To get from Nishiakatsuki to Morioh in the middle of the day took a good six hours, even using planes, trains, and buses in the most efficient combination available. By car, it was about 650 kilometers, which would take roughly the same amount of time. I was told of Tsukumojuku’s death at 6:30 AM, so Tsukumojuku must have headed there shortly after I left him at the hospital. Either he’d been pretending not to be interested or he’d found some reason to care after I left. That, or someone else had taken him to Morioh to kill him, or after killing him. Although the corpse of a sixteen-year-old boy wasn’t exactly easy to transport. How he got there wasn’t the only problem. The body of a sixteen-year-old male wasn’t small, and Tsukumojuku’s body had remained largely intact. His throat had been slit so deep that only a single layer of skin kept his head attached. He was found naked, wrapped only in a red, diamond-shaped cloth. There was a broadaxe slung over his shoulder, and he was found mounted on a bear. Obviously, the scene was arranged to look like something out of the folk tale Kintaro. Ever since I left Fukui the lyrics to the Kintaro children’s song had been on an endless loop in my head. This was completely inappropriate, of course. The killer didn’t arrange the scene like this as a joke. I think.
I got off the train at Morioh Station shortly after 1 PM, and looked over the map of the town posted just outside the station gates. Deja vu. Had I been here before? I was sure I hadn’t. Touhoku had the famous Namahage Detective, and he pretty much handled all the cases that required someone like him, so I’d never been called up here. In elementary school we went to Nara and Kyoto, and in Junior High we went to Tokyo, so this was my first trip up north.
There were no tall buildings anywhere around the station, but there was a lot of foot traffic, and rows of nicely turned out shops and cafes. It was both peaceful and lively. The city had been well-planned; there were no telephone poles in sight, and plenty of rooms for pedestrians and cars. There was a car stumping for the upcoming election in the roundabout by the station, but they kept the speaker volume to a respectable level.
“Kumotaku, Morioh’s son. Kumotaku, star of the north. Kumoi Takumi asks for your vote.” I was hungry, so I stopped a restaurant near the station and had the Miso Tongue Meal – a local delicacy, apparently. It was good. Beef Tongue is both thicker and softer than I’d imagined, Tsukumojuku. May you rest in peace. When I finished eating, I took stock of my emotional state. I’d only known Tsukumojuku a few hours, since I’d witnessed his entrance into our world, and was basically the only person alive he knew. There’d been nobody else to report his death to, and I was basically here to bury him. In light of this I decided not to try the sweet sesame dumplings the stall near station was hell bent on convincing tourists to buy. I hailed a taxi, and headed for the Arrow Cross House, where my strange visitor’s body had been found. Morioh was in a gentle valley, and once we left the shopping area, we passed through a residential area and soon found ourselves in farmland. The road led through fields towards the sea. As we neared the water, round hills grew more common, and this topography continued into the water; there were a great number of tiny islands dotting the shallow sea. For a moment they looked like a group of umibozu peeking out of the water; it was quite striking. And tourism friendly, as the tour boats sailing in and out of the harbor demonstrated. There were a number of souvenir shops, inns, and restaurants lining the docks. The Arrow Cross House stood on top of a round hill – the biggest hill around, and the closest to the water — with a fantastic view of the sea and the harbor. White walls and a flat roof framed
against the blue sky, making it look like a dainty little museum. As my taxi reached the top of the hill, I saw the building’s owner standing outside. He was a manga artist named Kishibe Rohan. He was supposedly in his thirties, but to my surprise, he looked barely out of his teens. I don’t read a lot of manga, and had never read anything by him, but I knew the name. The Pink Dark Boy series had been running for twenty years, and had recently started part eight. I got out of the taxi, said hello, and apologized for not being familiar with his work.
“Then let me show you my art,” he said, and his finger went fwipfwipfwip through the air in front of my eyes, sketching a mysterious boy in a broad-brimmed hat. Not only was I able to make out what he was drawing in the air, I was apparently so impressed with the quality of his art it felt like I’d been struck by lightning fttzzz and froze to the spot, unable to move. I think I even passed out for a moment. I don’t know if this surprised him or disappointed him, but he gave me a dubious frown, and then said, “I’ll show you around the Arrow Cross. I purchased it quite recently, and I’ve only lived here six months. Of all the rotten luck! Here I was, happy to have acquired a bizarre building, and it gets used for a murder. What a cliché! I suppose I’ll have to turn it into something worthwhile, but I can’t just write the details of a real case into my manga. Or should I be more concerned about finding a place to stay? Until the case is solved?” He spoke very quickly, and frequently changed subjects; clearly conversing with him was going to be a workout.
“I doubt it; it’s a big enough house you won’t necessarily need to use the room where the body was found, and there seem to be plenty of entrances.”
“I see! Good. I suppose both Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen both show everyone living normally in the house after a
murder. Even though staying together just leads to more murders. I always assumed that was forced by the needs of the plot, and would never happen in real live, but I suppose we all believe that one murder is enough to end things, and nothing bad will ever happen to us. And it is such a pain to find a new place to live. Even now someone’s been murdered, I find myself quite grateful I can keep living here.” In my line of work, I’ve known plenty of people who thought like this, and then got murdered. I decided not to mention it. Our feet scrunching on the gravel, we did a circuit of the building. There were no bushes or flower beds, but with this view, they hardly seemed necessary.
