Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

Volume 3 Chapter 1

Chapter 1


file 01: disappearance (TRANSLATION NOTES)




Hijikata Makoto stopped the taxi in front of a multi-tenant building to see a small illuminated sign that read <Snake> .

Makoto paid and quickly descended the stairs to the basement .

It was already almost an hour past the appointed time . Her work always dragged on at times like this . Irritated, Makoto pushed open the heavy wooden door and entered the bar .

There were four table seats and a counter that could seat five . Using indirect lighting with blue as its premise, jazz played throughout the bar .

Though the place wasn’t large, it had a good atmosphere .

Makoto looked around and soon found Asami, whom she had arranged to meet . She was smoking a slim cigarette at the table by the entrance .

‘Sorry I’m late…’

Makoto clapped Asami on the shoulder .

'You’re too late . ’

Asami pouted with her puffy lips .

It had been a while since they last met . Makoto felt that Asami had changed quite a lot . During university, Asami hadn’t smoked, and she had had a stronger healthy impression . It might have been because of the makeup, but now it looked like there were shadows somewhere .

However, one thing that didn’t change was her beauty .

'I’m really sorry . ’

Makoto put her hands together as she asked for forgiveness .

'It’s OK . It’d be a different matter if it was because of a man, but you had work, right?’

'Yup . Well . ’

'It was your goal, right? Working at a newspaper agency . ’

Makoto somehow managed to smile back, but she couldn’t actually smile honestly . It’d be difficult to say that even though she was employed at a news agency, it had been because her father was the chief of police rather than because of her own aptitude .

'Anyway, it’s really been a while . When’d we last see each other?’

Makoto changed the topic .

'Hm – university?’

Now that Asami said it, Makoto felt that was right . After graduating, Asami had returned to her home in Nagano and they hadn’t met directly like this since, though they had sent emails and New Year’s cards .

That would mean she hadn’t seen Asami in three years .

'So the last time was at the graduation ceremony . ’

'I didn’t go to the ceremony, so…’

Asami’s expression went a bit stiff . Makoto tried tracing back in her memory .

That was right . If she remembered correctly, Asami had taken a one-month break around graduation because her health had worsened, and then graduation had come . Makoto had asked something she shouldn’t have .

'That’s right . Sorry . ’

'Don’t worry about it,’ Asami said nonchalantly . She put out the cigarette she had been smoking in the ashtray .

'So when’d you come here?’

'Last month . I transferred for work . ’

'So that’s how it was . Then we’ll be able to meet up for drinks again . ’

'I won’t let you get away . ’

Asami just smiled . The old Asami would have laughed aloud . People could change a lot in three years .

'Anyway, sit down . ’

Asami urged Makoto to sit, but there were two men she didn’t know in the opposite seats .

The first was in his early thirties and had a casual feel to him, wearing a beige jacket with jeans . The other was a young man in his early twenties with a hip-hop artist’s fashion sense . They were a somewhat unbalanced pair .

'Good evening . ’

The man in the jacket bowed his head politely . The young man in hip-hop fashion also nodded, following the older man .

Makoto sat next to Asami and touched her elbow to ask for an explanation .

'Ah, that’s right . ’

Asami started introducing everyone .

The man in the jacket was called Shinichi . He worked at an event planning company . The other younger man was Yuuya . He was Shinichi’s pal and was in his third year of university . It seemed that he did part-time at Shinichi’s event planning company .

Makoto also greeted the two of them simply .

'We got to know each other while waiting for you, Makoto . You don’t mind if the two of them join us, right?’

'Not at all,’ Makoto replied, though she was puzzled .

During university, Asami hadn’t been the type to drink with men she didn’t know who called out to her at a bar .

Since she wasn’t a naive middle school student, it probably wasn’t anything to worry about .

'What would you like to order?’

The long-haired bartender, who had been waiting for their conversation to halt, brought a menu and came to take their order, wearing a black apron .

The bartender was expressionless and calm .

Makoto looked at the menu, but in the end, she just ordered gin, like she always did .

At the time, Makoto couldn’t even imagine what was going to happen afterwards –




Gotou reclined on the car seat and tied his necktie while holding a cigarette in his mouth .

In the passenger seat, Ishii was carelessly chomping down a hamburger . Thanks to that, the car was filled with the smell of burger .

Gotou was going to complain, but he changed his mind . Conversing with Ishii was as tiring as conversing with Yakumo .

<I’m counting on you to focus . >

He heard a voice from the wireless earphone he had on .

Even though she was a woman, she had a voice that reverberated in the bottom of your belly . Her name was Shimamura Eriko .

From the perspective of Gotou, who had parked his car on the road in front of the park, she was directly diagonal from him . He could see her stooping in the forest behind the park .

In stature, size and attitude, she was heavyweight all around . She was completely visible .

'Who are you saying that to?’

<You, obviously . >

Shimamura rebutted immediately .

Why was he surrounded by so many impudent people? Gotou clicked his tongue .

<I’m the one who wants to click her tongue . I really need you to focus, since you’ve always been missing a few screws . You’re the same with Atsuko, aren’t you?>

'Shut up! That has nothing to do with you!’ shouted Gotou, flaring up .

She talked on and on about unnecessary things . Why had his wife come up in conversation?

<It does have something to do with me . Who do you think introduced her to you?>

'I truly regret it . ’

Gotou had met with his wife Atsuko because Shimamura, who had been at the police academy at the same time as him, had introduced her .

His wife’s best friend and his co-worker . Thanks to that, his private life had been made public in the police . Not just the police either . Even Yakumo knew about it through old man Hata .

<What are you saying? I’m the one who regrets it . >

'What did you say?’

<I’m saying I shouldn’t have introduced her to you . >

'What do you mean?’

<Every time she fights with you, she comes crying to me – it’s troublesome . After this case is finished, come over and pick her up . >

He could hear sniggers from other investigation team members from the earphone .

That Shimamura . She was just doing this to pass the time . Gotou bit his lip and hit Ishii’s head in retaliation .

’D-D-Detective Gotou, what are you doing?’

The tomato fell from Ishii’s burger .

'Shut up!’

He glared at Ishii for responding .

Gotou could tell it would be hard going .

'Why do we have to be dragged into work outside of our jurisdiction?’ grumbled Gotou .

'But it’s true that we don’t have any work . We might as well offer assistance at least,’ replied Ishii, with his stupid diligence .

'I know that . ’

Just as Ishii said, the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room was named such because they responded to unsolved cases, but in reality, they just organised the backlog of documents .

On top of that, the other divisions thought they had a lot of free time on their hands, so they were often used as supplementary personnel for stakeouts and such .

Even now, they were staking out the park on the corner of this residential street because of a serial female assault case – though it was just some perverted guy cutting women’s skirts with scissors .

This is the same as being put out in the cold –

Gotou muttered that in his heart and snorted .

On top of that, there was this stationing . If the perp ran, they hadn’t surrounded the routes . Forget about his career – why did he have to obey some brat who was younger than him? It really riled him up .

<Someone who could be the suspect has been spotted… Height is about 160 cm . Green jumper, black knitted hat… It matches with the testimony . >

A nervous voice came in through his earphone .

<He’s by the public toilet . >

Gotou looked in the direction indicated .

He was there! Directly in front of his gaze, there was a suspicious person with his back to the wall of the toilet facing the road . He kept glancing at the road .

<Shimamura . Go around from the side and question him . >

<Roger . >

<Gotou, Ishii – wait in the car . >

'What do you mean, wait? If Shimamura goes around, the back will be wide open,’ Gotou retorted, putting his cigarette out in the ashtray . He opened the door and rushed out .

'Detective Gotou, the instructions were to wait here . ’

Still holding his burger, Ishii called out to Gotou to stop .

'You’re annoying . I know that . ’


'Do you know the word “adaptability”?’

'Yes . It refers to the ability to change depending on the situation . That’s what was written in the Koujien[1] . ’

'This is that situation . ’

While Gotou said that, he headed towards the forest in the back of the park . It was a terrible mistake to move Shimamura . Did they really think the perp would just run for the road?

'Detective Gotou, this is bad . ’

Ishii hesitantly followed Gotou, like a puppy .

'Go back to the car if you think that . ’


Honestly, this useless guy .

'Don’t come over here!’

A yell resounded .

Gotou looked toward the public toilet . The man from earlier was waving a pair of scissors about agitatedly as he screamed .

Investigation team members sidled up from both sides .

After the man looked to his left and right, he turned away from the road and fled towards the forest like a frightened rabbit .

'Wait!’ yelled one of the investigation members .


'Ishii, let’s go!’

Gotou immediately ran after the man .


Ishii tripped .

That idiot! Gotou ignored Ishii, who had fallen and had his hands on his thighs as he got back up, and chased the man .

'Wait! I’ll kill you!’

The man turned at Gotou’s yell .

’D-don’t come over!’ the man screamed, looking like he could cry at any moment .

He was a timid and chubby middle-aged man that any crowded train stank with . Honestly, what a miserable face . It made it seem like Gotou was attacking him .

'Damn it!’

Gotou reached out to grab the scruff of his neck and drag him to the ground .

The man fell backwards and started coughing from the impact . Gotou climbed on top of him and raised his right fist .

Like he had lost all will to flee at that moment, the man pressed both hands against his face and started crying, repeating, 'I’m sorry, I’m sorry…’

Gotou muttered, 'Damn,’ and hit the ground with his fist in his anger .

If he was going to cry about it, he shouldn’t have done it in the first place .

The first words of the novice officer in charge who arrived late at the scene were –

'Why did you leave your station?’

Honestly, everyone was just –




It had been almost an hour since Makoto arrived at the bar .

Since it had been the first time she’d seen Asami in a while and there were Shinichi and Yuuya, whom she had just met, it had been an awkward question-and-answer session at first, but now, the atmosphere was less reserved .

It was easy talking with the man named Shinichi . He was a good listener, or rather, she ended up telling him about a variety of things .

Instead of assertively enlivening the conversation, Yuuya would laugh as he listened and respond at the appropriate times . He might have been a serious young man despite his appearances .

'Just going to go to the ladies’ . ’

At a lull in the conversation, Asami took her bag and stood up .

'Makoto-san, are you seeing anyone?’

After Asami left for the lavatory, Shinichi asked Makoto this question while looking directly at her eyes .

'I’m not . ’

'Really?’ Shinichi said in disbelief .

'Really . I’m being pushed around at work right now . Plus, I have no luck with men . ’

Makoto shrugged .

Though she didn’t have a boyfriend, there was somebody she harboured feelings for . However, she didn’t say that aloud .

He was a detective who was so serious it was idiotic . She had made up reasons to contact and approach him, but he hadn’t noticed at all, though he hadn’t rejected her .

In the meantime, she had lost her excuses, so lately she hadn’t seen him .

'Is that so? If it were me, I wouldn’t leave you alone, Makoto-san . ’

Shinichi smoothly said those words which could have been a pick-up line .

'You probably say that to every woman you meet . ’

'Of course not . Right, bartender?

After Makoto said that as a joke, Shinichi turned the conversation to the bartender, who had come to put down a glass .

The bartender gave a vague reply and escaped by walking away .

'Yuuya, you think Makoto-san is beautiful too, right?’

Shinichi poked Yuuya’s shoulder .

While Yuuya drank the whiskey in his glass, he just smiled frivolously and said nothing . He might have felt it was awkward, because he looked at his wristwatch and said, 'Asami-san’s been a while . ’

Immediately after that –


Makoto heard Asami scream from the toilet in the back of the bar .


