The classic clique of poltergeist activity was normal to the people in the dark office. The sound of knocking coming from nowhere in particular, the drop in temperature so drastic that they could see their breath, and moving objects. This, as stated before, was a normal occurrence for them.
However, this time was a bit different. While the activity usually came together, it was never so abrupt. Objects shattered upon impact on the wall and showered the ground in sharp debris. The five occupants of the room dodged to the best of their ability while trying to keep an eye on each other as things were thrown to and fro across the room.
Monk and Ayako were cornered behind Mai's old desk, using the wooden table as a shield while Lin stood before it, ducking under the flying projectiles. But unlike their elders, the two remaining stood in the middle of the dark room, their only warning of any objects heading toward them was by the sharp whistle of wind.
Mai clutched her shoulder, having been hit roughly with a hard object. Naru meanwhile tried to stop anything else from getting to her when they couldn't get out of the way. His arm was slung over her shoulders, carefully avoiding the injured one, and stuck close to the ground.
"This is crazy!" Monk yelled over the racket, yelping in shock as the desk started shaking.
"Then do something!" Ayako screeched, her back pressed against the wall. Snapping out of his shock, Takigawa started chanting, his voice growing louder in desperation as the table finally lifted into the air. It swung towards them abruptly before changing direction. Lin had to drop straight to the floor in an effort to keep his head attached to his body as the large piece of wood furniture hit the ground. The paranormal force pushing it made it slide along the floor and barrel straight into the two young adults who couldn't move out of its way.
They were slammed harshly into the opposite wall before having the weight of the desk ram into their battered bodies. Mai let out a small yell as Naru grunted, their feeble attempts to push the offending objects of halted by the pain that set in.
A chorus of shouts rang across the now silent room. The temperature rose to a normal level and the lights flickered before coming back to life again. The whole ordeal had lasted only a matter of seconds, yet it seems that was all it took to get the message across.
The ghost was pissed... and it wanted a release.
"Why me?" Mai moaned as Takigawa and Lin pulled the table away. Sliding down the wall, she let out a sigh before blinking at the hand on her shoulder. Following the familiar, black clad arm to its owner, she gazed at him curiously before her eyes widened at his question.
"Are you alright Mai?" He asked, reaching down to pull her up. The motion jostled her shoulder and she let a squeak of pain before leaning against the wall. She heard a gasp and looked to Ayako, who in turn was looking at the brunettes' arm. Following the red heads gaze, she cringed at the sight of her limb.
Her shirt was torn and she could see blood leak down from her shoulder through the torn material, a dark purple- green bruise already forming around the fresh cut.
"We have to go before we help anyone... and before that... thing comes back." Monk thought out loud, getting a collective nod from everyone in the room. They all made their way out before Mai stopped by the door.
"Lin. Your luggage is here. Better grab it now."
The aforementioned man nodded quickly before grabbing the bags, and walking hurriedly down the stairs.
"Do you have a car Mai? Me and Ayako walked here so..." Monk started, only to be stopped by Mai's glare. He gulped as he realised he had let something slip.
"Yes I have a car and you have some explaining to do." She told him, sighing as she unlocked her car before popping the boot for Lin. "Get in."
With that, everyone piled into her convertible as she started the engine. Grunting, she bit back the urge to gasp in pain as her shoulder throbbed.
"Should you be driving?" Ayako asked from her seat in the back. Her only answer was a sharp nod before the car pulled away from the office and sped down the deserted road.
"So... you went to the office for a reason. Why?' Mai questioned, stopping at the stop lights, quietly asking Naru for her spare gun again.
It was silent the whole time that Mai drove. It took roughly ten minutes before she pulled up to a tall, expensive looking building.
"Is this your place Mai?" Monk asked stepping out of the car and holding the door open for both Ayako and Naru, though he really wanted to slam it on the latter just to spite him, but he smothered the urge.
"Yes. Now come on. I've got space for everyone and I think it would be nice to relax a bit." She explained, nodding as the doorman opened the entryway for them and they followed her to an elevator. It dinged open and they stepped inside as Mai pressed a button to one of the higher levels.
