Part 51: Blood Drive, Part 1At last, we're going to look at Book of Shadows' final and only relevant chapter: Blood Drive. This chapter takes place a couple weeks after the first game's true ending.
Housewife 1: And you know what my kid told me? He said that incident was connected with an underground website that's gotten real popular at his school.
Housewife 2: Oh, I think I heard about that on the news a while back! Profiles being used for bullying, and to find dates... Is that kind of stuff still going on?!
Naomi moves out of sight.
Housewife 2: I wonder if my kid goes on any websites like that. Maybe I should talk to him about it.
I'd been here for over an hour now. Standing, staring...wondering whether to push that button...
I must have looked really suspicious. Especially since I'd been here yesterday, and the day before too. And each time, I wound up just going home. But today would be different. That's what I told myself. Today I'd actually push that intercom button. I was ready to face my demons.
Yuu: Hey! You two can't just run off like that!
Once again, Naomi ducks out of sight.
Yuu: All right! Line up! Make sure you've got your shoes on tight. There we go. Hey, straighten that hat.
Yuu: Very good. I think we're ready now. Take my hands, please. Now, you think you two can behave at the market? Kei, Aya?
Aya: You bet!
Yuu: That's what I like to hear.
They were the reason I'd come. They were the ones I wanted to see. I had no idea what I'd say to them. But I knew for sure that Seiko existed, so I had to say something.
Maybe I'd show them this cell phone picture...and tell them, hey, this is your sister. And ask if they remembered anything about her. It would be okay. I just needed to explain myself. They'd understand. They had to! I'd made up my mind. Now was the perfect chance. I stepped out from my hiding place...
...but barely made out a single word before I felt someone grab my arm from behind, holding me back.
I understand where you're coming from...but you can't do this.
Our class rep, Shinozaki, was shaking her head at me. She was determined to stop me from confronting Seiko's family. My vision was starting to blur.
Music: A Friend's House
*sob* But... But...! *sob* *sob*
I couldn't hold back my tears any longer. I squatted on the ground and looked up at the class rep, who was staring back at me with equally glassy eyes.
Only those of us who returned from Heavenly Host Elementary School alive. Only Shinozaki... Satoshi...Kishinuma...and Yuka. As for those who lost their lives there... Seiko...Suzumoto...Morishige...and Ms. Shishido...we came back to find that their very existence was wiped clean from this world entirely.
I was walking home, defeated and dejected, with the class rep at my side when she suddenly addressed me. It sounded like she wanted to tell me something.
I've been...doing research these last couple weeks. At the library. Looking up information about the Shinozaki estate. That's the house where Yoshie and Sachiko Shinozaki lived. The place that the beings in control of Heavenly Host...once called home.
You might recall that the newspaper articles we found about the kidnapping and murder incident gave precious little information about Sachiko. And aside from local papers, nobody even bothered covering the news about Yoshie's death at all. Digging up this information was no small feat.
But she was kind of an expert when it came to ghosts and the occult and such, so...I trusted her. I wanted to know where she was going with this.
It seems Yoshie Shinozaki's former home is here, in this prefecture. It's in the outskirts, by the mountains.
Her...home? Like, Yoshie's? And Sachiko's?
Yep. Right in our backyard.
...It's that close?
Yeah. Heavenly Host once stood where Kisaragi is now, after all. And since Yoshie Shinozaki worked there, it makes sense her home wouldn't be too terribly far away.
So, yeah... Seems like a good place for us to find something, don't you think? The origin of the Shinozaki family's curse rests within those walls, and I believe there must be some clue there that could help shed light on it.
She had my full attention now. I swallowed hard, as if I were taking it all in.
The Shinozaki estate...
I was haunted by my memories of Heavenly Host, and this would entail visiting the source of it all, where the danger would be far greater. Yet somehow...
Lead on, class rep.
It was right around 4:30 in the afternoon. The day was already cooling into night, and the sun would surely be setting shortly after we arrived at our destination. But...neither of us really cared. I just wanted to be there, as soon as humanly possible. If there were even the slightest chance of finding answers, I'd welcome it. The two of us went right to the station and hopped on the very next train we could find out to the countryside, grasping at straws for all we were worth.
Video: Blood Drive
Music: Shangri-La -Ballad ver.-
But if I'd done that, I'd have had to explain to Mom where I was going...and I sincerely doubt she would've been amenable to the idea. I could've always just gone anyway, of course... but then I'd be directly disobeying my mother and undoubtedly making her worry sick about me.
Much like us, they were simply staring down at the ground and riding in silence, lost in their own thoughts. These last couple weeks had been brutal. All five of us who survived were feeling it. We were more exhausted than we'd ever been in our entire lives.
But no matter how crazy people said we were...no matter how much our souls ached from the memories... we could never forget Seiko and the others.
And the scariest, saddest thing I could imagine was the passage of time...because eventually, I knew I'd have trouble remembering what they looked like.
Listen... I want to run something by you. We're the only ones who have any memory of Ms. Yui, Suzumoto, Shinohara and Morishige, right? Because if you die in Heavenly Host, it's as if you never existed in the first place. You're erased from the collective memory of everyone in the real world.
...Why was she bringing this up? I just looked down at my knees, trying unsuccessfully to fight back the tears that were welling up in my eyes yet again.
