Ghost Hunt:Volume 7 Chapter 7
Ghost Hunt Volume 7 Chapter 7: August 13th 8pm-11pm
At the vestibule, Naru and Bou-san were discussing exorcism; I looked blankly at the rain falling outside. But it was already dark, so all I could see was the mirror-like glass.
“It’s really embarrassing!”
Said Masako, who was sitting beside me, softly.
“Even I was also stunned. Although it was a very large fire, I never thought that I would actually cry because of witnessing it.”
Listening to the tone of her voice it appeared like she was really very frustrated with herself.
“Mai-nee-san, Masako-nee-san, can I drink juice?”
“Of course, I’ll pour it for you. Which cup belongs to you, Takaru?”
“The puppy one!” (which was originally Lin’s)
“The puppy one it is, I’ve got it; what about Mariko?”
“The bunny one!” (which was originally Ayako’s)
“Ok, then Tsumura?( 津村)’s is the crab one, then!”
“Tsumura, don’t spill it, ok?”
Mariko warned Tsumura; he was Mariko’s younger brother.
I looked at the lovable pair of siblings in front of me, then directed my gaze out of the window.
What is wrong with me – to be so anxious and unsettled – to be so unreasonably depressed? The rain started falling once more in the darkness; the glow from the bonfire shone through the glass and water droplets, creating a dim red glow; outside, the vague shadow of the two vehicles could be seen.
– Two – vehicles—
I blanked for a moment. It would be better to ask everyone first, anyway.
“Ne, who drove the car here?”
Bou-san looked at me, shocked.
“You cannot possibly have dementia, can you? Of course I drove it!”
“Then what about the other car?”
Bou-san wrinkled his brow; beside him, John smiled.
“It was me, Mai.” (Originally Bou-san drove one car, and the other was driven by Lin.)
“John, you know how to drive?”
John’s expression immediately turned rather strange.
“Ur—it looks like I do – I know!”
“Mai, are you alright? You’ve completely blanked out, haven’t you?”
“Of course not, I’ve only forgotten.”
“Are you having a fever?”
– Of – course – not! I’ve only made a small mistake.
I looked out of the window once more.
– Right, the cars were driven by Bou-san and John.
Ah—ah, what is wrong with me, how can I be this strange?
Mariko pulled my hand.
“Tsumura dropped his money.”
“Money? Where did he drop it?”
Tsumura looked like he was about to cry.
“The second floor; I saved for a very long time, there is $500.”
“Ah—that really is unlucky.”
Takaru said, tilting his head.
“I think I dropped it at the turn at the entrance to the second floor.”
“Can I go look for it?”
“Ah – of course, I’ll go with you guys.”
With a bang, Naru’s voice intruded.
“Don’t wander off by yourself!”
“It’s just for a little while!”
“You’re not allowed to!”
– Whatever, that miser—
“I’ll go with you guys as well!”
Tsumura stared unblinkingly at Masako and shook his head.
“No need, I’ll look for my things myself.”
“But it’ll be very dangerous all by yourself.”
“You really don’t need to; I’ll be fine by myself.”
“It’s no matter to me, but for the money you saved so hard by yourself to be picked up by someone else—”
– Ya ne ya ne
Naru doesn’t even know to be gentle when speaking to children.
“This place is very dangerous; you’re not allowed to wander around by yourself.”
“I want to go!”
“It’s no use crying!”
“Nee-san and Takaru will go with me!”
Tsumura started crying immediately.
“Ne, we’re just going up a little!”
“Do you have the ability to protect the children?”
– I don’t – (He hit the nail on the head)
“I’ll go too! Do you want me to go with you all?”
Masako said, kneeling beside Tsumura.
“I don’t want!”
“You cannot be stubborn! You can see it is dark outside already. If only children go, it will be very dangerous, right? So nee-san will bring you herself, is that alright?”
“Yeah, just me.”
“Then—if it’s just nee-san alone it’ll be alright.”
