Episode 2 Purification during Teatime
“So you said that there were some chimimouryou1 following you.”
Kujou slowly said it again, as if he was making sure of her words.
The answer was a silent nod.
“Since a long time ago?”
“I don’t know, but by the time I realized, I had already been able to see them.”
“I see. Psychics with high ability to perceive spirits can perceive them very clearly. It is said that they don’t even recognize them as spirits. Maybe you were able to perceive them since a long time ago. ”
“Yeah, yeah,” Kujou showed his understanding.
“Then, being possessed by what kind of youkai2 makes you unfortunate?”
Relieved because of Kujou accepting of her hysteric words, Yumiko started to talk about what she saw.
“What first appeared was a betobeto-san3. When I was on my way home in the evening by myself, something was following after me. But nothing was there when I looked back. Repeating that process, I eventually arrived home. That night, I heard the sound of footsteps coming from the hallway in our house, but no one should’ve been there. It was the same sound as the one I had heard in the evening. It came to the entrance of my room and stopped. I was so scared that I closed my eyes under the quilt and shivered. Then when I realized, the indication disappeared… However… The night of the second day… I heard the same sound again. It lasted for several days… There was definitely a betobeto-san in our house!”
Kujou listened with deep interest while wiping his forehead with his hand.
“Betobeto-san is a type of youkai that appears at night and follows after people. But it only follows them without harming them; however, it is a kind of youkai that is interested in human. I guess, maybe when you met betobeto-san at night, you took him home with you. After that?”
Yumiko looked like she recalled some cold and scary memories, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest like she was holding herself, then kept talking with a trembling voice.
“I was scared and haunted by the sound of betobeto-san’s footsteps, but I couldn’t do anything, so I tried to forget about it and went to bed early. I thought I could forget about it while sleeping. And then… And then… Makurakaeshi4 appeared! I wanted to sleep but I could not!! When my consciousness was slumbering, the moment I thought I could finally sleep, my pillow was turned around, and brought me back to the reality again!! … Enough… Everyday, everyday… I’m sick of it…”
Yumiko’s hatred, which was accumulated inside, of the youkai leaked out. Her fear, which even caused her to shiver, seemed to have gradually transformed from hatred into anger.
Kujou looked at her silently.
“When the youkai cornered me mentally and put me in a half panic situation, no one gave me a hand. No one even wanted to listen to me… And then a hidarugami5 came to me. However, it was just a youkai with a name of a god. Being possessed by hidarugami, lethargy attacked me, and I could not even wake up from my bed everyday. Many youkai came to my place one by one, like they resented me. And then few days ago! Even azukiarai6 appeared. It made the shakishakishaki sound washing the red beans! The sound was so annoying that I felt tired both physically and mentally!! What’s going on with them!? How unfortunate do they want me to be!! ”
Her tragic scream echoed in the quiet reception office.
After hearing that, Kujou raised his head, and said with a index finger at the corner of his mouth.
“Makurakaeshi and azukiarai are common youkai that everyone had heard of at least once, but hidarugami…. Hidarugami is a kind of youkai that possesses people who are walking, then makes them feel extremely hungry and tired, and plays jokes as bad as making their arms, legs or body paralyzed. Sometimes, but rarely, when they overdo it, the person who was possessed may even die. It is witnessed often in the deep mountains. Hidarugami appearing in the streets is very rare… It is so interesting that it makes me dizzy.”
Then he smiled.
“You believe… What I have just said!?”
“Yes, of course.”
His words calmed Yumiko down.
“Th, then! Then, please exorcise the youkai on me!! This detective agency handles occult cases, right? Then please exorcise them!! I can’t succeed even I try everything. I don’t have good luck. I am underprivileged. All my misfortunes are caused by the youkai!! ”
Clenching a fist and knocking on her knee violently, Yumiko talked about exorcising the hateful youkai desperately.
Kujou stared at Yumiko, as if he had seen through her deepest part of her heart.
A moment of silence.
A faint vibration resounded in the silence.
The vibration informed Kujou that his smartphone, which was inside his inside pocket, had an incoming call.
Saying that, he tapped the “answer” button.
“Hey~~~ Kujou. How’re you doing~?”
He heard the loud voice of Akira, who was enthusiastic.
The action of Kujou holding the phone far away from his ear with such a miserable expression looked ridiculous to Yumiko.
“What? Kid, I’m working right now. Say what you want clearly and briefly… Eh? What happened to you? Your breathing is rough.”
Hearing Akira’s shortness of breath over the speaker, Kujou focused on Akira and listened carefully.
“Yeah. Yui walked so fast when she was aiming at desserts. Even following her was driving me to death. Oh! And!! Listen to me, Kujou!! I’m in Hatsudai7 right now, and the the cakes of the cafe are so~ Delicio…”
Looking at the Kujou who couldn’t bear it and ended the call abruptly, Yumiko bursted into laughter.
“I apologize for the unsightly situation.”
“Were they the people I just met at the entrance?”
“Right, he’s Akira, the person who does the odd jobs. He’s so stupid that sometimes I don’t know what to say to him. He’s someone who should jump from the capital freeway like a pinball and be smashed into pieces right now.”
Since Kujou was always using polite manners and language in front of Yumiko but now he was being insulting, her face beamed with a smile because of the disparity.
“I heard some of the conversation. Is he in Hatsudai?”
