“The deceased is Oku Tamotsu-san. 26… freelancer, it seems.”
Having rushed to Yumoto Adventure Land from the precinct, Detective Atami reported to his superior Ibusuki about the victim. It was all information he had gotten from the local cops who were first to rush over.
The crime scene was an attraction constructed in Yumoto Adventure Land called the house of Darkness. An escape attraction designed by a popular producer, it had yet to be opened to the public. For that sake, the hole the two of them looked down into had no railings or anything, leaving it in quite a dangerous state. The victim Oku lay at its depths, and right now a number of officers were loitering around nearby.
“Even so, isn’t this a bit too dangerous?” Ibusuki scrunched her shapely brow. “Even if there was a warning message, leaving a hole without any railings… it looked like the path went on, what’s more it’s connected straight to the passageway. And when the victim fell, this mansion was pitch black.”
“Yes. So normally, this place would have a no-entry sign on it. Right in the middle of the path leading here… But by some twist of fate, it’s thought the sign fell into the hole.”
“Hmm, and so the victim fell as well, leading to an unlucky death… but an instant death from a height no more than two floors really is unlucky… by what I can see from looking down, isn’t he bleeding quite a bit?”
“Yes, the area below this hole was an area they never anticipated guests to go, and as the attraction hadn’t opened yet, it seems there were a number of tools left around… by a stroke of ill fate, as the victim fell, a wrench got him in the head.”
“Still, what careless management. Throwing open an attraction in such a shape, that’s not natural. You think we can ask the one responsible?”
“The manager is waiting in the management office.”
“Okay, then let’s hear him out first.”
Ibusuki and Atami headed to the exit of House of Darkness. There, an individual passed by to take their place. A coroner… Shuzenji Shuuichirou. As always, his long hair was tied behind his head, an unshaven stubble on his face. He was on the handsome side, but his appearance was distanced from a sense of good hygiene. The bluish uniform he had been supplied from headquarters was also shabby.
“Hey there, working hard?”
He raised a hand as he said it jovially. Ibusuki bit her lip and hastened her pace. Atami recalled the rumors of how the two used to be in a relationship, and succumbed to some awkward feelings.
Come to think of it, Ibusuki was still a woman in her twenties, and yet there wasn’t a single rumor of her in any current love affair. There were also whispers that she got her hair cut so short when she broke up with Shuenji, so perhaps Ibusuki still harbored ill feelings towards him.
Ibuski gave an apathetic greeting, not wasting her time to pass him by. He didn’t seem to take it to heart, “Yeah, yeah, good work,” he waved his hand at Atami. As they passed each other by, Atami remembered something important.
“Um, Shuenji-san. The body isn’t this way.”
“You have to go in from the basement service entrance in the back. for staff use.”
“Oh, that so… could you show me the way?”
Ibusuki gave a blatant click of her tongue, took the lead, and guided him. Suenji returned a casual, “Thanks.”
Circling around to the back, the three came before the basement service entrance.
“Sorry for that.”
“It was on the way.”
Ibusuki at the lead turned around and grimaced.
“Oy, Atami”, I’ve changed my mind. Since we’re already here, let’s investigate around the body.
Her subordinate Atami had no right to refuse.
What they had looked down over before, the bottom of the hole. A young man lay face-down, blood all around. Sure enough, as they’d been told, there was a wrench between his head and the ground.
The blasé was empty, and besides the tools scattered around the floor, there wasn’t a single interesting thing to be found.
“It’s awfully dreary. Is this really an attraction?”
Ibusuki said it to no one in particular. Atami nodded.
As Atami looked around to see if there was anything, his eyes stopped on the bright yellow metallic notice board close to the body.
A forensics member taking pictures lowered her large camera to look at Atami. With her hair in braids, a woman of petite facial features. She was a forensics investigator who usually worked alongside his group, Shrahama Yayoi.
“It apparently fell from above, it’s the warning sign in question.”
“I see, sure enough.”
Atami lifted up the metal board in his gloved hands. With ‘Danger! Do not enter!’ written in large red letters, it stood out quite a bit. It looked like it was newly made.
“… Meaning, it was like this.”
Looking at the metal board, Ibusuki gave a recap.
“The staff placed that panel somewhere near the hole on the floor above. But by some fault, it fell down. It was pitch black, and there was no notice, so the man who came along later didn’t notice there was no floor. And he fell… is that how it is?”
“I really wonder.”
A voice came down from above. The hands of the investigators on the scene stopped for a moment to look up.
