Part 14: Demise, Part 6Music: Escaping Samsara (A)
We head up to the third floor and check the reference room.
Try the key
The key turned easily in the lock and the door came right open.
Video: Reference Room
Kishinuma completely ignored this, however, stepping over it and darting into the room as fast as his legs would carry him.
Within the pale darkness of the room, a figure stood in front of one of the shelves, completely engrossed in some ancient-looking tome. It was Shinozaki!
The floor around her was piled high with books she'd seemingly read and discarded. Strange, coming from a bibliophile who usually won't even crease a spine...
Shinozaki! Get ahold of yourself!
No talking! This is a library! Honestly, what do you uncultured troglodytes hope to accomplish in here with your worthless gossip? Huhh?!
Sh-Shinozaki... That's enough. You can stop this now. This...isn't you.
You're in pain, right? Whatever loose soul is in control of Shinozaki, I'm calling you out. Get the hell out of her right this instant! You hear me?!
For the next few moments, Ayumi's voice changes with every text box.
Not a chance! I'm much better at using her than both of you combined.
It's only when we're inside this person that our pain subsides. So please...won't you let us have her?
Give her to us. Please. What if...we save you? We'll help you get out of this school alive! And in exchange...
Shut up, shut up! You selfish bastards... Look, I sympathize with you, I really do. Dying in here must be like a neverending nightmare. But how does that give you the right to use Shinozaki like she's some kind of tool? She's a living being with a mind of her own!
Oh, ye of sound mind!
We're in pain. We're in agony! We're cold, and hungry, and mad. But you? You're still blessed with life! Don't you understand?!
I don't give a shit about any of that! All I know is, you can't have Shinozaki! I will never, ever let you take her!
Ayumi switches back to her regular voice here.
From there, Ayumi took a sudden turn for the worse. Tossing aside the book she was reading, she began punching herself in the head with both hands.
It was so quiet in here, too. But just look what colors have been let in now! Silver, huh? Green, maybe?!
Stop this, Shinozaki!
Ah... It was yellow!
Music: Signs of Possession (A)
Hina sealed me up in here, you see. And I haven't eaten a single thing since then. Not a single bite. Nothing at all.
Mmm, brother... You look so delicious, brother. Is it strange? Is it strange that I want to kill you and...taste your succulent flesh?
C-Cut it out, Shinozaki. I'm not...your brother, for starters...
The screen fades to black.
Miki? You're here again?
Miki: You know, your selfless little sister drops by just to make you dinner, and that's how you greet her?! ...You been eating your meals every day, brother?
More or less, yeah. Some prepackaged convenience store food here, a school lunch there...
Miki: Just as I feared, then. You keep going like that and your health'll deteriorate in no time! Well, you sit tight, I'm making you a fine meal right now. What ever would you do without me?
Miki: How's school going? I hear you've been hanging out with a boy named Mochida and a girl named Shinozaki. What kind of people are they?
Miki: Just be patient, okay, brother?
Music: Signs of Possession (A)
(Oh, God! Shinozaki is biting Kishinuma's neck! I've got to stop her!)
The two of us made a mad dash toward Kishinuma, intending to pry Ayumi away from him through any means possible. But to my astonishment, he met our panicked gazes with a stern, "let me handle this" look, reinforcing the message by raising his hands in a "stop" motion.
(Whoa! I didn't expect that. If circumstances were different, this could be the start of a really heartwarming, romantic scene.)
Kishinuma grabbed Shinozaki and hugged her tightly.
Shinozaki... Come back to me! Please!
You...aren't any of these people. You're Ayumi Shinozaki, dammit!
Bit by bit, I could see the expression on Shinozaki's face change. Her crazy, possessed sneer gradually gave way to a blank, dazed countenance that then slowly -- but surely -- began sparking with life once more. And though it was nearly imperceptible, I could swear I saw a smile start to form on her lips.
For a few long moments, Shinozaki stared into Kishinuma's eyes. Then, in an instant of realization, her face turned beet red. I recall the phrase, "oh, crap" drifting through me head for a split second. And then...
Ahh! Wh-What?! What the hell are you doing?!
Sound Effect: Slap
Wh-What are you trying to pull here?! Pervert! Get away from me!
What is wrong with you?!
Music: Relief (B)
Heheh... Shinozaki. You had me really worried there. But...well...I'm glad you're back.
Kishinuma? Are you all right?
S-Suzumoto...? Wh-What are you... Wait... Where am I?
Shinozaki... What does one say in this situation? Welcome back, I guess?
The screen fades to black, and Ayumi is filled in on what's been going on.
