Living and the dead

Chapter 5

"Guys, Ibara Sachi is ... dead."

Everyone stared shocked at Yasuhara. Even Naru and Lin didn't hide the expression on their faces. It was like hearing someone say that you're going to die if you don't eat the creepy looking pasta in front of you.

"No way!" Bou-san said with complete shock. Yasuhara breathed in and sighed deeply. He felt as if what's happened took out all of his bones and turned him into mush.

"That is...what happened Yasuhara-san?" Masako asked, hiding her disappointment under her kimono sleeve.

"I went to her apartment in Ginza last night, just in time to see the paramedics taking out her dead body." Yasu answered. "The police said that an hour before she killed herself, Ibara Sachi called the police and told them that she was about to kill herself. The police thought it was just a prank, but when they went to her apartment, it was too late. She already hung her body using a rope tied to her apartment window."

John slowly shook his head as he stared at Yasuhara with wide eyes. "That's horrible."

"Did Mai get involved in some organization or incident that cause her to become a target of someone?" Asked Naru.

"None that I could think of." John answered. "But...Mai did mention to me that she felt like she was being watched by someone."

"When did she say that?" Ayako asked, her brows in a deep frown.

"Uh...before I took a quick travel to Australia. Ayako was in Kyoto that time and Takigawa was still in Mt. Koya."

"Seems like everyone made a trip." Naru commented. "How about you, Hara-san? Where were you?"

"I was filming in Akasaka." She replied shortly.

'Everyone except Yasuhara made an out-of-town trip. Isn't this a little fix to be a coincidence?' Naru thought as he rested a hand under his chin. What could be the possible reason for Mai's abduction? Was it intentional?

"Mai was being selfless again. Perhaps she thought that she'd worry us if she told us about it." Said Masako, a mixture of disappointment and sadness could be seen in her eyes.

Mai was missing. Before her disappearance she felt like being watched. An unknown man took her. Ibara Sachi moved out the next morning after the abduction and now she's dead. The only lead was dead. Mai's case would probably wound up in a dead end. But he wouldn't let that happen, he would do everything in his capability to find Mai and bring her back.

"Everyone," He said, calling their attention. "I have decided to turn this into a case."

The five of them straightened and looked at Naru with full concentration. Lin opened his laptop and started typing.

"Are you sure you don't want to ask help from the authorities?" Takigawa inquired. Surely, asking help from the police will make it more faster.

Naru sent him a pointing glare, as if saying 'Idiot-Go-Die-Quickly'. "Thanks to the excellent law enforcement of Japan, It took almost a year to find my brother's body and if I haven't supervised the search personally, it would be impossible for his body to be found. Do you want us to spend another year to find Mai?"

Bou-san was at a lost for words. Seems like Naru still distrust them.

He remembered Naru's argument with Hirota-san concerning Japan's laws enforcement. Naru was openly mocking them, saying how incapable they are yet, still calling themselves 'The best in the world'. Well, they are not so bad ... if it's about easy cases.

They found Gene, but an autopsy isn't possible to a body that almost looks like-according to Naru himself-'A waxy mummy'. And his anger was pointed towards the law's enforcement that stole his opportunity to dissect his older brother.

Yep!

Naru wanted to dissect Eugene Davis just to know how his brain works. What part of Eugene saw spirits? What part of him heard their voices? And what part of him can understand different language just by conversing with spirits?

'The one place I wouldn't want to die is right in front of Naru.' He remembered Mai said.

Naru's words tear monk's musing. Completely ignoring what he had said a while ago.

"Considering that Mai is the subject of this case, I assume this involves the living and... the dead." Naru said with so much authority. "The only lead might be dead, but that doesn't mean we won't find any clue. I expect your full cooperation as a team. Failure is not an option, and we should find her before the situation gets worse."

The phone rang loudly and Naru glared at it, feeling annoyed for being interrupted.

Lin picked up the phone. "Shibuya Psychic Research." A pause. "Yes, he's here." He turned to Oliver. "Noll, Prosecutor Hirota Seigi wants to talk to you."