“But we’re only going to the entrance on the second floor, ok? Even if there isn’t anything there we have to come back, do you understand?”
“I’m coming as well,” Bou-san said, standing up.
“No way! I only want Masako-nee-san to come, just nee-san! We’ve already agreed on it just now, I don’t want other people!”
“Ok, ok, ok!”
Bou-san smiled bitterly, then tossed the lighter to Masako.
“Thanks, come, let’s go, Tsumura.”
Masako held Tsumura’s hand and ascended the stairs. The child appeared very happy. Takaru and Mariko also went along. It was already dark inside the school compound, so when she went up the stairs, Masako lit the lighter; illuminated by the orange light, Masako’s face flashed past, across the stage. For some reason, I could not shift my gaze, and followed her closely. At the same time, my hands clasped each other tightly.
– Why was I like this? I felt really uneasy!
The dim light of dusk flickered on the walls of the stage, swaying interchangeably with the shadows. Why did it look like the glow from a flame? Why did it flicker so disturbingly? Besides me, Naru and Bou-san also starred in the direction of the staircase.
– Found it! – upon hearing the sound, I relaxed a little. The light intensified, then weakened. The orange glow illuminated, and the shadows of the descending people swayed with it.
Great, everyone returned together.
Letting out a held breath, I watched the 4 children who descended from the staircase.
For some strange reason, that uneasy feeling returned once more.
The rain was still pouring; outside, the school was completely engulfed in darkness. The bonfire burning in the vestibule was the only source of light; as it was not very large, it did not illuminate the entire area. The corners of the school, the area by the stairs – were all completely dark.
I huddled near the bonfire, and looked repeatedly towards the figures gathered by the bonfire. Naru, Bou-san, John, and the 4 children: Mariko, Tsumura, Takaru, and Takami?( 鹿実) (the child who substituted Masako)
– Clearly no one had gone missing, but why did I feel like this feeling wasn’t the least bit reliable?
“Let’s clean up (tl/n: spiritually, not physically) the classrooms one by one, except for the inner-most classroom.”
“It looks like that’s all we can do.”
“The problem is what to do with these children?”
“Indeed, and neither do we want to divide our energies. Do we go all together?”
“There is a little problem here.”
“Only either myself or Takigawa-san can stay behind, but Takigawa-san is more suited than myself for jobs like sealing the classrooms.”
“I’m not too confident with Naru and myself.”
“We’ll find a way.”
Bou-san looked at Naru.
“You’ll find a way? What about exorcism?”
“If it doesn’t work, at the key moment there’ll always be a way.”
“Don’t joke. We’d be in trouble if you were to do anything.”
– These words sounded somewhat familiar. A long time ago, who was it who said something similar, but Naru still criticized him? – It was probably Bou-san –
“There is no way to call for an ambulance.”
Although Naru knows Qi-gong, with Naru’s frail physique, and his long recovery and recent discharge from hospital, we couldn’t risk repeating the same mistake.
“John, will you be fine here by yourself?”
“Mai, come with us.”
“Yeah, if I can be of any help.”
“Just don’t make trouble for Naru, Ok?”
“Wu—it looks like—”
I felt uneasy – could I do it?
“Then that’s decided! John, the children are in your care then.”
First, we went up to the second floor with John and the children awaiting orders at the entrance to the second floor. When we reached to turn at the second floor, I turned back to glance at John.
Entering the nearest classroom, Bou-san started his ritual, cleaning out all the spirits in the room with a spell to seal the room. When we left the seventh classroom, I asked,
“Ne, do you feel you can do it?”
Bou-san could not see in the darkness, neither could he carelessly use the lighter, as the oil in it was nearly all gone. (tl/n: this is strange, since Masako disappeared with the lighter – and this is mentioned specifically later on in the text as well.)
“I don’t know. Somehow I feel that I haven’t felt it, and there wasn’t any reaction whatsoever. – Mai, do you feel anything?”