“This is a spectacular view, Kishibesan. With a view like this at home, I can see why you wouldn’t want to switch to some dumpy hotel.” Below us you could see the white sands of Morioh Pearl Beach, and countless tiny islands out in Morioh Harbor. Kishibe glared at me, muttering, “Kishibe-san?” several times. Crap, did I get get his name wrong? It was Kishibe Rohan, right? “Nobody calls me Kishibe-san,” he said, at last.
“Pardon me. Kishibe-sensei,” I said, hastily.
“Noooo! That’s not what I mean!” he exploded.
“There’s no need to call me sensei whatsoever! I shudder at the very thought that someone might think I wanted that! I’m simply not at all used to being addressed by my family name. My editors, readers, and even the bank clerks down in town all call me Rohan!” Whew, manga artists sure were eccentric. I guess? What he was saying wasn’t that out there, but the over-the-top eruption of emotions certainly made him one to watch out for.
“No buts allowed!” Kishibe-sensei? san? screamed, and went fwipfwipfwipfwip with his fingers again, drawing that boy, and ffftzzz once again I was super impressed. Had I become a huge fan of his this quickly, or did Rohan’s art have some sort of special
“You can no longer call me anything but Rohan.”
“Rohan…hunh? Ro…guhh…?” The word refused to come out. I was trying to address him by his family name, but only his given name would come out. What was this? This was weird, right? Was something wrong with me? Rohan turned and grinned at me.
“Guhh? Please. It is but a small change. Pray, don’t worry about it. You’re here to solve this murder! Do your job. I have my own job to do, and until the Arrow Cross Case is solved, I will be forever preoccupied with police interviews and people investigating the scene. Like I’m made of time!” Change? What did he mean? Don’t worry about it? So he did do something to me? What? He’d just draw a sketch in the air and made me go fffftzzz. But…not just that. He’d done something else, something that changed me. What did that mean? This was very strange. Something bizarre was happening, something I didn’t yet understand. I’d have to be on my guard around Rohan.
Like the name Arrow Cross House implies, the building was shaped like a cross, with each point shaped like an arrow. There was no dedicated front door; each of the arrows had two doors, and any of the eight could be used to get inside.
“The Arrow Cross is a strange sort of house,” Rohan said.
“It appeared five years ago, without any of the neighbors noticing the construction. Despite the size of it. For three years before that a different house stood here – so to build this one they would have had to knock the old one down, or at the least, remodel it considerably. But no permits were ever filed. Furthermore, this house is clearly visible from the harbor, and anyone glancing upwards would have seen people working on it. Yet somehow the Arrow Cross was built without anyone noticing. This is quite a mystery, wouldn’t you say? Not only were there no permits for construction, there is no record of sale for the land. It was officially owned by the city of Morioh, and construction was done illegally. They spent some time attempting to locate the owner, but when they gave up and decided to tear it down I stepped in and offered to purchase it. My previous residence had just burned down, you see. This place is perfect. It’s quiet here, and the house itself is fascinating – I love not knowing who built it or why. Now, the house that stood here before this one was a very simple square building. But it was also bizarre – it had no windows or doors. No visible entrance at all. Heh heh heh heh. I’m sure there was an entrance hidden somewhere; after all, if there was a sunroof or whatever you’d never know from downhill. Although that does beg the question of why they’d wish to obscure such a glorious view. At any rate, that square house – the neighbors called it the Cube House – supposedly was moved here from a town called Nishi Akatsuki, in Fukui. How that rumor got around without anyone having any idea who owned the house, nobody knows.”
“Eh? Nishi Akatsuki? That’s where I’m from.”
“I know?” Rohan purred. I know? How did he know? It was the police who had called me to let me know Tsukumojuku was dead, and when I’d called Rohan, I’d had no reason to mention my current address. I suppose
he could have heard my name on the news, but I was a minor, and had already had death threats from several psychos, so the most specific information available given about me was always ‘from Fukui.’ Or did Rohan have connections with the police or those in power that could get him that kind of information this quickly? Whatever. I was more concerned with what the fact that Tsukumojuku had been murdered here, in a house that had been transported from Nishi Akatsuki, actually meant.
“Did you know there’s been more than one detective murdered in this town?” Rohan suddenly asked.
“More than one? Really?”
“I suppose you wouldn’t know. The first one happened in the middle of the night. The news has only just started talking about it. You wouldn’t have had much chance to watch TV on your way here, either. Tell me, was that boy…the one killed in my Arrow Cross…was he a detective, too?” He had said he was.
“Yes. Although he was from far away, and what cases he handled…” I knew perfectly well. He’d solved fifteen locked room murders. In 1904, in the Canary Islands, in another world. But bringing that up here would just confuse things.
“…I’m not sure. But he was definitely a detective.”
“I see. So then he is one of the Serial Detective Murders.”
“Who…who else was killed?”
“…? Do detectives all know each other? If it might come as a blow to you, perhaps we should step inside and let you sit down first?”
“I’ll be fine. The only detective I’ve met is Tsukumojuku.”
“Oh, in that case, a man named Hakkyoku Sachiari, and a girl with a very strange name, Nekoneko Nyan Nyan Nyan.” I’d heard of both. They were both Tokyo detectives. We stood outside one of Arrow Cross’s doors, and Rohan told me how Hakkyoku had been found across Morioh Harbor, at Boingy Cape,
seated on a giant stuffed sea turtle. Nekoneko had been found in town, near a strange-shaped stone called Angelo Rock, surrounded by stuffed dogs, cats, and pheasants. Hakkyoku had died of alcohol poisoning; a large quantity of sake had been injected into his blood stream. Nekoneko had suffocated from the massive quantity of dumplings jammed down her throat. They’d clearly been made to look like Urashima Taro and Momotaro. While Tsukumojuku was Kintaro. A serial killer killing detectives? That meant I might be targeted, too.
