Shinrei Tantei Yakumo:Volume 1 Prologue
That day, starting from dawn, thick layers of clouds hid the sun.
It was high noon, but the sky was dark and hazy, and the delivery room was surrounded by a heavy atmosphere. Iida Yoko was even more nervous than the pregnant woman on the hospital bed, because there was only her and Doctor Kinoshita in the delivery room.
Today was the first time Yoko was doing a delivery on her own. To her it was a heavy burden, but there was no one else. Today wasn’t the pregnant woman’s expected delivery date, and the experienced senior nurse-----Matsumoto had taken an early vacation for the Bon Festival*; she started her vacation yesterday. If it had been a public hospital there wouldn’t have been much harm, but they were a private hospital, so they were understaffed.
Also, this pregnant woman’s due date was supposed to be two weeks later, but because this morning her water suddenly broke, so she was immediately sent to the hospital.
Kinoshita gazed sharply at the anxious Yoko, as if telling her: Don’t let the patient see your frantic expression. He didn’t know how many times he had said to her: If a nurse is restless it will spread to the patient. Even though the naturally nervous Yoko knew this well, she still couldn’t help but show her emotions.
She nervously wiped away the pregnant woman’s sweat.
“It’s ok, just a little more, do your best.” Yoko said while trying to smile, but she knew very well that she couldn’t possibly smile.
The pregnant woman painfully wrinkled her eyebrows and clutched the armrest so tight that she was convulsing.
“AAAAAAAH HAAAAAH!” The pregnant woman let out an animal-like howl.
A nameless chill crept up Yoko’s spine. She didn’t understand what she was so afraid of.
“The head is already out, push a little more.” Kinoshita said.
But the pregnant woman didn’t seem to hear Kinoshita’s words.
“The baby’s head is already out, just push a little more.”
Yoko whispered into the pregnant woman’s ear. She felt the pregnant woman’s expression relax a bit. A little more! Just a little more, and she could be free from this suffocating room. Yoko started to relax too.
“In, out, in out, in out, in----“
Yoko put her hand on the pregnant woman’s shoulder, she made her repeat the breathing exercise over and over: she wasn’t just trying to calm the woman down; she was also trying to calm herself down.
In, out, in, out, in out, in---- the pregnant lady matched her breathing with Yoko’s.
A little more! A little more and it’ll be all over!
“Push a little more!” Yoko encouraged in a more commanding tone.
Doing what Yoko said, the pregnant woman used all her strength, her body distorted with exhaustion.
To Yoko’s ears that yell sounded more painful than dying.
The baby’s cries permeated the delivery room.
“Wonderful.” Kinoshita said.
Yoko let out a sigh of relief.
“Thank god, you successfully had your child.”
Yoko said while wiping away the woman’s sweat. Maybe it was because of exhaustion but she didn’t answer Yoko; she just stared at the ceiling with empty eyes. Somehow she processed the thought just gave birth to a new life, and tears streamed out.
She released all of her tears. Yoko had just realized she had burst into tears too.
“How can this be, this child……” Kinoshita inadvertently blurted out.
What happened? What is the meaning of this?
“Iida, give me a light……” Yoko didn’t have time to process Kinoshita’s words; he had already given her a command. Hurriedly she wiped away her tears with her sleeve, while taking a flashlight to Kinoshita.
The usually calm and collected Kinoshita was now panicking. He roughly grabbed the flashlight out of Yoko’s hand; he shined the light onto the baby’s face.
Kinoshita didn’t answer Yoko. It was a successful birth, so what was wrong? Yoko peered at the baby.
She shrieked, when she stumbled back she accidentally hit the cart, causing the tray on the cart to fall to the ground with the sharp sound of collision.
Yoko couldn’t believe her eyes. Was it a trick of the light? She studied the baby’s face again, but no matter how many times she looked it was still the same. It wasn’t a trick of the light; she didn’t see wrong, the baby’s eye was really…
“Doctor, this is…”
“Quiet. We can’t let the patient panic.” Kinoshita scolded Yoko in a stern voice.
Kinoshita’s rough tone stopped her, Yoko quickly stopped talking, but it was too late.
“My baby, my baby.” The woman on the delivery platform struggled to wave her arms.
“There is nothing wrong with your baby. Please calm down.”
Yoko hurried back to the woman’s side and grabbed her hand, trying to calm her down. Yoko tried to comfort the woman in a gentle voice, but she couldn’t hide her uneasiness. The woman saw the uneasiness expression on Yoko’s face.
“My baby, my baby.”
The woman repeated it over and over like she was reciting a curse. As if the baby was resonating with his mother’s voice, he cried even harder. There was a disturbing atmosphere in the air.
“There is nothing wrong with your baby, please calm down.”
“Is my baby really safe?”
The woman’s question made Yoko’s body rigid with uneasiness, she didn’t know how to answer the question. The baby was safe and healthy, but…
“Everything’s fine, your baby’s perfectly healthy.” Kinoshita answered the woman’s question, Yoko wondered if she was hearing right.
There was no way they could let the mother see her child, But Kinoshita, holding the baby, slowly walked towards the woman’s side.
All traces of struggling left the woman’s face. In their place, there was a warm smile of seeing her child for the first time.
Yoko pulled Kinoshita away and whispered to him,
“Is this really ok?"
“We have no choice, we can’t possibly hide it forever.”
Kinoshita was right, the child’s mother would know sooner or later; even if they could hide it for now, they couldn’t hide it forever. Yoko couldn’t say anything to object.
Kinoshita handed the baby over to the mother, and she hugged him tightly. Her face was one of extreme happiness, tears of happiness streamed down her cheeks.
“Ah, my baby.”
The mother studied her child’s face for the first time.
This…… Her expression stiffened, and her face was as pale as ash, as if all the blood had been drained from it.
The mother’s sad cries pierced through the delivery room.
The moment the baby was born he opened his left eye. The iris shone with the brilliance of raging flames: it was shining red.
- The Bon festival is a Japanese Buddhist event held on July 13th to 15th on the Lunar calendar. It is the period when people pray and honor the dead.