Summer vacation ended and new term has started.
Nothing has really changed in my school life. I guess the only thing changed is how the students are dressed, as they start to wear more as Autumn approaches. As for me, I have never worn anything other than a kimono. Akitaka would bring me cute cloth that a sixteen year old girls might wear, but I never thought about actually wearing them.
Fortunately, this school doesn’t have uniforms, so I could stay in my kimono. I actually wanted a long-sleeved kimono, but with that I’ll spend the whole PE class just to change. So I made do with a Ukata-like single-piece kimono. I wondered what I should do about the cold during winter-time, but I found a solution to that yesterday.
… It happened during the breaks in between classes. I was questioned when I was in my seat.
“Aren’t you cold, Shiki?”
“I’m not cold right now but I guess it should start to feel cold soon.”
The person in front of me frowns, as if he’s figured out I’m planning to be in my kimono during the winter too.
“You’re gonna be wearing that thing even during winter?”
“Probably. But I’ll be fine because I’ll be wearing something over it.”
I said so trying to end the conversation. That person walks away being surprized there’s something that can be worn over a kimono, but I was also surprized by my answer I came up with. In the end, I went out to buy a coat. I bought a leather blouson as it seems to be the warmest. I’ll wear it in the wintertime, but it will stay in my closet until then.
I ended up eating lunch together with this guy, being invited and all. The place is at the rooftop of the school building and I could see many other groups of students around me… a pair of a man and a woman, a group just like us. While I am looking at them, he talks to me. I was going to ignore it, but a word caught my attention.
“I said murder. It happened on the last day of the summer vacation, in the western part of the shopping district. It’s not on the new yet though.”
“Murder… that’s not peaceful…”
“Yeah, and the content is sick too. The killer cut off this guys arms and legs and just left him there. I heard the whole place was a sea of blood and they had to close off the alley with boards. And the killer is still on the loose.”
“Only arms and legs? Can a human die with just that?”
“Of course, from loss of blood. In this case, I would assume the shock death came first.”
He talks while eating. In contrast to his calm looking face, he likes to talk about this kind of stuff. I guess one of his relative is in the police or something. … I bet he isn’t of a too high rank since he’s letting out confidential matters.
“Oh, sorry Shiki. I guess it doesn’t concern you.”
“It’s not that it concerns me. But Kokutoh-kun…”
I complain to the guy questioning me as I close my eyes.
“That’s not something we should dicuss during meals.”
“You’re right,” nods Kokutoh. …Geez. Now I don’t have any appetite to eat this tomato sandwich I just bought.
The first summer in high school ended by hearing a strange rumor like that one. The season slowly moves into autumn. For Ryohgi Shiki, the life that seems just a bit different than what it used to be is about to head into the cold winter.
It has been raining since this morning. In the sound of the rainfall, I am walking in the hallway. There isn’t many students walking in the school building now that classes are over. Since the killer incident that Kokutoh was talking about has been publicized, the school has banned all club activities. I think it’s the fourth case this month. I’m sure because Akitaka said so in the car this morning. They have no idea of the killer nor do they have any motive the killer might have. All the victims have no connection points, except for the fact that they were all out late at night. I guess it’s not that much of a big deal if it happened somewhere far away, but it’s a different story when it happens in the town you’re living in. All the students go home before dark and everyone, including boys, go home together in groups. Since the cops patrol starting around nine, I haven’t been able to take my night walks to my satisfaction.
All the four scenes, I have…
Someone suddenly calls my name. Turning around, I see a guy I have never seen before. He’s wearing blue jeans and a white shirt, very plain. He has a calm face too… he must be an upperclassman.
“Yes? What is it?”
“You don’t have to glare at me like that. Are you looking for Kokutoh-kun?”
With an artificial-looking smile, the man says a ridiculous thing.
“I’m about to go home. Kokutoh-kun has nothing to do with this.”
“Really? You’re wrong. You don’t understand, that’s why you’re irritated. You shouldn’t take it out on others too much because of that. It’s easy to blame things on someone… it grows to be a habit. Hahaha, isn’t four times a bit too much though?”
Without knowing, I take a step back.
The man has on an artificial smile. A smile just like me, how satisfied-looking and yet…
“I wanted to talk to you in the end. Now that I’ve done that, I need to go. Bye.”
