V3 Story III – Part 03
“Wh-Where did this come from? Aya isn’t feeling well. She’s been staying in bed for a while. Even if she wasn’t, unlike me my sister has always had a frail constitution.” There was confusion in her voice. An understandable reaction.
Mayuzumi shrugged. “All right, then. We’re leaving. If that’s what you want, then so be it. Don’t blame me if something happens. Sorry for the trouble. I hope it ends well for you.”
Mayuzumi pushed her chair back and stood up. Aya’s face froze. There was no hint of doubt in Mayuzumi’s words. Just listening to them made fear rise up my throat. The consequences of ignoring her words were dire. It was hard to keep one’s ears closed from a grave warning.
Mayuzumi’s cold eyes said that it was better to listen to her.
“W-Wait. Can you please explain?”
“It doesn’t matter, does it? You and I don’t have anything to do with each other anymore. Let’s just leave it at that.” Mayuzumi smiled.
Aya’s face darkened even more. Sharp doubt flickered across her face. What Mayuzumi was saying was too outrageous. If you reflected on it calmly, you would realize that there was no need to listen to her.
The rational part of Aya’s mind was probably saying that it was a mistake to have invited these shady people in.
Yet at the same time, she knew that something was wrong. Something was off.
Mayuzumi was, in a way, giving a genuine warning.
It might have sounded like a threat, but a warning was still a warning.
“O-Okay, then,” Aya said. “Please go see Aya. That should at least settle my mother’s problem, right?”
“I can’t promise how it will end. But I think I can help.” Mayuzumi smiled.
Frowning, Aya stood up.
The rain grew louder as it gradually intensified. Every step I took produced a small creak. Aya led the way up the stairs. Stopping at the first room, she knocked on the door. There was no answer.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Aya, but we have guests,” she said gently. “I’m opening the door, okay?”
“…’Kay,” came a faint answer.
Aya opened the door.
Inside was a child’s room.
Soft-colored wallpapers covered the walls, and bright-green curtains hid the rainy sky. A neat and tidy study desk sat in one corner. There were no stuffed animals or dolls on display, but there was something about the room that gave the impression that it belonged to someone young. A strange mixture of both childishness and maturity.
A first glance said it was a child’s room, but it lacked innocence.
Someone was lying on the bed by the window. A small head moved, and a young girl peeked out. She was about fifteen years old. Big eyes regarded us fearfully.
“…Who is it?”
“The psychics that Mom told us about. They want to talk to you. Do you think you can get up?” Aya stepped closer to the girl lying in the bed.
Nodding, the girl sat up. A large set of pajamas clothed her thin figure. Her flushed cheeks suggested a fever. A look at her left me shocked.
Huddled close, they looked at least three years apart.
But they were twins.
Aya looked so young, and weak.
“Don’t push yourself too hard. Are you sure you’re okay? Here, drink some water.”
Rubbing her back, Aya handed her a glass. Aya took a sip, choking a few times. She gave us a frightened look. As I watched her, a hand was placed on my shoulder. I looked beside me and met Higasa’s quizzical gaze.
“You noticed that, lad?”
He jerked his chin toward the hallway. It was dark outside the bright, kid’s room. The sound of rain echoed through the walls like static noise.
But that was all.
“There’s not a single sound.”
Everything but the sound of the rain was gone. It was too quiet.
A terribly eerie silence.
It seemed as if everything was dying out.
The rain raged on, as if urging us to do something. Mayuzumi stared into the darkness of the corridor. Despite asking Aya to let her see her sister, she was the only one who had her back turned to her.
“There’s no sound,” Mayuzumi murmured with a smile. “The first rapping noise was probably just an ordinary oddity. But that is no longer the case. What did it turn to?”
Mayuzumi turned around. Black ribbons flared. Her gaze met Akari’s.
“Summon the shadows, Akari-kun. There is definitely something in this house. We just don’t know what it is. But it should be easy enough to find out.”
Akari extended her slim arms. Pale fingers formed a fox, and the shadow on the wall began to stir. Moving their faces from side to side, the beast sniffed the area. Five more beasts appeared, forming a line.
The beasts all looked up, then bolted at breakneck speed.
