“Well, we usually eat together.”
I was impressed by what Akifumi-san said.
“Is that unusual?”
“Since your home is a restaurant, the people helping in the shop eat at unusual hours in the shop, right?”
“Oh, it’s also that sort of house.”
Ah. The world is vast.
“It’s a little disappointing. I wanted to see where thirteen people sit in a row.”
When I said this, Akifumi-san made a slightly mystified expression.
“My mother had said you would eat with all of us tonight.”
Wow. Perhaps it will be a feast ♡
“...I wonder how we’re going to eat.”
“It’s a total of eighteen people.”
“That... that isn’t a meal, that’s a banquet now.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
Akifumi-san and I thought pensively for a moment.
Returning to the base, the rack was assembled on the veranda in the front room. When Ayako and Bou-san returned from seeing to Hazuki-chan’s well-being, the pair also helped carry the large amount of equipment. While we talked idly, by the time we finished the setup and check, it had become quite dark outside.
Afterwards, Akifumi-san guided us to a tatami mat room in the corner of the shop. When we were shown inside the wide, elegant room, four men were seated at a long table. One of them was Taizou-san, the father we met with the grandmother. Taizou-Ojisan was wearing white chef’s clothes. So that meant the meal would be made by Ojisan.
“Please, make yourself comfortable. It would be greatly appreciated.”
He politely bowed his head and guided us to the head seats. All these unnecessary kindnesses such as the hanging scrolls, flower arrangements, etc., are extremely uncomfortable for me. I would have been fed up if we had to sit in seiza, but fortunately, it turned out that we would be sitting at a table with recessed floors for our legs —relief.
Taizou-Ojisan introduced us to the men who were there. The somewhat older, plump man wearing a suit was Kazuyasu-san, the eldest son. The burly man wearing jeans and a t-shirt was Yasutaka-san, the second son. The man wearing the same chef’s clothing as Taizou-Ojisan was Eijirou-san, the son-in-law. They all seemed to be just past thirty. They’re all somewhat depressed looking, but them sitting here in descending order of sizes large, medium, and small was a little funny.
With only this many, I thought it was unimpressive, but then four woman carrying dishes came in. The brisk woman wearing a kimono was the mother Hiroe-san. The calm seeming woman was Youko-san, Kazuyasu-san’s wife. The really strong-willed looking woman, third from the front, was the eldest daughter Teruka-san. The fourth cool seeming, young woman, was the youngest daughter Nao-san.
Now there are even more people involved. I wonder if I can properly remember who is who… (anxiety)
“Shibuya-san, would you like sake?”
Taizou-Ojisan asked Naru.
“No. Neither Lin nor I drink.”
In addition to that, you're a minor.
“Takigawa-san and Matsuzaki-san, is it okay?”
Hearing this, Bou-san smiled.
“It’s greatly appreciated.”
So, you’re a heavy drinker. Ayako also smiled. I wonder if she drinks alot. Not surprisingly, we’ve never drank together.
I’m a minor!
Of how many number of dishes that came out in turn, I took notice of Lin-san’s bowl, which was suddenly sitting next to me. Somewhat, only Lin-san’s food was different. Thinking this, I looked over the table. Naru’s was also different. Evidently, only Naru and Lin-san were served different dishes.
“Why is Lin-san’s food different?”
When I asked that in a low voice, Hiroe-Obasan, who had just set down the bowl, replied,
“We heard that Shibuya-san and Lin-san don’t eat meat, so we took the liberty of changing the menu, but... was that not right?”
“Huh? You don’t eat meat, Lin-san?”
This was a surprise. Come to think of it, since they always left behind a lot of food, I thought Lin-san and Naru had an unbalanced diet.
“You’re a vegetarian? You don’t eat meat at all?”
Lin-san nodded expressionlessly.
“It isn’t good to not eat meat. That’s why you’re skinny, Lin-san.”
Hiroe-obasan smiled softly and asked,
“Shall we bring a little something? After you came all this way to the seaside.”
Lin-san lightly bowed his head.
“During investigations, we will abstain from meat for the purpose of religious purification.”
*gasp* Amazing. Naru and Lin-san had left food behind with such deep consideration. I thought they were simply being stubborn because it was their personality.
Truly, the world is profound.
“Spiritualists are very serious, aren’t they?”
When Taizou-ojisan said that admiringly, I didn't miss as Bou-san and Ayako fixed their eyes on their plates self-consciously ...HaHaHa.
We questioned the male and female camps about various things, however, not being able to gather anything, we withdrew to the base. In the base, the data that was being sent from the equipment in various places was shown by the lonely monitors.
Naru asked Lin-san, who sat in front of the equipment.
“Currently, there are none. I’ll check the previous results.”
Shown by the monitor screens were the corridor of the main building, Hazuki-chan’s room, the shop corridor, the cove side spare room, and five locations in the coast side spare rooms. There were no abnormalities in any of the videos.
“Do you think there will be activity tonight?
When I asked that, Naru answered while continuing to look at the screens,
“Well, there aren’t a lot clues about what exactly is happening. We’ll try going to the local library tomorrow. —Bou-san.”
“Set up a barrier around Hazuki-chan for the night...”
As he started to say that, Akifumi-san came in with tools for making tea.
"Thank you for your hard work.”
He had arranged the teapot and electric kettle for us. While he was making tea, he said,
“Taniyama-san, that was unfortunate.”