“Bou-san, I’m still awake right now!”
“Right, it’s rather troublesome for you to use your powers.”
“That can’t be helped. It’s not my fault.”
“Then please, whatever happens, do your best! Because you’re the only one with the ability to see spirits.”
I suddenly stopped in my tracks.
“It’s like – it’s like there’s something really strange –”
“What? – We’re about to go back.”
“Up till now how have we exorcised spirits?”
“What do you mean by how we exorcise spirits?”
“It’s not convenient for Naru or me to use our powers. Then up till now, how did you and John do it? I feel it’s rather strange, even if I’m asking only at this point…”
“Ah, this – that we’ve really been doing up till now.”
“But you and John are not able to see spirits are you?”
When he heard that, Bou-san immediately replied.
“How is it you’re suddenly paying attention?”
“Because it’s very strange. Could it really be that the assignation of jobs between psychics has really been this difficult?”
“Assignation? I say, you fellow, hey!” This was Bou-san’s voice.
“It is indeed such – how have we managed our manpower for so long –” Naru spoke too.
Gradually, I felt unease spread from under my feet.
“Let’s go back, I’m worried that something has happened on John’s side.”
Reaching the stairs, the pale light at the entry could be seen – there were 5 figures there.
I stopped momentarily, what if the already missing door had been closed, what if someone wasn’t there when we opened the door…?
Going down one flight of stairs, the light from the bonfire was visible. The light which illuminated the stage walls was extremely dim. However, my eyes, used to darkness, found this extremely bright.
5 figures lifted their heads to look towards us: all of them were small – 5 children.
Mariko, Tsumura, Takaru, Takami, and Ai (John had been substituted)
What a relief, I was worried to death – the children –
Just as I was about to step forward, I stopped.
Bou-san and Naru turned.
– As expected, there was something rather strange.
Because we couldn’t just be left with children. At least, at least either Bou-san or I would have stayed behind, because leaving the children alone would be impossible with Naru’s personality.
I reached out and grasped Bou-san’s and Naru’s sleeves tightly.
“Ne! Go back!”
I stepped backwards while pulling the pair of them.
The children looked at us without making a sound.
(Ai—) (tl/n: the child’s name, not a sigh)
“Strange? What is strange?”
“It really is strange; there definitely must be some mistake!”
“What is strange, you fellow!?”
“Do my instincts not count? – Ne! Go back!”
“Then what about the children?”
Momentarily, the children’s gazes met mine.
“Please, go back!”
My heart started screaming loudly.
“Why, why would there be two vehicles?”
“Bou-san drove one of the vehicles, then who drove the other one?!”
Ha! I let out a breathe, I had finally expressed my feelings.
“Neither Naru nor I have a license!”
Suddenly, Naru grabbed my hand and dragged me along, as though we were escaping from something.
“Come, Mai! Bou-san, follow up!”
Bou-san responded, immediately grabbing me and running upwards. The sound came like pistol shots.
“归命！普遍！诸金刚！暴恶魔障！”(tl/n: same chant as in chapter 5)
The children gathered around the doorway immediately flew over.
The children’s bodies stretched like rubber and rushed towards us, grabbing Bou-san, who immediately turned into a black shape.
It was as though the darkness around us turned viscous, coiling stickily around Bou-san, engulfing him.
Bou-san threw something over, which landed by my feet – it flashed a pale gold in the darkness.
—It was a vajra(独钴杵), which I picked up immediately.
I shrugged off Naru’s hand, held the vajra and formed the Acalanatha seal.
“归命！普遍！诸金刚！暴恶魔障！”(tl/n: same chant yet again)
Following that I formed the sword seal with my fingers, and started making the nine cuts.
“Rin (臨), Pyō (兵), Tō (闘), Sha (者), Kai (皆), Jin (陣), Retsu (列), Zai (在), Zen (前)!”
And I slashed straight down the center.
