V2 Story III – Part 03

Translator: Kell

After leaving Mayuzumi’s apartment, we walked down the hill toward the station, its entrance located just before the shopping mall. We took a forty-minute subway ride westward that cut right through the center of the city, and got off at the last station. From there, we rode a bus for about thirty minutes and arrived at a deserted bus stop. I lived in an apartment on the western outskirts of Nago City, past a desolate residential area occupied mostly by cats and old people. The rent was cheap, the location far from practical, but the noise-free environment made for quite a comfortable living experience. It might look like a district frozen in time, but once you got to the main street, there were supermarkets, convenience stores, and banks within cycling distance. Best of all, because of the distance from the office, Mayuzumi rarely came for a visit.

Yuusuke looked up at the name painted on the wall of the apartment building.

Maison de Nanase.

“Ugh, lame. What a dump.”

“Shut up.” I smacked Yuusuke on the head. “Keep your thoughts to yourself.”

Yuusuke lurched forward. Mayuzumi, black ribbons swinging down her back, boldly made her way to the landlord’s unit on the first floor. The luxurious black dress was a ghastly sight in my residence. She pushed the door bell.

“Be right there!” came a bright voice.

I heard small footsteps. A petite figure popped out the door energetically, as if waiting for my arrival.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, Odagiri-san! Huh?”

Nanami stepped out.

Yuusuke regarded the little girl. “Odagiri-san! How could you lay your hands on a little girl?!”

“Could you not make it sound like I’m some kind of a criminal? I’ll beat you up.”

Nanami tilted her head slightly and looked at Mayuzumi and Yuusuke. Her abundant hair, tied in a pigtail, bounced. She was currently in fifth grade. She wiped her small hands on her apron; she must have been helping out with chores. Her large eyes, framed by her slightly pigmented, soft brown hair, glared at Mayuzumi. Her usual smile was replaced by a scowl.

Undaunted, Mayuzumi responded with a smile and a wave of her hand. “Hello. It’s been a while, Nanami-kun.”

“Long time no see, Mayuzumi-san. Though you weren’t exactly invited, welcome. By the way, how long will you keep wearing that ridiculous outfit? Till your sixties?”

“Whoa. This kid’s got a sharp tongue!” Yuusuke gasped.

She was right, though. Mayuzumi’s outfit was, in fact, ridiculous, and this was how elementary school students behaved toward those they disliked. She was a polite young girl for the most part, but she didn’t get along well with Mayuzumi for some reason.

“And who might this bum be?” she asked.

“This is Saga Yuusuke,” I replied. “He’s an acquaintance, but he’s a bit of a brute, so please stay away from him.”

“You just straight up answered without hesitation!” Yuusuke hissed. “And why are you talking politely to her, you pedo?!”

He was whining a little bit too much, so I wrapped my arm around his neck.

“Because she’s the granddaughter of the landlord,” I whispered in his ear so Nanami wouldn’t hear.

“Didn’t peg you for the submissive type,” he said in a disappointed tone, but I didn’t care.

Mayuzumi and Nanami were facing each other, grinning. Nanami’s smile was normal, while Mayuzumi’s seemed to be tinged with amusement at the girl’s reaction.

“Brazen as always I see, Mayuzumi-san. Odagiri-san told me that you eat nothing but chocolate every day. Is that true? You’ll have full dentures in the future. My condolences. And since you don’t seem to exercise, I can see you becoming flabby soon. Good luck with that.”

“You have not changed a bit, Nanami-kun. Blatantly berating people at such a young age. You’re a heavyweight, all right. Quite amusing.” She chuckled.

Nanami crossed her arms grimly, distorting the image of a black cat on her shirt. Her cheeks were puffed out.

“So where’s the dead dog?” I asked. “And I’ll be taking my package as well.”

“Don’t you have anything to say?!” Yuusuke cried. “Did you see this girl’s attitude toward Mayuzumi-san! I don’t like her!”

Nanami and I ignored him. Nanami turned to me, interlacing her fingers in front of her chest with an anxious look on her face. Tears filled her big eyes.

“We’ve already buried the dog,” she said. “But there’s some strange voice coming from the doghouse. It even rattles and shakes. I’m scared, Odagiri-san.”