Makoto stood up right away and ran to the lavatory .

'What happened?’

She called out in the direction of the lavatory door . There was no response . Shinichi and Yuuya came by too because they were concerned .

'Hey, Asami . What happened?’

Makoto asked again as she knocked on the door .

However, there was no response, as if nobody was inside .

Makoto put her ear against the door to try to listen for sounds from inside, but it was no use .

'Excuse me . ’

The bartender cut through as he said that .

The bartender quickly took a key from his pocket and opened the door, saying, 'I’m opening the door . ’

The lights were off in the dim lavatory .

Asami sat on the tiled floor and was trembling as she hugged her own shoulders .

'Asami . You OK?’

Makoto went inside the lavatory and walked up to Asami to shake her shoulders with both of her hands .

The colour drained from Asami’s face, which just earlier had been flushed because of alcohol, leaving her extremely pale .

'Hey, what happened?’

At Makoto’s question, Asami pointed at the mirror in front of her with a trembling finger .

All the people there turned their eyes to the dark mirror, their gazes led by that finger .

At the same time –

Inside the mirror, a faint image of a woman appeared . Long black hair hung from her head, and the left half of her face was covered in blood .

That woman’s body shook like it had been jolted .

Her cracked purple lips slowly moved .

– Die .

Her low growl made the air quiver .

Nobody there was able to keep their senses, and their screams echoed through the bar .




Haruka, whose lecture had finished, went towards the prefabricated two-storey building in the back of Building B .

There were ten rooms of about four and a half tatami on each floor . The university lent them out for student circle activities .

She was going to meet with Japan’s representative for contrariness, Saitou Yakumo .

She didn’t really have any trouble for him . She was just going to meet him .

Haruka thought it was amazing progress . No, she couldn’t call this progress . What she had been doing before had been strange . She had always been accompanied by trouble every time she went to visit Yakumo . It was the pattern for Yakumo to say something sarcastic to her and make her depressed every time they met .

– But today is OK .

Haruka stood in front of the door at the end of the first floor . The door had a plate which read <Movie Research Circle> .

However, that was a downright lie . Yakumo had deceived the university to borrow this room and was using it as his secret hiding place .

'Hey,’ Haruka said, opening the door .

At the same time, a wave of hot air rushed out at her . She resisted the urge to cough and looked inside .

'You again?’

As usual, his hair looked like he had just gotten out of bed, and his eyes were sleepy . Yakumo, reclining on the chair in the front, sounded annoyed as he said that .

He had unbuttoned down to the third button of his shirt and was fanning himself with a fan .

There were beads of sweat from his forehead to the nape of his neck .

'I’m just going to say this, but this isn’t a place for you to kill time . ’

'I don’t have as much free time as you think, Yakumo-kun . I’ve got reports to do and I have a part-time job too, and I often get invited out…’

She stopped speaking . He wouldn’t listen . Yakumo stretched his neck as he let out a huge yawn, and then he scratched his neck . His actions were just like that of a cat’s .

Haruka went inside, took a bottle of tea from the refrigerator in the back of the room and drank it .

'When did you bring that in here?’ said Yakumo, looking dissatisfied .

'The last time I came . There’s chocolate too . Want some?’

Haruka took out a box of almond chocolate from the refrigerator and showed it to Yakumo .

'This is my room . Don’t just make it your own . ’

'This is the Movie Research Circle room . ’

'You aren’t a member . ’

She had thought that was where the conversation would go . Haruka made a victorious pose in her mind at one-upping Yakumo .

'Too bad for you, but I’m a member of the Movie Research Circle too . ’


'Yesterday, I went to the student affairs office and wrote my name on the registration list .

Even Yakumo had nothing to say as he gaped .

– How about that? Got you there, right?

'Why would you do something like…’

'OK, OK . ’

Haruka interrupted Yakumo and sat on the chair .

She felt like she had won .

'Still, how can you stay in such a hot room? Isn’t there air conditioning?’

Haruka took a handkerchief out of her bag and wiped her forehead . Even though she had just come in, it was already covered in sweat .

If she stayed her the whole day, she might get heatstroke .

'The fan is broken . ’

Yakumo pointed at the corner of the ceiling with his fan .

An electric fan covered with cobwebs was hanging there .

'You could just buy a new one . ’

'I don’t have the money for that . ’

'How are you planning on getting through this summer? It’s going to get hotter . ’

Copying Yakumo, Haruka took her notebook from her bag and used it as a fan .

'Can’t you just go home if you’re going to complain?’

'What? I came all this way to visit you . ’

'I don’t remember asking you to . ’

'Oh, is that so . ’

Haruka gritted her teeth and gave Yakumo a menacing look .

Then, there was the sound of a knock . For a moment, Haruka thought it might have been Detective Gotou, but if it had been him, he wouldn’t have knocked – he would have just suddenly said, 'I’m coming in,’ and entered .

'Please come in . The door is unlocked . ’

Yakumo ran his fingers through his hair and called out in the direction of the door .

'Please excuse me . ’

A beautiful long-haired woman in a navy blue suit opened the door and came in .

'Who might you be and where are you from?’

'I’m a fourth-year student at this university . My name is Iida Mizuho . ’

She replied firmly to Yakumo’s question . She seemed too mature to be a university student .

Haruka gave her seat to Mizuho and unfolded a folding chair that was in the corner of the room . She sat down next to Yakumo .

'So what can I do for you?’

'Er, I apologise for visiting in such a rude manner . I actually have something I would like to discuss and thought it might be bothersome, but…’

'Leave the introduction at that and get to the main question,’ Yakumo said curtly, interrupting Mizuho to make her get to the point .

Ah, it was the same the first time for me too . Haruka remembered the first time she had come to this room a few months ago .

'Ah, yes . The truth is, I have been troubled by a spiritual phenomenon –’

'A spiritual phenomenon?’

Yakumo frowned as he raked through his hand with his fingers .

'Will you listen to my story?’

'I don’t mind if I’m only listening to it . ’

At Yakumo’s prompting, Mizuho’s expression suddenly brightened .

After that, Mizuho talked about a ghost of a woman that appeared at an apartment .

– Why can’t I die?

While the female ghost muttered that, she jumped off the apartment building . After a while, she stood back up and dragged her body into the apartment . And then –

She jumped again .

The ghost of a woman who kept on committing suicide –

Why did she want to die so much? There was no way Haruka would understand .

Mizuho appealed politely to Yakumo, saying that after seeing that woman’s ghost, it had been so terrifying that Mizuho couldn’t sleep at night, and besought him to solve the case .

Since it was Yakumo, he would definitely say something cold like 'It’s none of my business’ or 'Please try your best’ .

Ah, you poor thing . Haruka looked at Mizuho sympathetically .

However, what Yakumo said was completely different from what she had imagined .

'That must be worrying you . I understand . Let me accept your request . ’

Eh? Wait . What? You had a completely different attitude when I asked you . Haruka swallowed the words that she almost said aloud .

'Will you help me?’

For a moment, Mizuho looked surprised, and then she relaxed, like she was exhausted .

Haruka was the one who wanted to be surprised .

'However, that does not mean it will be free . ’

'How much will it be?’

Mizuho looked at Yakumo to sound him out .

'Would the regular price of twenty thousand yen plus expenses be acceptable?

Isn’t that cheaper than it had been for me? What the heck is that –

'Yes, thank you very much . ’

Mizuho bowed her head deeply .

Was it OK for her to trust such an irresponsible guy so easily? She should be a bit suspicious .

This guy was just a fake who took advantage of people’s weaknesses .

Since Mizuho couldn’t hear Haruka’s thoughts, she wrote down the address of the apartment where she had seen the ghost as well as her contact information . Then, she bowed her head again and left the room .

'You accepted that pretty easily . ’

The moment the door closed, she rested her chin in her hands and said that . Since she had been holding back, her tone was a bit harsh .

'I want a new fan,’ Yakumo said with a yawn .

Well, it would be hard to get through the summer in the prefabricated building with new air conditioning, but –

'The price is lower than the one you gave me . ’

'There’s a campaign right now . ’

'Is that a campaign that gives discounts to good-looking woman? After all, I’m…’

'What’s gotten you into such a bad mood?’

Really, it’s just as Yakumo said .

What am I saying? Even while Haruka was thinking that, she couldn’t stop the next words from coming out of her mouth .

'Her breasts were big too . ’

'What – do you want to boast about your small ones?’

'Small!? … They’re still C-cups, you know . ’

'What sort of joke is that?’

Yakumo raised an eyebrow .

'It’s not a joke! You’ve never even looked at them!’

'I can tell well enough even if you’re wearing clothes on top . ’

Did he not know the word delicacy!? Honestly, she was so angry!

Ignoring Haruka’s inner turmoil, Yakumo stretched out his arms behind him .




'What on earth are you doing!?’

Chief Ideuchi’s yell stabbed at Ishii’s ears .

His forehead with its receding hairline was bright red in agitation . He looked just like a boiled octopus .

Ishii had been prepared to be scolded after he was called to the meeting room, but Ideuchi’s indignation exceeded his expectations .

It was true that they hadn’t obeyed orders, but because of that, they caught the criminal, so Ishii thought that Ideuchi could have at considered that a little .

'The officer in charge is a greenhorn . ’

Instead of being afraid of Ideuchi’s anger, Gotou flared up .

'Watch what you say . ’

'I just called him a greenhorn because he’s a greenhorn . ’

'Know your place!’

Ideuchi and Gotou’s conversation heated up .

This always happened . Gotou took an impolite attitude towards everyone . However, Ishii thought that Gotou’s attitude towards Ideuchi greatly differed from his attitude towards other people .

They didn’t get on well .

'Haven’t you reflected on what you did!?’

'I apologise for arresting the criminal!’ said Gotou in a voice dripping with sarcasm as he bowed his head and turned away . He was acting just like a rebellious child .

At many points, Ishii opened his mouth to mediate, but he was too flustered, overwhelmed by their intensity .

'What you should reflect on is how you didn’t obey orders!’

'You saying it’d have been better if I listened to some greenhorn’s orders, just waited in the car and let the criminal get away?’

Though Gotou’s objection was extreme, this time he was right . In a situation that required adaptability, grandstanding was sometimes necessary .

Putting aside whether he would be able to do that himself, even Ishii understood that much .

'I didn’t say that . ’

'Then what are you saying?’

'I’m saying that if you’re also a member of the police, don’t glare at the people above you . This is also for your sake . ’

'The job of the police is to keep public order – not to butter the boss up . ’

'In order for an organisation to work, sometimes that is necessary . ’

'Don’t force your reasoning onto me!’

Gotou’s angry voice was so loud the glass in the window shook .

Ideuchi lost his words and looked at Gotou like he was an alien .

It wasn’t an exaggeration . Their ways of thinking were really that different, or so Ishii thought .

'Forget it . Get back to work . ’

After a silence, Ideuchi shook his head and said that, giving up .

'Wasting my time with something so pointless,’ Gotou muttered as he stood up .

'If you keep up that attitude, you won’t get a promotion . ’

Ideuchi said one last thing to Gotou, who was exiting the room .

'I never wanted one in the first place,’ Gotou said, and then he left the room .

'You’re unlucky,’ Ideuchi said, casting a pitying look on Ishii .

Ishii didn’t feel there was any reason to be pitied .

'I don’t really…’

'If it’s what you want, you can consider getting a transfer,’ Ideuchi said, interrupting Ishii’s objection .

