Part 53: Blood Drive, Part 3Video: The Shinozaki Estate
That's... What...? How can that...?!
There, where the Shinozaki estate once stood, in what was nothing more than an abandoned lot only a few hours earlier...an old, humble residence now rose above us. It seemed almost to be floating in the air...but it was very clearly an actual, corporeal building.
The two of us stood there staring at it for several minutes, completely dumbfounded.
It wasn't. It definitely wasn't! But...
So why is it there now?!
How should I know?!
I had goosebumps all over my body. And a cold sweat had begun tracing lines down my back.
I-Is it just me, or is it...glowing? What are we even looking at?!
Aside from its more ethereal qualities, it was just an old, beat-up two-story farmhouse. But sure enough, the name plate by the door read 'Shinozaki.' This was, without a doubt, the house where Yoshie and Sachiko Shinozaki lived.
Oh, God, you're hyperventilating! Are you all right?!
The class rep raised a hand to stop me from intervening.
I'm okay...but thank you. I just...have to keep my mouth closed... and it'll pass. *sniffle* *snort* *wheeze*
We came here to learn the secrets of the Shinozaki estate...and, well, here we are. It's inviting us in... It's daring us to look around...
...You mean, go in there?!
I know...it's really scary...but we can't turn back now.
Gazing at the imposing structure, she took a deep breath. Then, after collecting herself, she walked right up to the front door and tried sliding it open.
Sound Effect: Door
It gave no resistance at all.
Sound Effect: Click
The phantom estate house had no power, it seemed.
The barn still has working lights, but not the main house?
Fortunately, there was a flashlight on a nearby table. The class rep picked it up and switched it on, illuminating the wall across from the entrance. Not that there was much to see. The entranceway itself was extremely small, breaking off to the right at a solid wooden door just a few steps in. A quick pan to the left, then, revealed a steep, hardwood staircase leading up. And that was pretty much the entire room.
She'd gone completely pale. I could tell just by looking at her that she'd sensed something. Her eyes shone with a mixture of terror and determination.
It's much darker than Heavenly Host. The energy in this house...is jet black.
Don't let your guard down. Not for one second.
Thinking back, our first steps into this house were basically the start of it all. It was at that point that we'd left the world of the ordinary far behind. Simply being able to see these walls, these floors, these ceilings with our naked eyes directly defied the laws of nature. The house itself was a ghost. Literally anything could happen in here.
I knew that, and was doing everything I could to brace myself for the trials ahead...but the fear was still there, and the shaking wouldn't stop.
It's pretty deeply ingrained, too. I wonder what happened...before this place was torn down...
Video: The Shinozaki Estate ends here.
Music: Chapter 4's Theme
We're put into control and set about exploring the Shinozaki estate.
I'm gonna be honest here for a second. Few things in either of the Corpse Party games scare me; I honestly just don't think they're very frightening games at all. But something about this house puts me on edge.
There are a couple framed photographs of Sachiko here, dressed in a formal kimono. It looks like they were taken during the Shinto "Shichi-Go-San" festival, where children of ages 7, 5 and 3 gather to pray for longevity. A small plaque is placed below them with embossed letter that read, "Sachiko, just before her seventh birthday. Best wishes for a long, happy life!"
It's a landscape painting of a lake somewhere. It's hard to tell in this light, but it looks almost like the lake's surface is comprised entirely of outstretched hands reaching up from below. It couldn't be much more unsettling.
This mirror...frightens me. I'd rather not look into it at all if I can help it.
Well, a mirror...is an object that people peer into. And over time, their thoughts and feelings can burn themselves into the glass. It's very common.
...Now that you mention it, I guess mirrors do kind of make me feel like I'm being watched, even though I know it's just me in there...
...! (That wasn't me and Nakashima I saw just now.)
(Maybe it was just me imagination...)
The shoe shelves are full of dead rats. And each of them, without exception, has had its stomach dug out. Maybe they ate each other. ...Hopefully they ate each other!
The door isn't locked, nor is it sealed shut like in the school, but it still won't open. There seems to be something heavy blocking it from the other side.
Finished in the entranceway, we set about exploring the rest of the first floor. There's no way into the ??? room.
For now, we head next door to the water closet.
It's a Japanese-style floor toilet. Every part of it is distressingly filthy, and there are spider webs strung up all along the inside.
...There's...blood on the floor here. It's old and dried out, thankfully...but you do have to wonder why nobody would've bothered wiping it up.
The drain is packed tightly with what look to be thousands of bodies of unidentifiable insects.
There are white objects stuck to the wall here that look kind of like Go pieces. Each one is protected behind a thick barrier of spider webs. They're probably spider eggs. Eww.
We head next door to the bath, now.
It's an old-fashioned wooden bathtub cover. It looks extremely brittle and has rotted through completely, sporting numerous holes and missing or warped beams.
