Shinrei Tantei Yakumo:Volume 1 File 3
The so called ‘premonition’ is real. No matter who is it, when someone close to them dies, they will feel a sign.
The signs are different for each person, some people feel a faint indescribable feeling, many others have seen a firefly dancing in the north winter weather, or they have a dream and see how the other person dies.
Among those, there have also been people who’ve seen someone who was supposed to be far away, appear right in front of them, and after they say “thank you” or “good bye”, they disappear without a trace.
Those are the messages that the dead convey to the living as their final goodbye--- this is what most people think, but is it only that?
Others have said that those are the dead warning the living of a danger that is about to come, or the dead that’ have died an unnatural coming back to tell the living the name of their killer.
These ominous signs sometimes contain a greater meaning, and that is the dead using their last strength before their death to leave a final message.
The messages are not something to be overlooked……
It was a sleepless night for Haruka.
After class she had work, once she got home she finished a report that was due the next day, and when she finally decided to sleep it was two in the morning, the whole day had made her exhausted. Ideally, she would’ve already have been in dream land, but she couldn’t go to sleep. She opened her eyes slightly, glancing at the clock, it was already 3; that meant that she was tossing and turning in her bed for about an hour.
To this day, sleepless nights weren’t something new for her, but that was when she thought of her sister’s death, when the guilt was eating her. After meeting Yakumo, she felt that her sister was beside her, and could finally sleep. So the current situation was rare for her.
Suddenly, Haruka felt a strange presence in her room and opened her eyes, to see her dark room. She looked around, and saw nothing out of the ordinary. It must’ve been an illusion, how could someone be here?
When she was about to close her eyes, she saw something move out of the corner of her eye. Haruka sat up as a reflex, her heart started beating faster, cold sweat started to appear, she looked uneasily at the corner of the room where the being was.
The person was her friend from high school---Shiori.
“What happened? Why are you here at this hour? If you wanted to come you could’ve just called.”
Shiori was indifferent to Haruka’s words; she just looked at Haruka with a blank face.
“Did I forget to lock the door?”
Haruka said while looking for the light switch.
Shiori’s voice was weak and horse, she looked different from her normal self.
“Are you ok?”
“Run away……run away from what?”
She was confused by Shiori’s words. Haruka got out off her bed, wanting to walk closer to Shiori.
At that moment, a black red liquid trickled down Shiori’s forehead. Drip, drip, drip.
Her blood was gushing down like a broken water tank.
The fresh blood not only dyed Shiori’s face and sweater crimson red, it also turned the carpet at her feet black.
Haruka finally managed to speak, she ran over to Shiori who was lying on the floor.
Just when Haruka was about to touch Shiori, flames lit up and swallowed her body. Haruka flinched back. Why was there fire? She had no time to think about it. Haruka calmed herself down and stood up, but not only was there no fire; Shiori had disappeared without a trace.
Haruka turned on the lights, there was actually no sight of Shiori. Was she hallucinating? It felt too real to be a hallucination. Then what was it? It was no use to just think about it.
Haruka picked up her phone on the table and dialed Shiori’s number. She heard “The number you have dialed does bit exist” from the other side of the phone. She probably was in such a hurry she dialed someone else’s phone number. She dialed again, but it was still the same. Shiori never told her she had changed her phone number, the situation felt wrong, maybe something happened to Shiori. Haruka felt uneasy and alarmed.
Shiori’s apartment was only five minutes from her place. It was best if she went over to see what was up then just thinking about it. Haruka put on a jacket over her pajamas, and dashed out of the room with her slippers on.
Once outside, Haruka cursed herself for being so hasty, the biting wind was seeping into her coat; on her feet were a pair of slippers, she was losing the feeling in her ankles.
She wanted to go back and wear a sweater, but she stood dumbly in front of the door. The door had an automatic lock.
She left her keys inside her house.
The glum Haruka felt she had nowhere else to go, yet thinking about it, Shiori’s place was close by.
She’ll just have to endure it for a bit! After she walked to Shiori’s place, she’ll explain the situation to Shiori, Shiori’ll definitely let out her distinctive “Hahaha” laugh, and then make a cup of cocoa.
Shiori’s cocoa was hugely different than the cocoa sold in the supermarkets, she had a secret recipe, but she never told Haruka.
Haruka felt rejuvenated, she walked down the hallway and entered the elevator. The elevator’s light flickered, and at this hour it made people get goose bumps.
The elevator doors opened at the first floor.
Haruka nearly screamed when she saw someone already standing there, she stuck close to the elevator walls, the man wore his baseball hat low, he had on jeans and a fleece.
The man didn’t seem to notice Haruka as he entered the elevator. Haruka stuck out her hand to stop the elevator from closing; she got out as the doors opened again.
Haruka and Shiori went to the same high school; they even went to the same college, the two of them often hung out.
Compared to hanging out outside, they spent more of their time at one of their homes reading, watching TV, and just relaxing, but lately their chances to hang out lessened.
At the end of the year last year, Shiori lost her parents to a fire; she dropped out of school right after. Haruka thought she’d go back to her hometown, but instead she decided to work at a department store, that was why she still lived in the same place. Haruka was jumping for joy when she found out that they could still hang out together, but in reality, a college student’s life and a person who has entered society’s life are completely different, and because of that the two started to drift apart. The last time she met Shiori was about two months ago, she was, to some degree, looked forward to talking about her encounter with Yakumo, as well as the incidents that took place around the two.
Haruka passed two street corners, walked up a hill, and finally arrived at the apartment; Shiori’s room was in the farthest corner of the second floor. She looked up, there was no light in Shiori’s room, but that was expected! Haruka thought to herself as she climbed up the steel stairs, standing in front of the room 204, the room in the farthest corner.
She pushed the doorbell, there was no movement, she pushed again, pressing her ear against the door, but there was still no movement. At times like these she shouldn’t repeatedly press the doorbell, yell loudly, or pound on the door.
Haruka pressed her face to the door, and knocked. Please, get up, Haruka prayed in her heart, but the door still didn’t open.
What to do…… Haruka leaned on the door and looked up; the sky was already showing the light blue hints of daybreak, it made people feel like they were floating in the water.
“The person who lived there moved.” A sudden voice made Haruka jump in surprise. The other person was wearing the uniform for a newspaper delivery service. The person shot Haruka a curious glance, but it was understandable.
“Sorry, sorry you said they moved……”
Haruka couldn’t believe what she was hearing, she asked the other person.
“Yea, about a week ago!
“What? Are you sure that’s true?”
“Why would I lie?”
The person had a point.
“Do you know where she moved to?”
“That I don’t know. I was hoping that she’d still order our newspapers after she moved so I asked her a lot of questions, but she didn’t tell me anything.”
Was Shiori really gone?
“You’ll get a cold wearing those clothes.”
The young person left with that and returned to delivering newspapers.
Haruka could only stand there with no idea what to do next.
Looking at the rising sun, Gotou squinted his eyes and lit a cigarette.
He thought of the burnt and collapsed house, there were hardly any remains of the walls, ceilings and some pillars also collapsed. The firemen had packed up their equipment. They were exhausted. A randomly parked car had blocked them on their way here, making them late to the scene.
The body wrapped in black tarpaulin was moved out.
Gotou cursed out loud, the police investigation on this case was basically in a passive state, but there was no helping it, the criminal's actions were beyond their imagination; not only that, the criminal sent their testimony to the police, he or she was destroying himself or herself by adding fuel to the fire.
This incident really made them unhappy. Gotou threw the cigarette butt away.
"Do you want to cause another fire?" A shrill voice asked.
A man with a small physique, wearing a white robe, stood beside Gotou. His eyes, nose and mouth were all gathered in the center of his square face.
"So it was you, Mr. Hara," Gotou said with a look of disinterest.
"Were you thrown off?"
"Hehehe," Hata's shoulders shook as he smiled. This old man made people feel uncomfortable, even Rat man (note 1) looked more pleasing than him.
- Note 1: Rat man is a direct translation, he's a character from the manga "GeGeGe no Kitaro", he's a rodent like monster.
"Ha-ha, completely thrown off."
"But it is good this way if it's like this then the case is closed."
"What do you mean case closed? Mr. Hata, this is no time to socialize. Shouldn't you be doing an autopsy?"
"Then I'd need the body's anatomy, bodies that are burnt to crisp bear no results. Blood types are the same, rings are the same, even the accessories have been confirmed; it's extremely boring."
The old man was abnormal, the effort he'd put into his job differed according to the body condition. The more damaged the corpse the more energetic he'd get, with the exception of burnt bodies. If the police let the victim's family know who was doing the autopsy, the families would probably faint.
"Sure enough, the best corpses are those that are still raw."
Hata's casual comment made Gotou shiver; Hata laughed "Hehehe" again. Why were the people around him all cynical... ... he was really sick of it.
"That's right, Gotou, could I meet that young man who can see ghosts next time?"
How did Hata know about Yakumo? Gotou's surprise disappeared when he remembered that he had mentioned Yakumo to Hata.
"Scientifically speaking, I'm very interested in him."
"In your dreams!" Gotou flatly refused.
Scientifically speaking interested? Come on! It was clearly for his own perverted desire.
If he let Hata see Yakumo, then there would be no guarantee that Hata wouldn't dissect Yakumo alive.
"Stop this nonsense and get back to work!"
Gotou waved him off as if he was chasing off wild dogs, then took out another cigarette and lit it.
"Gotou-san, can I take up a moment of your time?"