'A transfer? Why would I?’

Ishii raised his eyebrows and pushed up his silver-framed glasses .

'Your future shouldn’t be shut down for being Gotou’s subordinate . ’

Ishii couldn’t understand Ideuchi’s words . He had never felt bitter about working as Gotou’s subordinate .

'I don’t mind working where I am,’ Ishii responded firmly . Then, he said, 'Please excuse me,’ stood up, bowed and ran after Gotou .

He fell –

* * *

After leaving the meeting room, Gotou kicked the wall .

– I’m really pissed off .

What at? Ideuchi? No, that wasn’t all .

He was angry at himself .

He hadn’t been like this when he had first entered the force .

It might have been childish, but he had been filled with a sense of justice and duty . He had been drunk on fantasies that wouldn’t lose even to Ishii’s . He had believed without doubt that he would be able to save a lot of people .

However, that dream crumbled after just a few years .

No, that wasn’t it . He had just been naive in the first place . It was impossible to solve every case like some cool anime hero .

If every person who committed a crime was a detestable villain, this would be so easy –

The real world neither rewarded good nor punished evil .

People had different perspectives and ways of thinking . Cases weren’t just matters of vics and perps – they had effects on all the people around them .

Every day, people surrendered themselves to anger, resentment, sadness, jealousy – every possible negative emotion .

Senior detectives had often said this to him . 'Don’t worry so much . If you don’t just accept that that’s how it is, you’re the one who’ll suffer . ’ Gotou thought it was just as they said .

However, Gotou couldn’t do that .

He felt the same as the people involved in the crime and he called out in anger and sadness . Like that, he dug his nails into an unchangeable society .

Revolting against the large organisation that was the police who knew they were in way over their head, and he gradually became isolated .

Even so, he couldn’t leave the force .

Promotions were just showing off . The investigation team could get worked up about them if they liked, but they couldn’t involve the perps and the vics .

With out-and-out careerism, no matter how he tried to cooperate with officers who were trying work their way up, he knew what would happen . A power game .

There wasn’t any meaning in aiming for the top in an appearance-only organisation that had lost sight of its duty .

Finally, these past years police scandals continued one after another and the number of suicides in-house was through the roof .

An organisation like this should just go belly up . Gotou truly thought that .

Why am I still in this organisation if I think that –

He didn’t know . That was why he was angry .

'Damn it!’




Even while she was working, Makoto couldn’t get what happened at the bar the night before out of her mind .

The long-haired woman reflected in the lavatory mirror –

If she were the only one who had seen it, she could have put it away as an optical illusion, but the five people there had seen exactly the same thing .

Even if she denied it, the fearful experience that happened a few months ago came back to her .

At the time, a dead man’s soul possessed Makoto and ate away at her mind . She couldn’t forget the fear she had felt then even if she tried .

If that had been a ghost, it could have been somebody who died at that bar in the past .

In order to know even just a little about that spiritual phenomenon, Makoto accessed the company database when there was a spare moment at work and tried searching for women who had died nearby, but the answer was no .

Pulled along by the spiritual phenomenon with cause unknown, she lacked concentration for her work and made a series of basic mistakes .

She had just been targeted by her boss too, who had ended it with the usual line . 'And you’re supposed to be the police chief’s daughter . ’

No matter where she went, her father’s title was waved about .

When she was in university, the boy she liked stopped contacting her once he learnt about her father’s occupation, and her friends had become reserved too .

'You look a bit pale . Why don’t you head home for today?’ said Kazue, the clerk sitting beside Makoto .

Though it wasn’t as if she was feeling unwell, she would definitely be laughed at if she explained the reason .

Then, her mobile phone rang . It was from Asami .

'I’ll be fine if I rest a bit,’ Makoto replied with a smile . She took her mobile and headed towards the lavatory .

After she entered, Asami had hung up, but when Makoto called back, Asami picked up on the first ring .

'Hello, it’s Makoto . ’

There was no response even when she started speaking .

She just heard rough breathing from the mobile .

'Hello, Asami? Can you hear me?’

<… I’m scared . >

Asami’s shaking voice came through .

She’s scared –

'What’s wrong? Did something happen?’

<I’m scared . Please . Help me . >

Asami spoke quickly .

'Calm down . What happened?’

Makoto consciously spoke calmly, to try to alleviate Asami’s agitation even if just a little .

<There’s someone in my room . >

Asami sounded like she was crying .

'Someone… What do you mean?’

Makoto couldn’t immediately understand what Asami was saying .

<I can’t see them, but I can feel someone there . >


<Yes . I can hear footsteps and the sound of running water . It’s so creepy I can’t stand it…>

Makoto suddenly turned pale .

There was nothing definite . It could all be Asami’s misunderstanding . However, Makoto didn’t think that .

Makoto had experienced the horror of a dead person’s spirit first-hand . On top of that, there was the thing from last night .

'Hey, Asami . Are you home right now?’

<I’m out . I’m too scared to stay at home . Please, Makoto . I can’t bear with this alone . Please come . >

Asami sounded like she was at her wit’s end . There was no way Makoto could leave her alone .

'I get it . I’ll finish work as quickly as I can and come over . ’

<OK . >

'Don’t go back to your room 'til then, OK? Stay somewhere else . ’

After Makoto said that, she hung up .

There’s someone who thinks I’m looking under the weather, so I’ll watch my timing and leave as soon as possible .




Haruka followed Yakumo and went up the stairs to the apartment courtyard .

It was a fifteen-minute walk from the station . The apartment had been forcibly built, cutting away at the high ground . The steep steps were what remained .

Because of the dizzying sunlight, going up the steps was rather tiring .

'Hey, walk a bit more slowly . ’

Haruka wiped the sweat off her forehead and complained to Yakumo .

'Are you a turtle?’

'The rabbit loses to the turtle in the end . ’

'No matter how I try, I can’t think that you’ll catch up to me . ’

'That’s why I asked you to walk a bit more slowly . ’

'Why are you following me anyway? I don’t remember telling you to come with me . ’

Yakumo didn’t slow his pace or turn around .

It was true that Yakumo hadn’t asked her to come, but Haruka couldn’t remember him saying not to either . Haruka had interpreted that the way she wanted to and followed .

When she climbed to the top of the stairs, there was a park right in front of her .

A lawn spread out, surrounded by benches . A few toddlers were running around while letting out shrieks of delight . Behind the park, five seven-storey apartments were lined up diagonally .

Yakumo stood at the entrance of the first apartment and looked up at the roof .

It was an unusually serious gaze .

Haruka stood beside Yakumo and looked up at the roof as well .

All she could see was a brilliant blue sky and cumulonimbi rising up into the sky like columns of smoke . However, it was different for Yakumo .

He had a red left eye that could see the spirits of the dead . He loathed his unique ability and usually hid that eye with a black contact lens .

That ability had caused much of Yakumo’s contrary personality .

His own mother tried to kill him and the people around him found his eye altogether uncomfortable, so he ended up closing off his heart .

That eye filled with so many sad memories was lonely but warm .

'Hey, can you see anything?’

Yakumo didn’t reply .

Well, she hadn’t been expecting a reply in the first place .

'There is a woman with long hair . ’

Suddenly, she heard a voice .

It hadn’t been Yakumo’s . As proof, Yakumo also looked surprised . Haruka turned around to where the voice had come from and saw one man standing there .

He wore a black suit and white shirt inappropriate for this season . He had no tie and he had long flowing hair .

He had firm shoulders and dark skin like a surfer . His finely chiselled features were unlike that of a Japanese person’s .

Though their appearances were different, he had the same atmosphere as Yakumo . Haruka felt that even if she didn’t know the reason .

'And you are?’

Yakumo narrowed his eyes, like he was evaluating the man .

'Sorry for interrupting all of a sudden . My name is Kamiyama . I’m an exorcist . ’

Kamiyama made a smile and proffered Yakumo a business card .

– This person is an exorcist .

He had a very different impression from what Haruka thought exorcists looked like .

Exorcism was Yakumo’s most hated type of industry .

Yakumo, who could actually see the spirits of the dead, defined them as clusters of people’s emotions . That was why he thought it was an uncivilised method – to him, exorcising spirits with the power of chanting was idiotic and the same as giving someone a beating .

'You think I’m suspicious . Well, that’s not unexpected . ’

Kamiyama smiled bitterly at Yakumo who didn’t move to take the business card .

He had a low voice and a soothing way of speaking .

'I can’t do anything if you doubt me, but I can see them . The spirits of the dead . ’


Haruka spoke in surprise without thinking .

Kamiyama just said that he could see the spirits of the dead . If that was true, that would mean he had the same ability as Yakumo .

But anybody could say that . On the contrary, if there were exorcists who couldn’t see the spirits of the dead, they wouldn’t be able to make money even in a bogus business .

How did Yakumo see it? Haruka turned to look at him .

His expression hadn’t changed – he was just looking at Kamiyama silently .

'She killed herself…’ said Kamiyama, looking up at the apartment .

Yakumo neither affirmed nor denied it . Kamiyama continued without delay .

'A woman in her early twenties . She jumped from there at the limit of her despair . ’

Kamiyama pointed at one of the corners of the apartment’s roof .

Yakumo’s mouth moved slowly . Haruka didn’t know what he was saying .

'She has a violent hatred . A strong hatred that can’t even be healed by death… A deep darkness . ’

Kamiyama closed his eyes and took in a deep breath before turning his gaze to Yakumo again .

'You can see them too, can’t you? The same things as me . ’

Yakumo’s eyes turned sharp, but his lips were still pressed thinly together .

– Is this exorcist telling the truth?

Haruka restrained the impulse to ask .

'Don’t you think sometimes that being able to see is a cruelty?’

Though Yakumo didn’t reply to Kamiyama’s question, he narrowed his eyes, looking displeased .

However, to Haruka, those eyes looked like they were saying something, and Kamiyama continued talking like he had taken Yakumo’s silence as a response .

'You learn about things you don’t need to know about . The spirits of the dead are people’s passions unbound by morals . Looking at them directly is too painful . My heart breaks every time I see them . ’

Yakumo’s gaze met Kamiyama’s, and a wave of tension spread .

Haruka forgot to breathe as she stared at the two of them .

After a silence, Kamiyama smiled bitterly and said, 'Sorry for suddenly bringing up such an odd topic . ’

Haruka was finally able to let out the breath she had been holding .

'No, not at all . ’

Yakumo ran his fingers through his hair .

'I feel like I’ll meet you again . ’

Kamiyama left those parting words and walked at an easy pace away from the apartment .

Haruka realised why she felt like Kamiyama and Yakumo had a similar atmosphere when she saw his retreating back . His back felt like it was burdened with a heavy, sorrowful shadow .

When they could no longer see Kamiyama, Yakumo’s eyes returned to their usual sleepy look and he let out a big yawn .

'Hey, Yakumo-kun . About what that man said…’

For a moment, Yakumo’s expression changed at Haruka’s question .

Though she didn’t know what emotions he had hidden away, it was a complicated expression she had never seen before .

'Putting aside whether he is a real exorcist or not, there is a spirit of a dead woman here, as he said . ’

Does that mean that exorcist is the real thing –

Come to think of it, Yakumo had said this before . 'My ability to see the spirits of the dead is just part of my disposition . ’ If that was the case, it wouldn’t be strange if other people had the same disposition .


Yakumo ignored Haruka and started to make a call on his mobile .




When Ishii returned from the meeting room to the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room, Gotou was snoring loudly as he reclined on the chair .

