Shinrei Tantei Yakumo:Volume 1 Chapter 1

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At the edge of the college campus, there’s a forest. The forest isn’t an unnatural sight, because mountains surround the college.

Deep within the forest, there’s a house made of concrete, why it was built in the first place, no one knows, but now it’s nothing more than an abandoned house.

Because it’s situated on the outskirts of the forest, students wouldn't even know it exists if they follow school regulations.

But there have always been rumors of ghosts haunting in the abandoned house.

There was once a student who saw a human shadow near the abandoned house; after chasing it for a while the human shadow disappeared into thin air! Another student, while passing through the abandoned house, heard painful shouting, yelling, “Help me, help me.” Other students say that the shouting wasn’t “help me”, but a malediction of evil, cursing, “I want to kill you.”

Just like that, rumors about the abandoned house became widely known.

Inside the abandoned house there’s a locked room. The iron door to the room is firmly locked: No one knows what’s inside the room, because all who went in, never came out.


1


Cool, crisp wind blew away the clouds, and the blue white moon was clearly visible in the night sky.

Tonight was a full moon.

People joked that the moon’s shadow could absorb sound, but tonight’s silence couldn’t help but make one believe in that statement.

After drinking at a bar, Miki, Kazuhiko, and Yuichi got off the last train a stop late, they pondered on what to do while waiting for the first train to come.

Then, someone brought up the widely famous campus story.

They all heard of the rumors, but no one ever actually went to confirm it.

“Let’s see if the rumors are true.”

Miki suggested. Kazuhiko and Yuichi simultaneously agreed. They crept into darkness of the campus.

Over the gate, through the dorms, they arrived at the forest.

Sweeping aside tree branches, walking on the forest trail, there was an adventurous atmosphere in the air.

The trail was harder to walk on than they thought. They were all sweating by the time they got to the abandoned house and the alcohol had gone out of their systems. Miki wasn’t as excited as she was before, and she was starting to regret her decision.

The house was a flat roofed low house, made entirely of concrete: compared to the stories about the ancient building, this just made people feel that it was an abandoned block of concrete.

Yuichi suggested that, since it was rare for them to come, they should take a commemorative photo. Using the abandoned house as the background, Kazuhiko took a picture first. The blinding white flash from the camera casted shadows on the shadowy walls.

And then, Kazuhiko and Miki stood together smiling with Yuichi taking their picture. The camera flashed again.

Kacha!

Suddenly, they heard the sound of metal colliding.

Miki jerked, her shoulders shaking.

“Did you guys hear something?”

Miki looked around. Kazuhiko and Yuichi also looked around, listening.

Rustle rustle.

They only heard the sound of tree branches swaying in the wind.

“I didn’t hear anything.” Yuichi said.

“What’s wrong? You’re the one who suggested we come here, are you getting scared?” teased Kazuhiko.

Yuichi couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Miki glared at Yuichi angrily.

To prove that Miki wasn’t scared, she led them to the entrance of the abandoned house.

“It’s locked.” Miki said while standing at the entrance, she fiddled with the rusty iron lock.

Kazuhiko tried to open the lock, but to no avail.

“Thankfully I specially prepared myself for things like this, watch and learn!”(!)

Yuichi took out a hook like metal part from his pants pocket.

“What’s that?” Kazuhiko asked.

“Like I said, watch and learn. Oh, hey Kazu, give me some light over here.”

Kazuhiko did what Yuichi asked and lit his lighter; he neared the rusty iron lock. Yuichi kneeled in front of the lock and inserted the metal part into the key hole.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t ask just yet, you’ll understand later.”

Yuichi struggled with the iron lock for few minutes, then “Kachink”, there was a sound of grinding gears. Yuichi twisted the lock and then effortlessly pushed open the door.

“Wow, you’re awesome dude!” Kazuhiko praised, elated.

“With the right tools anyone can do that.” Yuichi boasted.

“Where’d you get a thing like that?”

“On the internet, I’ll tell you the address next time, let’s go in first.”

Kazuhiko and Yuichi entered the house first. Miki, hating to be left behind, hurried to catch up to them.

Cold wind poured into the house, stirring up the thick layer of dirt from the floor. Compared to outside, the house was much warmer, but it was so dark that they couldn’t even see their hands.

Kazuhiko lit the lighter, but the wavering flame couldn’t even let them see the room.

Suddenly a white light flashed, and Miki jumped out of fear. Yuichi couldn’t help but smirk at Miki’s frightened expression, because that light was from his camera flash.

“We should go back.” Miki said.

“What’s the matter, are you running away now?” Kazuhiko and Yuichi said simultaneously.

“But……but, I feel as if someone is watching us the moment we entered here.”

Miki tightly grasped Kazuhiko’s hand like she was hiding.

The three of them stared into the darkness, but couldn’t see a thing; darkness coated the whole room, making it impossible for them to see.

“There’s nothing there, don’t worry.”

After Kazuhiko assured Miki, he began to move alongside the walls.

“Hey, if anything happens, you have to protect me, ok?” said Miki while holding onto Kazuhiko’s hand.

“Ok, leave it to me.”

Kazuhiko patted Miki on the shoulder, answering her in a frivolous tone, and then started walking again.

They went through the front door into the room, then crossed a room that as wide as a building floor, advancing into the corridors. The corridor was barely wide enough to fit two people. The side-by-side doors had the same distance between them, and on the other side of the doors, there was a room as big as four tatamis. There was nothing else inside the rooms except for a bed.

The three of them felt the walls as they walked forward; their destination was the locked room.

They walked along the corridor all the way to the end; finally they were at their destination.

The room sent chills up their spines. It was different than other rooms: the iron door seemed heavier, and there were iron lattices on the door.

Besides a lock, there were also heavy chains, and on top of all that was a password padlock.

“There’s no way that I can unlock this one.” Yuichi said when he saw it.

“I wonder what’s inside.”

Kazuhiko went on his tip toes and tried to look through the iron lattice, but there was only darkness.

“Are you seeing anything?”

“It’s too dark, can’t see a thing.”

When Kazuhiko was about to give up…… (!)


Kacha!

In the midst of the darkness, there was something moving in the corner of the room, the place with the darkest shadows. Kazuhiko stared intently at that spot.

It was eyes!

Kazuhiko and the creature in the darkness stared at each other; in the darkness the eyes were abnormal: blood vessels showed on the eyes, and they seemed to devour everything; the eyes were full of hatred.

Kazuhiko let out a blood-curdling shriek, and when he hastened to retreat he fell on his back.

“What’s wrong, what happened?”

Kazuhiko ignored the question; a look of extreme horror came across his face. He began to speak, but his breath came out in short gasps. He couldn’t speak; a constant rasping noise rose up his throat.

With the help of Yuichi, he was finally able to stand up.

“What did you see?” Yuichi asked.

Kazuhiko turned to the door. Yuichi also turned. In the next moment, they were frozen, transfixed.

From a gap behind the iron lattice, a pale white hand reached out. That inhuman-like hand seized Miki’s shoulder.

Miki was scared to death. Kazuhiko and Yuichi were in front of her, so who was grasping her shoulder? She didn’t have the courage to turn her head and see who the hand belonged to. It was as if the blood from her body was drained; she couldn’t even scream.

Miki struggled to reach out for help. Her hands were shaking, but Yuichi and Kazuhiko were already scared stiff; they couldn’t move.

“……I’m begging you… Help me……” Miki said in a hoarse voice.

Yuichi reached out, trying to pull Miki away from the door.

Over there, in a split second------

From behind the gap, a pair of eyes that could steal a human’s soul looked at them.

“Uwa------“

Kazuhiko and Yuichi’s minds suddenly blanked out, after screaming bloody murder, they ran not even looking back.

“Wait, don’t leave me alone!”

Miki couldn’t let out the grief in her heart; no one heard her…

However, this is only the beginning of the incident.


2


Ozawa Haruka was just about to visit a senpai from the Orchestra---- a person Aizawa introduced to her, she arrived at the two-story building behind the school’s B building. In the buildings first, and second floors there are many rooms about the size of four tatamis, those are what the school loaned to students who engaged in extra-curricular activities. Her destination was the innermost room on the first floor.

“Society of Movie Research”

Haruka confirmed the nameplate before knocking, but no one answered. She added a, “good morning.” But still no one answered. Even though she knew it was impolite, she opened the door and peeked inside.

When the door opened, Haruka found herself staring at a tall slender man. A sloppy white shirt hung onto the man’s body, and his hair curled up so high that it looked as if he just woke up. And although it was recently popular for people to have a casual tousled hairstyle, this man’s hair was obviously like this because he didn’t comb his hair after waking up. Pale as snow cheeks, he was still sleepy eyed, so being glared by him like that made Haruka speechless.

“Hi……Excuse me……”

“Close the door once you'll get inside.” The man said, interrupting Haruka.

Haruka could only obey, getting inside as she closed the door.

Beside that man, there were two other men. The two were looking at their cards, not letting that man see their cards. It was a five of spades.

Haruka quickly moved from door. She was about to sit on the chair that man pointed to, but she couldn’t help but wrinkle her eyebrows. He dared to make people sit on a chair like that! On the seat there was a thick layer of dust, it was so thick that it was impossible for people to guess its original color. And even though she was wearing jeans today, to make a girl sit on a chair like that, that guy sure had nerves! Haruka stood waiting, without saying a word.

The man closed his eyes, fingers rubbing his eyebrows, as if he was thinking about something. Not long after, he opened his eyes and murmured.

“Five of spades.”

He got it right. Wow! The card the two men were holding was indeed a five of spades. Haruka couldn’t hide her surprise, but the two men let out a disgruntled murmur, and threw the card onto the desk.

“Shit! You got it right again!”

Cursing, he took out a thousand yen from his pocket, threw it onto the desk and left the room.

“Please sit, do you have something you want to tell me?”

Asked the man after yawning and putting the money in his pocket.

Haruka sat on the chair where the two men were sitting before. This chair didn’t have any dust on it, but no one could tell for sure what its original color was.

“Excuse me, are you Saitou Yakumo?”

“It’s not ‘are you’; rather, I am Saitou Yakumo.”

Haruka heard from her seminar senpai that Yakumo from the society of movie research had psychic powers, just like how he correctly guessed the card before; it had to have something to do with his psychic powers.

“And so?”

Yakumo wanted her to continue.

“The truth is, my seminar senpai introduced me here.”

“Who?”

“Aizawa-senpai.”

“I don’t know him, who is he?”

“Huh?”