Naru walked towards the phone, still scowling. "Shibuya speaking." He said in an emotionless voice.

"Shibuya Kazuya. I've been contacting your office for five days now." He said. "Had you gone on a trip?"

"Just tell me what you have to say."

"Arrogant as usual." Hirota fumed "Well, anyway...this might be unusual coming from me but... I need your help." He said. "You see, our prosecutor in charge gave us a new case and I believe that somehow it is connected to the paranormal phenomena."

"Unusual indeed." Naru said in a teasing voice. "For a denier like you to believe that that case is paranormal. Moreover, seeking for my assistance."

The prosecutor cleared his throat. Dealing with this kid was much more difficult than taking the Civil Service exam. "I'm loyal to my work, and I'll use the quickest and simplest means just to solve a case. Am I not different from you?" Hirota retaliated.

"You seek help, I don't. And asking for my help, you just admit that you lack the ability to solve that kind of case." Naru said. "That's what made us different."

Hirota sighed before he spoke. "Your arrogance is really unusual."

Naru smirked. "That's because I'm special. So, why do you believe that your case is connected to the paranormal phenomena?"

"It's because the victims of these incidence were all female mediums." Hirota said.

Naru stiffened. 'Mediums?'

"Meet us later. I want to hear it personally. We'll discuss it along with my team." He ended the call and shifted his attention to the team. "Show me the way to Mai's apartment."


Naru rode the van together with the team. Ayako and Bou-san kept bantering and having a competition of who had donethe best of keeping Mai safe. In the end they resolved it by blaming themselves.

"The police didn't find anything on their investigation. No clues, or fingerprints aside from Mai's." Yasuhara explained to Naru while opening the door of Mai's apartment. He just nodded and surveyed the small apartment.

The sofa was fixed smoothly with purpose. A few visible dusts on the center table proved the absence of its owner. A few books were slightly out of place from the small shelf beside the TV. All was in place and there was no sign that indicated any resistant from the victim. What did that idiot do? Entertain her kidnapper like a guest? Wait...like a guest?

"There's no sign of resistance... It's possible that Mai somehow knew her abductor." He mumbled under his breath. A glint of something underneath the single sofa caught Ayako's attention. She kneel down and picked it up.

"Naru. There's something here."

Naru walked towards the miko and took the small piece she was holding and inspected it. "A piece of glass." He closed his eyes and tried a psychometry reading. The past started to play in his mind like a fuzzy memory. A trembling hand was loosely holding the glass before it slipped and fell to the floor, breaking it into pieces. That's all it revealed. He frowned and let his other hand slide down to the sofa beside him. He read it. Blank. He tried the table next. Nothing.

This hadn't gone unnoticed by his assistant. "Noll?" Oliver touched all the things inside Mai's apartment and did psychometry reading on every single one of them, but none of it showed any memories, nor a picture. It was just...blank.

"I can't read the things here." He sighed deeply. "Something is blocking my ability."

"What?" Bou-san asked. "Is it a sort of warding spell?"

"A warding spell is only effective on spirits, and it doesn't have the ability to block my psychometry. Obviously it's something much stronger than a simple spell."

Whatever it was that kept blocking Oliver's ability, it was hidden inside the apartment.

He ordered the team to search for anything that seemed suspicious. After two hours of searching, no one saw a single thing that could lead to Mai's abductor.

All of them silently rested in the living room, still thinking, when immediately the walls began to swirl. The white colors switched to black and the lights flickered.

"What's happening?!" Ayako cried in fright. There was a strange aura surrounding the whole apartment and also this disgusting rotten smell. Then the entire scenery around them started to get folded up. They saw an endless void slowly eating up everything. Naru's inner ears started to go crazy and everything started to rotate.

Creak...

Creak...

Creak...

All went entirely black, then in a snap, they found themselves inside of a dark chamber. A small chamber that would surely sicken a person within just half a day.