Who was it this time? The person who was walking towards Gotou was a recent newcomer to the force. Gotou forgot his name; no, Gotou hadn't bothered to remember in the beginning.
"There's something you should see."
The newcomer handed Gotou a photograph. This...... Gotou didn't hide his look of surprise.
Haruka opened her eyes, she had unconsciously fallen asleep on the table, her vision was still blurry but she saw someone in front of her.
"Why are you here?"
A sarcastic tone. Ah, was it Yakumo? Haruka rubbed her eyes and lifted her head, her vision slowly becoming clearer. Yakumo crossed his arms over his chest; he stood with a look of displeasure.
Haruka greeted him; Yakumo wordlessly sat in a chair across from her. She looked at the clock at the corner of the room; it wasn't even six, looks like she hadn't even gotten fifteen minutes of sleep.
"Please explain what you're doing here." Yakumo said as he ran a hand through his messy hair, he looked unhappy.
She couldn't blame him, if a person had come into her room unexpectedly, she'd probably be angry too. Haruka began explaining to Yakumo about Shiori.
She was brooding about what had happened to Shiori, but it was all unclear to her. She thought, perhaps Yakumo could help her, so at this ungodly hour she arrived at Yakumo's place.
Haruka knocked and called but there was no response, she had turned the doorknob as a last resort and the door had opened effortlessly. Yakumo was curled up inside a sleeping bag in the corner; even in his sleep he still looked unhappy. She decided to sit down and wait for him to wake up, but......
The first thing Yakumo asked after he heard her explanation was, "so, as long as the door is unlocked, you'll just go into that person's room?"
"You're too careless! Locks are on doors so people can lock their doors, don't you know that?"
"I don't need to hear this from the fool who got locked out of her own apartment because she forgot her keys"
Yakumo had left Haruka with no chance of winning. Yakumo yawned, turned his back to Haruka and started to take off his shirt.
"Hey, wait, what are you doing?"
Haruka hurriedly turned around.
"What am I doing, of course I'm changing clothes."
Unbelievable! How could he be so uncaring for others and do whatever he wanted?
"Changing clothes in front of women, what on earth are you thinking?"
Haruka said what was on her heart.
"Let me make this clear, this is my house, I can do whatever I want, you're the one who snuck into a man's house without permission, don't speak so confidently."
Haruka should've known better than to use common sense to reason with Yakumo, it wouldn't work on him.
Haruka tried hard to not look, but in a situation like this the more she thought about it the more her heart sped up.
"Is Yakumo here?"
A familiar hoarse voice brought Haruka out of her train of thoughts, the door suddenly opened and there was Gotou.
He dumbfoundedly looked at Haruka who was inside the room; it was like watching the world end right in front of him: then he saw Yakumo who was in the middle of changing clothes, the cigarette that was dangling in his mouth dropped to the ground.
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"Ack, wait, its...... it's not what you think......"
Haruka tried to explain but she couldn't find the right words and started to splutter, worsening the situation.
"It's ok; I'll just come back later.
Gotou awkwardly closed his eyes, making it look like he was winking at her, then he closed the door going to who knows where. He had horrible timing, know she wouldn't be able to explain herself even if she jumped into the Yellow River. If it were her in Gotou's position just now, she would've also misinterpreted the situation and any explanation would've sounded like an excuse.
"Arguing so early in the morning really makes me annoyed." Yakumo said in annoyance.
She looked back, Yakumo had already finished changing. He scratched his messy hand, if dandruff were to fall off, then he would’ve been the reincarnation of Kindaichi Kosuke (*).
“What are we going to do? He left without hearing me explain.”
“Is it awkward?”
“That’s not the problem here!”
“You don’t need to care about it that much, don’t people do that most of the time? A person sees someone doing something and they indulge their brains with silly ideas even though that someone didn’t do anything. No matter what you do you will be subject to people’s conjectures.”
“In that case……”
He’s not wrong……she thought, but she still could not accept it like that.
“You don’t need to be so panicked, that old man’s actions are not hard to predict.”
Yakumo said and walked towards the wall across from the door, there was a window on the wall and he opened it.
And there was Gotou, leaned against the window to spy into the room. He looked at them, surprise.
“I was found out?”
“Just realized? You’re already old, so please don’t act like a little child anymore. Your behavior is the reason why your wife left you again.”
“What is the meaning of ‘again’? Listen good Yakumo, once a women leaves she’ll never come back, and it’ll be too late when you finally start to regret about it afterwards.”
“Ah, your wife still hasn’t come back yet. Also…… it seems that you’ve been reflecting a little.”
Gotou gritted his teeth in upset.
“This cute girl is right in front of you and yet you’re still acting so calm, I don't want to be dragged down by a spineless person.”
Gotou huffed and sniffled. It was because he was like this that made him seem childish.
“I haven’t done anything to her has nothing to do with spinelessness, it’s about a person’s preference, in other words, it’s about my tastes.”
Talking so straightforwardly and frank in front of to the party involved…… Haruka couldn’t even muster up the strength to protest.
“If you have time to stand around there and talk nonsense, how about coming in, weren’t you looking for me?”
“Oh yea, that’s right, I almost forgot.” Gotou said as if he had just declared the end of a joke; he exaggeratedly nodded his head and walked towards the front door.
Haruka felt embarrassed about meeting face to face with Gotou, she told Yakumo that she would come later and then left.
“Isn’t it rare for her to come here, it feels like I’ve messed up your meeting.” Gotou scratched his side and said.
In reality, he didn’t want what they were about to discuss be heard by Haruka, because last time there was conclusive evidence, and this time there was only Gotou’s own theories. It had something to do with pride. Therefore, he wouldn’t tell his bosses or his subordinates this.
“One less noisy mouth, this to me is something worth celebrating.” Yakumo said in his unchanged cynicism.
Gotou smiled bitterly, think to himself that Yakumo was just being hypocritical.
Even if his feelings for Haruka had not reached the level of love, it was at the level where he overall trusted her. He didn’t know how much Yakumo valued Haruka, but he knew that it was far more than how Yakumo valued his surrounding people.
But, if he told Yakumo his thoughts, he would’ve denied them vehemently. No, maybe Yakumo himself had not realized this yet.
“What are you laughing about? It’s disturbing.”
“What does disturbing mean?”
Yakumo turned a blind eye to Gotou’s dissatisfaction.
“Then, what is the awfully busy policeman who has come so early in the morning to meet me want?”
Yakumo seemed to have spoken respectfully but did not take the other seriously.
“It may be morning for you, but I stayed up all night so it’s still night for me!”
“Your psychological time difference is insignificant, right?”
“Yea, yea, it is.”
Gotou, in fact had been angered, but he took everything Yakumo said to heart, then his stomach would be pierced, and even if his stomach didn’t perforate there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. He chose to go on.
“I have something I want to show you.
“Is it a ghost photograph?”
“Yes, you really are quick.”
“You have never showed me anything else,” Yakumo stated plainly.
“I don’t remember showing you anything else either.”
Gotou said while he placed the mahogany envelope in his hands on the table, and took some photos out.
He put a photo on the desk. In the picture there was a burnt house, the picture seemed to have been taken right after the fire was put out; there was smoke coming from the unburnt pillars.
Then he showed the second picture, in the picture there was a burnt body facing upwards, both arms were reaching for the sky, as if they were struggling with the pain.
He placed another photo on the desk, it was a woman in her forties, the picture seemed to have been taken at a wedding; she was wearing a beautiful purple dress and smiling.
“This woman is the burnt body?”
Then, he put another photo on the desk; it was the same as the burnt home before. But in the photo there was a shadow of a woman wearing a white dress standing in front of the house.
Gotou smiled proudly when he heard Yakumo cry out in alarm.
“So you noticed, it’s just as you’re thinking, when this photo was taken, there was nobody in sight.”
“Under normal circumstances, a person would think that the women would be the burnt body that you showed me, but seeing that as you specially brought them here for me to see, things perhaps aren’t as simple as they seem.”
“As expected of Yakumo, sharp as always. I really wish you were one of my men.”
“Not a chance in hell.”
“Do you hate the police so much?”
“I hope you don’t misunderstand, the one I hate is you.”
No one could match with his ridiculing skills.
Gotou took out another photo and put it on the table, it was a picture of a man nearing his forties, even though he had sharp features, he still looked bloated.
“Does this person have an internal organ disease?”
“Correct once again, congratulations, you can win an all expense paid trip to Hawaii.”
“You should stop gloating for someone who has not traveled outside of Kanto."
Gotou disregarded Yakumo, and deliberately let Yakumo hear him talk to himself.
“His name is Kenichi Katou, he died of a heart failure a month ago, but because the cause of death was doubtful we dug a little deeper, after some investigating we discovered that he was being fed small amounts poison over time.”
“You actually investigated to that point.”
“That’s because in our bureau, there's a relentless perverted old man who investigates these kinds of matters……anyway, if we find out who poisoned him we find the murderer.”
“It’s his relative.”
“That’s right. Kenichi Katou was a wealthy millionaire, even though he himself was only running a small real estate company, his father was a landlord. He also had a brother who spent his days idly. So according to the father’s will, the inheritance was all passed down to Kenichi.”
“You suspect it’s the brother?”
“He is the most suspicious, but he lives out of town. The two also hardly ever met, so he’s been ruled out. Then there’s only one suspect left……”
“His wife. Be that as it may, but his wife’s been burnt to crisp.”
Gotou could not help but applaud.