– It was already late; when I let out my breath, Bou-san’s body had already completely swallowed by the darkness.
“Come here, Mai!”
This time I could only grab his hand and escape first.
Naru and I escaped into the nearest classroom, which was a place that had been cleansed by Bou-san previously. It should be safe for the time being, at least.
Once I stepped into the classroom, I collapsed immediately onto the floor. I clutched the vajra in my hand, and hugged myself tightly; tears flowed uncontrollably down.
“What should we do…?”
Even though I already knew it was a hopeless situation…
“What should we do…?”
Naru’s cool voice resounded,
“Who was that person? There should be another person who can drive for it to be right, because we have two vehicles. That person should be with those children; we cannot leave the children alone.”
“Yes, but why? Do you mean to say we’ve forgotten about the existence of that person?”
“—it looks to be like that.”
We still had another companion. – I started searching the depths of my memory.
But I felt there was a fog blocking it, making me unable to see clearly. I could only feel that for a long time we’ve been working together with somebody, gathering experiences together, arguing and laughing together.
“We accepted the Village Chief’s request to come here to perform exorcisms, and then we met the children on the way and requested that they show us the way. In the end all of us were sealed in together—”
“It looks like that’s what happened—”
“Although it appears like we’ve left the five children alone and gone off to perform exorcisms, this is not possible. In reality there should be still one person left behind.”
“Yeah, that is definitely the case. That we just left the children alone is a completely ridiculous idea, it’s definitely impossible that we’ve done that.”
“If that’s the case, then I think that other person should have some rather incredible powers, someone who is at least around the level of a monk. He should be staying with the children.”
“That should be the case.”
“Can that person drive—?”
Naru’s voice suddenly triggered my memory.
The voice that awakened had a different tone, he appeared to have a Kansai accent.
“Right – the one left behind is John.”
“But—wait, does John know how to drive? I feel like I’ve remembered something wrongly.”
“Didn’t you just say it yourself?”
“I said it – but I feel like there’s still something else.”
“If it is as we thought, there are 5 children below. Things like, ‘John knows how to drive’, can John himself, you and I believe that?”
“Indeed”, Naru said softly.
“There are a total of 8 people in our party, inferring from the number of cups there are.”
“But there are 5 children downstairs. You and I and the monk make 3, making a total of 8. If we add John, then there are too many.”
“Yeah – that’s true.”
“If that’s the case, then John is very likely to have been substituted for the children downstairs.”
– Indeed, John and 4 children stayed downstairs, and then the children found a way to make John vanish, then use another child to substitute his presence.
“But—if that’s the case—”
“Yes—if that’s the case, it probably isn’t John alone who had disappeared, there’re still 5 others who have been substituted by that group of children.”
“We were a party of 8, without a single child. Of our party, 5 people have been substituted—”
Myself, Naru, Bou-san, and amongst the 5, there was John and—
“—Masako and Ayako.”
“Yasuhara and Lin.”
– So that was the truth: Masako, who vanished with the lighter; Yasuhara, who was engulfed in flames in the classroom; Lin-san, who vanished in the corridor; and that malicious prank, ‘Congratulations, Ayako-san!’…
“—It’s Kirishima Hiroki (?)(桐岛裕紀)!”
Naru suddenly spoke.
“Didn’t you see the photocopy of the newspaper? It’s the name of the teacher who died.”
“What about Kirishima-sensei?”
“He is the source of the phenomenon that we are in now. The person pulling the strings behind the scene is Kirishima. There isn’t any other possibility. If there were only the children, would they do this kind of thing? To set a trap and make us vanish one by one; and to make us lower our guard, send the children one by one into our company? This is definitely not the will of the children, nor should it be a plan that can be made by a child. – It is controlled by Kirishima behind the scenes.”
“Kirishima-sensei – then does that mean the epicenter is the teacher’s tea room?”
“It’s very dangerous to decide on that immediately like that. Anyhow, the probability of it being on the first floor is very high. If we want to catch him, he’s probably in the commonly used classroom or tea room.”