"Bou-san! Create a barrier!" Lin shouted and positioned his hands, mustering the right energy to blast the dark void.

"Yes!" The monk stretched out his two fingers in front of him and started chanting. "On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un hatta! On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un hatta! On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un hatta! On kiri kiri basara bashiri hora manda manada un HATTA!"

As Bou-san shouted the last words of his chant, Lin followed him and uttered his own mantra to break the void around them.

"Rin! Hei! Tou! Sha! Kai! Jin! Retsu! Zai! Zen! Ha!" Every time he shouted, he formed a symbol using his hands, and when he finished, everything came back to normal like nothing had happened.

Masako dropped on her knees while Yasuhara swallowed hard. This is the first time the young shounen experienced something like that. There were no words to express his current feelings appropriately.

"What...the hell...was THAT?!" Ayako exclaimed, slowly getting her composure back. John, still in silence, slowly sat on the sofa and took a deep breath.

"A baku." Lin said. "A kind of yokai that eats dreams and memories as well. It was attempting to eat our memories away. I'm sure it was also the reason why Noll can't see any memories in his psychometry readings. That yokai already ate it all."

"Then what's that yokai doing here in Mai's apartment?" John asked.

No one answers John's question. Every each of them is confused as to why that yokai is residing in Mai's apartment, and how on earth did it managed to conceal its presence from them? Surely, every one except for Yasuhara has a strong spiritual strength that makes them sensitive to spirits and other unknown beings. In Lin's case, sensing that Yokai would be like shooting a fish in a barrel.

However, he didn't know it was there until it decided to move.

"It seems the culprit shouldn't be taken lightly. I don't know what kind of person they are but...judging by everything that's happened ... it won't be easy." Naru said with a passive voice.

Not everyone had a long thread of patience. Some people study on how to extend their patience and control their temper to avoid unnecessary happenings. Oliver Davis was one of them. He was a man with stillness and composure. But all of his contained patience was slowly sucked up by the increasing frustration.

He sighed. This is getting complicated, without his tea and especially without Mai. This case would be harder than he thought.

The girl with brown locks and brown eyes observed the scenery she was in. She was standing in the middle of the road and watching a woman carrying bags of foods.

"Where's your husband?" A middle-aged woman asked another young woman, confused. "You're always walking with your husband, are you not?"

The young woman shook her head. "I don't know." She responded, looking away. The woman tilted her head and the young woman hurriedly walked away, eager to get home as soon as possible. It would be night soon and she had to get home or else...

Reaching the key inside her pocket, the woman stood anxiously in front of their house's door. With a shaky hand, she inserted the key into the keyhole and opened the door. The tapping of her feet echoed in the narrow hall as she walked inside. She sighed upon reaching the kitchen.

He wasn't there.

A loud shattering sound came from the outside caught her attention. She hurriedly ran towards the door and found her husband staring blankly at an unconscious man lying on the cemented floor. Blood continuously dripping from his head, his face was getting paler, bluish.

"I killed him..." The woman's husband said, tears rolling down his face.

The girl got pulled away from the scene. Everything swirled suddenly and it made her closed her eyes. When her eyes shot open, it was dark, and she found herself unable to move. Wooden plank squeezed her on both sides.

Claustrophobic feeling...

Claustrophobic feeling...

Claustrophobic feeling...

Claustrophobic feeling engulfed all her senses. She felt a nauseating scent coming from the smell of flowers inside the box—or more accurately, a casket.

She banged and kicked the wooden casket out of desperation to get out more than anything. The air was starting to get thin, and she was slowly losing her breath. As she gasped for her last breath, the scenery shifted again.

This time her body was lying in a hospital bed, covered by a white sheet. Everything was silent, and faint breathing of a dying man was the only thing that could be heard inside that room.

She shuddered as she closed her eyes, wishing to all the gods to wake her up from these horrible dreams. She couldn't take it anymore...

'Tasukete ... Dareka.' She whimpered, drowning her hope in tears.

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