Part 140: The Visitor Who Came Late
BGM: Dead Angle
Ange flew out of the guesthouse, sobbing. Is there anyone still alive on this island? When she checked the cousins' room earlier, it had been completely empty. However, she remembered that she hadn't seen Battler, George, or Maria's bodies. What she didn't know was whether this meant they were safe... or whether she was about to be reunited with them as corpses.
She dashed around through the rain. Where was she going? Nowhere in particular. The lost little sister dashed around in circles, searching for her brother. Drenched with rain and all alone...
...Eventually, I thought I heard my brother's voice from beyond a bush. No, it wasn't just his voice. I heard George onii-chan's and Maria onee-chan's voices too. I called out at the top of my lungs, but they didn't answer. But it's okay now. They're right there. Just on the other side of the fence. I could even faintly see them through the fence.
When I ran around the fence, I found myself standing in front of a shed or something. It must be a shed to store tools for the rose garden. The three of them were standing in front of the shed.
I cried out, but my voice didn't reach them. Even though I yelled so loudly? Something felt very wrong about all this. When people hear a voice, even when they pretend not to have heard it, their bodies tend to show some sign that they've noticed. However, there was no trace of that in the three of them. Even though I was screaming so loud, it truly wasn't reaching their ears.
The instant I understood that, my dash towards them slowed and came to a halt. Though we appeared to be in the same world, we were actually in different worlds entirely. It was like a TV. Or was it more like ghosts...? I could see them clearly, but as far as they were concerned, I didn't exist. After all, look. Even if I stand right in front of them, their eyes can't see me.
If I try and touch them, will I really be able to? What if my hand just went right through... I was so scared at the thought... that I could do nothing but stand there in shock, even though I was so close to them...
"...No matter how much we lock ourselves in, someone always gets killed. Uu-! It's the work of a witch after all!"
"Everyone, calm down...! Let's calm down and think. No one exists on this island except those with a direct relation to the Ushiromiya family."
"That doesn't make sense...! After all, we've just seen several murders that'd be impossible for any one of us!"
"...Well, that's true... But is it really? Maybe we've just missed something."
"But Aniki, that's impossible! Every one of the corpses was checked by someone! There's no way any of them were faking!"
"I don't want to think about it, but what if those corpse inspections... were also faked?"
"Let's put it this way. There were multiple culprits from the start. Then, one plays dead, and the other lies and confirms that the first culprit died. Then, the culprit who played dead keeps on committing crimes, creating the illusion that some stranger has snuck onto the island...!"
"Do you... still suspect someone in the Ushiromiya family of being the culprit?!"
"...Doctor Nanjo was killed. Since he was killed, it's probably safe to say that he isn't a culprit. And, we can consider the examinations performed by a doctor like him to be the most reliable."
If so, then we can probably assume that the people whose death Nanjo checked were almost certainly dead. Who did Nanjo check? Genji's corpse. Krauss and Natsuhi's corpses. Shannon's corpse. Gohda and Kumasawa's corpses.
"...But didn't the rest of us check the others?"
"Yes, but Doctor Nanjo didn't actually inspect them himself."
"What are you talking about?! How the hell could our parents have survived after being killed like that?! Anyway, what do you think you're saying, George-aniki?! Wouldn't that mean one of our parents is the culprit?! That's insane!! They were killed right at the beginning, and so many of them...! How can you go calling our parents culprits on top of that?! I won't let anyone, not even you, suspect and slander our parents after they've been killed like that...!!"
"...I know my Mama was really dead. So, does that mean George onii-chan's parents or Battler's parents were the culprits?"
"Let's stop with that, Maria-chan... I must have lost it a bit back there..."
"George onii-chan wouldn't kill Shannon."
"That's enough...! None of us would kill our family, right?!!"
"So, I don't think George onii-chan would lie and say his parents were dead, not if they were really alive. There's no way George onii-chan would help out in a crime if Shannon was going to be killed."
Calmly, as though answering a quiz or a riddle, Maria spoke to George. Then, with a blank look on her face, she turned to Battler and spoke.
"...Battler, you saw your Dad's and Mom's corpses, right?"
"Yeah, I saw them!! We all saw them right?! Those pitiful, blood-stained...!!"
"Huh?! Where the hell did that come from?!!"
"Because that way, it all makes sense. Back in the dining hall, Battler's parents weren't dead. One of them killed Aunt Natsuhi and Uncle Krauss, locked the door from the inside, and waited in that room. The other one took over the murders after that. To break open the closed room of the guesthouse, they needed to have an accomplice inside. That was Battler. That explains everything."
"S, stop it, Battler-kun...! You too, Maria-chan...!"
