Chapter 19 - The Setup
Trigger Warning: Blood, Vomit, Mind Break, Detailed Injuries
"I found you, Daddy!", the little girl exclaimed in all her excitement. The playground around her was empty, as rarely any children from the neighborhood played here. Most of those who used to play with her in the past had either moved away or got older and started going to school.
Her father emerged from his hiding place, a street lamp, and appeared disappointed as she triumphantly raised her fist in the air.
"How did you find me?", her father grumbled. She laughed.
"Because you're so fat, Daddy."
"I'm not.", he defended himself.
"Yes, you are.", she replied, laughing even more. He smiled at the sight of her.
"Well then, if I'm so fat, how come I can do this...", he said, attempting to catch her with his hands, but Natsume quickly reacted and escaped his grasp.
"Nooo!", she shouted and laughed. She did get a bit startled for a moment when his hands lifted her up and she couldn't feel the ground beneath her feet, struggling wildly.
"Whoa, Natsume... calm down. It's just me.", he said playfully. He put her back down on the ground.
"Good grief, I only took my eyes off you for a moment and you two are up to something again.", they heard someone say behind them. A woman with short dark brown hair and a thin jacket approached them.
"Mommy, we're playing hide-and-seek. Do you want to play with us?", the little girl asked. The mother laughed, then knelt down next to her.
"I would love to, Natsume, but I have something to do."
"I have to go home and write a very important message."
"What kind of message?"
"Your mother is writing this message, because she'll be going to work soon, you know?"
"Mama is going to work?"
The mother affectionately stroked her hair.
"I put a lot of effort into getting this job."
"I will be working as a nurse in the future. I'll have to help many people, including the doctor."
"Wow...", she marveled, looking at her father.
He laughed, as if he knew what she was thinking.
"I'm sorry, but we won't see each other at work. Your mom will be working somewhere else."
"That's okay. I just want both of you to be happy.", she said, giggling.
They looked at each other in surprise, then laughed wholeheartedly. Natsume watched them and joined in their laughter.
"Well then, let's go home. It's getting late.", he remarked, lifting little Natsume onto his shoulder. He turned to his wife, who was getting up from the ground, brushing the dirt off her shoes.
"Are you okay? What's the diagnosis?", he asked. She looked down. The father's expression worsened.
"Not great.", she murmured.
"What did he say?"
"It's not as bad as initially suspected, but..."
"That doesn't mean I should take it lightly."
"I know, I know. I'm sorry for asking."
"It's okay.", she said, taking his hand.
"Mom, look, the clouds are getting really dark.", Natsume said, pointing her finger at the sky.
"You're right. We better hurry.", her father replied.
Together, they left the playground and headed home. Meanwhile, Natsume gazed at the white sky overshadowed by gray clouds.
"Get out of here!"
Fresh blood splattered on the ground. She opened her eyes and saw a stranger in front of her, who had opened the closet door. The man was visibly surprised to find someone else in the mansion. Behind him, she could see the kitchen where she had been hiding. The kitchen door was open, giving her a clear view of the entrance. Sounds were coming from outside, perhaps from a brutal fistfight.
"A child?", the man wondered, pointing his gun at her.
She wanted to scream, but the man covered her mouth. With a frightened look, she stared into the man's serious eyes. He had a scar on his right eye.
"What the...?", he whispered.
The man gulped as he saw her frightened eyes. He, too, seemed scared, hesitating for a long time as if he was struggling within himself before he put the gun down, pressed his index finger to his trembling lips, and answered her with a "Shhhh..." possibly trying to calm her down.
He closed the closet door. Gunshots rang out from outside. Trembling with fear, Natsume covered her mouth to stifle her scream. Who were these people? Did her dad know them from somewhere? Regardless, they certainly weren't kind-hearted.
A faint beeping noise started, piercing her eardrums and drowning out everything else. She instinctively covered her ears, trying to block it out, but the beeping persisted and grew louder in her mind. Natsume stared at the closed closet door in front of her, filled with fear.
Thoughts flooded her mind. Many of them were memories from her past, some wishing for all of this to stop, and the rest wondering what would happen next. She almost felt like she was losing her sanity.