Well, have a look at this.
Naho's...Nods to the Netherworld. It's just that spirit medium girl's blog, right?
Doesn't anything seem odd about it to you?
The blog's final entry was the one detailing the Sachiko Ever After ritual. But we already knew that. There were no updates after it because...
The class rep nodded and looked into my eyes.
Naho lost her life in Heavenly Host Elementary School just like everyone else.
B-But...how can that be?
I checked on her mentor, Mr. Kibiki, too. He also died in Heavenly Host, but just like Naho, there's still ample record of his existence.
I was literally on the edge of my seat, leaning in close and hanging on her every word. She flashed me a smile.
So let's not give up hope, okay?
It wasn't much to go on, but it was easily the best news I'd heard in two weeks. And it made me feel a lot better about this impromptu trip. Even just this one vague clue improved our chances of finding something at the Shinozaki estate significantly. At least now, we knew what to look for...
Video: Blood Drive ends here.
Guess we're here. Man, we're really out in the boonies, aren't we? The air smells so...delicious!
Mm. It's nice, isn't it? And we were fortunate to get here while there's still some light left. We should find the estate before it gets dark.
Music: Relief (A)
There was only one main road, and due to the mountainside setting of this picturesque village, it maintained a gradual upward slope the whole way.
Yeah. And here I was kind of hoping I could meet with one of the locals and ask some questions... Evidently, the Shinozaki family had a lot of clout here once, and were held in high esteem.
Hmmm... I guess it's possible. But there are an awful lot of Shinozakis in Japan, you know.
Mm, that's true.
I think it's this way, yeah. But to be honest, the address I found didn't have a house number, so I'm not entirely sure.
Oh. But what about your cell phone? Doesn't it have that...GP...S...thing? Can't we use that to figure out where we're going?
I already tried, but it looks like there's no map data on file for this area. Which is actually very strange...
Ehh... If you say so.
And the darker it got, the more noticeable the sound of the uneven terrain became. There was something unsettling about the idea of two schoolgirls in uniform walking through a strange, largely deserted village at the cusp of twilight...
Hey, I really think we should stop and ask someone for directions. How about we pay that house a visit?
She was pointing at one of the isolated farmhouses directly in front of us.
Sounds good. It is getting dark, after all. Let's pick up the pace.
Maybe they're not home. Let's try someplace else.
Sound Effect: Thump
That scared the crap out of me. What was that? ...Ahh!
Sound Effect: Thump Thump Thump
Yeah, I don't like this. Let's get away from here.
I know it's a little unsettling, but if we don't get some information, we'll never find the place. So... come on. Let's try asking at that one.
This time she was pointing to a slightly more inviting-looking residence nearby, sporting a blue roof.
Hello, is anyone home?
Older Lady: Yeees?
Good evening, miss. We're a bit lost and would be very grateful if you could help us find our way.
I could see the figure of a middle-aged woman through the frosted glass door. I wasn't sure if she was actually going to open it for us, given that we were strangers and she was, by all appearances, a woman alone in an isolated house.
Ah, good evening. I'm sorry to bother you so late. We've come all the way from Fujisawa, and we're trying to find a certain residence.
Older Lady: Oh, my! What cute little visitors. And coming all this way with the sun going down, no less!
Thank goodness! She seemed like a perfectly normal, perfectly kind old woman. I took my place next to the class rep and bowed my head in respect.
Older Lady: So where is it you're trying to go, then?
I'm trying to reach this address, but I don't have a house number. This is all I know.
Older Lady: Let's see...
Music: Has Been Seen
Ah! Umm...a-actually, we're investigating something. Right?
Oh...yeah, that's right. It's...uhh...for a school assignment.
Older Lady: ...
M-Miss? Is something wrong?
Older Lady: Get out! Go on! Get out of here!
The woman slams the door.
Just seeing the words 'Shinozaki estate' seemed to send her off the deep end.
This could be a problem...
Let's just try to find another house. There must be someone around here who will tell us what we need to know.
Yeah, you'd think! ...Ah!
Oh God, you're right! Why? Is she still watching us?!
Let's go, okay? This is getting really creepy.
She seemed like such a kind old woman, too, when she first answered the door. But now she just felt menacing. The sudden change was almost staggering.
We walked for quite a while after that. The fields and trees were becoming more plentiful, while houses were becoming a much rarer sight. The road's incline had gotten a lot steeper, too. We were literally climbing a mountain now, and the likelihood of finding the house we sought (or any house at all) seemed to be lessening with every step.
We pushed ourselves against the guard rail and waited for the car approaching from behind to pass by before we continued our trek.
The mini pickup pulled alongside us, and an older gentleman stuck his head out the window. He seemed like a sociable sort.
Umm... We're actually looking for the...Shinozaki residence, if you have any idea where that is...
Older Man: Shin'zaki? Ahhh, yeah, the ol' Shin'zaki estate. It's up that-a-way! Deep in th' mountains.
Just up ahead?
Older Man: Yepp!
Well, that's good. We've been going the right way after all.
Older Man: Dunno what business y' got in a place like that, but hop in if y' want. I'll take y' up.
The class rep and I looked one another square in the eyes. He seemed a little shady, but it was getting pretty late, and as they say, beggars can't be choosers. We wouldn't get another opportunity like this.