Shinrei Tantei Yakumo:Volume 1 File 2

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The tunnel was the fastest shortcut to the residential area in the city, but locals rarely used it.

For a long time, there have been accidents there, and every year there would be at least one fatal accident.

There wasn’t any lighting in the tunnel, even during the day the tunnel was dark, and it was hard to see. Right outside of the tunnel there was a sharp turn, many accidents happened there, but the reason for these accidents may not be just because of bad sight.

Supernatural rumors about the tunnel have never stopped circulating……

A driver once said, he saw a floating bloody head outside his window, scared he escaped, but his brake suddenly failed, he almost crashed into the railing.

Other people have seen countless faces on walls of the tunnel; other taxi drivers have seen a women soaking wet sitting in their cars, and when they were about to exit the tunnel and look in the mirror, she disappeared……


1


It was a quiet night.

Haruka tried not to face the wind; she huddled in her red coat, walking hunchbacked.

Although it was a Sunday night, there wasn’t anybody at the bus station, even cars were rarely seen.

She just heard her own clear footsteps.

Miki had forced her to attend a drinking party, but when they arrived she realized it was actually a goukon. Just when she was going to scold Miki, “This isn’t what you said before”, she realized that Miki had long disappeared with a guy she had had her eye on.

Because of what happened before she broke up with Kazuhiko, she even said she would never trust a man again, looks like that ship has sailed...

The goukon was boring. If Miki didn’t have a boyfriend, then at the wine party she would’ve been as lonely as a dying rabbit, but she’s always been alone, so she wouldn’t feel too lonely. Miki says that she has “never truly fallen in love before”, this wasn’t completely unreasonable, thinking back on it she never truly dated before.

It wasn’t like she was hiding from love, Miki once said, “Then just find a guy and try dating!” But Haruka didn’t want to deliberately choose a lover by chance, she thought that love is one of those emotions that would come out naturally, not like shopping, buying an item after weighing its value and price.

Haruka sighed; a puff of white breath came out.

Suddenly she heard the sound of a car honking; because she wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings she didn’t notice the car’s engine noises. Haruka walked to the sidewalk, waiting for the car to pass.

But the car slowed down and stopped in front of Haruka. Situations like this could be dangerous; the driver might be a pervert. Haruka retreated, and became extremely careful.

Then, the car window to the seat next to the driver’s seat rolled down, and the lights inside the car were turned on.

“Haruka, let me drive you home,” a man said, sticking his head out of the driver’s seat. How did he know her name? Haruka’s suspicion rose.

“What, you don’t know me? We were just together at the party.”

He was right, she already forgot about it. In her memory, he was called Tatsuya, he had a medium build, nothing special, only his hair seemed to imitate a famous soccer player’s, it was in a Mohawk, but he didn’t look like a soccer player.

“Get in.”

Tatsuya smiled wholeheartedly and patted the seat next to him.

“It’s ok, I’ll take the bus.”

Haruka shook her head in refusal, and started to walk again.

“Hey, wait up.”

Tatsuya got out of his car and ran in front of Haruka. How clingy…… Haruka almost said her thoughts out loud.

“What time is it?”

What’s up with this sudden question? Haruka didn’t understand where he was getting at, she looked at her watch.

“Ten fifty.”

“It’s a shame, the last bus already left.”

“Huh? The last bus leaves at 12:06.”

“That’s for weekdays, today’s Sunday, on holidays the last bust leaves early, it leaves at 10:48. Looks like you’ve been ‘kicked out’, but it’s a ‘save’ for me.”

She didn’t know there was something like that. Today really wasn’t going smooth for her, Haruka was starting to feel depressed.

“That’s why I told you I’ll drive you home,” Tatsuya smiled cheerfully.

Under these circumstances, Haruka could only get in his car.

Tatsuya explained endlessly to Haruka that his car was a Matsuda RX_7, a friend of his from a car factory sold it to him cheap, but to Haruka, who had no interest in cars, she didn’t understand the value of this car.

She didn’t know how good this car’s functions were, she just knew that the heater was on too high, and the air freshener was stinging her nose. Besides that, there was the volume of the Japanese groups rap song that was on too high.

She wanted to throw up, and she wasn’t even in the car for more than five minutes.

“Could you please turn the volume lower?” Haruka couldn’t take anymore and asked.

“You think so too? This song is awesome!”

What awesome? He didn’t even listen to her. Imitating a soccer player’s hairstyle, listening to Japanese rap. He was even wearing an Italian suit; it made people wonder about his hobbies. He was wearing everything that was popular together, it made him look ridiculous and funny.

Haruka turned down the volume to its lowest, Tatsuya looked at her in shock, but Haruka ignored his look, she opened the window slightly and took a deep breath of the air outside.

“You suddenly disappeared; I was really worried so I went to find you.”

Tatsuya suddenly changed topics, was he hoping that she’d thank him?

“My friend already left, I felt bored.”

Haruka bluntly stated her ideas.

“Then you should’ve told me, I can really spice up the mood!”

Haruka was shocked that she didn’t know how to reply. Where in the world did he get his endless supply of self-confidence? She could almost imagine him drunk, in front of a mirror admiring himself.

“Turn left at the next street.”

Haruka gave him directions to her house.

“Left? Got it.”

Tatsuya answered and turned right.

“It’s not right turn, it’s a left, could you turn around?”

“There’s a really beautiful place not far from here, did you know?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Then you just lied to yourself, because we’re going.”

“No need.”

“It’s really pretty; you’ll fall in love with it.”

It was no use, nobody could communicate with him; he firmly believed that everyone in the universe had the same beliefs and views as him.

Talking to him was no use, after seeing the night scenery, and satisfying him, she could go home, right? Haruka gave up talking with him, and absent-mindedly looked out the window.

She suddenly remembered, she knew another self-centered man, extremely stubborn, hated troublemakers, yet he sometimes also broke rules, he was a man full of contradictions. But he was different than Tatsuya in a way she couldn’t describe, even if he was self-centered. How were they different?

It’s been a month since the incident, how is he doing now? Haruka thought of his sleepy eyed expression and laughed.

“It’s right past this tunnel.”

Hearing Tatsuya’s voice, Haruka came back to reality, looking to the front, she saw a tunnel, a sign near the entrance read, “

There weren’t any lights inside the tunnel, it was dark, like they were in a bloody mouth that was opened wide; it made them think that this tunnel was the portal to another world.

The moment they entered the tunnel, the air seemed to turn heavier. The engine roars made bone-chilling sounds.

Ah----

This really was a dreary tunnel.

Just when they were out of the tunnel, they felt as if something had passed through the car.

Tatsuya stepped on the emergency brakes.

The tires made a sharp sound.

Haruka due to the force was thrust forward and her head hit the side window. Tears of pain came out.

The car parked at the roadside out of the tunnel.

He nearly crashed into the railing of the sharp turn.

The smell of tires burning filled the car.

Haruka looked at Tatsuya who was in the driver’s seat, he was clutching the steering wheel, head lowered, breathing distorted, sweat poured down his forehead, his mouth hung open on his cowardly face, his lower jaw trembled.

“Are you ok?”

Haruka asked Tatsuya who didn’t look like himself. Tatsuya might’ve replied, his mouth was opening and closing, but no sound came out.

“Speak, what on earth happened?”

Haruka shook Tatsuya’s shoulders, he raised his head, was this how “face drained of blood” looked? Even a mannequin’s complexion looked better than his.

“...Little...little kid...”

“What? What little kid?”

“...I...hit...a little kid...suddenly...”

Tatsuya’s trembling finger pointed.

“Hit? That’s not possible, is it?”

Hit a child? After he hit the emergency brakes, she didn’t feel the car crash into anything, but she didn’t correct him, they still needed to confirm it first. Haruka opened the car door, when she was just about to get out; Tatsuya grabbed her hand, stopping her.

“Don’t go.”

“Why? We need to check out situation.”

“It wasn’t my fault, it was the child’s, the little kid...he suddenly came out...”

He desperately held on the Haruka’s hand, tears were forming.

“Right now it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, we need to call an ambulance.”

“No...if we really did someone, I won’t be able to drive anymore, I can’t go to college, I won’t be able to graduate...my parents will do something...my life will be over, please, if you don’t tell anyone……”

How could there be people like him? Only thinking about himself when there’s another person’s life involved! However, it wasn’t all that strange for a narcissist like him to think that way. All in all, she’d only be wasting her breath if she continued talking to him; she needed to save the child.

“Let go!”

Haruka shouted, pulled her hand away and ran out of the car. The sudden temperature drop made her want to curl up.

She thought that it’d be so dark she wouldn’t be able to see a thing, thankfully the headlights lit up the area, making it able to see.

Haruka gingerly walked to the front of the car, she recalled the car was going very fast, if anyone got hit by a car going that fast they’d surely hit the ground. Haruka thought of the child lying in a pool of blood, and couldn’t help but retreat.

But, there were only the tires scorch marks on the tarred road, nothing else, there weren’t any marks on the car’s bumper either.

Haruka checked the car everywhere, but there was nothing suspicious. Maybe Tatsuya saw wrong? If that was true, then this couldn’t be any better, they could just laugh at it and it’d be over.

Clatter Clatter Clatter.

There it goes again. The sound seemed to come under the car. Haruka bent over and looked underneath the car; she saw what seemed to be a child’s footsteps going the opposite direction.