“Let me show you to the scene. The forensics people have been and gone. I’ve looked it over thoroughly myself, but didn’t touch anything.” Rohan took me through a door on the east side of the Arrow Cross. Inside was a large triangular sunroom, with large bay windows on both exterior sides and the ceiling. The walls and floor were all painted white. It was very bright. All the furniture was in exquisite taste, and were it not for the bed in the middle, you could easily mistake it for a furniture store, or an unusually elegant manga shop. There were books on the tables, shelves, and floor, but not the books of photographs or other decorative books you’d see in furniture stores. They were all manga.
“Feel free to keep your shoes on anywhere in the house. This is the east sunroom, which I use as a bedroom,” Rohan said, leading me out into a carpeted hallway. It had no windows, so the moment the door to the sunroom closed it seemed very dark indeed. I had the silhouette of the bed and cabinets burned into my eyes, and had to blink furiously the whole length of the hall. Doors to either side led to the bathroom and toilet. At the end of the hall was a large square room at the center of the Arrow Cross House. Every house
I’d ever been to used large open rooms like this as a place to entertain company, but not this one.
“This is where I work,” Rohan said, leading me in. It was at least twice the size of the sunroom; windowless, dark, and gloomy, with nothing in it but a single tiny desk perched right in the middle. There were pens and ink on the desk, arranged in neat rows. The walls were bare, with only the doors leading to the other arrows breaking the monotony. The only lights came from the chandelier on the ceiling, and the smaller lamp on the desk.
“With such a great view, aren’t you tempted to work in one of the sunrooms?” I asked.
“Not at all,” Rohan snorted.
“Much too bright, and my work requires no view.” Okay, then. I could swear he’d grumbled about the Cube House wasting the view, but whatever. Rohan led me across his study, down another hall, and into the north sunroom. The scene of the crime. The light hit my eyes, which felt like they’d been slapped by the soft hands of a child. It had seemed bright when I entered his bedroom, but now it actively hurt. Walking through the dark halls and work room hadn’t helped, but there was also nothing in this sunroom…except for the giant bear. The bear’s brown fur and the blood stains on its back and the floor – Tsukumojuku’s blood, presumably – were almost a relief in the sea of white. I looked over what was left of the Kintaro display, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light.
“I don’t use either this room or the southern one. This one gets too cold in winter and the south one gets too hot in summer. I only need a bedroom and a work room to begin with. At most, a guest room for editors to stay in when they come to see the sights,” Rohan said, shielding his eyes from the light.
“The murder itself doesn’t bother me, but I’d like to clean the place. The police won’t let me. Have to keep the scene intact, they say.”
“The police took your friend’s body and the axe with them.
The bear was so big they left it here, but they’ll be back for it eventually. Yesterday and last night they found two other dead detectives, and then this morning a third, your friend. They’re rather busy. They’re forming a special team to deal with things. I had them leave a copy of the crime scene photographs and the forensic data, if you’d like to see it?” He had them leave it? What led to this…arrogant streak? It didn’t seem to be just a personality thing. It was like he’d gotten used to the world bending to his will. I did want to see the photographs, though. Rohan brought a notebook computer, rested it on his arm, and showed me the screen. I took a closer look. Tsukumojuku’s handsome visage was ashen. He was seated on the bear’s back, and both his body and the axe were wrapped in wire, fixing them in place. He was leaning slightly to the right, I think; his head was tilted in that direction, leaving the gaping wound on display to his left. I could tell Rohan was studying my reaction to these images, but it didn’t bother me. He didn’t mean to be insensitive. He simply wasn’t aware how transparent his expressions and body language were. We may not have known each other long, but it was already clear that Rohan was an odd bird, but not a bad one.
“Notice anything, detective?” he asked, with a mocking lilt. Then again, he always sounded like that, so I didn’t take offense.
“From the state of his body, nothing of note.”
“Oh? Nothing about the Kintaro thing? The others are Urashima Taro, and Momotaro, of course.”
“True. I don’t suppose you have pictures of those crime scenes, too?”
“I do. Impressive deduction, detective! I suppose.” Rohan quickly opened more images on the screen.
“But why would the killer pose them like this? It’s hardly a professional opinion, but it
seems like rather a lot of work. Gathering all the stuffed animals, decorating them, even matching the method of murder to the theme.”
“If you had the bear already, then the dogs, monkeys, and pheasants would be easy to get. Even the sea turtle must not be that hard to find in a port town like this. But getting a stuffed bear is quick tricky. There are no bears around here – that’s why they had to use a polar bear, and finding the polar bear was likely the inspiration for the whole stunt.”
“…eh? Polar bear? This is a polar bear?” Rohan asked.
“? You didn’t notice? Small head, long neck – it’s obvious. Ursus maritimus, the polar bear.” The scientific name was given by John Phipps in 1774.
“Hunh…that should narrow down the owner, then. Even more than owning a normal stuffed bear.”
“Mm? But…this is your bear, isn’t it?”
“Heavens, no. There are no polar bears in my manga. If there was, I…might consider buying one, but more likely I’d just go to the zoo, or find some place with a stuffed one on display. No need to own it personally. Do they even sell stuffed polar bears anywhere?”
