Shinrei Tantei Yakumo -
Volume 2 Chapter 3
VOLUME 2 - THAT WHICH CONNECTS SOULS file 03: resurrection ()
‘Oi! Old man! What the hell is this?’
Gotou yelled as he opened the door to Hata’s room.
’You’re noisy. Can’t you be a little quieter?’
Hata scowled in annoyance. To hell with his annoyance.
Gotou sat on the folding chair.
’How could I be quiet about this!? There’s another corpse – what the hell is happening?’
’There’s nothing to it. I’d like to ask myself,’ Hata replied in a casual tone.
Even the demonic old man who was doing things at his own pace couldn’t hide his irritation.
’Who’s the vic?’
’Hashimoto Rumi-chan. Fourteen years old. After she drowned, her corpse was disposed of in a dumpsite.’
’Is it the same?’ Gotou asked to check.
When a big incident like this occurred, there were sometimes copycat crimes. In order to prevent them, the police wouldn’t share all the details of the crime until it was solved.
By doing so, cases could be classed.
’The murder method and situation with the corpse are the same as with the second victim, Miho-chan. On top of that, there are lacerations on the right ankle. Those were also found on the other two victims.
On the girl they saved, they had seen the same thing – the laceration on the right ankle had probably been caused by something like chains.
Hata flipped through the documents on his desk and spoke, almost to himself.
’She didn’t go home yesterday. Her parents didn’t worry about it since they thought it was just her doing her usual thing. There hadn’t been any request when the corpse was found. It was reported in the news that the murderer had died. That might have put them at ease.’
Damn, this was a terrible police error.
But that would mean –
’Old man, you think Andou wasn’t the perp?’
’I don’t think that’s it. There is a mountain of things we wouldn’t be able to explain if Andou weren’t the perpetrator. Though the investigation is still taking place, we found Andou’s fingerprints at the ex-water gate and the first victim Ayaka-chan’s bag and hair. No matter how I think about it, Andou is the murderer.’
’Then why’s there a third corpse?’
’I don’t know. It’s my job to analyse. It’s your job to investigate.’
The perverted old man really had a mouth on him.
In any case, it seemed like he’d have to ask for Yakumo’s appearance again.
’Sorry to bother you.’
Gotou stood up and moved to leave but Hata called out to him.
’Do you remember seeing this man?’
While he said that, he handed a photo to Gotou.
In the photo was a middle-aged man wearing sunglasses. There was a faint smile on his pale face.
Gotou felt the blood in his body go cold.
This face. As if I could forget it. This man. He’s –
’Oi, old man. Where’s this photo from?’
’From the location where the corpse was found. He was there when the second victim Miho-chan was found too. And this time he was looking at me from a distance too.’
He was at the place the corpse was found. Did that mean he was connected to the case somehow?
That’d make this a serious affair. The overview of the fake murder case for insurance money a month ago came up in Gotou’s head.
’Once could have been overlooked, but twice. And that faint smile. No matter how you look at it, that’s not the face of a curious onlooker. I took a few photos.’
’Old man. I’m borrowing this photo.’
’Borrowing? Does that mean you’ve got a hint as to who he is?’
Gotou ignored Hata’s question and left the room.
While walking with long strides, he looked at the photo again. It wasn’t just a hint.
I didn’t think we’d meet up again like this –
The next day, Haruka accompanied Yakumo to visit Kinoshita’s hospital.
They had two objectives. One was thanking Kinoshita again for saving her. The other was to ask about the spirit of the girl who had appeared at the river.
Since there was the fuss with the exorcism yesterday, they were still in the middle of their conversation.
The reason why Ayaka-chan was still in the river even though the perpetrator had died.
They wanted to find out the meaning behind that.
Even though they had visited without notifying him beforehand, Kinoshita said, ’Thank you for coming,’ and he invited Haruka and Yakumo into the examination room.
’Excuse us for coming by so suddenly. I wanted to thank you for the other day. I’m really very grateful.’
The first thing Haruka did upon entering the examination room was bow her head and express her gratitude.
’Don’t worry about it. I just did my job,’ said Kinoshita with a smile, and he urged Haruka and Yakumo to sit.
They took him up on his offer and sat down next to each other on the round chairs.
’I came today to ask you a few things,’ Yakumo said, going right to the point.
’That’s right – Yakumo-kun is a detective. You’ve grown up splendidly.’
Kinoshita nodded with a smile.
Eh? Yakumo was a detective? Since when?
He had definitely come up with a lie on the spot again.
’I have to apologise for that.’
Kinoshita looked dubious.
’I am not a detective. When I came the other day, Gotou-san had just come up with an appropriate lie.’
’Is that so?’
’I am just a student.’
Even after finding out that Yakumo had deceived him about who he was, Kinoshita didn’t look particularly angry.
’Then this isn’t about my daughter.’
’Though this isn’t an investigation, I would still like to ask about your daughter.’
Kinoshita gave Yakumo an evaluating look.
He would talk about his murdered daughter if the listening party was the police. It wasn’t something he would talk about freely with somebody he didn’t know at all.
’Wasn’t the case solved? I was contacted about that.’
’Yes, the perpetrator has been confirmed.’
’Then what do you want to know?’
Yakumo took a deep breath before speaking. It was unusual discretion for him.
’Kinoshita-san. What are you trying to do for your daughter?’
Kinoshita stared at Yakumo with his mouth half opened. He looked like he didn’t understand what Yakumo was talking about.
’Did you promise your dead daughter something?’
’I did make a promise.’
For a moment, Kinoshita looked surprised, but his expression soon returned to normal and he answered Yakumo’s question.
’But why do you know that?’
Yakumo took the black contact lens out of his left eye.
He turned his red left eye towards Kinoshita.
’You know about my eye.’
’Yes, of course.’
Eh? Of course? Doctor Kinoshita knew about Yakumo’s eye from before?
