It’s the first Sunday in February. Waking up and going to the dining room, Daisuke Nii-san is there, about to leave.
“Oh, you were here?”
“Yo. I just came to sleep cause I missed the last train, but I’m gotta go to work now. I envy you students, your promise for vacation is always kept.”
He looks like he hasn’t had enough sleep. I bet he’s busy with all the new information on that serial killer.
“You were talking about coming to my school, but what happened to that?”
“It seems we’ll have to go there again. To tell you the truth, there was a sixth victim three days ago. I guess this victim struggled hard and we found the killer’s skin in her nails. Women have long nails so I guess she scratched the killer’s arm pretty bad. Maybe it was a desperate move but the scratch has to be deep. The skin we found was about 3 centimeters. (about 1 inch).”
His information is a new one not even on TV or the newspaper. But I am shocked for a different reason. … I think it’s because in the past few days, Shiki has been using the omnious word of “killing” quite a number of times. Why else would I imagine for an instant that Shiki would be this killer?
“… Scratch, you mean the killer has a wound?”
“Of course. Do you think the victim would scratch her own arm? We already figured out the skin is from around the elbow area. We have the blood diagnozed so the killer is done for now.”
Daisuke Nii-san leaves. With power escaping my legs, I crumble onto the chair. Three days ago was the day I had that conversation with SHIKI in the setting sun. I think when I saw her the next day, the bandage was around her elbow…
Right around mid-day, I figure out it’s no good just sitting here and thinking. Instead of thinking, I can just go to Shiki and ask her. If she tells me her wound is nothing related to it, this uneasiness would go away.
I decide to visit Shiki’s house using the school’s contact guide. Her house is on the outskirt of town a station away from here. When I finally find her house, the sun is already setting. The mansion with bamboo trees surrounding it is oriental-styled. I cannot tell the size of this place just by walking. I won’t be able to tell exactly how big it is unless I get in a plane and get an overhead view of this place. Walking through the bamboo woods on a path, I get to a big gate. I’m a bit relieved this old looking place has an intercom. Pushing it and saying what I came here for, a man in a black suit appears. I find out that this man around his thirties is Shiki’s servant. This person called Akitaka talks with a stranger like me with manners. Unfortunately, Shiki isn’t home. He offers me to stay and wait but I refuse. To be honest, I don’t have the guts to go into this place alone.
I decide to go home since the sun has already set. Getting to the station after an hour’s walk, I run into Senpai by chance. Being invited by him, we eat at a nearby restaurant and end up talking until ten. Unlike Senpai, I am a student so I have to start heading home soon. After saying goodbye to Senpai, I buy the ticket for the train at the station. The time is almost eleven o’clock. I wonder for a second if Shiki is home already.
“What the hell am I doing?”
I say so to myself as I walk through the nighttime residential district. It’s late at night without a sign of life. In this unfamiliar town, I don’t understand why I’m going toward Shiki’s house. Even though I know I won’t be able to see her, I at least want to see the lights in her house. I walk in the chilly winter air. I exit the residentual district and end up facing a group of trees. I walk through the small road in the middle of it. Since there’s no wind, the bamboos are silent. There’s no streetlight, so the moonlight is my only guide. When I half-jokingly think what would happen if I got attacked here, the thought starts to fill me. The image gets stronger in my head in contrast to my mind wanting to get rid of it. When I was a kid, I was scared of ghosts. The shadows in between the bamboo looked like ghosts and I would be frightened. But now, I’m scared of other people. I’m only scared of the fact that someone might be hiding in the bushes. …Since when did the unknown ghosts turn into other humans?
The more I try to calm down, the more the bad feeling seeps into me. …Really, this bad feeling does not go away. Oh yeah, I think Shiki was saying the same thing before. I think that was… While I try to recall, I see something ahead of me.
I stop dead in my tracks. It’s not my will, because at this time… my mind has just became empty.
A white figure stands few meters ahead. The white kimono that looks bright is covered with red spots. The red spots on the kimono expands. It’s because the thing in front of her is spilling red liquid everywhere. The one in the white kimono is Shiki and the thing is not a fountain, but a dead person.
I cannot say anything. But I always thought about this somewhere in my mind. This image of Shiki standing in front of a dead body. That’s why I’m not surprized or making a commotion. My mind is just completely blank. The body must have recently died… the blood would not flow out that much unless you cut its artery alive. The wound is on the neck and a cut in the body at an angle. Shiki is silently staring at the dead body. The color of the spilled blood is enough to make you faint, but its organs are spilling out from the cut and making the body look like a totally different thing. To me, it seems like something slimy is trying to have a human form, but it’s doing such a bad job that it’s hard to look at it. … If you are a normal human being, there’s no way you can. But Shiki is staring at the dead body. Blood gets on her ghost-like kimono. The spots look like red butterflies. The butterflies are flying toward Shiki’s face too. The face covered with blood is deformed. Is it because of fear or pleasure? Is she Shiki… or SHIKI?
I try to say something and I collapse onto the ground. I vomit. I vomit out everything in my stomach, stomach acid, and if I could this memory too… I vomit until I start to cry. But it’s no good. It doesn’t even make me feel better. The amount of blood is so much that the smell is overwhelming enough to seep into my brains.
Eventually, Shiki notices me. Her head turns to look at me. The expressionless face shows a smile. It’s so pure it makes me rather clam. The smile reminds me of a mother. That smile is so unfitting to this whole scene that…
I start to faint as she draws closer. I remember Shiki’s words at the last moment.
… “Be careful Kokutoh-kun. A bad presentiment tends to attract bad reality.”
… I guess I was stupid indeed. Because I tried not to think about this bad reality until the moment I see it in person…