“The Washington Convention doesn’t specifically forbid the sale of them; polar bears are listed in Appendix II. That means it’s up to the country of origin whether to grant permission to export them. There were plenty available before the convention existed, so I’d imagine they’re obtainable if one desires. But you didn’t buy one, Rohan?”
“Noooo. Decorating with animal corpses is not my style.”
“…I see. But getting a stuffed animal this size into your house would be very difficult. It would take several people.”
“I’d have noticed.”
“The murder happened late last night or early this morning. Did you go out at all?”
“Of course not. I was drawing until two AM, then slept until just before dawn. I usually sleep until sunrise, but I woke a little early this morning.”
“Dawn…it starts getting light around five AM this time of year.”
“Sunrise yesterday was at 5:18 AM. I sleep in a sunroom. Early rising is inevitable. I’ve never really needed a great quantity of sleep. Three hours is plenty.”
“Hmm…I’ve heard manga artists are always busy. By the same token, I don’t suppose you were so exhausted you would have fallen into such a deep sleep you could have failed to notice a group of intruders?” It seemed unlikely, but was worth verifying.
“No, no. It may come as a surprise to you, but I’m quite high strung. I’m not saying I’d wake at a pin drop, but I can’t see how someone bringing a giant stuffed animal in would escape my notice.” How could that possibly be a surprise to me? He might as well have it written on his shirt.
“But if they put it on a cart or something, and moved it quietly into the house?”
“Quietly depends on how quietly. I like to work in silence, and there are sound absorption panels everywhere. If they were moving it from one room to another, it’s possible I wouldn’t notice. But from outside, no normal human could ever do it. You walked around the house with me. Arrow Cross is surrounded by gravel. As an anti-theft mechanism. No normal human could cross it without making a sound. Anyone delivering a bear would have made a tremendous racket. Last night I certainly may have been more
exhausted than usual. After all, I somehow managed to pick the wrong bedroom. The difference in the morning sky was what woke me early.”
“The wrong bedroom?”
“Yes. My bedroom is the east sunroom, the room we came in by. But this morning I was sleeping in the west sunroom.”
“? How could that happen? You work in the center room, and your desk is right in the center of it, right?”
“Your desk faces north, so south is behind you, and east and west are to the right and left. Simple. You’ve been living here for six months, it hardly seems likely you walked the wrong direction.”
“But apparently I did. I like to keep things orderly, you see. I cannot bear things that aren’t symmetrical. That’s part of the reason I purchased the Arrow Cross. The east and west sunrooms have exactly the same furniture, arranged in exactly the same way. Beautiful symmetry is always a product of human ingenuity. Symmetry is the basis of man-made beauty.” Hmph.
“We’re talking point symmetry rather than line symmetry, then?”
“Mm? No, line symmetry. The rooms are mirror images of each other.”
“Then something even stranger is happening here. The placement of furniture in the two rooms is reversed; you’d notice the moment you opened the door. Yet you fell asleep without noticing?”
“Did you get in bed without turning on the light?”
“No, I turned it on, got in bed, and pressed the switch near my pillow.”
“Do you drink much?”
“I ingest nothing after nine PM. And I may have a drink on occasion, but never to excess.”
“I guess these mistakes just happen. After all, I’m not the only one who made this mistake last night.”
“Someone else did? Who?”
“My guest. I’m letting her stay here for the time being.”
“….so there was someone else here last night with you? Mind telling me more?”
“I’ll introduce you, of course. But please don’t mention her to anyone else. She’s still in high school. If word got around she was staying at the home of an older bachelor, well…that would be a shame, wouldn’t it? She has her reasons.”
“She remembers nothing but her name. Amnesia. So severe even I can’t read her past. So I have her help look after the place while she tries to uncover her past, and waits for her memories to return.”
“Heh…you didn’t know her before?”
“Not in the least. She’s maybe a little older than you. Showed up shortly after I moved here. I never imagined myself capable of living with anyone, but I couldn’t just throw her out on the streets, and she seemed like a nice girl. We’re getting along well.”
“What’s her name?”
“So she made the same mistake as you, and got the wrong bedroom?” This seemed like a fun way to live. Rohan seemed quietly happy about it, too.
“Yes. She was in my bed, and I was in the bed I’m loaning to her. So awkward. She made the mistake first, but that’s no excuse
for jumping into hers. At least I wasn’t snoring next to her. At any rate, the light woke me up; it was on the wrong side of the sky, and hit my eyes the wrong way. I jumped up, went to my room, knocked on the door. She woke up, I explained the situation through the door, and then moved away so she could get back to her own room. Since she had to cross the work room to get there, I went into the north sunroom. That’s when I found Tsukumojuku’s body.”
“Hmm…” From romantic comedy hijinks to grisly murder.
“I suppose the simplistic layout and lack of furniture make such accidents possible,” Rohan continued.
“I wasn’t drunk, and I’m such a light sleeper the difference in the morning light was enough to wake me. So I don’t see how it’s possible I could have slept through someone carrying a stuffed polar bear into the house.”
“There’s no need to think about that any more,” I said.
“Hunh?” Rohan blinked at me. This room mix-up was bothering me. Why would that happen? To both at once? This meant something. But I didn’t know what, yet.
“So why is there a polar bear here?” Rohan asked. This, I knew.
“The stuffed polar bear was not brought into the house at the same time as Tsukumojuku’s body. It was already in the house, probably in this very room.”
“What? Here? This gigantic stuffed animal?” Rohan waved at it. It was two and a half meters long. If it had been standing it would easily have topped three.