Was that possible? Haruka quickly stood up, but there was no one in sight, she went to the other side of the car, there was no one. Maybe she was hallucinating because Tatsuya had said he hit a child.

Just when Haruka was about to go back to the car, she felt another person’s presence and lifted her head.

She looked at the huge, dark, half circle tunnel.

There was the back of a woman that wasn’t there a moment ago.

She could only see her back, so Haruka was only guessing that she was around thirty years old, but because she was dressed in a gray suit, it could be said that she was actually younger. The woman stood there motionless, just idly stood there, her slightly dyed brown hair swayed with the wind. What was a woman like her at this time, and this place?

“Excuse me, are you ok?”

The woman, hearing Haruka’s question, slowly turned.

She had a deep wound just above her eyebrow, fresh blood poured out, dyeing her clothes bright red.

That wasn’t it, her right hand seemed to be broken, and it was twisting in an unnatural position.

“Oh my god.”

Tatsuya didn’t hit a child, he hit this woman. Haruka ran to her side, panicked.

“Are you ok?”

The woman didn’t react to Haruka’s concerns; in fact she didn’t look like she was in pain at all. Were her sensory nerves paralyzed?

“I’ll call an ambulance right away, just sit down.”

Haruka reached out to touch the woman.

Cackle Cackle mutter mutter.

The woman’s body convulsed violently, “Ahh-----“, she let out a sound that resembled a yell.

“Kya----“

Haruka couldn’t help but cry out loud, she closed her eyes and tumbled to the floor.

What was happening now, she had no clue, and her mind was a big mess.

She only heard the sound of the wind passing through the tunnel.

She needed to check the situation. Haruka gathered up her courage and opened her eyes, she stood up.

But the woman had blended with the scenery in front of her; she had disappeared without a trace.


2


Haruka and Tatsuya visited Yakumo’s place, and told him what happened to them in the tunnel.

However, Yakumo looked less than interested when he listened to her; he was playing shogi by himself.

“This is the next step……”

Yakumo moved both sides’ pieces, all the while praising himself. Haruka didn’t understand where was the fun if you played shogi by yourself?

“Excuse me……Are you listening to me?”

“Oh, you could say that.”

“You could say that……can’t you be a little more focused?”

“You should have some humility, suddenly barging here without even warning me, sitting down and starting to tell me ghost stories.”

Yakumo’s accusations left her speechless.

“I have a general understanding of the situation, after all work is work. To put it simply, you want me to help your boyfriend.”

“How many times do I have to tell you, he is not my boyfriend.”

“Isn’t it cold to say that in front of him?”

Haruka sighed, and lowered her gaze; Tatsuya seemed to find something hilarious; he was silently laughing. After he had caught Haruka’s gaze, he whispered close to her face.

“We look like lovers!”

“No, not one bit.” Yakumo flatly denied.

“Not one bit……but didn’t you say we were lovers?”

“Really? I don’t remember.”

They were like a pair of children arguing over words that no one had said, Haruka couldn’t find the breath to stop them. Tatsuya observed Yakumo’s expression, suddenly realizing something he burst out laughing.

“I know, you like Haruka, that’s why you can’t stand that Haruka and I are on such good terms, am I right or am I right?”

Tatsuya smugly declared.

“What are you talking about?”

Tatsuya ignored Haruka’s protests and went on.

“I’m very sorry, but a blockhead like you isn’t good enough for Haruka.”

“Oh, it’s like that?” Yakumo indifferently answered.

“But then again, I hate women who act on their impulses, who are stupid, and women who behave immorally. If you like them like that, it’s ok with me, but be careful; you might get stabbed in the back.”

“What do you mean?”

He went too far! Haruka pounded the table to express her anger.

“Exactly what I said.”

Yakumo answered flatly, he was still concentrating on his shogi. Haruka’s face was flushed with anger; she was trying to suppress her anger. He really was a genius at angering people, no matter what he says it always makes someone mad.

“Then, don’t mind me.”

Tatsuya smiled satisfactorily, he picked up the “bishop” (note 2), and moved it to the corner.

“General.”

The nonchalant Yakumo creased his eyebrow.

“I’m giving you a warning.”

Yakumo put the piece that Tatsuya moved back to its original space, finger pointing at Tatsuya, his sharp gaze looking at him.

“Warning?”

“That’s right.”

“What warning?”

“You should be careful to not get women pregnant.”

“You…….what on earth are you saying!”

Tatsuya swatted away Yakumo’s hand, and stood up, looking flustered. Behind his overly self-confidence hid a cowardly personality; it was clearly visible just by looking at his face. What did Yakumo know? Haruka shot Tatsuya a cold glare.

“Haruka, don’t misunderstand, this person has problems! Hey, don’t make such absurd accusations, if you continue to talk with disrespect, I’ll kill you!”

“I’m not making absurd accusations, but I wonder if I said the name of the other person, would it make you understand?”

“Who did you hear it from?”

Tatsuya asked with a stern face. Just by his one sentence he confirmed his own actions, he confessed without being pressed into confessing. But cold sweat was also pouring down Tatsuya’s face.

“It wasn’t just one either, there was two. Looks like a zebra never changes its stripes.”

“No! They wanted to get pregnant, it wasn’t my fault!”

Tatsuya was digging his own grave, and it wasn’t shallow, he would never be able to talk his way out of this one.

“They wanted to get pregnant? What do you think you’re talking about? It’d be all right if it was a fake pregnancy, but pregnancy needs two people doesn’t it? And, no matter how small, it’s still a life that has yet to be born into this world, and yet you kill them just because of your sentence ‘they wanted it’? The Japanese law system has no way of prosecuting murderers like you, it really saddens me.”

Tatsuya opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but he couldn’t come up with a remark. Being happy, and looking for a fight in front of Yakumo, was stupid and ignorant on Tatsuya’s part. Tatsuya’s ego must’ve been deflated? But to a narcissist like him, this could be a good lesson.

He angrily left Yakumo’s room, slamming the door on his way out, was this his way of resisting?

“You’re not leaving with him?”

Yakumo turned his attention back to his shogi board, and asked.

“Even though he’s no good, but you’re almost as bad as him.”

“I feel honored hearing your praise.”

Haruka felt the sarcasm dripping from his answer.

“You’re not mad are you?” Haruka asked.

Yakumo sighed; his expression said “I can’t stand you.”

“Use your head; he likes girls like you, to tell the truth, I despise people like him. Always thinking that the world revolves around them, getting upset whenever things don’t go their way, in the end they only think about how to save themselves.”

“Was that why you lied?”

“Lied?”

“Yea, about the pregnancy thing.”

“Think what you want, it doesn’t concern me.”

“You’re right, it doesn’t concern you. Sorry for disturbing you.”

Finishing Haruka stood up to leave.

“Shouldn’t we finish the conversation earlier?” Yakumo finally lifted his head.

Later, Haruka thought she had heard wrong and went home.

But a few days later, something weird happened. A bright red handprint appeared on Tatsuya’s car’s windshield; it was like a child dipped his hand in blood and stamped it on.

Tatsuya was scared to death, he wanted to wash the handprint away, but no matter how much detergent he used, no matter how hard he scrubbed, he couldn’t wash away the handprint.

After that, he almost never drove that car again.

Haruka summed up what happened. Yakumo crossed his arms over his chest, and stared wordlessly at the ceiling.

“Are you listening?”

“Yea yea, I’m listening. But it sounds complicated.”

“Complicated?”

“That’s right, complicated, for instance……”

Yakumo suddenly sat up, finger pointed at Haruka, even though he had opened his mouth, he didn’t continue, he seemed like he was thinking about something.

“What?”

“Nothing, it’s no use to trust an assumption, we need to go to the location of the accident and……”

“Investigate ourselves.” Haruka continued.

“That’s right.”

“Don’t abandon me this time.”

“Abandon you? If you’re talking about what happened last time, might I remind you that it was you who wanted to go alone, don’t mistake it.”

How talkative of him! Haruka glared at Yakumo, yet it didn’t seem to bother Yakumo at all.

“How far is it by foot?”

“What?”

Yakumo ignored her glare, and asked no one.

“I’m talking about that tunnel.”

“That’s right. Even though I know how to get there, walking would be too time consuming.”

“Do you have a car?”

“I don’t even have a driver’s license.”

“Don’t sound so proud.”

“Proud……you……”

“Do you know anyone who drives?”

“Should we ask Tatsuya?”

“I’d rather walk.”

Yakumo suddenly stood up, grabbed his black coat that was in the corner of the room and prepared to leave.

“You know someone who can help us?”

“It’s not like I can’t get a car.”

Yakumo opened the refrigerator; he paused as he got out a key, and abruptly turned his head to Haruka.

“Before we leave, promise me one thing.”

At the same time, Yakumo pointed his forefinger at Haruka.

“Promise what?”

“To simply put it, just shut that noisy mouth of yours.”

“Noisy……”

Haruka gritted her teeth so hard they were hurting; Yakumo indifferently and quickly left the room.

“Hey, wait up!”

Yakumo threw his keys to Haruka, Haruka was thrown off by his sudden action, and she lost her balance while catching the keys with both hands.

“Lock all the windows and doors.”

“Wait……”

“Don’t forget to lock your mouth too.”

How could there be people like him? How dare he talk to a woman like that…… He really was an independent, immoral, hateful guy.

“Bastard!”