Haruka felt very embarrassed, he didn’t even know the person who introduced her here. She never thought anything like this would happen.

“Never mind, who told you about here doesn’t matter. Just tell me why you need my help.”

“Yea……It’s like this, I have a friend who’s in big trouble, and I heard that Saitou-san is very knowledgeable about things like these, so I thought you could help her……” (!)

“If you summarize it that much I can’t understand what you mean. What do you mean by ‘things like this’?”

“Ah, sorry, I’ll explain it clearly this time.”

“Speaking of clearly, who are you?”

This guy is really infuriating. Haruka already had a preconceived impression of him. He always had that sleepy eyed look on his face, and he looked as if he took pride in seeing people panic.

“Oh, I’m Ozawa Haruka; I’m a second year literature major at this University.”

“Just your name is enough.”

Yakumo waved his hand, interrupting her upcoming words. Haruka’s annoyance toward him became anger.

“What’s your business with me?”

“Well, I have a friend called Miki, she went to the abandoned house from the school rumors, and she might’ve really seen a ghost.”

“What kind of ghost?”

“I don’t know the details, because I didn’t go with her. But I think Miki’s boyfriend----Kazuhiko, and a friend named Yuichi went with her.”

“They decided to go there to experience the ghost stories first hand?”

“It’s not like that. Miki’s been acting strange ever since she came back, she’s lost consciousness, and she has a persistent high fever.”

“The virus that’s been spreading around lately is very scary.”

“Let me finish what I’m saying!”

Haruka couldn’t help but raise her voice to retort at Yakumo’s mocking words, she glared straight at Yakumo with pure, unadulterated rage.

But Yakumo just sat on his seat with his sleepy eyed expression on his face. However, Haruka’s protests seemed to reach his ears, he looked slightly a bit more willing to listen; he motioned for Haruka to go on.

“……Not only is Miki always unconscious, she also keeps saying, ‘Help me!’ or ‘Get me out of here!’ The doctor diagnosed that besides her persistent high fever there’s nothing else wrong with her…… maybe there’s something wrong with her mentally. She wasn’t born here, I wanted to call her parents but I couldn’t get through to them, I don’t know what else to do, so I came to you for help.”

While explaining Haruka felt sadder and sadder at her helplessness: she wanted to help her friend, but in reality she couldn’t do a thing, she didn’t know what to do, she could only watch Miki become more and more weak. She wanted to grasp at straws to save the drowning man, but there weren’t any straws for her to grab.

“So, because you think that her current condition has something to do with the ghost she saw, you want me to investigate it?”

“Yes, I heard that Saitou-san is skilled in this area.”

Yakumo let out a deep sigh, he looked up at the ceiling, contemplating.

“……Are you going to do it?”

“The fee is 25,000 yen.”

“What? You charge money?”

“Are you my friend?”

“Not really.”

“Then are you my lover?”

“Of course not!”

“Then please pay. We are not friends nor are we lovers, so it’ll be unnatural for me to work for you without anything in return.”

Even though what Yakumo said made sense, Haruka couldn’t accept it, but under the circumstances right now, she had no choice but to agree.

“Understood, I’ll pay you, but only after you solve it.”

“Pay me 10,000 yen now, when this is over you can pay the remaining 15,000 yen.”

Haruka took 1,000 yen out of her wallet; Yakumo shook his head when he saw it.

She took out another 2,000 yen; Yakumo continued to shake his head.

“This is closer to the amount we agreed on.”

“This is all the money I have with me.”

Haruka shook her empty wallet in front of Yakumo.

“Fine, I’ll take a look into it.” Yakumo answered, pushing Haruka’s wallet out of his face.

Haruka was suspicious of Yakumo’s words. In reality, through their conversation, he never said anything to make her trust him, but she had no choice.

“If you find anything, please contact me.” Haruka wrote her phone number on a piece of paper and put it on the desk, and then stood up to leave. When she was just about to open the door……

A small mirror among the movie posters on the door caught her eye.

She was being tricked.

“Earlier, with the cards……” Haruka turned around to say, “I was almost tricked by you! You guessed that card right because you were cheating. You put a mirror on the wall, so that from you position you could easily see the reflection of the card’s number…… No wonder you wanted me to move from the door!”

Haruka’s face was red with anger, she incessantly said her deduction. Unbelievable! She was angry at herself for stupidly believing in him, no wonder her friends often laughed at her for being overly simple.

“Correct. You’re the first person to see through it.”

Yakumo was unrepentant and admitted to his own trick, he even lightly clapped his hands to show his respect.

“Bastard……return my money.”

“Why?”

“Do I even need to say why; you want to cheat my money off me! Return my money!”

Unbelievable! He actually took advantage of her vulnerability, and he almost tricked her.

“Don’t say such rude things.”

“Who’s being rude?”

“I have no intention of deceiving you, if I am unable to help you friend, I will return all of your money.”

“I can’t trust you.”

This Saitou person, there should be a limit to his brazenness.

“Besides, what can you do, I only came to you because I heard you had psychic powers, I never thought that it was only a scam.”

“Who said I said psychic powers? I never said that. But it’s just like you said, that card game before, was indeed a scam.”

“If you don’t have psychic powers, how can you help Miki?”

“Listen to what I’m going to say, it’s your choice whether or not to believe, but if you do, then I will take responsibility, if you don’t, the door’s that way.”

Yakumo pointed at the door.

“Return my money.”

Yakumo put the 3,000 yen on the desk.

“I can see things that other people cannot.” “Is this a guessing game?”

“Think what you will. What is your answer?”

“I don’t know.”

“I can see the spirits of the dead.”

“Spirits?”

“In other words, ghosts.”

“This is stupid!”

“The stupid one is you.”

Yakumo pointed at Haruka, he actually said she was stupid……

“But you said you didn’t have any psychic powers.”

“That’s right, I don’t, but I can see the spirits of the dead, that’s not supernatural, it’s a predisposition. For example, you wouldn’t say that a perfect pitch is supernatural, it’s an inborn talent, Jesus can be said to have that talent…… In short, I cannot see through objects, I also can’t use telekinesis, I was just born being able to see the spirits of the dead.”

“Can you prove what you’re saying?”

“I don’t know if you will take it as proof, but there’s a ghost in this room.”

Haruka looked around but saw nothing.

“I won’t be tricked again.”

“The ghost in this room is your elder twin sister…”

“Sister?”

“That’s right, your sister, her name is Ayaka; she died in a car accident when she was seven.”

“How do you know…” Haruka’s face stiffened out of surprise.

“I said it before, didn’t I? I can see the spirits of the dead.”

Only her closest friend knew she had a sister, so why would a stranger like him know about that accident? Haruka couldn’t understand, rather she felt it was unbelievable.

“Even now you still feel like you are responsible for your sister’s death.”

Haruka’s face paled, she felt a ringing in her ears, and her mind was so blank that she felt dizzy. The image of her sister lying on the street, bleeding instantly resurfaced.

“In order to retrieve the ball you threw, your sister ran to the street, it was then that……”

“Stop it……It wasn’t……I never thought something like that would happen……”

--No matter how loud Haruka yelled, Ayaka lay there, unmoving. It happened so suddenly, that Haruka was paralyzed; she couldn’t even scream or cry. Her hand was dyed bright red from the blood flowing out of her sister’s head: she could feel the blood on her hands, the memory of it resurfaced from her memory, she desperately tried to suppress the wound to stop the blood flowing, but it didn’t work.

She could feel Ayaka’s life force slowly seep through her hands.

“It was like this……You deliberately threw the ball far away. You could never catch the ball, but your sister caught every single one, that’s why in order to make you sister miss the ball, you deliberately threw it far.”

“Stop it!”

Haruka couldn’t suppress a cry. Her hands were shaking, her breathing was disoriented. Why? She never told anyone about that, no one should know about it! The tears flowed out on their own record.

“What do you want to do…”

Haruka said in a hoarse voice, wiping away her tears with her sleeve.

“……” Yakumo didn’t answer.

Haruka glanced at him; she was just about to leave……

“If you still don’t believe me, I have another way to prove it. Your sister’s regrets one thing, she says that she was the one who hid your mother’s ring, but instead your mother got mad at you…… the ring was taped to the top of the shoe cupboard with tape…… she wanted to tell the truth, but she couldn’t……”

Haruka didn’t turn around.

“And, you sister says that she doesn’t hate you.”

She didn’t even try to understand what Yakumo’s last words meant; she closed the door with all her strength.

Haruka sat on a bench in the courtyard, head hung down, she was thinking deeply. The autumn wind messed up her pretty short hair. A stranger revealed the single memory that haunted her even to this day effortlessly. There was a wave of unstoppable humiliation there was also another distinct feeling that wasn’t humiliation or anger, it definitely wasn’t a happy feeling, it felt as if a load had been taken off, she felt lighter, she also felt that it was unbelievable.

No matter how many times she thought about it, she was still confused. She thought that that Saitou person was just a liar, so, how does one explain the truths he said?

She took her cell phone out of her backpack, pausing for a minute, and then dialed her home number. After a few rings her mother picked up.

“What’s wrong? You hardly call home.”

“Nothing……”

“You’re still bad at lying, something happened right?”

“Mom, do you remember the ring you lost a long time ago? When my sister was still alive.”

“What’s with this so suddenly?”

“Can you check under the top of the shoe cupboard?”

“Why do you care so much about something that happened a long time ago?”

“Could you just do it?”

“Ok ok.”

After the mother feebly answered the waiting music poured out of the telephone, it was Chopin’s << Farewell Waltz>>. Ayaka could play the piano very well, while adults struggled with this piece, she could play it without any mistakes: compared to her, Haruka not only couldn’t play the piano, she had no musical talent whatsoever, no matter how hard she tried, the rhythm was always off.

She was often compared to Ayaka, not only about the piano, but also studying, athletics, Ayaka was always better than her. If the two stood together, they would always be mistaken as brother and sister, one reason might’ve been because of Haruka’s short hair, but the other reason was that, even though they were twins, they didn’t look anything alike, and so she started hating her sister’s existence.

That’s why, the accident that Yakumo spoke, was indeed because Haruka deliberately threw the ball too far for her sister to catch, but she never thought something like that would happen.

Remembering her parents in so much grief, she wondered how many times she blamed herself for stealing away a life? She also wondered if it were her who had died, would her parents feel as sad as they did? Her sister must hate her, right?

To this day she still held on to this heavy burden that she couldn’t speak to anyone about, and at the same time, she also held on to the fear that one day the secret of her sister’s death would be exposed.