“That’s right. Just as you said, the police kept an eye on his wife—Emiko, when we had enough evidence to arrest her, she sent a letter to the police. The content of the letter in general was that she could not live with the guilt and decided to commit suicide……, when we rushed to the scene her house had already been surrounded by a sea of fire.”
“The suicide note was written by her?”
“Yea, we had a writing analysis done, she wrote it.”
“Well isn’t that ok? Case closed.”
Gotou let out a breath.
“If it was like that, then I wouldn’t have come all the way here to look for you now wouldn’t I?”
“I guess you had nothing else better to do.”
“What I’m going to say next is just my theory; I don’t have any evidence to support it. I think that she’s not the type to commit suicide, seeing the way she murdered her husband, Kenichi, we can say that her method was flawless, and if it weren’t for the perverted doctor at our bureau we probably would’ve never known that she killed her husband. For money, she harbored murderous intents towards her husband for many years, stubborn and audacious, would a person like that commit suicide because of guilt? It’s unbelievable!”
Gotou talked on and on and in his excitement he slapped the desktop; Yakumo pinched his eyebrows seemingly in deep thought.
“Then, what do you think really happened?”
“I think Junichi is very suspicious. Emiko kills his brother, and then he kills Emiko, the inheritance would be all his.”
“If so, then investigate that Junichi.”
Gotou moaned, and tilted his head a furious look on his face.
“We did! But that person has an alibi, he was at the police station for illegal parking, and because o f his illegal parking the fire trucks weren’t able to get to the scene on time, there are too many suspicious things!”
How rhetorical! Gotou thought, but continued to explain
“I think that this ghost photo is the key to solving this case.”
“I see. I understand what you mean now, but there’s not enough information, and it’s too theoretical that I don’t know where to start. I have no way of promising you but I will look into it.”
Gotou originally thought that he would be declined; he had not expected Yakumo to agree. He stood up in surprise.
“However, this’ll cancel out the favor from before.”
As he thought so, Gotou understood Yakumo’s attitude. He beat him to the punch. He originally planned to use the favor as leverage if Yakumo declined him. What a meticulous guy.
Haruka made an appointment with Yakumo to go home first then come back later. She then left Yakumo’s place.
Gotou seemed as if he did not want her to listen to their conversation, but was too embarrassed to say it out loud. She didn’t want to keep standing there looking so disheveled and besides she wanted to think to herself for a while.
Haruka asked the supervisor the open the door for her, once inside she heard her phone ring, she thanked the supervisor and rushed to her room. The phone that was ringing wasn’t her cell phone, but her rarely used telephone.
Haruka picked up the receiver, there was a silence on the other hand and then there the phone beeped; the other person had hung up. Was this a telephone prank? How immature!
After Haruka had taken a shower and changed her clothes she wanted to go straight to Yakumo’s but didn’t want to meet Gotou again. Haruka looked out of her window and began to stare off into space.
She wanted to sort out what had happened last night, but couldn’t figure out anything, she didn’t know which part of last night was real or just a dream.
The curtains began to float. Weird, she didn’t remember opening the windows. Haruka stood up and walked towards the window.
Separated by the lace curtain, Shiori stood on the other side of the window. Haruka quickly brushed the curtains aside, opened the window and walked out to the balcony, but no matter how hard she looked she couldn’t see Shiori, where did Shiori go? Haruka looked down from the balcony, but still couldn’t see anything.
Moreover, Haruka’s single person apartment was on the fourth floor, no person could’ve been outside the window. Was that a hallucination…… Haruka’s confusion doubled.
- Kindaichi Kosuke is a detective, medium build, messy hair always wearing wrinkled Japanese traditional clothing. It’s a habit of his to scratch his head making dandruff fly whenever he was thinking. He is Kindaichi Hajime’s grandfather. (In simpler terms he’s the legendary grandfather of the main character from Kindaichi shounen no Jikenbo. Matsujun was in the 3 series acting as Kindaichi.)
When Haruka went to Yakumo’s place again it was already past noon.
She had put on makeup and dressed up before she came, but her mind was in chaos the whole morning.
Ever since she saw Shiori stand outside her window she constantly racked her brain for a sensible explanation, but no matter how hard she tried, her thoughts always scattered and crashed midway, it only managed to increase her restlessness and impatience.
“I’m not a detective! Coming here one after the other…..”
Yakumo did not try to hide his displeasure and complained, while using an alcohol lamp and beaker to heat water. It seemed like Gotou had brought him a troublesome problem. Haruka sincerely believed that if Yakumo changed professions to become a psychic detective or something of the sort then he could make contributions to society. But he would probably strongly deny the idea……
When Haruka was deep in thought a tea cup was placed in front of her, it was green tea.
“Huh? This wouldn’t be the water you just heated with the beaker, would it?”
“No need for suspicions, it is. I borrowed the beaker from the lab. Compared to taking it and using it for weird chemical tests, it’s probably happier with me taking and using it.”
“That’s not the problem here…..drinking this is bad for your stomach……”
“Stop grumbling and just drink it and see. Oh, and the seasoning is hydrochloric acid.”
No way was she going to drink that!
“So, what did you come here for?”
Yakumo urged her to explain why she had come, but Haruka was confused, she couldn’t think of an efficient way to explain and decided to tell Yakumo what had happened chronologically.
Yakumo crossed his arms and leaned with his head back on the chair. He stared at the ceiling and listened. To a passing person Yakumo looked like he was furious, but this was the way Yakumo listened carefully.
“Compared to Gotou-san your account is much more coherent.”
Yakumo sat up.
“That uncle wanted to dramatize the topic, so he switched around the order of things, just listening to him made my head ache.”
Haruka wasn’t there when Gotou talked to Yakumo, but it must’ve been a disaster.
“So, what did you find out?”
“We can’t discuss the two problems as one. Explaining it clearly also does not mean that the truth will come to light.”
He was right.
“But, what happened to you can be sorted out to a certain degree of a possibility.”
“That’s right, there are two possibilities. If you were to answer unbiasedly then you would’ve also come up with the same conclusion, but this time you’re clouded by your personal opinion, that’s why you unconsciously cross out these two possibilities.”
“Is that so……”
She did not understand what Yakumo was getting to.
“Let’s test this. The first possibility. What you’ve seen were all hallucinations.”
“That’s impossible, I saw her with my own eyes.” Haruka stubbornly insisted.
“See, you immediately denied it.”
Crap! Haruka thought. Just like Yakumo said; if Haruka was a third party and had listened to her story then she would’ve pointed out the same possibility. So this was Yakumo’s intention, she finally understood.
“’What you’ve seen was all been a hallucination, yet your friend, because of some unknown reason, moved and left without a goodbye……”
“Shiori would never do something like that!”
“Let me finish!” Yakumo persuaded.
“It’s because you’re like this that you eliminate the possibilities and can’t think of a reason why. In fact, she could’ve, for some reason hastily moved and was planning on contacting you after she settled in; and after you listen to her explanation you might think ‘ah, so it was like that huh.’ And then laugh it off.”
What he said made sense. Haruka’s shoulders slightly relaxed, she didn’t know how Yakumo had thought of that, but she was glad that she listened to what Yakumo had said.
“Then what’s the other possibility?”
Haruka’s question evidently made Yakumo heavy-hearted.
“If possible, before the situation becomes clearer, I don’t want to tell you……”
“But it's still a possibility!”
“Correct, so I hope you’ll take it only as a possibility.”
Haruka nodded. “Ok!” Yakumo heavily sighed before he opened his mouth to talk.
“Suppose, that what you saw wasn’t a hallucination…….”
I don’t want to listen! A voice said in Haruka’s brain, maybe it was herself—another side of her. But her thoughts did not reach Yakumo, and he continued.
“Then I’m afraid your friend isn’t on this earth anymore, she appeared in front of you as a ghost……”
Haruka felt like she was falling from a building, she heard a ringing noise that drowned out Yakumo’s words. Shiori appearing as a ghost, already dead? Shiori’s dead? She couldn’t accept it! Absolutely would not accept it! She did not want to acknowledge this possibility. Were there ghosts of the living? A living ghost…
“There are such things like ‘astral bodies’ that exist right? Those are spirits of a living person, aren’t they?”
Haruka gripped the table for support. Yakumo was surprised by Haruka’s sudden movement, but nonetheless he answered Haruka’s question.
“It’s not impossible, I’ve said it before, if a ghost is the manifestation of a human’s emotions, then we can’t rule out the possibility that it can still move out of the body before the person has died. What you’ve said about astral bodies or out of body experiences have been heard from time to time. The third possibility……”
Once Yakumo finished, he pinched his eyebrows and muttered to himself about something. Haruka could not hear what he was saying so she could only quietly wait for Yakumo to conclude his thoughts.
“Although this is possibility that’s based on an intuitive conjecture, it isn’t entirely irrelevant, we can only bet on this possibility……”
Hope flickered inside Haruka’s heart. She would meet Shiori, she must meet Shiori.
Haruka suggested the two of them investigate together. Yakumo refused to do so but in the end he couldn’t win over Haruka’s insistence.
Yakumo and Haruka first went to the real estate company of Shiori’s apartment. Haruka recalled that she and Shiori found this place together when they first came to Tokyo. It was a small company in front of the bus stop, on the shopping street in a business building.
Yakumo stopped midway at a shop to buy a biscuit box, not only was the packaging detailed, there was also a tag attached. Of course Haruka was the one who paid for it; Yakumo claimed that it was something necessary to buy.
