Part 14: The Six Chosen by the Key II
Video: The Storehouse
Volume warning. Marina Inoue has some serious lungs.
BGM: Golden Slaughterer
"George, take everyone and return to the mansion!!! Quickly!! Right now!!"
When Natsuhi had spread her arms, I had thought that she was trying to prevent us from advancing any further. However, right now, that wasn't why Eva was spreading her arms. She was trying to hide that terrible scene from the kids.
It was her mother's heart, trying to protect the eyes and hearts of us children by attempting to block our view of that terrible scene by at least the width of one of her arms!
"...Is this some kind of joke? Is it...?!"
I had seen this kind of cheap scene all too often.
"You mustn't, Jessica!! You mustn't go in!! You mustn't look!!!"
"Dad, Dad!! HyyaaaaaAAAAAAa!!!"
"...So what does that mean? Just killin' 'em wasn't enough, they went on to do somethin' like this!! The devil, this here's the work of the devil!!"
Aunt Natsuhi caught Jessica in her arms and aunt Eva caught George-aniki... so I was the only one who could approach the entrance to the storehouse. Aah... if only there had been someone there to catch me too, I wouldn't have needed to have this horrible, evil scene burned into my eyes...
...No, that's not it. It isn't that there's no one here to catch me... The people who should catch me, they're right there, aren't they!!
Just as Jessica had said, it did look like a storehouse used to keep gardening tools. A lawn mower with extra blades, a grass sickle and a hammer, a saw and some construction tools... Piled up potted plants and bags of fertilizer.
And treated just the same, the corpses of several people had been laid to rest there. No, had been thrown in there!
I didn't know whether it had been one of these gardening tools, which if used for something other than their intended purpose could definitely be wielded with a naked brutality, or whether some horrible tool had been brought in here specifically for this. Anyways, the bodies which had been tumbled into here, each of them had been given an atrocious makeup.
...It wasn't makeup, it was more like... their faces had been plowed...!
"...UwooooOOOOoooooooohh!!! Daaaaaaaaaaad!! I always thought you were going to hell?! But still, not like this, right? You weren't such a son of bitch that you should have to suffer so brutally!! And even Kyrie-san, didn't I tell you to stop going out with this guy... even you, there was no reason for even you to go through this, was there..."
...There's no face... there's no face... Damn it damn it damn it damn it, hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!"
"...Battler-san, you mustn't look any more... There's no way that your mother and father would want you to see them like this...! For your mother and your father's sakes, you mustn't look any more!!"
"Dead people are supposed to have faces that look like they're sleeping peacefully, right?! There's no face, my dad and Kyrie-san have no faces!! I don't even know what kind of faces they were wearing when they died!! What's wrong with me!! Will I have to see these faces, smashed up like they're monsters, every time I remember Dad and the rest?! That's just great, I don't even want to remember that old bastard's smug face, just great, just great!!"
"...Stop it, Battler-kun...! Just stop it...just stop it...!"
"Aniki, Aniki!! UoooOoooOOOooooooooo!!!"
Disregarding age and appearance, I fell to my knees, clinging to Aniki's waist and sobbing. It was as if I was crying on behalf of everyone there... Representing the feelings of everyone there, I screamed over and over...
"...No. There are six people. There's... one more person..."
The body that Hideyoshi was looking down on now was hidden in the shadow of a mountain of random objects, in a blind spot to George, who stood by the entrance. So George couldn't tell... whose body it was...
...Therefore, George cursed himself. He cursed himself for always imagining the worst...!
"...So, ...the one lying at Father's feet is, ...Sha, ...Shannon, isn't it...?"
BGM: Worldend (solo)
George was completely silent. He shook slightly, his lower lip trembling...
He wanted to run up to his beloved, screaming and crying. But, before rashly running up to her, he mustered up all of his strength, and asked his father.
"...Is Shannon also, ...the same as, ...uncle Krauss and the others?"
Hideyoshi deeply understood the meaning of those words. So he couldn't give George an answer. No, he thought that, to George right now, that was the only possible sincere and loving response. When George had asked whether she was the same, he had meant to ask whether her body was the same as the others.
...Since Hideyoshi hadn't denied it, it meant that the body was just as horrible.
"...Can I, ...look at Shannon...?"
"...No, you can't."
"...Why...? After all, I won't be able to see Shannon's face again, right...? So, why can't I see... her last face...?"
"...The last time you met Shannon-chan was yesterday?"
"I see...when you left her, what kind of face was she showin' you...?"
"...I see. .Then, Shannon-chan must also have wished to leave you with that smile."
...Hideyoshi looked down upon Shannon's body lying at his feet. Just like the other bodies, it was in such a horrible state that it would make anyone want to cover their eyes.
Without thinking, Hideyoshi slapped his hand over his eyes. How cruel... Even though it was smashed, if only all of it had been crushed, he might have been able to deceive George's heart for a while by saying that it was just someone else wearing Shannon's clothes. Even so, half of the face was left...! It caused the body so much humiliation, and also made it clear that this body wasn't someone other than Shannon! How inhuman, how unjust...
Trying his best to burn the image of the remaining half of Shannon's expression into his eyes, was Kanon. Kanon was not crying. Tears had risen to his eyes, but they did not drip down. But that didn't mean that he wasn't feeling as much sadness as everyone else. Losing Shannon, who had lived with him in the same orphanage, who he had loved as a sister, must have been just the same as losing a blood relative...
"...I understand. I understand, Father... I understand..."
George leaned against the outside wall of the storehouse, sinking down powerlessly.
"...Father. I have a request."