“Thirteen people. Were you disappointed by the small number of people?”
Ahaha, that’s it?
“Well, not really. But, I thought it would be more lively.”
“Normally, my brothers alone are more lively, but… recently they’ve been really gloomy.”
“Of course, when there is worry, you’ll definitely become gloomy, right?”
When I said that, Akifumi-san gave a mixed smile.
“Who was the son-in-law, again? Eijirou-san? He seemed like he was in somewhat of a bad mood, didn’t he?”
It felt like he was somewhat irritated. I was a little scared.
“I agree. I wonder what happened, suddenly.”
“It may be nothing, but… Both Kuzu-niisan and Eijirou-niisan help with the shop, so they generally have good manners since manners are essential for the business. That was the first time I saw Eijirou-niisan with such a sullen expression.”
“In other words, Eijirou-san generally isn’t the sort of person to have such a sullen expression in public?”
“Yes. He might get angry, but until now, he’s never shown it in his expression. At least, that was the first time I had seen it on his face.”
“Yes. Kuzu-niisan has seemed on edge these past two or three days. Yasu-niisan seems so also. Yasu-niisan is probably the worst. When he’s in public he restrains himself a little, but by nature he’s a very cheerful man. To the extent that he used to be scolded by our parents.”
“How long has Yasutaka-san’s personality been different?”
“I think since the day of grandfather’s funeral. Even though I asked why, he won’t say.”
“Is there anyone else with changes in their personality?”
Akifumi-san was thoughtful for a moment.
Now, which woman was she?
“The strong-willed looking one?”
“No, that’s Teruka. Teruka-neesan is the most strong-willed in nature of the family.”
“Then, the calm seeming one?”
“Yes. No, she’s a calm person by nature, but...”
Asked by Naru, Akifumi-san replied,
“If I were to say whose personality changed the most of the family, it would be the children above all. There are another two in addition to Hazuki. Katsuki and Hazuki are the children of Kazu-niisan. Teruka-neesan’s child is Wakako. Katsuki and Wakako are strange. The pair are being secretive lately.”
When I tilted my head to the side, Akifumi-san smiled in a troubled fashion.
“How can I say this… Originally, they weren’t like that, however, recently they’ve been sticking close and won’t be separated from each other. On top of that, the pair talk secretively between themselves all the time. When I ask what they’re talking about, they exchange looks then run away...”
“This has also been about since grandfather’s funeral. The funeral was so hectic, there wasn’t time to be concerned about the children. In the last two or three days, it’s suddenly gotten to a state to be concerned about.”
Naru contemplated the situation.
A family who changed… I wonder what’s going on in this house…
Soon after, I was told to fix the angle of a camera that was placed in a room on the coast side, and I left the base. Upon entering the corridor, it was pitch black. Farther down, the light from the emergency lamp could be seen, which meant all of the electricity was off.
I wonder if they turned it off to conserve electricity. I just had to go to the room diagonally opposite and, without thinking deeply, I began to walk. For now, it wasn’t dark enough that I couldn’t walk.
It was when I walked half-way. A faint voice came from somewhere along the dark and long corridor. I was surprised and stopped walking. The voice seemed faint like breathing. I looked around my surroundings, but they were obscured by the dark. Once again, just as I was thinking I might have imagined it, there came a voice like a faint whisper.
My heart was pounding. Once again, I looked around carefully. Then I noticed a lump on the corridor wall a short distance away towards the corridor of the main building. The lump was around waist height and about the size of a soccer ball.
A quiet, secretive voice reached my ears.
“Is someone there…?”
Something thin extended from the lump, beckoning several times.
A child? Is it a child? The voice seemed like that of a child. When I looked harder, the lump seemed to be a child’s head. But, the corridor is straight, so there’s no turning point there.
Frightened by the whispering voice, I was just about to return to the base, and then I remembered there were lattice doors lined up along the walls. They were probably leaning out from inside the lattice door.
I took a breath of relief, then began to walk toward the child.
“Who is it?”
The child was beckoning. They came out into the corridor. One— Two people.
When I approached, it was definitely children. A boy and girl dressed in summer pajamas. They were either first graders in elementary school or below. In that case, these children were probably Katsuki-kun and Wakako-chan. Wakako-chan was just a little bigger.
“What’s wrong? You’re Katsuki-kun and Wakako-chan, right?”
When I stopped in front of them and asked, the pair stared at me. They whispered something to each other secretively. Then Wakako-chan said,
“...how many of you are there?”
That was what I heard.
Wakako-chan repeated it to include bite.
“How many are there?”
“There are five of us.”
I was getting ready to ask them if it was okay for them to be up this late at night when the pair began whispering again.
“That’s a lot...”
I very faintly heard these words. They were discussing something secretly. Then, they abruptly turned away in unison. They began to walk toward the main building.
“Wait a minute. What’s wrong?”
Wakako-chan looked back.
“That’s right. Hey, what’s up?”
“It’s really nothing you need to worry about.”
Laughing quietly, they scurried away.
Dumbfounded, I vacantly watched the direction where the pair had disappeared for a short while.
...What was this uneasiness? I didn’t know what was so strange in particular, but… I could understood why it seemed difficult for Akifumi-san to talk about it. It was difficult to convey this feeling to others. Still, something was very strange…
I breathed out and attempted to go fix the camera angle. That was when it happened.
—Screams could be heard from the end of the corridor.
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