There was a table for the customers, a counter and two desks facing each other in the store. It made one feel the extreme smallness and narrowness of the store. When Haruka and Yakumo came into the store they didn’t even hear a “welcome”, and it wasn’t because the workers were busy but because the workers were ignoring them. How rude!
“Ehem---- Excuse me.”
Yakumo leaned over the counter and called. Only then did a bald, stout male walk out slowly and deliberately to greet them.
“I’m sorry, I’m Shiori’s brother; she lives at Hinoki apartment complex, apartment 204. My sister forgot to bring something……I’m really sorry, but could I borrow the keys to her apartment?”
Yakumo used his courteous tone to fill the sky with lies, the bald man didn’t even bother to confirm it; he just took the key from the key holder and gave it to Yakumo. In the meantime, the man didn’t even say one word, what a lax company.
“Ah, that’s right, did my sister stop by to say hello?”
The bald man still didn’t speak, just shook his head - no.
“As I thought, I already told her to say thanks to the real estate company that has been looking out for her. She gives me headaches when she’s like that.”
Yakumo continued to talk endlessly. His realistic acting made Haruka, who was standing behind him inexplicably admire him.
“Oh, I’m sorry I took so much of her time. Here, this is for everyone.”
Yakumo proceeded to give the biscuit box to the bald man. In that moment, the man’s expression immediately and obviously softened.
“To tell the truth, we’re also very troubled. She suddenly called us asking us to terminate the contract, she also said that she’d be turning in her key in two days…… we also made a mistake, we forgot to ask her where we should return her deposit to…….”
“I’m really sorry……” Yakumo said as he continued his act as the fearful and worried older brother.
“Then I’ll fill out those necessary forms right now, could you please give me the contract?”
The bald man muttered “where did I put it” before he pulled out the contract from beneath a mountain of files and gave it to Yakumo.
Yakumo carefully read the contract; Haruka stood behind him and caught a glimpse of the content. There was also a page about the application stapled on, in the moving column of the application Shiori wrote the address of her old home in Nagano.
Shiori’s old house in Nagano was already destroyed by a fire, where could she possibly be? Haruka felt a sense of foreboding.
“……I’ll ask Shiori to come here the next time I see her. Then she can properly fill out where to return her deposit.”
“I’m really sorry.”
The bald man took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“Besides that, did my sister cause any problems for you?”
The bald man thought for a while and then quickly approached Yakumo’s side.
“I don’t know if I should tell something like this to you since you’re her brother, but there’s been a man coming in and out of your sister’s house. After all, she is a young nubile girl, so I didn’t say anything……”
Shiori had a boyfriend? She had never heard about this before. Shiori had broken up with her boyfriend a year ago and has been single ever since then, and besides, even if she didn’t ask Shiori about her love life Shiori would tell her.
“Afterwards, something terrifying happened! She and another women got into a huge argument in front of the apartment, they even began fighting, the neighbors were complaining about it over and over again……I think that could by why she moved……”
“Liar!” Haruka accidently blurted out, the bald man glared at her.
“Ah, thank you very much, I will return the key by tomorrow.”
Yakumo quickly thanked him before he pulled Haruka by the hand and out of the store.
The bald man’s description about Shiori was completely different than the Shiori Haruka remembered. Shiori wasn’t the type to be jealous or fight over a man, and not only emotion wise, she never saw her fly into rage or get vexed. Every time the two fought it was Shiori who always apologized first, sometimes to Haruka’s chagrin, because she always felt like she was being treated like a child, they even fought about that once. Still, Shiori had actually argued with a person to the point of fighting…
What happened to Shiori?
It was a two-story building, the railings had already rusted, and the wall’s paint had turned into different shades of filth.
And the thought that Shiori wasn’t there made the stains on the wall seem filthier.
“There’s probably nothing left behind,” Yakumo muttered.
Haruka nodded. Even if there was nothing left behind she had to see for herself because if she didn’t she refused to accept the fact that Shiori was gone.
When they opened the door they were greeted by pleasant fragrance, it came from Shiori’s room. From where they were standing they couldn’t see it clearly so Haruka pushed Yakumo aside and entered the room.
But the room was empty except for the fragrance. There was no furniture; there wasn’t even a moving box. The room was spotless; it looked ready for a new person to move in.
Yakumo walked to the center of the room and looked around carefully.
“Hey, did that Shiori girl smoke?”
Haruka shook her head; she had never seen Shiori smoke.
“Why are you asking?”
“Look at the walls closely.”
After looking carefully Haruka saw it, there were yellow circular stains on the wall; at first glance it would seem that there was nothing wrong except the only places that retained the original whiteness were the places that used to have furniture and pictures on the walls.
The Shiori she didn’t know revealed herself before her eyes. Haruka suddenly felt powerless and fell to the floor. The floorboard’s coldness was bone chilling, Yakumo moved to the bathroom.
“Can you come over here for a second?”
Haruka stood up after she heard him speak and leaned forward to look at the bathroom. Yakumo handed her a picture, Shiori was in the picture, and she was smiling serenely. Her smile was different from the smile she gave Haruka.
Haruka would imagine so, beside Shiori stood a man with a deep stare, near his forties.
“Is that Shiori?”
“Yeah……where did you find this?”
“It was on the mirror……a weird place for a picture.”
“Why? Did she forget about putting it up there?”
“I don’t think so, how could she miss one picture when the rest of her room is spotless? Furthermore, if she did put this picture on the bathroom mirror then it would’ve gotten wet because of the steam.”
What he said was indeed true. Not only was the picture dry, it didn’t even have traces of ever being wet. Shiori was a meticulous person; she wrote in her diary every day, never missing a single day, it was difficult to imagine that she would forget this one picture.
“If she left this behind on purpose then she was hoping that someone would see it.”
Yet, Haruka couldn’t figure out the meaning behind the picture.
“Is she missing her right pinky?”
“Yeah, she lost it in an accident that happened when she was little……I’m don’t know the details……well, she said that she doesn’t really care about it, but I think she really minds it. No matter how much pain she’s in, Shiori never complains to others, always carrying everything by herself, and I always find out afterwards.”
That’s right, Shiori was always like that; she never showed her true feelings.
“Why didn’t Shiori tell me she had a lover?”
“Because it was an affair.”
“Huh? How do you know?”
“The man in the picture is wearing a ring.”
Haruka looked at the picture again, and just like Yakumo said, there was a silver ring on the man’s left ring finger.
“Taking a picture with another girl while wearing his wedding ring, I question this man’s confidence.”
Yakumo didn’t have any right to talk about anyone else. He wasn’t much better off himself. But……
“Why didn’t she tell me about the affair?”
“If you knew, wouldn’t you have opposed of it?”
The words had just left her mouth when Haruka remembered something. A long time ago, when she had heard that Shiori’s boyfriend was cheating on Shiori, she went to his house and demanded him to apologize.
“Nobody wants their lover to be rejected by their close ones.”
“What do you mean? Are you saying that it’s my fault? Are you saying that because I’m difficult and stubborn, that’s why Shiori never breathed a word about it to me?”
“What? Well, it’s good to know you’re aware of it.”
Even in times like these, Yakumo was still ruthless when he ridiculed someone.
After that, Yakumo had to investigate the case that Gotou had asked him to look into. After he instructed Haruka to return the keys to the real estate company he ran out of sight.
Gotou’s phone woke him up.
He remembered driving back to the police department……and then he seemed to have fallen asleep while he held the steering wheel, well who taught him to work around the clock without sleeping……
Gotou didn’t check to see who had called. He had just woken up from his sleep and was not very happy when he answered his phone.
“Who is it? Oh, it’s Yakumo……”
Gotou rubbed his eyes, yawned and lit a cigarette.
“Really? What do you mean ‘who is it?’” Yakumo’s voice transmitted over from the other end of the phone, the sleepiness in his voice wasn’t much better than Gotou’s.
“Then……is there something wrong?”
“It’s about the case you asked me to look into, I have reliable information, but you don’t seem very interested about it, so I’ll hang up now.”
Gotou woke up immediately and jumped up from his seat.
“How’d you do it? What do you know?”
Gotou bombarded Yakumo with questions but it seemed that his voice didn’t reach Yakumo’s ears.
“That bastard! He actually hung up……”
Gotou clicked his tongue. What was that brat thinking? What did he take him as? Gotou immediately dialed Yakumo’s number, but no matter how many times he called, Yakumo wouldn’t answer his phone. Yakumo actually took pride in seeing him panic! Yakumo’s personality really was as bad as his wife who had left.
A full five minutes had passed when Yakumo finally answered up his phone.
“Yakumo, I’m really sorry about before, I’m reflecting on it, really.”
“Do you always apologize to your wife like this?”
Well! Gotou didn’t know what to say. If Yakumo was right in front of him he would’ve really wanted to beat him up, but in reality, even if Yakumo was right in front of him, requesting him to do something, he couldn’t hit Yakumo. He could only smile bitterly before getting down to business.
“What do you know?”
“Before I tell you I want you to help me find a person.”
“It’s a friend of hers.”
“Her……are you talking about Haruka?”
“Correct, her friends name is Shiori Itou……”
“Hey hey, slow down a second. Even if you’re the one requesting it, I can’t help you find a person, do you understand?”
What on earth was he thinking? Even if the situation was reversed, wasn’t he asking too much from him?
“Don’t be so quick to anger, listen to my explanation. Even if I don’t ask you to do this, you’ll still want to know what happened to her.”