Haruka felt like something had been left out of the conversation.
’This eye of mine isn’t just red.’
’As a doctor, you might not believe this, but my eye can see the spirits of the dead.’
Kinoshita didn’t confirm or deny Yakumo’s words.
He just looked at Yakumo’s eye silently.
’Yesterday, I met your daughter at the river where her corpse was found.’
The moment Kinoshita heard those words, his eyes opened wide and he gripped Yakumo’s shoulders tightly.
’Really? Is that true? Then my daughter – Ayaka is really there!’
His face was red with excitement, like his calm demeanour from before had been a lie.
He won’t deny it? He completely accepted Yakumo’s ability to see the spirits of the dead.
Even though he’s a doctor –
’Though this is very unstable so I shouldn’t talk about it between people, if it’s just a bit...’
Yakumo responded like he had been pressured into it by Kinoshita.
’So Ayaka – did Ayaka say anything!?’
Kinoshita was so agitated he started shaking Yakumo’s shoulders.
’Please calm down,’ Yakumo said, taking Kinoshita’s hands off his shoulders.
Kinoshita might have realised he was more agitated than necessary, because he hung his head and muttered, ’Forgive me,’ staring at his hands.
’Your daughter said “stop already”...’
Kinoshita looked up in response to those words.
’What does Ayaka-chan want to stop? Don’t you know the answer to that?’
After Yakumo spoke, Kinoshita shook his head back and forth.
His shoulders were trembling a little. It felt like he’d collapse if Haruka touched him. He felt like Haruka’s mother had when Haruka’s older sister had died.
That was how it seemed to Haruka –
’You said this to me before. Your mother had tried to kill you...’
Haruka had heard that before this.
Kinoshita even knew about that?
’At that time, you asked me what excuse your mother could make.’
Yakumo nodded silently.
’To say the truth, I feel the same way. I can’t possibly understand the feelings of a parent who would try to kill their own child. I don’t understand... but I can understand the feeling of a parent who has lost their child as well as anyone else.’
Kinoshita stopped speaking then and bit his lip.
It looked like he was trying to bear the pain.
’To be honest, I was a failure as both a parent and a husband before. It was my dream to have my own hospital. I was stubborn and lost myself in that dream. I didn’t consider my family even once. On the contrary, I was even adverse to it. Then, my wife collapsed. It was cancer.’
’Cancer?’ Yakumo repeated.
’Though I was a doctor, I didn’t notice anything strange about her condition. When I noticed, the metastasis had already started... I was too late.’
Kinoshita’s voice was filled with sadness, like he was letting out something that he had kept in for years.
’It’s a truly shameful story. I couldn’t save my wife... But I promised my wife something just before she died. I promised her that I would definitely protect Ayaka... How about that? I couldn’t protect her...’
Kinoshita’s tightly gripped fists were shaking with an anger he couldn’t hold in.
That anger wasn’t at the murderer but at himself.
’Why didn’t I take her to and from school? Why didn’t I call the police sooner? If I had looked after her properly, Ayaka might not have died...’
No. that wasn’t true. It wasn’t the doctor’s fault.
Haruka wanted to yell those things out, but she just couldn’t put the words in her mouth.
I know that even if I say anything, it wouldn’t be any consolation.
He resents himself for not being able to save someone he loves –
Haruka had experienced it too. She felt responsible for her sister’s death and blamed herself for thirteen years and did so even now. When she herself was like that, she couldn’t tell Kinoshita not to blame himself.
’That’s why I promised Ayaka... I told her... to wait, since I would definitely save her...’
’Then, you started researching how to resurrect the dead.’
Resurrect the dead? What was Yakumo saying? There was no way that was possible. Plus, Kinoshita-san was a doctor. He should have known that better than anyone.
’How do you know that?’ Kinoshita asked with a gasp.
’The books in this room. The Definition of Soul and Body. The Cycle of Death and Reincarnation. All of the titles are related to the resurrection of the dead.’
Kinoshita didn’t respond.
He just looked at Yakumo with tears in his eyes.
’No matter how much you research, you, as a doctor, should know best that it is impossible,’ Yakumo said slowly.
That was right. No matter how you struggled, no matter how much you suffered, the dead wouldn’t come back. Yakumo could see the spirits of the dead. However, even if he could see them, that was different from them being alive.
’Yakumo-kun. Could I ask you one thing?’
Yakumo nodded at Kinoshita’s words.
’The connection between the body and the soul... What do you think it is?’
’I don’t know.’
An immediate answer. Kinoshita looked puzzled at how quick the reply was.
’All my eye can do is see, so I don’t know the answer to something that difficult. If I knew, I would be able to fix this eye.’
’However, I do recognise that a soul is a cluster of a person’s emotions.’
’A person’s emotions?’
Kinoshita slowly thought over Yakumo’s words.
’I apologise for taking so much of your time.’
After Yakumo said that, he stood up by himself and headed towards the door.
Haruka hurriedly followed him.
’Could you let me ask one last thing?’
Kinoshita called out to Yakumo. Yakumo didn’t turn around.
’What is it?’
’Earlier, we were talking about your mother, but don’t you want to know who your father is?’
Yakumo’s father –
Before, he had said his father didn’t exist as long as he didn’t remember him.
However, that was just a question of Yakumo’s own feelings, and he couldn’t have been born without his father.
’I’m not interested,’ Yakumo said lightly, like he didn’t care, and he left the room.
Ishii was idling in the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room with nothing in particular to do.
He hadn’t seen Detective Gotou since morning.
He had tried calling his mobile multiple times, but the phone just rang with no response.
An unauthorised absence? No, Detective Gotou wouldn’t –
He might have used an enormous amount of spiritual energy to solve this case. No, that had to be it. There was no might about it.
Right now, Detective Gotou might have been suffering in a way that Ishii could not possibly understand. He couldn’t just idle like this. Ishii knew where he lived. He would go check on him.
