Part two in Japan
A boys’ school from old times. They had the same school succession system as the girls’ school. There was a high prison-like wall separating them. Making acquaintance with the girls’ school next door was frowned upon.
Akino Fukami was in the senior high school section of that school. He was sitting in the window seat in the classroom when he suddenly had a feeling and raised his eyes to the sky spreading out outside the window.
The Fukami family had been serving people since the old times. Both of his parents and siblings were politicians and secretaries of large corporations, and in the olden days, their relatives were court officials and butlers for aristocrats and peerage1.
He had relatives all over the world to the point where he didn’t know where they originated from, but they had taken measures of being in contact with each other. His sister was working as a lady attendant to royalty overseas as well.
His grandfather had connections in the political world and with knowledgeable people and had been busy even after leaving the position as a counselor. Despite that, he suddenly brought a younger sister home three years ago.
A girl who lost her name and memory - Tsubaki.
A girl who didn’t smile nor rejoice, and only, stared from time to time into the distance with a melancholy gaze.
Nevertheless, for Akino, who had been the youngest in the family, to take care of a younger sister who knew nothing about the world, was refreshing in a way.
At first, he had thought of it as a practice to take care of someone in the future, but as she gradually showed emotions, and grew bashful when he teased her, he started enjoying talking to her.
When Tsubaki moved to Grandfather’s residence for the sake of going to the girls’ school, Akino moved in together with her.
That Tsubaki brought a strange girl home yesterday. He didn’t know whether it was the proper phrasing, but he was surprised to see his sister, who had little interest in anything, clinging to her and being hyped up after she woke up, enough to bring Grandfather to tears.
Was that the real Tsubaki?
Her hair, which she hated because it looked like iron, shimmered like silver, and he was reminded again that she was beautiful, despite her normally having a pretty face.
It was disappointing that it wasn’t him who brought out that radiance, but he was grateful for there to be an existence that could do so.
Today, Tsubaki was absent from school to go shopping with that girl, who was called Nanohana.
She had a mysterious feeling around her. Although she looked younger than Tsubaki, her manners and ways of thinking were mature. She was optimistic but also strong-willed.
They were going shopping because it was decided that she would stay for some time, but…
Suddenly, the sun was darkening. Most people in the classroom hadn’t realized that the temperature had dropped, but those who were perceptive rubbed their arms in wonder.
Akino squinted a little as he stared into the distance. Then he stood abruptly, gave the teacher a refreshing smile, and said,
“Since I’m feeling unwell, I’ll leave early.”
Nanohana, no, Hana, pulled at my hand and started running all of a sudden.
I was surprised because it was so sudden, but I understood the reason. Three people were chasing us from the entrance to the park. I understood that somehow or other, you’d want to chase after the cute Hana, but this was obviously wrong.
I wasn’t good at running, and, Hana, who still wasn’t in her best condition after passing out yesterday, was even slower than me.
I tugged at the hand toward the road, and Hana understood my meaning and responded immediately.
If we went to the downtown area, there’d be adults. There was a small police station as well, and we could run into a shop somewhere. The teachers in school had told us these precautions over and over again.
I didn’t know what they were thinking, but I didn’t want to lose her ever again.
Suddenly, I felt like I was remembering something and my head hurt.
“Tsubaki get it together. There’s only a little more.”
I squeezed Hana’s hand tightly and stepped hard to not let the warmth disappear. The ribbon Hana got me made a small swishing sound behind me.
When we ran out of breath, we finally reached the downtown area and felt relieved to be hidden among the crowd.
“If they come all the way here…”
An unknown hand from the crowd suddenly pushed Hana to the side of the road. I saw a car looking like it would hit her, and pulled her back by her hand.
“Are you okay!?”
“Y-yeah, thank you.”
As expected of Hana, even with a pale face, she scanned the surroundings. Who had pushed her? Why didn’t anyone care that a girl was pushed into the road?
Even if she called out to an adult, they ignored her in a hurry. Even if they wanted to enter a shop somewhere, it would be impossible if there were people blocking the entrance.
“Tsubaki, where is the police station?”
“Uh… over there.”
Relying on her vague memories, they headed toward the police station. And after running around and finally reaching it, there was no one there.
It was undoubtedly suspicious. Something was strange.
Hearing something along with the wind, I pushed Hana. A tile fell between us, breaking the asphalt.
Both of us unconsciously paled. If it had hit us, we could have died. Did it fall off a multi-story building? At this time? All of a sudden?
My heart was buzzing. Something deep inside me was awakening.
Returning from a moment of absentmindedness, I noticed a group of junior high school students, who seemed to have been on a school trip, before us. They were lining up between us, dividing us.
The junior high school students smiled and chatted among themselves, but refused to let us through. It was creepy- like a puppet parade.
Back or in front? For the time being, I moved one of them while trying to get out, and saw the three college students-like men running towards us. It seemed like we noticed each other at the same time.
“Tsubaki, go to that alley and go home before me.”
“And you, Hana!?”
“I’ll take a taxi after moving along with them, so it’s okay.”
To be honest, I didn’t want us to part ways. It was stifling, painful. It felt like we were never going to see each other again.
But, suddenly, Hana who was heading toward the pedestrian bridge, turned around a little and waved. I broke into a run toward the alley, wanting to cry.
I felt lonely being alone. Even though I was fine being by myself just yesterday… I just got to know her, but Hana’s existence filled my empty heart.
Brother Akino and Grandfather filled a space in my heart too, but they didn’t make the feeling of loss disappear as Hana did.
There was a terrible feeling of loss of the warmth in my hands.
As I thought… I couldn't. I couldn’t leave Hana’s side. I stopped running to return to Hana but saw one of the trio running behind me.
Should I run away? But if I do that, I would be too far from Hana.
The college student caught up with me. I put my hand over my mouth, pressing down the scream rising in my throat.
The obese man laughed distortedly. Though, rather than having lecherous eyes, there were tons of black insects - those “dark wriggling beings”, sticking to his ears and the front of his neck.
Why… What was that?
Without thinking, I retreated and tripped, and fell on my back.
Even if I’d look around for people, all I could see in the alley behind the downtown was the backdoor to a building.
Could I run away if I reached it? But what if it was locked?
The man smiled while frothing from his mouth. He reached out for me.
The obese man suddenly collapsed, knocking his head on the ground. Blood trickled down beneath him.
“...Are you alright?”
I raised my face to the voice. A young man with light hair and calm eyes looked down on me… There was a sorrow deep in his gaze as he stared at me. He grimaced a little.
“Don’t get involved in that.”
What did he mean? Because of that, I forgot to thank him.
He shook his head silently and spoke bluntly,
“Don’t get involved with that girl anymore. She is… a cursed woman who went against the gods.”
The genre will now be changed to horror.
The next title will be [The sound of the saw2]
There will be blood.
- Hereditary peerage of Empire of Japan in 1868-1945. They succeeded the feudal lords and court nobles ↑
- In Japanese: Nokogiri. It was a saw in ancient Japan for sawing logs into boards ↑