It's an old soaking tub with a water heater feeding into it. The heater is clearly broken and the tub is half-filled with green, stagnant water and bugs.
Don't look into the water!
Yoshie and Sachiko aren't the only spirits in here. This place was also used as a psychiatric clinic, so we may have to contend with old patients as well.
We head down the hall to the living room next.
Video: Living Room
If you cross your eyes a bit, the holes in the shoji door kind of look like a person's face. Once you see it, however, you can't unsee it, and the whole room becomes exponentially creepier. It's probably best not to look at all...
Pieces of cloth have been haphazardly tossed into this box. There also seem to be a few rolled-up newspapers, but they're absolutely crawling with assorted bugs. Probably best not to touch them.
"Please wait here for your name to be called. Please help yourself to some tea."
Wait here...? I guess that makes sense. Yoshie did run a clinic from this house, after all.
What seems to be the problem?
The spirit vanishes, and our time in the living room comes to an end.
Video: Living Room ends here.
We head into the kitchen next.
It's a gas-burning hot water heater. Every part of it is rusted, perfectly illustrating its age. There's absolutely no chance it still works.
It's an old model refrigerator -- post-icebox era, but very definitely not modern in any way. It seems to be completely empty inside.
The handles to these cabinet doors and drawers are all missing. Sounds of skittering bugs can be heard from within. Probably best to leave them closed.
The cabinet is filled with small dished and utensils intended for use by young children. Each one is printed with cutesy bunny or cat designs.
We've been in every room on the first floor (aside from the ??? room, of course), so we head back to the entranceway and go upstairs.
Are you okay?!
Yeah, I'm fine. The floorboards here are pretty well rotted through, though, so be really careful. Best to hang onto the wall for leverage as you go.
I seem to recall reading about cases before where the house itself is basically just a spiritual echo...but this seems totally different.
Floor 2 is sporting two ??? rooms. We begin our search by entering the south bedroom.
Video: Bedroom (South)
This appears to be a bedroom. The sliding door to the closet is off its tracks, however, and the dresser has been knocked over. The floor is littered with junk, including a desk lamp and numerous bottles with unknown contents, and the closet is packed with old beat-up boxes.
...? This room also seems suspiciously noisy, with creaks and bangs and pops audible throughout. "Rapping, rapping at my chamber door..."
Dad... Mom... MOM!!
The class rep began calling out for her parents, totally out of the blue. I had no idea what was going on.
Nnnnggg... *cough* Sorry. Did I...say something...?
She was grabbing her head in both hands, and her face was white as a sheet. She must have been the target of spiritual possession again, like in Heavenly Host. Fortunately, she seemed to have been ready for it this time, and was able to collect herself in short order. And once she did, our search resumed.
Music: Chapter 4's Theme
For some reason, the wooden dresser won't budge even the slightest bit. It's as if it were made of solid steel.
It's a Japanese-style sliding screen, or "fusuma." There's a crude crayon drawing visible on it. Did Sachiko do this?
It's very abstract, but it looks like something a happy, well-adjusted little kid would draw -- not at all disturbing like the pictures in Heavenly Host.
There's some sort of stain on the back wall of the closet. It kind of looks like it's in the shape of a person, but...that's probably just an optical illusion, right?
Video: Bedroom (South) ends here.
Finished in the south bedroom, we head to the northeast bedroom.
There must be a key to this room somewhere in the house, though...
That bedroom is a bust, so we head next door instead.
Video: Bedroom (Northwest)
This particular bedroom looks like it's been converted into...a study? Seems out of place, considering the family. Whose study was it?
The bookshelf is full of old books that have been thoroughly wrecked with age. Every one of them is yellowed, musty and falling apart.
It's the frame to an old mirror that's long since been busted out. Where the looking glass once stood, there's now a creepy drawing of an old woman. It's just a rough sketch, but it looks absolutely realistic, as if it could just up and jump out of the frame at any moment.
Sound Effect: Click
...Well, it was worth a shot.
The desk is piled high with dust, but the items situated on it are neat and tidy. Whoever used it was very organized.
Right in the middle of the desk sits a lone key, completely covered in dried blood. Take it?
Take the key
Sound Effect: Item
Wait... Do you hear something?
It sounded like footsteps echoing through the wooden frame of the house. Specifically, like someone with leather shoes walking around on the first floor. The class rep and I looked at one another and shuddered. After a moment, the footsteps then began loudly stomping up the stairs...
W-We have to hide!
There really is something in here with us. Something...walking around the halls...
God, I can't take this anymore!
The constant, unrelenting pressure of this search was beginning to take its toll on me. The class rep, sensing my agitation, took my hand in hers.
Keep it together, Nakashima. Stay strong. Remember Heavenly Host. If we allow these holes to form in our hearts, we'll just fall prey to the Darkening.
Nngggghh... You're right. Thank you.
Video: Bedroom (Northwest) ends here.