“Wh-Wh-What is that?!” Aya cried.
The beasts tried to leap out of the room, but the darkness blocked their path. Mayuzumi stepped outside and reached for the wall. Using her intuition, she searched for a switch and turned on the lights. The beasts sprinted down the bright corridor and stopped in front of the room at the far end.
The beasts opened their mouths.
“What is this room?” Mayuzumi asked.
“Wh-What are these things?!”
“Answer the question!” Mayuzumi barked.
Aya shuddered. Moving away from the shadows, she said, “I-It’s a storage room. There’s nothing in particular inside. Wh-What is going on here?”
Mayuzumi opened the storage room without permission. The air smelled dusty. There was a suitcase inside that seemed to contain clothes. A vacuum cleaner was propped up in the space to the left. A closer look revealed another door.
Mayuzumi entered the storeroom without hesitation. She put her porcelain fingers on the door and pushed hard.
I saw dark wooden walls. The sound of rain intensified.
An attic, it seemed. There was space for storage inside.
The smell of rusty iron wafted from within.
“Is that… blood?”
No one answered my question. Mayuzumi felt around the wall for a switch and flipped it. A white bulb illuminated the room. Akari’s shadow bounded, deftly weaving between the vacuum cleaners and rushing through the attic.
Deeper and deeper they went. As we followed them, the smell of iron grew thicker. The powerful smell of blood made me nauseous. Mixed in with it was the stench of rotting meat.
Something was bleeding and rotting.
The sound of the rain battered my eardrums. Static noise filled the room. The beasts reached the deepest part of the attic.
A huge wardrobe stood there.
The beasts surrounded it, their mouths flapping open and shut, as though craving its contents.
What was inside?
The cabinet was a dull color. There were traces of a large amount of something spilling through its door. A rusty red fluid had flowed down to the floor.
“Mayu-san!” I gasped.
Mayuzumi put her hand on the cabinet without hesitation and pulled as hard as she could.
The door opened with a loud bang. Something rolled out from inside.
Under the flickering light, our eyes locked.
I stared into the glassy eyes of the corpse of a middle-aged woman. Her face was frozen in shock. The corpse had been mutilated all over. Its decaying skin was coated with dried blood, and its arms and legs were bent askew from being forcibly shoved into the cabinet. It looked like a doll.
The smell of decay and blood was the only thing real.
But the silence was fleeting. Opening their mouths with glee, the beasts pounced on the shadow of the corpse. Their mouths moved like hyenas devouring dead meat. Rotting flesh peeled from bones. The woman’s left arm was torn off, and fangs dug into her eye sockets.
The gruesome sight left me speechless. Footsteps sounded behind me. When I turned around, I saw Akari staring dumbfounded at the scene—her own shadow devouring human flesh.
“Akari… Akari-sama!” Higasa grabbed Akari’s shoulders and urged her to recall her shadow.
But Akari’s shadow did not budge. She began trembling violently. Hugging herself tightly, she retreated several steps.
She let out a whimper. Tears formed in her honey-colored eyes. The beasts continued devouring the flesh before them.
“No…” Akari murmured before toppling backward.
Higasa caught her before she fell on the floor. Using one arm and shoulder, he nimbly picked her up and ran, leaving behind Akari’s shadow, which gorged on the corpse, satisfying their hunger.
Was there any way to stop them?
Right as I moved my hand, a sharp voice interrupted me.
“Stop, Odagiri-kun. A hungry beast will leave once it’s satisfied. How are you going to touch the shadow? Besides, this is a good thing. The beasts’ hunger is a serious problem, after all. Don’t worry about it. It’s already dead.”
Flesh was shredded, and bones shattered. A foot torn from its joint rolled on the floor. I looked away. The beasts were indeed hungry. But Akari wouldn’t have wanted this.
What should we do? Was there really nothing that could be done?
Then it hit me. I moved to the shelves lined up against the wall. I opened them and found a blanket inside, which I draped over the corpse. A new shadow loomed over the body. The beasts circled it, not ready to give up, but moments later they pulled their heads back. Maybe their stomach had been filled to an extent. They slowly disappeared, fusing with each other.
Dismembered limbs lay under the blanket.
It looked like a broken doll.
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