Then everything began to fade before her very eyes. Everything turned white. White, like... like snow...
(Your father will be happy if you come and play with him.)
Where were these voices coming from? Was she hallucinating? Had she completely lost her mind? It was pleasantly warm. She leaned forward and stretched out her arm. Before her, the black outline of a door appeared. The desperation she felt left her with no other choice.
(Your Mother is feeling better now, believe me.)
All she had to do was open it. Natsume smiled. Just a little bit more. She could already see the light on the other side.
(Don't be afraid.)
No fear? The warmth gave her hope that everything would finally be over. That it had all been just a nightmare. Yes, just a nightmare.
"Don't do it!", someone screamed.
His lips moved slowly, as if in slow motion, savoring the anticipation of the next action he was about to take. Just as she opened the door and peered through the kitchen door towards the entrance, she stared directly at the lifeless body of the person she knew all too well.
She recognized the blood dripping from his gunshot-ridden skull. His face looked battered, as if multiple people had beat him up all at once. His clothes were torn, and his eyes had long lost their color. It was a horrifying sight...
She looked into his lifeless eyes as the man, with trembling hands, aimed his gun at the crying girl.
"I told you to stop...!", he shouted toward the entrance, but no one answered him.
"CUT IT OUT, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!", he screamed again. His hands trembled more and more. The beeping grew louder.
Desperately, she looked down at the ground. No, this must be a dream. The gates were open, and yet...
Then Natsume began to laugh. That was her first thought after seeing her father's lifeless body. Despite the lingering cold, it was surprisingly warm.
"What a great story, Daddy...", she replied in a daze.
"What the hell?", the man muttered, lowering his gun. His face now showed nothing but pure fear and terror. He had never experienced anything like this before. He staggered back a few steps. The girl turned toward him and stared.
She didn't know what she should feel. Hate? What was that? Sadness? What could it possibly be? Pain? What were these new emotions?
"Even in dire situations, you should rather laugh in the face of danger. Then, the Fear will dissipate faster than you think."
Her mother's words came back to her.
She knew how to laugh. Maybe if she laughed loud enough, she could turn back time. Far back to her birthday party. That must be it.
She laughed as intensely as she could and crawled towards the man in front of her, who once again aimed the gun at her, ready to pull the trigger. Perhaps she didn't laugh enough for the evil stranger to disappear.
"Stay away from me!", the stranger shouted, pulling the trigger. The gun fired with a "BANG!" but narrowly missed its target. A graze. The girl began to scream in fear, clutching her right ear. She was getting closer.
(I'm fine, Daddy.)
Another shot. Again, a miss. The man held onto his right hand, trying to regain control over the trembling. More tears welled up in her eyes as she experienced multiple emotions simultaneously for the first time.
"LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU LITTLE SHIT!"
He looked desperately at the open kitchen door and ran away, fleeing from the house.
Natsume vomited on the floor. It was warm, viscous and smelled disgusting. Everything churned in her stomach, as if everything inside wanted to come out. Writhing in agony on the floor, foam formed in her mouth and oozed from her jaws. She could only make gagging sounds.
Then she felt herself scream. It was an unusually loud and gurgling scream of desperation, as if she had trained her vocal cords for this moment alone. She clutched her throat, as if she was trying to strangle herself. Piercing pain spread rapidly throughout her entire body. But the most excruciating pain she felt was in her brain. The torment had become almost unbearable, to the point where she could pass out at any moment.
(Come with us. He will show you the way.)
Those voices again. She stared once more through the open kitchen door at her father's lifeless body, then everything turned black and she let her head drop to the floor. Her vacant, empty eyes could only gaze into the gaping void.
When Natsume regained consciousness, she coughed and panted intensely. She was shivering heavily and the time she spent on the cold kitchen floor triggered a series of sneezes that followed soon after.
Natsume looked around. Unwashed dishes and cups piled up in the sink, and occasionally, there was a faint dripping sound from the faucet. The nearly frozen windows were shut, allowing a small ray of sunlight to descend upon her. The lights in the entire house were turned off. She tried to get up, but her right arm, on which she had been lying the whole time, had fallen asleep.