Haruka couldn’t help but swear out loud, Yakumo seemed to have misunderstood her; he raised his hand and quickly left.

Left with no choice, Haruka could only lock the doors and windows and quickly run after Yakumo.


3


Haruka followed Yakumo to a temple that was about fifteen minutes away from the college by foot. Why would he come to a temple? Haruka opened her mouth to ask.

“Hey……”

“Did you forget? No questions.”

Yakumo coldly stared at Haruka. Defeated by his stare, Haruka obediently closed her mouth, was she really that noisy? Compared to her friends, she wouldn’t count as the most mature or stable person, but she wasn’t the noisiest either. And besides Yakumo didn’t give her any explanation, so it was only reasonable for her to be curious, wasn’t it? Also, it’s only natural for people to ask questions, right?

It wasn’t that she was noisy; it was Yakumo who was acting weird. Haruka told herself.

“Stand in front of the doors and don’t move.”

“You’re leaving a woman in a place like this?”

“No questions.”

Haruka examined Yakumo’s face, even a carved wooden Buddha’s face had more expressions than his; it was like he had steeled his will to not giving her an explanation. Haruka stomped in front of a pillar, crossed her arms over her chest, she made a “is this ok” face.

Yakumo felt content and quickly left. He crossed the courtyard covered with gravel and arrived at a not too big temple hall, he seemed to enter the hall to a room; the entrance hall the connected the temple hall to the inner room (note 3).

  • Note 3: Originally known as “Curry”, it refers to the monastery’s kitchen or a monk’s room.

He didn’t use the intercom, he also didn’t say anything, it seemed that he had some connections to this temple, maybe that was why he wouldn’t tell her anything.

It was very cold, she didn’t feel it when she was walking, but now that she was standing alone here, she couldn’t help but feel the coldness of winter winds.

Why was she forced here to wait for him by herself?

All her thoughts of anger exploded as she waited.

“Hurry up!”

Angrily Haruka picked up a rock and threw it to the direction where Yakumo had gone.

“Ouch!”

Haruka heard a moan, a person appeared before her.

“So……sorry.”

Haruka hurriedly bowed in apology. There wasn’t supposed to be anyone at the direction where she had thrown the rock, she never thought it would actually hit someone……

“People who throw rocks at a temple will receive divine punishment.”

“I’m really sorry.”

Haruka was even more ashamed.

“It’s ok no worries, no need to be scared, it didn’t hit me. Come, lift your head.”

Under his low and modest urging, Haruka slowly lift her head. A man wearing dark blue service clothing’s (note 4) and straw shoes met her sight.

  • Note 4: clothes when a monk is working.

“Ah!”

Haruka saw his face, and yelped.

“What’s wrong?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

She remembered Yakumo telling her not to ask any questions; maybe it did have some reason to it.

The monk in front of Haruka had the same red left eye as Yakumo.

“Why are you here?”

“Um……its Yakumo……no, I’m waiting for a friend.”

She wasn’t doing anything wrong, there was no need for her to lie, but she couldn’t help but talk evasively.

“So it’s like that, so you’re the important girl friend? How rare.”

“Rare……Rare?”

“No……sorry. It’s Yakumo’s first time bringing a girlfriend home; I can’t help but feel happy.

Could it be……he was related to Yakumo?

“Excuse……excuse me mister, do you know Yakumo?”

Yakumo told her to not ask questions to him, but he never said anything about not asking other people. Haruka satisfied that she had found a loophole asked.

“I’m Yakumo’s father.”

“Huh?”

“To be exact, I want to be his father, but he refuses whenever I ask. I’m his mother’s little brother, in other words, I’m his uncle.”

Yakumo’s uncle smiled bitterly, and scratched his shining head.

“Let’s not stand here and talk, come on in.”

“But……”

“It’s ok, it’s ok, you can just turn a deaf ear to Yakumo’s words, besides, no matter what happens he’ll still complain nonstop anyways.”

Under Uncle’s urgings Haruka reluctantly stepped into the shrine.

Haruka entered a room, sat down at the kotatsu in the living room; Uncle used a platter to carry tea, and sat across from Haruka.

Looking at Uncle again, she noticed he and Yakumo did look alike in some places, but to pinpoint where they looked the same, would be hard to say. But if one would to insist, it would probably the shapes of their faces. But the air that they emitted was totally different from each other.

“I’m sorry; everyone went out today, so we can’t properly treat you, if only we had yokan.”

“You don’t need to go through so much trouble.”

“Standing there all by yourself, it must’ve been cold.”

“Yea, it was very cold.”

She wanted to answer “no”, but accidently said what she thought.

“How honest.” Uncle said, smiling.

When he laughed his eyes become lines, it gave people a modest feel.

“People often tell me that I’m too honest, I know I need to change……”

“Why? Honesty is very valuable; someone will even be saved by your honesty.”

“Really? Because I’ve only brought troubles to others.”

“It’s not like that, I know at least one person who was saved by your words.”

“Huh? Who?”

Haruka had no idea who Uncle was talking about when he said that a person had been “saved”.

“Are you the one who said Yakumo’s eye was beautiful?”

The first time Haruka had seen Yakumo’s red eye, she did say that, that time Yakumo had laughed at her; it was his first time hearing someone say that.

“How come you know……”

Uncle leaned forward as he answered Haruka’s question.

“Don’t tell anyone……”

“Uncle, please stop gossiping.”

Yakumo suddenly spoke, he stood at the living room doorway, and he glared accusingly at Haruka for not following his orders, but Haruka pretended she didn’t see and took a sip of her tea.

“What are you waiting for? We’re going.” Yakumo ordered.

Haruka ignored him completely. She wasn’t a dog, even if she was a dog, she wouldn’t take orders from people like him, who acted by themselves and didn’t consult others.

“Yakumo, don’t bother us, I still want to talk with your girlfriend more.”

“She’s not my girlfriend, she’s just a busybody who brings me trouble, I hope you won’t get it wrong.”

“Oh, you already have such a great relationship, you really do know how.”

“Uncle, listen to what others are saying.”

“If you continue to shoot your mouth off, and act that way, careful that your lover will be taken away.”

“If you like it then take it.”

“I don’t need you telling me, I’d do it anyway.”

Yakumo heard Haruka’s muttering clear as day, Yakumo shot her a cold stare.

“Yakumo, can’t you be nicer to her?”

Uncle’s expression said “really don’t know how to deal with you” and shook his head.

“Sorry, Uncle, lend me the car.”

“Taking your girlfriend to see the scenery?”

“Annoying!” Yakumo snapped, and left the living room.

Haruka pondered on what to do, what Yakumo said was true, she did bring trouble to him, she couldn’t not be a part of it. Haruka bowed to his Uncle, thanked him and stood up.

“He’s always been like this.”

When Haruka was about to leave the living room, his Uncle spoke in a low voice, his voice made her feel melancholy and lonely.

“Yakumo can see things that others cannot; that’s why he has shut his heart, there’s a fear that has rooted so deep inside of him that he can only choose escape, that’s why his emotions are a little warped. Even though he talks like that, he’s a good kid……ah……I know I don’t sound persuasive but……”

“I understand.”

Haruka smiled. She didn’t doubt Uncle’s feelings, but she didn’t know why at that time she had the same feelings as him.

“Your uncle’s eye……”

Haruka timidly asked as the car sped along the road, but Yakumo acted as if he didn’t hear anything, his face nonchalant, as he quietly steering the wheel. Haruka couldn’t ask any more questions, so she stared at the road.

There was no music or radio in the car, only the sound of the engines facing the wind echoed. The two of them didn’t talk, but surprisingly Haruka didn’t feel bored at all.

She absent-mindedly looked at the scenery. It was then that Yakumo had unexpectedly opened his mouth to talk.

“Uncle wasn’t born with that eye; he’s only wearing red contact lenses.”

Haruka was shocked that Yakumo answered her; she stared at Yakumo’s face.

“What, didn’t you ask that?”

Haruka didn’t answer, she and Yakumo, who had turned to face her, stared at each other, for no reason her heart started beating faster she turned away.

“Why is he wearing it?”

“He wants to feel the same pain as me. He purposely turned his eye red, receiving people’s curious glances, experiencing the same pain and loneliness as me. He’s just that kind of person.”

Even though Yakumo made it clear when he said “that kind of person”, but Yakumo should already know, what his Uncle was doing wasn’t easy. If he did know; then why? Haruka couldn’t understand Yakumo’s actions.

“If you know that he cares for you why do you still live at the college? You should consider your Uncles feelings.” Haruka said in a tough voice she never used before.

“You biggest weakness, is that you never think before you speak, judging right from wrong based on your own opinions.”

Yakumo showed no weakness when he retorted, he was like a stubborn child, and shook his head not knowing what to do.

“Think about it for a second, do you know what that place is?”

“A shrine.”

“That’s right, a shrine.”

“What does that have to do with what we’re talking about right now?”

“Did you forget? My left eye, not to my will can see the spirits of the dead……”

“Oh……”

Haruka finally understood what Yakumo was saying. He could see ghosts, if he lived in a temple, then he would have to see tens, maybe hundreds ghosts all together, living in a vortex of emotions, ghosts that held hatred, anger, sadness swirling around him, even a mentally slow person wouldn’t be able take it. To other people it was just an ordinary temple, but to Yakumo it was anything but ordinary.

“It’s too noisy for me, Uncle understands my situation.”