Video: Reference Room ends here.
Yeah, and let me tell you, you were getting pretty violent there! How did you get in here, anyway? This room's been locked since we showed up!
I have no idea. But then, we are in a building that can change its layout at will. I guess pretty much anything is fair game in these closed spaces. It almost feels like this school takes pleasure in making the most unlikely events happen at random. I suppose when you're dealing with the supernatural, you're already dealing with something that's scientifically unlikely, so...best not to rely on logic.
You're starting to go over my head here. It almost sounds like I'm talking to your sister.
Well, let's just put it this way: there's no way of knowing what's going to happen in this school.
First, we need to look into the reasons why this place is the way it is. Specifically, we need to find out more about the beings who control it. Then we need to interact with those beings and try to dig up some means of getting out of here alive. And finally, once we've figured that out, we need to actually make it happen. That's pretty much it.
Wow. You're in full class rep mode right now!
Yep, she sure is! But aren't you forgetting the most important objective, Shinozaki?
Oh...yeah, good point. That should be our first step for sure. Once we've found Ms. Yui, Mochida and the others, then we can work on the rest.
Damned straight! Add Ogasawara's friends to the mix and we'll be so many strong that nothing can stop us! Right?
Let's not get too careless, though. None of this is going to be easy. There's only so much we can do in here, and that's not likely to change. For now, I'd suggest we investigate our surroundings as thoroughly as possible. Leave no stone unturned. And don't give up or give in, no matter what. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm scared to death right now...but I'm not going to let that stop me.
Don't worry, we'll be behind you all the way. We can get through this together!
Since we're here anyway, how about we start by checking for clues in this room? It's a reference room, after all. There's bound to be something worthwhile.
We start exploring the reference room by investigating this corpse.
It's a girl's body, seemingly junior or senior high. It's mostly decomposed down to the skeleton at this point. There's a duffel bag on its side next to her with a track suit partially hanging out of it. And her student ID name tag is still clearly visible on her uniform:
Ao Amano Age: 16
Momijigawa High School
Starved to death after being locked in reference room.
Aside from Ao's body, the only other thing of interest in the reference room is on this shelf.
One in particular stands out. It's an old-school three-ringed binder filled with articles that are all over 30 years old.
There was an article about that in one of the classrooms, too, I think.
"Local police gave an official statement at around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Yuki Kanno (11), Ryou Yoshizawa (8) and Tokiko Tsuji (7), previously reported missing, were found dead in a basement room beneath the school. The circumstances behind their murders are still under investigation, and a suspect with ties to the school's teaching staff is in questioning.
First responders report a shocking, grisly murder scene, and have expressed concerns at even allowing the families of the deceased to see their children. Significant mutilation is said to have occurred, and officials believe the sight of this may exacerbate the already delicate mental states of the bereaved.
The sole survivor of this unspeakable crime is 7-year-old Sachiko Shinozaki, who remains in shock from the experience. Her testimony may prove invaluable toward closing this case and putting this horror behind us, however, so police are anxious to question her.
Meanwhile, other parents have already begun calling Heavenly Host's safety procedures into question in the wake of this tragedy. Members of the PTA have--"
There's a snippet from another page as well, which includes photographs of the three victims as well as the lone survivor.
Oh! These are the children I saw!
I've seen them too. I guess they were killed here, so now they've cursed the place or something...
It's so horrible to hear what happened to them. I've been looking at them as scary, evil spirits all this time...but really, they're just victims themselves.
Be careful, Suzumoto. Compassion can be dangerous in a place like this. It's not unheard of for a spirit to lose its sense of humanity after dying.
In other words, these kids aren't necessarily going to play nice with living beings anymore.
Hmm... Ah, here we go. They talk about him in this one.
[Accused Child Murderer Commits Suicide]
"The 32-year-old former teacher believed to have committed the now infamous adolescent kidnappings and murders was found dead early yesterday morning. After being deemed mentally unfit to take responsibility for his actions, he was placed in intensive psychiatric care, but escaped two nights ago.
The psychiatric ward commissioned a manhunt which culminated in the discovery of his hanged body in a room beneath Heavenly Host Elementary School, near the site of his shocking triple homicide. The cause of death was ruled as strangulation and is strongly believed to be self-inflicted. As this appears to be a show of remorse, previously thought beyond his mental capacity, his psychiatric ward has come under heavy fire since the discovery."
Well, and there's that one girl who was spared, too.
Isn't it kind of strange, though, that there's not one single comment from the survivor's family? Every article is full of commentary from friends and family of the deceased, but there's not a word to be found anywhere about the girl who was spared.
