“Now we know why she asked us to find her sister,” she went on. “Why she thought her sister was going to kill herself again when she saw her organs. When she learned that her sister’s body disappeared and came back, she probably felt that her sister was trying to escape from her. She wanted to kill her sister with her own hands before her whole body fell and her suicide was established. She was afraid of her sister re-attempting her failed suicide.”
“You said she told you very little about her sister’s suicide. She doesn’t like telling people that her sister killed herself. Because that would mean telling others that she died of her own will, which is not the case. She killed her sister herself. My sister is mine, is what she thinks. She knows that for a fact, but she can’t stand it when others think otherwise. At this rate, her sister will truly escape from her hands. That’s why she absolutely has to kill her.”
I want to kill my sister.
Because I love her.
Now that I really thought about it, there was something wrong with what she said. Those two statements contradicted each other. There was no logical equivalence there. Not one bit.
“She will commit suicide again. For real, this time. That’s why she has to kill her before then. Her killing herself is the biggest and the worst form of betrayal.”
A deranged form of love.
I let out a deep breath. I felt suffocated, as though I was being strangled. A childish way of thinking, to be so attached to another person that you feel as if they belong to you.
Killing someone won’t make them yours. It’s the same thing as smashing a doll on the floor and breaking it. Why couldn’t she see that?
“Ignorance is bliss, Odagiri-kun. It’s like devouring chocolate. It causes the brain to release certain chemicals to make you feel good.”
Perhaps it was bliss for Kazue. But for her sister, it was no doubt the opposite. I stared at Yukiko, who was absentmindedly picking up the hundred-yen coin.
“…What do we do with this?” I asked, a hint of hopelessness in my voice.
Are we going to tell Kazue?
“There’s only one thing to do,” Mayuzumi replied plainly. “This.”
Without hesitation, she strode toward Yukiko and stood beside her. Yukiko couldn’t see her, however. Mayuzumi’s flamboyant attire didn’t even register in her cloudy eyes. All of a sudden, Mayuzumi reached out and snatched something from Yukiko’s dimly-glowing hand.
It was the bloody hundred-yen coin.
A second later, Yukiko’s face moved. Slowly, her eyes focused on Mayuzumi. Her empty mouth opened.
Mayumi flicked the hundred-yen coin with her fingertips. It spun around before vanishing into the darkness. She then flicked her finger again like a magician, and a new hundred-yen coin appeared.
“Here. Use this,” she said, presenting the coin to Yukiko.
This is absurd.
Yukiko cocked her head to the side. After a moment of silence, she took the brand new coin and pushed it into the slot. The number on the display changed from twenty to a hundred and twenty. The red lights all lit up at once. Casually she chose diet soda. I almost asked if that was what she really wanted, but stopped myself. No drink would be worth the time she had spent so far. With a heavy thud, the can fell into the slot. She bent down and picked it up. There was a pop as she lifted the pull-tab, and the carbonated drink fizzed.
Yukiko tilted the can. The carbonated beverage poured into her parched throat.
The next instant, her eyes grew wide—and she vanished.
Unperturbed by her sudden disappearance, Mayuzumi lifted her head, directing her gaze toward the building. I followed suit and looked up too. And then I saw it. Something zipped through the blue sky and was falling straight to the ground. Its hands were outstretched, as if waiting for an embrace. She looked like a bird as her white dress fluttered in the wind. Right before she slammed on the pavement, she lifted her head.
I thought we locked eyes for a moment.
Bones and flesh smashed hard on the ground. Color resembling fuel oil slowly flowed to my feet.
Yamashita Yukiko’s corpse had fallen in front of me.
A few days later, I received a call. I expected to hear from them sooner, but they might have been in a state of confusion. I didn’t want to go, but Mayuzumi had given me strict orders to go if I got the call. I prepared myself for whatever could happen. I was expecting to be summoned to the same house, but the client set the abandoned building as our meeting place. It was as hot as ever. From the foot of the buildings, I could see the blue sky in the distance.
Kazue had arrived first and was waiting for me. She was staring blankly up at the building where her sister had jumped.
Her white dress danced in the shadow of the buildings. The sight reminded me of the scene from the other day. But Kazue was far from dead. Anger oozed from every pore of her body, anger that she didn’t bother hiding.
“…Why?” she asked.
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Don’t play dumb with me. I know you guys did it!” she yelled, her red, slick tongue peeking from her mouth. “You did something to my sister!”
Her vicious gaze bore into my skin. The newspaper article from a few days ago flashed in my mind. The victim of a suicide—or failed suicide, to be more precise—that had disappeared from the hospital fell to her death. Being the victim’s relative, Kazue should have been contacted about it. Perhaps they already had a funeral. Pressured by her rage, I took out an envelope from my chest pocket. It was the fee she had paid in advance.
“We’re returning the payment. We were unable to complete the job. I am sincerely sorry.”
“You’re sorry? That’s it? Well, sorry doesn’t cut it. If I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t have asked you guys for help!” Intense rage filled her voice.
I bowed in response. “I am truly sorry. Regardless of what you did to your sister, please accept our sincere condolences. My boss has a message for you as well.”
Sweat streamed down the back of my neck like a waterfall. Every time I recalled the message, I felt dizzy, wondering if there was really a need to pass it on. A childish fear struck my chest, but there was no way out. Backing down at this point wouldn’t matter anyway; things would only get worse later on.
In for a penny, in for a pound.
“You loved your sister. You wanted her. She was important to you. I know how you feel. But…”
The sound of chocolate crumbling echoed in my head. The melted bar of chocolate resembled internal organs protruding from the belly.
“If someone wants to fly, you should let them.”
Kazue stood in stunned silence, her eyes wide, her body still as a motionless doll. I bowed to her and walked away. Suddenly I shuddered and instinctively turned around. A pure-white figure leapt into my arms. I felt a shock in my stomach, and intense pain and heat jolted through me. Drops of blood fell on the scorching pavement and evaporated. Fearfully I lowered my gaze and saw a thick knife’s blade digging into my belly. Kazue was cackling. Every stab of the knife made an unpleasant sound, the tip of the blade twisting into my flesh.
It hurt. Hurt like hell.
But above all, I couldn’t believe that a knife was lodged in my stomach. I thought I understood how vicious she was, but I never expected her to go this far. Why would she use a knife? She could have hit me in the head like she did when she killed her sister. She could have used a stun gun like a woman. But out of all the options available, she chose to stab me in the stomach.
Why did she have to gut me?
Something stirred in my stomach, something I didn’t want to think about. A dull, physiological ache, distinct from the intense pain, spread around the spot where I was stabbed. The smile on Kazue’s face became contorted, and her expression changed to that of fear.
Right then and there, I lost consciousness.