Spiritual Detective – Touka Fujisaki Never Scoffs at Tragedies Chapter 03

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28-36 minutes 24.07.2022

Case number three: The invisible friend.

After returning from Hoshikawa’s mansion, Touka had lost every bit of energy. 

Saku wasn’t surprised.

Saku and Touka have been involved in many gruesome incidents.
Both of them witnessed many deaths.
But they have never experienced a case in which they failed to protect a young girl who had given them a murder notice. 

Touka wanted to protect her.

She strongly wished to save someone. 

Unfortunately, her wish was not granted in this case.

This fact struck Touka’s heart harder than ever.

Touka abandoned the Ringfit and dove inside the kotatsu.

She is usually the type of NEET who becomes aggressive when it comes to food. 

This time however, she didn’t even touch her snacks.

When it was time to eat, Saku would drag her out of the kotatsu and feed her with his hand.
But whenever he’s out for his part time job, Touka would spend the entire time sleeping, not touching any food.

This started to make Saku worried.

“Touka, you should start eating something.
You know I’m worried about you.”

“Thank you, Saku-kun… I truly appreciate your kindness.
But I just don’t want to,” Touka replied to Saku’s plea in a worn out tone.
She closed her eyes and whispered, half asleep, “I wonder why I don’t have the courage to shake off your hand and just die.”

Saku felt a chill as soon as she finished her sentence.
He had a feeling that he would lose Touka if he was to leave her alone.

If only something, anything, could be done to change the current situation.

It was at the moment when Saku wished for something to happen.

That someone showed up at his apartment. 

***

“I used to see ghosts… “

The woman began telling her story in a calm tone of voice.

She was a quiet, thin, dark-haired beauty and was wearing a light cream sweater and dark blue jeans under a white down jacket.
The way she courteously folded her legs before taking a seat was quite impressive.
The woman sat with her back straight and smiled.

Her name is Suzu Morita.
She is a childcare worker.

She visited Saku’s apartment by following the address of “Touka’s Spiritual Detective Agency.”

Apparently, Touka had updated her website before visiting Hoshikawa’s mansion and she listed the address of Saku’s apartment as the location of her office.
Quite the scary thing to do in this disturbing day and age. 

This couldn’t get any more annoying for Saku as it is unlikely that this woman would be the last client to ever visit him because of the website.
Nonetheless, he couldn’t ask her to leave and instead served her a cup of tea to keep her company.
Meanwhile, Touka remained hidden in the kotatsu.
Saku was left with no choice but to listen to the client’s story on her behalf.

Pressing her hand to her chest, Suzu resumed her story.

“When I was a child, I used to see a ghost.
I was friends with that ghost.”

“… I see,” Saku responded in a stiff voice.

All of the ghosts Saku knows have deep regrets in the world of the living.
It’s impossible to properly communicate with most of them.
It is said that the God of the head house has the ability to summon spirits who have little connection to this world.
However, that is only possible because God possessed a strong spiritual ability. 

It was hard to believe that Suzu used to talk to ghosts when she was a child.
But Saku chose not to completely deny her statement as there is an exception for every rule, of which he could be unaware. 

It’s never a good idea to assume everything from the start.
Thus Saku nodded in reply.

Suzu continued her story. 

“But as I grew older, I could no longer talk to her.”

The ghost was apparently a ‘she—’ a little girl.

Suzu looked sad as she spoke.
She lightly bit her lips and said, “I had forgotten about it until now.
But I finally remembered.
I had a ghost friend.
She used to cause rapping sounds in the house and whenever I asked my parents if they saw her, they would reply that they didn’t see or hear anything.
It’s nostalgic… So… ”

“How did you come to remember?”

A voice echoed from inside the kotatsu.

Suzu exclaimed in surprise as she looked around. 

A section of the cushion began squirming and wriggling until it was flipped open from the inside.

All of a sudden, Touka’s head popped up from the cushion.

She appeared from within the kotatsu, like a mushroom sprouting from the ground.
Her messy hair ruined her pretty face.
Touka’s eyes glinted silently from within the tangle of darkness.

Suzu was making an astounded face.
She had no idea of what was going on.
Saku nodded in sympathy to her feelings.
Anyone would have reacted similarly if they saw a person grow out from a kotatsu without a prior notice.

Touka managed to break out from the kotatsu by creeping like a hornworm.
She then stretched her back like a cat before tidying up her hair and finally asking the same question.

“How did you come to remember? What was the trigger?”