Music: Chapter 4's Theme
We're put back in control, and head back to the locked bedroom.
But it looks like the key from the other room fits!
There were pictures of Sachiko all over the room, virtually everywhere there was space for them. Her mother clearly held her very dear.
Video: Yoshie's Room
This video covers the remainder of the update.
Pictures of Sachiko are sprawled out all across the surface of the desk. However, like so many objects in Heavenly Host, they're affixed to its surface as if they were mere decoration. They can't be picked up or even moved.
There's a tiny kimono in the box, sized for a young girl. The style looks similar to the ones worn in the "Shichi-Go-San" festival, which would make this Sachiko's for sure.
Picture after picture, each depicting some happy moment in the Shinozaki family's life. Yoshie's overwhelming love of Sachiko came through in every shot.
What...is that all about?
The photographs depicting the Shinozaki women were all fine, but those that showed Sachiko with both her parents were a bit...different. In each of them, the man who was presumably Yoshie's husband had had his face completely blacked out with a ball-point pen.
That...has to be Sachiko's dad, right? But...why...?
Looking around the room, it really was every single photograph that depicted this man. His face was inked out in literally every picture.
...! Nakashima! Look! Up there!
Oh! Isn't that...?
An offering, I guess. It's enshrined alongside a mirror imitating the shape of Yata no Kagami. This must be...the doll that Naho brought back with her...
Apparently, the class rep's parting in Heavenly Host with her former role model, Naho, had not been a pleasant one. She looked momentarily distraught. In front of the enshrined doll, there was a square sheet of yellowed paper containing hand-inked instructions on performing an all-too-familiar ritual:
(So, did Yoshie use Sachiko as an offering in order to make Heavenly Host the land of her death? This would have had to happen while she was still alive. But why? What was she hoping to accomplish?!)
So what's this, now?
It appeared to be an embedded wall safe with a circular padlock and a panel of buttons comprised of the digits 0 through 9.
Let me see.
This...looks almost like some kind of vault, doesn't it?
Following the 'spin clockwise' indicator etched into the steel safe, we tried spinning the lock itself as well, but had no luck with that either. In fact, as soon as the lock made one full rotation, all the buttons we'd pressed in suddenly popped back out.
So we're dealing with a combination-locked safe surrounded by photos of Sachiko from when she was still alive...
If Yoshie's the one who set the combination, it's probably safe to assume it has something to do with Sachiko.
You know, you're absolutely right! It must be something really simple. Whoever used this safe would've chosen something they wouldn't forget, after all.
The question is, what would that something be?
But every time, we'd just spin the lock, hear a metallic thunk and watch as the numbers reset on us.
Sachiko... Come on, think! We made it back from Heavenly Host Elementary alive, so there must be some tidbit of knowledge we can use...
What had we actually learned about Sachiko, though? Number-wise, all I could come up with was an approximate height. (And that didn't work.) What was it that plaque in the stairwell said? 'Sachiko, just before her seventh birthday'? The kimono she was wearing in that picture was an exact match for the one we'd found in that box in the middle of this room.
It seemed as if Yoshie were really fixated on Sachiko turning seven. So what about just the number 7, by itself? It was a long shot, but...
When I got to this spot, I was like "Oh, I get it! Sachiko and Yoshie died in 1953. So subtract 7 from that and you get 1946, Sachiko's birth year!"
The actual solution is really stupid. Yoshie is terrible at coming up with passwords.
The area of the wall all around the safe opened up like a secret door, with the combination lock holding in place and serving as a doorknob.
Beyond the tiny door -- a door so small that we had to crawl to fit through it -- was a long staircase stretching down into a hidden underground room.
Rrng... *cough* *cough* ...Spider webs...and the dust here is really thick.
Hey, come on. I want to see too. Is it some kind of storehouse, maybe...?
So...this is a hidden passageway that shouldn't exist, inside a building that shouldn't exist. I think the danger level has reached its peak here. It feels like we're standing at the entrance to some realm that's not even part of this world.
Even if all that awaited us down here was an unimaginably horrific end...we were standing at the source of the answers we so desperately sought. We were poised to uncover the truth behind the curse of Sachiko Shinozaki.
This was the gate to a new world. If we turned back, we'd regret it for the rest of our lives. So the two of us just looked one another in the eyes...and nodded. We were ready to descend this staircase into whatever abyss lurked below.
I don't think even Naho made it this far, so be careful, Nakashima. Stay alert and focused down there, no matter what happens.
She'd begun descending the stairs ahead of me, but stopped and looked back after only a few steps to issue me this one last warning. I nodded again.
It's those same footsteps. There really is something else in here with us, wandering around... And it sounds like it's on the second floor!
They were extremely close. It sounded as if they were poised just outside the door to Yoshie's room. Just a few feet away...
*whisper* Nakashima! Down the staircase! Hurry!