“Have you gone on any trips since you moved into the house?”
“No. Not because my work schedule keeps me here. I simply had no place I needed to research.” I didn’t care.
“So you were working at home every day, which means it would be quite difficult to guess when you’d go
out. Odds are this polar bear has been here since before you moved in.”
“Hmm? Since I bought the place?”
“Then how do explain me living here without ever seeing it? Do you take me for a blind man?”
“Rohan, it’s almost evening. Before the sun goes down, let’s try an experiment.”
“But first, let me ask…do you want this stuffed animal?”
“Not at all!”
“I asked because you are technically the owner. Now, where is your washroom?”
“I need to borrow your hair clippers.” The top of Rohan’s head was nicely styled, but he wore a strange jagged headband, and the hair beneath that was neatly trimmed. This did not seem like a hairstyle you would ask for at a hair salon, so I was sure he maintained it himself. I was right; he took me to a washroom and handed over a pair of clippers. I also borrowed a broom, dustpan, and a towel.
“I’ll have you know I’m not a fan of loaning such things to other people! Like I said, I’m very high strung!”
“I’m not using them personally,” I said. We went back to the sunroom, and I began cutting the polar bear’s hair, removing the bits covered in brown paint. Vvvvvvvvvvrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
“Aaaaaaugh! Now I can never use those clippers again! I hope you’ll be paying for those? Augh! Augh! I’ll send you a bill! Seriously! Aaaaaugh!” I brushed Rohan aside.
“Please, you’re being distracting. Why don’t you go call Sugimoto? I’d like to meet her, hear her side
of things. Wait in your work room till I call you.”
“Tch…you’re not going to be rude to her, are you? I won’t stand for it!” he muttered, and left. I concentrating on shaving the bear. Eventually it looked like a polar bear again. Good. I swept the hair into the dustpan, but there wasn’t even a trashcan in the room, so I just had to leave it in the corner. I wiped the floor with a towel. I went to wash the towel off, and on my way to the washroom, I found Rohan peeping in the door from the work room.
“Just a few more minutes.”
“Ahhh, you even wiped up the blood? Don’t look at me when they yell at you for destroying the scene!”
“Yes, yes, don’t worry about that.” With the blood gone, the sunroom floor was bright white again. Good. I put the towel down by the dustpan, and left the sunroom to get Rohan. He was alone in the dark work room. Was Sugimoto out? No matter.
“The experiment is ready. Come on in.” Rohan was seated on the corner of his desk, and he jumped up and trotted over.
“So? We’re experimenting with my supposed blindness?”
“……! Did you hide the polar bear somewhere?”
“No. I’m just checking to see how blind you are.”
“What do…” he started, but as the door swung open, his words trailed off.
“………hunh? …………? The bear…? It’s here?” I thought so. He couldn’t see it. The bear had its back to Rohan.
“Polar bears have evolved to enable them to hunt in snow. Their hairs are hollow. The hollow serves to scatter the bright
northern light, making their entire bodies glow white, and preventing their prey from seeing them approach. Their bodies cast no shadow. This also allows the light to reach their bodies directly, and warm them. Rohan, right now you are a seal in a snowfield being stalked by this bear. In this white room, with sunlight streaming through these massive windows, and the white gravel and white sand beach outside the room, the polar bear’s hairs scatter the light just enough to trick your eyes as you enter from that dark work room.”
“Nyanyanyanonono!” Rohan reacted to my deduction injection with such a bizarre noise that I burst out laughing. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! This was no time for laughter. This wasn’t a trick the killer had intentionally prepared.
“You were so busy working since you moved in that you put nothing in this north sunroom, and almost never came in here, and even if you did were blinded by the sunlight and never saw the bear. But it was always here. And it’s in a glass room, so at other times of day or other angles…anyone doing anything but peeking through the door after working in a dark room would have seen the polar bear. The girl you live with never imagined you hadn’t seen it, and never thought to bring it up in conversation, but she knew it was there. Tsukumojuku’s killer saw it too. That’s why it occurred to him to use it in his Kintaro display. You see, that was the start, Rohan. That’s what gave him the idea.”
“But this is the third murder?”
“He simply chose to use it later in his spree. But because he had the bear, he knew he could pull off Kintaro; because he could do Kintaro he decided to do Urashima Taro and Momotaro. Based on the difficulty of each display, that must be how he arrived at the plan.”
“Now, Rohan. Kintaro, Urashima Taro, and Momotaro. The three famous Taros. All famous folk tales. Will there be more murders? There are plenty of other folk tales, so why pick three with characters named Taro?”
“I have no idea.”
“There must be a meaning. But the three famous ones are already used. Do you know any other folk tales with Taros?”
“But that’s not a folk tale, and the anime song isn’t a children’s song.”
“Then Obake Q is out of the running as well.”
“I can’t think of anything else.”
“Neither can I. Perhaps there are local legends about somethingsomething Taros here and there across Japan, and songs about them, but this type of display holds no meaning if the people viewing the display don’t get it. Occasionally you’ll get a killer doing it for the art or something, but in that case, these three are too simplistic. If there were a fourth murder, the display would have to be based on a legend so much less famous it wouldn’t fit. I think we can probably assume that this serial detective killing has ended at three.”
“If I was the killer, I would reveal an original Taro for the fourth murder,” Rohan said. Mere distractions. I ignored him, and reviewed my theory. Three cases. Three points. That made a triangle.