"Finally, all the pieces fit together in the Wolves and Sheep puzzle in my head. The culprits are Battler's family. Uu-. Am I right?"
"Wh, what are you talking abooooooooout?!!!"
The voice came from behind Ange. She spun around, surprised. There, covered in blood, yet wearing cheery expressions, were Rudolf and Kyrie.
"Uncle Rudolf, Aunt Kyrie, I, I'm so glad you're sa-"
After saying that much, George realized what the words meant, and his face twisted into an expression of shock and horror. Maria wasn't surprised. However, she showed no joy at having her answer proved correct. And Battler...
...Ange... saw it. That terrible expression... one that she would never forget as long as she lived.
BGM: Patchwork Chimera
A hideous demon that she'd never be able to look at again twisted its face in a foul grin, and the truly horrible thing was... That she saw it... on her brother's face...
Rudolf and Kyrie lifted up the guns they had been holding behind them. The barrels were pointed at the foreheads of George, who was staggering backwards, and Maria, who was grinning as though she didn't care what happened. There was a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder. Nothing more could be heard. Then, as George and Maria were snapped around by that roar, the strings holding them were snipped. The two dolls fell into puddles with a splash... and stopped moving...
"...D, Dad... Mom..."
All of this occurred right before Ange's eyes...
Ange, who stood stunned beside them, wasn't visible to their eyes. They guffawed, overcome with laughter. Then, right in front of Ange, they started joking and complimenting each other on their kills so far. The three hideous faces... the faces of her family... made Ange want to cry and vomit at the same time, and she felt as though she would suffocate. Ange dashed away, covering her mouth. She wanted to escape the disgusting laughter coming from her beloved family as soon as possible.
Then, she slipped and fell face-down in a puddle of mud. Ange didn't try to get up. In fact, she instead chose to cover her ears to block out the disgusting laughter that she could still hear.
As she did, from the shadows of the fences and bushes in this inky-black rose garden... several dark things slipped into sight.
Ange looked around herself in surprise... to see that eerie black shapes had appeared from all over the garden... and were slowly surrounding her.
Their outfits were all different. Some wore suits, while others were dressed casually. However, all of them were covered with darkness, and all of them had goat heads. Ange, bewildered, accidentally let her hands fall from her ears. By now, she couldn't hear that disgusting laughter. However, in their place, she could hear the words spoken by the goats.
"Battler is the culprit... Battler is the culprit..."
"...Battler culprit theory. Battler's family culprit theory..."
As the goats continued to mumble in eerie voices, they surrounded Ange and began to draw nearer. They all pressed around her, each of them speaking of Ange's family as the culprits...
At first, everyone had joined in on the Eva culprit theory. The sole survivor from Rokkenjima had gotten almost all of the wealth to herself, so the theory was only natural. Why was Ushiromiya Eva the only one who escaped to Kuwadorian? And why did she refuse so stubbornly to talk about what happened that day? It was decided that the Eva culprit theory explained all of this.
This was... the 'Rudolf's family culprit theory'.
If it was normal for everyone to come to the family conferences, why was Ange the only one who didn't come this time? Did Rudolf's family have some reason for not bringing the young Ange with them? They did take Battler, but he wasn't Kyrie's son. Then, when it was revealed in some magazines that Kyrie's family had close ties to a massive gangster organization, all eyes suddenly gathered on Kyrie herself.
Then, the truth was also laid bare about how Rudolf had made a killing out of fraudulent business practices, and almost immediately, the couple became thought of as the most suspicious people on the island. Hideyoshi and Eva's company might have been rough, but at least it had operated within the law. However, the more Rudolf's company was investigated, the more dirt was dug up. Furthermore, trouble surrounding some party tickets from the time Rudolf and Kyrie were students was also testified to, and it was clear that they were far more suspicious than Eva's family. And so, in a flash, the 'Rudolf's family culprit theory' expelled the other conspiracy theories, including the Eva culprit theory, and reigned as the greatest of them all.
...It wasn't really because it was more plausible than the Eva culprit theory. They had just gotten bored of the old theory and wanted a new sensation...
The goats seemed to bend and undulate. The sky rapidly turned white, becoming a ceiling lit by fluorescent lamps. The goats had changed completely, becoming the shapes of girls... wearing goat masks. All of the girls were wearing the same clothes. It was a uniform. The uniform of Saint Lucia Academy.
"Oh, I heard that! Yeah, I knew there was something suspicious about them leaving their kid behind!"
"Didn't Ushiromiya Eva say herself that she was poisoned to death?! Isn't it obvious who was behind that?!"
"Must be nice for her. She gets her whole family's riches all to herself, right?"
