Part 30: Shangri-La, Part 1Video: Shangri-La
Music: Morishige's Theme of Love
Sound Effect: Camera
This was a place of solitude. Only she and I; not another soul to be found.
(I just...can't stay away.)
I was acutely aware that the hand in which I held my cell phone had begun sweating. And my breathing had become uncomfortably heavy. I was getting steadily more excited. And it was all because of her.
A perfect flower, brightly adorning the wall with its myriad colors -- such was the departed female form spread before me. When I first encountered her, it took me several moments just to comprehend what I was seeing. I'd never beheld a person with such grievous injuries before. I'm not even certain the word 'injuries' would apply in a situation like this.
(What state of mind could cause someone to do this to another human being?)
I was certain this action had been wrought by human hands, largely because both of her arms had been nailed to the wall with construction-grade lynchpins. Based solely on the dug-out abdomen (seemingly without the use of tools), the intestines lying on the floor, the smashed eyeballs and the exposed jaw...one might think she'd been torn apart by wild animals. But the lynchpins and the faint traces of bloody handprints here and there proved otherwise.
The blood that splattered far and wide shone in my flash like a bright red flame, and whole chunks of flesh were strewn about like flower petals. This flayed, eviscerated corpse with arms out- stretched and nailed to the wall brought to mind images of Jesus nailed to the cross. ...But she was even purer than that. There was no self-sacrifice here. No lesson to be taught. Whoever did this clearly had fun with it. They enjoyed killing her. They enjoyed destroying her.
(I suppose there are animals who kill not for food but for sport, leaving the carcasses of their prey behind. Of course, even intelligent animals like the lion, monkey and dolphin can be subject to occasional exclusionism and abuse within their ranks. Yet only humans possess the capacity to turn their violent impulses into art.)
Sound Effect: Camera
...Can that truly be all there is to it, though?
My internal monologue had become soliloquy, if only for a moment. What was it about this girl that fascinated me so? Witnessing the aftermath of a murderer's actions did provide a certain freeing sense of childlike helplessness, to be sure... But why had she, in particular, stricken my fancy?
The moment I first laid eyes on her will stay with me always. Not just the sight, but the smell too, hanging in the air like steam after a hot bath.
She was young -- junior or senior high age. But that's about all I could determine. Her uniform was tattered and soaked through with blood, and there was no student ID name tag to be found. The only reason I believed her to be a she, in fact, was due to the presence of a makeup bag and ornate tortoiseshell jewelry box on the ground nearby.
(I don't have the slightest clue who she may be. So why...am I so drawn to her?)
Please, tell me. Who are you?
Sound Effect: Alarm
...! Oh dear, is it already this late?
A production of 'The Barber of Seville' was airing on the MHK educational network that evening, and Mayu had asked me to record it for her. Being away from my TV at the time, I'd set a few reminder alarms on my phone to sound at regular intervals beforehand. Mayu was most renowned for her love of sweets and accessories and such, and I often wondered if anyone else knew how much she enjoyed the works of Rossini.
I need to find Mayu. She's lost without me.
Ah, bright and beautiful Mayu, beloved by all who knew her... I was the only one aware of the weaknesses that lay within her heart. Therefore, I was the only one who could truly protect her.
(Speaking of weaknesses...I wonder what's become of Mochida's little sister...)
(I certainly enjoyed chasing her around earlier. Haha... I gave her quite a fright!)
I adored watching her run for dear life. It was an act befitting a psychopathic pedophile, yet I am no such thing. Why, then, did I glean such joy from it? I simply found her frail, cowering countenance to be irresistibly precious. The sight of an overwhelmingly weak person standing before me, utterly helpless and alone, elated my very soul. The sensation was almost orgasmic.
Yet this was a friend's sister. For all the torment I'd caused, I certainly intended no harm. The perceived threat I represented just spawned such panic and horror within her that I couldn't help myself. Thinking back upon it still makes me smile.
(No... This isn't right. This isn't who I am. Could it be that this nightmarish location is messing with my head?)
Indeed, this wouldn't do at all. If I were to return to the real world with Mayu and the others without first discarding this new me, I would no longer be able to live the way I did before.
Sound Effect: Alarm
Sound Effect: Drop
Dammit, the strap broke?! *sigh*
Hard to believe we were just in the student council room... I guess that Sachiko charm is what did us in, huh?