Just as Ishii stood up, he heard a knock.
After he said, ’Please come in,’ the door opened.
Standing there was a young woman wearing a classy grey trouser suit with her long hair tied in the back.
There’s no way I’d forget her. She’s –
Ishii was so shocked he jumped onto the desk.
This was the woman who had been possessed by a ghost. Hijikata Makoto.
It was unexpected that she had already gotten better to the point that she could walk by herself in such a short time.
She was pale and her cheeks were a bit hollow, but that matched her almond eyes and slender frame.
Looking at her like this, she could be called a beauty, but Ishii’s frightful impression of her was too strong.
’I wanted to express my gratitude to you for saving me.’
Makoto bowed in a calm and delicate movement.
’A-ah, no, y-you don’t have to thank us...’
Ishii had consciously tried to speak in a way that his voice wouldn’t shake, but it was no use.
’Excuse me, but why are you on the desk?’
’Eh? Ah, no, this – I was going to clean...’
Because you’re terrifying – he couldn’t say that.
Ishii hurriedly jumped off the desk. He lost his balance and almost fell.
’It seems like that has only made it messier.’
Makoto covered her mouth as she laughed.
It was only natural, since he had jumped up in his shoes.
Ishii forced himself to laugh.
’You know my name?’
’I was conscious at the time, though it was only in bits and pieces...’
Ishii understood. So that was how it was.
That odd point caught his interest.
’I did something awful to you, Ishii-san,’ Makoto said quietly, sounding ashamed as she hung her head.
Perhaps she was talking about when he had brought Makoto out. That had been awful. She had bit and chewed on him. He really had gone through a lot.
’No, that’s not... There was nothing you could have done.’
’You still have the injuries. Are you OK?’
Makoto reached out with a pale, slender finger towards Ishii’s bruised left eye.
At that moment, Ishii’s nightmare came up in his mind. Inflamed eyes. Bared teeth. A low growl –
Ishii yelped and jumped onto the desk again in response.
At the same time, the door opened and Gotou came in.
’What are you doing? Are you a monkey?’
’Ah, no, I have a good reason...’
Ishii got off the desk dejectedly.
’It’s not the time for that! We’re going!’
Was he going to do something even in this situation?
If he used any more spiritual energy, he would die. Ishii had to stop him.
’Even if you tell me to go, Detective Gotou, your spiritual energy...’
Just as he said that, Gotou’s iron hammer of a fist fell on the crown of Ishii’s head.
If this were a manga, stars would have been circling above his head.
’What spiritual energy, you fool!? You read too much manga! I’ll give you a good wallop the next time you say something so idiotic!’
Hadn’t he already walloped him?
Gotou grabbed the scruff of Ishii’s neck and dragged him out into the corridor.
’E-er. Detective Gotou. I came to thank you for the other day.’
Ishii heard Makoto from behind them.
’Shut up! I’m busy now! Leave it for later!’
Detective Gotou waved his hand like he was chasing away a fly.
Still, Detective Gotou is in such a rush. What on earth happened –
’Hey – does Doctor Kinoshita know you from before?’
While they walked on the road by the river, Haruka asked this question to Yakumo, who was walking a little in front of her.
The way Kinoshita had spoken had certainly made it sound that way.
’I completely forgot. Or rather, I have no memory of it,’ Yakumo said, facing forward.
He spoke so vaguely that Haruka didn’t understand.
’What do you mean?’
She quickened her pace to walk beside Yakumo.
’Doctor Kinoshita was the doctor in charge at my birth.’
While she was surprised, she also understood. In that case, she could accept that he had forgotten.
’Well, that’s all there is to it, so we’re practically strangers.’
Haruka still had one more thing to ask –
’So what was that?
Yakumo’s feet halted at Haruka’s question, as if time had stopped.
Yakumo ran a hand through his hair with a troubled expression and lowered brows as he started talking.
’That girl’s spirit is bound to that river because of Doctor Kinoshita’s strong emotions.’
’Yes. He irresponsibly promised that he would definitely save his dead daughter. That keeps her in that river.’
’How can we release her?’
Yakumo didn’t reply and just gazed idly at the river.
Haruka did the same, turning her eyes to the moving surface of the river.
On the other shore, young men and women were having a barbecue. White herons were resting their wings in the sandbank.
How did Yakumo feel?
Haruka stole a glance at his profile.
The pencil-straight bridge of his nose, his tightly closed lips. Was there anything reflected in his narrowed almond eyes?
’Doctor Kinoshita will have to give up for the girl to be released.’
Finally, Yakumo spoke.
’Yes. As long as he doesn’t acknowledge that his daughter will not be coming back, she will stay in that place.’
’How can we make that happen?’
’I don’t know that much. In any case, it won’t work if he is still reading books about reviving the dead and reincarnation.’
Haruka grasped the gist of what Yakumo was saying.
When she had been in the river, Ayaka-chan had said this. ’Stop already’ –
Those words had been for her father, Doctor Kinoshita.
’I wonder if things will work out.’
’If things were going to work out, they already would have. This is a problem of a person’s heart. It’s not something we can fix by talking. Doctor Kinoshita has to acknowledge it himself.’
It was just as Yakumo said.
Outsiders like them wouldn’t change anything by explaining to a father who had lost his daughter that she wouldn’t be coming back.
’Well, all we can do is see how things go,’ Yakumo concluded.
Haruka caught herself before she said, ’That’s right.’ That was dangerous. So many things had happened that she had almost forgotten the cause of all this trouble.
’Then what about the haunting Mayuko-chan is still worried about?’
Yakumo twisted his neck, making it crack as he spoke.
’You saw it too, right? The spirit of the girl in the river.’
’Which means the girl’s soul is still in the river. She’s not with your friend. Which means she’s mistaken.’
’But she had sleep paralysis and saw a ghost of a girl. She said she heard voices...’
