Music: Play Track 1
"She's probably sweeping in the back."
I enter the courtyard.
I don't see her anywhere.
I glance around.
For just an instant, I see the color of her kimono in the forest.
We all know what happens next.
"......? Is there anything to clean over there?
There isn't anything over there.
I played in that forest as a child, so I would remember.
I used to play a lot in that direction, so over there---
...... What was that?
There should be nothing there.
But there's something odd about that.
If there's nothing there, then why?
Did this garden-like area hold some special significance to me?
"......... Ou, ch........."
I get a light headache.
...... After a little debate with myself, I follow after Kohaku-san.
Admit it... how many of you thought this was going to end in a gaping chest wound? (not that it still won't)
My heart convulses.
This is the first time I've seen it, but---it seems horribly familiar, and I start to get dizzy.
...... Kohaku-san went inside.
I don't remember what this detached building is.
I just have a bad feeling about all of this and I don't want to go inside.
But, it would be pretty stupid if I came all the way here only to go back, so I force myself to continue.
That's Shiki logic. "I'd really rather not return to the Tohno mansion, but it would be prety stupid if I read this entire invitation and then didn't accept it." "I actually feel really sorry for this classmate, but it would be pretty stupid to meet her at night like this without killing her." "This woman is actually my sister, but it would be pretty stupid to go to all this trouble for her and then not fuck her."
...... I walk around inside.
It's a little run-down here and there, probably because it hasn't been used in years.
But it seems like someone may have been doing some maintenance because it isn't dirty.
"...... Kohaku-san is probably in the Japanese-style room in the back."
I absent-mindedly think that aloud and automatically walk towards the room.
---This is all so familiar.
The smell of tatami fills the small room.
"A talk, with me?"
"Yeah. I wanted to talk more about this morning. ...... If this isn't a good place, should we go to the courtyard?"
I look up to the ceiling.
It is almost sunset, so it'll get dark soon.
The light in this room probably doesn't work, so we should head somewhere else.
"Shiki-san, if you want to talk about that then here is probably better. If we go back to the mansion, we might run into Akiha-sama and will not be able to talk about Makihisa-sama."
"Ah---that's right. She'll probably see us. ...... But Kohaku-san, I don't like keeping things secret from Akiha."
"Hmm, that is a little difficult. Akiha-sama does not like talking about Makihisa-sama.
So if you wish to continue our talk from this morning, then we have to do it where Akiha-sama will not overhear us."
"But she's not a vampire or anything... I don't know... maybe if she wore plastic fangs..."
"But Kohaku-san, the sun is almost setting. We can't talk here, right?"
"Not at all. This building is still maintained at a level for people to live in, so it has futons already prepared and electricity."
"Really? But this place hasn't been used for a while, right? Why is it maintained like that?"
"Let's see, maybe Akiha-sama is just fond of this place. A long time ago, this was where Makihisa-sama's adopted child used to live."
Makihisa...... my old man, adopted a child, a long time ago?
"...... Wait a sec, Kohaku-san. My old man adopted a child?"
Yes, trivial. "SHIKI went insane again and killed another adopted child." "Alright, I'll go talk to him."
-----Wait a minute.
Something about her words seems scary.
Just hearing them, my vision starts to warp.
It was as if the room was made completely of dissolving sugar.
"Ko, Kohaku, san."
A child adopted ten years ago. Two years later, the child died.
In other words,
eight years ago----that's when I had my accident and was sent to the hospital.
Chiiiirp. Chir-- sorry.
Music: Play Track 4
"Kohaku, san. You said 'cursed'?"
"No, it isn't anything important. It is just that a lot of the members of the Tohno family have died young.
Such as in accidents, or suicide, or illness; a curse that does not allow them a natural death. Well, that was the rumor, anyway."
"Some members of the Tohno family---like Makihisa-sama, carried mental illnesses and committed suicide when they became adults.
These are just rumors, but it's said some of them were murderers before the war."
...... Mental illness?
...... Such as, seeing dreams of killing people?
...... Such as, my memory being extremely vague?
"In my dreams, I kill people." "That's terrible!" "No, no, that's not all... are you ready for this? I also have vague memories!"