By the time it got to their destination, an awkward, almost uncomfortable silence had fallen over the group. The only noise came from the wheels on the suitcases, and Mai's keys.
In the long hallway, only two doors led to apartments - one on either side. The other doors were for cleaning supplies and the like. They took in the lush red carpet and champagne coloured walls as Mai slipped her key one into of the doors and pushed it open, stepping out of the way so that the others could step in.
They were in awe at what they saw.
Dark cherry wood floors glistened in the light that was supplied from the built in lighting from the ceiling. A deep red lounge set sat in an 'L' shape off the one side infront of a fireplace, flat screen and glass coffee table. To the right of that, running parallel to the corridor on the other side of the wall, was a small hallway that led to multiple doorways. To the right of them, opposite the sitting area, was a kitchen filled with stainless steel appliances and a light wood dining table surrounded by matching chairs. A black marble island separated the cooking area from the table; the stools around it matching the colour of the dining table. Straight ahead of the group was a large, glass wall with scarlet curtains only partially pulled closed. Infront of the glass surface was an oak desk and bookcase off to the side.
"Wow..." Was all Ayako could say as she stepped inside. That's when she caught sight of the staircase tucked away to the side of the window wall, the railing being the only give away to the existence of the steps. "Where does that go?"
Mai took off her jacket and threw it over a dining chair before staring at the open balcony room at the top of the stairs.
"That is where you'll be staying... Now that you're witnesses to my case..." She told the self-acclaimed priestess, earning a collective gasp for the red head and blonde bassist.
"What do you mean 'your case'? Mai, what's going on?" Monk questioned the young women as she walked to the steel refrigerator and pulled it open. She started placing things on the counter beside her before she stood up and answered.
"I don't really feel like explaining again, so... Naru? Lin? Do you mind telling them while I start dinner? If you need any extra answers, maybe then I'll tell you if you ask. Oh! Here's the first aid kit Ayako." With that, the next half an hour went by full of loud comments, clanging pots, lots of disinfectant and pointless questions.
"Ok. So, Mai killed the killer. Then people started dying there with no apparent cause-" Monk started, only to be corrected by Mai.
"The ghost is possessing people."
"Fine then... You killed the killer, the ghost possessed people so it could kill the living and now the thing is killing a lot faster than before... Why do you think it's the murderer that tried to get you Mai?" The question made her freeze as she stirred the pot of soup, before she cleared her throat and finished cooking.
"In the last few years, my abilities have grown... Mainly after that night... But, though Akito says I'm as strong as a large group of multi-talented physics, I can't willingly control it and if I'm not careful, it could very well kill me. That night, I was rushed to hospital after Akito found me and I was in a coma for three days. After that, I was offered a place in a special police unit... That is, if I was interested." She told them, pouring the stew into bowls and placing them on the table. After grabbing a bowl of rice and bread rolls, she put them in the middle of the dining table too before motioning everyone over.
Each of them took their seats; Ayako and Monk on one side, Lin and Naru taking the ones across from them. Mai sat at the head of the table. When the others hesitated, Mai quietly took a bread roll and spooned some rice into a dish before she started to eat. Following her lead, Monk lifted his spoon and took a mouthful of the steaming, brown soup. After a few seconds, his eyes widened before his head snapped to Mai.
"This is delicious!" He called, taking another mouthful. Ayako and Lin soon followed suit before Naru finally joined in. Within minutes, the food was gone and Monk let out a content sigh. "That was great Mai. How'd you learn to cook?"
The question, like many others that night, had brought on an awkward silence before the young officer cleared her throat and stood, collecting the plates before putting them in the sink. Once she gathered the last of the dirty dishes she started cleaning them.
"I am an orphan you know Monk. I think it's a necessity to know how to cook. The only reason it's good is probably because I've done it for so long." She explained, chuckling before drying her hands on a tea towel. "So. Who wants tea?"
The question seemed rather stupid considering Naru's tea habit had worn off on everyone. Turning her back to them, she briefly mentioned to them that they could move to the lounge and pulled open a draw and began making the warm drink.
The four other occupants of the room stood from the now clean table and shuffled across the polished wood floor. Naru sat closest to the fireplace with Lin taking the armchair. Ayako and Monk sat facing the fireplace, their back facing the kitchen.