Was Yakumo hypnotizing him?
“Is she a stunning beauty?” Gotou jokingly asked, but Yakumo turned a deaf ear to him.
“That Shiori girl terminated her lease on her apartment a few days ago; there was something interesting in her house.”
“A picture with her lover.”
“That’s not unusual.”
“What if the person in the picture with her was Kenichi Katou. Are you still uninterested?”
“What did you say? She was Kenichi Katou’s mistress?”
Gotou excitedly hit the steering wheel, it let out an ear piercing honk, and it scared Gotou himself.
“Although I can’t say for sure, but I’m fairly certain that it’s not entirely unrelated to your case.”
It was like what Yakumo had said, after the man was murdered, his mistress’s whereabouts became unknown, this wasn’t a coincidence, there must be something connecting the two to each other.
“I’ll meet you in two hours.”
Gotou screamed before he hung up, and then he ran out of his car.
Once Haruka got home her doorbell began to ring. Who was it? Haruka looked through her peephole, once she saw that it was a postman standing outside she opened her door.
“Excuse me; you have a letter, could you please sign here?”
The postman handed her a letter with a return address, even though there was no name on the letter Haruka knew from first glance that the handwriting was Shiori’s. In her excitement she grabbed the letter from the postman’s hands.
“Excuse me, could you please sign.”
The postman prodded. Haruka snapped out of her reverie, she took the letter with her when she went to grab a pen, after she had signed and sent the postman away she closed her door.
Haruka’s hands shook as she tore open the envelope; she took out the five page letter and skimmed its contents. To Haruka……the far too angular letters for a girl were Shiori’s writings, Haruka had often teased her handwriting for being too boyish. It really was a letter written by Shiori, this was wonderful. Haruka’s heart surged.
Haruka remembered one of Yakumo’s theories, that Shiori, for some reason, had moved and didn’t have time to tell anyone, and once she had listened to Shiori explain why, she would think “Oh, I see” in relief.
Haruka returned to her room, sat down on her bed and began to read the letter.
The letter started with “I’m sorry.”
True to his word Gotou visited Yakumo’s place exactly two hours later.
“Gotou-san arriving on time is as rare as winning the lottery.”
Gotou was greeted by Yakumo’s straight to the point cynicism; if Yakumo didn’t ridicule or mock someone for a whole day would that means that he wouldn’t speak?
Gotou thought in his weariness while he sat down on a chair.
“Did you find any clues?”
“Easier said than done, in two hours, the best I could do was this much; the police’s capabilities aren’t limitless.”
“You were the one who said two hours.”
“Ok----ok----it’s all my fault.”
Gotou flung the envelope he brought with him onto the table.
Yakumo took out the files inside the envelope and began to read it.
“First of all, right now we only know her name, address, and her work place, but she quit a few days ago. She handed in her resignation by mail, I don’t know who, but it’s either the section chief or the department head who’s furious.”
Gotou remembered what had happened before and clicked his tongue unhappily.
“Also, what the hell did those guys take the police as?”
“Thank you for showing your abilities on a daily basis in order to protect the safety of the general public.”
Yakumo waved his hands to stop what Gotou was going to say and motioned him to continue explaining. Gotou cleared his throat embarrassedly and continued.
“A year ago, both of her parents died in a fire, her only living relative left was her grandma but her grandma has dementia and entered a nursing home. Both of her parent’s insurance money is enough for her grandma to spend the rest of her days in the nursing home. The grandmother doesn’t even remember her own granddaughter. The girl’s old house was also sold…….”
At that point, Gotou stopped and frowned.
“I was just wondering why she didn’t go back to her old house after her parents died and then I remembered she has nowhere to go……”
“It seems that you can empathize with people a little more now.”
“You, out of all people, most definitely do not have the right to say that to me!”
Gotou said through gritted teeth.
“Anyway, since she has nowhere else to return to, where could she have gone?”
“A person with no place to return to can only go to one place……,” said Yakumo, his eyes displayed endless grief.
Then, where is the place that Yakumo can return to?
Gotou couldn’t help but wonder. Wasn’t Yakumo also a person with no place to return to?
“I wanted to check with the moving industry but I didn’t get anywhere with that.”
“All her furniture and the like have been sold, she asked a dealer to get rid all of her other stuff, and on the same day she terminated her cell phone contract. It looks like she’s not planning on going anywhere or it could be like what you said……”
She wanted to die. A helpless women, after tragically losing her beloved, she had no reason to live anymore…… does one need a reason to be alive? Maybe it was her fatigue that caused her to not think clearly.
“In short, we have no idea where she is right now……Ah! I almost forgot, there’s another lead we got from the real estate company, and it’s very reliable. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters but today there was a person who claimed her brother and borrowed the keys to her apartment, very suspicious, isn’t it? The police are now trying to identify him from a fingerprint.”
Yakumo raised his thumb to Gotou’s eye level.
“For the fingerprint on the key, here.”
“I said, the person who pretended to be her brother and borrowed the key was me, so here’s my fingerprint.”
“Bastard! You should’ve told me that first! We’re already looking into it!”
“You should’ve asked. In short, please think of a good reason to cover this up.”
Gotou dejectedly collapsed, crestfallen. Not only was that the only lead they had, it also increased his workload. That demonic plague! Gotou cursed Yakumo over and over in his mind.
“But on the bright side, in the short period of two hours you were actually able to investigate this much.”
“Even though it’s a thousand times better than being praised by the head, it’s still not something I want to hear you say!”
Gotou pointed to Yakumo and shouted, venting out his anger and depression.
“In any case, I think that this Shiori girl is very suspicious, no offense to Haruka but she committed a crime. Disappearing after killing Emiko, its revenge for her deceased lover. It’s pretty reasonable, isn’t it?”
“Not at all,” Yakumo said, arms crossed over his chest.
“Why not?” Gotou stared at Yakumo.
“Wasn’t there a suicide note?”
“You don’t understand, for things like a suicide note or a will the perp could’ve taken a knife, or something of the like, and threaten her to write it.”
Gotou said and pretended to attack someone from behind.
“Will the handwriting still match if the person was being threatened to write it? Also, being forced to write a will means that she already knew that she was going to be murdered, if she knew that someone was going to save her then it wouldn’t be questionable, however this isn’t a suspense mystery drama playing two hours every day.”
He had a point. Gotou once again became crestfallen.
“Your initial theory is probably the most plausible.”
“I won’t be able to rest until this is solved. In this kind of desperate situation let’s go back to the crime scene……”
“Do you want to go?”
Gotou soon began to lift his spirits up.
After Haruka finished reading Shiori’s letter her mind was in a complete blank.
The contents of the letter were completely unbelievable, it was clearly Shiori’s handwriting, yet the writing was as if it was someone else.
The letter started with “I’m sorry”, firstly it explained the situation of Shiori’s lover, it was just like what Yakumo had predicted; they were having an affair. They met at a bar, and had talked with each other, because he was having fights with his wife he said that their home wasn’t his to return to anymore, this struck a chord with Shiori who also had no place else to return to. As a result they both treated the other as their own sanctuary.
Not long after, Shiori had gotten pregnant, he had decided to divorce his wife, at that time, he died, the cause of death was a heart failure. The blow of his death caused Shiori to have a miscarriage.
Yet Shiori could not believe it, she skeptically went to ask his wife, but the wife found her first, she told Shiori not to say a word and gave her a million yen in cash in return for Shiori’s silence.
At that moment, Shiori understood, she was the one who killed him……
Afterwards, she and his wife had a huge fight in front of the apartment.
From that moment on, Shiori began to loathe her, and began to harbor a murderous intent towards her. She had killed the one she loved, and she thought she could still give Shiori hush money and pretend that everything was all fine? Shiori couldn’t forgive her, and besides, Shiori herself had nothing else to lose.
As a result, Shiori decided to commit suicide after killing her.
Finally, the letter ended with three words, “I am sorry”---
And until now, about keeping Haruka in the dark about the matter was because she became a murderer and it would cause Haruka, her friend, trouble, in addition to her decision to commit suicide.
Selfish, she really was too selfish, actually bearing all of this by herself! Haruka would not let Shiori commit suicide. But she didn’t even know where Shiori was, how was she going to save Shiori……
That’s it! There was one person who might be able to save Shiori.
Haruka picked up her phone.
Gotou looked out of the driver’s seat window. Thick clouds drifted slowly overhead and began to cast the sky a layer of haze.
“Looks like it’s going to rain soon,” he said to Yakumo who sat on the co-driver’s seat.
However Yakumo did not seem to hear him, he was in deep thought. Gotou couldn’t guess what Yakumo was thinking about so he asked.
“Hey, what are you thinking about?”
Yakumo scrunched his face in annoyance. Yawn! Gotou speechlessly clicked his tongue.
At that moment a phone rang, but it wasn’t Gotou’s cell phone. Yakumo took his phone out of his pocket and answered it.
Yakumo looked surprised. Although it wasn’t clear, but he could clearly hear a women’s voice on the other end, and she sounded anxious and panicked. Was it Haruka?
“First, please calm down; I can’t understand what you’re saying.” Yakumo seemed to not be able to take it anymore and said in a forceful voice.
“……so afterwards you received a letter……I got it…….and then……”
What a close call! Gotou only paid attention to Yakumo’s call, but ignored the traffic signs, Gotou stepped on the emergency brakes, he originally expected Yakumo to scoff at him, but Yakumo was focused on the conversation and didn’t say anything.