After shaking her arm, she regained control over her nerves and muscles, allowing her to pull herself up from the floor. With effort, she managed to force herself to stand, until she realized she was standing on something wet and cold, which seemed familiar.
Startled, she recoiled as the cold lunch she ate before soaked her sock and quickly crawled a few meters backward until she hit her head against the kitchen cabinet. Rubbing her head, she noticed a light on the floor, seemingly coming from the window. A glance at the source was enough for her to know that a new day had already dawned, and the rays of the morning sun tinted the window in a soft red hue.
Suddenly, she paused for a moment. Red? Blood red? Daddy! She wiped her mouth and lifted her head towards the kitchen door, hoping that her Daddy would call out to her because she had run away and left him behind. He would play with her, that's what the voice told her, right? Yes, it was all just a nightmare. Daddy would step out through the door any moment now and reveal himself to her, embracing her, crying with her and she could show him how scared she was. It was all just a wicked nightma...
His empty eyes and the gaping head wound were evidence enough. But she still didn't want to believe it. Natsume wouldn't give up.
There she stood, right in front of him, fearfully looking into his lifeless face. Leaning against the wall, his lifeless body lay on the floor as she knelt down and stared at his wound.
And where was Mommy? Did she suffer the same fate?
No response. She approached her father and touched his heart. No pulse. He wasn't breathing either.
"No... not like this.", she whispered.
She screamed again and shook him as hard as she could. His lifeless body swayed back and forth like a puppet without strings. Was it those men who did this to him? But why? Why him? Why Mom? Why did she run away? Why?
It was all her fault, wasn't it? But what else could she have done? Alone, she had no chance against those men. Why had her fate betrayed her like this?
Who were they? Why did the man spare her? Why was he afraid of her? Could her laughter really drive him away? If so, why didn't it work with Daddy? Or Mommy...
Wailing sobs spread through the entrance hall, carried away by the echo.
Startled, she turned abruptly as she heard footsteps behind her, revealing a woman standing before her.
Long white hair. Sunglasses. Black winter hat and jacket. Despite her mourning attire, there was something special in her eyes. The unknown woman approached her and Natsume felt herself growing drowsy slowly. She wanted to stay awake, but her hands were warm and inviting. As if she had come here just for her. Was she here to help her? Or was she just…
The woman knelt down beside her, took off her glasses and examined her face up close. The first distinctive feature Natsume could recognize about her were her different eye colors. Then she placed her hands on Natsume's cheeks and smiled. It was cold and warm at the same time. Natsume could only look at her with sleepy eyes before her eyes closed for a long time...
Room 243, that was it. Alright then. Fumiyoka took a deep breath and calmed himself. A lot had happened in this long night. He glanced at the wall clock.
"7:36 in the morning, and I still haven't closed my eyes.", he muttered to himself, rubbing his eyes. Then he cautiously opened the door to her hospital room.
A cold breeze hit his face as he entered and saw her lying in the hospital bed. Her broken leg was already supported by a cast and held up by a hanging sheet. She had been staring out the window the whole time until she noticed someone had entered and turned towards the visitor. There was no change in her expression.
"Anya...?", Fumiyoka said, but she didn't respond.
"I... I'm sorry. I couldn't be there in time to help you.", he added with a heavy heart.
"Don't talk nonsense, I already know that.", she murmured and sighed.
"How are you?", he asked, sitting down beside her bed.
"Fine, I wanted to rest for a while."
He looked down, feeling disgruntled.
"Thank you.", she said and took his hand.
"I have to thank all of you for rescuing me from the burning estate, you, Ran and Conan."
"Oh, come on. They did most of it."
"No, that's not what I meant."
Fumiyoka fell silent.
"It doesn't mean you did nothing. When you saw us, you immediately ran to me. I saw the fear in your eyes, Fumiyoka. I know you cared about me. That's why... спасибо (eng: thank you).", she said.
("It's called apologizing.")
Fumiyoka tensed up, clenching his hands into fists. How should he respond to that?
