Part 11: Demise, Part 3
Kishinuma sure was taking his sweet time. He went off to search the poolside area by himself, citing the heavy rain as an excuse for me to stay indoors while he gallantly got soaked in my place. I went along with it because I thought it seemed unusually chivalrous, coming from someone like him. But he's a rank amateur in matters of the spirit, so I was beginning to worry he'd gotten himself attacked or something. And that worry was just starting to turn to panic when...
Note: Inner monologue from now on is from Yoshiki's perspective.
I did come across a locked pump room, though, so if we can find the key and get in there, we might be able to make some progress.
I see. That's kind of disappointing. Here I thought we might be on to something, since this whole area has a really weird vibe to it...
Hey now, aren't you forgetting something? I'm the one who's freezing my ass off after scouting around in the pouring rain! How about a little gratitude?
Gratitude? As I recall, you said you'd handle this because it was too dangerous for me. So you brought this on yourself.
What was that?
Nothing! So what do we do now?
Well, we can't get up to the second floor...and we can no longer reach the staircase past the entranceway on account of the hall splitting in half.
There was that earthquake not too long ago. You think that's what split the hall?
There's a good possibility, yeah. It happened right around when the door to this locker room opened up, after all.
Do you think maybe our actions are having a direct influence on the building?
That...sounds like the setup to some looney-bin occult fanfic or something.
I first read that line as "Looney Tunes occult fanfic" and got really confused.
It comes from Latin, you know. "Occultus," meaning "hidden." And it's primarily used today to describe paranormal studies, which stand in opposition to--
Okay, okay, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have said that! Can we save the lecture for another day, please? *sigh* Believe me, I have a whole new respect for the occult since coming here. I mean, the things that are happening to us sure aren't natural! Hell, we've only been here for a few hours and I've already lost count of all the dead bodies and ghosts we've seen. I have no choice but to believe you!
(Though coming from anybody else, all this talk about other dimensions and spiritual planes and stuff would seem pretty farfetched, even in here!)
Reality is pretty persuasive, huh? It has a way of forcing you to accept truths that you might have otherwise struggled with forever.
No matter how messed up those truths might be.
At any rate, I guess all we can do right now is recheck all the areas we can still get to.
Music: Escaping Samsara (A)
We're put in control, and investigate the paper on the wall.
...? That's totally different from what was written here before!
It must have some meaning.
We check the third shower head from the left. Which also happens to be the third from the right.
Sound Effect: Item
This could come in handy.
Finished in the locker room, we head out to the pool.
There's a comparatively "fresh" corpse floating in the pool. It looks to be that of a female middle school student, based on her uniform and relative size. The back of her head seems to have been bashed in, revealing white skull and pink brain tissue through the parts in her hair. She must have been struck pretty hard...
Her student ID name tag is floating right next to her, with big, bold letters making it legible even from a distance:
Chiaki Hiyama Age: 13
Takine Municipal Middle School
Killed by blow to head from blunt object.
There's a thoroughly-decayed corpse lying here, practically melting away in the rain. Based on height and uniform, it seems to have once been a male senior high school student. There's a student ID name tag lying on the ground nearby:
Juzo Nouki Age: 16
Matsukaze Prefectural High School
Followed in despair after accidentally causing death of close friend.
There's nothing else out there, so we head back into the school.
We head east to the entranceway, then turn to the north and head up to this space.
It's a decayed corpse. Based on outfit and height, it appears to be a junior high school girl. There's a student ID name tag lying on the ground nearby:
Mamoru Tsukano Age: 13
Shobu University Middle School
Knocked unconscious from blow to back of head; died several hours later.
We continue north into classroom 5-A.
We start with the writing on the board.
Based on the crudely-colored shapes and uneven lines, it was likely drawn by an elementary school student. An arrow is pointing to the tomato with a big label written in sloppy letters:
"Girl goed splat!"
These are the fully fossilized remains of yet another student. This one seems particularly small. He was probably in fifth or sixth grade at most. There's a name tag attached to his clothing:
Takashi Hanada Age: 11
Renaissance Elementary School
Collapsed while searching for friends; starved to death.
There's nothing else for us in this classroom, so we head out.
We attempt to enter the custodian's closet, but...
We're forced to abandon that plan pretty quickly.
We head for classroom 4-A instead.
Maybe I can use that wire to pick the lock...
All right! Time for the grand lock pick championship!
It's more like a jailbreak than a burgle, in our case. All we're trying to do...is get the hell out of here!
The door seems to have been unlocked.
Fortunately, the lock was super-old and not very complicated.
We head inside.
Video: Classroom 4-A
Music: A Haunted Room
The hell?! This isn't shaped like any classroom I've ever seen!
Wait... What did you just say?
Uh, just that this room is screwy. I mean, look at it...
Kishinuma, have you ever said that before? No, of course you haven't...but...I know I've been in here before. This is where we saw that little boy spirit!
Oh, crap, it is him! When the hell did he get here?!
No! You can't go near him! We have to get out of this room immediately. There's something very wrong in here!
Yeah, even I can tell that much. But look over there, in the corner... There's something in here. I'm going to go check it out. You stay here, and if things start to get out of hand, just forget about me and make a break for it, okay?
Who put you in charge?! ...Fine, go if you want. Just be careful. And whatever you do, make sure you don't look into that kid's eyes!
Don't worry about me. I'll be fine.
We're put into control, and investigate the pulley.
It's some sort of pulley mechanism. Its exact purpose is unknown, but there's a large, conspicuous lever attached to it.
Probably...couldn't hurt to pull this, right?
Pull the lever
The lever slides down easily.
Sound Effect: Crank
Out by the custodian's closet, a secret passage has opened.
I don't know. Just get back here!
We exit the classroom.