“I understand now……it was like that huh……so that’s what happened……”
Their conversation felt anxiously slow, but Yakumo seemed to have found out something from the panicked Haruka.
“I’ll call you later, wait for me.” Having said that Yakumo hung up.
“What happened? What were you talking about?”
“We were saying that even you have times when you’re right.”
Yakumo was just serious, but immediately reverted back to his old self.
“Stop joking around and tell me!”
“It was sent to her house.”
“Yes, that Shiori girl sent a letter to her house, the letter said that she was going to kill Emiko and then commit suicide……”
“What did you say? That’s insane! We need to stop that Shiori girl right now!”
“You say you want to stop her, but where are you going to find her?”
“Well, there are a lot of places……”
He was right; a lonely girl who didn’t even tell her closest friend, looking for her would be as hard as reaching for the sky.
“Besides, if she was bent on committing suicide then looking at the timeline she’d already be dead, because she’s already achieved her goal, if she had any other goals then, at the time, those would’ve been another matter. In other words, if she’s not dead now, then she doesn’t intend to die.”
“Having said that, no one can say that human emotions are like chemical reactions, only having one specific result.”
“That’s a difference in opinions.”
“But, if it’s like that then this case would end. We don’t need to go back to the crime scene again do we?”
Gotou prepared to turn the car around but was stopped by Yakumo.
“No, we still need to go, there’s something that’s been bothering me.”
“What’s been bothering you?”
After that Yakumo remained silent, perhaps he was using his unique method of thinking to organize the case. Even though Gotou had no other choice he still decided to go with Yakumo to the end.
Haruka hung up the phone however she still was not able to relax. Yakumo said that he would call her later, but later would be too late. During this time, Shiori might have already taken her life. The pain of losing her parents, her lover and their child may have taken away her purpose for life, but does she need a purpose to live? Maybe Haruka couldn’t imagine her sadness, but the lone death of Haruka’s sister had made her confused and bewildered, painfully living through the past years, maybe she wasn’t in the position to talk about others.
But even so, she still wanted Shiori to live, even if the path awaiting Shiori was harsh and difficult.
Haruka couldn’t continue to stay in her room and leisurely think about it, she needed to quickly find Shiori. Haruka stuffed the letter into her jacket pocked and left the room.
When Yakumo and Gotou arrived at the crime scene, it began to drizzle, the December rain was piercingly cold.
“I hope it doesn’t snow……” Gotou looked at the sky and mumbled.
Yakumo slowly walked into the burned building, even though he had entered the room, the ceiling and walls were almost completely burned, making it hard to call it a “home”; on the floor was scattered glass that had changed shape from the heat.
“There’s something I don’t understand,” Yakumo suddenly stopped, and said Gotou who was at his side.
“After that Shiori girl killed Emiko, why did she send a will in Emiko’s name to the police?”
“That, well, of course it was to distract the police.”
“Was it really to do that?”
“What do you mean?”
“If it was to conceal her crime, then wouldn’t it mean that she wanted to live?”
“You’re not wrong.”
“Then, why did that Shiori girl write that letter to her? She was also planning on committing suicide……”
Yakumo wasn’t wrong. His heart began to clamor. A person planning on committing suicide would not need to make a murder look like suicide, it was then that he felt everything coming to light, but not completely, they seemed to have missed something.
It began to rain harder, the rain that had turned black because of the burnt coal trickled beside their feet; their visible breathing almost covered their vision.
Yakumo kneeled on one knee in front of the painted white outline of the victim’s body, eyes fixed on something.
“Can you see something?”
Yakumo didn’t answer Gotou. Did he not hear him? Or did he just not want to answer? Despite the fact that Gotou could not see anything, Yakumo probably saw something, looks like he could only wait. Gotou wanted to light a cigarette but couldn’t because of the humidity.
“Why are you here……” Yakumo murmured.
Raindrops hitting the ground were the only sound that echoed in the air. Gotou quietly waited.
“So it was like that……you were here from the start. If it was like that then…… she……”
Thunder crashing could be heard from afar.
“How can there be such a thing……if it was like that then……”
“Hey, Yakumo, what happened?”
“Gotou san, there’s something I want to confirm with the coroner, immediately.”
“The coroner? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t ask, hurry!” Yakumo bellowed.
Gotou had never seen Yakumo this worked up. It was a pressing matter. Gotou immediately called Hata.
“What?” Hata leisurely asked after the phone had ringed.
“There’s something I want you to confirm.”
“What is it?”
“Hey, Yakumo! What did you want to confirm?”
Yakumo didn’t answer Gotou; instead he grabbed the phone from Gotou’s hand.
“Before the body was burned did she have a right pinky?”
Yakumo clenched the phone in silence, looks like he was right, but Gotou didn’t not understand, why did that matter?
After Yakumo had hung up he quickly dialed another number.
She hadn’t thought much of it, but it started to rain harder.
Although she had rushed out of her home to find Shiori, could she really find Shiori like this? She had only succeeded in getting herself soaked and wandering on the streets.
The ringing of her phone mixed with the rain, it was an unknown number. Could it be? Haruka thought to herself, and picked up the phone.
“Are you ok? Where are you?”
It was Yakumo’s voice. What did he mean by “are you ok?”
“Where are you?”
Yakumo asked the uncertain Haruka again, he sounded exceptionally anxious.
“I’m……looking for Shiori……”
“Listen, go home, and don’t go out until I get there.”
“Why, I’m looking for Shiori……”
“She’s already dead!”
Unwanted rage stung deeply in her ears, she suddenly felt dizzy. Shiori was already dead……sure enough……surprisingly, the thought had already occurred to her. Her nose burned, her eyes felt hot, she couldn’t tell if it was rain on her face or her tears.
“If possible pick the most crowded route home.”
Crowded……Haruka looked around, she was at the hill on the way to Shiori’s, there was no one around, after all it was pouring…… She heard the sounds of a car engine; it was a van, slowly passing by Haruka. All of a sudden, the car doors opened, a quick hand grabbed Haruka from behind and into the van.
Her cries were cut off by a pair of hands that covered her mouth.
“Hello? Answer me! Hello! Shit!”
With a roar Yakumo threw the phone on the ground, the case almost split into two, a few parts popped out.
“……Hey, that’s my phone……”
However Yakumo did not hear him, he picked up the remains of the cell phone. Ah, the phone was beyond the point of repair.
“Yakumo, listen, calm down, what on earth happened?”
Gotou grabbed his wrist to calm him down.
“Our theory was wrong!”
Yakumo said while taking Gotou’s hand off his wrist.
“Yes, wrong. The one who died in the fire wasn’t Emiko Katou, it was Shiori!”
“What, what are you saying?”
“Emiko’s still alive! Perhaps Emiko and Shiori’s figure and blood type were the same, so she used her as a substitute. I just confirmed it with the coroner; Shiori lost her right pinky in an accident.”
“The burnt body didn’t have a right pinky?”
“It didn’t. She deliberately sent the will to the police, and after she killed Shiori, she poured gasoline onto the body, and burned it along with the house. The brother, Junichi purposely parked illegally to delay the fire trucks; it was all so the body would be burned beyond identification! He parked his car on the road and then went to the police station so he would have an alibi. This way, all the inheritance would be the brother’s.”
Afterwards the two would split the inheritance……the already deceased wouldn’t be able to track them, hence they would get away unpunished, and live a luxurious life. A chill went up Gotou’s spine, doing such loathsome things made him sick to the stomach, they were no better than cockroaches!
However they still managed to outmaneuver them. Even if science continued to progress, the police didn’t have the money, time, and manpower to conduct DNA tests on every case; even if they collected enough evidence, everything would already be over. This was a major blind spot, which was why she had purposely sent the will to the police.
“This is bad! We need to find out where Emiko is.”
“It’s too late.”
“Before Shiori died she sent a letter to her.”
“The letter that was mentioned before?”
“That’s right, however Emiko also knows about it.”
“It was the diary. Shiori had the habit of daily writing in her diary and that diary is currently in the hands of Emiko.”
He knew why Yakumo was raging. In their plan there was only one miscalculation, and that was the letter Shiori had left.
“Then where’s Haruka? I’ll send some people over.”
“Someone hung up her phone after I heard her scream!” Yakumo weakly said.
This cold blooded creature was also capable of worrying about someone like a normal person? It was a real eye-opener. But nothing would take away his feelings, no matter what happened, he would always give Yakumo a helping hand. Motivation spurred Gotou on.
“Stop dilly-dallying and let’s go!”
Gotou rushed to his car, it was too early to give up.
Haruka was pushed onto the car’s backseat, she felt a cold blade on her throat, if she made on little move, the knife would cut her throat. Haruka had seen the man that was holding the knife before, on the day she had dreamed about Shiori, they met in front of the apartment, perhaps he had waited for an opportunity to kill her since then, yet what was his motive?
There was a woman in the driver’s seat, but Haruka couldn’t see her face. Her hair, slightly curled, gave off a full feeling. The smell of perfume filled the car.
“Where are you taking me?”
Haruka focused completely on her trembling throat, and asked, yet the two did not answer.
“Why were you looking for me? Who are you two?”
Cold sweat dripped down.
The car stopped at a red light, the woman in the driver’s seat immediately turned around and smiled, revealing stained yellow teeth from smoking.
“You’re right, I haven’t introduced myself yet! Haruka.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I heard from your friend, Shiori was it?”
“You know Shiori?”
Haruka barely leaned forward before the man beside her grabbed her hair and forced her back.