Yakumo scratched at the back of his neck, looking annoyed.
’Human beings have active imaginations. She had the terrifying experience of seeing a ghost of a girl in a river. That actually happened. Then she thought that she had been possessed by that ghost. However, that was a delusion.’
Haruka understand what Yakumo had said so far.
’After that, she lived her life suspicious of everything, thinking that there was a ghost near her. The result was that she thought something in a dark room that she couldn’t make out was a girl. Small noises she couldn’t discern became people’s voices.’
’But that sort of thing...’
’Happens. Didn’t you experience it yourself before?’
Did she do something like that? She couldn’t remember at all.
’Honestly. It’s because you don’t learn that you always drag me into your trouble.’
He always said too much.
’It’s because you always remember unnecessary things that people hate you, Yakumo-kun.’
Yakumo snorted at Haruka’s cynicism.
’I’m talking about the spirit photography I showed you before. After I said that there was a person’s face in the grooves of the tree, you saw a face, right? It’s the same for the girl. She’s living with the preconception that there may be a ghost.’
Oh. So that’s how it was.
Finally, Haruka understood too. If there was a preconception, all thoughts would end up connecting to it.
I understand that. But –
’What should I do?’
Yakumo raised an eyebrow, like he was saying, How would I know?
’You might not like it, but the best method would be to tell her that everything’s fine because the ghost has been exorcised.’
’That’s a lie, right?’
Haruka flared up.
’Then tell her the truth. Say, “Everything you saw was an illusion. You’re psychologically ill, so I recommend that you go to a hospital for counselling.”’
’I will then.’
No matter how she thought about it, that was obviously the better method.
’However, if she doesn’t accept that explanation, she’ll bring her story to another spirit medium. If they’re an unsavoury one, they’ll take her money.’
To be honest, she wasn’t confident Mayuko would understand if she told her the truth.
’If you can’t say it, then telling her not to worry because the ghost has been exorcised will take away her fear. It’s your choice.’
Haruka grabbed onto Yakumo’s shirt as he tried to walk away.
Yakumo’s cheek twitched in irritation like that of a cat whose sleep was disturbed.
Haruka looked up at Yakumo as she pleaded with him.
’Stop that – it’s disturbing.’
Disturbing? How rude.
But she didn’t say that aloud. She’d lose everything if he got angry at her here.
’Yakumo-kun. Please. Go explain.’
She pleaded with him again.
’I get it, so please don’t look at me with such disgusting eyes.’
He said it again!
As Ishii drove, he looked at Gotou reclining in the passenger seat.
He had his arms crossed, and underneath his furrowed brows, there was a sharp glint in his eye like a hound’s.
Just as Ishii had been wondering why he hadn’t seen Gotou since morning, he had suddenly returned to take Ishii out, saying, ’We’re going!’ and now they were headed towards the university by car.
’Detective Gotou, what on earth happened?’
Ishii couldn’t stand it – he asked a question.
’That’s why you’re useless!’
Gotou suddenly yelled at him angrily.
’But, um, since I haven’t heard anything, it’s natural for me not to know, or that’s what I...’
’Can’t you do anything without being told!? If you’re a detective, perk up your ears and listen! That reporter woman’s got a much leveller head on her shoulders!’
Ishii apologised though he didn’t know why, pressured into it by Gotou’s shouting.
The conversation stopped there, and then the only thing that could be heard in the car was the sound of the wind.
’This isn’t public yet, but another one was found.’
Breaking the awful silence, Gotou spoke, as if to himself, while holding a cigarette in his mouth.
Ishii didn’t understand what Gotou was saying.
He asked his question while fixing the position of his glasses.
’Another girl’s corpse.’
Ishii’s voice cracked at the unexpected news.
’The third victim. She was found at a dumpsite this morning.
A girl’s corpse? Third victim? Dumpsite?
’You must be lying. I mean, Andou was the perpetrator, and that Andou is already dead, so the case is...’
Ishii replied quickly, like he was turning over the words he couldn’t understand in his mind.
A new corpse shouldn’t have been found if the perpetrator is dead –
’It’s too late to be surprised! That’s why I’m in a rush!’
Gotou’s spittle flew through the car.
Oh. So that’s why –
It’s as Detective Gotou says. There’s no time for careless worrying. I’m a failure as a detective for not noticing anything even in such a terrible situation.
But, with all that said, why are we going to meet the young man called Yakumo?
I couldn’t understand that at all –
Once Haruka returned to her room, she lay on her bed, overwhelmed by exhaustion.
Was that really OK –
Haruka was assaulted by a sense of self-loathing. Even though it had been because she couldn’t think of any other methods, she had ended up deceiving Mayuko.
After their talk, Haruka had gone together with Yakumo to Mayuko’s flat.
The moment Yakumo entered the room, he had said, ’It’s strong. I feel an extremely strong spiritual energy.’ Haruka had wanted to yell ’Liar!’ but she’d swallowed her words.
In the end, Yakumo had said, ’I will exorcise the spirit now. I would appreciate it if you would leave for an hour because of the danger,’ and that was the end of it.
Mayuko had asked, ’Hey, I’ve seen that person at the university before. Is he really an exorcist?’
Haruka had lied without thinking about it. ’It’s fine. That person is from a well-known family of exorcists.’
What a ridiculous monkey show –
Right after Mayuko left the room, Yakumo said, ’Wake me up in an hour,’ and he went to sleep, using a cushion as a pillow. Oi.
When Mayuko returned in an hour, Yakumo pressed his hands together in prayer and innocently said, ’It was an extremely strong spirit, but somehow I was able to remove it. That ghost will not appear in front of you again.’ Haruka couldn’t interrupt to say he had only been sleeping.
Mayuko started sobbing in her happiness, like she had been released from her fear.
Haruka’s feelings of guilt grew.
On top of that, Yakumo had received money from Mayuko.