Nanami burst into tears and threw her arms around me, clinging tightly.

“I need your help again,” she pleaded. “Please. I’m so scared.”

I patted her trembling back to comfort her. It could just be her age, but Nanami was a scaredy-cat, more than the average person.

I bent down and looked her in the eye. “It’s okay,” I reassured her. “We’ll do something about it, so please cheer up.”

“Really?! I expected nothing less from my future husband!”

“Wow… What a bold girl,” Yuusuke said. “What do you even see in Odagiri-san?”

Nanami’s words didn’t really mean anything. She was like a young child adoring her school teacher. But Yuusuke had to react to her every remark. I looked at him over my shoulder.

“My dream is to marry a kind man and become a full-time housewife,” Nanami said with a lovely smile.

“She’s a parasite, Odagiri-san! It’s what you get for having a soft spot for little girls!”

“Leave him be, Yuusuke-kun,” Mayuzumi said. “It’s his life. It’s not our business what he does with it.”

I sensed something disturbing in her words. Before I could ask her what she meant, Nanami tugged at my clothes.

“Your package is right there.” She pointed at the door, where two cardboard boxes sat.

With a frown, I opened the unfamiliar package.

They were filled with unused fire extinguishers.

Yuusuke and I carried the cardboard boxes up to my room on the third floor. Yuusuke marveled at the small one-room unit, casually opening the fridge without permission. I kicked him out. By the time we came back downstairs, my lower back was screaming. Mayuzumi—unwilling to help out as always—was twirling her parasol around.

“Is this some kind of a harrassment?” I said.

“They probably didn’t want to keep them in the manor. That said, they can’t just throw away a guest’s belongings either. Seeking instructions from the clan head would be absurd. So in the end, they sent it here, not expecting to contribute to your back pain.”

“You must be exhausted, Odagiri-san.” Nanami smiled as she offered me a cup of cold barley tea. After chugging it down in one gulp, she led us to the backyard.

“Here you go, Mr. Bum.”

“Ugh… This is tap water!”

I ignored Yuusuke grumbling behind me.

Mayuzumi cackled.

The backyard was actually more like a tiny vacant lot adjacent to the apartment, only big enough for one car. It did not get much sun either. It was originally supposed to be turned into a parking lot for the Nanase family’s car, but the plan was cancelled after the death of Nanami’s parents. A doghouse stood amid overgrown weeds. There was nothing under the pale red roof. The space next to it was being used as storage space, filled with various junk.

As I was about to peer into the doghouse, a chill crawled up my spine.

I felt a dog’s fangs almost graze me, and I pulled myself back. The doghouse, however, was quiet. There was nothing moving in there. I thought I heard a low growl coming from within. I peeked in fearfully, but the inside was shrouded in darkness, and I could see nothing, as if it had been flooded with black ink. The roofs had small slits on them, but for some reason not even a ray of light shone through.

I could feel the presence of a creature inside.

There was definitely something there.

“Smells like an animal,” Yuusuke muttered. “Even I wouldn’t want to take a peek in there.”

Now that he mentioned it, there was a strong scent of an animal in the air. It brought to mind cages of wild beasts at the zoo. If you stood in front of one on a moonless night, you would probably get the same feeling. There was a beast lurking inside, hardly visible.

I looked at Mayuzumi. She was crouching down, not caring that the hem of her dress was getting soiled. She peered into the doghouse and cocked her head. The shadow of her red parasol fell on her cheek.

“I don’t think this has anything to do with the goldfish,” she murmured.

I found her words odd. She said the goldfish had nothing to do with this case. But the presence inside the doghouse was clearly abnormal.

What in the world was going on here, then?

“Dreadful emotion lingers inside. I’m not sure what this is.”


What was it, then? Something like a vengeful spirit?

“Odagiri-kun. Are you familiar with Hagiwara Sakutarou’s The Deathless Octopus?”

“The deathless what?”

Where did this come from? I doubt poems had anything to do with this situation. And it was a title I had never heard of before.

“A starving octopus was kept for a long time in an aquarium. Pale rays of light streaming through the glass ceiling rippled forlornly on the dim underwater rock.”

Leave a Reply