“Yeah, it really is sweet!”
Jessica smirked up to her eyes, stuffing her cheeks with the cake. Using a fork with her right hand, she rustled through a leather bag with her left, before saying, “Found it!”
She placed a digital camera dirtier than when I gave it to her on the table.
“What about the other?”
On my question, Jessica rustled her brow as she answered.
“It’s broken, remember?”
“I don’t mind. There’s something I want to check into.”
“Got it,” Jessica answered, as she took the broken camera out of her bag.
Unlike the digital camera, the film camera was more broken than I thought. Its lens was split, with cracks down it, showing red and blue and yellow cords from within.
“What’s with it, did it explode or something?”
“That it did.”
Jessica took another gulp of cake. Then, “Hack, hak, w-ww-wwater please,” she started choking, downing a cup of water with teary eyes.
… What a noisy fellow.
“Hack, hack. Ah… um, what were we taking about again?”
“The camera. Where did it explode?”
“Ummm, right, right. As I told you, it exploded when I tried investigating the inside of the house as you asked me to.”
I recalled the contents of yesterday’s call. “When you tried taking a picture?”
“Yes, that’s right. The moment I tried taking a photo inside the house, bang! And that’s all she wrote. It really was surprising!”
Perhaps she was trying to reenact the explosion, she made a fist with a right hand, and as she called out, ‘Bang!’ she opened her spread wide to match.
“Hmm, I’m glad you weren’t hurt.”
“Oh, you’re actually worried!? You’re surprisingly kind.”
“Naturally. I’m a lawyer, you know.”
When I tried acting cool, Jessica showed no reaction besides a few blinks of her eyes.
Unable to stand the bizarre silence, I eventually said, “So what happened to the film?” pointing out what wasn’t in the camera anymore.
“The film was ruined too. Look!”
Jessica placed the film reel that had lost its original form on the table. I took it, and held it to the light.
The lamp form the ceiling showed through it. After locking my eyes on it for a while, I saw a black line through each from of the film as if something had cut through it.
“I don’t know.”
Jessica gave an immediate reply. It really was a sond question. I’d never seen something like this before.
“It’s something like a ghost photo.”
“Eh~, quit it. I’m not good with that sort of thing.”
Her expression of great delight upon eating cake suddenly turned pale.
I ignored her, and looked at the digital camera next. Aside from the dirt, it looked normal, and it seems the video data was preserved without a problem.
I brought up the images on its screen. When I purchased it, there wasn’t anything particular on it, so I checked one by one from the oldest data. There, the first picture was Jessica’s face up close. I could almost see up the holes of her nose.
“Oy, don’t play around.”
“Urk, I’m sorry.”
I continued through a more pictures of Jessica’s idiotic-looking face, and just when I was getting sick and tired of it, an old house came up.
“Ah, that’s it. That’s the one! I found that house in the middle of the forest!”
Leaning her body across the table, Jessica pointed at the picture and explained, but that wasn’t something she had to go out of her way to say. I knew well enough this was the house I was looking for.
There were thickly lined trees around, and because of the branches that grew thick beyond the second floor, I couldn’t see the rest, but there was definitely a dark house with a heavy atmosphere there.
There were small sturdy latticed windows by the supposed front door, and of them, a single one was broken.
The second photo was inside the house, and just as I’d heard in yesterday’s phone exchange, it was miserably filthy.
The spider webs extending from the ceiling were large and thick, making their way all the way to the ground, it was as if they were single pillars.
Dust was piled like mountains along the ground, the household goods deteriorated away and broken.
… That place is definitely abandoned. That was my impression upon seeing the screen.
The images continued a while, all showing pretty much the same thing. But the last one alone showed something strange.
It was a crystal just large enough you could grasp it in your fist. Regardless of the rubbish piled around it, that amber crystal wasn’t tainted in dust, simply letting off a brilliant and dubious light.
There were two crystals. Perhaps there were three before. I say that because the crystals were preciously placed on golden pedestals, and there were three pedestals in all.
… One’s missing.
“Hey, about this photo…
“Ah, you noticed after all! As expected of a lawyer!”
After I showed her the photo, she happily stuck her hand into her leather bag, making a rustling sound.
And she took something out.
“Tada, it was so pretty I took them back with me!
Jessica placed two amber colored crystal balls on the table, without the slightest care or restraint, she tossed them onto it.
… Thud was the sound they made. I took the two crystals in hand, and looked over them.
… Where was it? I get the feeling this wasn’t the first time I’d seen them.
I get the feeling I saw something just like them in the past. But I can’t remember, but I did feel they were related to the case, so I stole them from Jessica. Because of that, I ended up ordering her another cake.