("It may not seem like much considering what you've done, but even a simple apology can heal wounds when it comes from the heart.")
Was that really the best decision? To apologize? Or...
The tension eased.
"You're welcome.", he replied and smiled. Anya's expression suddenly changed. That was what she had been searching for in him for a long time.
"Anya? Are you okay?"
"Well... You're blushing."
She only noticed that now... She shook her head.
"You're just imagining things, I'm fine."
"S... sure.", he said, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly.
"But what's more important to me is how you're doing. Are you okay?", she asked.
"I'm fine... I was just worried about you, nothing more. The case with the threatening letter was solved thanks to Mr. Mori, but now our entire estate has fallen victim to the fire."
"I already know that. It must be a heavy loss for you."
"Well... no, not really. The estate itself isn't important to me, even though my father built it. I'd rather have the people close to us be safe."
"Does that mean..."
Anya noticed his face turning red.
"I-I-I mean, of course, that includes all the staff, including you, if you understand.", he muttered, waving his hands wildly.
She smiled faintly. The door to the room opened, and a nurse entered.
"Mrs. Kirishkova? Your daily inspection will be conducted in an hour.", she announced.
"Alright, thank you.", Anya replied.
"Are you leaving now?", she asked after a while, during which they both spent looking out the window.
"Yeah, I'm sorry to leave you like this. I have something important to take care of.", he said, getting up to straighten his disheveled jacket. But before he could open the room door, he heard her ask something.
"What do you mean?"
Fumiyoka paused, as if contemplating the decisions he had to make now.
"It's something personal, I hope you understand. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you that now.", he said.
"See you, Anya."
No response. He sighed and left the hospital room. His friendly face suddenly turned angry. Five minutes passed as he stood still, contemplating his next actions.
"I knew it.", he muttered to himself angrily and energeticly walked down the hallway.
The time had come for him to confront Natsume.
"Conan!", Ayumi called out in relief as he opened the door to Professor Agasa's laboratory and sat down on the couch without responding. He seemed deep in thought.
Ai watched him keenly. Ayumi, however, was the first to reach him.
"Something's not right.", he said.
"What's going on?", Ai asked, joining them eventually.
Conan told them what had happened while he was at the Ichigo estate. He tried to be as open as possible, although he wasn't sure if he should involve Ayumi in this.
"Another serial murder?", Ai asked when he finished.
"Very likely.", he muttered, leaning back.
"How could the soccer ball pass through a person? I mean, I clearly saw the ball pass through the woman as if she didn't exist."
"Do you mean something like a mirage?", she suggested, leaving Ayumi confused.
"A mirage is a phenomenon that often occurs, for example, in the desert, meaning it's an illusion.", Conan explained.
"But there are no deserts in Beika."
"Exactly.", Ai replied.
"But the staff member had something with her.", he responded.
"A small device that played a specific sound."
"A sound?", Ayumi repeated.
"I wasn't sure what it was for, but one by one, the staff members testified that they heard that beeping sound. It lured them outside to be evacuated before the explosion. However, it's just my speculation, so we shouldn't jump to conclusions."
"A lure.", Ai murmured thoughtfully, then continued.
"How many fingers did the victim hold up?"
"Two, from what I heard.", Conan answered.
"The man who was previously murdered on the seventh floor had three fingers held up."
"I don't think it's a countdown.", he said, following her train of thought.
"Right, one of the policemen mentioned that there have been murders with one or more fingers held up."
"That means the fingers correspond to the respective serial mur—"
"Yes?", he replied, turning to Ayumi.
"Is Ran feeling better now?", she asked with concern, and Conan hesitated.
"No, unfortunately we had to take her to the hospital.", he reluctantly revealed.
"Oh, I see."
"While you were away, I conducted a examination on Ayumi, and the results of my investigation are now ready.", Ai announced.
"What?", Conan responded, surprised.
"And what do the results say?", Ayumi asked.
"Both of you remember the moment when Conan mistook the medicine for the antidote."
"Yes.", they both agreed.
"Normally, Ayumi shouldn't be able to age at all after taking it."