However, when her secret got exposed, she felt that she could finally let go of that heavy burden, even if it was short-lived……

“Found it, the ring really was there!”

Her mother’s voice brought Haruka back to reality.

“Haruka, you did do it, didn’t you?”

“No, it wasn’t me, it was sister.”

“Huh? What are you saying?”

Haruka hung up the phone without answering her mother’s question. She didn’t even know where the ring was, only Ayaka would know, so why did he know.


3


She went back to Yakumo’s place. When she opened the door, there was a paper airplane flying through the air.

“What are you doing?”

“Shooting paper air planes.”

The plane slowly fell to Haruka’s feet.

“You should already know by looking, that I’m going to ask you why you did it.”

Haruka asked, whiling picking up the plane near her feet. The paper airplane was made out of 1000 yen.

“Just killing time, waiting until you came back.”

“……”

“Please sit.” Yakumo motioned for her to sit down.

Haruka put the paper airplane on the desk, and then sat down.

“Can I ask you something?”

Yakumo nodded.

“This is supposed to be the movie research center, so where’s everyone else?”

“There is no one else, this is my room.”

“……What do you mean?”

“The society for movie research never existed. It’s simple, I borrowed enough names from students to apply for an extra-curricular activity then submitted the application form they gave me this room. This is my hiding place.”

“Then, this place is all yours?”

“Correct.”

“You’re really horrible, you know that. You even tricked the school.”

“Ah, I’ll return the 3,000 yen to you.”

Yakumo pointed to the paper airplanes that were made from a thousand yen.

“Because your scam was seen through?”

“It’s because of that scam that you came here, wasn’t it?”

“Why do you think that.”

“Because you already found your mother’s ring.”

Haruka tentatively looked at Yakumo. He really was an enigma! Even though Yakumo’s words were strangely convincing, but in reality, weren’t his actions just to brag about his tricks?

“How do you know?”

Yakumo didn’t answer; his eyes seemed to say “Didn’t I tell you already?” But, Haruka still couldn’t understand.

“Please tell me.”

“As I said, your sister told me.”

“Liar! A liar like you who goes around saying that they can see ghosts is just a scam to trick people out of their money.”

Even though Haruka said that, she knew she didn’t hit the heart of the problem.

Silence ensued between the two, cold air came into the room from the slightly opened window. Haruka stared at Yakumo, never taking her eyes off him, she was waiting for him to answer; And Yakumo seemed to understand what Haruka was trying to do from her stare, he gently massaged his temple, as if he was carefully calculating on how to respond.

“Ok, then let’s do it like this! Let’s go together to the abandoned house in question to investigate.” “Together… as in you and me?”

“Who else? If we go together, then you’ll know that I’m not lying. If I am telling the truth, then I might be able to help you friend, if I’m lying, then you’ll be able to see through it. Just like how you saw through the mirror trick. But, I don’t care if you think it’s real or fake, truth be told, I couldn’t care less if your friend lives or dies.”

Haruka suspiciously looked at the poker faced Yakumo, Yakumo just glared back at her with his sleepy eyed expression. She thought she could tell if Yakumo was lying, but he seemed too innocent. Haruka feebly nodded her head agreed.


4


Yakumo wanted to see Miki before going to the abandoned house that’s shrouded with mysteries, so Haruka and Yakumo went to the hospital where Miki was staying.

It was a 20 minute walk from the college, and through the other exit of the station, the hospital was near the station.

“Can I ask you something?”

Yakumo didn’t answer; Haruka took it as a yes.

“Can you exorcise ghosts?”

“I can’t.”

“What?”

Haruka was at loss. Yakumo always had a confident look, how was he planning to help Miki?

“As I said before, I can only see the spirits of the dead.”

“But you said you could help my friend……”

“Maybe help, it was a hypothetical answer.”

Haruka incredibly stared at Yakumo.

“How can you be so irresponsible? You’re trying to cheat me off my money, right? What we’re doing now is completely meaningless.”

“That’s not the case.”

“Why not?”

“’Being able to see’ means we can find some clues; to understand the clues, then we can know the whole story; when we know the whole story, we will be able to eliminate the cause.”

She knew Yakumo was arguing illogically, she had absolutely no sense of reality, but there was nothing else she could do, except listen to this Saitou person’s words, and work with him temporarily.

Haruka and Yakumo went to the front desk to ask where Miki was. Then they got on the elevator.

“Can I ask you a question?” Yakumo asked when the elevator door closed.

“As long as it isn’t anything rude.”

Haruka warned Yakumo, her sister was one of the reasons.

“There were three people who went to the abandoned house, what happened to the other two?”

“I think Kazuhiko and Yuichi ran away. When Yuichi got to the school gate, he realized he was alone, he was scared, but I think he went back to the forest. When he got to the forest, he found Miki unconscious on the ground…… then he carried Miki and ran away. Because Miki never woke up, he took her to the hospital, the next day he called me and I hurried to the hospital.”

“What about that Kazuhiko guy?”

“I don’t know! I can’t believe that guy is Miki’s boyfriend, he didn’t even try to save her, he left her behind at a place like that, it’s unbelievable!”

Miki’s hospital room was on the fourth flour. They knocked on the room, and then went in. There were four hospital beds in the room, but Miki was the only patient in the room.

Miki lay on the hospital bed, a rubber tube extended out of her wrist; it was attached to one of those nutritional IVs. Even though her eyes were opened, her gaze was hollow, like she couldn’t see a thing; there was no color on her face, so it was hard for people to believe that she was even alive. If it wasn’t for the noise coming out of her nose, like a balloon leaking air, she wouldn’t be any different than a corpse.

“Even though she’s like this, the doctor said that there is nothing wrong with her body, maybe it’s some psychological trauma…… but, she was perfectly fine the day before, how could someone change so drastically?”

Yakumo didn’t answer Haruka; he stood next to the hospital bed and stared at Miki. He wrinkled his eyebrows, the sleepy eyed expression changed to a bright and piercing one.

“What are you seeing?”

Yakumo still didn’t answer who.

“Who are you?” murmured Yakumo.

“……Help……Help me……Please…….I’m begging…….You……”

Miki made a moaning like noise, Yakumo pulled the blanket over her body, he leaned down, ear next to her mouth.

“……Let me…….out of here……”

Miki made another noise.

“Where are you?”

“……Can’t see…..Where is this……Let me out……”

Yakumo’s hand cupped Miki’s face, he stared at her eyes. Under Yakumo’s gaze, Miki’s pupil slightly changed.

“Where are you? Tell me.” Yakumo asked in a gentle and soft voice.

Miki didn’t answer, her faint breathing suddenly became violent, from her throat she let out “Ss------Ss-----“ noise, cold sweat constantly emitting form her forehead.

“No-----“

Miki suddenly shrieked, her body distorted with pain, and then finally, she returned to a corpse-like state, unmoving. At the same time, Yakumo was silent; he let out a deep sigh, then left the hospital room.

Haruka hurried to catch up to him. After Yakumo left the room, he leaned against the wall in the hallway, he pressed his hand to suppress the dull pain that seemed to come from his left forehead and the area around his left eye; his breathing was disoriented, his shoulders were violently rising up and down.

“Hey, are you ok?”

Haruka reached out to touch his shoulder, but Yakumo moved as if he was avoiding her hand, he suddenly stood straight, hand pressed against his forehead and eye, and began to walk.

“Will it hurt?”

Haruka put her hand on his shoulder.

“It won’t.”

“Wouldn’t it be better if you saw a doctor?”

“Shut up!” Yakumo turned his head he snarled.

Looking closely, she noticed Yakumo’s face was almost as pale as Miki’s, large amounts of cold sweat was emitting from his forehead. Wide eyed, he glared at Haruka.

“What happened? Are you ok?”

Haruka didn’t divert her eyes from his pain filled eyes.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“If you don’t tell me how will I understand?”

“You ask too many questions.”

Yakumo quickened his pace.

“I’m worried about you; you could at least tell me what’s wrong!” It was like Haruka was talking to his back.

She quickly ran to catch up to him, Yakumo walked even faster, she finally caught up to him when they reached the elevator.

“Hey, in the hospital room, what did you see?”

When they got on the elevator, Haruka asked again. Yakumo didn’t answer.

“At least tell me this. Didn’t you tell me, that if I didn’t believe you, I’ll follow you until you tell me.”

“You’ll regret it.”

Yakumo said, scratching his neck.

“Your friend’s being possessed by a female spirit. Around our age, but that was before her death…… she had shoulder length hair, and a mole right below her eye it gives people a deep impression.”

“And then?”

“Darkness, in a room filled with darkness……Narrow……the sound of dripping water……Hunger……Heavy air……Pain……Fear……Fear……Fear……”

“What does that mean?”

“It’ll save me a lot of trouble if only I knew the answer. Can’t you please use that brain of yours a little?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m some kind of idiot!”

“Oh? You aren’t?”

The elevator arrived at the first floor, Yakumo started walking again, and Haruka started running behind him again.

The autumn dusk, projected a unique color--- bright orange, as if people were trapped in a vast expanse sky covered by the illusion of stained glass.

After Haruka and Yakumo left the hospital, they arrived at the station. There was a sea of people in front of the bus station and even though it was time period where people returned home, this situation was remarkably different.

The gate was crowded with people who couldn’t get into the platform, near the sidewalk there were ambulances, fire trucks and police cars, the screen that showed the status of the trains said “The trains have been stopped due to a man made accident”.

“Due to an accident the train has been postponed until further notice! Please leave the station because the site is being cleaned up. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”

The people at the station shouted. People who were in a hurry and those who came to join in on the fun mixed into the chaos of the crowd.

“Man made accident?”

“I think so.”

“Ah, Takaoka Sensei.”

Haruka recognized a familiar face among the crowd and started shouting.

“Takaoka Sensei?”

“Yea, didn’t you know? He’s a teacher at our school.”

Haruka said “wait for me” to Yakumo and went into the crowd. She called to Takaoka, Takaoka recognized Haruka and made a “ah ah” sound, making it hard for people to hear what he was saying.

He wore a pair of round glasses, he was skinny, yet his shoulders were broad, and because of exposure to the sun his face was tan; his hair was combed backwards, giving people the feeling that he was hard to approach, but those who talked to him will realize that he is actually very kind and modest. This difference made him popular among the female students.

“Sensei, do you know what happened?”