If we were to perform an exorcism in either location—but, how should we do it?
This, I definitely could not allow Naru to perform, although I did not think I could do it myself.
“—we can only choose between you and me to do it.”
“I can’t let Naru do it!”
“Then Mai, you want to try?”
“You think that—I, I can do it?”
“Exorcism is indeed very difficult.”
– As expected!
“Go and persuade Kirishima. I can’t communicate with spirits. If it’s you there’s a possibility that it can be done.”
“Persuade him? Can I do that?”
The moment this sentence left my mouth I could feel the person beside me laugh.
“Yes, if you use the temper you usually use to scold me.”
“Then let me try!”
“Let’s go to the first floor. It’s easier to link with the spirits there. I’ll use a signal to help you enter a spirit state.”
“It’s a state where it is easier to find spirits. Mediums and other (psychic users) go into this state during summoning.”
I felt Naru’s hand touch my wrist. His hand reached out and clasped my palm. Although the surroundings were chilly, the hand that held me was warm.
“Let’s go down. Don’t let go!”
Hand in hand, the two of us stood up. The vajra held in my right hand reminded me –
“Ne, do you think everyone will be alright?”
Naru replied in a low tone,
“This, I don’t know either.”
“This is for you.”
I handed the Vajra in Naru’s direction. Naru’s right hand continued holding me, his other hand reached out to receive the Vajra.
He couldn’t tell from feeling it.
“It was Bou-san’s. He threw it to Naru just now.”
Naru took the Vajra.
“—Is that so?!”
“Nothing much, it looks like I’ve underestimated Bou-san!”
“We can still make it!”
“Anyway, let’s go to the first floor first.”
Hand in hand, the two of us descended the stairs. Within the school, no sound could be heard, not even the rain. The rain had probably already ceased.
Only the sound of our own footsteps could be heard echoing behind us. On the way down to the first floor, I suddenly felt that the school was filled with an intense loneliness. Fingers touching the wall, I inhaled and exhaled deeply.
Naru was the first to pass through the small door. After that, just as I was about to leave…
Suddenly, there was a loud noise. In front of me, a dark object hurtled towards me and flashed past my nose. I couldn’t help taking a step back. All at once I lost my footing and took a fall.
My waist hit a corner of the stairs. I knew what it was that caused the disturbance.
When I was about to leave, it was like something had collapsed; I was afraid it was the false wall we erected. Soon after, I realized that my hand and Naru’s hand had been separated.
“Naru! Are you alright?”
“I’m fine! What about you, Mai?”
It was an extremely vague, muffled voice.
Sitting on the steps I slowly groped my way through the darkness. I knew that the shoe racks had collapsed by the entrance. If only there was the light of a single match for me to see by. If I couldn’t find the exit with touch then it’d be impossible to know if there was a way out.
While looking for the exit, someone touched my hand.
“Can you get out?”
I grabbed Naru’s hand with relief. If his hand could reach in, then the entry wasn’t completely blocked.
Pulling the hand that held me, I stood up. The false wall that collapsed shouldn’t have completely blocked the entry. If I carefully stepped a little higher I would be able to get through. Just as I was thinking thus, a hard object hit my forehead. – The false wall?
Hurriedly, I reached out in exploration. It was worse than I had expected. The entry had been blocked. It felt like things were piled in a really complicated manner around the entrance.
“—Wait, wait a moment!”
When I heard this voice, I was momentarily stunned. It felt like someone had poured cold water over my head.
Creak! My teeth trembled with cold.
The sound came from a distance away from me from my lower right. It was as though Naru was at a location where he had already crossed the stage and was about to climb the stairs.
If that was the case—then who was it that held my hand now?
Naru’s hand couldn’t possibly be 2 meters long, it couldn’t possibly be held by me. But who did the hand I was holding on really belong to?