"Did any of you every think that Mai would live in a place like this?" Ayako asked, her eyes roaming the room, trying her best to take in every detail.
"It does seem odd. But if her career is successful, it would not be surprising." Lin answered, his eyes focused on the young man he had been working with for years. His expression softened as he saw the young man's glazed eyes. Obviously, Naru was caught up in his own thoughts to have not made some kind of degrading remark. No matter how old Naru got, he was still Naru.
"Well, this is Mai you're talking about. She can do anything if she really wants to. Might explain her school grades..." Monk said, only to let out a nervous laugh as he felt someone stand behind him. Turning in his seat, he saw Mai, the topic of their conversation, glaring at him, her hands on her hips and her foot tapping in an impatient manner.
"So nice to know how much confidence you held for my intelligence Monk." She hissed, but the hint of a laugh made the hidden threat meaningless. Turning around, she walked quickly back to the dining table and grabbed a tray before walking around the lounge and placing the tea cups on the coffee table. "Take your pick. It's herbal, so it'll be easier to sleep."
Naru was the first to sit forward and grab a tea cup, taking a quick whiff of the clear brown concoction before taking a sip of the warm liquid. What he said shocked them all, "Thank you Mai. It tastes better than I remember."
"Y-your welcome..." She stuttered, taking a cup before sitting next to him on the couch in a daze. Her shocked stated didn't even allow her to be angry at herself for stuttering.
"So..." Monk started, placing down his empty cup. " Now that we're witnesses, can you tell us exactly what's going on?"
She took a moment to ponder this before she got up and moved to the door were she left her bag. Grabbing the dark material container, she took it back to her seat before she pulled out the black manila folder she had been reading earlier and gingerly opened it as her shoulder throbbed.
"Before me, Haruki Ayumu had raped and killed over twenty-six people; both female and male. Each murder took place around the vicinity of Shibuya Crossing." She told them, pulling out a picture of Ayumu. "He was thirty-two when I killed him."
This word kill caused them to stiffen before turning their full attention to the picture. In the photo was a middle aged man with stringy, black hair and thick beard. His eyes were droopy but held such hate that they looked almost hollow.
"He was convicted multiple time for abuse, violence and aggravated assault. But each time, the worst he got was six months in jail."
"Mai?" Naru asked, his gaze trained solely on her as she turned to look, nodding her head. "Why are you telling us so much?"
The simple question confused the eldest members of the room before Mai scowled before shifting her gaze to the fireplace; finding the mosaic work to be quite interesting.
"You made a deal with the Chief... Remember? I work with you and you work with me. That's how it goes. I get a paranormal case and you'll be there and vice versa. Ryo... He always worries about me... But anyway, that's why I'm telling you everything." The explanation took a while to sink in before Ayako finally realised what was going on.
"Wait a minute! Does that mean we're going to have to work with dead bodies?" She screeched, standing from her seat and ignoring Monk's tugging to get her to sit back down.
"If you didn't notice Ms. Matsuzaki, but we've worked with dead bodies before. Only this time, most of them won't be just bones." Naru told the red head, his sentence punctuated by a loud clap of thunder. Following the ever dramatic circumstances of a serious situation, the lights flickered before completely dying.
"Well, that's a good way to make things more dramatic..." Monk moaned, sitting back and stretching out. He groaned when a rather loud 'pop' echoed through the room, causing Ayako to roll her eyes before focusing them back on her daughter figure.
"Anyway..." Mai started, noticing that, aside from Monk, everyone was waiting for her to continue. "After he died, it was peaceful for about a year or so. In that time, I had joined the police force and undergone special training. Akito was my guardian during that time, I think it became a habit. He makes sure my powers don't go out of control."
Hearing this, Naru was reminded of how Lin used to act and how Gene yelled at him now when the Chinese man wasn't around.
"It was weird at first. It was just one dead body in the middle of the street, their bodies were smashed." She told them grimly, but before they could ask, it was as if she read their minds. "And no, it wasn't a car that did it. The force in which they were hit...liquefied their internal organs..."
Horrified looks gazed at her as she finished explaining, yet it was about to get worse. They could feel it.