To Haruka’s question Takaoka paused, as if contemplating whether or not to tell the truth, finally he decided, saying in a low voice: “Ichihashi……committed suicide……”

“Ichihashi……Yuichi?”

Takaoka nodded his head solemnly.

“Why would he commit suicide?”

Fear climbed up Haruka’s spine. How could something like this happen…… the people she knew were being continuously thrown into strange events, just what is happening……

“I can’t believe it…… I never even noticed……If I had paid more attention, then this wouldn’t……”

Takaoka made a sorrowful face; he seemed to be fairly remorseful. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many teachers like him in society today, but to Haruka, she felt this was a small redemption.

“This isn’t Sensei’s fault……”

“Haruka, did you hear anything from Yuichi?”

Haruka shook her head. Even if she said it, Sensei probably wouldn’t believe it. So Haruka swallowed the words she almost said.

Just when she was in a trance, Takaoka was called away by the police.

“What happened?”

Haruka snapped out of her trance and realized that Yakumo had quietly, without herself knowing, come to her side.

“Yuichi committed suicide……”

“Yuichi, as in, one of the 3 who went to the test of courage?”

Haruka nodded weakly. Her whole body felt weak, and it was hard for her to stand upright.

“It’d be best if we found out what happened to the last person.”

“He was perfectly fine yesterday, how come he suddenly committed suicide……how come……”

Haruka knew that he voice was trembling.

“Perhaps he didn’t commit suicide.”

“What?”

Because of Yakumo’s surprising statement Haruka looked up. Yakumo’s words were like a wake up call to her.

“Although we don’t have any definitive proof, I am certain that he didn’t commit suicide.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t I say we didn’t have any definitive proof?”

“Does it have anything to do with the ghost possessing Miki?”

“No.”

“Do you have proof?”

“The ghost possessing your friend is afraid of something……but she bears no malice.”

“Afraid? Of what?”

“I don’t know. Although I don’t have any definitive proof, I am afraid that this has something to do with living people.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is what I need to investigate.”

“Where are we going next?”

“This is it for today, we’ll continue tomorrow.”

Yakumo gave instructions; he wanted Haruka to find the whereabouts of the missing Kazuhiko. Thus, the first day of their investigation came to an end.


5


After Haruka’s morning classes were over, she went to Yakumo’s hiding place as promised. Even though it was past noon, Yakumo was still the same as usual, he still had a sleepy eyed expression on his face.

Haruka did as Yakumo asked, and tried calling Kazuhiko, but it was as if he turned off his cell phone, all her calls went straight to his voicemail.

Although she asked everyone he knew, no one knew where he was, Kazuhiko was still missing……

“Let’s go over what we know.”

Yakumo said, yawning.

“Tell me in detail again about their test of courage.”

After Haruka refreshed her memory, she told Yakumo about the test of courage the three people went through. Although Yakumo found some doubtful points, she couldn’t explain, because she wasn’t there herself, she had only heard it from Yuichi, so she could only try to explain everything as best as she could. And even if they wanted to confirm their suspicions with Yuichi, they couldn’t since he was in an accident and died.

It was rare of Yakumo to not interrupt Haruka, he just sat there silently listening. And although he didn’t say a word, he seemed to have found something strange.

“Hey, what are we going to do next?”

“Let’s find out who is the ghost that is possessing your friend’s body.”

“Do you have any leads?”

“I don’t know if it counts.”

“You’re speaking ambiguously again.”

“This world is filled with uncertainties.”

Yakumo was walking toward the school’s library. When he opened the door, he noticed that the shelves were movable.

“We’re going to check here?”

“According to my intuition. The spirit possessing your friend used to be a college student here.”

“You’re not thinking of searching through these files first, are you?”

“That’s right…… they stored the student’s entire name list here, right?”

“This will take you decades to search through! Up until now how many people do you think attend this University?”

Haruka went to the deepest part of the library and sat in front of the only computer, after turning it on, the screen showed “Please enter password”. After Haruka typed in a nine-letter word, she effortlessly logged in. Yakumo silently observed her actions, his gaze wanted her to explain to him.

“Last year the school organized their files, and because there weren’t enough hands, they found a few students to help.”

“You were one of the students who helped organize the files?”

“Yup. The school won’t change their password even if 10 years have passed.”

“The security here is a joke.”

“What’s a joke here is how easily anyone can check these files!”

Haruka retorted sarcastically, two days of resentment was rolled into that comment; a rare silence overtook Yakumo. Even though he looked calm on the surface, he was probably very chaotic on the inside!

Haruka clicked on the student name file, the files it contained names, addresses, birthdates, contact numbers, what major they belonged too and so on.

“They even have pictures?”

Yakumo said looking at the screen.

“They added the pictures recently. What’s the name of the person you’re looking for?”

“YURI, I don’t know how it’s written.”

Haruka typed in “YURI” in the search box, but there were over 200 results.

“It’ll take too long if we look at it one by one, any other clues?”

“Gender is female.”

“I know.”

“She has a mole under her eye.”

“We can’t search for that.”

Yakumo was at a loss for words. Haruka racked her brains trying to find ideas, but they were all discarded. Suddenly, Yakumo snapped his finger.

“Can we check students who got expelled or is temporarily absent from college?”

“We should be able to.”

Haruka started to type again, this time there were only ten people that showed up, she clicked on each name, checking them one at a time.

“Stop.”

Yakumo said. Shinohara Yuri, literature major, in the education department, temporarily absent. She wore a pair of thick-lenses glasses, in the picture she was lowering her head, as if she was extremely concerned about other people’s stares, she gave of a nervous and anxious feeling.

“I……know her!”

Because Haruka was shocked, her voice sounded lower than usual.

“Friends?”

“No, just classmates. I never really talked to her, just saw her a few times, she suddenly stopped coming to school last month…… I think she disappeared, her parents filed a missing persons report, it was the talk in the campus for a while.”

This could no longer be considered as a mere coincidence. There must be a connection somewhere.

“I think, Takaoka Sensei should know something about it.”

Even though Haruka sounded excited, Yakumo kept silent, he put his index finger in his ear, his expression saying: “You’re really annoying!”

“Please explain it to me calmly. Also, who is Takaoka Sensei?”

“You forgot already? He’s the teacher we met at the train station yesterday. He’s Takaoka Sensei, he’s also my class’s advisor.”

“Sounds unreliable.”

“You seem to have a negative opinion about everyone.”

“Do you trust everyone you meet?”

“Besides you, yes.”

“I feel honored.”

Yakumo didn’t pay any attention to Haruka’s mockery, he took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number.

“Sore loser.”

Haruka muttered behind Yakumo’s back, but he heard it.

While listening to his phone, he glared at her.

“----Gotou-san----“

After the call went through, Yakumo started talking to the person on the other end. Even though she couldn’t hear the other person’s voice, she had a vague idea about what they were talking about, Yakumo wanted that person the look into Shinohara Yuri.

After the discussion was over he hung up.

“Who did you call?”

“A friend.”

“Can that person get information about people that disappeared?”

“If he couldn’t, then I wouldn’t have called him.”

Even so, that person, with just one call, could investigate the whereabouts of a person’s disappearance, what kind of god was his friend? When Haruka was lost in her thoughts, Yakumo opened the door and left the library. Here we go again! Even though Haruka was disgruntled, she still ran to catch up.

“Haruka.”

Haruka heard someone call her name as she walked out of the library, she turned as saw the person they were just talking about------- Takaoka Sensei was walking towards her.

“Sensei-----“

Haruka wondered if she should catch up to Yakumo, but decided to stay, and wait for Takaoka to walk to her side.

“You must be devastated.”

“Compared to me, Takaoka Sensei must be both physically and mentally more tired.“

Compared to yesterday, Takaoka looked more frail and withered, it was understandable since his student committed suicide. If he smiled at her, she wouldn’t know what to do.

“It isn’t as horrible as you think, but it definitely isn’t anything good.”

Takaoka tried to soften his expression, but it made people feel more sorrow.

“The point is, at times like this, you shouldn’t force yourself to do anything.”

“Sensei you too.”

“Yes, you’re right.”

Takaoka forced a smile and answered, then began to walk away.

“Um……Sensei!”

Haruka yelled at Takaoka’s retreating figure.

“What’s the matter?”

Takaoka stopped and turned to look at her.

“Nothing, it’s just……”

Haruka didn’t know what to say. She wanted to ask Takaoka about Yuri’s situation, but wondered if this was the right time to ask him.

“What’s wrong? If you have anything you need to say, say it.”

It was as if Takaoka knew Haruka’s feelings, he encouraged her to go on, and Haruka found herself obeying.

“Sensei, do you remember Shinohara Yuri?”

“Ah, are you talking about the student who is temporarily absent?”

“Yea, she’s disappeared.”

“So it’s like that……but, why would you suddenly ask about Shinohara.”

Takaoka asked, looking surprised, Haruka didn’t know what to say.

“I can’t tell you anything right now, but what happened to Yuichi might be connected to her…… Sensei, do you remember anything about Shinohara Yuri?”

“About her……”

Takaoka stroked his jaw, as if he was searching for clues in his memory.

“Anything is fine, like before she disappeared, did she have anyone she was close to like a lover or……”

Wanting to help Takaoka remember something about Shinohara Yuri, Haruka listed off some clues.

“Lover---“

Takaoka looked like he remembered something, his expression changed rapidly.

“Did you think of something?”

“Yes, yes, Shinohara did have a lover, I think it’s Aizawa from the grade above you?”

“Aizawa, are you talking about Aizawa senpai from the orchestra?”

“Yes, that’s him!”

Haruka was shocked speechless. Haruka knew the person Takaoka was talking about, was this a mere coincidence……

“I have some things to take off, bye.”

Haruka stood there for a few minutes, then said good bye to Takaoka, and started to run through the hallways. There was something fishy about this. If it was him, then maybe he could give them some clues. Haruka turned at the first corner.

“Where are you going in such a hurry?”

The sudden voice made Haruka stop and turn, it was Yakumo leaning against the wall.

“Ah!”

Haruka stumbled and almost fell on her back, thankfully she stopped in time, but she was faced with an awkward situation.

“I heard most of your conversation.”

He has sharp ears. But, it was easier if he had heard them.

“That spirit……Yuri’s boyfriend is Aizawa Testuro senpai.”

“Didn’t I tell you that I heard?”

Then at least look a little more surprised! Haruka bit back a scream.

“Aizawa Tetsuro senpai was the one who told me about you! Don’t you think that this isn’t just a coincidence?”

“I think you’ve just become a million times more weirder.”