She couldn’t believe it. It was true that Mayuko was the one who had offered to pay as thanks, but would you normally accept it? Usually people would just wave it off, saying something like ’I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I didn’t help.’
This was outright fraud. And Haruka had been an accomplice.
Honestly. She felt angrier the more she thought about it.
After Haruka woke up, her mobile started ringing. It was from her mother.
<You haven’t called lately – are you doing well?>
Her mother spoke in an unbelieving tone from the start of the phone call.
Haruka’s anger dissipated. That was her mother for you. Just hearing the voice made her feel safer.
’Yup. I’m OK.’
<Did something happen? Your voice sounds strange.>
Her mother had seen through her.
Her anger at Yakumo had lessened. Her voice probably sounded strange because the conversation with Doctor Kinoshita still bothered her.
’Mum, were you sad when my sister died?’
Haruka didn’t know why she’d asked that, but it had come out of her mouth. It had to be because she had heard Kinoshita and Yakumo talking.
<Of course I was. Why are you asking that all of a sudden?>
It was natural for her mother to be suspicious.
’I’m currently studying criminal psychology at school, and there was a lecture on the psychology of the parents of victims which caught my interest...’
Haruka said the first lie that came to mind.
Her mother replied, <I see,> but it seemed like she didn’t know whether to believe Haruka.
’If my sister hadn’t died in an accident but had been killed, how would you feel?
<What do you mean?>
’For example, would you hate the murderer?’
<That I would...>
Her mother replied to her question earnestly.
’Would you want to kill that murderer?’
What on earth am I asking my mother? Would you kill him? Would you not –
What am I planning to do if my mother says she would want to kill the murderer? I’m at fault for my sister’s death.
When she finds out the truth, will my mother hate me? Will she want to kill me –
For a while, the silence continued.
’Hm, if killing the murderer would bring back my dead child, I might.’
My mother’s voice was warm, but also cruel.
’Yes. I don’t think a parent’s feelings will change whether it’s a murder, accident or illness. You don’t think that their death can’t be helped just because it’s an illness. Though it’s the same for a murder...’
That might be true –
’In any case, we want them to live. That’s all. That’s why I would kill as many murderers as I needed to if doing so would bring back my child.’
If it would bring back her child –
Doctor Kinoshita had said the same thing. His promise with his daughter wasn’t to take revenge against the murderer but to save her.
If Kinoshita could go back to the past, he would probably kill Andou without thinking.
Haruka couldn’t arrange her thoughts properly in her head, but that was probably how it was.
Then, a doubt came up in Haruka’s mind.
A doubt that can’t come up, but a doubt that has come up so many times before. If I were the one who died instead of my sister –
<Haruka. What are you thinking about?>
Even through the phone, her mother could probably feel the change in her mood.
Her mother sounded concerned.
But I can’t say this to my mother. The truth about my sister’s death will be my cross to bear forever –
Her mother’s voice felt far away.
If she knew I was at fault for my sister’s death, how distressed would my mother be –
<Haruka. Are you blaming yourself again?>
Haruka suddenly couldn’t breathe when she heard her mother’s unforeseen words, just as she had when she had been drowning in the water.
<You think you’re responsible for your sister’s death, right?>
Why does my mother know that? I’ve never mentioned this to her once, and I haven’t let her see me behaving like I do either.
And yet –
’Mum... You knew...’
That was all she could say.
<Of course I do. How long do you think I’ve been your mother?>
<So you know. It’s not your fault that your sister died. You were just playing around and you threw the ball a little far. It’s not like you tried to kill your sister. That was an accident.>
Haruka knew that much.
I never told anybody. I thought I had hid it in my heart all this time –
Her nose felt prickly, and the corners of her eyes felt warm.
<Haruka. You are you. You’re not your sister. A parent doesn’t care about whether their children can study or play sports or things like that. They just want their children to live and be happy. Do you understand what I’m saying?>
Haruka silently nodded.
The warmth in her mother’s words filled her entire body.
Something that had frozen over was slowly melting –
When she was younger, she had always been unhappy about her older twin sister, who was better than her at everything.
Haruka had thought that her mother hated her, since she was worse at everything – studying, sports, music...
After her sister died, she had been frantic in trying to be like her. She had been scared that somebody would say ’You should have died’ if she didn’t.
’Mum, how did you know...’
’I even know who your first love was. Ken-chan, right? He got married some time ago.’
That was right. Ken-chan. He had dark skin and was a shorty. He had been nimble and playful.
Her mother really knew everything.
<You have someone you like now, right?>
Haruka’s heart skipped a beat at her mother’s sudden words.
’Why do you think that?’
<When you came back home, you were grinning about something you remembered.>
’I did that?’
<You did. What sort of person is he?>
She wasn’t really aware of it herself, but it was probably him.
’He’s incredibly contrary. He’s selfish and not nice at all.’
<My, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.>
Her mother laughed, sounding like she was enjoying herself.
’OK. Next time I come home.’
Haruka hung up.
At the same time, tears started coming out like a dam had been broken, and she cried aloud. Haruka didn’t know whether it was from pain, sadness or happiness.
Her body trembled, and her chest was so hot it felt like it would burn.
In that wave of emotion that made it hard for her to breathe, Haruka realised that the cross she had been carrying up until now had been an illusion –
How long did Detective Gotou plan on staying here?
While Ishii had that doubt, he couldn’t say it aloud, so he just looked at Gotou, sitting on a folding chair with his legs crossed.
It had already been almost thirty minutes since they’d come to the young man called Yakumo’s secret hideaway at the university.
Ishii couldn’t understand at all why Gotou was so fixated on him.
’Damn that bastard. Where’d he run off to? It’s a serious matter,’ Gotou yelled, revealing his anger.
At the same time, the door opened and Yakumo came in.
Yakumo looked obviously displeased at Gotou, who had spoken.
’This is illegal trespassing. Ishii-san, please arrest this man now.’