It looked like his quarrel with Ideuchi earlier hadn’t really struck home .

– I was silly for worrying .

Ishii let out a huge sigh .

Gotou and Ishii were the only ones posted at the Unsolved Cases Special Investigations Room, which used to be a storehouse . Since nobody would see them, nobody would blame them if they took naps .

That said, Ishii didn’t know what to think about dozing right in the open at noon, but he didn’t have the courage to wake Gotou up .

In this situation, all Ishii could do was devote himself to whittling time away .

What he had been doing lately was reading the dossiers for unsolved cases that occurred in the past and reasoning out who the perpetrators were on his own .

Since he couldn’t report them to anybody, it was only self-satisfaction, but it was fairly interesting, since it felt like he had become a famous detective such as Sherlock Holmes .

Then, a mobile phone started ringing .

Gotou got up and answered the phone without even checking who it was, still half-asleep .

'Who’s this?’

Did Detective Gotou talk like that to everyone? Ishii thought that he should act a bit more polite since he was an adult .

However, there was no way he could have said that aloud .

'Eh? When did I become your gofer?’

The person Detective Gotou was talking to on the phone had to have plenty of guts to try to use him as a gofer .

Perhaps –

'You want me to lend… That really is all you can be counted on for… I got it . ’

While Gotou complained, he started taking notes for some reason .

'Shut up . I don’t need your concern . ’

Gotou left a sharp parting remark and hung up .

'What was it?’ Ishii asked, leaning forward in curiosity .

'Work,’ said Gotou, and he handed a memo with an address written on it to Ishii .

'What is this?’

'There’s an apartment at the address here – look up whether there are incidents in the past near there where somebody died . ’

'Where somebody died?’

'Murder, accident, suicide . Anything’s fine as long as they’re dead . ’

It was an awfully vague instruction .

'Is that all?’

'If somebody did die, look into them more so you know their personal history . ’

'What case is this for?’

'It’s not a case,’ Gotou said bluntly .

– It isn’t a case?

'It isn’t?’

'It’s a request from that brat . ’

– By that brat, perhaps he meant…

'From Saitou Yakumo-shi?’

'Yeah . There’s a ghost at that apartment . ’

So it was that demon-like man .

The terrible experience from a few months ago came back to Ishii’s heart, and a chill ran from the crown of his head to his toes .

He didn’t want to feel that way again .

'I unconditionally disagree to this . ’

'Stop whinging and go look into it . ’

Gotou’s fist fell down on Ishii’s head .

* * *

'So, did you find out anything?’ Haruka asked Yakumo, who had ended his phone call .

Yakumo looked at Haruka like she was making a fool of him .

'You haven’t progressed at all, as usual . ’


'All I know now is that there is a woman’s ghost at this apartment . There wouldn’t be a conclusion to this so suddenly . ’

'Didn’t that exorcist earlier say it was a suicide?’

'You believe him?’

Yakumo’s expression turned stiff .

Haruka, who couldn’t see the spirits of the dead, had no way of judging whether Kamiyama’s words were true or not .

'I don’t know . ’

'I don’t know either . ’


'That’s why we can’t let ourselves be caught by any preconceptions before we know whether what he said was true or not . ’

Yakumo’s lips went into a thin line after he spoke .

There was the sound of a mosquito buzzing far away in the silence . The light reflected from the asphalt was scorching and felt like it could burn skin .

Yakumo’s argument was sound . But –

'What are you going to do now?’

'Go back . After that, I wait for the results of the investigation . ’

After Yakumo said that, he started walking away briskly .

Haruka hurriedly followed after him .

As she thought, Yakumo was a bit strange after meeting that exorcist earlier .

She wouldn’t be able to say specifically what it was if asked, but she couldn’t feel strong determination from his eyes .

– He’s perplexed .

Just after they descended the stairs in front of the apartment, Yakumo suddenly stopped .

'When do you think a person would take their own life?’ asked Yakumo, turning around .

His eyes were narrowed . Is it because of the sunlight or –

Haruka had no answer for such an abrupt question . Despite that, she racked her mind to find one .

'Maybe to run away…’

Haruka said the words that came to her .

'To run . ’

'I think that everyone has their own reasons, but maybe they were using death to try to escape, or rather, be released from pain or sadness that they couldn’t bear .

Unusual for Yakumo, he listened to Haruka’s words patiently .

Haruka thought that his eyes looked they carried a strange sorrow, but it was probably just a misunderstanding .

'Dying won’t bring release . ’

That was all Yakumo said . Haruka thought he was right .

If the dead had souls, those emotions would still remain in this world even if they died .

If they chose death as a way to escape, it was a big mistake . Whether they chose to live or die, people couldn’t run from their own heart .

Still, the number of people who chose to take their own lives was endless . It was a sad truth .

A humid wind blew .

'Let’s run . It’s going to rain . ’

Yakumo suddenly broke into a run . Haruka hurriedly started running too . Immediately after she did, rain started pouring down loudly .




When Makoto finished work, she hurriedly headed towards the place where she had arranged to meet with Asami .

Though it was a family restaurant about a five-minute walk from the station, she ended up going by taxi because of the rain that was coming down in buckets .

After Makoto entered the restaurant, she found Asami at a seat by the window .

She was looking around like she couldn’t calm down and was afraid of something .

'Sorry, I wanted to come earlier,’ said Makoto, sitting in the seat opposite Asami . The moment Asami looked at Makoto’s face, she shook her head vehemently .

Asami covered her face with her hands and mumbled, 'I was really scared… I can’t go home anymore…’

Makoto understood Asami’s fear well .

Though her situation had been different, she had been possessed by a ghost a few months ago . A soul that wasn’t hers had eaten away at her .

She would probably never forget the terror she felt then .

'It’s OK, it’s OK . ’

Makoto moved to the seat beside Asami and hugged her shoulders tightly, which made Asami burst into tears .

Makoto stroked Asami’s head and patiently waited for her to stop crying .

After a while, Asami calmed down a bit and started talking in spurts about what had been happening around her .

'I always felt somebody’s presence . ’


'Mm… I’d hear footsteps behind me when I sat on the sofa, and when I took a shower, somebody would touch my hair…’

Makoto took Asami’s hand as she listened to her story .

'But I told myself I was just misunderstanding things . When I slept, I felt like I heard somebody’s voice and looked out the window…’

After saying this much, Asami lost her breath .

Makoto could feel Asami’s nervousness and fear . She didn’t want to hear any more . While thinking that, she urged Asami to continue, asking, 'Then?’

'She was there . ’

'Who was?’

'That woman . The one who had been at the toilet in the bar last night…’

After Asami said that, she closed her eyes tightly .

Makoto also remembered the blood-covered woman who had been reflected in the lavatory mirror and felt a chill down her spine .

'I live on the ninth floor of my apartment, but that woman was standing outside my window, smiling…’

Asami held her chest as her erratic breathing shook her shoulders .

'It’s OK . Calm down and take deep breaths . ’

Makoto rubbed Asami’s back and took calm, deep breaths as an example .

After a while, Asami regained her composure and lifted her face to begin talking again .

'I was so scared I consulted an exorcist . ’

'An exorcist?’

'Yeah . ’

'Are they someone you can trust?’

Normal people couldn’t see ghosts . Consequently, it’d be considerably difficult to judge whether that exorcist was the real thing or a fake .

While there were people who were saved, it was also true that it was a breeding ground for fraud .

'Since it’s just a name I’ve heard from a friend… Makoto, I want you to meet him with me . ’

'When you say you want me to meet him with you, do you mean you’re meeting him now?’

Asami nodded, her gaze holding Makoto .

'Excuse me . Would you be Inoue Asami-san…’

While Makoto was hesitating on her decision, somebody suddenly called out to them .

When she looked over, there was a man in a black suit standing by their table . He had chiselled features, his long hair was swept back, and he looked composed .

Asami replied, 'That would be me . ’

'My name is Kamiyama . I received your phone call . ’

The man gave his name and bowed his head .

This man is the exorcist Asami made her request to –

In front of Kamiyama, Asami talked about the spiritual phenomena she experienced again, but Asami’s agitation was more pronounced than it has been earlier, and there were many parts that were incoherent .

In the end, Makoto had to give an additional explanation including the event that occurred at the bar last night .

After Makoto finished talking, a smile appeared on Kamiyama’s face, and he said, 'I see . I have understood most of the story . ’

Asami ducked her head and her gaze wandered anxiously . She couldn’t make calm decisions right now . Makoto would have to judge whether this exorcist was the real thing or not – that was how Makoto felt .

'Deducing from this story, I believe this may be a wandering spirit . ’

'A wandering spirit?’ Makoto asked .

She had heard the term before, but she didn’t know what it actually meant .

'There are a variety of types of spirits with different characteristics . Many have been recognised by exorcists, but they have been split into residual spirits and wandering spirits . ’

'Residual spirits and wandering spirits…’

She had heard of both of them, but she didn’t know what the difference was .

'Yes . Residual spirits, as suggested by the name, are spirits that are bound after death to a specific place or thing . ’


'Yes . It might be easy to understand if I said they were captured by emotions . Hatred, sadness, anger – they are kept in this world by these negative emotions . ’

'Lingering emotions…’

'That’s right . They are often the ones who committed suicide or were killed . It is said that residual ghosts can escape that binding by possessing a living person . ’

Did that mean last time Makoto had been possessed by a residual spirit –

'The other type, the wandering spirit, is also exactly what it sounds like . They are spirits that cannot rest in peace, so they wander . There are many cases where they do not know they are dead or want somebody to know they are there .

Kamiyama’s explanation was logical and easy to understand, as if Makoto were listening to a class at school .

Moreover, he didn’t say anything to surprise them as a joke or fan their anxiety .

'They’re wandering…’

'Yes . It’s likely that the wandering spirit just happened to be in the bar when the two of you saw it . Then, when Asami-san didn’t notice, she brought that wandering spirit home with her . ’

'Will I be OK?’

Asami drew near Kamiyama and gripped his arm tightly .

Kamiyama wasn’t perturbed by it and said kindly, 'Please calm down . Wandering spirits simply wander, so they will not inflict harm . ’

'Is that true?’

'Yes . If you are still uneasy, I can go to your room now, Asami-san, and exorcise the spirit . ’

'Please do . ’

Asami replied immediately to Kamiyama’s suggestion .

Then, she grasped Makoto’s hand tightly and said, 'Makoto, you come too . ’

Makoto responded with a nod, since there was no way she could have refused .




Why do I have to do this –

Ishii unhappily searched through past data on a laptop .

He had never heard of police investigating at the request of a civilian, let alone a university student .

Saitou Yakumo – to Ishii, he was an unfamiliar puzzle of a living thing .

With Yakumo’s aloof attitude, there was nothing Ishii could get a hold of . He didn’t know how to connect to him . On top of that, there was that red left eye .

His body trembled just from remembering it .

The greatest puzzle for Ishii was why Haruka was together with that demon-like man .

Ishii didn’t know what to think of Yakumo who would order the police around like it was completely natural, but it perplexed Ishii even more that Gotou accepted Yakumo’s request so easily .

That Gotou was reclining on a chair behind him and whistling while plucking out nostril hairs . Furthermore, he was scattering the nostril hairs he plucked onto the floor, which was –

While Ishii was mulling over his thoughts, the data he had been looking for showed up on his monitor .

'Detective Gotou, I’ve found it . ’

Gotou responded to Ishii’s voice and peeked at the monitor from behind him .