“Well, I’m not sure what it was exactly… It just popped into my head when I was at work, looking at kids playing in a local park.”

“… I understand.
So, what is it that you want from me?” Touka asked, once again.

Suzu let out a small gasp.
She was Likely skeptical of Touka from the moment she emerged from the Kotatsu.
Nevertheless, she did not give up and continued to describe her request.

“Could you summon the ghost? I want to talk with her as a friend, one more time.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible.
My eyes can only bridge a connection with spirits that are filled with negative emotions, such as resentment.
It’s impossible for me to attract a docile spirit.”

“But even I was able to talk to a ghost.
Surely a spiritual detective like you would do more than—”

“As for your memories with the ghost, I admit that it’s a mysterious phenomenon that is outside of my scope of perception.
I won’t say you’re lying or it was a dream, but it’s hard to believe that it really happened.”

“It really happened.
It was something… Yes, since that accident in the bathroom, she stopped showing up.
Maybe it was because many people came to the house that day… I haven’t seen her since then…”

Suzu was staring blankly at empty space, as if she was trying to recall something.
Her gaze was wandering vainly in the room.
On the other hand, Touka’s eyes narrowed and she sunk into thought, her gaze fixed on Suzu.

A few moments later, Sazu straightened her back once again.
She turned to Touka and insisted, “I know it could be impossible, but could you at least try, please? I beg you.” She bowed her head deeply.
Despite her seemingly mature appearance, she turned out to have a rather stubborn personality.

Her attitude indicated that she had no intention of backing down.

The room fell silent.

Suzu didn’t add a word.

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Touka, too, was deafeningly quiet.

A long time passed with both of them staring at each other.

The ticking of the clock was the only sound disturbing the silence in the room.

Touka was the first to break the silence, eventually.
She let out a thin breath and said, “I understand… We lose nothing if we try.
Let’s do it.
Although I’d say it would be a miracle if I succeed at conjuring a friendly spirit.
Anyway, if nothing happens, then please give up and go home.”

“I don’t mind.
Please, then.”

“Oh dear, you won’t imagine the joy I’d feel if I succeed at this… Well, I bet it’s useless to even try.” Touka shook her head.
Saku, However, was intrigued by Suzu’s request.
If Touka is able to summon a friendly spirit, it will open up new opportunities for her to use her abilities.
Touka would most definitely be delighted.
Saku nervously watched over the situation.

Touka began snapping her fingers before turning to face Saku, unaware of what he was thinking.

Saku returned Touka’s gaze.

His eyes reflected her face like a mirror.

Taking a breath in, Touka opened her arms.
Still in her jersey this time, her voice echoed.

“— Come over.”

The next moment, there was a distortion in space.

The world was bridged with ‘somewhere else.’

Two white arms twined around Suzu’s body from behind her.

The ghost’s dark eye sockets twitched with a grin.

It was a child’s body that morphed into a soft, writhing lump of flesh and bounced once on the floor.

“… Wha—!”

“… !”

Saku and Touka were speechless.

Touka was successful in summoning the child ghost.
Although, it wasn’t friendly at all.

It clearly appeared to be resentful of Suzu.

Its tiny fingers dug into Suzu’s throat, causing crimson red blood to drip gently.

Suzu let out a short scream.

“Hyi!”

“Why… ?”

Touka became puzzled and raised her voice.
She lost her composure and wandered her hands aimlessly in panic.

The situation didn’t make sense. 

Wasn’t the ghost a friend of Suzu?

Why would it want to kill her?

While Saku was asking questions in his head, the ghost continued wriggling its white fingers around Suzu’s throat, slowly digging them deeper and deeper.

At this rate, things will devolve into a major disaster.

Touka, flustered, attempted to stop the ghost, but then her gaze shifted from left to right.

“What should we do… This is not good, Saku-kun.”

There was no way to get rid of the ghost.

Touka had never suppressed a spirit that she had summoned on her own.

Although, there have been cases in which the spirit would disappear, satisfied, when the person against it held a grudge made a heartfelt apology, for example.
Some of them would even end up accepting the desperate pleas for mercy of the person and spare their life.

But this time, the situation is different.

This ghost was not supposed to despise Suzu.

And yet, she was being attacked.

Saku felt his blood running cold.

If this continued, Suzu would be killed.

“Suzu-san! Come here!” Pulling her by her arm, Saku attempted to get Suzu away from the ghost.
Suzu moved her frozen feet forward.
The arms of the ghost stretched softly like a rice cake, but eventually released her throat by scraping away its surface.
A line-like trace remained in Suzu’s skin.
It was the price she paid to be able to escape from the ghost.