Yakumo walked away.


6


Yakumo led Haruka to a building behind the school that looked like it was made from several houses, that was the worker’s room.

“Hello.”

Yakumo said at the door to the room, but there was no response. He opened the door and went in.

When they walked in they saw a desk and some folding chairs, there was a kitchen counter and a refrigerator inside, hanging on the wall were sickle-like tools.

“No one’s here.”

Haruka said looking around.

“Looks like it.”

Just when Haruka was about to leave, a shadow suddenly appeared through the door on the other side of the room.

“Ah------“

Haruka retreated back scared, and let out a shriek.

“You…….You……you two, what……what……why are you here?”

The one who entered the room was a male worker, his dark cheeks were flushed red because of exposure to the sun.

Haruka didn’t know his name, but she saw him a few times at school, he was always dragging his left foot, always limping.

There was a rumor that he had harassed a female student, but no one knows if it that was true or false.

“Sorry for entering without permission, we’re very sorry. We just wanted to borrow the keys to the abandoned house.”

Compared to Haruka’s uneasiness, Yakumo appeared cool and collected.

“Why would……you guys……want……to go there?”

The worker let out a high-pitched sound.

Yakumo smiled his rarely seen smile. He lied that a few days ago a friend of his went into the abandoned house to take a test of courage, he had accidently left something behind and wanted to get it back.

The worker didn’t suspect him, just showed an irritated expression.

“Please, Yamane-san.” Yakumo pleaded, bowing his head.

Haruka was surprised. So his name was Yamane? This was her first time hearing someone who knew his name.

The worker called Yamane limped to the wall where there was a chain of keys, he took a key out and handed it to Yakumo.

“You……you don’t need to……give the key back today, I’m going home.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t……don’t do something stupid……like a test of courage again!”

“So there really are ghosts?”

Yakumo teasingly pretended to be a ghost.

“No……no that’s not it, the building’s very old, next……next month it’ll be demolished……”

“So it’s like that, thanks again.”

Yakumo turned to leave, but paused when he was about to open the door, he turned back to Yamane.

“Excuse me, are there any password locks there?”

“I……don’t know, I……don’t have any business there, so I……never go there.”

Yakumo thanked him again and left the building. Haruka quickly ran after him. Just like this.

“How did you know the worker’s name?”

“It was on his uniform, where were you looking?”

So it was like that.

After the sun set, Yakumo and Haruka arrived at the abandoned house.

There was a dead silence, only the leaves rustling in the wind could be heard, under the moonlight the concrete house shone blue light.

Besides the absolutely terrifying building, Yuichi’s death made Haruka more scared. If she didn’t concentrate she wouldn’t have been able to stand straight.

Although this was for helping her two friends, she felt like this was a big trouble and was starting to regret it.

“If anything happens, you have to save me!”

Although he was an enigmatic man, he was the only person she could count on now.

“I’ll try, but I don’t make any promises.”

Yakumo answered in a serious tone.

“I shouldn’t have stupidly asked you that question.”

Her biggest mistake was probably getting to know this man called Saitou Yakumo! All of a sudden Haruka couldn’t help but suspect something.

“Aren’t you scared?”

“No, I’m not scared at all.”

Hearing Yakumo’s sharp words Haruka forced on a strong look, but her trembling voice betrayed her will.

Yakumo took out the key and put it in the keyhole, however his actions weren’t necessary, because before he turned the key, the door was already open. The two of them opened the door and went it.

They used the flashlight to see around them, but besides fallen leaves, there was nothing else.

They walked deeper into the road, their footsteps echoed through the corridor. The humidity of the hallway made them feel faint. Yakumo used his flashlight to see the small rooms, but they were all the same, every room had the same interior: inside the square rooms was a bed and a window. It might’ve used to be a dormitory.

Haruka carefully walked behind Yakumo. Suddenly, Yakumo stopped.

“Your friend stopped at the end of the corridor, where they saw a ghost in the locked room?”

“Yea, that’s what they said.”

“Because there’s a password padlock, they couldn’t go in.”

“I also heard about it, but I don’t know if it’s true……”

“This.”

Yakumo turned around and showed Haruka something he was holding.

“What’s this?”

Yakumo shone his flashlight on the thing, letting Haruka see clearly, in his hands was the password padlock that had fallen to the ground.

“There aren’t any signs of being cut, the password seems to be 7483……looks like someone opened it.”

Haruka couldn’t react, so she looked at Yakumo.

“Meaning, this locked room was opened before we came.”

Yakumo put the lock on the ground, and raised his hand towards the door. A chill crept up Haruka’s spine. According to Yuichi, there was something in the room.

“Wait.”

Haruka couldn’t help but speak out to stop Yakumo, but there was a sharp sound of metal, Yakumo had already opened the door. Haruka felt her body stiffen and retreated, but nothing happened, there was only silence in the room.

Yakumo looked around the room, the interior was the same as all the others room, besides a bed, there was nothing else. Compared to the other rooms, there was a gloomy and moist air that wafted through the room, a rotten, pungent smell choked them.

“It feels unwelcoming……”

Haruka hid behind Yakumo, observing the room.

“Unlike other rooms, this one doesn’t have a window.”

Just like Yakumo said, though the other rooms were small, there was always a window, but this room didn’t have a window.

Yakumo slowly stepped into the room. The moment he went in, it felt like the air got heavier. “Did you find something?”

Haruka also entered the room. Yakumo wordlessly observed the room, but besides the bed and walls, there was nothing else suspicious. “There’s nothing, but there should be.”

“If there is, could it save Miki?”

“I don’t know, but that is a possibility. The ghost possessing your friend is afraid of something in this room.”

Yakumo noticed something that was different than the other rooms----the beds position. The other beds in the other rooms were positioned perpendicular to the door, but this room’s bed was positioned in the corner, parallel to the entrance: and on the floor there were drag marks.

Yakumo approached the edge of the bed, and squatted down, preparing to investigate.

Just at that moment----

“Danger! Behind you!”

Haruka heard a girl’s voice, she turned and looked for the source of the voice, alarmed to see the shadow of a man holding a stick, or something similar-----it was a shovel! The shadow aimed at Haruka’s head and struck with all his strength.

She was paralyzed by fear and couldn’t move.

Bang!

Haruka heard a sound like a rock falling to the ground, her knees gave away and she fell to the floor, but she didn’t feel any pain.

Hu……Hu……Hu……: Haruka heard a groaning noise and opened her eyes.

“!”

Yakumo collapsed in front of Haruka, he tried to stand up, but his body didn’t listen to him, with difficultly he managed to get into a kneeling position, fresh blood flowed from his head.

Yakumo protected me? In the midst of chaos, Haruka only felt that fact.

“Are……are you ok?”

Haruka wanted to touch him.

“Hurry……Run!”

Yakumo hoarsely said while pressed his head. But Haruka couldn’t leave him behind.

“……Never mind me! Just run!”

Yakumo roared. Haruka due to shock stood up as a reflex.

“Go! You idiot!”

Yakumo shouted again. Haruka hesitated, but she succumbed to Yakumo’s urging and ran to the door.

But before Haruka could make it out of the room the shadow grabbed her shoulder and threw her back into the room.

The shadow slowly closed in on Haruka. It was over! This was the first time in Haruka’s life that she was face to face with death.

In that moment, an object hit the side of the shadow, two shadows started wrestling.

Bang! Bang! Numerous sounds of collision occurred. Haruka could only rigidly watch the fight unfold in front of her.

Suddenly, a shadow stood up.

“Run!”

That familiar sound……was Yakumo! He was ok!

“Duck!”

It was that girl’s voice again. Compared to Haruka who couldn’t hear the voice, Yakumo reacted instantly, he grabbed Haruka’s head and fell to the floor, a shovel swept across their heads, missing by a few inches.

Bang! Sparks flew from where the shovel hit the wall.

Yakumo grabbed the shocked Haruka’s hand and ran out the door.

“Ohohohoh!”

The Shadow flung the shovel wildly, and roared after them. Yakumo used his body to close the door. Bang! A heavy sound.

Yakumo used the chains on the floor and tied it to the door.

Kachink! Kachink!

Doing, Doing!

The person on the other side of the door tried to open the door, he seemed to continuously turn the knob and pound on the door. Suddenly, the sounds stopped. Did he quit? Just when Haruka thought that----

Bang!

A sound as clear as the sky scared Haruka so much that her shoulders started shaking, staring at it long enough she noticed that the impact to the door caused a small crack, a gloved hand suddenly shot out of the crack. Haruka felt her hand getting grabbed, and they were being pulled. She didn’t even have the strength to cry.

“Let’s go!”

A voice near her ear made Haruka focus again, the one who grabbed her hand was actually Yakumo.

Haruka let Yakumo grab her hand and run out of the exit.

Tree branches hit Haruka’s face, and arms, but she didn’t feel any pain, she just let Yakumo hold her hand and run.


7


There was silence that overtook them when they got back to the place where Yakumo lived.

They sank to the floor, finding it difficult to breath, beads of sweat emitted from their foreheads.

“Ouch……”

Yakumo exclaimed while pressing his forehead. He was hit by a shovel before, it was natural for the wound to hurt.

“Are you ok?”

Although Yakumo nodded his head to say he was ok, but his face was contorted with pain.

Haruka knelt in front of Yakumo, above his right eye there was a three-centimeter long scar that was puckering, the skin around it was also wrinkling, though the blood was slightly solidifying, there was still fresh blood that flowed from the wound, just by looking at it people could feel pain.

Haruka took out a handkerchief and pressed it to Yakumo’s wound.

“It’s ok, I’ll do it.”

Yakumo took Haruka’s handkerchief and pressed it to his wound.

At the same time, tears started streaming down Haruka’s cheeks. That’s weird? Why are there tears…… but she couldn’t control her tears. Why? Why is she crying? Haruka couldn’t figure it out.

“You were that scared?”

Yakumo gently put his hand on Haruka’s shoulder, it made her feel warm, her tightly coiled heart started loosening. So she was crying because she was scared. It was the first time in her life that she experienced such soul stirring fear. Thankfully Yakumo was there to save her, otherwise she wouldn’t even be here. Haruka nodded her head slightly, then grabbed Yakumo’s sleeve and started to bawl.

Before Haruka stopped crying Yakumo kept silent.

Haruka had never cried and lose herself in front of anyone before, after her sister’s death, she promised herself she wouldn’t cry again, but she had already cried in front of Yakumo two times. She didn’t know why, but in front of this arrogant and eccentric person, she was able to relax, she felt weird.