"What?", they exclaimed in astonishment. Shortly after, a dull thud came from inside the laboratory followed by a damped "Ouch!"
"That must be the Professor.", Ayumi said, getting up to check on him. Ai took the opportunity to approach Conan.
"Her transformation doesn't have much to do with the antidote. Something else was involved, I'm sure of it.", she said.
"You mean the antidote wasn't the only thing that put her in that state?"
"The reason why it wouldn't have been possible for her is because she didn't take the actual drug, in this case, the APTX that I developed. And since nothing could be negated in her bloodstream and cell structure, there was no effect from the antidote."
"Then how was she able to bypass that rule?", Conan asked, thoughtful and amazed at the same time.
"I don't know. But I did find something out about it."
"Spit it out."
"When I took her blood sample and examined it under the microscope, I came across an anomaly that I've never encountered before."
"Now tell me."
"I can't exactly put it into words. Her blood cells started… they started vibrating."
"What do you mean?"
"I placed one of her blood samples on the table after the test and went upstairs to help Ayumi with her homework. When I came back 30 minutes later, the entire contents of the glass were on the floor. Out of pure curiosity, I tried to touch the blood, but it seemed as if the blood particles wanted to move away from me."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Especially coming from you."
"Says the one who just talked about a woman letting a soccer ball pass through her. Really, Kudo.", she replied, crossing her arms in annoyance.
"What I suspected was that the blood seemed to flow somewhere. Initially, I thought the same as you, but when I blocked the path from the other side with my hand, it suddenly changed direction and flowed in the opposite direction without any external influence."
"T-That...", he could only say. He couldn't think of anything else to add.
"I don't understand it any more than you do, Shinichi.", she said, shaking her head and sitting on the sofa across from him.
"Does Ayumi know about this?", Conan asked.
"No, she wouldn't understand it anyway."
Ai looked towards the opening door as Ayumi and the still sleepy Professor entered the living room.
"And I don't want to scare her with it.", she continued, getting up from the sofa.
Conan watched her thoughtfully as she joined the two and went into the kitchen.
What strange events had been happening recently? Why had he heard Ayumi's voice in the burning mansion? What happened to Ran in front of the entrance and how did Mrs. Ogari dodge the soccer ball without moving? He had hit her right in the stomach, hadn't he?
What was Natsume up to? Who was the person who attacked Ayumi and killed Mr. Kanabe? Many things clearly didn't add up. It seemed that only time and patience could provide him with the answers. Conan felt himself growing tired as his eyelids became heavier. It was understandable since he had only slept for a few hours the previous night. In the end, he gave up on pondering over these questions and soon fell asleep on the sofa.
– Chapter 19 END –
Authors Note: I'm so happy to be finally done with translating this Arc. From now on I'll be concentrating myself on uploading and writing the story in my language. Still, I don't want to leave you in the dark and give an update on my progress. I have finished Chapter 22 and am currently almost halfway done with Chapter 23, that's all. Now to the dark side of this chapter:
I warned you. This chapter is not for everyone. I've been a horror fan for a very long time and writing something dark and fast paced has always been on my mind since the very beginning of this FanFic. Initially, I've been getting inspiration a lot from reading and watching Berserk (and yes, the character Hive is directly inspired by Guts), Re:Zero (that one part in Chapter 14 was directly taken from the killer rabbits in Season 2), Chainsaw Man (hilarious dialogues with dark undertones, really a lot of dark humor) and finally, Higurashi and Baki (Bodily Reactions to/and Injuries mainly for this Chapter) with a lot more to come soon.
Should I keep the dark setting or was this chapter already enough? Let me know!
I'd be glad if someone could just give me more ideas for murder cases, because I'm really having a hard time with coming up with new and original ideas for them. Please message me on Twitter "LayverP" and I'll take your ideas to heart.
Since the Original FanFiction has been written in German, most of the dialogue might lose on quality over the course of this chapter and unfortunately I haven't found a way to fix it. Please note, that I'm not a native speaker yet still try my best to give you the best translation possible.
Still, I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I did writing it. Thank you a lot for reading!