Yakumo pointed at Gotou.
Arrest? In that case, Ishii was committing the same crime.
’Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to banter with you.’
’What a coincidence. I was just thinking that I don’t have the time to play with you either.’
’That’s not what I meant. She was found.’
’Stop screwing around! A girl’s corpse! The third victim was found!’
Gotou’s voice which he couldn’t hold in burst out.
At that moment, Yakumo’s expression stiffened. Even Ishii understood that it wasn’t because Gotou’s outcry had surprised him.
’Please let me hear the details.’
Yakumo sat on his own chair and crossed his arms as he urged Gotou.
’The victim’s name is Hashimoto Rumi-chan. She’s fourteen, same as the other victims. Like with the second victim, Miho-chan, she was thrown into a dumpsite after she drowned. She was found this morning. She probably died last night.’
Gotou summed it up all in one go.
Yakumo didn’t open his mouth. He furrowed his brow and looked down.
’Does that mean Andou wasn’t the murderer?’
Ishii spoke up.
Yakumo and Gotou both glared at him at the same time. Being glared at by these two was truly terrifying.
’Andou is definitely the murderer,’ Yakumo said indifferently.
’I checked with old man Hata this morning. Andou’s fingerprints and Ayaka-chan’s hair were found at the building.’
So there was evidence –
’Detective Gotou. T-t-this is just a possibility. Could that evidence have been faked?’
’Who would do that and for what purpose?’ Yakumo immediately rebutted.
After hearing Yakumo’s words, Gotou put a photo on the table.
’How about this? This guy did it to hide his murder.’
Yakumo’s eyes went wide when he took the photo into his hands.
His teeth were clenched together so tightly it seemed like they might break with a crack.
There was a tall man wearing sunglasses in the photo.
The bridge of his nose was straight, and he looked like he was smiling. On top of that, the man’s face looked vaguely like Yakumo’s.
’Gotou-san. Where did you get this photo?’ asked Yakumo, looking at Gotou sharply.
Gotou’s expression was equally stiff.
’Seems like he was in the crowd of onlookers when the corpse was found. For both the second victim Miho-chan and this time’s Rumi-chan. Old man Hata thought he was suspicious so he took the photo.’
’If this man is connected to this case, this won’t end easily.’
’I know. Thirteen years ago – and that fake murder case a month ago – this is going to be difficult.’
Thirteen years ago? A month ago? What were these two talking about?
They were talking like they knew this man from before.
’Gotou-san. Do you still have the corpse of the third victim?’
’Yes, let’s go.’
Gotou and Yakumo stood up at the same time.
Right then, Yakumo’s mobile started ringing.
Yakumo curtly answered the phone. ’What trouble do you have for me this time?’
Haruka didn’t know why that had come up in her mind herself.
The soul of the girl, still in the river, with the same name as her sister.
Yakumo had said this. That girl was bound to the river by her father’s strong emotions. Haruka wanted to save her if she could.
Before she noticed, she had pressed the call button on her phone.
<What trouble do you have for me this time?>
Once the call connected, she heard a curt voice.
’It’s not trouble. I just wanted to ask you something.’
’Honestly. I just want to ask about Doctor Kinoshita.’
<That was already solved, wasn’t it?>
’That’s true, but that girl will be stuck in the river like this.’
’Can’t anything be done?’
It felt like he had planned on giving up from the start, or he might have thought it wasn’t their problem.
’But the girl seems pitiful.’
<How meddlesome can you be? I said it was a problem of Doctor Kinoshita’s heart.>
’I know, but... I was thinking of trying to get Doctor Kinoshita to understand once more.’
<Give up. Nothing’s going to change just because you said something.>
Yakumo’s opinion makes sense.
It’s not something I can solve on my own. But –
’Can’t you come with me?’
For a while, Yakumo didn’t say anything.
Doctor Kinoshita said this. His daughter died because of him –
Haruka wouldn’t say she had felt the same way, but she had lived her life up until now carrying similar feelings. ’Your daughter’s death wasn’t your fault.’ She wanted him to understand that, at least.
<How would you feel if you were in the position of the parent?>
Yakumo’s tone changed slightly.
Other people might not have noticed if they heard it, but I can tell –
Haruka recalled something Isshin had said before. ’That boy is really kind, but he’s bad at showing his emotions.’
’What do you mean?’
<Would you give up on your daughter if somebody explained the situation to you?>
’I think that’d be impossible.’
<Then you understand. Doctor Kinoshita has to solve this problem on his own.>
Haruka understood what Yakumo was saying.
But she still wanted to save that girl. Those strong feelings hadn’t been changed.
The girl with the same name as her dead sister.
I probably want to do something to save her and be pardoned. I want to be released from the burden of having killed my sister.
I know that’s just my own selfishness. But –
’I want to do something.’
<Fine. If you want to go, just go. But I can’t help you right now. If you’re going, you’re going on your own.>
It sounded like Yakumo had given up.
Now that she thought about it, it would feel like running away if she borrowed Yakumo’s strength now.
<If you meet Doctor Kinoshita, tell him my message.>
<Please let your daughter go. Your emotions are trapping your daughter in that dark river. What the dead want is for the living to be happy...’
What the dead want is for the living to be happy –
Those words pierced deep into her heart.
Haruka said that and hung up.
Kinoshita gasped, like his suffering was forcing its way out.
I failed again –
Why? What was wrong?
I promised my daughter. I promised I would definitely save her. And yet –
Kinoshita said those words like he had vomited them, and he stabbed a pen into his desk.
The plastic pen broke with a loud snap, but his anger still did not abate.
He stood up, picked up the chair he had been sitting on with two hands and threw it towards the wall.
The chair hit the cabinet and created a large dent before falling to the floor.
Blood flow invigorated him, and his temperature went up.
He punched the wall with his fists.
The impact went along his arm, but he didn’t feel any pain.