“Sorry……”

Haruka said, she sniffled for a while, and wiped away her tears.

“Let me see the wound.”

Haruka ignored Yakumo’s protest, she took the handkerchief and examined the wound, the blood had stopped flowing.

“Even though the blood stopped flowing, it’d be best if you went to the hospital to have it checked.”

“It’s fine.”

Yakumo gruffly replied.

“What do you mean it’s fine, you got hurt on the head, what if something happens?”

“You’re noisy, I know that already.”

Surely enough he spat out his usual, blunt, words, and just with one sentence all her good feelings towards him disappeared.

“Hey, you……”

She stopped talking, Haruka was speechless when she saw Yakumo’s left eye. Under the light his left iris shone a brilliant red.

The red was deeper than any other kind of red she had seen.

“I was born with it.”

Yakumo noticed Haruka’s gaze, his face showed irritation while he explained.

“Pretty……”

“What?”

“What a pretty eye color……”

Yakumo was dumbstruck, he didn’t know how to react, the next second he tried to suppress his laughter, then he laughed out loud, and finally he laughed so hard that he was holding his sides.

What was so funny?

“Hey, why are you laughing?”

“That was……too classic, you actually said ‘pretty’! What is wrong with you!”

“What do you mean?”

Yakumo took a deep breath and smiled.

“I thought you were going to scream, or feel disgusted, or feel pity……”

“Why would I scream? Nobody screams when they see something beautiful!”

“That’s why I said that you’re weird. A number of people have seen my red eye, their reactions were either screaming, or feel disgusted, other people even pitied me. You’re the first person to say something stupid like, ‘Pretty’ so naturally.”

So naturally say something stupid…… that’s going too far!

Yakumo took a deep breath and continued.

“My contact lens must’ve fallen out when I was hit before.”

“Contact lens?”

“That’s right, I usually wear contact lens to hide my left eye. Isn’t there a type that changes the color of the pupil?”

“But you said you were born with it……”

“That’s right, I was born with a red eye, it was also said that I was born with my left eye open…… it’s said that when my mom saw my left eye she screamed, it’s hilarious isn’t it.”

She couldn’t laugh. Even his mother felt disgusted about his existence, she couldn’t imagine how much it had hurt him.

“It seems that my left eye is the eye that can see what other people cannot.”

“What other people cannot see?”

“That’s right, just like I said before, spirits of the dead...... it took me a long time to realize that I was the only one who could see them, before I realized that, I was treated as an outcast, I mean, my left eye was red, and I kept saying strange things, no one believed that I could see ghosts.”

It was understandable, because even now Haruka still felt it hard to believe his words, but she finally understood why Yakumo’s personality was so eccentric. Up until now, no one ever saw him for who he was. All who knew to him felt fear, disgust, pity…… Even his mother…… At least, she wasn’t one of those people who knew him and pitied. Haruka made up her mind.

Though, an awkward silence overtook the two of them.

“Ouch!”

Yakumo repeatedly moaned in pain. Haruka remembered that even though Yakumo saved her she hadn’t thanked him yet.

“Um……thanks for saving me before.”

“Thank your sister.”

“Sister?”

Haruka tilted her head in confusion, not understanding what Yakumo was saying.

“Your sister warned us that we were in danger, that’s how you were saved, otherwise you’d already be bled to death in that room.”

Listening to him recount it, Haruka remembered hearing someone yell “Danger”.

“That voice, was it sister?”

“Yes, she’s always by your side protecting you.”

“Is that true?”

“It’s up to you whether or not you believe it.”

“Sister……”

If it was yesterday, she wouldn’t have believed him, but it was different now, she was starting to believe in Yakumo.

Haruka looked around, and as expected didn’t see anything, what was her sister feeling when she watched over her? What is she feeling now? What is she thinking now?

“I wish I could see……I envy you……”

Tears brimmed Haruka’s eyes again……


8


The next day, Haruka went to Yakumo’s early in the morning, the door wasn’t locked. They were almost killed yesterday, how could he be so careless! She opened the door and saw Yakumo curled in a sleeping bag, looking like a caterpillar. Haruka lightly nudged him with her foot, he opened his eyes a little, looking up at her.

“It’s morning.”

Yakumo rubbed his eyes and slowly crawled out of his sleeping bag.

“It’s amazing how you can live in a place like this!”

Haruka found a chair and sat, waiting for Yakumo to get ready.

“I sometimes go home.”

“You have a home?”

Yakumo didn’t answered, he just went to his refrigerator, took out his tooth brush and started brushing his teeth.

“If you have a home then go back to it! What is wrong with you? Your parents will worry.”

“Worry? They won’t.”

Yakumo answered with his toothbrush dangling from his mouth, he sounded like a rebellious teenager, Haruka felt anger well up in her.

“How can you say that? There are no parents that don’t worry for their children. You should think about they’re feelings!”

Haruka’s words entered his left ear and came out his right ear, he indifferently started rinsing his mouth.

“Hey, are you listening?”

“Even if I didn’t want to I still heard it.”

Yakumo sat down while washing his face with a towel, keeping his ever so normal sleepy eyed look on.

“If you heard then answer!”

“If they cared, then they wouldn’t have tried to kill me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m talking about my parents.”

“?”

“My left eye can see things others cannot. I don’t know if it’s because they hated it or feel disgusted by it. But one day, my mom drove me somewhere, she kept apologizing, saying ‘I’m sorry’ over and over, all the while grabbing my neck, she slowly applied more strength, I could feel my conscious fading. I was saved by a police officer who happened to passed by, my mother ran away and disappeared. I never knew my father, never had a single memory of him. In this world there are parents who love their children, and parents who don’t love their children.”

Yakumo telling his secret past was already blowing Haruka’s mind. Those stories on the news or on TV shows, she never thought had anything to do with her, she thought that stuff like that would never happen around her……

Why could he say it like it didn’t concern him? No, it was exactly the opposite. Perhaps he couldn’t accept the truth if he didn’t act like that. Yakumo, who didn’t accept people easily, is hiding a trauma deep within his heart, but he would never reveal it, because he’s just that stubborn and strong. Haruka thought of her sisters accident and suddenly had a thought.

“I’m free-loading at my uncle’s place right now, he told me to make myself at home there, but I can’t trouble him too much since he has his own family.”

After Yakumo put on his contact lenses, his iris turned black. What should I say to Yakumo? Haruka racked her brains to find the right words. She didn’t know anything about him, and yet she constantly lectured him. She bit her lip in regret.

“You don’t need to mind it.”

Yakumo said, as if knowing what Haruka was feeling.

“Sorry.” Haruka lowered her head.

“Why are you apologizing?”

“Because……”

“You saw my eye and didn’t run away, that’s enough for me.”

Yakumo seemed to have blurted it out before he knew it, he looked glum, seeing his reaction Haruka couldn’t help but laugh. His chastising glared at Haruka, she abruptly stopped laughing.

“I realized something yesterday.”

Yakumo changed the topic quickly, maybe he was feeling embarrassed.

“What?”

“The person who attacked us, is without a doubt a living human being.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“This is why my eyes are convenient, my right eye can only see solid objects, while my left eye can only see the spirits of the dead.”

“So, you could see who attacked us with your right eye, but not with you left?”

“That’s right, another things that I realized was the locked room was opened.”

“But, who opened it?”

“Don’t know, but there are a lot of suspects.”

“Worker----Yamane-san?”

“There is that possibility. He knows about the abandoned house, has the keys to it, he could enter anytime he wanted.”

“Could it be related to Aizawa senpai?”

“Aizawa?”

Yakumo’s brain was still groggy.

“That person that Takaoka sensei said, he’s Yuri’s boyfriend, he’s also the one who told me to find you.”

“He’s also a suspect.”

Yakumo said staring at the ceiling, arms crossed over his chest.

“You look like you’re very suspicious of him.”

“It’s not like that, I feel like something’s not right.”

“Then I’ll go ask Aizawa senpai, and I also wanted to talk to Takaoka sensei again.”

“If you want to investigate, help yourself.”

“Are you saying you want me to go by myself?”

Then, Yakumo and Haruka arranged to meet after dusk, they decided to investigate on their own. But, Yakumo made Haruka promise him three things: Don’t go to a place where there aren’t people, when asking questions avoid the core problems, once she found out something call and tell him. This way, there wouldn’t the danger of getting attacked during daytime: after all that happened last night, Yakumo repeatedly urged her to be careful about her safety.

Haruka ran back and forth on the campus, finally she found Aizawa in the cafeteria---- he seemed to be skipping class, while he was drinking canned coffee he asked people not to tell on him. The people came and went, there wouldn’t be a problem.

“Aizawa senpai.”

Haruka greeted him and sat down across from him, Aizawa lifted his head, and smiled a smile that made him seem approachable. He was short, had a round build, like a cute stuffed animal. Haruka tried to think of Yuri and Aizawa standing side by side, but there was a feeling of imbalance.

“What’s up? Any clues?”

Haruka shook her head at Aizawa’s questions. They couldn’t even understand the current situation, which had become more chaotic, let alone find any clues.

“But it must be hard for you, that Saitou must be one crafty bastard huh?”

“Yea, about that……he doesn’t know you.”

Aizawa burst out laughing.

“Of course he doesn’t! To him, I’m just part of the scenery. I only knew him because I saw him guessing poker cards with my friend.”

That was all a scam! Haruka wanted to scream it out, but she knew she couldn’t. How could Aizawa send her just because of some trick, that was too careless!

“Then, even though if it’s hard, I hope you succeed!”

Aizawa stood up from his seat.

“Ah, could you wait a minute.”

Haruka hurriedly stopped Aizawa. She had an important question to ask Aizawa.

“What’s up?”

Aizawa sat down again.

Avoid the core problem----- Haruka remembered Yakumo’s warning, but she didn’t know how to ask otherwise, so she decided to ask right to the point.

“Aizawa senpai, do you know Shinohara Yuri?”

“Shinohara Yuri---“

The moment Aizawa heard the name, his expression twisted as if he was disgusted, his eyes looked like they saw something horrible.

His reaction wasn’t normal, Haruka continued to ask.

“I heard that Aizawa senpai was dating Shinohara……”

“We’re not dating.”

“Huh?”

Aizawa’s lip twitched.

“I don’t know who told you that, but we weren’t dating!”

“But……”

“I was rejected after I confessed to her! And what does this have to do with your situation?”