“Rohan, can you show me the exact locations of the other cases?” I took out the map I’d procured at the station, and Rohan confidently pointed them out. I wasn’t sure how Rohan had come by this information, but he had it. Rohan…had some power I did not yet understand. But I could deal with that later. I marked the locations where Hakkyoku Sachiari, Nekoneko Nyan Nyan Nyan,
and Tsukumojuku were found, and drew a triangle. Then I took out the hand drawn map of the world Tsukumojuku had made. The world filled with oceans, pieces of Panlandia scattered across it. I compared it with the Bermuda Triangle he’d described. I was right. The triangle of dead detectives matched the shape of the Bermuda Triangle exactly.
Tsukumojuku traveled through time via this triangle. What could that symbol mean here? “…what is that strange map?” Rohan asked.
“It’s a map of the world, isn’t it? I see Japan. In the strangest place. The whole world’s been scrambled.”
“This is a map Tsukumojuku drew for me before he died.”
“It looked like you were comparing the triangle drawn on that map with the triangle formed by these three murders. Do you think there’s some connection to that fictional map?”
“Not everything has meaning. Moments of synchronicity seem so bizarre our minds naturally attempt to extract meaning from them – meaning that isn’t there.” I looked up, and met Rohan’s eye.
“I disagree. There’s a important, inflexible law that defines the world.”
“Everything has meaning. Nothing is out of place.”
“Hmph. That’s only true in mystery novels.”
“But I’m a detective. The moment I get involved, the rules of the world shift to my genre.”
“…such confidence. Or possibly madness. So this is a mystery novel, then? Hmm. Then let me say this – if I’m involved as well, if this is happening here in Morioh – then no one set of rules can define anything. The very laws of physics are distorted beyond recognition here.”
“…………..?” In Morioh? What did that mean? Rohan was clearly hinting at the mysterious power he seemed to have, but was there something specific to Morioh that caused it? Or were there other people with powers like his here? “Rohan…you have a…a power of some kind, right?”
“Mr. Joestar, you realize that Arrow Cross and the room in
which Tsukumojuku was found technically form a locked room?” Rohan asked, ignoring my question.
“Eh? What’s that got…” What point was there to the room being locked? The state of Tsukumojuku’s body made it perfectly clear he’d been murdered, the body was carefully posed, and it was the third case. In no way would it be mistaken for suicide.
“Being a locked room means nothing, here.” Rohan said. So he hadn’t ignored my question.
“…because the laws of physics don’t apply?”
“Exactly. There are a fair number of people in this town who could kill Tsukumojuku from a distance, and create the locked room.”
“………? Could you do that?”
“Yes. I could have Tsukumojuku himself lock the room, paint the bear white, strip, wrap that triangle around himself, climb on a bear, and cut his own head off with an axe. Of course, I would do no such thing.”
“You can make people do things? Like hypnotism?”
“Very similar. But much less ceremony, and much harder to resist.”
“……so………..” I hesitated, then decided to say it.
“This is a super power? It this a town of people with super powers?”
“We call these powers Stands. The main difference from typical comic book super powers is that each Stand has a visible form. It may look like a person, an animal, an insect, a boat or a car, a fishing rod or a key. But because these images appear to stand beside their users, we call them Stands. And Stand Masters find themselves drawn to one another, like a magnetic attraction. Morioh is just one such pole.” I shuddered, at a loss for words. Super powers? I had to solve a case in a world where they existed? It was
too late to back out now. I was already part of this. Everything I’d known went flying out the window when Tsukumojuku appeared. Everything had meaning. Nothing is out of place. I repeated my own proclamation like a mantra. I had to make my deductions with this new information in mind, and if I was truly a detective, I would be able to pull that off.
“Speaking of strange laws of physics,” Rohan said. I knew I didn’t want to hear this, but that I had to. I needed to know everything.
“This morning, when I woke up in the west sunroom after accidentally sleeping there, I looked at the north sunroom.”
“Those big windows are perfectly parallel, and the doors at the back of the arrows are also made of glass, so I had a good view of the inside of the north sunroom. The polar bear is quite tall, and if Tsukumojuku’s body had been on its back, I would certainly have seen it.”
“I couldn’t see it at all, Mr. Joestar,” Rohan seemed to pity me.
“When I woke up, the polar bear and Tsukumojuku’s body were not in the sunroom. The sun had not yet risen, and the sky behind the north sunroom was a dull orange. The polar bear’s hairs would not have had enough light to reflect to make it invisible. I’m certain of it. There was no Kintaro display in that sunroom when I woke. I’m afraid your theory that the polar bear was always in that room doesn’t hold water.”
“After my coincidental glance at the north sunroom, I got out of bed, crossed to the east sunroom, spoke a word or two to Sugimoto, went to the north sunroom, and found the Kintaro
display. In other words, during the couple of minutes…no, one minute that I was inside, the killer would have had to murder Tsukumojuku, move the bear in, arrange the display, and escape from the locked room. All without being seen by me on my way to the sunroom, and without stepping on any of the gravel that surrounds the house. I think it’s clear this was not the doing of any normal human, no matter how crafty.”
“…it certainly seems that way.”
“I don’t mean to frighten you, but three other detectives have already been murdered. You should consider your own safety. You appear to be a skilled detective, but I doubt there’s anything someone without a Stand could do here.” Was that true? “If everything has meaning, then my coming here means something, Rohan,” I said.
“I have a role to play here – that much is certain. Rohan, could you tell me more about these Stands?”
“People like us never share the details of our powers with others.”