I clearly tried to shrug off that hand, but the hand did not budge. It was like it had been frozen. When I relaxed, that hand gripped my hand’s pressure points even harder.
Help! I was unable to say that out loud.
The voice was even further away.
– I clearly didn’t take a single step!
I suddenly felt like that hand had started shrinking; I really felt the touch of the hand changing, shrinking further. It turned dry, and very thin – too thin! But it was extremely strong – its sharp claws dug into my skin causing much pain.
I desperately tried to shrug it off, but that bones gripped me tightly. The bones even rattled, but I couldn’t shrug it off.
“Who is it?!”
At this time the darkness swiftly dissolved. Dark figures appeared in front of me, following that they separated and turned into 7 little figures (Naru had vanished). Seven hands grasped my hand.
“Did you mistake us for someone else, nee-san?”
While their laughter still reverberated across the stage, I lifted my empty right hand, and started making cuts from the right.
“Rin (臨), Pyō (兵), Tō (闘), Sha (者), Kai (皆), Jin (陣), Retsu (列), Zai (在), Zen (前)!”
At once, the hand holding on to mine relaxed. I shrugged off those fingers immediately and ran towards the second floor. The second floor door was still open, which I hurriedly passed through and ran into a classroom and shut its door. Then I leaned on the classroom door, panting.
I sharpened my ears trying to detect activity outside. There were no footsteps that followed me, and neither could I hear Naru’s voice. There was no noise produced by anything at all. All I could hear was the beating of my heart.
If I weren’t stronger—right now I was the only one left, there was no one left at all.
Naru, John, Masako, Ayako, Yasuhara, and Lin were all no longer around. (tl/n: missing Bou-san here?)
“—What should I do?”
I asked myself. Even if I were the only one, the exorcism still had to be done. Even if I couldn’t exorcise him I still had to persuade him. To worry about how everyone else is, right now, was irrelevant. Right now I should do the work I should do – if I still could not find the others after getting out from this place, then I’d continue looking.
I sat down on the floor.
“Naru isn’t here either—”
There wasn’t anyone who could give me a sign to allow me to enter the spirit state.
“I can only do it myself—”
Sleep! It’ll be fine if I sleep. Even if I can’t sleep I’ll try my best to sleep.
I shut my eyes, and took a deep breath. I tried my best to relax my body.
– No! My body was trembling. Don’t tense up! Relax! Try not to think of anything!
– The more I tried the tenser I got. I kept my eyes shut but without success. I opened my eyes then shut them, shut my eyes then opened them; all I saw was darkness. Memories raced haphazardly through my mind – happy ones, sad ones, scary ones—
“One sheep, two sheep…”
Even with counting sheep, my mind could not bring forth the image of a sheep.
“Please! Calm down!”
There was something that appeared to sparkle in the darkness in front of me. I saw it just as I was about to shut my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I looked at it. Somehow I saw it.
I vaguely saw something that had a little red on it. I peeled my eyes: it was a small, red glow. I looked at the red powder floating around the room. Although the glow was very weak, I actually did see it.
I think I’ve seen this color several times before.
“This is Bou-san’s color—”
I rose. Turning back, around the windows and doors, the glowing red powder gathered – pale, little lights; firefly-like.
– This was the trace of Bou-san’s sealing.
“Incredible—it’s too beautiful.”
I stood up. Somehow I felt that my surroundings had a warm feeling.
– I’m not alone. Everyone is protecting me.
At the corner of my vision, I detected a white glow. Below the floor there was a large white glow.
– That was Lin-san’s. It must be Lin-san’s protective seal. It was a seal placed on the first floor, but it actually produced that sort of brightness.
“Following that Masako disappeared on the second floor—”
The entry to the second floor was open.
When I heard this voice I raised my head. Naru stood in front of me.
“Great! I’m finally asleep.”
Naru smiled slightly. It was the gentle smiling face that only appeared in my dreams.
I nodded my head and said,
“Then let us begin!”
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