Aizawa seemed restless. Even though Haruka didn’t know what had happened between the two of them, she could guess, to Aizawa, it must’ve been a humiliating memory.

“I’m going.”

Haruka couldn’t say anything else, she just watched his back as he disappeared.

Meanwhile Yakumo was in the library moving the sliding shelves, browsing through the files-----blueprints of the student dormitories. Yakumo quickly found the document he wanted, he pulled it out off the top shelf: the file was very old, the color was yellowing, and there was a moldy smell, on it read: Completed projects, Showa thirty years.

Yakumo sat down and read the file, the file had detailed border maps and blueprints for buildings. After 10 pages Yakumo found the plans for the building.

The plan had two projects in total, one was the plans for the abandoned house, the other was for the basement of the house.

Yakumo carefully read the blueprints. Found it! On it there was a record of a pathway from the locked room to the basement.

Yakumo took out the key he borrowed from Yamane, it had three keys in total, one was for the entrance door, the second was for every small room, and the last one was the key to the basement. Only the bed in the “locked room” was in a different position, it must’ve been to hide the pathway to the basement. Maybe something horrible was hidden in there.

Yakumo tried to not attract attention as he made his way off the campus. He entered the forest. It was harder and took more time than he thought as he made his way through the forest, since it didn’t have any roads or trails, and many leaves entered his shoes. Perhaps his thinking was too naïve! As the sweat that trickled down his forehead increased, he started regretting it more. His surroundings started to darken, he had to quicken his steps.

He pushed away the branches, silently walking forward.

Haruka checked her watch, it was 3 o’ clock, there was only an hour left until she had to meet Yakumo. She sighed, she didn’t want to pressure Aizawa into answering anything, now didn’t have anything to do, she sat in the cafeteria killing time.

Yakumo must’ve found clues, right? Haruka felt frustrated that she couldn’t find out a thing.

“Haruka.”

Haruka lifted her head at the sound of her name. It was Takaoka. He had a tired expression on, probably from lack of sleep.

“Sensei, great timing I wanted to ask you something.”

This was an opportunity. Haruka had wanted to ask Takaoka about Shinohara Yuri again.

“What’s wrong?”

Takaoka sat across from Haruka.

“It’s just……yesterday about Shinohara Yuri……”

Haruka told Takaoka about Miki and her test of courage, the surprise attack at the abandoned house yesterday, and the weird things that were happening around her, Haruka didn’t know if Takaoka would believe her, but she hoped that she would get some information from him, now she could only hope, hope that Takaoka would remember something when he listened to her.

Takaoka’s left hand was supporting his forehead, as if he was solving a very difficult problem, quietly listening to Haruka. When she was done, Takaoka was still silent.

“I’m sorry, I said some weird things.”

“No, it’s ok. Besides, listening to you I remembered something.”

“Huh? Really?”

Takaoka’s response filled Haruka with hope.

“But, this isn’t the best place to talk about it, we should go somewhere else.”

Takaoka lowered his voice. Haruka agreed.

Yakumo finally made it to the abandoned house, he twisted the lock, the door was locked, but yesterday it was clearly open, he had the keys with him, which meant that another key to the abandoned house existed.

Yakumo opened the lock, and entered the room, compared to last night the room was much more brighter, but the creepy atmosphere was still the same. He walked down the corridor, arrived at the end of the corridor to the locked room. The room was also locked, and there was a password padlock on. Yakumo put in 7483, it was the right combination, he remembered the numbers from last night, when the lock was open.

The room didn’t have any windows, he needed to rely on his flashlight to see the room. Yakumo pushed the bed away, and as he thought, under the bed was a metal floorboard---- to put it correctly, it was a door. He didn’t think the door was locked and pulled it open, dust flew off and fluttered around the room.

Yakumo shined his flashlight down, but it was so dark he couldn’t see, looked like he had no choice but to go down and investigate……steeling his will, Yakumo climbed down the wooden ladder, the word made screeching noises.

Yakumo carefully climbed down the ladder, but his foot slipped and he fell into the basement. Pain distorted his face as he crashed onto the floor, but a sharp pungent smell made him momentarily forget his pain, he held his breath, hand over his nose.

Yakumo picked up his flashlight that had fallen to the floor and looked around, looking for the source of the smell, but found that on a wall there were countless dots that looked like they were black scars, he carefully edged closer to the wall, staring that the scars.

“How can something like this……” Yakumo couldn’t help but wonder out loud, shocked.

The scars on the walls were someone’s clawing marks, every mark was dotted with black and red, perhaps this someone knew they couldn’t escape but tried to anyway, continuously, repeatedly clawed at this wall, even when their fingertips bled, even when their skin pealed, they still continuously clawed at this wall.

Yakumo’s finger gently touched the scratch marks.

Suddenly, something liquid fell on Yakumo’s neck, he aimed his flashlight up, and noticed that there were two pipes on the ceiling, perhaps they were water pipes, and water was dripping out form where they joined.

The girl who was trapped, might’ve relied on this water to survive a few more days, but without those two water pipes, then maybe her suffering would’ve ended sooner. The irony was, the water that had given her hope, had actually tormented her deeply.

She wasn’t scared of something in this room, she just wanted to escape, but the problem now was who was it that imprisoned her there and why…


9


Yakumo climbed out of the basement and quickly down the corridor, and left the abandoned house. The cold air that greeted him made him feel like a survivor. He was determined that that was the place where Shinohara Yuri was imprisoned, but he didn’t have the decisive proof------ body. The body wasn’t there. Someone---- probably the person who imprisoned Yuri had moved her body. “You……You…… why are you here?”

The sound coming from behind paralyzed his thoughts for a moment. That familiar hoarse voice, possessing the keys, the person who could freely come and go in and out of the abandoned house----- worker, Yamane.

Yamane’s face was still flushed red like he was drunk, a towel hung over his neck, holding a rusting shovel.

“It’s over!”

Yakumo murmured, he started thinking of possible escape routes.

Haruka and Takaoka arrived at the fourth floor, the roof of the school building. The wind caressed their faces, they walked all the way to the waist high railing.

“Where should I start……”

Takaoka looked up to the sky that had been dyed with purple, watching the floating clouds, he murmured to himself. “Aizawa senpai said, that he and Shinohara weren’t dating.”

“That’s right.”

“What?"

“Aizawa confessed to her, but she rejected him.”

“How come you know……”

“Yuri told me.”

“Yuri…… told you?”

“That’s right. The rumor about Aizawa and Yuri dating……I was the one who made it up.”

Takaoka lifted the corners of his mouth, and let out a false smile. Haruka didn’t understand what Takaoka was saying, but she had a bad feeling about it.

“You……You…… were looking for this right.”

Yamane took out a camera from his pocket and handed it to Yakumo.

“It……it was over there.”

Yamane pointed to the woods that were about 10 meters from the abandoned house. Yakumo thanked him and took the camera, this was probably the camera that Yuichi used.

There was still some battery left. Yakumo turned it on, the camera’s scream lit up. It looked like they were at a bar, and people were drinking wildly. Yakumo quickly browsed through the pictures, after 10 or so pictures, he found a picture with the abandoned house in the background. The first one was Yuichi, the second one was Kazehiko and Miki, followed by close ups of Miki’s frightened face. In the next couple of pictures, there was always a man hiding in a rooms corner in the back ground, he looked like he was dragging something, because it was dark he couldn’t see what it was, but it was probably Yuri’s body.

“No way……”

Yakumo’s face froze in an instant, the next moment he broke out running. From behind Yamane was shouting, but he didn’t have time to listen to him.

Yakumo called Haruka as he was running, but her cellphone was off, none of the calls made it through.

Yakumo ran back to his place, but Haruka wasn’t there. On his way back he looked in the cafeteria, but she wasn’t in the cafeteria. Yakumo shouted at the empty room. If only he had noticed sooner, then he wouldn’t have let Haruka go on her own, looks like he had to look all over the school. But was there enough time? He didn’t have any other choice…….

Suddenly, Yakumo sensed there was someone behind him, turning, he noticed there was a girl standing there. It was Haruka’s sister----Ayaka.

“Are you leading me?”

“Why did you make up the rumor?”

Towards Haruka’s question, Takaoka laughed again. But this time there wasn’t any emotion, a cold laughter.

“That was my miscalculation, I never thought I would hear Shinohara Yuri’s name coming out of your mouth. It was so sudden, I wanted to change the topic……but it wouldn’t have worked.”

Haruka felt like it was hard to breath, she felt a ringing in her ears. Her instinct told her to “run”, but her feet wouldn’t move.”

“Then, Sensei and Yuri were having…….”

“That’s right, Yuri and I were having an affair.”

“Did Sensei kill her?”

Haruka wished that Takaoka’s answer wasn’t yes, but no, she hoped he would deny the thoughts that were swirling in her brain.

“It does have something to do with reality.”

While answering Takaoka grabbed Haruka’s wrist, and even though Haruka, trembling with fear, resisted with all her might, she couldn’t win against Takaoka’s strength.

Just when Haruka was going to bite Takaoka’s wrist, his fist came crashing onto Haruka’s head, Haruka instantly fell to her knees, she was in so much pain that she couldn’t even open her eyes.

“I’m very sorry, but you have to die. Quietly jumping off a roof and committing suicide, just like Ichihashi.”

Takaoka crossed the roof’s fence, then prepared to pull Haruka over the fence, Haruka’s hand were waving in the air, she desperately grasped the railing, at the that, Takaoka brought down his fist again, Haruka let go in pain, Takaoka pulled Haruka over the fence.

“It was an accident. One day, she suddenly told me she was pregnant, and that she was going to confess to my wife about everything, how could I let that happen. It was she who broke the promise, breaking the game’s rules! You think so too, right? We argued and fought. In a fit of anger I hit her, and she stopped moving …… I didn’t plan on killing her, but she broke the rules! Don’t you understand?”

“……”

“She didn’t die.”

Suddenly, a familiar voice floated to Haruka’s ears, she lifted her head, the one who came into her line of vision was Yakumo, she didn’t know how long he’d been here or when he’d came.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Takaoka seemed surprised at Yakumo’s sudden appearance, he looked at Yakumo and said, as if it didn’t concern himself at all.

“You should’ve already noticed, the traces of her desperate attempt to escape in the basement.”

Takaoka didn’t react to his words.

“After you hit her and saw that she wasn’t moving, you thought that you had killed her, panic stricken you dragged her into the basement. She was only unconscious, definitely still alive.”