Haruka felt that she just had a glimpse at Yakumo’s heart. Maybe Yakumo was right, maybe she did use her opinions to determine right and wrong, but people all have their own opinions……

Haruka opened the window, and stuck her head out, the cold wind hit her face; although the winter wind was chilling, she felt comfortable and happy.


4


When they neared the tunnel, Yakumo parked the car to the side.

Near the entrance of the tunnel there was a vase with a chrysanthemum in it, what was once a fresh white chrysanthemum had now withered to a brown.

There were no people or cars in sight, it made her wonder if this tunnel really was used by people. Haruka thought it was because the last time she came here it was late, but now that didn’t seem to be the case.

“Is this it?”

Haruka nodded solemnly at Yakumo. The fear she had felt before slowly crept into her heart. Yakumo leaned into the driver’s seat; he grimly stared into the depths of the tunnel.

The tunnel itself wasn’t very long, but because there were turns and slopes inside, they couldn’t see the exit, only the darkness that seemed to spread on for forever.

It was a portal to another world.

The wind that passed through the tunnel let out a low roar, and dead leaves flew everywhere.

“Do you see anything?”

“There is something there, but I can’t see clearly from here.”

“Are you saying that we have to go inside?”

“That’s right.”

Yakumo let go of the handbrake, the car started moving as if the tunnel was sucking it in.

After the car entered the tunnel, their vision suddenly turned pitch black, the air was so heavy that her ears were ringing; the atmosphere was just like before.

Whoosh-

Suddenly, the wind’s roaring got louder.

Halfway into the tunnel the car’s engine changed sounds, the engine was wailing because there wasn’t enough horsepower to go up a slope.

“Crap……” Yakumo murmured biting his lip.

His usual sleepy eyed expression was gone; in place was the face of a wolf eying its prey. He started to sweat.

“I was too careless.”

“Huh?”

“Listen to me, do not lift your head and don’t look out the window until I say you can.”

“Why?”

“This isn’t the time for questions, get down!” Yakumo shouted.

Yakumo probably had seen something, and that something must’ve been frightening. Haruka obeyed Yakumo, hugging her head she bent over.

At the same time, Yakumo slammed the accelerator, the engine roared to life, but it didn’t feel like the car was going any faster than before.

Even though Haruka was in a fetal position and shutting her eyes, she could still feel that something was outside the window.

Wooo-

She heard sounds that were clearly not from the engine, the sound was mixed with “pitter patter, pitter, patter”, as if something was crawling up the window

What is it? Haruka wanted to look up and see what was outside the window.

“Don’t look! Get down!” Yakumo shouted soon after she thought it.

Haruka suddenly felt scared, her shoulders started to shake, and she returned to her fetal position. Then, something grazed her neck. What was it? She didn’t know.

Plop! There was something stroking her cheek. So cold, her heart froze. Woooh- - she could still hear that roaring sound. She didn’t know what was happening. Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. Hate. Hate. Hating to extreme.

“You can lift your head now.”

Yakumo’s voice brought Haruka out of her trance, the car that was lacking energy a moment ago was now accelerating. Haruka lifted her head, the exit was just in front of them, and not far from the exit was the sharp turn, but the car showed no signs of slowing down and was speeding down the road, if they kept at that speed, they would crash when they got to the turn.

“Hang on tight!”

Yakumo shouted. Hold on to what? Before Haruka could ask, Yakumo had already stepped on the emergency brake, the tires emitted white smoke after they stopped spinning, the car spun slowly. In the end, Haruka couldn’t find anything to hold on to, her head had violently crashed into the window because of the centrifugal force, that was already the second time. Haruka saw stars.

The smell of tires burning cleared Haruka’s mind, Yakumo leaned his head back against the driver’s seat, closed his eyes and let out a deep breath.

The car spun halfway before finally stopping a few centimeters away from the railing, they faced the tunnel. In front of the railing there was a cliff, about 10 meters high. In the face of imminent peril they had managed to live.

“Tell me before you slam the emergency brakes!” Haruka complained caressing her bruising forehead.

“Why don’t you ask first next time?”

“Why can’t you apologize honestly? My head’s swelling.”

“You should be glad that you only got away with a swollen head.”

No matter what you say or ask, he always replied sarcastically.

“Was there something there?”

“Yes, there was.”

Yakumo drove the car to the sidewalk and got off, she fortunately followed him.

Yakumo walked to the front of the car and pointed to the windshield.

“!”

Haruka stared speechless, waves of chills reached her forehead.

On the windshield there was a person’s handprint, and not only one or two prints either, the handprints filled the glass leaving no unmarked space, Haruka thought she had felt something, but she didn’t expect this many……

“At first it was a male around thirty climbing onto the hood, then out of nowhere other spirits started to crowd onto the car, they wanted to keep us in the tunnel.”

“Then those handprints are……”

Haruka feebly slid to the ground. She remembered the movies she used to watch in the middle of the night, where zombies had surrounded the main character’s car.

“Many people have died in this tunnel.”

“Why is it like this……”

“It might’ve been just a car accident at first, but the spirit who died couldn’t pass on, so that spirit caused the second accident, that accident led to another spirit who couldn’t pass on, death causing another death, creating a never ending cycle.”

“Then what should we do?”

Yakumo walked to the entrance of the tunnel.

“I can’t do anything about this.”

Haruka stood up, quickly chasing after him.

“Can’t you exorcise them?”

“It’s no use; even if I did it’d be useless.”

“You said that before, what does it mean?”

To Haruka’s question, Yakumo let out a bitter smile and crossed his arms over his chest.

“I don’t agree with exorcism or cleansing, they’re crooked ways. Stuff like exorcising ghosts, chanting to drive them away, or cleansing them, it’s unbelievable to me.”

“Just like how you can see ghosts with your eye, that’s unbelievable to me.”

“You’re confusing ghosts with monsters.”

“What do you mean?”

“What are ghosts before they become spirits?”

He was asking a strange question again, but it wasn’t like she didn’t know the answer, of course it was……

“Living humans.”

“Correct. They didn’t hatch from an egg, or come from space; they were living human beings with feelings! What are spirits?”

This……

“I don’t know……”

“My opinion is this; I believe that spirits are the consciousness of the deceased, their longings. A person’s memories, and feelings are really just an electronic signal; others have said, that the structure of a human’s brain, is like a network of information being transmitted. If this is true, then the moment we lose our bodies, it doesn’t mean we lose our feelings. When an electric current loses its vessel it will still flow, when an internet connection loses its connection it will be transferred to other computers, therefore the dead’s thoughts, and emotions will wander with no place to return to. That is my theory, I cannot use science to back it up or explain it.”

“In other words, if there is no body, then there will only be emotions?”

“You could say that. Returning to exorcism, if spirits are just emotions, then what harm will it cause people if psychics are asked to exorcise and cleanse ghosts? As I have said many times before, spirits are not monsters.”

She seemed to understand the pieces to the problem. Perhaps it was just like Yakumo said, no matter living or dead, spirits were not a new species, death did not create new creatures; that was without a doubt true.

“So according to you, even if someone did ask the strongest psychic to exorcise ghosts, and sent them to Hell, then they would be ignoring the feelings of a human being, forcing them to pass on, it’ll be like assaulting someone without them having a chance to fight back, in other words, it’s barbaric.”

Even though Haruka thought that his ideas were with prejudice, she could still understand what Yakumo meant.

However, she was rather surprised that Yakumo considered spirits as humans, she always thought that he was eccentric, a person who didn’t even want to understand living people. She remembered Yakumo’s Uncles words, “his emotions are a little warped.” Haruka suddenly found it funny and laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?”

Yakumo raised his eyebrows not understanding. Haruka hastily stopped laughing, and changed the topic.

“Then, when Miki……”

“I was just analyzing the reason for the spirit’s suffering, and then explaining it to the dead’s spirit. To put it simply, I was persuading them.”

No wonder, Haruka seemed to understand, looking back on it, it was true, Yakumo hadn’t said anything directly to Miki, he was just investigating the cause of death for the spirit that had possessed Miki, eliminating what she was afraid of, and because of that Miki was saved.

“You said you saw a woman in front of the tunnel before, correct?” Yakumo suddenly asked.

“Yea.”

“Was she around twenty five, wearing a grey suit and have long hair?”

“Yea, you see her?”

The memory of the night was fresh in Haruka’s mind.

Fresh blood streamed down her forehead, yet she was just standing there apathetically.

“She’s standing in front of us.”

At that time, that woman was trying to tell her something, Haruka didn’t know what, but Yakumo might know.

Yakumo started walking, looking down from the railing. What was down there? Haruka also looked down.

The steep cliff had weeds on its surface, looking closer, they noticed a large pile of refrigerators, televisions, bicycles and other large garbage stacked up on top of each other below the forest, it wasn’t easily seen from the road, so people turned it into a junkyard.

“What’s down there……”

Yakumo said as he went over the railing, he carefully grabbed tree branches and slid down the cliff.

Their surroundings began to dim; the tunnel’s opened its bloody mouth, releasing an unusual aura, it made Haruka think that she was being swallowed by the tunnel.

Yakumo’s shadow gradually disappeared from Haruka’s sight; she didn’t want to be all by herself at a place like this. Haruka went over the railing, and quickly followed Yakumo.

She was too naive; the cliff was steeper than she thought it would be. After a few steps she lost her balance, she started to roll down the slope, tree branches continuously whacked her hands and feet, and even though it hurt, she couldn’t stop. If she knew sooner she would’ve stayed above obediently, but it was too late for regrets now.