"I always knew the 'Rudolf's family culprit theory' was right!"
"Hey, don't you think there's something strange about Ushiromiya-san?"
"Rudolf and Kyrie are culprits."
"Isn't Battler a culprit too?"
"Rudolf's family culprit theory!"
"They tried to get the family wealth all to themselves, but Eva killed them back and they failed-"
"But in the end, Ushiromiya Ange gets everything anyway, doesn't she?"
"Rudolf and Kyrie are the culprits, of course!"
"Rudolf's family culprit theory!"
"Rudolf and Kyrie and Battler are the culprits!"
"Rudolf and Kyrie and Battler are the culprits!!"
"They're saying your family were the culprits, Ushiromiya-san!"
"What do you think of that? Hey, what do you think?!"
"But in the end, you get all the family wealth to yourself, don't you?!"
"Even at the end, Ushiromiya Eva never told you anything, right?!"
"I always knew there was something wrong with that girl!"
"This also explains why Eva hated you so much!"
"Hey, hey, say something, tell us what you think!"
"She really is a creepy kid, isn't she?"
"At least say something about what you think of this theory, creep!!"
In a flash, the illusion of girl students with goat heads that surrounded me shattered.
I was curled up in a puddle in the rainy rose garden, surrounded by goats. But then, those goats were also sliced in half, and the upper halves slid to the side. It was like seeing a master swordsman slicing through a stick of bamboo.
The voice came from... that black cat. The black cat with the bell that had guided me here. Incredible that it can talk... But that doesn't matter now. I dashed after it. The goats shrank back. A hole opened up in the encirclement. The black cat dashed through it.
As I hurried through it, the goats began to chase after me. Countless heavy footsteps thundered behind us.
"Wh, where are we running to, Mr. Cat...?!"
The cat ignored my stupid question. Where are we running to? It's obvious. As far away as we can make it. However, there was an unbelievable number of goats. It wasn't just the group chasing us. There were probably goats hiding throughout the rose garden, and everywhere we went, a group of them would appear and block our path. Each time we bumped into them, we ran down a different path in this maze of a rose garden. So, I didn't even know which direction we were running in anymore. It couldn't be... We aren't running around in circles inside a massive crowd of goats, are we...?
When we ran into the arbor once more, I learned that my fears were justified. The four paths that led from the arbor were all blocked by a crowd of goats. Of course, the path we had come down was also blocked by our pursuers. There was nowhere to go to, nowhere to return to. We were finally... trapped...
The black cat glared at the goats that surrounded us, standing on guard. It's... all over for us... At that moment, I found myself floating in the air. A massive arm, large enough to crush my entire head, had grabbed my collar from behind. Before I could even think to cry out, I saw, right in front of my face, a pair of strangely glowing red eyes, and a massive mouth with jagged teeth and a foul breath. The mouth... opened wide... and, as though it was a separate creature, a bizarre tongue stuck itself out. Then, it spat words at me.
"Then, one of the parents carried out the murders until the second twilight and hid under the bed in Natsuhi's room. Battler killed Shannon, and then assisted in the murders in the guesthouse."
"...The other parent carried out the guesthouse murders... This is... the truth..."
Then, that gaping, smelly mouth... slowly began to close over Ange's head...
BGM: The Executioner
A blue flash... sliced off the top of the mouth that was trying to eat Ange's head, sending it flying. I fell into a puddle, along with the goat that was still grasping my collar, though there was nothing left of it above its chin. Without any hesitation, the goats stretched out their thick arms, as though this was their chance to snatch this prey for themselves... and they rushed towards me. All of them spoke in unison.
"Everything except the Rudolf's family culprit theory is impossibllle... Absolutely impossibllle...!!"
A red flash and a blue line became blades of wind that passed over my head, doubly slicing the arms of a goat that tried to pick me up. I think the next goats dashed, not towards me, but towards the black cat that was protecting me from behind. As I sat on my butt, staring up at the rainy night's sky, the massive goats were in the air right above me, fighting the black cat... or someone.
"George's family culprit theory is impossiiible! George can't kill Shannnnnnon!! So he can't be a culprit, and he can't faaaake when checking corpses!!!"
The deep-red curves cut by the swings bit into the goat. Its massive body was knocked into the air... became a bunch of about seven logs of flesh, and was thrown into the rose bushes. This time, the terrible force of the attack shocked the goats. They faltered, shook, stepped back.
...Finally, I understood. That red slice. It had come from a weapon that could draw red slashes... no, it also drew blue slashes just a second ago. A massive scythe that could speak both types of truth, red and blue, at will. I looked up at the sky, then let my head hang down backwards.
There was no black cat there. It was a girl... holding a large scythe...