Lost in his anger, Kinoshita punched the wall again. He punched it again, again and again.
Not just with his fists – he also hit the wall with his head.
A crack split down his parched heart, and it started crumbling.
Emotions that weren’t appeased –
The police had said the incident was over.
It was true that it had been determined who Ayaka-chan’s killer was, and that killer had already died.
I already know that.
It isn’t over yet for me. It’s not a matter of who the murderer is. Nothing will be over under Ayaka comes back.
That which connects the soul and the body. That’s the key.
Success isn’t impossible if I can find the answer to that question.
But I don’t have the time to wait for that.
I’m breaking –
Kinoshita felt it.
His phone started ringing. He had a call.
Hata was making preparations while waiting when Gotou brought Yakumo to the autopsy room.
The girl’s corpse was on the autopsy table.
This very young girl –
Gotou’s anger started building up again.
He looked at Yakumo standing beside him.
His face was white and proper like porcelain. At first glance, he left a composed and cold impression, but that didn’t look at Yakumo’s true nature.
If you brought trouble to him, he would complain a lot, but he could’ve just ignored it if he hated it so much.
However, he would talk on and on, but in the end, he would stick his neck in instead of letting it go. That was the type of person he was.
’Old man, sorry about this.’
’Don’t worry about it. I wouldn’t be able to sleep like this either.’
Hata let out an uncanny laugh.
Gotou walked with Yakumo to the side of the autopsy table.
The girl lying on the autopsy table was covered up to her shoulders with a white sheet. There weren’t any noticeable injuries, but the lips on her swollen face, characteristic of drowning, had turned purple.
It didn’t match up. That was how Gotou felt.
This girl’s life and death were so different from each other.
Until the moment came, she might not have even thought that she would die.
She woke up in the morning, brushed her teeth, ate breakfast, went to school, talked with friends, thought about the person she liked, and now, she’s here –
An inappropriate shriek echoed through the tiled autopsy room.
I’d forgotten. Ishii’s here too. Making such a disgusting scream. What’s he so afraid of? Maybe –
’Is this the first time you’ve seen a corpse?’
’A-ah, yes,’ Ishii replied, his teeth chattering.
Honestly – this fool. It made Gotou worry about the future. For now, Gotou just hit him.
Yakumo gazed upon the girl’s face.
His brow was furrowed, and his eyes were serious. He was looking. Looking at something they couldn’t see.
’You see something?’
Yakumo shook his head.
’It was no good. I thought that if the girl’s spirit was still here, I might be able to grasp something, but...’
Yakumo bit his lip.
Things wouldn’t be that simple.
But if he couldn’t see anything, what would they do?
’There aren’t any external injuries?’ asked Yakumo, a hand on his chin.
Hata took the sheet off of the girl’s ankles. The toenails were painted pink. The ankle showed signs that suggested it had been bound.
’There’s this laceration. That’s all.’
’Hata-san, the girl drowned, correct?’
’There’s a lot of water in her lungs.’
’Do you know where she drowned?’
’Probably a river somewhere.’
’After examining the water in her lungs, we found the eggs of freshwater fish mixed in it.’
’I see. A river, eh...’
Yakumo put a finger to his brow.
Unfortunately, all Gotou could do was wait. Yakumo was in charge of thinking. He was in charge of taking action.
Gotou suddenly looked over at Ishii. In that case, would he be in charge of playing the fool? Gotou didn’t need somebody in charge of that.
’Something’s odd, right?’ Hata said, turning his neck round and round. It seemed like his neck would turn a full rotation from the momentum.
’Since I was drawn into this case from a completely different direction this time, I knew almost nothing about the chain of incidents, but the third victim’s cause of death is different, isn’t it?’
’The first victim, Ayaka-chan, was strangled. The second victim, Miho-chan, and the third victim, Rumi-chan, drowned.’
Hata answered Yakumo’s doubts.
’Gotou-san, there’s something I would like to ask.’
’Let us forget about whether Andou is the perpetrator or not for now. This girl was killed yesterday, correct?’
’Yeah. What about it?’
’Where was she killed?’
’The old water gate, right?’
What was Yakumo saying now?
Yakumo had asked the question himself, but he denied the answer immediately.
’Please think about it. The police should be investigating the old water gate currently. Would the crime have been committed in front of the police?’
’Oh, now that you say that.’
That’s right –
Silence filled the room.
Suddenly, Hata brought his hands together, like he had remembered something.
’About that old water gate. The first victim, Ayaka-chan, and the girl who was in danger of losing her life, Keiko-chan – their DNA was found at the site, but...’
’The second and third victims’ weren’t found, correct?’
Yakumo continued Hata’s words.
Hata crossed his arms and nodded.
’As I thought, that’s how it was...’
Yakumo looked down and spat those words out unpleasantly.
Gotou didn’t understand at all about what was ’how it was’.
’Oi, Yakumo. What are you talking about?’
’That would mean there is another perpetrator.’
Yakumo lifted his head and spoke like what he said was obvious.
’Another perpetrator!? An accomplice?’
’Not an accomplice.’
’You were the one who said it.’
Gotou drew closer to Yakumo.
’What I said was that there is another perpetrator.’
’Stop acting so important and just say it already!’
Gotou grabbed Yakumo by the collar and glared at him.
’What a violent attitude. Maybe I will just stop talking.’
Damn, this contrary little –
’Ah, I sincerely apologise. Please explain this to me.’
Gotou let go of Yakumo and bowed his head.
’I don’t feel your sincerity, but I’ll forgive you. We, as well as the investigation department, have made a huge mistake.’
’Yes. A mistake. First, the investigation department’s title needs to be changed.’
Who cared about the investigation department’s name?
Really, what an irritating guy.
’I said this before, but the case this time has two different cases, and there are two perpetrators with different goals.’
’Eh? Really now.’
Ishii spoke before Gotou, sounding like he was playing dumb.