“But for some reason I find myself drawn to you. Don’t misunderstand me! I’m speaking of the magnetism I mentioned earlier. For some reason I find myself convinced our meeting isn’t a coincidence.”
“Naturally,” I said.
“I was more or less summoned here. Invited…by means of a threat. Rohan, do you know…um…hunh?” What? I couldn’t finish the sentence. I had known the name a moment ago, but now it wouldn’t come out. I had wanted to ask if he knew the name.
“Sorry. I was going to ask if you knew a name, but suddenly I can’t remember it.” I was a detective. This never happened. It could never happen. Had I simply forgotten? No, that couldn’t be.
My memory never failed me. Rohan was staring at me in silence.
“Did you do something to me?” He nodded.
“Yes. If you say that name aloud, you’ll die.”
“………?” What? If Jorge Joestar ever comes to Morioh, I’ll kill him. Was Rohan making that same threat?” What had Rohan done to me? Stolen my memories? No. Rohan had also forced me to call him Rohan. His power was similar to hypnotism…so he was controlling me. Making me forget that name. What kind of power would make that possible? “Then you do know that name, Rohan?”
“I know the name. Not his face.”
“Can you tell me?”
“No. Speaking his name means death. You explode.”
“Hunh?” Explode? “What do you mean?”
“Your body is blown away. Fire and shockwaves. Everything turns to ash, down to your hair and fingernails, until there’s no trace of you left.”
“…….? You’re killed by a bomb of something?” But what kind of bomb could demolish the body that thoroughly? “…your entire body is the bomb.”
“? ….what do you –” …mean? Before I could finish, the doorbell rang. It made a noise like a phony violin, and took me several second to work out it was a doorbell at all.
“Oh, they’re back,” Rohan said. His eyes went dead. What was wrong with him? I wondered.
“Sorry,” he said.
“But could you get them to leave? I know them well enough, but lately they’ve been ignoring me. Very vexing.” Ignoring him? “Um…you should really handle that yourself.” I wasn’t here to mediate childish squabbles.
“Come on, you’re a detective! Running off people who interfere with the investigation is part of your job description.
They’ll definitely get in the way, I promise.”
“How do you know them?” I asked, looking. Three boys, in school uniforms. They looked to be about my age. They were walking around the house, moving towards us. Two of them looked like thugs. I could see why he’d want to avoid them.
“They’re kids. You sure they aren’t your fans?”
“They aren’t fans! Just a pain in my ass! Every time they show up they bring trouble with them! I’m going back to my workroom. You get rid of them.” Rohan turned, and basically fled the north sunroom. But as he opened the door, he paused, and said, “You too, Sugimoto.” I turned to look, but only Rohan went through that door.
My head was swimming. Stands. A murder display and a locked room made in one minute. A name hidden from my memory. Rohan’s odd behavior. Speaking his name means death. You explode. This strange building, and the strange events inside. The Arrow Cross House and the Cube House. There was even a girl with amnesia, Sugimoto Reimi. Rohan was a little weird about her. You too, Sugimoto. He’d been speaking to empty air. As if there was a girl standing there…? I opened the door, and stepped outside. I had to get the facts. When the three boys saw me coming out of the Arrow Cross, they moved into an attack pattern, placing themselves on all three sides. The two thugs had the same face, and were probably twins; one went to my right, and the other to the left. The boy in front of me looked like a nice kid; he didn’t look like the sort who’d be friends with the other two. He waved, smiling.
“Hello!” I bowed.
“There was a murder here today, but we saw you in the
window, and came to check it out,” he said. He was smiling, but also watching me carefully.
“Let me introduce myself,” I said.
“My name is Jorge Joestar. I may be only sixteen, but I’m a detective.”
“Sixteen? So are we. A detective? But you shouldn’t be in a place like this alone. After all, the one murdered here was a detective, too.”
“Yes, I knew him.”
“Oh! I see. My condolences. So you came to investigate?”
“Exactly. You are…?”
“…friends of the owner, Rohan-sensei!” And he told me to run you off.
“I see. Well, sorry if I spooked ya, but Rohan gave me permission to be here, so…”
“Rohan did whaaaat!?” the thug on my right snarled.
“Don’t you fuckin’ lie to me!” Interestingly, he made no attempt to get in my face, the way most thugs would. He had his hands in his pockets, and was standing a good three meters away. His body language made it clear he was ready to pounce, and I was suitably intimidated. His twin kept the same distance, and was watching me quietly. This was clearly their natural fighting distance. Out of my reach. But they could reach me. They had powers. Stands. That had forms of their own.
“So…” I said.
“You’ve got your Stands out, then?” The boy on my right snapped.
“You can fuckin’ see them!?” he roared. Something grabbed me by the throat. He didn’t move at all. Something else had its hand around my neck, and was lifting me into the air. An invisible hand. I could feel the palm, and five fingers. It was shaped like a human, but it wasn’t human. Rohan had said some Stands were humanoid, and this was clearly one. I tried to grab the hand, but my fingers passed right through it, catching only empty air. When he saw that, the thug looked
“You can’t…? What? You aren’t a Stand Master? What the hell are you doing here? What do you know about Rohan?” His Stand slammed me up against the Arrow Cross window.
“…….what?” I managed.
“Where is Rohan? Don’t you even think about lying!” Where…? “He’s here!” I said, betraying Rohan’s trust immediately. I didn’t have much choice; my vision was quickly blurring, and I was about to pass out.