“Lying like that, where’s your proof……”

“Don’t act dumb!” Yakumo furiously said. “You saw didn’t you, on the wall of the basement, countless of bloody traces of her clawing at the walls, trying to escape, dead people can’t do that.”

Takaoka’s shoulders were heaving, he was at a dead end.

“That student, Ichihashi Yuichi was also killed by you.”

“Where’s your evidence…….”

“Of course I have evidence, I should’ve noticed sooner. At the train station when you said that Yuichi had committed suicide, that was very suspicious, how were you so sure that he had committed suicide? There was no suicide note, the police dealt it as an accident, if you didn’t see him die, then you wouldn’t have been so sure that he committed suicide.”

“Why would I kill him?” Takaoka painfully retorted.

Haruka was also confused as to the reason why Takaoka had to kill Yuichi.

“You were momentarily calmed after you threw Yuri in the basement, but after you heard that the abandoned house was going to be demolished you panicked, if her body was found, all would come to light. So you snuck in during night, you wanted to move the body somewhere else, but by accident you saw three people who were doing a test of courage. You hid yourself in the shadows, trying to avoid them, but they didn’t know you were behind them, and they started taking pictures……”

“I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Don’t act dumb, I have evidence with me.”

“Evidence?”

Yakumo took out a digital camera from his pocket.

“You wanted this, right?”

After he was done talking, Yakumo threw the camera to Takaoka, Takaoka let go off Haruka’s hand, catching the digital camera with both hands, Haruka took the opportunity and crossed the fence, running to Yakumo’s side.

Takaoka had on a “something horrible has happened” look, even though he had the evidence, he had let the hostage escape. He glared at Yakumo.

“I’m impressed that you got this far, but the evidence is in my hands, how will you prove that I’m guilty?” Takaoka was still smug, but he was also at the end of his wits.

“I forgot to mention something.”

In front of Takaoka, Yakumo took out the memory chip from the digital camera.

“The files are all here.”

Takaoka couldn’t help but laugh, as if he was laughing at his stupidity for trying to cover up his crime.

“It’s over, I already called the police.”

Takaoka’s face went pale as a sheet, everything he had built was going to disappear in a second. He managed to grab the railing and support himself. His laughter turned into weeping.

“That’ right……it’s all over……”

Takaoka said in a faint voice, when he was done, he slowly fell backwards. No sooner said than done, he disappeared right in front of their eyes----

Haruka grabbed Yakumo’s arm, and closed her eyes. The sound of Takaoka’s body hitting the ground reached the roof. Could there have been a better ending? Haruka tried to think of other solutions, but her mind was blank.


10


Yakumo and Haruka wrote down statements at the police station as witnesses.

Takaoka and a female named Yuri fell in love, the two of them made “the locked room” their rendezvous: Takaoka was only playing with Yuri, but Yuri thought it was real, this was common among affairs. After that Yuri threatened Takaoka that she would tell his wife about them, angered, Takaoka hit Yuri. Seeing the unconscious Yuri fall to the floor, Takaoka thought he had killed her, so he moved her to the basement for hiding.

But Yuri woke up, she desperately wanted to escape, but God doesn’t listen to people’s wishes, and in the end she couldn’t escape death.

Then, Takaoka heard about the abandoned house being demolished, panicking he moved the body somewhere else, and by accident he met Miki, Kazuhiko and Yuichi who were doing a test of courage. The three of them took pictures of the place, and coincidently took pictures of Takaoka dragging the body.

Takaoka demanded Yuichi to give him the camera, but Yuichi told him that he had lost it, then Takaoka pushed Yuichi off the platform, forever silencing him, at night he snuck back to the abandoned and looked for the lost camera, where he met Yakumo and Haruka.

That was a summary of what happened. Yakumo and Haruka didn’t tell them about the ghost possessing Miki, even if they did nobody would believe them.

After that they heard that Yuri’s body was buried under a tree 10 meters away from the abandoned house, that was too careless of him.

Another thing, Yuri wasn’t really pregnant, she just wanted to keep Takaoka from leaving her, and because of that misunderstanding, three lives had been lost, it truly wasn’t worth it----

“You've really done a lot this time.”

A middle aged man said after writing down the statements, he walked out of the police station with Yakumo and Haruka, his body structure was as burly as a bear's, a loose tie, wrinkled shirt, he also had the same sleepy eyed look as Yakumo, but in his case it really was because of lack of sleep.

“Gotou-san.”

Gotou looked at Haruka who was at Yakumo’s side and smiled, Haruka didn’t know how to react, she forced on a weak smile, nodded at him, and looked at Yakumo.

“Oh, so Yakumo’s already at that age, huh?”

“It’s not what you think.”

“Don’t say cold things like that, or she’ll run away from you someday.”

“You mean like your wife?”

“You really have a foul mouth.”

Gotou said speechlessly, his face stiff.

“If you have time to come and chit chat with other people, then you should go and work. If the police had thoroughly investigated in the first place then we wouldn’t have been caught in that situation.”

“You can’t say it like that, the police don’t have a lot of hands. ‘Sides young woman who disappear are a common case, even if we thoroughly investigate we would be so busy that we’d need doppelgangers.”

“To see you be so busy to the point where you need doppelgangers, would be wonderful.”

Gotou scratched his head, not really feeling it.

“All in all, good work, I’ll help you deal with the aftermath.”

Gotou patted Yakumo on the shoulder and re-enterd the police station.

“Who was that?”

Haruka waited until Gotou disappeared from her sight and asked Yakumo.

“Detective.”

“Wow, you actually have friends that are detectives.”

“Not friends, more like we know each other.”

“Know each other?”

“When my mother tried to kill me, he saved me, and after that many things happened.”

“Many things? Like looking after you and stuff?”

“No way! To me there are only two kinds of people on this earth, one kind are those who see my eye as detestable, and the other kind are people who want to use it, Mr. Gotou is considered the latter type.”

Haruka couldn’t understand the meaning behind Yakumo’s word. How could he classify those who were close to him to two kinds of people? The relationship between people should be more complicated, having a more far-reaching significance. But Haruka couldn’t explain her thoughts, she stayed silent.

“But then again, there’s this weirdo that’s an exception.”

After leaving those words, he quickly walked away.

“Hey, that ‘weirdo’ you’re talking about wouldn’t happen to be me would it?”

Haruka hurriedly ran after Yakumo.

Miki made a full recovery, but she couldn’t remember what happened after she had lost conscious in the abandoned house. Kazuhiko who had also disappeared, went to school as if nothing had happened. It’s said that he was no match for Haruka’s questioning, and fled back home scared. Haruka felt surprised, and couldn’t find it in her to stay angry.

And because of this incident the school had the media flocking around it, it had attracted a lot of commotion: news reporters even reported that the applicants for next year might be the lowest in the records, several students also thought that it would affect their careers and transferred to different colleges. But not long the commotion settled down, and no one brought it up again.

After a couple of days, Haruka visited Yakumo again. It was clearly past noon, but Yakumo still had bed head, a sleepy eyed look, like a cat who was always under the sun.

“No matter what time I come to see you, you always look like you just got out of bed.”

“That’s because you only come when I just wake up.” Yakumo answered coldly as usual.

Haruka thought his expression was funny and laughed.

“What are you doing here?”

Yakumo disapproved her laughter, his tone said “if you don’t have anything to do then go away”. Haruka bit back her laughter and took out an envelope from her bag and placed it on the table.

“What’s this?”

“The promised money. A lot has happened, and Miki has made a full recovery……”

Yakumo gave the envelope back to Haruka.

“Don’t need it.”

“Why?”

“This way I’ll be even with your sister.”

“Sorry.”

“What?”

“When we first met, I called Saitou-san a liar.”

“Don’t mind it.”

“But……”

“And don’t call me Saitou-san.”

“Then what should I call you?”

“My name.”

Haruka nodded.

“I admit that your unbelievable ability is not lying to people.”

“This calls for a celebration.”

Yakumo indifferently yawned, his movements were exactly like a cats. Haruka lowered her head and didn’t speak, after a while she lifted her head.

“I envy you.”

“Envy?”

“Because you can see my sister, even if I want to see her I can’t. I always wanted to apologize to her, I have so many things I want to say to her, but I can’t see her……”

Haruka’s voice trembled slightly. She was the one who caused her sister’s death. After the accident, she was burdened with guilt for thirteen years, it was something she could not get rid of, and thinking that she would never be able to be rid of this guild, she couldn’t help but curse herself for being so sinful.

“You don’t need to blame yourself, your sister doesn’t hate you.”

“You don’t need to comfort me, how could my sister not hate me, it’s because of me that she’s dead……”

“Then ask her yourself.”

Yakumo took off his contact lenses, his crimson red pupil looked directly at Haruka. No matter how many times she would see it, it was still that breathtakingly beautiful red, it was as if his eye was a light itself. Haruka silently looked at his iris, everything around her slowly became blank. “Sister.”

Coming back to reality, Haruka noticed that Ayaka was standing right in front of her, she still had the same appearance like before-----the year the accident happened, 7 years old……

“Sister, I’m so sorry, it’s all because of me……because I threw the ball……”

Haruka bit her lip, her voice sounded strained. Ayaka didn’t say one word, just looked at Haruka and smiled, to Haruka it was more than enough.

At this point, Haruka was already tearing up, Ayaka’s warm, gentle smile seemed to purify all her distress and sorrow. Haruka constantly wiped away the tears that were falling, and opened her eyes.

Ayaka had already disappeared, in place was the drowsy voice of Yakumo.

“Thank you……”

Yakumo stared at the ceiling as if he didn’t see a thing.

“I can’t believe I cried twice in front of you.”

“It’s three.” Yakumo held up three fingers to emphasis his point.

“Don’t be so specific, it’s not like I like crying.”

Haruka wiped away her tears with her handkerchief and stood up.

“But really, thank you, then, I guess I’ll be leaving.”

As expected Yakumo didn’t do a thing, just yawned. Haruka smiled, hand on the doorknob. Could she really part with Yakumo?

A question popped into Haruka’s mind.

“If……if I want to see my sister again, what should I do?”

Haruka asked with her back to Yakumo, Yakumo still didn’t make a sound. What was she expecting? Haruka smiled hoping to cover up what she blurted out and opened the door.

“Open the door, and come here.”

Haruka quickly turned her head, Yakumo was leaning backwards in his chair, keeping his sleepy eyed expression on.

“Huh?”

“I said, if you want to come then come, but next time I’ll charge you!”

“Then, when the time comes you have to make it cheaper for me!”

Finishing, Haruka closed the door and left the room.


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