Suzu dashed down the corridor, tumbling down multiple times, in search of the entrance door.

She had no idea the ghost was following her.

“Wait!”

“I can’t let you go!”

Touka and Saku obstructed the ghost’s path.

Dark eye sockets turned their way.
For a moment, Saku was overcome by an awful sense of fear and cold.
But the ghost didn’t seem to be interested in them.
The white lump of flesh moved between them with the agility of a cat, drawing close to Suzu and grabbing her ankle as she approached the doorway.

“Aaah!”

Suzu crumbled on the spot.
The white lump of flesh leaned over her.

Suzu began shouting frantically, her arms covering her eyes.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Forgive me!”

She obviously didn’t know what exactly she was apologizing for.
A spirit would never accept such a half-hearted apology.
As a matter of fact, The ghost ignored her screams.

Its white arms reached out again, this time for her eyes.

Suzu screamed in terror at the top of her lungs, “Forgive me, Mom!”

She then curled up and started crying, like a child.

The situation changed dramatically the next instant.
Saku and Touka could only stare, mouths agape, at what was happening.

“… What?”

The spirit came to a complete halt.
Then it loosely let out strength from its white arms.

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It appeared to be in a daze, thinking about something.

All of a sudden, it vanished out of sight.

Nothing was left behind.

It was as if the ghost had forgotten about its grudge.

Saku and Touka exchanged glances, taken aback by the sudden shift in events.
They both had no idea what was going on from the start.
Saku’s mind was racing with questions as he was perplexed.

Why did Touka succeed at summoning the ghost?

Why did the ghost attempt to kill Suzu?

Why did it disappear?

“Su-Suzu-san, are you okay?” Saku called out to Suzu. 

“… Oh, I see.” Suzu responded, dimly, her eyes vacant and staring at the ceiling.
The blood running out from her neck stained her sweater in red.
Oddly, though, she didn’t seem to feel any pain.
Saku tried to help her stand up despite her strange attitude, which gave him an uneasy feeling.

“Are you okay? Let me help you patch this—”

“So that’s how it was.”

Suzu didn’t respond to his question.
She just kept muttering to herself and blinking incessantly.

She stood up while swaying, put on her shoes and walked unsteadily, as if she was being manipulated by strings.

She took a step outside after opening the door.
Suzu left the apartment while looking as if she got her soul extracted from her body.

The carpet was covered in blood stains.

Saku and Touka were left alone.

***

“I wonder what all of that was,” Touka Said, her chin resting on the tabletop.

Saku shook his head, indicating his confusion.

With a squint, Touka continued, “This is truly worrying.
Everything was so strange with that woman.
As the young maiden I am, I don’t feel like leaving this matter in the dark.”

Touka would no longer spend her days shutting herself inside the kotatsu since she became concerned about Suzu’s case a few days ago.
This made Saku delighted.
But at the same time, he agreed with Touka in not leaving Suzu alone after what happened.
Regrettably however, they didn’t ask Suzu for her phone number or home address.
There was no way for them to reach her.

Saku shook his head, attempting to lighten the mood.

He set a bag on the table that he had brought from his part-time job at the convenience store.
It was full of Touka’s favorite snacks.
Placing his hand on Touka’s head, he said, “For now, just forget about it and eat this.”

“Wow! Saku-kun is being sweet to me! This is a good day.”

“… It’s better than having you in a state where you can’t even eat.”

Rummaging through the contents of the bag, Touka first picked up a sweet bean-jam bun and took a bite of its soft white dough.

Her appetite had returned, most likely because she had been thinking about Suzu’s case almost constantly.

Saku was grateful to Suzu for bringing them her case.
For him, it was certainly what they call a blessing in disguise. 

He despised seeing Touka in such a vulnerable state.
As much as he felt sorry for Suzu, her incident had a positive impact on Touka.
But there was one lingering question in his mind that bothered him now and then.

(What did Suzu-san realize before she left in the end?)

There was no way he could come up with an answer simply by thinking about it.
Saku rolled up the kotatsu cushion and slid in next to Touka.
He placed his chin on the tabletop and deeply exhaled.
While warming up, he began telling a story he had heard at his part-time job.

“I heard there was a child that went missing in the nearby elementary school.
Things have gotten pretty disturbing lately.”

“… A missing child?”

“It hasn’t been reported yet due to an issue involving the parents, but an elementary school student has been missing for a week.
You should be careful not to get kidnappe

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