This wasn't just some ordinary school building. Some fellow student council members and classmates and I all did that weird ritual, and then...I passed out. I thought maybe it was anemia or something. But when I woke up, I found myself in this thoroughly disturbing place. And my friends were nowhere to be found. At first, I thought maybe this was just Tohko playing a prank on me. But I quickly realized that it went far beyond that.
I got angry, I screamed, I cowered in fear and begged anyone who could hear me to stop doing this...but ultimately, I was just talking to air. This all felt like a bad dream. And I prayed, in my heart of hearts, that that's all it was. Because I knew I wouldn't be able to stand being in this horrible place all alone. I just wanted to see someone. To be with someone. I just...wanted someone to call my name.
I'm right here, everyone! Right here...
Video: Shangri-La ends here.
We're put into control, so of course we immediately inspect that suspiciously bloody shoe cubby.
It mustn't have been easy to make it fit, as there are tiny pieces of flesh and scalp tissue all along the frame.
(...! Who would've done something like this?!)
There's also a note posted by the door. We investigate.
"But being with someone else is even scarier. Stay alert. Don't let your guard down."
And of course, we can't be in an entranceway and not try to open the door.
Dammit, the windows were the same way. What the hell is going on here?!
I'm not going to accomplish anything by staying in one place. I need to keep looking for my friends!
We're automatically moved to this position. Note the area name on our map; Mitsuki is in the second wing.
Ah! Wh-Who's there?!
???: It's me, Kurosaki!
Kurosaki? Where are you?!
After being alone in here all this time, finally, a friend! I could barely contain my exuberance.
Music: Relief (A)
You too! How are you holding up? You're not hurt or anything, right?
No, I'm just fine. How about you, Kurosaki? Where are the others?
I wish I knew. I only just woke up, and am still trying to figure out how I got here.
No kidding. We were all in the student council room, right? So how come we're in a run-down school now? Did someone carry us here while we were unconscious?
That's the only explanation I can think of, but I can't imagine anyone actually doing that.
Yeah, they'd have to be pretty sick. But then... well, have you seen what's...in here with us, Kurosaki?
Eww, come on...
Kurosaki carefully inched closer to the hole in the corridor, bit by bit, then took a good, long look inside.
You could leap right over that, I'll bet. I mean, you're in the baseball club and you're good at sports, so something like this should be no problem.
Well, you'll never be one with that kind of attitude!
Man, you don't mince words, do you? Wouldn't expect anything less of you, though. Anyway, I'm going to go try to find some other way around.
You stay there, Mitsuki, in case anyone else shows up while I'm gone.
Y-You don't need to be in such a hurry! Why don't we stay here for a little while yet?
Sound Effect: Running
(I guess I can be kind of a pain in the ass sometimes. In class and in student council meetings alike, I'm always trying to take charge... I suppose I'll have to be all docile and sweet like Emi if I want to be treated like a lady.)
Sound Effect: Phone
The time display on my phone read 29:09.
Well, that's certainly not right. Maybe it got messed up when I dropped it.
???: Heeeey! Anybody there?!
Kurosaki?! I'm here! Over here, Kurosaki!
???: Mitsuki! Is that you?!
Music: Relief (B)
It was Masato Fukuroi, a classmate of mine and the student council president. He always had a scowl on his face and dug his heels into the ground on everything, but right now, his cold obstinance was as welcome as could be.
Fukuroi! I'm so glad you're all right!
Wait, wasn't that exactly the same thing I said to Kurosaki? I really need to get some new material!
S-Slow down. This isn't like you, Mitsuki! Are you saying Kensuke is here too?
Yeah, he was on the other side of that pit. And since he couldn't figure out how to cross it, he just...ran off to find an alternate way around.
I see. Jumping the gun as always, then.
Have you found anyone else, Fukuroi? What about Tohko?
I'm afraid not. No Ohkawa or Katayama either. And no Kizami.
Well, Kizami's...probably fine by himself.
At any rate, once we've reunited with Kurosaki, we should make finding the others our first priority.
Maybe we should try to find an alternate route around this pit ourselves, then.
Is that really such a good idea, though? What if Kurosaki gets here after we've already left?
Then he'll wait for us. And if we set about finding our own route, there's a good chance we'll run into him along the way. And we might happen upon the others, too.
You're right. We can't just stand around or we'll never get anywhere. And I have to admit, I am worried about Tohko and the others.