'April, five years ago – a woman’s corpse was found in this apartment’s courtyard . ’

Ishii read the information displayed on the monitor .

'A murder?’

Gotou rubbed at the stubble on his chin .

'Er… The final report states that it was a suicide . ’

'That’s certain?’

Gotou held a cigarette in his mouth and lit it as he spoke .

'Though no note was found, it was judged to be a suicide from circumstantial evidence . ’

'Circumstantial evidence?’

Gotou frowned and spat out his cigarette .

'Yes . Half a year before she committed suicide, she was the victim of an assault . ’


Gotou’s voice cracked . He was openly discomfited .

Ishii was of the same mental state . Rape was one of the most repugnant crimes . It was not as if the perpetrator had a grudge . They had no distinct reason for why they had to do it .

It was a base and filthy crime that one-sidedly hurt women for their own lust .

'A victim report was submitted to the police . ’

A suicide from psychological shock –

Though Ishii didn’t know what sort of person she was, considering her feelings, she could definitely have been thinking about committing suicide . He had heard of women in the same situation who had actually killed themselves .

'Do you know her name?’

'Er… Sawaguchi Rika . She had been twenty- two at the time . ’

The moment Ishii said that name, Gotou’s expression stiffened .

'I can’t believe it was this case…’

Gotou spoke in a quiet voice that was almost inaudible .

'Excuse me, Detective Gotou…’

'Print out that info for me,’ Gotou said quickly, interrupting Ishii .

Ishii immediately printed out the documents for the case and handed them to Gotou .

'Excuse me, Detective Gotou…’

– Do you know this woman?

Ishii wanted to continue with that, but Gotou left the room before he could finish speaking .

Ishii felt something serious from that murmur .




'Sorry to disturb you . ’

Gotou opened the door to Yakumo’s secret hiding place .

A wave of hot air assaulted Gotou’s face . How could anybody stand to stay in this sauna of a room? Yakumo was sitting in the chair in front of him, with sleepy eyes as usual .

'If you know you’re disturbing me, please head home,’ Yakumo said, not even looking at him .

What a remark .

'You’re the one who called me . ’

'I just said that there was something I wanted you to look into . ’

'And I brought the documents you asked for . ’

Gotou sat in the chair opposite Yakumo and threw an envelope with the documents in it at Yakumo .

'I appreciate your efforts . ’

Yakumo finally looked up . He took the documents out of the envelope and lined them up on the table .

'So there really was a woman who committed suicide at that apartment…’ Yakumo said while looking over the documents .

'Yeah,’ Gotou replied curtly, and he looked down at his feet while putting a cigarette into his mouth .


'I know . I won’t light up . ’

Gotou interrupted Yakumo before he said it .

'You’re in a bad temper,’ Yakumo said with a sigh . Gotou searched for words to deny it but he didn’t find any .

I’m so angry I can’t do anything about it . My stomach is queasy like I’ve got a hangover .

This anger is at myself –

'Her death was partly my fault,’ Gotou said, though it was the opposite of his intention .

'Did you commit adultery?’

'That’s not it . ’

And he had blurted it out in front of the most troublesome guy ever too .

'What happened?’

Yakumo looked at Gotou with serious eyes – perhaps he understood the severity of the situation .

Gotou couldn’t keep his mouth shut after he had come so far . He hit his own cheek with his palm to change his mood .

'She was the victim of an assault half a year before her suicide . She was a fourth-year university student and was going to graduate soon . ’

What sort of future did Sawaguchi Rika picture for herself –

She might have already decided on her occupation by that time . She probably had a boyfriend whom she talked about her future with .

It became harder to breathe the more Gotou thought about it .

'And then?’

'She was abducted on the way home from her part-time job and assaulted . She probably resisted furiously . There are several signs that she was hit in the face . After the assault, she was thrown out at the park . It was awful . ’

Though Yakumo was feigning a blank expression, Gotou could tell that he was gritting his back teeth .

Gotou felt the same way . Any man who had truly loved a woman even once would never commit such an idiotic crime .

He would never be able to forgive the same thing happening to the woman he cherished .

'Then what did she do?’ Yakumo pressed, running his fingers through his hair .

'What did she do?’

'Rape is a crime that requires a formal complaint from the victim to prosecute, yes?’

He really was sharp . It was just as Yakumo said . Rape required a formal complaint to prosecute . Unless there were multiple perpetrators, the police wouldn’t move unless the victim pressed charges .

That could sometimes be troublesome .

Almost all of the victims ended up keeping their mouths shut in order to seal away their abhorrent memories . They wanted to forget the experience as quickly as they could and return to everyday life . That wasn’t bad . It was even natural to think that way .

However, that made it so that many rapes were left unreported . Naturally, the perpetrators foresaw that .

'We were about to give up when she agreed to cooperate with the investigation . ’

'Were you the one in charge then, Gotou-san?’

'To be more accurate, my partner then – a female detective called Shimamura – was the one who corresponded with her . ’

Usually, female investigators would be in charge of rape cases .

Well, it was to be expected . It meant that Gotou hadn’t actually directly talked to Sawaguchi Rika .

He had just seen her face in the documents .

Gotou couldn’t forget Rika’s face in the photo even now .

A blue bruise had surrounded her left eye . There had been a laceration on her cheek which made it look like she had been dragged, and blood had oozed from the corners of her lips .

It was a photo you would unconsciously avert your eyes from . However, Rika wasn’t frightened or terrified in the photo . She was simply looking forward with strong intent .

Her will hadn’t been broken .

He would drag the criminal out no matter what he had to do . Gotou had vowed that then –

'She cooperated with the investigation then . ’

'Yeah . ’

'Why would a person like that commit suicide…’

Yakumo was extremely doubtful .

There was a huge difference between pressing charges and not pressing charges afterwards .

The victims of assault were severely wounded emotionally, so they would lose their memories of the incident, re-experience the incident through flashbacks, suffer insomnia – a variety of stressful barriers .

There were also some people who excessively blamed themselves and felt that they brought the incident upon themselves .

Assault caused women incredible psychological damage .

In the middle of that, she faced the case on her own with a strong heart and tried to overcome it despite her injuries .

That’s certain . But –

'Do you know the phrase “second rape”?’

'Yes . It refers to a psychological rape that occurs due to police interviews and slander from thoughtless people . ’

This guy really was different from somebody like Ishii – the conversation went quickly .

'That’s right . For her, it was the police investigation . ’

'That is the worst . ’

'You’re right . “You’re not a virgin – you brought it on yourself, didn’t you? What colour was your underwear? It could be seen, couldn’t it? How was your first sexual encounter?” It wasn’t how the victim should have been corresponded with at all . ’

Gotou hit the desk with his fist in his anger, which had built up .

There was a limit even to insensibility . They had completely ignored the victim’s emotions . It was like slashing at the victim’s weakened heart .

This could be called the crime of the police .

'You weren’t the one who asked such vulgar questions, Gotou-san . ’

'Of course not!’

'That would mean you were left out of the initial stages of the investigation . ’

Gotou couldn’t answer Yakumo’s query and clenched his fists tightly .

His chest hurt like he had been stabbed with a needle .

'The day right after her case, a murdered corpse was found at a flat . ’

'And you were sent over there?’

Ideuchi had been his boss then too .

Gotou, who couldn’t understand, had naturally opposed it . However, Ideuchi didn’t comply with him . At the time, Ideuchi had said, 'If you don’t want to be put out to dry, obediently listen to what I have to say . Investigation is teamwork . ’

It was a natural decision from the police’s standpoint . They didn’t have enough members to do all the investigations equally . They had no choice but to prioritise investigations .

Now it was too late to regret it .

'Me and the female detective Shimamura were left out and two newbies were sent in…’

'And then she committed suicide . ’

Yakumo said just that, and suddenly Gotou’s heart was throbbing .

That’s right . She killed herself –

Why did I give up then? She might have died even if I had been in charge, but I might still have been able to treat her better .

No, that was wrong . Inside my heart, she wouldn’t have died . That’s what I thought –

No matter how many words he lined up grandly, the truth was that he didn’t understand the victim’s emotions .

The weight of regret clung to Gotou, and though he carried it now, it wouldn’t leave .

Now that he thought about it, that had been the start of the antagonism between Gotou and Ideuchi .

After that case, Gotou wouldn’t obey instructions and would cut him off whenever he could, all the while enforcing his will for an investigation that he trusted .

If he could return to that time, he would probably take charge of her investigation even if he had to punch Ideuchi to do it .

However, that was just a story of possibilities . The past couldn’t be changed .

'Gotou-san, it is too late to regret it now . Let us at least save her spirit . ’

This guy, putting on airs .

But it’s just as Yakumo says . A life that’s been lost won’t come back, so at least –

'You don’t have to tell me,’ Gotou said with a snort .

'In order to do that, we must find the reason her spirit is wandering . ’

'OK . ’

'Was the perpetrator arrested?’

'Yeah, but after she killed herself . Ironically, her parents used her suicide to tell the press how awful the police’s response had been . They said their daughter had been killed by the police… The press found that laughable and made a fuss . With all that excitement, a full-blown investigation got started . ’

As Gotou said that, it left a terrible aftertaste in his mouth that was hard to bear .

'That investigation bore fruit then . ’

'No, that’s not it . Though there was info on the criminal, it was a complete coincidence that he was caught . Oori Kazushi . He had been twenty-five at the time . A regular company employee . When he was inspected to see if he had been drinking, he had been a bit strange, and when his car was investigated, there was a picture that was believed to have been taken at the time of the assault . ’

'If the perpetrator has been found, there is another reason for her wandering then . ’

'For example?’

'Maybe she has something she wants to tell her parents… What happened to her parents?’

Here, Gotou felt a heavy weight on his shoulders again .

'Maybe because of all the anxiety she’d felt, her mother died of heart failure right after the criminal was arrested . Her father moved out of their flat and is renting now . ’

'Is that so?’

Yakumo put a finger to his brow and looked like he was thinking about something, but looked up at the ceiling in exhaustion, like his thoughts hadn’t come together .

'Well, though it may be troublesome, it seems like the only thing to do is to reconsider the situation of the case . ’

After a silence, Yakumo said just this .

'Yeah . ’

Just as Yakumo said, it didn’t seem like there was any other method .




Asami’s apartment was by a large street .

It was nine storeys tall and in the shape of a left-facing square bracket . It had undressed concrete walls and a red line on the border of the floor .

It was one of those designer apartments that were so popular now .

Led by Asami, Makoto and Kamiyama took the elevator up to the ninth and highest floor and went along the outdoor corridor with Asami showing them the way .

It seemed the apartment only had an elevator on one end, so they had to walk down the long outdoor corridor .

After turning two corners, there was Asami’s room at the very end .

Though Asami had been fine until she opened the door, she refused to go inside and turned away from the room while shaking .

Makoto felt afraid too, but because Asami was in such a state, she was able to bear it .

'Please forgive my intrusion,’ said Kamiyama . He turned on the light and entered the room .

'Wait here,’ Makoto told Asami, and then she followed Kamiyama into the room .

Since they had just met again yesterday, this was the first time she had gone to Asami’s room .

Makoto took off her pumps in the entrance that only had enough room for one person to stand and went down the hall that also functions as the kitchen . The door at the end of the hall was an eight-tatami room .

Asami had said she had just moved in, and it looked like it – the room didn’t feel lived in at all .

While Kamiyama mumbled something or other, he looked around the room slowly, at the veranda, the modular bathroom and the closet .