’There really isn’t anything to be surprised about. If we take away our preconceptions and use the process of elimination, that is the only possible answer. No matter how difficult a truth it is to believe.’
Yakumo’s eyes narrowed, and he stared at the autopsy wall almost as if someone was there.
’Explain it so even I can understand.’
In his irritation, Gotou put a cigarette in his mouth, but Hata immediately complained – ’This is a no-smoking area’ – so he couldn’t light it up.
’First, the one who killed Ayaka-chan and abducted Keiko-chan was Andou. There is no doubt about it. Evidence has been found. However, the second victim, Miho-chan. The third victim, Rumi-chan, could not have been killed by Andou.’
’As you know, Andou had already died when Rumi-chan was killed.’
’Then how about Miho-chan?’
’You would understand if you think about the purpose of the murder. Though this is just my reasoning, I explained about Andou’s psychological state before.’
Gotou nodded. Yakumo had said that Andou had a fear towards death that could even be called a disorder because he had seen his mother’s suicide. When the girl said that he should die, those words lit the fear in his heart.
’If my reasoning is correct, it was important for Andou to kill the victim himself.’
’I see. Miho-chan and Rumi-chan died from drowning. They weren’t killed by the murderer,’ Hata said with crossed arms, sounding like he agreed.
’No, wait a second. Can’t you kill someone by drowning them?’
Gotou interrupted the conversation.
’Well, you push them from the back like this...’
After Yakumo spoke, Gotou took Ishii, who had been beside him, and pushed the back of his neck forward to show an example. Ishii flailed about, surprised by the suddenness.
’Weren’t you listening to what we were saying early?’ Hata said, snorting.
’Shut up, perverted old man.’
’Perverted was unnecessary. I explained this before, but the girls who were drowned only had lacerations on their ankles.’
’What about it?’
’If someone pushed their necks down like you’re doing now, there would be signs of pressure applied there.’
Gotou understood what Hata said and took his hand off of Ishii. That’s right. That’s certainly true. Then that would mean –
’Then how were they killed?’
Gotou tried cocking his head, but no valuable thoughts came to him.
’From the state of the corpses, weights were probably attached to the girls’ ankles so they would sink into the river,’ said Yakumo, pointing at the ankles.
At this point, Gotou could get the gist of it.
Chains or ropes had been tied to the girls’ feet. On the ends of those, there had been weights, and they had been thrown into the river. Then they wouldn’t have been able to float to the top of the river, so they drowned.
If that was the method, it would mean that Andou wouldn’t have killed them himself.
In short, there were two murder methods from the start.
There were also two perpetrators.
Since it was a unique situation where girls of the same age were abducted in the same area and their corpses were found without any requests, the police had ended up investigating it as a serial abduction murder case.
From the start, if looking at there being two perpetrators with separate cases, the third victim found after Andou’s death still wasn’t anything odd.
’Then what’s the second perp’s motive?’
’I don’t know.’
Yakumo replied immediately to Gotou’s question.
Well, that made sense. It wasn’t something that they’d understand just from talking about it. Since there were two cases, the investigation would have to start again.
A heavy silence filled the room.
With this strange situation in front of them, they wouldn’t open their mouths quickly.
’But this murder method...’
Hata spoke with his mouth turned down at the corners.
’What about it?’
Hata smiled bitterly at Gotou’s question. It seemed like he didn’t plan on saying it aloud.
He ran a hand down his white hair before starting to speak reluctantly.
’I just thought that this killing method is similar to some sort of ritual for a sacrifice.’
Honestly. Of all things, this perverted old man –
’Ah, I thought that too.’
Ishii spoke up while raising his hand.
He had bright eyes, like a primary school student who’d solved a question on a test. What was up with that face –
This time, Yakumo was the one to murmur.
’Oi, oi. cut it out.’
Gotou couldn’t hold it in any longer and spoke up.
’Please throw away your preconceptions,’ said Yakumo, his eyes narrowed like he thought Gotou was being a fool.
’I don’t have any preconceptions, but what you’re saying is just some occult stuff.’
’What you blurted out is a preconception. Even if you don’t believe in the occult, Gotou-san, there are people in this world who do. In the case of these people, saying that what you don’t believe in doesn’t exist is heading down the wrong direction, just as the investigation did this time.’
Gotou clicked his teeth and stopped objecting.
He wouldn’t win even if he argued with Yakumo. He would just get knocked about by Yakumo’s hair-splitting.
’If this is some sort of ritual...’
Yakumo looked down and furrowed his brow as he said something.
Hata and Ishii were roused up in a creepy conversation about people’s heads and goat blood or something like that.
Even though the others were the ones being strange, Gotou felt like he had been left out.
Why did he have to feel so ashamed? He felt more and more irritated.
’Perhaps this is...’
Yakumo suddenly raised his head like he had thought of something. After a moment, his face turned pale and he ran out of the autopsy room.
’Oi, Yakumo. What’s wrong?’
Gotou chased after Yakumo into the corridor.
That guy. He didn’t even turn around. Yakumo had definitely thought of something. But what was it? And why was he in such a rush?
Yakumo took his mobile out of his pocket and started making a call.
However, whoever he was calling didn’t answer. He made a ’tsk’ sound and stuck the mobile back in his pocket.
Gotou grabbed hold of Yakumo’s shoulders as he tried to walk away and stopped him by force.
Yakumo’s eyes were bloodshot, and it looked like he might jump at any moment.
’Do you think you know who the perp is?’
Yakumo was just taking deep breaths, like he was trying to hold back his agitation, and he didn’t answer.
Gotou shook Yakumo’s shoulders.
’Just now, a terrible thought came to me. I would like to prove it wrong if I can,’ Yakumo said, his voice strained.
Gotou didn’t know what terrible thought Yakumo was talking about.
Yakumo probably wouldn’t tell him even if he asked, but now that he’
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