V3 Story III – Part 04

Translator: Kell

“My mother is dead? What are you talking about?!” Aya exclaimed as soon as we returned to her sister’s room and told her what happened.

But no one could answer her question. Laying down Akari on the first floor, Higasa explained the situation. Mayuzumi didn’t even look at Aya. She regarded the younger sister silently. A young girl in pajamas lay on the bed. She looked sick. Her shoulders were slightly hunched, and she was clenching her fists. Her large eyes blinked from time to time.

She was awake.

But she didn’t react to the news about her mother’s death.

“How… W-We’ve gotta call the police!” Aya ran down the stairs.

Mayuzumi turned to the younger Aya. She was staring vacantly into the air. Her eyes moved slowly.

Mayuzumi smiled at her. “Your sister just got back, and she’s clueless about your mother’s death.”

I heard someone missing their footing down the stairs. Aya‘s eyes quivered. She curled up, as if trying to protect herself.

Watching her, I realized something. It was a fetal position.

“What about you?” Mayuzumi asked.

Aya didn’t react. But then suddenly, her lips parted, and in a melodious whisper she said, “I’m a murderer. I killed someone I care about. I killed my friend. I killed someone. But no one condemns me for what I did. No one reprimanded me. My mother calls me her beloved child, even when no one condemns me, even when no one calls me a murderer.”

Her tone was so monotonous and matter-of-fact to be called a confession. She sounded possessed. Her eyeballs moved, her gaze falling to a corner of the room.

There was a cabinet there.

A chill crawled down my spine. What I saw earlier flashed through my mind.

Where did she stuff the body?

“I killed my mother and hid her in the storeroom. I killed my friend and stuffed them in the cabinet in my room.”

The chest lay in silence. There were no bloodstains on it, no sign of anything flowing from within.

I dashed to the cabinet and put my hand on the door. Holding my breath, I pulled it open.

Clothes on hangers swayed.

There was no body anywhere.

A sigh of relief escaped my lips. There was not even a sign of someone being stuffed inside. But this time I felt a different kind of uneasiness. What she said didn’t make any sense.

“I killed my friend and stuffed them in the cabinet in my room.”

Mayuzumi’s smile deepened. Footsteps sounded, and Aya barged in, panicking.

“The phone… the phone’s not working!” she cried. “Aya!”

Aya was curled up, holding her head. Aya stumbled toward her. Aya reached out her trembling arms as if seeking an embrace. Aya hugged her tight.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. You don’t have to worry about anything,” Aya said gently. “It’ll be all right.”

Aya nodded slowly. “You’re finally home. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much.”

Like a puppet whose strings had been cut, her eyes suddenly closed.

Large tears spilled from the corners of her eyes.

Her soft voice gradually faded.

The rain grew even louder.

The cell phone hit the floor.

The glowing LCD screen showed three bars of signal, but the ringing continued endlessly.

There was no sign of it reaching anyone.

“Damn it. My phone’s not working either,” Higasa huffed. “I didn’t see this coming. Seriously, a murder? I’ve never encountered a case like this before.” He scratched his head.

Downstairs in the living room, Akari was asleep on the couch. Mayuzumi sat down and swung her legs. She ran her fingers over the leaves of a houseplant.

“You just haven’t witnessed one, Higasa,” Mayuzumi said coldly. “People die every day. Like an accident, you’ll eventually run into one unexpectedly. Calm down. It’s only a stranger. You shouldn’t be heartbroken or upset about it.”

Mayuzumi reached into her handbag and pulled a chocolate from a case decorated with butterflies. A noblewoman holding a fan rested on her finger.

“The problem is that we can’t reach anyone on the phone,” she added. “I wonder what’s going on here.”

“I think the first thing we need to do is get out of the house, Mayu-san,” I said. “We should contact the police.”

Not uttering a word of response, Mayuzumi turned the noblewoman between her fingers. The chocolate twirled as if doing the waltz.

Suddenly it stopped, and Mayuzumi’s eyes glinted.

“So you say, but you already know, don’t you, Odagiri-kun? This is no ordinary murder. I doubt the police can solve it. Of course if you want to go, I won’t stop you.” Mayuzumi waved her hand.

Higasa frowned and walked away. Mayuzumi tossed her head back and popped a piece of chocolate into her mouth. Akari was breathing softly in her sleep.

The noblewoman’s foot shattered. There was a clunk.

It was the sound of the doorknob turning.

“I doubt you can leave, though,” Mayuzumi mumbled.

Higasa returned with a pale face.

I didn’t have to ask. I already knew the outcome.

“One day a new pit was added to the graveyard,” Mayuzumi said melodiously. “The coffin was filled with the smell of blood.”

“What do you mean we can’t leave?!” Aya bellowed, holding her sister to her chest. “This all happened after you guys arrived! Do something! Why on earth is this happening?!”

She reminded me of a beast protecting its child. Mayuzumi looked away from Higasa as he tried to calm her down. The light from the kid’s room faded away as the door closed. Mayuzumi turned to the dark hallway.

“This house feels like a sealed coffin, huh? There’s a dead body, and no one can get out.”

Mayuzumi extended a snow-white finger. She opened the storeroom again.

The door creaked open. Slipping between all the junk, she opened the inner door. The smell of iron and decay drifted in the air. The sound of rain grew louder, pounding in my ears. Rain struck the roof tiles above us and trickled down.

I could sense the strong presence of water. The body was still lying on the floor at the far end of the room.

Ignoring the corpse, Mayuzumi rummaged through the numerous boxes. “The lid must be opened, even if it means breaking it. There are a few odd things in what Aya said, and there are curious points in that story. But I’m sure the answers are buried together with the coffin. Otherwise, what’s the point of giving a quiz?”

I stared at her back, at the swinging black ribbons. I still hadn’t learned the meaning of the words on that paper.


“Save it for later, won’t you, Odagiri-kun? It’s so dusty here.”

Mayuzumi tried to unload boxes from the built-in shelves, when they all came crashing on her. She disappeared in the pile of boxes and bedding.

“Odagiri-kun, hey, Odagiri-kun.”

A hand reached out through the gaps. She was asking for help. I grabbed her hand and pulled her out. She stood up as if nothing had happened, then glared at the shelves.

Above it was a taller shelf.

“Odagiri-kun, could you kneel down for a minute?”

“I’ll get it myself, so please stop using others as footstools.”

I switched places with Mayuzumi.

I reached for the small cardboard box and lifted it. It was oddly light.

The contents spilled out of the box. Numerous sheets of construction paper were scattered on the floor.

I spotted a childish picture of a little girl playing. She was smiling against a background of swings and slides. Though the picture was poorly-drawn, colored with pastels, it was adorable. But when I turned my attention to the next sheet of paper, my breath seized.

The girl’s mouth was painted black. In the next picture, her whole body was colored crimson. The next several pictures were drawn better and better, but they were terribly freakish.

Face, eyes, mouth were all colored over, and sometimes even the body.

It was as if the girl’s heart cracked as she grew up.

But it subsided after a certain period. The drawings once again regained its former serenity. Children were playing in the brightly-colored drawings. But there was a strange uniformity to them. They all used the same colors, and the composition was similar. The name and school year written in the corner suggested that these were schoolwork.

Shiraki Aya.

It seemed as if someone instructed her to draw in a particular way.

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