It looked more like the exorcist was inspecting the room’s facilities than looking at spirits .

'So it’s just as I thought . ’

After he was done looking around, Kamiyama crossed his arms like he had understood something .

'Did you find something out?’

'Yes . There is no issue . ’

Kamiyama gave a short reply to Makoto’s question and briskly returned to the entrance .

'Asami-san, it’s fine for you to come in as well . ’

When Kamiyama called out to her, Asami turned around, looking surprised .

'Is it really OK?’

Makoto spoke for the doubts Asami was feeling .

'I said this before as well, but the spirit that had been Asami-san’s room is probably a wandering spirit . ’

'Is it OK because it’s a wandering spirit?’

Makoto drew closer to Kamiyama .

'It did not have any hatred for Asami-san personally . Asami-san experienced the spiritual phenomena, so its goal has been accomplished . That’s all . ’

'Is that true?’

Asami’s gaze clung to Kamiyama .

Kamiyama was completely unperturbed, and he calmly repeated, 'It’s fine . ’ Asami, perhaps in her relief, sat down with a thump in the corridor like she had collapsed .

Somehow, Makoto felt like she had been deceived .

It might have been a let-down since she had been more terrified than necessary .

However, it was also true that a great uneasiness was spreading in the back of Makoto’s mind, though it was obscure .

Is this really the end –




After Haruka took a shower and returned to her room, her mobile phone started ringing .

This was rare . No, it might have been the first time . The person calling was Yakumo .

If she answered right away, it’d be like she had been waiting for a call . Haruka took her time drying her hair and then called Yakumo .

'Sorry, I was taking a shower . What is it?’

<It’s about the apartment we went to today . >

Yakumo skipped exchanging greetings and started with the topic at hand .

Gotou-san had probably given him the results of the investigation . Now that she thought about it, Yakumo wouldn’t call her without a reason .

Well, it was nice that he was giving her an explanation about the case without her having to ask him for one .

'Did you find something out?’

<Yeah . There really was a woman who committed suicide at that apartment . >


That would mean what the exorcist called Kamiyama said was true .

However, Haruka didn’t dare to say that aloud .

<Her name is Sawaguchi Rika . I also tentatively know the reason for her suicide . >


Yakumo’s tone felt a bit negligent for some reason .

<Accordingly, I’d like to hear your opinion as a woman . >

'If you’re fine with me . ’

It made Haruka happy to hear Yakumo say <as a woman> .

However, she didn’t say that aloud or let it show in her attitude . Yakumo, being contrary, would definitely say something sarcastic to ruin it . <Only biologically> or something like that .

<A few months before that woman killed herself, she was raped . >

Haruka felt a discomfort in her abdomen .

For a woman, that word had a very cold and heavy sound . Every woman had probably thought about it once .

If it had been me –

'Is that why she killed herself?’

'Well, that’s how it’s become formally . But something doesn’t fit . ’

'Doesn’t fit?’

Haruka didn’t understand what didn’t fit for Yakumo .

If she thought about how she would feel if she had been the one who was assaulted, she understood very well the feelings of a woman who would want to die, and the number of people who actually did commit suicide wasn’t small either .

Though the physical injuries would heal, the injuries of the heart from the assault would stay with them until they died .

<After that woman was assaulted, she cooperated with the police investigation . >

Yakumo said that to respond to Haruka’s doubts .

She could see what Yakumo meant .

Cooperating with the police investigation meant that she wanted to officially announce what happened herself . That meant she had a lot of courage . She had to have been very strong mentally .

For a person like that to commit suicide –

Haruka also understood why something didn’t fit for Yakumo .

<When the police were investigating, it seems that they said awful things to her . There is a possibility that that became the trigger . >

Haruka knew about that too .

She had heard a bit about it in her criminal psychology lecture . The mental contempt that was called second rape .

Why did victims have to remember terrible memories and have salt rubbed in their wounds?

'That’s unforgiveable,’ Haruka said without thinking, her anger rising .

<Looking at it as a woman, what do you think was her cause for suicide?>

Yakumo’s words sounded terribly funny to Haruka .

Though the gears in Yakumo’s head always turned quickly, he would think about human emotions like chemical reactions, perhaps because he had shut off his heart .

Human emotions didn’t adhere to fixed laws .

'I don’t think there was one clear reason though . ’

<What do you mean?>

'They wouldn’t lead to suicide if you think about everything separately, but I think I can understand well enough if you put everything together . ’

Since Yakumo was listening silently for once, Haruka continued her explanation .

'For example, if you listen to the story of why a couple broke up, there usually isn’t a specific reason – it might have been the trigger, but in the end, it’s because a variety of things piled up . ’

<So the composited minor factors drove her into a wall?>

When Yakumo said it, it sounded like an abstruse mathematical formula .

'Well, something like that . I think people reach their limits all at once . ’

<I see . >

'But there might be some factor that we don’t know about . ’

Haruka didn’t want to think about it, but there was a possibility that the woman got pregnant from the rape .

A man probably couldn’t understand how much pain a woman would suffer psychologically if that was the case .

<As you say, there may be some reason we don’t know about . In that sense, we can’t throw away the possibility that it wasn’t suicide . >

Really? Did that mean Yakumo thought it was possible it wasn’t suicide?

It couldn’t be a murder disguised as a suicide, could it? That exorcist’s words came back to Haruka in her head . 'She has a violent hatred . ’ If it had been a murder, Haruka could understand what that exorcist had said .

Yakumo might have been thinking about the same thing .

<Thank you . That was useful . >

Haruka couldn’t believe her ears .

That Yakumo said <Thank you> to her .

She endured the feeling of wanting to jump up and down and said, extremely naturally, 'No problem . ’

<That’s right . I’ve got a request for you . >

'A request?’

<You helped me with this once before too . A simple investigation . >

It didn’t feel bad having Yakumo ask her for something, but why did she have an unbelievably bad feeling?




Gotou arrived at the door to the police quarters and drew back his hand, which had been about to press the intercom button .

Just as Yakumo said, the only way to save her spirit was to re-examine the case .

He knew it would be finished up in a hurry if he talked to Shimamura Eriko, who had first been in charge of the case .

The reason Gotou was hesitating was that his wife, Atsuko, might have been behind this door .

She had left home this time because Gotou had forgotten their wedding anniversary .

He hadn’t forgotten . He had actually remembered it clearly . However, that didn’t mean he could do something like buy flowers and bring them home . It wasn’t in Gotou’s character .

It might have been fine if he just apologised honestly, but a man wasn’t that sort of creature . Even though he had a number of excuses, in the end, it might have just been embarrassing .

Though he didn’t remember when he had first met his wife Atsuko, he could still remember clearly the clothes she had been wearing and her hairstyle .

When he’d first met her, he had thought, 'I’m going to marry this woman . ’

What was he getting so worked up about? There was no reason for him to be restrained around his own wife .

Gotou shook his head to clear his mind and pressed the intercom button .


The door opened immediately, and a large woman appeared . She was Shimamura Eriko .

She had a candid personality like her appearance . Atsuko had said that Gotou and Eriko were like siblings .

Gotou raised his hand and said, 'Hi . ’

'Unfortunately, Atsuko’s returned home . Some make-up is arriving by mail order . ’

Gotou heaved a sigh in relief .

His wife wasn’t here, and she had returned home . He was relieved about both those things .

'Oh . ’

'Honestly, you two should really let it up . You shouldn’t be fighting so much at this age,’ Eriko grumbled .

This woman really went on . That’s why her husband ran off . Well, Gotou wasn’t in a situation where he could say anything about anyone else .

'More importantly, I want to talk to you about work . ’

'What? Are you thinking about switching jobs?’

'I’m serious . ’

Eriko opened the door wide and urged him inside, perhaps because she had seen how earnest his gaze had been .

They went through a living room with bottles of alcohol and sweets wrappers scattered about .

They were really spread out . Even a man living alone wouldn’t have made such a mess .

'Why don’t you clean up a bit?’

'I’m just going to say this, but this is all your wife’s work . I do at least clean up . ’

Gotou had planned on saying something sarcastic, but he received a harsh comeback .

It made his head hurt when he thought about two women getting excited over speaking ill of their husbands .

Eriko threw the magazines on the sofa to the floor and made space for herself to sit .

'So, what did you want to talk about?’

'Do you remember that case?’

While Gotou answered Shimamura’s question with a question, he sat cross-legged on the cushion on the floor .

'Which case? You never explain enough . That’s why Atsuko…’

'Sawaguchi Rika . ’

When Gotou said the name, Eriko’s face turned stiff .

As he thought, Shimamura hadn’t forgotten either . Cases with bad aftertastes stayed in your heart .

'Why are you talking about that now?’

Eriko’s suspicions were natural . That case was already over .

The victim committed suicide . The criminal was arrested . That had been the end of it .

I’ll have to talk about Yakumo to explain the whole story, but will she believe me –

Although Gotou broached the topic, he was at a loss for an answer .

'Could this be related to that young man you’re acquainted with who can see ghosts?’

Eriko brought up the subject while looking at him with searching eyes .

This was unexpected .

'Oi, why do you know about Yakumo?’

'I heard from Hata-san . ’

Hata was the perverted old man who asserted that his job as a coroner was his hobby .

They had worked together on a number of cases and he knew about Yakumo . Though his skill was excellent, he had loose lips on top of being weird .

'That old man, spouting off about…’

'Hey, is it true?’

Eriko leaned forward in immense curiosity .

'Is what true?’

'That the young man can see ghosts . ’

He couldn’t deny it after coming this far .

'It’s true . You don’t need to force yourself to believe it, but me and Yakumo are unfortunately inseparable . He’s cooperated on a number of cases with his ability to see ghosts . ’

Gotou lit a cigarette .

Eriko looked displeased, but she placed an empty can in front of Gotou .

'I believe you . When you do this sort of work, you experience this sort of thing even if you don’t want to,’ said Eriko jokingly .

'The explanation will go quickly then . ’

'So you think there’s still another side to that case?’

'I don’t know, but according to Yakumo, that girl’s spirit is still wandering…’


'Yeah . I want to know the reason too . It’s already been five years since then, so why is she still wandering?’

After Eriko’s gaze wandered like she was thinking about something, she gulped down the can of beer in her hand .

'That case had been full of things I didn’t understand from the very beginning . It was unnatural . ’


'Wasn’t it? Why did we get left out of the investigation?’

Eriko was clearly agitated .

'We were put to another investigation . ’

'But it was just a lack of common sense to put two detectives new to assault cases in charge – and two men on top of that .

'That’s true . ’

'Plus, in the files, it said there was no note left behind, but one of the investigation members who went to the scene said they’d seen a note . Everyone felt uncomfortable since that disappeared . ’


This was the first time Gotou had heard that .

'There’s more . After she killed herself, her parents called the police killers, right? The criminal was caught right after that, when there hadn’t been a proper investigation up until then . The timing is too good!’

Eriko forcefully slammed her fist on the table .

Her breathing was erratic . It felt like she had vented all the resentment she had kept until now .

In the vertically structured police, you had to obey the instructions from above even if you couldn’t understand them at all .

On top of that, cases just kept on coming . Even if you didn’t understand, you had to shelve those feelings away . Resentment piled up even if you didn’t want it to .

Gotou himself had experienced many hardships –

In any case, Eriko’s words just now made Gotou’s suspicions swell tremendously .

'Hey, I’ve got a request I want to make for old times’ sake . ’

'You asking me to re-examine the assault case?’

