Story II – Part 04

Translator: Kell

“Oda… giri-kun… Odagiri-kun.”

I woke up to someone calling my name. Tears that had welled up spilled from the corners of my eyes. I was back in my room. Unable to move, I asked Mayuzumi about the situation, directing only my gaze to her.

“Yuujirou has calmed down. I had you taken to the doctor too, by the way.”

I nodded, disappointed for the shameful sight I displayed. I hated myself for causing trouble. When I tried to force myself up, I felt a terrible pain in my stomach. My head stirred, and I leaned back. The emotions I felt earlier flooded my mind as if they were my own.

I’m sad. I’m in pain. I’m lonely. I’m gonna kill you.

Why? Why did she die? I’ll kill you.

“Odagiri-kun,” Mayuzumi said softly. She had changed into her usual attire. “Do you want my help?”

She smiled, peering into my face with the look of a holy saint.

“If you want, I can help you.”

A terribly sweet temptation. But I stopped myself from nodding. I forced a smile, felt relieved that the muscles in my mouth could move. I didn’t care if I wore a contorted look. As long as I could smile.

“I don’t need it.”

I already owed her too much, and the interest was still increasing by day. Any more help would be a drug.

Too much of it and I’d become a junkie.

“I don’t need your help, Mayu-san.”

Mayuzumi gave a somewhat contented smile. “Very well. Go to sleep, then,” she said gently.

My eyelids drooped. The pain subsided, and rapid drowsiness washed over me. A sweet voice, like a lullaby, reached my ears.

“I will always be here.”

I’m sure.

No matter where I woke up, this girl would be the only one by my side.

The morning was relatively quiet. Under the dazzling morning sunshine, I lifted my body up. The pain from last night had vanished like an illusion. As I stretched out in relief, my eyes met that of Mayuzumi’s. She was sitting by my bedside.

She smiled.

It was beyond embarrassing.

“It’s morning, Odagiri-kun.”

“…Looks like it.” I turned my head away.

“Yuujirou’s behavior was surprising,” she continued like nothing. “But we got something out of it. We were also able to hear the laughter.”

Laughter mixed in with the screams. I tried to recall the horrific scene from last night. It felt like I was pulling on the emotions I experienced last night as well. As I pushed the memory aside, a cat-shaped pom-pom appeared in a close-up view.

What was that?

“What’s wrong, Odagiri-kun?”


“Really? I’ll say it again. I don’t get angry or bothered by questions. You can ask as many questions as you want, whenever you want. I will answer the ones I want to answer.”

So asking her questions she didn’t want to answer was pointless.

What in the world was that?

The question rose to my throat, but I forced it back down. If it was something she didn’t want to answer, I wouldn’t know how to react.

“Anyway, Mayu-san. Did you find out anything? A full day has passed.”

“Well, I’ve learned a lot. But it’s still not enough. So let’s go fill in the missing pieces, shall we?”

Mayuzumi stood up. A large black ribbon swung at her waist. As usual, she looked like a western doll. Grabbing her red parasol, she said, “Let’s go ask about the time when a dog bit his ear off.”

“Yes, it was shocking,” said Ayane, Yuujirou’s third wife, in a sophisticated tone.

She wore unobtrusive make-up, but it was her bewitching features and her voluptuous figure that captured one’s attention. It was easy to tell that men found her attractive. Her husband’s ears being bitten off was a serious matter, but she was nonchalant about it. A closer look revealed that the modern clothes in her room were all branded.

When asked how Yuujirou was doing, she gave a small smile.

“It’s unfortunate,” she said, “but he’s getting old.”

She thought that Yuujiro’s strange behavior was the result of dementia. Regardless, she answered Mayuzumi’s questions dutifully. She was skilled at grasping points and suppressing her emotions. But she always kept that somewhat mocking air around her.

Perhaps she married Yuujirou on the assumption that he would die soon.

She knew she only had to endure a few more years. I doubt she would end up hanging herself like Asako did. I thought she made the right decision. Wishing misfortune on someone you hate. I got it now. It was certainly much healthier.

Better than sucking it up and then hanging yourself.

“That dog belonged to a neighbor named Tashiro-san. It was very violent, so they kept it in a cage, but when Tashiro-san passed away, the dog was left behind. His surviving family couldn’t handle it and decided to call the shelter. My husband wished to see it at least once. Apparently, he wanted to keep it to fend off burglars.”

“I see,” I muttered absently.

According to Yuusuke, their previous dog was beaten to death by Asako, because Yuujirou would sometimes sick it on her.

“Asako-san was standing in front of the dog house with a bloody bat. The dog was lying on the ground beside her. Its head was cracked open, and there was brain matter everywhere. Asako-san was stomping on it with her sandals. When I approached her, she said, ‘Oh, Yuu-chan. I finally killed it. I just thought things would be better without it around. Hurt so much less.'”

“I told them that I killed the dog. A few days later, Asako-san hanged herself. I should have taken the bat and beaten my father to death. Even now, that feeling hasn’t changed.”