“Muttering this and that, you’re annoying me to death kid!” The man said while he twitched one cheek like a rat.
Looking closely, he resembled Shiori’s boyfriend but not quite. Although they had similar facial features, they had completely different demeanors. The man before her seemed cowardly.
“Me, I’m called Emiko Katou and he’s Junichi Katou.” The woman in the driver’s seat said.
Haruka instantly felt her blood being drained. She was Emiko Katou……Shiori should’ve already killed her……and yet she was alive and in front of her, that meant……
“Seems like you know everything.”
“That’s right; logically speaking I should be dead.
“No need to be afraid, I won’t do anything to you.”
Emiko stroked Haruka’s hair, Haruka felt a chill, and she couldn’t feel any trust behind Emiko’s words. If she truly wasn’t planning on doing anything to her then she wouldn’t have told Haruka her name
“We’re, looking for a letter. Do you have the letter?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
So this was their purpose. How did they know about the letter?
Emiko said and slapped her, Haruka wasn’t fast enough and was hit, her cheek burned with pain.
“There’s no use hiding it, it’s written clearly in this diary, she would only tell the truth to you, that’s why she sent you a letter……”
Emiko threw the diary to Haruka; Haruka didn’t say anything and hugged the diary tightly. She knew now. Shiori was killed by them as a substitute……a wave of grief rushed to Haruka.
“Tell me, where is the letter?”
“Although it’s very rude, we’ve already searched your room.”
Even if I die I won’t tell you. I will never forgive you people.
Emiko slapped her again; Haruka fell back on purpose, and pretended to groan painfully.
Sharp noises came from behind, the traffic light had turned green, and Emiko wordlessly started the car.
Haruka stealthily took the letter out of her pocked and stuffed it under the car seat, this way she could buy some time. However what could she do in that time? Maybe someone would come and rescue her. But who? She could only hope for one person--- the guy who did things his own way at his own pace.
Although they were in the car, where should they go next? They were as useless as headless flies. Where should they look for Haruka? Damn! What should they do? Gotou was silent.
“Gotou san, you mentioned before that Kenichi Katou’s parents left him some land, correct?”
“Yea, that’s right, but what does that matter?”
“Where’s the land?”
What was he thinking at a time like this? Gotou looked at Yakumo’s profile, he was serious.
“The burnt building was part of it, some of it is in Shizuoka and Nagano, there’s another piece of the land in town; I think it’s an apartment building.”
“They’re there,” Yakumo asserted firmly.
“Are you sure?”
Although Gotou had doubts, there was no other way; he stepped on the pedal, raising dirt before speeding away.
“They have to get that letter no matter what, so they’ll find a place with no people to interrogate the letter’s whereabouts.”
“So it’s like that……”
If he was wrong, then it would all be too late, even if they were able to bring Emiko to justice, they wouldn’t be able to change the fact that the number of bodies increased. Now, however, he could only put his trust in Yakumo’s deduction, perhaps Yakumo was more anxious than he was.
“I’m speeding up! Hold on!”
Gotou turned on the police siren and stomped on the gas pedal.
Emiko Katou drove the van into a construction site, the building was almost complete, only the interior was left to finish.
The car drove through two buildings and arrived at the entrance of the basement. Following the slope down into the basement, they then turned left and drove to the end. The only light was from the headlights of the van.
Junichi pulled Haruka out of the car; she lost her balance and fell face first to the ground, clutching the diary. Her lips were slightly cracked, and her face distorted in pain, but before she could take a breath Junichi once again pulled her to her feet by her hair.
“I can stand up by myself, let me go!” Haruka yelled and waved away Junichi’s hand.
Emiko operated a switch like control on the wall, the sound of an electric motor grating against metal was heard; the door seemed to be closed. Haruka’s face was bruised; her spark of hope had quickly blown out, by doing that, the parking lot turned into a confined space.
Haruka knew that she was trapped in, she closed her eyes. She didn’t want to! The person who killed her friend was right in front of her yet she couldn’t do a thing……
No, if she was killed, at least Yakumo would be able to find the truth; that was her only salvation. If she died, then would that insensitive, indifferent, eccentric and arrogant person feel sad? Haruka suddenly thought.
“I hope we make it in time……” Gotou muttered, he was sweating out of anxiety.
“Please make it in time.”
“Hey hey, it’s easy for you to say.”
“Even you think it’s difficult?”
This guy, not knowing when to be quiet even at a time like this.
“Easy as pie.”
Gotou hadn’t once stepped on the brake, he roughly honked and started passing cars.
Cars close to the sidewalk braked, honked and cursed at Gotou’s reckless driving, but Gotou didn’t listen. This was not the time to care about the little things, being late by a minute or a second could lead to incomparable consequences.
It was an urgent situation. As long as Haruka didn’t give them the letter then all could be saved. Don’t give up, I’m on my way with Yakumo, so you have to hold out! Gotou sent the message that couldn’t be sent in his heart as support.
There was a severe impact followed by a loud noise.
The car rushed onto the sidewalk, knocked down three bicycles and then hit a telephone pole.
There were cracks all over the windshield. Damn! It just had to be at this time. Gotou thought in displeasure. His forehead felt sticky, he reached to touch it; his hand was stained with blood. He looked over to Yakumo.
“Are you all right?”
“Fortunately……” Yakumo pressed his shoulder and answered.
Gotou looked back, a black car was parked on the street, the car’s bumper was crushed but it was only a small collision, the only ones that were injured were Yakumo and himself.
Gotou tried to start the engine, but it wouldn’t fire, he tried again, it still didn’t start. Shoot! Please, please start!
Junichi took off Haruka’s jacked and searched its pockets, Emiko stood behind Haruka, and without restrain she put her hands into the pocket of Haruka’s pants and clothes, Haruka could only endure the humiliation.
“There’s nothing here.”
Junichi said while he threw her jacket aside, Emiko also seemed to have given up and walked in front of Haruka, pulling out a knife.
“Just tell me, where is the letter?”
It would be lie to say that Haruka wasn’t scared, but she wouldn’t yield, this was the only thing she could do now. Haruka stared straight at Emiko.
“You don’t think that you can get out of this unscathed do you? Let me tell you something, in reality, even the protagonist die.”
“I know that, but even if I told you, you don’t intend to let me go.”
After a second, Emiko punched her, the strength of the punch was stronger than the slap, Haruka saw stars, and she backed into the car and fell to the ground on her butt, the smell of blood spread in her mouth.
“Just tell me! I don’t have time to do this with you!” Emiko shouted, disheveled.
How satisfying! No matter how fierce they were, they were still feeling uneasy, if they had no way of knowing the whereabouts of Shiori’s letter, then they could only restlessly think about their demise.
That’s right! Maybe she could use their anxiety in her favor…… but even if they were panic stricken, she had no chance of winning against two people. She needed to think of a way to reduce the number of people on the other side, and if possible leave only Emiko.
“If I tell you where the letter is, will you really let me go?”
Emiko looked shocked, but the expression immediately changed into a dirty smile.
“Of course, miss.”
Liar. Haruka thought.
“The letter’s in my room.”
“Stop lying, we’ve already looked through your room.”
“Did you do it thoroughly? Did you also check the refrigerator?”
An idea had hit Haruka and she had told a huge lie. She wasn’t Yakumo, how could she put everything into the refrigerator. Junichi looked up, thinking.
Junichi speechlessly ran to the car, Emiko threw him the car keys. Success! It looked as if they hadn’t looked in the refrigerator. Junichi opened the door, tires screeching, and left. There was only Emiko and her left.
“If you’re lying, I won’t let you go.”
How would she not let her go? Haruka stood up, back still against the car; she looked straight at Emiko and smiled. Emiko expression stiffened.
“Why did you kill Shiori? Because she took your husband?”
Emiko proudly looked down at Haruka, sneered, put a cigarette into her mouth, lit it and puffed smoke at Haruka.
“This was all carefully planned. Killing my husband and making it look like he died of an illness, deliberately letting the police figure out that it was a murder, and letting your friend discover that I was the one who killed my husband……”
“You were planning on killing Shiori from the start.”
“That’s right! The plan wouldn’t have succeeded without your friend; no, I should say that the appearance of your friend made me think of this plan. We have the same figure and blood type, plus the fact that both of her parents were dead, she has no one to rely on, making her the perfect double for me, don’t you think so?”
“Not at all! Shiori wasn’t born to become your double! She had her own life! And you destroyed it!” Haruka shouted with all her might.
She would never forgive the women in front of her! It was the first time in her life that Haruka wanted to kill someone.
“Stop pretending to be a know-it-all!”
Emiko punched Haruka, but Haruka stood her ground.
“If your friend hadn’t had an affair with my husband then she wouldn’t have been caught up in this, it’s her own fault. She was too committed to their forbidden romance, and in the end burned herself while playing with fire!”
Emiko laughed out loud.
“In reality, it’s because your husband was taken away from you that you’re bitter.”
“Sassy little girl! You’re of no use anymore; go to hell!”
Emiko pressed the knife onto Haruka’s throat, she felt a chill.
It was already too late.
Haruka closed her eyes.
The end of life came so easily.
In short, after she died she’d go to Yakumo.
Yakumo would find her.
Even so, he would use that same bleary eyed expression and say something sarcastic like “why are you here”……
“Don’t give up……”
A voice said beside Haruka’s ear, it was Shiori’s.
Haruka opened her eyes, hope shined before her eyes.