When Haruka rolled to the bottom of the slope, her knee slammed into the ground with a tremendous force, due to her rolling forward so fast, that her feet was numb. She had a flashback to when she was small, she also fell this hard once when she was playing hide and seek, at that time she felt so much pain that she almost cried. Haruka forced back her tears and lifted her head; Yakumo was standing in front of her holding his hand out.

“Didn’t I tell you to wait for me?”

“You didn’t say anything!”

Pain caused her voice to sound rough. Haruka sat down on a rock nearby, and examined her hurt knee, her frayed jeans made it easier to see her knee—a layer of skin was peeled off and blood was oozing out.

“Ow……”

Her face twisted with pain. Yakumo kneeled in front of Haruka and wiped her knee with a handkerchief.

“Press on it to stop the blood.”

She didn’t even say “thank you”.

“You ran here without saying a word, you better explain yourself!”

Instead she was full of complaints. Yakumo wordlessly stood up and pointed to the ground a few meters away.

Haruka looked to where he was pointing to, in an instant, she held her breath.

There was a woman wearing a grey suit lying face down. There was no mistaking it, it was her. It was clear that she had stopped for breathing a long time, the blood that flowed from her forehead had turned black, it stuck to her lifeless skin; her cloudy eyes stared to the sky, as if she was looking at something.

“It seems like there was an accident on that road.” Yakumo said.

How long was she disposed there? She must’ve hoped that someone would find her that was why she appeared there. If only Haruka could hear what she had said clearly like Yakumo could, then she would’ve found her sooner……I’m sorry. Haruka closed her eyes, thinking in her heart.


5


Haruka arrived at Yakumo’s apartment, after the events that had happened they met Detective Gotou at the tunnel. With a tough and stocky build and a vicious gaze, it made people think he was a vicious wrestler.

Yakumo said to her, “there’s a lead about the woman we found a few days ago, if you’re interested come over.” But he already had a guest, she figured she’d come back another time and was about to close the door.

“Just in time, I was just starting to explain the situation, come on in.”

Yakumo gestured to a seat for her to sit on, Gotou helped her bring the chair over, she couldn’t refuse now they’d done that. Haruka reluctantly sat next to Gotou, she didn’t know why but having a detective sitting next to her made her feel uneasy.

“You met Gotou-san before, correct?”

Haruka nodded.

“Hey, Yakumo, introduce your girlfriend to me, I don’t even know her name!”

Yakumo looked troubled as he scratched his back.

“Ozawa.”

“Hey hey, is that it? Shouldn’t you say something else?”

“You can ask her yourself later.”

“What, how cold. Hey, Ms. Ozawa, what’s your name?”

Gotou suddenly turned to Haruka, he was smiling from ear to ear, his smile filled his whole face, but because of the bags under his eyes and his messy stubble that was too striking, it instead made people feel afraid.

“Didn’t I tell you to ask later?”

Yakumo scolded Gotou. “Stingy,” Gotou murmured.

Haruka didn’t understand the intense relationship between Gotou and Yakumo. Gotou seemed to be over 40, a 20 year difference with Yakumo; and even though Yakumo used honorifics, he didn’t seem to mean it, their conversation made her feel like they were two friends chatting.

“Everyone’s here, start explaining.” Yakumo pressed him to start.

So it was like that. Haruka now understood why Yakumo had told her to come at a specific time; it was so she could listen to Gotou’s full explanation.

“Ah, you’re right, I almost forgot about it.”

“I can’t believe it, why did you come here? Are all detectives this lax?”

Gotou was indifferent to Yakumo’s cynicism; he took out a notebook from his wrinkled suit, cleared his throat and started to explain.

“The cause of death was an injury to the brain.”

“Was it a homicide?”

“No, according to the autopsy, there were burnt car parts and a headlight found in her body, from that we can easily figure out that she was in a hit and run.”

Haruka felt overwhelmed, what Gotou was telling them now, wasn’t it a police report? Can detectives give information like that to civilians?

“Ex……excuse me, but is it ok if you tell us this?” Haruka couldn’t help but ask.

Yakumo and Gotou looked at her at the same time. She hadn’t intended to ask a strange question, but she still felt a bit uneasy. After silence had ensued, Gotou continued explaining as if nothing had happened.

“Also, the victim’s bag, wallet and other identification have all been stolen.”

“Someone’s intentionally hiding her identity.”

“That’s right, and the murderer naively thought that he could escape the police’s eye, we figured out her identity through her dental records. The victim is a female that lives nearby; let’s pretend she is A-san. A few days ago, a witness saw her leave the company, after that her whereabouts are unknown; her parents filed a missing persons report, so we asked her parents to come and identify the body. Even though they are currently bewildered, they still want to say thanks to the person who found their daughter’s body.”

“And the murderer?”

“Ah, because of the car fragments we found, we figured out what kind of car it was. The murderers and A-san live in the same area; they’re two high-schoolers, on a whim the murderers decided to drive even though he had no license, hitting the victim. They argued that they sped because the tunnel’s ghosts were chasing them, they didn’t turn soon enough at the turn and hit her…… Even though I believe them, the current Japan law does not acknowledge the existence of ghosts, they can’t reduce their sentence; it’s a shame.”

“They killed a human; their crime cannot be forgiven or excused.”

“How harsh.”

Gotou loosened his already loose tie, took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth.

“I think you should already know……”

“I know, you forbid smoking, but I didn’t light it, I’m only putting it in my mouth.” Gotou said, but his hand was clenching the lighter tightly.

“Let’s put aside the two teenagers for the time being, the bigger problem are their parents. Those two teens must’ve contacted their parents after what happened, and then their parents……”

“Destroyed the evidence and the body.” Yakumo said with a look of disgust.

“Absolutely correct. They took the victim’s wallet and bag and pushed the body down the cliff.”

Thinking about their acts of resentment made Haruka’s stomach knot, the sick feeling made her nauseous.

Bodies weren’t garbage; they actually disregarded a human life, throwing it away like garbage. How far would a person go for self-protection, how many cruel acts were they willing to do……

“And that’s what happened, it’s basically the same as what Yakumo thought.”

Once Gotou was finished, he closed his notebook with a “Bang”.

The same as what Yakumo thought? Did that mean that Yakumo had already seen through this chain of events? Haruka’s mind was in chaos, she couldn’t understand the truth. She started to wonder if Yakumo not only could see the spirits of dead, but also see the future.”

“Oh, there’s something I forgot to say, the parents also asked some garage to clean the bloodstained vehicle, now it looks like it is new.”

“They knew that the car was involved in an accident yet they still fixed it.”

“It’s just like that; the police are now looking for the garage.”

Haruka still couldn’t understand one thing.

“Then what about what happened to Tatsuya?”

“Word of advice, don’t go near the tunnel if you don’t want to die.”

Even though he said that, Haruka still felt that the whole thing was wrong somehow, she couldn’t feel relieved.

Tatsuya was driving his car that hadn’t been driven for a long time, going uphill to the college he noticed someone. He honked his car, a pair of sleepy eyes turned around---- it was Saito Yakumo. Earlier he had made himself lose his cool in front of Haruka, to be honest, Yakumo was always hanging around Haruka, and he was in the way, looks like Tatsuya just had to make it clear to him. Tatsuya rolled down the window near the driver’s seat and approached Yakumo.

“Thanks for helping me before! I heard from Haruka and followed your advice about not getting close to that tunnel.”

Yakumo kept walking, acting as if he hadn’t seen him.

“Wait up; I’m seriously trying to thank you here!”

Tatsuya drove at the same slow pace as Yakumo.

“I didn’t do anything for you to thank me.” Yakumo answered staring straight.

Tatsuya felt it again, this guy was really annoying. Just looking into his eyes made him feel uneasy, it was as if he could see right into his soul.

“Don’t talk like that, if anything happens again I’ll be in your care.”

“Then you’d better hope for the best because there is no next time.”

Tatsuya was speechless.

“Is it because you don’t want to help your rival?”

“Are you talking to me?”

“Who else would I be talking to besides you?”

“Then you’re talking to the wrong person. You and her; you guys can do whatever you want, I don’t care and I won’t get in your way. The only reason I’m cold to you is because your actions defy my philosophy, don’t come up with guesses of your own.”

Tatsuya tried to suppress the rage in his heart.

“Don’t go back on your words, because I’m going to meet with Haruka now, so no hard feelings, you really don’t mind, right?”

“Whatever makes you happy……”

Yakumo stopped halfway, his eyebrows furrowed, and he stared at Tatsuya’s cars back seat.

“That kid in your car……Who is it?”

“What”

Tatsuya was ignorant to what Yakumo had meant, he turned to look at the back seats, and they were obviously empty. Then, he suddenly remembered what happened at Yakumo’s place.

“Bastard! Are you going to bring up that infant spirit thing again?”

Tatsuya didn’t know how Yakumo had known, but he’d actually go as far as to spread it around, he couldn’t help but feel anger.

“It’s not about the infant spirit; that kid……could it be……”

“Enough! Did you actually think I’d stand here and let you make a fool out of me? Go to hell!”

After Tatsuya had spat that out, he stepped on the gas pedal and drove away. Yakumo’s silhouette got smaller and smaller. That bastard! He dared to stare at the direction he was driving in!