Video: Classroom 4-A ends here.
And we head over to the custodian's closet to investigate our handiwork.
Background Sound: Static
Looks like this goes somewhere.
I don't like it, though. It gives me the creeps. Even more than the pool or that classroom.
Yeah, but there's a chance it might lead outside.
All right, I'll go first and make sure it's safe. You wait here.
No way am I letting you go in yourself. When it comes to ghosts and curses, you're about as clueless as they come!
Background Sound: None
The passage, predictably, leads into the custodian's closet. We take a quick look around.
Turning the dials accomplishes nothing. Without electricity, it's just a box. But wasn't the sound of TV static audible from the hall only a few moments ago...?
There's nothing else of interest in this room, aside from this small box in the corner.
Video: Custodian's Closet
What the heck is this?
Take the small chest
Sound Effect: Item
Its design is long outdated, but the quality of its craftsmanship suggests it must have been very expensive back in its day. Slightly shaking it produces a loud, distinct rattle.
There's definitely something in there. And based on the sound and the light weight of this thing, it's got to be really tiny.
(Not sure if we'll need whatever it is, but we might as well take it with us, just in case.)
Sound Effect: Crunch
A noise. From inside the closet.
We investigate the closet.
Her whole body was slanted with her head leaning against the wall, and she was completely focused on one specific section of empty floor.
Music: Signs of Possession (A)
Uwaah?! Wh-What do you mean? Should I not have taken this chest or something? What's wrong?!
Shinozaki then began repeatedly banging her head against the wall. The motion was almost rhythmic, as if in time with the ticks of a clock or a metronome.
Hey! Cut it out! The hell is wrong with you?!
Sound Effect: Slap
What's with that look...? You just hold on a second! ...Ugh, my throat is burning up... Ooolgh, it stinks! It's rancid! I... I have to run! Why would you do this to me?! You're my sister! WELL, YOU CAN DIE TOO!
Wh-What...the hell was that all about...? ...Wait, this is no time to be standing around, I've got to go find her!
Agh! Wh-Who's there?!
I'm not certain where she came from, nor when or how she got here. She seemed to be about the same age as me. She looked mostly normal, but her eyes were much less vibrant than they should have been, appearing flat and lifeless like those of a dead fish. Her name was Naho Saenoki.
Or I was, anyway. When I was alive.
When you were alive? Are you telling me...you're...a ghost?
Regrettably, that's exactly what I am.
Are you one of that little bastard's friends, then? The hell did you do to Shinozaki? And why did you trap us here in the first place?!
Oh, my, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I, like you, am essentially a victim. Though there's a little more to it than that, of course.
Oh. So you were trapped here too, then? And you...erm...
More importantly right now, the girl who just ran out of here...seems to have quite a gift.
Oh yeah! Shinozaki!
(At her side...for a long time to come...?)
*giggle* Such a firm, cool response is very telling.
Well, I'm listening. So what's this about Shinozaki being gifted?
You're familiar with the concepts of spiritual mediums, shrine maidens, and shamans, no? They're all people with the ability to lend their bodies to beings that natural science can't quite classify. Beings you would call spirits, or gods. They're people who take part in channelling rituals. Basically, possession, much like the demonic sort you see in movies.
So...kind of like the "itako" from traditional folklore, then.
Exactly. You've seen it, no? Your friend can take in the thoughts of the dead that flit about in these accursed halls and output them through her own body. And note I said "thoughts," not spirits. They aren't souls, but rather the loose remnants of broken minds. Heavenly Host...is a frighteningly unique place. So if she is indeed able to channel them, take it from me: she has a very powerful gift.
Perhaps not. But if you intend to escape from here, these talents of hers could prove most advantageous. Provided, of course, she learns to control them.
*giggle* Well, you saw what happened. She wasn't in control at all, but rather being controlled by the thoughts of another. Think of it as if she had an enormous antenna sitting on her head with impeccable reception, 24 hours a day. Except that antenna was missing not only any means of changing frequency, but any sort of on/off switch as well. At this rate, she's bound to short-circuit and break down...or worse still, she might lose her sense of self and essentially become a mindless radio.
Are you saying...there's no way to get her back?!
I don't know. Who's to day? That all depends on her...and on you.
Well...then come with me, and help me save her! Please!
I'm sorry, I can't do that. You see, I'm...also trying to find someone who's important to me.
Naho fades away.
This was the big one. I literally couldn't stand up. I fell to my knees on the floor. I couldn't even tell you how long it lasted. It felt like it would never end. But eventually, little by little, it did subside.
And this particular quake felt like it shook the very foundation of the entire building. Shinozaki was all I had on my mind. She was in serious danger.
I just don't know what the hell is going on anymore. But if there's one thing I do know, it's that I have to be there for her...no matter what.
Video: Custodian's Closet ends here.
But look at what happened to her! Too gifted for her own good, if you ask me.
Wow. Sounds like you and Shinozaki have had a pretty rough time in here too.
Well, you seem to have done pretty well for being by yourself. Shouldn't Morishige have been with you, though?
Yeah. But he's not. I've been trying to find him.
Ah. Well, uh...considering how cool and collected he is, I'm sure he's fine, wherever he is.
And since you and I ran into one another already, I know you'll find him sooner or later.
Y-Yeah, you're probably right. I'm sure I'll come across him eventually!
Though I guess there are a lot more places to look now that the hallway's back in one piece again.
But there are two of us! And two pairs of eyes are better than one.
Okay, then! Let's give this everything we've got, and find our friends!
(Shig... I know you're somewhere nearby. And that's enough to keep me going. I will find you, I swear!)
Music: Escaping Samsara (A)
Sorry. I've been so scared and nervous since we got here. I guess it's taken its toll on my stomach. I get this way before a production sometimes, too.