“I think so. He said he’s going to a dessert fiesta held around Shinjuku.”
“My home is around there! There are many old stores, but there are also many delicious dessert stores and cafe.”
“Because the shopping street existed not far from the main street since a long time ago, we can say they are the hidden renowned stores.”
While speaking, Kujou stood up from the sofa.
“Let’s change our mood. Please wait a second. I’ll bring you tea and cakes.”
The teacups with elegant designs and fruit tarts were placed in front of Yumiko. When the water, which had started to boil without her noticing, was cooled down to a suitable temperature, it was poured into a glass teapot with Nilgiri tea.
Looking at the tea leaves that were jumping8, Yumiko was fascinated by his amazing skills.
“By the way, did you say you wanted me to exorcise the youkai?”
She moved her attention away from the jumping tea leaves onto Kujou.
“Yes. Kujou, can you do that!?”
Kujou closed his eyes to avoid her eyes, which were filled with anticipation. After few seconds of silence, he said quietly.
“Some people also call exorcising youkai as purification. It sounds like it’s quite simple. Yumiko, do you know what it really is?”
“Eh?… Is it something like… Using holy scriptures or amulets?”
“Yes, those are not incorrect. But do you know why do holy scriptures and amulets have the power to exorcise?”
“U~~~mm… ” Although Yumiko contemplated for a while, she seemed like she did not have an answer.
“For example… You use computer keyboards to type for work and emails, right? When you want to erase the words that are wrong, what will you do?”
“Then… I’ll use the Backspace key or the Delete key.”
“Yeah, you’re correct.”
Kujou continued the conversation with a gentle smile.
“In something like the computer programming language, the word ‘Delete’ means to erase. Then, here’s a sign pen. If I write ‘Delete’ onto your arm, will you disappear from this world?”
Saying so, Kujou took out a pen suddenly, and pretended to write ‘Delete’ onto her arm.
However, feeling the seriousness of Kujou, she pulled her arm back instinctively.
“Hahaha, I’m just kidding.”
“No… Your eyes were serious.”
“That never happened~”
Kujou’s smile only continued.
But Yumiko felt the smile was terrifying.
“So, what do you think? You haven’t answered my question.”
“Even if you write ‘Delete’ on me, it doesn’t mean I’m going to disappear.”
“Yes, exactly. In the world we are living, the rule of writing ‘Delete’ onto our arms, or even onto our body will not make us disappear. However…”
Kujou had a smile, but now he had a darker expression.
“If your consciousness goes into the world called the computer, what will happen?”
The tone of his voice became lower and more serious than the light tone before.
“Eh?… No. I… Don’t understand what you are talking about…”
Overwhelmed by the atmosphere that suddenly changed, Yumiko’s mind was confused.
“I understand. Then please imagine this. There is a futuristic game. The game is connected to the online world, and the characters are living and adventuring in that world. The most noticeable feature of that game is that it teleports the people living in the real world to experience reality in the game world. This is how the game seems like.”
“It sounds like it’s from movies and science fictions. It’s interesting, but what about it?”
Compared to Yumiko’s facial expression that was mixed with interest and questions, Kujou was more careful as he continued the conversation.
“Please imagine a little bit more. You are now a resident of that game world. You are, so to speak, in the programmed world named game. Then, if I write ‘Delete’ on to you in that world… And ‘Delete’ was coded in the game… What will happen to you?”
Yumiko’s face became more stiffen when she understood what Kujou was trying to say.
“Because… It is different from the reality… If that’s the rule of that world… According to it…”
She swallowed her saliva.
“… I will… Disappear…”
He responded with a smile, looking like a tutor who had received a satisfying answer from his student.
Kujou finished jumping and poured the fair colored Nilgiri tea into the cup.
Yumiko’s brain was tired from the lesson, so she filled her mouth with a fruit tart.
“Different worlds have different rules and so do the words that contain the ability to exorcise. I think if you can understand these, you will naturally understand the phenomenon of ‘exorcising.’”
After saying that, Kujou looked like he was trying to check the taste of the black tea he brewed, so he put the teacup next to his mouth.
Yumiko looked at the clock in the reception office suddenly. It was about fourteen o’clock.
When she turned her attention back to that voice, Kujou placed the teacup down and said with his arms crossed.
“Let’s begin your purification.”
1. Chimimouryou – a Japanese phrase describing different kinds of youkai. Chimi – youkai from the mountains. Mouryou – youkai from the rivers, it also has the meaning of intangible and uncertain.↩
2. Youkai – a class of supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore.↩
3. Betobeto-san – a type of Japanese youkai which is believed to follow after people who walk at night. Betobeto – sticky, or the sound of footsteps.↩
4. Makurakaeshi – a kind of Japanese youkai which continuously flips pillows at night. Since they appear as children, they are considered as zashikiwarashi.↩
5. Hidarugami – a kind of Japanese youkai which makes the people possessed by it. It is on a higher level than most youkai. Gami – kami, god.↩
6. Azukiarai – a kind of Japanese youkai which washes red beans.↩
7. Hatsudai – located in Shibuya District, Tokyo.↩
8. Jumping – the process of using the principle of the convection of water to cause the movement of tea leaves, which requires skills, instead of the momentum of pouring water into the teapot. It brings out not only the taste of black tea, but also the tannin and caffeine, which are the main components of black tea.↩