Haruka stood in front of the train station waiting for Miki, to tell the truth, she didn’t care if Miki was going to introduce her new boyfriend to her or not, it was definitely the guy from the goukon. It wasn’t a picking competition. What did it matter if she was going out with someone else’s boyfriend? Once Miki was in love, it was like she’s a different person, Haruka couldn’t help but sigh.

A beeping noise made Haruka lift her head, a car stopped in front of her. This car was…… no; the color wasn’t the same, his car was grey, but this car was bright crimson.

“Hi.”

Haruka prayed in her heart that she was wrong, the very moment Tatsuya stuck his head out of the window; Haruka started having a headache. After what happened, Tatsuya kept pestering her, he repeatedly calling her, and then talked non-stop about himself, she found it annoying and simply didn’t pick up her phone when he called.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for a friend.”

“Oh, what a coincidence, I was ordered to pick up the princess waiting for her friend.”

Haruka felt that things were going downhill fast; she should’ve refused Miki’s invitation. Thinking back on it, if Miki’s new boyfriend was the guy she met at the goukon then it’d only be natural if Tatsuya knew Miki’s new boyfriend too.

“Hop on in, everyone’s waiting for us.”

The thought of getting into that car made Haruka absolutely terrified, but it was already impossible to refuse; she reluctantly got into the car.

He was aware that Yakumo would have an expression that lacked interest but Gotou still dialed his number. Yakumo picked up on the third ring, for Yakumo that was a miracle speed.

“What’s wrong?” Yakumo asked straight to the point.

“We’ve had a follow-up development on that case; we already found the garage that repaired the car……”

“And then?” Yakumo urged him to continue on,

Looks like it really was raining cats and dogs, Gotou continued.

“The manager used to be in the city’s mob, after his father died he inherited the family business, but his reputation is pretty bad among the neighbors. Whatever car that gets sent to him, there’d always be a problem someplace else besides the original problem.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Just hoping that you would come over and ID, the child, even if you can’t get an exact ID on him, just tell us his facial features.”

Even though Gotou had little hope he still asked Yakumo, because if Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead, then he might also know the identity of the dead.

“Mr. Gotou, can I see the pictures of the body?”

Yakumo’s answer surprised him.

“Are you doing it for real?”

Gotou was overjoyed, and he wanted to keep that state of mind. He quickly set up a time and place to meet Yakumo and hung up.


6


Hip hop music still streamed from the car radio.

“How do you like the new color?”

Haruka didn’t have the heart to answer, she absentmindedly replied, “yea.”

“In the end I couldn’t get the red handprint off, so I just painted the whole car red, looks pretty good if I may say so myself.”

“Really……where are you going?” Haruka asked Tatsuya who was driving.

According to the original plan, he was supposed to drive to Miki’s place, but he was clearly going in the wrong direction. He drove them away from the streets and up a mountain road. She had a bad feeling about this.

“Well, I thought we’d go see the night scenery we didn’t see before.”

Of course.

“Miki’s waiting for us; I don’t want to see any scenery.”

She felt like she was in a replay of the same situation before.

“Don’t worry, Miki knows, she was the one who created this opportunity for us.”

In other words Miki also knew about this, and she was the only one who hadn’t known. After this was over she was going to protest to Miki, these kinds of things made her very unhappy.

“The place that we’re going, don’t we need to get through the tunnel to get there?”

“Relax, relax, there’s another road we can take.”

How come the people she hung out with were always the self-centered ones? Haruka’s shoulders drooped, and started to pity herself.

Gotou waited for Yakumo, parking his soon to be 10 years old Corolla in front of the school gate, it was his treasured car that he had never washed. Yakumo entered the car shortly after he had parked it, was he waiting for him in this cold weather? He hoped there wouldn’t be an earthquake…….

“Let me see the photo.” Yakumo said straight to the point.

Gotou turned on the car light, took out an envelope from the front seat cabinet and handed it to him, Yakumo took the envelope from him, and started to examine each picture. Any other person wouldn’t have been able to bear the sight of the photos, but Yakumo intently concentrated on them. It seems that Yakumo’s ability made him accustomed to the horrors of a corpse, at his age, blood, flesh, bones, and rotting flesh have already become a daily sight to him……

“Did you figure something out?

“My premonitions are always accurate when it comes to bad things like this.”

Even though Yakumo smiled when he answered, his eyes showed no trace of smile. Then, Yakumo’s face became blank.

“Then, you got it spot on?”

“It seems that my predictions are about to come true.”

Yakumo muttered. He took out his cell phone and dialed a number.

Haruka took out her vibrating cell phone.

“Where are you?”

“Huh?”

It was Yakumo, why did he suddenly call her?

“In a car.”

“Is it that Tatsuya guy’s car?”

“Yea……”

“Get off right now.”

Yakumo’s unexpected remark shocked Haruka.

“Get off…… what’s going on?”

“If you don’t want to die then get off the car right now.”

What? What was that supposed to mean? Even though being with Tatsuya was torture, she wasn’t at the point where she wanted to die.

Just when Haruka was about to get lost in her train of thoughts, Tatsuya snatched the phone out of her hands. What was he going to do? Tatsuya started talking to Yakumo when Haruka started to panic.

“This isn’t what we agreed on. Whatever Haruka and I do is none of your concern, isn’t that right?”

Using that kind of sharp tone with Yakumo was like asking for a painful remark.

“Shut up! It has nothing to do with you!”

Just as she thought, Haruka didn’t know what Yakumo had said to Tatsuya to make him so angry, but he did deserve it, who told him to forcibly interrupt their conversation.

“I’ll do whatever I want!”

Tatsuya shouted and hung up the phone, he didn’t want to give the phone back to Haruka so he threw it onto the dashboard. How could he be so rude? He actually stole her phone, interrupted her phone call and then hung up without her permission! Haruka was flabbergasted. A heavy atmosphere surrounded the car making it hard for Haruka to call Yakumo. Forget it; he’ll just call again anyways.

Yakumo tried to call Haruka’s phone again, but it didn’t go through, the power was cut off.

“Hey, Yakumo, what on earth is going on?”

Gotou asked, not understanding Yakumo’s actions. Yakumo gave the pictures back to Gotou.

“I saw the child in the picture.”

“You could see it? That kid’s face was beyond recognition……”

“It was unclear, but I know who he is by his gender, physique, and appearance.”

So it was like that, it dawned on Gotou. Yakumo was not searching for the person’s identity; he was confirming if that was the person he saw. Even so……

“Where did you see the person?”

“Today. He was sitting in the backseat of a car…… that was probably the car that ran over him.”

Gotou rolled down the window and lit his cigarette. Looks like they were close.

“If you want to smoke then go outside.”

“Hey, this is my car! You don’t have the right to tell me what to do. Anyway will that kid cause any problems?”

“I’m afraid so…… He has already caused trouble before, I didn’t notice it until recently, but thinking back on it, I was so focused on the tunnel that I didn’t notice, the two situations are connected.”

Yakumo pursed his lips in regret. He was going to cause another accident somewhere…… and truth be told, he wanted to stop it, but it was impossible. They could prevent it if they tracked the car down, but they had no legitimate excuse to do so, the police would never believe that a ghost would cause an accident.

“The victim is your friend?”

“No. I wouldn’t be friends with a person like that even if you begged me to.”

“That’s why you’re so generous……”

“It’s just……”

“Just…… what?”

Gotou asked but he already knew the answer.

“Is that girl on the car?”

“Yes.”

No wonder. Gotou dumped the file onto the back seat, and sunk into the driver’s seat.

“You provided me with very useful information.”

Yakumo said as he opened the car door.

“Hey, Yakumo, what are you doing?”

“Even though we aren’t family or friends, I can’t just leave her like that.”

“Can you find someone to help?”

“I’m going to look right now.”

As stubborn as always, it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to find anyone. Why couldn’t he just ask him for help? Always bringing problems for others.

“Hey, Yakumo.”

Yakumo turned around.

“You owe me.”

Yakumo looked confused.

“Just get in the car, I’ll take you, we don’t have any time to waste right? So hurry up.”

“Thanks.” Yakumo nodded at Gotou as thanks.

“Don’t thank me; it’s almost as disgusting as when my wife says ‘I love you’.”

“She said that to you before?”

“Shut up!”

Really, still making sarcastic remarks at a time like this. Gotou’s face twisted.

“Hang on tight!”

Gotou slammed on the accelerator, the car suddenly lurched forward, going with the momentum he turned the steering wheel, the car spun a 180; Yakumo was thrown away by the force, his head crashed into the window.

“If you’re going to make a turn like that tell me first.”

“You should’ve asked first.”

Gotou let out a triumphant laugh. Yakumo caressed his hurting forehead and out of Gotou’s sight.

“Do you often drive like that?”

“Only when there’s an emergency.”

Gotou turned on the siren, and drove faster, ignoring the red lights, the car flew down the streets. Cars were beeping behind them, but Gotou ignored them all.

“It’s a red light.”

“When there’s a police siren, they’ll move away.”

“What a troublesome detective.”

“If you keep complaining, then I’ll drive at the slowest speed possible.”

Gotou said that but he drove even faster, the files that were piled on the front seat tumbled around in the car like an avalanche.

“I will never drive with you again.”

Yakumo didn’t call again. “If you don’t want to die”…… What did he mean? What Yakumo had said seemed to have made Tatsuya upset, he didn’t try to talk to Haruka again, even though it was an escape for Haruka, she couldn’t help but worry about his unusual behavior.