I'd assume that was by request, to protect their privacy or something.
Do newspapers really care about that, though? The mass media's always about chasing scoops, no matter what it takes to get them or who they have to bother.
[Correspondences with Anna Sprengel]
There are no serial numbers or library cards or anything on them, though, so they're probably not the school's...
That's true. Maybe these were brought in by other victims who got trapped here.
Actually, it looks like there's a name stamp on most of these. Ki...bi...ki? Is that how you read those kanji?
Wait, Kibiki?! ...Wow, you're right! I recognize that name. You know the paranormalist, Naho Saenoki? Kou Kibiki is her mentor. He's a journalist. So that means Mr. Kibiki...is in here too, I guess. But why...?
With that, we're finished in the reference room, and head out to the hallway.
I don't know if I can trust my cell phone clock in a place like this.
That's a good point. If space is being changed around randomly, there's no reason to believe the same thing isn't happening to time.
I trust my stomach, though, and it's telling me that dinnertime has already come and gone, and now is about when good boys and girls would go to bed.
I have to admit, I am hungry...
Maybe we should add finding food to your list, Shinozaki. But for now, I think it's about time we found a nice, cozy spot to sit and rest for a while.
I think I'd like that, as I'm really, really tired. Not so tired that I'm worried about getting possessed or anything, but...tired enough.
The game automatically moves us to this hallway.
Almost immediately, both Kishinuma and Shinozaki sat down, closed their eyes, and fell fast asleep. Understandable, considering what they'd just experienced.
Out like a light, both of them.
They must be exhausted. Kishinuma went through a great deal of turmoil to save Ayumi, after all.
Aren't you tired too?
I am, but...I just can't bring myself to sleep. My mind keeps racing, wondering what Nari and the others are doing right now. I feel like I need to be ready to run out after them at a moment's notice.
I know just where you're coming from. I get the same way when I think of Shig. I wish I could see his face right now, you know?
I felt a chill in my stomach as soon as I saw them. They were the same bruise-like markings around Nana's slender thighs that I'd seen before...but they'd become much darker in color. They looked pink originally, as if she'd just rubbed her skin up against something, but now they were a deep, dark purple -- the color of grapes.
Are you all right? Does it hurt?
Hmm? You mean the bruises? They've been there since before...
Yeah, but...they're darker now.
Oh, you're right! What a weird color... What's happening?!
I just hope it doesn't leave a scar...
True. You do have beautiful legs, after all.
Oh, p-please... No I don't!
I'm jealous. You're so thin and gorgeous. If I were as tall as you, Shig and I would sure look a lot more natural together!
Is he...your boyfriend?
Huh-uh, nothing quite like that. I guess you could say...he's just a really important person to me. He always stands by me, accepts me for who I am despite all my flaws, and always supports me in whatever I choose to do.
He sounds wonderful.
Heh. Kishinuma...has a thing for Ayumi, doesn't he?
Oh? Does that bother you? Are you taking an interest, perhaps?
Ah, no, no! Nothing like that...
Heh, sorry. I had to ask! Actually, Kishinuma's got it pretty rough. He's got a rival for Shinozaki's affection.
Aww, but they look so cute together!
They are a lot alike in many ways. Particularly in their complete inability to be honest about how they feel.
Oh, come on! I already told you, it's not like that with us. Though... I guess I really don't know how to classify the way I feel. I mean, when I do finally see Shig, how should I react? What do I want him to do? Do I want him to pull me into his arms like Kishinuma did with Shinozaki? Or do I just want him to pat me on the head and tell me I did good? I guess I won't really know until the time comes. If it comes!
It'll come. Just like it did for Kishinuma and Shinozaki.
Mm... Thanks. I hope Mochida is able to reunite with Yuka and Nakashima, too. And Ms. Yui...and Shinohara... We'll all meet up and go back home, and properly exchange that photo we took together after the culture festival.
I...really want to see my friends, too.
Oh! I-I'm so sorry! I've just been talking about myself all this time...
By yourself? Isn't that dangerous?
I'll only be gone for a moment.
I guess thinking about her friends got her all worked up. She probably just couldn't sit still any longer.
Ahh! Kishinuma, you're awake?
Shouldn't you go with her, just to be safe?
I probably should. You stay here and keep an eye on Shinozaki.
Thanks, I will. If anything happens, just yell real loud, okay? I'll smack Shinozaki 'till she's awake and the two of us will come running.
Okay! The hallways are pretty dark, so I think I'm going to borrow one of her candles.