'Yeah . I’ll look into the background of the case . Look into the detectives in charge at the time indirectly for me . ’

Eriko bit her thick lips . Was she hesitating?

'Do you not want to?’

'Of course I’m going to do it . ’

Eriko answered Gotou’s question with a puffed chest . Though the woman had no charm, she was reliable .




Yuuya lay sprawled on the sofa, absentmindedly listening to music .

He wasn’t doing anything or thinking about anything – he just really liked this feeling of rocking like he was on water .

Though his home was nearby, he almost never returned since he’d met Shinichi . He was completely freeloading at Shinichi’s flat .

He didn’t get along with his father . Especially after his mother had died – they’d run into each other more often at home, which made it worse .

It wasn’t like they had big fights . Yuuya didn’t know what to talk about . It was probably the same for the other party .

That was why his father hadn’t made even one complaint about his not returning home .

– Since living alone in a 2LDK is wearisome .

Shinichi took Yuuya in quickly too, and loved him like a younger brother .

A light wind blew . He looked over and saw the curtains moving . Had the window been open? Yuuya raised his head and looked at the window that connected to the veranda .

Rattle . Something passed behind him .

Eh, but Shinichi-san wasn’t supposed to be home yet . Yuuya sat up .

This time, he felt like something had passed by outside the window . What could it be? Yuuya stood up, slowly approached the window and drew open the curtains .

Suddenly, the lights in the room went out .

In the semi-darkness, a pallid light reflected in the window .

In that light, there was a figure of a person standing –


Yuuya fell down backwards while screaming .

There was a woman outside the window .

A woman whose face was dyed bright red with blood .

The woman who had been reflected in the mirror in the lavatory at the bar last night .

Yuuya crawled towards the entrance to leave the room .

When he reached the entrance, the door suddenly opened and Shinichi came in .

'Help . The woman – the woman,’ Yuuya begged, clinging to Shinichi’s feet .

'What are you so excited about?’

Shinichi shook Yuuya’s shoulders, but Yuuya couldn’t give a proper answer to Shinichi’s question in his upset state .

– You die too!

Suddenly, a voice came down upon them .

Shinichi and Yuuya went stiff for a moment . After they both looked at each other, they screamed and rushed out of the room .

* * *

The bartender at Bar <Snake> was cleaning up after the bar had closed for the night with a cigarette in his mouth .

He didn’t have the surplus to hire workers . The bar was barely scraping by financially .

It hadn’t been like this a few years ago . He got as much money as he wanted if he asked his parents for it . Even without doing work, he enjoyed a life of leisure with dignity .

Now, he had to stock, serve customers and even clean the shop himself .

He knew that lamenting wouldn’t bring back his past life .

It was just that he’d had some extraordinary income lately .

He hadn’t thought that something inherited from the past could be changed into a product . Putting it out all at once would make things difficult later . He’d look for the right time to make a bit of money .

Clank . There was the sound of something falling .

'What is it?’

The bartender walked out from the counter and looked around the bar . The mop that had been leaning against the wall had fallen . Looked like he had forgotten to put it away .

The bartender picked up the mop and opened the locker by the lavatory –

His breath got caught in his throat in his surprise so he couldn’t even breathe .

There was a woman in the locker .

Her face was covered in blood and long hair hung over her face .

– Die!

That’s what the woman said .


The bartender hurriedly shut the locker door and jumped back .

His eyes must have deceived him . He said that to himself .

The fuss last night had just gotten on his nerves . It’d be clear if he just opened the locker door again .

– Die .

Just when he had put his hand on the locker’s door handle, he heard a voice from behind him .

A cold sweat ran down his body .

He cautiously turned around .

The same blood-covered woman he saw earlier was there –


On the floor, the bartender went down on his hands and knees . Then, he rushed out of the bar .




Ishii left the police quarters and headed for the parking lot in the back .

He had waited until the date changed at midnight, but Detective Gotou hadn’t come back .

He’d tried calling his mobile a few times but he hadn’t gotten a message back, so there was nothing for him to do but go home .

But recently, he’d been wondering if things were really OK like this . Other investigation team members would work to the point that they didn’t even have time to sleep –

That said, he didn’t like intense cases like the serial abduction case they had last time . Thrilling and exciting cases .

Just as Ishii opened the car door on the driver’s side, somebody suddenly appeared in front of him .

'Excuse me, Ishii-san . ’

'Eek . ’

Ishii shrieked without thinking .

'Ah, sorry . It’s me . Makoto . ’

Makoto walked in front of Ishii and bowed her head .

'A-ah, Makoto-san . What are you doing here at this time of night?’

Though Ishii spoke as calmly as he could, his heart was still beating furiously .

Plus, Ishii was traumatised by what Makoto in her possessed state had done to him last case .

Of course, he knew it wasn’t her fault, but he still felt scared .

'Actually, there is something I would like to consult you about, Ishii-san, so I decided on my own to wait for you . ’

'Until this time of night?’

'Sorry - I must be troubling you . ’

Makoto cast down her almond eyes .

'Ah, no, that’s not it . I just thought that if you called me, I wouldn’t have made you wait so long,’ Ishii hurriedly explained, overcome by a strange feeling of guilt .

'I thought it would be rude to interrupt your work . That is, it’s a personal matter . ’

'A personal matter… is it?’

'Yes . It won’t take that much time . ’

Makoto bowed her head again .

'Ah, if you’re fine with me, please tell me . Since it’s already this late, I’ll drive you home as well . ’

Makoto was the daughter of the chief of the police . He couldn’t turn her request down flat . Plus, it would be a problem if he let her go home alone at this time and anything happened .

'Sorry for this . ’

'Please don’t worry about it . ’

After waiting for Makoto to get in the passenger’s seat, Ishii started the car .

'So what did you want to talk about?’ Ishii asked, his hands on the wheel .

'The truth is that there is something I would like to ask your opinion about, Ishii-san . ’

'My opinion?’

'Yes . ’

After Makoto nodded, she started talking about the spiritual phenomena at the bar and the exorcist she met this evening .

Without thinking, Ishii was lost in what Makoto was saying . He really did like this sort of thing .

However, actually experiencing it was a different matter . He had fully realised that last case . He enjoyed this because he was listening as an outsider .

'What do you think, Ishii-san?’

After she finished talking, Makoto asked for his opinion in the end .

'What exactly do you mean?’

'I can’t explain this clearly, but I have a very bad feeling for some reason . ’

A breath escaped Makoto’s glossy lips .

She hung her head . The nape of her neck was pale and captivating, reflected in Ishii’s eyes almost like a different creature entirely .

'However, that exorcist said that there was no need to worry any more since it was a wandering spirit . ’

'Yes, but…’

Ishii understood well what Makoto was trying to say . It wasn’t something that could easily be agreed to with 'Yes, I see’ after being told 'It’s fine now’ .

'Well, since an expert said it, I think that it’s fine . ’

'Is it really fine?’

Makoto looked at Ishii worriedly and grasped Ishii’s hand .

Her hand was cold . In the back of Ishii’s mind, that terror came back to him .

'Eek . ’

Ishii shrieked instinctively and slammed the brakes .

For a moment, Ishii’s head went blank . Cold sweat dripped down his forehead .

'Is something the matter?’

Makoto looked at Ishii in surprise .

'Ah, no, er, a cat suddenly…’

Ishii hurriedly wiped the sweat from his forehead and fixed the position of his glasses with the tip of his finger .

'A cat? Was there one there?’

'Ah, no, that’s . Ahaha . ’

While Ishii was lost for a reply, a mobile phone started ringing .

Makoto took her mobile from her bag and picked up after saying, 'Please excuse me for a bit . ’

'Asami? What’s wrong?’

Asami… Was it the woman from the story earlier who experienced the spiritual phenomena?

'Hey, calm down . ’

Makoto sounded cornered .

'Leave that room as soon as you can… eh, you can’t leave…’

Ishii had a very bad feeling .

'Got it . I’ll go right away . ’

Makoto hung up just as she finished speaking .

'Ishii-san, excuse me . Thank you for today . ’

Ishii stopped Makoto as she was about to open the door .

It’s not as if there was any official report, but it seems like something serious is happening . I am a policeman, so I can’t let this pass .

Detective Gotou had said this . Adaptability –

'Please tell me the location . ’

For a moment, Makoto looked perplexed, but she bowed her head right after and said, 'Please . ’




Ishii, who stopped his car in front of the apartment temporarily to let Makoto off, went to visitor parking to park his car and followed her immediately .

Makoto was saying something to the interphone in front of the apartment’s entrance .

Though she normally seemed like a calm woman, she was considerably agitated now and her voice sounded hysterical .

Then, a man in a black suit came in .

The moment Makoto saw him, she let out an 'Ah!’ . The man also nodded like they knew each other .

'Makoto-san, yes? Did you also come to see Asami-san?’ he said to Makoto, his breath also feeble .

'Yes . ’

While Makoto was answering, the auto-lock glass front door opened .

'I was also called by Asami-san . ’

The man wiped the thin layer of sweat from his brow and went through the entrance .

Both Ishii and Makoto followed .

The man pressed the button for the only elevator and looked at Ishii after breathing deeply . His gaze was piercing .

Even though Ishii hadn’t done anything wrong, he felt ill at ease .

'Ishii-san, this person is the exorcist I mentioned earlier – ’

Inferring the mood, Makoto introduced the man to Ishii . So this man was the exorcist –

'My name is Kamiyama . ’

Following Makoto’s words, Kamiyama bowed his head politely .

'My name is Ishii . I’m a detective . ’

Ishii bowed his head like Kamiyama .


Kamiyama spoke like he hadn’t heard correctly . Why is the police here – he looked like he wanted to ask that .

Just as Makoto opened her mouth to explain, a mobile phone started ringing .


Makoto answered right away .

’…You OK? I’m just about to get on the elevator…’

At that point, the elevator arrived .

Makoto, Ishii and finally Kamiyama got in, and he pushed the button for the ninth floor .

With the sound of the winch, the elevator started going up .

’… Hello? Hello?’


A woman’s scream came through Makoto’s phone’s speaker .

Right after that, the call ended .

Makoto gripped her mobile and looked up at the ceiling anxiously .

'I apologise . This is my responsibility . ’

Kamiyama looked up at the ceiling as he said that . Who was he saying it to? He bit his lower lip and looked like he was enduring the pain .

In this box full of tension, it felt like somehow only Ishii had been left behind .

When the elevator door opened, Kamiyama flew out first . Then, Makoto followed . Ishii didn’t understand what was happening but he ran after the two of them .

It was a narrow passage that could only let one person through at a time .

They went through the outside corridor straight in front of the elevator they got off of and turned right after three rooms . They turned right again after three more rooms .

Makoto suddenly stopped .

Ishii almost ran into her back but stopped himself just on the verge of it .

They were in front of the room at the very end of the corridor .

'Asami-san . Are you all right?’ said Kamiyama while pressing the intercom button and rattling the doorknob .

'Asami, you OK?’

Makoto couldn’t bear it and butted in from the side .

Kamiyama lost his balance and stumbled, dropping to his knees .

However, Makoto didn’t seem to notice – she turned the doorknob and hammered on the door . Ishii just watched, not knowing what to do .

'Asami, you’re here, right? Talk to me!’ Makoto shouted . However, there was no response .

'Asami-san! Are you all right? Asami-san! Asami-san!’

After standing up, Kamiyama switched places with Makoto and knocked on the door while yelling .