"Shiki-san. We spoke about it this morning, but I took care of Makihisa-sama's condition two years before he passed away.
...... While you were living with the Arima family, Makihisa-sama would become very depressed at times and I would have to prepare his medicine."
"...... Wait. You said it this morning too, but was he that bad that he had to take medicine?"
"---Yes. It would not be uncommon for him to walk into the garden at night and kill the pet dogs and cats, or to hurt his own body.
And when the night was over, he wouldn't remember a thing, only thinking that it was strange that his hands were painted in blood."
What is this?
That's pretty much crazy.
As crazy as I am in my dreams.
...... No, that is backwards.
Am I crazy just like my old man?
That's what your darling love Kohaku wants you to think anyway Here, have some more drugs.
"Shiki-san, you look terrible. If you are feeling poorly, you should rest in your room......!"
Kohaku-san says this as she grabs my shoulder.
With her help, I can stand.
"...... Yeah...... I'm fine, so---"
I'm somehow able to focus again.
But I'm still dizzy.
"It was a nice conversation, but it would be pretty stupid to come all the way out here and not have fucked up, crazy drug-visions."
Somehow, I understand that was the sound of my body hitting the floor.
Kohaku-san dashes towards me.
"Shiki-san, are you in pain? Shiki-san......!?"
...... No. It doesn't hurt. I want to tell her, but my consciousness is fading.
I can't speak.
I can't even move a finger.
It seems that if I exert myself even the slightest bit, I'll completely lose consciousness.
Collapsed on the floor, I try as hard as I can to resist the coming darkness.
"---Don't strain yourself, please lie down."
Kohaku-san speaks to me.
She slides me over.
With one hand holding my head, Kohaku-san slides a pillow underneath me.
"...... Please relax. This will help the blood to flow, right?"
Her voice sounds so close.
I piece together my situation.
It seems I am resting on her lap.
Music: Play Track 8
"...... It's so quiet. For some reason...... this seems so familiar."
Lying down on my side, I stare at the tatami mat floor.
After nodding, Kohaku-san checks my pulse.
"Well, this isn't good. Shiki-san, your body temperature has fallen. I should go back and bring you some medicine."
"No, I'm fine. I'm used to this, so I'll be fine soon. Today was a little harder than before, but I'll be alright. ...... So can we stay like this a little longer? I can relax better like this."
I tell her that, wanting to stay like this a little longer.
"In that case", Kohaku-san says as she stays in place.
"Shiki-san, you are not scared?"
Kohaku-san asks me this.
"I may be about to die like this, but it would be pretty stupid to live for so long and then be scared of dying."
"Shiki-san, you're different from most people, who can rest assured at night that they'll wake up the next morning. But you still live normally and do not have fear.
...... I can't understand it.
Please answer me. Why are you not scared?"
I can't come up with a good answer.
My weak body.
The death that's always close.
...... My eyes that can see death.
Maybe that's why I'm just numb to it.
"Who knows? Maybe I just don't feel it as being real."
"...... I don't get it. Do you not feel how close death is?
Or is it because your body could die at any moment so living does not concern you?"
"...... It's hard to say. Maybe I'm desensitized to death.
Being sensitive and seeing it that close every day, it just becomes normal."
"...... But I can still say this, Kohaku-san.
Since I'm so close to death all the time, I can feel life more strongly. I know that living itself is happiness.
Like you said, my body isn't that free. ...... But, with such a puppet-like body, I want to believe that even talking right now is such a wonderful thing."
...... That's right.
More than thinking about my body, I want to treasure the present.
If I have time to worry about dying, I should be enjoying the present more.
Music: Play Track 7
Her smile that I should be so used to seeing.
But it seems like it's the first time,
the first time I've ever seen her smile.
...... Time just passes by.
She lightly runs her fingers through my hair.
I feel the warmth of her body from her legs.
The nostalgic smell of the tatami mats.
It's all so comforting, my eyelids slowly start to close.
...... She has such a gentle look on her face.
If I can sleep like this, it would be---
"...... That's funny---"
Really, like this.
"...... I feel like, this is the first time, I've seen you smile, Kohaku-san."