The man walks away just leaving the sounds of his footsteps. Not even looking at him go, I head to the entrance. Changing shoes and going outside, the rain meets me. Akitaka, who is supposed to pick me up, is not here yet. He usually drives me home on rainy days, but I guess he’s late today. It’s too troublesome to change my shoes again, so I decide to wait by the stairs to the entrance.
The faint rain is clowding the schoolground. My breath is white from the coldness in December. …I don’t know how long it was but when I noticed, Kokutoh was beside me.
“I have an umbrella.”
“I’m fine, I have a ride home. You can go home.”
“I’ll get going in a bit. I want to stay here until then… can I?”
I didn’t answer. He nods and leans against the wall. He’s not the type who cares about his cloth getting dirty. I am not in the mood to talk with Kokutoh. I’m determined to ignore anything he says so it would make no difference if he’s here or not.
In the rain, I just waited. It’s strangely quiet… only the raindrops fill my ears. Kokutoh did not talk. Leaning on the wall, he has his eyes closed. I thought he was asleep, but it seems he’s singing in a small voice. I guess it’s a popular song. Later when I asked Akitaka, I found out the song was called “Singing in the Rain”.
Kokutoh doesn’t talk. There’s less than one meter between us. Being this close together without a conversation makes me a bit restless. But it wasn’t surprizingly painful. … How strange, why is this silence so heartwarming? But I suddenly grew scared. I felt that if we stayed like this, “he” would come out.
He jolts up from the wall.
“What? Is something wrong?”
I can see myself in his eyes looking at me. Probably, at this time… I actually looked at this person called Kokutoh Mikiya for the first time. Not as an observation. He has soft facial features with some childish remenence left. He has big, deep black eyes. He has natural hair like his character… not dyed or jelled. He wears black glasses that even kids would not wear nowadays. His plain clothing is black from top to bottom. I guess that’s his style. I just wondered… …why does this person always meddles with me?
Looking down, I try not to look at him.
“Where were you?”
“I was in the student council room before I came here. Since our Senpai is withdrawing from school, we kind of has this small going-away party. He’s called Shirazumi Rio, but it took me by surprize. He requested to withdraw from school cause he said he found something he wanted to do, and he was a quiet peron and all.”
Shirazumi Rio… I don’t think I’ve heard that name. But I do know how Kokutoh knows a lot of people that would get him into parties like that. He’s only seen as a friend from classmates, but he has a small popularity among older girls.
“I invited you too. I told you yesterday but you never showed up at the student coucil room. I even went to the classroom to look, but you weren’t there.”
Certainly, he told me something like that yesterday. But I’ll only spoil the party if I went… and I thought he was just being polite when he asked.
“I’m surprized. You meant that invitation?”
“Of course. What were you thinking, Shiki?”
Kokutoh gets mad. Not because his promise was broken, but probably because I thought that way. I can only dislike his anger because it’s something I have never experienced before. I grew quiet from that moment on. I don’t think I wanted Akitaka to come this bad as today. A bit later, the car drove up and I said goodbye to Kokutoh.
The rain finally stopped during nighttime. Shiki puts on the red leather blouson and goes outside. Above is a cloudy sky. The moon glimpses through the holes in the clouds from time to time. In the city, police are patrolling busily. It’s a bit troublesome to run into them, so I decide to go to the riverside.
The wet ground reflects the streetlamps. It glows like the remains of a slug. I hear a train pass in the distance. The echoing sound tells me that the viaduct is near. The viaduct must be built to let the train cross and not people.
… I find someone there.
Slowly, Shiki heads to the viaduct.
The train passes by once again. It’s probably the last one today. The sound is much larger than before now and echoes in the surrounding. She covers her ears as if to protect herself from the deepness of the sound. As the train goes away, it grows stragely quiet under the viaduct. Under the viaduct without any streetlamps or a way for the moonlight to get in, it is pitch black.
That might be why even the red liquid spilled around this riverside looks black. This is the fifth scene of the murder. The corpse is made so it looks like a flower. With the face at the center, the arms and legs are put around it like flower petals. Arms and legs cut off just like the head is bent up, showing much more flower-like attributes. … But it’s a shame it still looks more like a manji.
In the grasses, an artificial flower is casted away. Because of the spilling blood, the flower is red in color. … Getting used to this… that’s what she thought to herself. Swallowing, she notices she is extremely thirsty. Is it because of the tension or the excitement? The burning in the throat is really hot. This place is filled with death and Shiki’s lips makes a smile. Holding down her ecstasy, Shiki continues to stare at the corpse. … Feeling she is alive just at this instant.