"That wasn't the worst... In the time span of four years, fifteen bodies have been found around Shibuya. Each killed in a more violent, discrete way. The only thing is, two bodies are found within a two day span, roughly two or so blocks from the first murder and somewhere close to Shibuya Crossing."
The statement took a few seconds to seep in until Naru asked the question on everyone's mind,
"But two bodies? And you said that people were being possessed for the killings then..."
"Yes." She nodded, her face devoid of emotion and she put down her empty tea cup. "Those found to be the possessed killer were found to have committed suicide. The weapon used for the murder was what they used."
"Ok. So the ghost uses someone and then kills them. You said it's gotten worse. Three kills this week. So then... one victim and one possessed killer, if you guys found someone dead in SPR this morning... Then..." Monk started, only to be cut off when Mai's phone started ringing.
"Yes?" She answered, nodding her head, she hung up before turning to face the others, pinning them with a knowing look. "They just found another body. Shot himself in the head a block from the office."
With that, Mai stood from her seat and gathered the cups before gently picking up the tray.
"So, if we're gonna stay here, could you show us where we're gonna sleep?" Monk asked, yawning loudly before Ayako hit him in the head, muttering something about manners and how males lacked them.
"Sure. Just follow me." Mai told them, moving to the stairs, her heels clicking with every step. "You and Ayako can get some cloths and stuff tomorrow, but for now you'll just have to deal with what you have."
The four guests made it to the top and gazed around. The same polished wood covered the floor and the balcony like room gave a clear view of the fireplace, kitchen and everything imbetween. Another wall of glass stood partially hidden behind dark red curtains to their left. The open area held a bunch of folded material and shelves and draws hugged the wall opposite to them. Beside the shelves were two doors.
Walking to the one closest to the shelves, Mai pulled the door open and began pulling things out. Once she was done, the once folded pile of material was hidden.
"Monk. Could you take the cushions off the couch please?" Mai asked and began rummaging in the closest again. This time however, she pulled out crisp white pillows.
"It's done Mai."
"Ok. Now..." She thought out loud, making her way around the blankets and pillows and toward the blonde bassist. "We just have to pull this out."
With the two of them, they got the pull out bed set up and Ayako helped put on the required bedding.
"So, that's for you and Monk," Mai told them. The self acclaimed priestess sputtered before huffing, a blush decorating her cheeks. "And now we just need to set you guys up."
Again, the built in closet became her foraging ground as she got on her knees, the sound of metal scrapping against the wood flooring accompanying her movements. When she stood up, she pulled out three folded futons and spread them out.
"These will be your beds," She gestured, toward the two closest the couch. "Feel free to pick your sheets. I'll be back."
Nodding silently, Naru watched as she walked off, down the stairs and disappeared from sight.
"It doesn't look like she really uses the place, does it?" Ayako asked, curiosity getting the better of her as she opened the second door. This door led to a moderately sized bathroom, which she figured out after she flicked the light switch.
"See you found the bathroom."
Spinning around, Ayako saw Mai at the top of the stairs. She had changed into a set of black pyjama pants and a white long sleeved shirt.
"Don't scare me like that Mai!" The red head screeched, only to realise that the brunette was no longer paying attention. Instead, she was fixing up the last futon before lying down on it, her phone resting on the mattress beside her pillow.
"You guys can use the bathroom and get ready for bed. If you get thirsty, just go to the kitchen, I left the wall lights on, so it won't be too dark, night." With that, she pulled the blanket up to her chin and promptly fell asleep, ignorant to the looks the other occupants of the room sent at her.
She was in the office again; the same body as before and the same terror racing through her system. She was under the table and like last time, the door burst open to show that no one was there, the late winter air rushing into the room, backing the temperature drop several degrees. But after a few minutes, she realised that the temperature kept dropping and she looked behind her to see an older man with light brown hair and kind green eyes that showed an inner struggled was being waged.
Acting on instinct, she stood up and tried to run, only to be pulled back and slammed against the table. She struggles with the taller man before being punched in the stomach. As she struggled to catch her breathe, she leaned against the table before looking up... only to come face to face with the barrel of a gun...
All she heard after that was two loud bangs and everything went black...