I feel like I'm falling asleep.
"Is that right? Shiki-san, you must be really sleepy."
This is actually kind of cute
My fingers touch her.
My fingers trace the lines of her face.
They brush her smooth skin, and reach her hair, then---
"---Kohaku, you came here ahead of me?"
Vigorously opening the screen door, Akiha enters the room.
"----What are you two doing?"
Akiha's emotionless voice.
"Wha- ...with that... kimono-wearing... hussy?"
"A, Akiha......!? This, it's not what you think......!"
I stand up in a hurry. I'll just tell her to calm down.
There's nothing wrong, or anything suspicious.
We haven't done anything, and all Kohaku-san did was watch over me after I collapsed.
"Wait, Akiha. I just collapsed, so Kohaku-san was---"
It's over before I can finish.
Akiha stares at Kohaku-san and enters.
It's only a moment after.
Slap! The dry sound echoes through the room.
There wasn't even time to stop it.
Akiha just walked in and slapped her.
Kohaku-san takes a few steps back. It must've been pretty hard.
"Just for that? She was just taking care of me!"
"---Just that? What do you mean, Nii-san?
It would not be surprising if this place collapses. An earthquake could cause the ceiling to collapse. To take care of the eldest son of the Tohno household in such a place means she doesn't have the discretion proper for a servant."
"What does that kimono-wearing hussy have that I don't, huh!?"
"----I understand. If you say that, then I will not say anything else.
But, Nii-san. From now on, please do not come here. If you can not even do that, then I have some ideas, too."
"They involve quite a bit of leather. You know what this means, do you not?"
oh god, the image of dominatrix Akiha does not leave my head! What madness have I wrought!?
---It must have been an illusion. There isn't anything strange around her.
But why? The danger I feel from her makes me uneasy.
"We're going back, Kohaku. Nii-san, go back to your room."
...... Akiha walks away.
...... I call out to Kohaku-san, who is still looking down.
That's way creepier than it should be
"...... Um, well, that---"
"Well then, Shiki-san. Let's go back. Akiha-sama found out, so you shouldn't come back here again.
Akiha-sama would really punish you for sure."
"Ahaha," laughing at her own joke, she leaves the room.
It's probably because both of them are acting strange.
I can't go back right away.
Music: Play Track 1
She's cheery because she's slipping you drugs
"...... I wonder if Kohaku-san is feeling uneasy."
It would seem that Kohaku-san doesn't resent Akiha at all.
It seems like Hisui is over what happened this morning and is taking care of me.
...... Hisui took half a day to get over it, so maybe Kohaku-san is a lot stronger.
Lying down on my bed, I let out a big sigh.
...... I must be tired.
Recently, as soon as night falls, I've been falling into bed.
Even though there are a lot of things I should think about, I feel like nothing concerns me and try to go to sleep.
"...... That's odd. I can't concentrate----"
I stare at the ceiling.
My eyes start to close.
Again, I don't think about anything and fall into a deep sleep----
----My skin is burning.
----I can't sleep like this.
I have get up and drink some water.
Music: Play Track 4
The city at night.
Repeating my hot breathing, I look at the people passing by.
There are only two or three of them tonight.
If possible, I want to find a lone girl who is about my age.
Perhaps the 'hot' should have gone somewhere that was NOT right after talking about "a lone girl who is about my age." Though I guess that is kinda hot.
I see my reflection in the mirror.
Breathing wildly, it looks like I'm running a high fever.
---Hot--I can't stand this burning.
"I'm actually starting to feel better now, but it would be pretty stupid to go to the trouble of abducting this woman without killing her and drinking her blood."
My breathing fills the air.
Soon I can taste her.
---It is unbelievably sweet.
The sensation is really terrifying.
If it is this sweet and feels this good,
I may just become a captive to this sensation, in place of that killer.
---The night is deep. Above my head is the silver eye bearing witness to my sin.
With blood-smeared lips, I look up at the night sky with eyes full of amusement.
Above is the spiraling sky.
What a beautiful, silver moon.
---Like a snake. Watching the blood-sucking demon.
I love chapter breaks. They do all of the work of the cliffhanging for me.