Haruka looked out the window lost in thought, the feeling of uneasiness increased. Tatsuya said that he wouldn’t take the tunnel route; that he was taking another route, but somehow the scenery outside the window felt the same as before. What was going on?

“Tatsuya.”

He didn’t respond. What happened? Haruka peered at Tatsuya’s face.

“Take a left next.”

Gotou followed Yakumo’s instructions and turned the steering wheel, the tires made an extremely exaggerated screeching noise.

“Hey, Yakumo, this wouldn’t be the road to……”

“Correct.”

“Are we going to that spirit tunnel?”

“That’s right; the kid’s destination is probably the tunnel.”

“How do you know?”

“The dead, those who have also died in accident, are calling them.”

“The accidents that happened there are strange. Don’t tell anyone else this, but they also appeared in the crime scene photos.”

Gotou lit a cigarette as he continued, Yakumo rolled down a window with a look of disgust on his face.

“The photos of the car were supposed to have the tunnel as the background, instead there were faces of people, and not only one or two, if you looked at it from afar, the tunnel would be packed with faces of people, and all of them were looking straight and at the same place, it made me shudder. To be honest, when I saw that picture, I thought that it wouldn’t be weird if one or two accidents happened there.”

Yakumo silently listened to Gotou talk.

“Yakumo, can I ask you something?”

“As long as it isn’t anything boring.”

“I always thought it was amazing, how you can see the dead, I mean it’s not like ordinary people can’t see them, some people can see them sometimes, and some people don’t see them. Even though the photo has ghosts in them, the photographer didn’t see them, why’s that? What is the difference?”

Yakumo contemplated for a moment, Gotou forgot to shake the soot of the cigarette as he waited for Yakumo’s answer.

“It’s probably……”

Yakumo said to himself.

“It varies under different conditions.”

“Conditions?”

“Yes, for example, if a soul holds strong feelings, then it may cause some changes. Or it might depend on the person’s thoughts and awareness. When telling ghost stories, won’t they talk about a ghost being raised? Apart from this, their circumstances might also influence them, like temperature, humidity, and the strength of the light……and so on, anything is possible, but to be honest, I don’t know the answer. If I knew why, then maybe my eye can be cured.”

“Really, what a boring subject.”

Gotou let out a bitter smile, and apologized.

“Don’t worry, I’d prefer it if you take note of the soot though.”

“I told you before, this is my car.”

Gotou put out his cigarette, took out a new one and lit it.


7


All the blood had left Tatsuya’s face, and his lips trembled uncontrollably. What was going on? If this continued they would be at the tunnel.

“Tatsuya, won’t we be at the tunnel if you continue to drive down this road?”

“……I……I don’t know……”

Tatsuya said he didn’t know, but he showed no signs of turning back, and not only that, he even accelerated; even though they were getting closer to the sharp turn, he didn’t even slow down, danger!

The tires made a sharp screeching as they passed the turn, they almost hit the railing. Driving like this made one wonder when their soul would go to heaven.

“Tatsuya!”

Haruka’s tone sounded frightened, she stared at Tatsuya, beads of cold sweat gushed down his forehead, his eyes were bloodshot, and he held the steering wheel as if his life depended on it.

“Did you hear it?”

Haruka asked again, Tatsuya still didn’t answer, it looked like he was trying to say something; he kept glancing at the rear view mirror. Haruka franticly looked at the rear view mirror, and discovered the presence of a youth. The youth’s eyes were narrow, with rosy cheeks; he smiled as he looked at the two. Haruka whipped her head to look back, but there was no one in the back seat, she looked at the mirror again, the youth was still sitting in the back seat, but he wasn’t there whenever she looked back. Haruka felt confused.

“What on earth is going on?”

The youth who only existed in the mirror……

“……brakes……the brakes aren’t working……” Tatsuya let out a choked sob.

Haruka was shocked speechless after she heard that.

“Ah ah---- it has nothing to do with me, it’s not my fault. Save me, I’m begging you, save me!”

Tatsuya suddenly started to shout, and tears started flowing, in his current condition he wouldn’t be able to drive, Haruka could only pray, but who should she pray to……

Haruka shut her eyes in despair, but she heard police sirens, she looked over, and saw a police car flashing warning lights driving side by side with them. A man leaned out from the co-driver’s seat. He seemed to be shouting something. It was a familiar face.

“We found them, but what next? If cars come from the other side, we’ll become pancakes.” Gotou anxiously said to Yakumo.

“Firstly, we need to assess the situation……”

“How do we do that? By yelling at them? They can’t hear us!”

Yakumo suddenly remembered something, he took out his cell phone, leaned out, he showed his cell phone to Haruka.

“Turn it on! Turn it on!”

Yakumo shouted in his loudest voice, Gotou slammed on the emergency brakes. Yakumo nearly fell out of the car, Gotou grabbed Yakumo’s belt, steadying Yakumo. Gotou turned the steering wheel left, following behind Haruka; he dodged the cars that were coming from the other side.

“Sorry.”

Yakumo took a deep breath and steadied his breathing. Over the high winds, with the overlapping sounds of the car engine, he didn’t know if his voice would reach Haruka, he could only trust her.

There was a youth sitting in the back seat of Haruka friend’s car, he sat close to the window and looked at himself, a lovely smile was on his face. Perhaps, to him this was just a game.

Haruka heard Yakumo’s voice, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying to her, also, why did Yakumo catch up to them? But she didn’t have time to ponder on that question, what mattered now was how she was going to figure out what Yakumo was trying to tell her…… He took out his cell phone and started to shout. That’s right, the phone! Haruka grabbed her phone that was discarded on the dashboard, it was shut off, Tatsuya even went as far as to shut her phone off. Haruka quickly turned it on, the phone immediately started to ring.

“Hey.”

“Are you ok? If I’m becoming the third wheel to your date I’ll leave immediately.”

It was Yakumo, and even in times like these, he still made people grind their teeth in anger, he really was an annoying guy. But this hateful guy with his hateful mouth was the only hope of living now.

“If you have time to make snappy remarks then how about you save us!”

“If you want to live then restrain your noisy mouth, and tell me the current situation.”

If she survived this, she’d definitely rant to Yakumo about her hatred towards him. Haruka took a deep breath to suppress her anger, and tried to make her voice sound calm.

“The brakes……the brakes suddenly failed.”

“Can you turn the steering wheel?”

“Tatsuya, can you turn the steering wheel?”

Haruka muffled the receiver on the phone, and asked Tatsuya. Tatsuya made a noise, he nodded as he wept.

“The steering wheel’s ok.”

“Is it an automatic car?”

“Yes.”

“Is there an accelerator?”

“No, but the car keeps accelerating.”

“Hand brakes?”

“Tatsuya, hand brakes?”

Haruka asked Tatsuya again, he opened and closed his mouth, making it hard for her to understand what he was saying.

“Speak clearly! The hand brakes!” Haruka shouted.

“I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet……” Tatsuya finally answered.

“The brakes are useless, we can use the steering wheel, the handbrakes haven’t been used yet, it’s an automatic car, and it doesn’t have an accelerator.”

Yakumo quickly explained to Gotou the main points, and asked for help, Gotou wrinkled his eyebrows.

“Shoot……it’s an automatic car……”

“Do you have an idea? We’re almost at the tunnel.”

“Wait, I’m thinking.”

Gotou took out a pack of cigarettes, once he saw that it was empty, he threw it aside.

“It’s dangerous, but we don’t have any other choice.”

Gotou took the cell phone from Yakumo after he finished.

“Sorry, can you give the phone to the driver?”

“You need to listen carefully to what I’m going to say next.”

Gotou, not wanting to alarm the other side, explained as calmly as he could.

“Once you see my signal, put the shift gear to the lowest, then turn slightly to the left, let the car hit the guardrail, then don’t let go of the steering wheel, and maintain the state of friction between the car and the guardrail, understand?”

After a while he heard Tatsuya’s faint response.

“Then pull up the hand brake, and turn off the engine.”

Tatsuya answered after a while. And even though it was disturbing, he could only obey.

Gotou took a deep breath and let it out, calculating the time.

“Ready? It’s starting and…… now!”

After Tatsuya followed Gotou’s instructions, the car slowed down a little, and gradually got closer to the guardrail.

“Ah----“

A loud cry came from the other side of the phone; the car started speeding up again.

“This isn’t good, any other ideas?”

Yakumo yelled; Gotou cursed, and threw the cell phone; it hit the windshield and bounced off as several parts. Gotou dropped his head onto the steering wheel.

“Yakumo, you owe me big time for this!”

Finishing, Gotou slammed onto the accelerator, and drove side by side with the RX-7.

“Hang on tight!”

He didn’t even finish talking as he slammed his car into Haruka’s car, letting out a sound of metal crashing, Gotou’s car bounced back due to the impact, and made a large ‘s’ on the road. Gotou steadied the car and slammed again.

This impact made the RX-7 stop at the guardrail, sharp shrill sounds of tires rubbing were mixed with yellow sparks that were flying out.

Not long the sparks and the ear piercing sound of metal were gone; the two cars in front of the tunnel emitted white smoke and stopped.

“Next time, when you plan on crashing into a car, tell me first!” Yakumo complained as he pressed on his left shoulder.

“Who told you not to ask?”