Makoto took out her mobile and made a call .

'Quiet,’ Makoto commanded .

Though it was faint, there was the sound of a phone ringing from inside the flat .

Now Ishii understood . Makoto was calling Asami’s mobile . It was certain that she was inside the room .

'Ishii-san, could you borrow the key?’ Makoto suggested .

This was an emergency situation . He could probably borrow a key if he went to the management office and showed his ID .

'Understood . ’

Ishii nodded and ran .

What on earth was happening? Though Ishii didn’t like experiencing things like this first-hand, but things didn’t look good for him .

Ishii took the elevator back to the first floor and went to the management office to say he was a policeman . He explained the situation and borrowed the master key .

Ishii returned with the key and, urged by Makoto’s and Kamiyama’s gazes, put the key into the doorknob without even time to breathe .

A cold sweat was slowly coming down his forehead .

– I can’t open this door .

He heard someone’s voice . It was his cowardly other self . However, he couldn’t run away now .

'I’m opening the door,’ Ishii declared, and he turned the key .

The key turned with a click . Opening the door now .

But I’m scared . I’m really scared –

What on earth was behind this door? While Ishii was thinking, Makoto pushed in from the side and opened the door forcefully .

Though Ishii didn’t shriek, he did jump back from the door .


Makoto ran into the room .

Kamiyama followed her . There was no way Ishii could stay outside .

He slowly passed through the door and looked around the room from the entrance . The lights were on . There were no signs of a struggle .

There was no sign in the room of a woman who could be Asami .

It was completely empty .


Makoto raised her voice .

This wasn’t the time to be frightened . After taking off his shoes, Ishii entered the room and went up to Makoto .

Makoto was pointing at a point on the floor . On top of the carpet by the bed .

A mobile phone red with blood had fallen there . It wasn’t dry yet . Wet blood –

Ishii couldn’t make a sound in his shock .

'Asami! Asami!’

Makoto’s voice rose nearly to a shriek . There was no response .

Ishii couldn’t understand at all .

Right before they came here, Makoto had been talking to Asami on her mobile .

The call had cut off partway through on the elevator, but they hadn’t even taken a minute to reach the room .

After they arrived at the room, Ishii left to get the key, but Makoto and Kamiyama had been in front of the room .

Naturally, nobody sneaked into the room, and nobody had left .

'Asami disappeared…’ Makoto said, collapsing to her knees .

That’s ridiculous –

Ishii fervently looked around the room in order to deny his unbelievable thoughts .

The key to the room was on the table .

The window that led to the veranda was also locked from the inside . There was no space for somebody to hide – not in the modular bath, the closet or above the ceiling .

Ishii’s hopes were crushed .

This situation is –

A woman disappeared from a locked room –

Ridiculous . Impossible .

'If I had noticed earlier…’

Kamiyama bit his lips and he looked remorseful . Noticed? What was he talking about? Kamiyama continued talking like he was addressing Ishii’s doubts .

'It hadn’t been a wandering spirit that was following Asami-san . It was a residual spirit with a strong and deep hatred…’

Kamiyama’s words echoed in Ishii’s eyes .

So that means this is the work of a ghost –




Gotou parked his car in front of the entrance of the apartment Ishii had mentioned to him .

It was a private one-room apartment and was strangely shaped like a left-facing square bracket, as if it had been forcibly built on the narrow plot of land .

He called management to have them open the auto-lock and took the elevator .

'Damn, calling me at this time,’ grumbled Gotou towards the ceiling,

However, inside his heart, he was worried . Ishii’s scared voice over the phone hadn’t been normal .

No matter how many times he yelled at him to calm down, Ishii kept on crying that somebody had disappeared and that some vengeful ghost had done something .

After going up to the ninth floor, Gotou went down the long outdoor corridor and pressed the button for the intercom outside the room that Ishii had mentioned .

'Hey . You got dragged into this too?’

Makoto just nodded seriously at Gotou’s words .

Why did everyone look like they’d just gotten home from a funeral? Though Gotou was dissatisfied, he passed through the entrance to the room .

Ishii was sitting, hugging his knees .

'Oi, what happened? Give me a proper explanation . ’

Gotou gave Ishii’s head a light push .

Normally Ishii would miserably say 'What are you doing?’, but he slowly looked up at Gotou and gaped at him without saying anything .

They’d get nowhere like this .

'I don’t care who – somebody, explain . ’

After Gotou said that loudly, somebody appeared at the window connected to the veranda . He was a man in his late thirties with long, flowing hair and wearing a black suit .

'Let me explain . ’

The man spoke calmly but clearly .

'Fine by me, but who are you?’

There was an embarrassed smile on the man’s face, like he felt he had been careless . He held out his business card .

Exorcist, Kamiyama Eiji –

That was what it said on the business card . A detective, a newspaper reporter and an exorcist . What a combination .

'I’m Detective…’

'Detective Gotou, yes?’ interrupted Kamiyama .

'Why do you know my name?’

'I asked Ishii-san earlier . ’

The guy felt suspicious somehow . There were many things Gotou wanted to say, but he had to confirm the situation first .

'What happened?’

Gotou urged Kamiyama to continue .

'Today, Inoue Asami, the owner of this room, consulted me about spiritual phenomena that occurred in her room . ’

'Spiritual phenomena?’

'Yes . Asami-san and Makoto-san were friends at university, so the three of us met once in the evening, and then I came to investigate the spiritual phenomena in this room . ’

Unlike Ishii, Kamiyama gave an indifferent and competent explanation .

Gotou looked at Makoto, who was standing in a corner of the room . She nodded silently to affirm Kamiyama’s explanation .


It felt like it’d be a long explanation . Gotou sat down cross-legged, lit a cigarette and urged Kamiyama to say more .

'At the time, I couldn’t confirm the existence of the spirit and left temporarily . However, about one hour before, Asami-san contacted me . She said that spiritual phenomena had occurred again and that she wanted me to save her . I hurriedly came here and met with Makoto-san and Ishii-san at the entrance .

'Ishii, why were you here too?’

Gotou glared at Ishii .

He knew why Makoto and Kamiyama, the exorcist, were here, but Ishii had no reason to be .

Ishii’s shoulders shuddered as he tried to say something but no words came out .

'Um, I went to consult Ishii-san about the spiritual phenomena,’ Makoto interrupted .

He decided not to boorishly ask why she would go to consult Ishii .


'When I went to consult Ishii-san, Asami called me asking for help…’

After saying that much, Makoto’s words trailed off .

'So where was the owner of the room who’d asked for help?’

’S-she disappeared…’ Ishii said, looking like he was going to cry .

'Reply seriously!’

Gotou hit Ishii’s head .

'No, what Ishii-san said is the truth,’ Kamiyama said with a puffed chest, like he was proud .

This exorcist was pretty shameless even though he was talking to police .

'Even idiots should think carefully before speaking . ’

'No, it’s true,’ Makoto insisted .

Everyone was saying –

'There’s no way a person would disappear . ’

'Why can you assert that?’

Kamiyama looked down at Gotou with narrowed eyes .

Gotou didn’t like being looked down on . He stood up and glared back .

'Tell me in detail what you mean . ’

After glaring at Kamiyama for a while, Gotou turned the conversation to Makoto .

With Ishii like that, she looked like the one who would explain the best .

'After Asami called me, I came with Ishii-san to the apartment . When we arrived at the entrance, we met Kamiyama-san . ’

'What time was that?’

'I think it was about twelve thirty . We pressed for the intercom and Asami opened the auto-lock entrance for us . ’

'So the woman called Asami was in her room then . ’

'Yes . While waiting for the elevator, Asami called me on my mobile phone . She screamed and hung up when we were riding the elevator up . ’


'When we reached the room, the door was locked . I asked Ishii-san to borrow the room key the management office . When we unlocked the door and went inside, Asami wasn’t there…’

After Makoto said that, she handed something wrapped in a handkerchief to Gotou .

'What is this?’

'That was left in the room . ’

Gotou took it and opened the handkerchief .

It was a flip phone . There was a dark red stain on it . It was a bloodstain .

When he looked at it carefully, there was a bloody fingerprint as well .

Is what they’re saying true –

Gotou looked at everyone’s faces slowly . He really had suspicions that this was a tasteless prank and that one of them might burst out laughing .

However, everyone there looked uniformly serious .

'How about the key to the room? Couldn’t she just have gone out?’

'That is…’

Makoto looked to the table .

There was a key there with some small stuffed animal – a cat or a dog – attached to it on a strap .

It was a key for a pin-tumbler lock . The notches of the key were in a complex elliptical shape that would be difficult to reproduce .

'She didn’t leave through the window?’

'No, the window was also locked from the inside . ’

Makoto rejected Gotou’s idea .

'On top of that, even if she did go to the veranda through the window, this is the ninth floor . It is not a height she could have jumped from . I checked earlier, but it also is not connected to the neighbouring veranda,’ Kamiyama explained in a much more detective-like manner than Ishii .

Then there had to be another possibility . It was absolutely impossible for someone to disappear .

'Couldn’t somebody have taken that woman out of the room while you were riding the elevator?’

'It was at most thirty seconds from when we lost contact with Asami-san to when we arrived in front of this room . Detective Gotou, I think you should understand better than us that that wouldn’t be enough time for someone to take somebody who was resisting out of the room and leave without our discovering them,’ Kamiyama replied disinterestedly .

The man himself probably didn’t mean it that way, but that just sounded sarcastic to Gotou .

'I know that . I’m just going through all the possibilities . Speaking of possibilities, you’re the most suspicious . Most exorcists are frauds, right?’

'That is true . ’

Gotou had been unprepared for Kamiyama’s unexpected answer .


'Just as you say, Detective Gotou, there really are many exorcists who are frauds . In particular, those who are affiliated with religions are suspicious . ’


Gotou felt it was the other way around .

'Since in Buddhism and Christianity, it is not believed that the spirits of the dead wander . ’

Going off and denying himself .

'Then what about you?’

'I am not affiliated with any religion . However, as an exorcist, I may be a fraud in a sense . ’


'My method of exorcism is very different from that of other exorcists . ’

'Shouldn’t everyone be the same?’

'No . I don’t know if you will believe me, but I do not exorcise spirits through using charms or chanting spells . ’

'Then how do you exorcise them?’

'I have the ability to see spirits . I speak to them and remove their reason for staying where they are . To put it simply, I persuade them . ’


Gotou lost his words .

He had heard what Kamiyama said many times before . His theory was exactly the same as Yakumo’s .

At that moment, the lights suddenly went out and the room was blanketed in darkness .

'Eek . ’

Ishii’s shriek went through the room .

What? What happened –

Something suddenly leapt into Gotou’s vision in his confusion .

A woman with long hair –

The left half of her face was covered in blood .

In the dim light, only that woman appeared faintly luminescent .

– Die .

Her cracked voice reverberated .


After Gotou said that, the lights went on again .

He closed his eyes for a moment because it was bright, and when he opened his eyes again, the woman was gone .

Where? Where did she go?

She had been standing near the window that went to the veranda . Gotou opened the window and rushed out to the veranda .

However, there was no sign that anybody had been there .

'There is no point following her . She has no body,’ Kamiyama said expressionlessly . He did not seem puzzled at all .

Did someone really disappear from a grudge, just as Kamiyama said?



[1] The Koujien (広辞苑, meaning wide garden of words) is a Japanese dictionary which is considered to be the authority on Japanese definitions – the Japanese equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary .

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