“Yes, to fend off burglars. As a result, his ear was bitten off.”

Agitated by being in an unfamiliar place, the dog tore off its leash and bit Yuujiro, who was peering close at it.

There was a faint smile on Ayane’s face.

“That’s when Yuusuke took out a butterfly knife from his pocket and stabbed the fleeing dog. It happened in a flash. The dog still ran away, and its body was never found.”

“They never found the body?” Mayuzumi asked.

Ayane nodded. “No. There were traces of blood, but it was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t long after that that he said he could hear laughter. I’m sure it’s the shock of having his ear bitten off. That’s what the doctor said, too.” Her mouth lifted into a sneer.

Mayuzumi was deep in thought. However, the fact that Yuusuke stabbed the dog was more surprising to me than the fact that the body was never found. I thought he would love the dog who had bitten his father’s ear off.

“That would be all. Thank you for your assistance,” Mayuzumi said as she stood up. She was about to leave when she suddenly turned around, and in a casual tone, she said, “I almost forgot. I have one more question.”

“Did Asako-san and Aki-san both have their heads?”

A pool of blood slowly spread.

Crimson gushed forth from the tatami mat, creating a swamp. Blood creeped under Mayuzumi’s legs clothed in stockings. There was no smell of iron, but it looked strangely vivid.

A girl in a gothic lolita outfit, as if mourning, was standing in the sea of blood.

Her red parasol twirled around.

In front of Mayuzumi lay corpses cut into small pieces, the remains of an adult and a child. Two bodies dismembered and scattered about. Their internal organs had been pulled out and separated into parts. A closer look revealed that several parts were missing. Arms, legs, ribs, and heads had been taken away.


Mayuzumi closed her parasol, and the image vanished.

A brand-new tatami mat reappeared. The room regained its silence. Facing the porch, it was once a guest chamber, and located near the garden. I strained my eyes, and it felt like I could see the hanging bodies.

“I see.”

“Mayu-san, what was that just now?”

“An image from the past. Like the scene of a grotesque murder. The horrific image is deeply ingrained in this place. Changing the tatami alone won’t make it disappear. So I pulled it up. That was quite something, I must say.”

The indiffirence in her tone belied her words. Slender fingers stroked the dry tatami mat. I thought I saw red flowing to her white fingertips.

A graphic image of the past. Dismembered corpses.

All of that actually happened here.

“After their bodies were discovered, Asako-san and Aki-chan were immediately brought to this room and laid down on the floor. Fearing a scandal, Yuujiro did not call the police or even take them to the hospital, but instead called a doctor he was acquainted with. When Yuusuke learned about their deaths, he dismembered the bodies while the people of the house weren’t looking. Apparently, he cut them up skillfully. Some parts were never recovered.”

Ayane’s voice replayed in my head. “I heard about that too. He’s a little crazy. He lives in the annex at the moment, but I can’t help but feel a little scared. But the craziest part is—”

“Even when questioned, he didn’t say anything,” Mayuzumi said. “Yuujiro tried to disown him, but Yuusuke said that if he kicked him out, he would tell everyone about Asako’s suicide. Hence, he was moved to the annex, where he is living separately.”

“Even when no body parts were found.”

“And mutilating a corpse is a crime. Still, Yuujiro did not turn his son in to the police.”

He feared the boy’s abnormal behavior, but he didn’t hold him accountable. Perhaps he didn’t want to be disgraced, or mar his family name. But the real reason was probably much simpler.

Even when Asako’s guts were pulled out of her, he felt nothing.

So he didn’t press the issue further.

The thought of it made me want to vomit.

Mayuzumi chuckled. “I wonder where the missing bones went.” She stood up, her black eyes staring intently at the spot where the bodies were. “Singing skull,” she mumbled.

A skull. Cranium. A bone detached from its neck.

It sings?

“Oh, you’re not familiar with it, Odagiri-kun? It’s a famous folk tale. Though there are multiple versions, the stories all have one thing in common: a skull takes revenge on the person who killed them. A certain skull said that it would make the man who killed it rich by singing. Delighted, the man took the skull home. However, when presented to a lord, the skull didn’t sing, and the man was executed for lying. Then suddenly, the skull started singing about how it had avenged itself.”

Even when its flesh had long decayed, deep-seated grudge and obsession remained, moving bones that shouldn’t even move.

“Even in death, if there’s a powerful grudge, bones will sing and laugh.” Mayuzumi’s lips warped into a smile. She turned on her heel and started walking. “His ear should be separated from the flesh.” She giggled. “Shall we go, Odagiri-kun?”

“To where?”

“Where else?” Her red parasol stung my eyes. She snapped it open and rested it on her shoulder. “We’re going to see the skulls.”

Without looking back, Mayuzumi walked on. Red parasol cut across the white garden. Satisfying sound of footsteps crunching on the snow.

“Would you let us listen to the laughter?”

For a moment, Yuusuke looked surprised, then he opened the door with a smile.

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