After he finished talking, Gotou let out a hearty laughter.


8


Yakumo and Gotou got out off the car to check on Haruka and Tatsuya, Tatsuya was light headed and disoriented but was still conscious; A trail of blood dripped down Haruka’s forehead, but other than that she was all right.

Gotou and Yakumo pulled Tatsuya and Haruka out of the car respectively.

Haruka staggered a bit, but could stand on her own.

“Hey, you ok?”

Yakumo patted Haruka’s shoulder; her blurry sight slowly became clearer. She knew it was Yakumo’s crimson red eye that was gazing at her face.

“Eh……” Haruka answered as she pressed her aching forehead.

Although the pain wasn’t too severe, her conscious was still fuzzy.

“It’s good that you’re ok.”

“Can’t you use a more decent way?” Haruka asked Yakumo.

“Is there a problem?” Gotou immediately interrupted them.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it like that……” Haruka quickly lowered her head and apologized to Gotou, the sides of Yakumo’s mouth twitched into a smile.

“What’s so funny! In the end it’s all your fault Yakumo.”

“Hey hey, don’t push the blame on someone else, wasn’t it all your fault? I’m the one who suffered here; I even lost my contact lenses.”

“What the hell! Can’t you say something caring for once?”

Why couldn’t she say a simple “thank you” to Yakumo? Haruka brooded over this feeling that she couldn’t put in words, but she didn’t have a clue.

Whoosh---- the cold wind whistled.

Yakumo suddenly looked over to the tunnel, and walked towards it, he seemed to have seen something. Haruka followed his gaze, but couldn’t see anything.

“Don’t! You can’t go there!”

Yakumo started to shout without warning; he picked up his pace and started to run.

“Don’t go! Once you go you can’t come back!”

Yakumo ran with all his strength, but he stopped halfway and kneeled on the tarred road, he didn’t move for a long time.

Only the cold wind reminded them that time hadn’t stopped. They didn’t know how much time had passed……

“Why…….why can’t you understand……”

Yakumo murmured eventually as he stood up little by little.

“Yakumo.”

Yakumo slowly turned his head after he heard Gotou’s voice. His expression made Haruka shudder, his dark crimson eye burned with anger, it was completely different from his usual washed out, expressionless expression, his face seemed to freeze.

“You…….that kid was still alive.”

Yakumo walked towards Tatsuya slowly and steadily, Tatsuya seeing Yakumo’s glistening red eye in the darkness started letting out hoarse wails.

“Yakumo, what’s going on?”

“Yakumo?”

Yakumo didn’t answer Gotou’s question, he ignored Haruka calling to him, he walked straight to Tatsuya and stopped right in front of him.

“The boy you guys hit with your car, he was still breathing then, he was still alive, you were the ones who killed him. You guys thought, he can’t be saved, why not just let him die, so you guys used a hammer to hit him over and over and over.”

Yakumo blew up and started to talk non-stop, Tatsuya, intimidated by Yakumo’s anger, retreated.

“Who decided it? Why did you kill the child in order to hide the accident? Do you know what that means?”

“No……it wasn’t me, I was just sitting next to the driver’s seat……”

Tatsuya kept retreating under the pressure of Yakumo’s interrogation, but Yakumo left him to room to escape, he grabbed his shirt collar, and hit his nose with his head, his nose and upper lip started to bleed, making him limp to the ground.

“Yakumo, you mean that this guy…...”

“That’s right! In order to hide the trouble they caused, they buried the child alive, that child was still breathing, he still had consciousness!

“That isn’t disposing a body, it’s absolutely murder!”

“Be, be quiet, shut up! Where’s the proof? You don’t have evidence. This guy has serious problems with his head, who’ll believe what he has to say.”

“I believe him.” Gotou said, looking down on Tatsuya.

“You don’t have any proof, this’ll never be recognized!”

Tatsuya’s face twisted with pain, he started to shout randomly.

“You listen up, that child is wandering now; did you know that? He’s wandering without ever stopping, how about I kill you right here, let you have a taste of what that’s like?”

Yakumo grabbed Tatsuya’s hair, forcing him to stand up; Tatsuya’s efforts to bluff his way out had reached its limit. Yakumo lifted his tightly clenched fist.

“Stop!”

Gotou grabbed Yakumo’s shoulder to stop him.

“Yakumo, you don’t need to do this, I’ll be the one responsible for putting him in jail, so be patient now; you have other stuff to do.”

Yakumo and Gotou stared at each other, none of them moved.

“Yakumo!” He yelled his name out loud.

Yakumo finally lowered his fist.

“Gotou-san, you need to find evidence.”

“You don’t need to tell me to do that.”

Finishing, Gotou forced the resisting Tatsuya into the back seat.

“Hey, it’s time to go back.”

Yakumo didn’t respond to Gotou’s calling, he stood there motionless, he looked at the dark tunnel that seemed to be a portal to another world with a deprived gaze; Haruka gazed at his back. Gotou looked at the two, giving up he sighed.

“I’ll pick you guys up later.”

Gotou turned the car around, and with Tatsuya he went back.

“The mystery has been solved, the child surely also……” Haruka said to Yakumo’s back.

What was Yakumo feeling now? Was he angry? Or was he sad? Haruka didn’t know.

“Sometimes I feel distressed.”

“Distressed?”

“I told you before, that I can’t exorcist ghosts.”

“Yes.”

“Although I say that they’re crooked methods, but in reality I feel distressed that I can’t exorcize ghosts. That I can only watch helplessly; not able to do a thing.”

Haruka slowly walked to Yakumo, and stood beside him. She wanted to know, what Yakumo saw that made him say those words to her. And even though she didn’t have a red eye, she felt that just by standing next to him, at the same place with him, then maybe they would be able to see the same things.

“It’s because they’re visible, that the world considers them different, but I can only see them, I can’t do anything, so, why can I see them……”

At least, I was saved by you---- because of your red eye, I was able to finally get rid of the shadow of my sisters accident that had been haunting me for thirteen years; and not only that, you saved my twice. Haruka wanted to tell him that, but she couldn’t open her mouth to say it.

Haruka stood next to Yakumo, looking at the darkness in the tunnel.

Under Gotou’s investigation, Tatsuya was charged with murder. If he hadn’t tried to run, then it would’ve been considered an accident, but their wrong decision at that time caused the misfortune of many people.

According to the investigation later, the boy’s parents also died in traffic accidents at that tunnel. Thinking that the boy was returned to his parents’ side, relieved their hearts a little, but it couldn’t change that fact that he was murdered.

9


Haruka struggled to pedal up the ramp to the tunnel; the basket on the bicycle was filled with white chrysanthemums that she bought from the flower shop in front of the station.

This was a surprising amount of exercise for her even though it was winter. She was sweating when she finally reached the tunnel.

“You rode a bike here?”

Haruka lifted her head, and noticed that someone was standing in front of the tunnel, it was Yakumo’s uncle; she greeted him as she walked towards him.

Near the tunnel’s road there was a vase, filled with beautiful white chrysanthemums, a bundle of incense, the smoke from the incense curled up.

“Did uncle bring this?”

He shook his head to Haruka’s question.

“It was Yakumo.”

Haruka sat on the floor, and stared at the white chrysanthemums. She didn’t expect Yakumo to do such a thing.

“I got a call from Yakumo. He told me about the tunnel, there are many souls that can’t pass on, he wanted me to think of a way to help them.”

The monk forced a smile and continued.

“With that said, I cannot see their souls like he can, so I can’t really help……”

“Yakumo……he said that he was distressed.”

“Distressed?”

“Yes, he said that he was distressed because he can only see their souls but he can’t do anything about it.”

The monk suddenly laughed, nodding his head he said, “Really, is that so.”

“Is there something wrong?”

The monk cleared his throat, he stopped smiling and said.

“In the past, Yakumo hated the fact that he could see their souls, why was he the only one who could see them? When he was in high school, he tried to use a knife to blind himself, if he couldn’t see spirits, then others wouldn’t be afraid of him then he wouldn’t have suffered.”

If she was in the same situation as him, then she probably would’ve come up with the same idea as Yakumo. Haruka tried to imagine Yakumo’s feelings, if Yakumo knew he would probably unhappily tell her to stop making absurd conclusions about other’s feelings……

“It’s an amazing progress that he feels distressed that he can see them but can’t help them.”

“Progress? I don’t see any of that.”

Hearing that, the monk silently laughed again.

“The person who named Yakumo was me.”

The monk said after sitting down next Haruka.

“Multi layered clouds are called ‘Yakumo’. The moment I saw that child’s red eye, I thought that this child would have many trials waiting for him ahead, just like the multi layered clouds that block the sun.”

“So that’s why he was named ‘Yakumo’.”

“Yes, this name contains all the hope and prayers that he will overcome countless difficulties. Yakumo still has a long life ahead of him; he will break through the clouds.”

“Yakumo……” Haruka muttered the name again.

Haruka put the flowers she bought in the vase; she put her hands together in prayer and closed her eyes. She suddenly remembered, what did Yakumo say to the boy when he came here?

“Although it might cause you inconvenience, I hope you will take care of Yakumo from now on.”

“Yes.” Haruka answered, smiling.

She stood up, said thanks to the monk and left.

Haruka casually looked up to the sky, the clear cloudless blue winter sky expanded on for forever. She suddenly had a thought--- one day; she hoped that Yakumo would be like this sky!


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