At the rim of the hole in question stood a single boy. Wearing his baggy hoodie as always, the boy with long bangs…
Ibusuki unpleasantly called his name.
“Why are you here?”
“Why? Because I was participating as a tester in this House of Darkness event. I’ll also say that I was the first one to report it to the police.”
“I see, I see.”
As Ibusuki said that in a voice so gentle it was contrarily scary, Atami could see her fist was shaking.
“This is the third time you’re involved in an incident… are you cursed, or could it be you’re biting on every time? But that sort of thing doesn’t matter.”
Ibusuki thrust her slender arm towards Vhizuru.
“Why are you here!? All those involved should be on standby at the management office! Don’t arbitrarily wander onto the scene!!”
“Oh, is this place up here also included in the scene? Then you’d better station a policeman here too.”
“Unfortunately, we’re short on hands,” her voice was also shaking in anger. “But I do remember a do not enter rope was put up.”
“Oh, yeah there was something like that. But let’s put that aside for now.”
“No, no, don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it. So Ibusuki-san. I’m not good at raising my voice, so let me make it short. I’d like to point out a strange point about that metal notice board.”
Ibusuki snatched it from Atami and examined it thoroughly. She gave a light laugh as if belittling the boy.
“What’s so special about it? It’s in perfect condition.”
“… Meaning, what he’s trying to say is…”
Changing the position of the body, and peering into its face, Shuenji opened his mouth without even looking at Ibusuki.
“That perfect condition is unnatural. It’s unnatural for a metal board that fell a height great enough to kill a man to come out without any scratches or dents.”
Atami unintentionally cried out. Certainly, that was right.
“Well now, for the coroner to be more perceptive than the ones paid for the job.”
Chizuru teased them in monotone.
“Meaning this is how it is, Ibusuki-san. Listen well. That metal board didn’t fall, it was placed there. Perhaps it was lowered by string, or someone brought it through the service entrance. Whatever the case, someone put it there intentionally. Of course, their reason for doing so was to make sure the people around wouldn’t notice the sound of the metal board falling.”
“… Which means,” Ibusuki furrowed her brow, “You want to say this was set up by someone. That this is a murder.”
“Hmm. Then do you already know who did it?”
“Ahaha, not yet on that one. And there’s also another mystery in this case. I have to solve that first.”
“And what would that be?”
“You’re going to ask me that much? When you’re supposed to be a detective?”
Ibusuki noticed she was going along with Chizuru’s pace and slammed her mouth shut. Her face red with rage, she cried out.
“Quit rambling on!! Don’t stick your head in police investigations, just get back to the management office already! Or you’ll be taken in for obstructing an officer!”
Leaving a dubious smile behind, Chizuru turned his body. Raising and lowering her shoulders in breath, “Dammit, why is he… dammit,” Ibusukimuttered.
“Who’s that boy supposed to be?”
Shuenji still faced the body as he posed the question to no one in particular.
“Who knows? From what I heard, he’s the son of our chief detective Chizuru.”
Shirahama Yayoi answered. Shuenji gave a whistle.
“That’s quite something… even so, I’m more surprised at the fact Detective Kirishima even had a kid. If I recall correctly, his wife’s deceased, right?”
“Yeah, I think I heard something like that… wait, no time for that. Shuenji-san, we’re on the clock right now.”
Yayoi’s face suddenly went serious as she returned to her photography.
Ibusuki gave an irritated hum as she climbed up the stairs. Atami hastily followed behind.
“I-I wonder what it is… that other mystery he was talking about.”
“Like I would know!!”
Ibusuki gave an agitated shout. Atami drew back.
And as the two of them circled around to the front of the House of Darkness, Ibusuki suddenly stopped her feet.
Ibusuki burst into a sprint. Once more, Atami frantically followed behind.
She entered the House of Darkness from the front once more, and raced through the building that had now been lit. Pushing down the trick door, she looked at the center of the wall up front.
“W-what’s wrong? Ibusuki-san?”
“… Hey, Atami. That scene that Oku man died was on the right hand site, right?”
“Ah, yes. That’s right.”
“Look at the notice.”
On the wall was written,
‘Please continue down the left path. The right is still in a terribly dangerous state.’
White letters on black, quite noticeable. Perhaps for effect, the letters were handwritten, but it was unthinkable they would be misread.
“Ah, this is…”
“Right, after seeing that, there’s no way the victim would have taken the right path. Of course, within complete darkness, there’s no way anyone would overlook such a large board of white lettering.”
Ibusuki put her hand to her chin in thought.
“… If this was a crime contrived by someone… then how exactly did the culprit direct the victim down the right path?”