"...I want you to look for me. On Shannon's finger... is there a ring...?"
"...A ring...? ...Let me see..."
"...Yeah... there is. It's a diamond ring. With a valuable diamond. This would fetch a pretty good price..."
"And... which hand, which finger is it on?"
"...Hmm, the ring finger of her left hand. I see, was Shannon-chan... engaged...?"
"...George...You, it couldn't be-"
"Eva!! Right now that doesn't matter!! A man made a lifelong promise to Shannon-chan...! A man promised her happiness for life... Who could possibly be in the wrong here!?"
To most of the people there, Hideyoshi was simply disturbed by this extraordinary situation and was blurting out strange things. But, to those who knew the truth about George and Shannon's relationship, everything he said made sense.
"...I see. Thank you, father."
George stood up. The traces of tears still streaked his face, but his expression had returned to its usual calm...
"...Let's go. Battler-kun, Jessica-chan. If we stay here any longer, we'll get in the way of the adults."
"...Sniff. You're right..."
Jessica sniffled once, and showed her mother, who had been holding her the whole time, her face, trying to say that she was alright. When she faced George again, she once again had on her usual face... Although she still couldn't smile.
"...Battler...don't lose heart..."
Battler kept on crouching in front of his parents' bodies...
Battler's face was still bright red from the tears, but even if it was a bitter smile, he had at least recovered enough to fake a smile.
"...Kanon. You too mustn't remain here any longer. Take the children and return to the mansion."
Natsuhi, unable to take a step into the storehouse, had been standing under the rain the whole time. Maybe she had her own way of grieving, different from Battler's. She realized that she had to take on a sense of responsibility now that her husband was dead, so she gave Kanon those orders.
Kanon rose silently, and turned to face her. His face was pure white, almost as though his own heart had died along with Shannon, there was no life in his expression. On an ordinary day, if he had been told to guide the children through the rose garden, Kanon would have led the way and guided them. But now, there was no distinction between Kanon and the children. They were now just kids of about the same age... with the wounds of having lost someone close to them.
Natsuhi ordered Genji to see that the children returned.
When she heard that, Natsuhi remembered. That's right, the telephones were out today, weren't they...? However, since it had been assumed that there could be trouble with the phones on this isolated island, a radio had been installed.
...Anyways, let's contact the police and receive their instructions. Everything else can wait.
"...Doctor Nanjo. Is there anything you can do here anymore?"
"Unfortunately... I cannot do anything..."
"...Understood. Genji, could you at least cover their faces with something? Exposing them like this is humiliating to them as well..."
Genji picked up several dried up towels from inside the storehouse, when Eva stopped him in a shrill voice.
Natsuhi glared at Eva, offended. Objectively speaking, Eva was right. Even so, she glared at Eva as though accusing her of refusing to do those tragic corpses, which had been humiliated even after death, the simple kindness of covering their faces.
However, Eva had spoken both calmly and correctly. This horrible state was definitely not an accident. It was a crime. Someone had killed them. It was a murder case. In that case, they should be careful not to further disturb the site. They had to aid the police at least this much, so that they might hand over a clue that could be used to find the detestable culprit.
"...I agree with Eva-san. Until the police come, we should leave everything be..."
"...What do you say, Madam?"
"...You're right. Understood. Close it up... And, just in case, we should put a different lock on it."
"...A different lock?"
"...I am sure it will be worthwhile to submit it to the police as evidence, but Kanon-kun usually has it, and uses it to open this. It will probably also have Kanon's fingerprints on it. Also, that key was handed to Genji just now, and he took it with his bare hands. It doesn't look like it will be very useful as evidence."
"...That was careless of me. My apologies..."
"Genji-san. Are there other keys to this storehouse?"
"...No. Only this one."
"Which means that the culprit walked out of the servants' room with that key, and then conscientiously returned the key to where they found it, right...?"
The actual place where the six were killed wasn't necessarily here, but it was normal to think that they had been killed somewhere on this island, carried to this storehouse, and hidden to delay the discovery of the crime. But that graffiti drawn on the shutter that looked like an eerie magic circle had eloquently indicated that the corpses were hidden here. It didn't specifically say that they were here, but after six people had gone missing, by making such an obvious scribble and even returning the key to open it, it seemed almost as though someone had wanted the corpses to be discovered here.
"...Anyways, we can't trust only a lock that the culprit has opened once before. If we want to protect this place from the culprit's hand, I think we should put a new lock on."
"I think that is a good plan... I agree."
Genji fished around inside the storehouse, and unsealed a brand-new padlock which had been inside a small box.
"What should I do with the key...?"
"...I will take it. I will take responsibility and hand it over to the police."
Natsuhi took the key to the padlock from Genji's hand. After that, they all exited and lowered the shutter. Because of that, the corpses were once again sealed behind that shutter, covered with that gruesome magic circle.
Genji crouched down in front of the shutter to fasten the new padlock. In addition to the main lock on the shutter, there is sometimes a place where you can attach your own lock in front of it. This was one of those types.
In the midst of the roar of thunder and the pouring rain, the storehouse stood there, ominously... With its closed shutter still covered in a blood-like, creepy substance, it swallowed up the bodies of the six. To Natsuhi, putting the new lock on wasn't mainly to preserve the scene for the police, she might have felt like she wanted to shut that mouth for all eternity, to prevent the victims from being swallowed any more by that eerie demon...
"...Come on, let's go, everyone. Doctor Nanjo, thank you very much for your work. Genji, quickly, contact the police."
"I will contact them as soon as I return..."
The adults left the storehouse.