She used all her strength to push Emiko aside, Emiko staggered back and fell to the ground on her butt; she looked in disbelief for a moment before getting up and rushing towards Haruka. “You’ve made a fatal mistake.”
Haruka pointed at Emiko, she stopped.
“A fatal mistake?”
“Yes, a fatal mistake. Besides you two, there are other people who also know about the existence of the letter, moreover they have already figured out the truth.”
“Stop trying to scare me!”
Emiko shouted, but her eyes were insecure, and wavering. She had detected the change in Haruka’s demeanor; it was already too late to figure out what happened.
“If you think I’m lying then turn around.”
Hearing that, Emiko slowly turned around like a rusty robot and was dumbfounded.
Yakumo and Gotou were standing behind her.
“Emiko Katou, you have a lot of explaining to do,” Gotou said, face covered in mysterious blood, while holding his police badge.
Emiko opened her mouth to talk, but only closed it, not forming a sentence.
“Ah, also, we accidently ran into Junichi at the entrance, he’s already under arrest.”
Emiko stood transfixed, naturally, because their plan had been a complete failure, she had no way of escaping. Gotou put a hand on Emiko’s shoulder, but in that moment --- Emiko suddenly spun to face Haruka, charging at her with the knife, Gotou tried to stop her but was one step too late, Emiko dodged his arm and sprang at Haruka.
All this played out in slow motion in front of Haruka.
Fear made her unable to move.
Yakumo seemed to have said something.
You’ll be stabbed!
The thought flashed through Haruka’s mind, suddenly someone stood in front of her.
Emiko fell forward before she could reach Haruka, the knife fell out of her hands; Gotou crouched over her to immobilize her.
“Are you ok?”
Yakumo rushed to Haruka’s side, Haruka just stared ahead blankly.
“Shiori……Shiori saved me.”
Haruka sank to the floor.
“Aah, that’s right, she saved you.”
“Thank you,” Haruka said to air.
“Can you see her?”
Yakumo asked. Haruka shook her head.
“I can’t see her, but I can feel it, Shiori’s here right now……”
Haruka hugged Shiori’s journal to her chest, the journal had the faint scent of cinnamon.
“So it was that, I understand, I understand now.”
Haruka chuckled, she knew Shiori’s secret ingredient for making cocoa; the secret ingredient was cinnamon.
“Many people have saved you…… maybe it’s because they want you to do something,” Yakumo said thoughtfully, Haruka nodded slightly.
Looking at Yakumo’s face, the suppressed and mixed emotions in Haruka’s heart washed over her, she bit her lower lip but couldn’t suppress the flood of tears.
Haruka clung to Yakumo and burst into tears.
After being interrogated, Emiko had confessed to everything. According to DNA tests, the burnt body was indeed Shiori's, Emiko and Junichi were prosecuted for the murders of two people, even though they didn’t know how many years they would spend in jail, it was going to be hard for them to escape life imprisonment.
Gotou was about to recount what happened next, however Yakumo looked disinterested.
“I can’t believe this, I came all the way to tell you about this and yet, you just look uninterested.”
“It’s no use telling me to be excited about this right now, I’ve did everything I could do. And about the truth, even if I didn’t listen to the police reports I know what happened; besides, the information Shiori’s ghost gave us was the key to the case, the police probably covered that up. The report’s slightly different from the truth, isn’t it?”
“Ok, ok, ok, I got it!”
Gotou feebly waved his hands; he was the one who didn’t know anything at first so he wanted to explain it to him.
“What I want to know is what's your punishment.”
It was a nuisance of a topic, even though Gotou had cracked the case, he didn’t receive any praise, because when he was chasing the criminal, he had unexpectedly hit a car and left the scene.
“All in all, before my punishment is handed to me, I have to stay at home and reflect on my actions, I may also be fired.”
“Misfortune never comes singly.”
He had actually said it like what happened had nothing to with him! Although Gotou wanted to tell Yakumo, “You’re also partly responsible!” He didn’t, at least they rescued Haruka; it was a fortunate turnout considering his misfortunes.
“But it’s not all bad.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your wife probably came back, right?”
Gotou’s eyes widened.
“How did you know?”
“Hata-san told me.”
“How do you know Hata-san……”
Gotou stopped halfway through, he had a general idea of what might’ve happened, that old man wanted to satisfy his desires by any means necessary.
"However, it’s rare for your wife to come home, if you lose your job, she’ll probably leave again.”
“Don’t worry about that, besides I have a plan.”
“It probably isn’t a very good plan.”
“I’ve made up my mind! I want to open a detective agency.”
“Then please work hard.”
Yakumo yawned loudly.
“I’ve been thinking; if I were to open a detective agency, then I’ll need to hire an excellent assistant.”
Gotou smiled warmly at Yakumo.
“Please don’t look at me like that, it’s nauseating.”
“Think about it?”
“No chance in hell.”
Humph! Gotou snorted.
“You have something else to tell me, don’t you?”
Yakumo crossed his hands over his chest, and looked at the ceiling. His exceptional human perception shocked Gotou; he had already seen though him. To tell the truth, he was still wondering if he should tell Yakumo or not, he couldn’t predict what Yakumo’s reaction would be, from his point of view, he honestly didn’t want Yakumo to know, but even if he hid it from him now, one day Yakumo would still have to face it. Gotou steeled himself and told Yakumo.
“As a matter of fact, when the police were interrogating Emiko, she said something strange.”
“Yes, she said that the one who plotted this wasn’t her.”
“Was it Junichi?”
“It wasn’t him…… a man went to Emiko’s place one day, he seemed to have known her plan to kill her husband and helped her to plan it.”
“She remembers asking him his address, occupation and name, but she can’t recall it now, if it was a lie to get an acquittal it’s too vague, but she doesn’t remember the man, even if we believed her we can’t do anything.”
“And yet, your think that……”
“Yes, I think there’s a possibility that she was hypnotized or of the sort, and a part of her memory has been removed, and the only thing she remembers about that man troubles me.”
“What is it? Stop dragging it and tell me.”
“That man was said to have crimson red eyes……”
Yakumo just quietly listened.
“……That man actually tricked……” Yakumo said after a period of silence.
Sure enough! Yakumo’s one sentence confirmed Gotou’s uneasy thoughts.
He wanted to believe it was just a one-time occurrence, but he could only pray that it wasn’t the start of a chain of horrifying incidents.
Haruka visited Yakumo two days after Shiori’s memorial service and funeral, it had been a long time since she’d last worn a skirt and high heels, it made her feel uncomfortable.
“Are you feeling better?”
Haruka nodded at Yakumo’s inquiry. Yakumo dropped his shoulders with a sigh.
“About that……I felt that……”
“……No, it’s nothing.”
“Why are you hesitating, if you have something to say then say it!”
Yakumo crossed his arms over his chest, thought for a while and said.
“A person who normally chatters about, but then suddenly stops talking, is going to harm their body.”
“What are you saying? Don’t talk about people as if they’re noisy footsteps.”
“Isn’t it true?”
Haruka was once again silenced by Yakumo’s language, but she felt slightly saved. After the incident she seldom left her house, she didn’t eat, she just repeatedly read Shiori’s diary, crying for days, but now she felt herself gradually become calmer.
“Shiori’s saying ‘thank you’.”
“Can you see her?”
Haruka leaned and asked Yakumo. Yakumo nodded without a word.
“I’m the one who should be thanking you. And I’m sorry.”
Haruka slowly looked around the silent room, and said quietly.
“Can Shiori hear me?”
“Yes, and, Shiori has something to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“Although I’m not sure what she’ talking about, she's saying ‘he’s unexpectedly a good man.’ Also, she says you get emotional during critical times, she wants you to be more honest……”
Haruka couldn’t help but chuckle, Yakumo tilted his head quizzically.
“Help me tell her to mind her own business.”
“What is it?”
“It’s nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Not bothering to ask her anymore, he sighed. Anyhow it was probably about some trivial matters. Haruka looked at his expression and laughed out loud.
“I’ve always been thinking, if I was able accept different opinions, and not be prejudiced about affairs, then maybe Shiori would’ve told me sooner…… I regret it. I feel that I’m narrow-minded.”
“What about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“If you were a sensible and mature adult, then Shiori wouldn’t have confessed to you now would she?”
Haruka thought hard about the meaning of Yakumo’s words, but she still was unable to comprehend any of it. Yakumo looked at the frowning Haruka, shrugged and said.
“Human interaction is complicated.”
“Your explanation is still confusing.”
“……In short, you’re fine the way you are now.”
“Stop calling me ‘you’.”
“If now, what should I call you?”
“Calling me by my name would be fine.”
“I refuse!” Yakumo rudely replied.
He drank his tea; Haruka looked at her watch, confirmed the time and stood up.
“I have to go.”
Nevertheless Yakumo didn’t say a word, he yawned like a cat. Did he not say “goodbye” or something along the lines of “See you next time”? But then again, if he did say something like that, it would’ve made her uncomfortable.
“Even if there’s nothing next time, can I still come over?”
Yakumo was silent. Haruka desolately put her hand on the handle.
“Do me a favor; don’t bring anymore trouble next time you come.”
Haruka looked back; Yakumo remained sleepy eyed as he drank his tea.
“You don’t need to tell me that. I know how to make the most delicious cocoa known to man-kind; I’ll make it for you next time.”
Haruka opened the door and left Yakumo’s room.
However, what Haruka didn’t expect was that what happened next would make her break her promise with Yakumo.
-End of Volume 1-
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