“Here!? What are you talking about!? No one’s seen him for two weeks! Don’t you fuck with me!” He was missing? Lately they’ve been ignoring me. But they called him sensei, and were clearly searching desperately for him. That’s why I was dangling in the air like this. This didn’t add up. How could they perceive the situation so differently? The other thug turned towards the house, and yelled, “Rohan-sensei!” The smiling one was watching me closely, saying nothing. The flow of blood cut off, my brain was gasping for oxygen, but I forced it to think.
“Rohan-sensei!” Thug B yelled, again.
“What?” Rohan said.
“Honestly, you’re the worst,” I heard him mutter. But Thug B asked, “Reimi, has Rohan come back?” Like Rohan said, were they ignoring him? “This ain’t right,” Thug B said.
“This murder today, I’m sure it was him. It’s not safe for you to be here alone, Reimi.” I started sliding higher up the glass.
“Eh? But he’s suspicious, Reimi,” Thug A said. Eh? Why did he say “Eh?” Like he was responding to something Sugimoto Reimi said, but I hadn’t heard her voice, couldn’t see her at all. I tried to turn my head and get a better look.
“See, Mr. Joestar?” Rohan sighed.
“They’re the worst.”
Thug A spoke over him.
“None of us know what he looks like. Heh heh heh.” He turned to look at me.
“You could be pretending you’re a detective. But you’re really Kira Yoshikage –”
Oh! I thought. The invisible hand around my throat vanished, and I fell to the ground, almost laughing. I remembered! That was the name! How had I forgotten it? Wait, what was it again? The gravel crunched under my knees, and I coughed violently. Thug B run over to me.
“Nooo! Fukashigi! Where are you, Fukashigi!” That’s a weird thing to say, I thought. Then he grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me to my feet.
“So you are a Stand Master?” he yelled. I had no idea what he meant until I looked around. Thug A was gone.
“What the hell did you do to Fukashigi? Bring him back right now! Or I’ll retire you on the spot! You’ve got three seconds! One!” Apparently Fukashigi was Thug A’s name, the one who’d been strangling me. And his sudden disappearance had made Thug B jump to the conclusion that I’d attacked him. He seemed frightened.
“Wait, I have no idea what…” I saw Rohan standing next to him.
“Rohan, you saw it! Say something.” Thug B saw me looking over his shoulder, and turned to look. He spun back quickly, angry.
“What are you talking about? You’re mixed up in his disappearance, aren’t you?” Whaaat? What the hell? “Jesus,” Rohan said.
“Your brother vanishes and you’re still keeping this…practical joke going? What an asshole.” No. He wasn’t ignoring Rohan. Thug B couldn’t see him.
“He’s in on it! Kouji, Reimi, get back! Where’s Fukashigi? Tell me right now! Two!” Thug B screamed. The other boy stepped
back, keeping a close eye on me the whole while. I looked around. They kept talking to Sugimoto Reimi, but there was no sign of her. But she was here. I just couldn’t see her.
“I will fuck you up!” I understood now.
“Time’s up! Get ready for a beating! That’s what I’m best at!” When the invisible hand was around my neck, I’d been pressed up against the Arrow House window, and I’d fallen straight down. But that window was a good two meters behind me now.
“Alright, little dog, prepare to get put down!” Thug B said, stepping back away from me. Like Fukashigi (?), he had other ways to attack, and kept his distance when he fought.
“Wait! I can find Fukashigi.”
“Whaaat!?” he yelled. But he held off the attack. I stood up.
“I am the detective, Jorge Joestar. I can solve this case!” It was a little theatrical, but it bought me a few more seconds. The other boy behind Thug B was calm, but equally tensed, equally on his guard. Rohan looked a little shaken, but mostly just fascinated by what was going on. None of them seemed to be acting. I’d seen through the lies of many a killer, and my lie detection was honed to perfection. None of them were lying. What they said they saw was the truth. That meant Sugimoto Reimi was here, even if I couldn’t see her. And if the four of us hadn’t done anything, then Sugimoto Reimi must have spirited Fukashigi away. But not to harm him; she was Rohan’s housemate, and seemed to be friendly with these boys as well. So she hadn’t made him disappear; she’d hidden him. Where? How? What had happened?
Fukashigi had vanished. I had hit the ground. The ground I’d landed on was two meters away from the window I’d been pressed against. When Fukashigi vanished, he didn’t throw me aside. The hand was just gone, and I dropped straight down. To two meters away. But my back had been pressed against the glass when he vanished. The very laws of physics are distorted beyond recognition here. I had to accept this new rule. I hadn’t moved. The window had moved two meters forward, dropped me, and moved two meters back. In an instant. The window had moved on its own? That wouldn’t be enough to hide a big guy like Fukashigi. You’d need to move something bigger to hide him. But what? I went over to the west sunroom window I’d been pressed against, bent down, and moved the gravel aside. There was nothing but dirt underneath. The outer walls looked like they went underground, but I looked closer, and saw a faint line running across it. A gap. Forget the old physics. Okay. I stood up, and ran through it again. Why had she needed to hide Fukashigi? At that exact moment? What had he done? He’d said that name. Then vanished just as I remembered it. The name I couldn’t remember (again) was the key. Of course it was. Rohan had told me as much. Speaking his name means death. You explode. Your entire body is the bomb. I should take that literally. If you said that name, you’d explode, and die. But Sugimoto Reimi had prevented that.
She had put him in a vacuum to prevent the explosion. By placing him under the Arrow Cross House.
This was Sugimoto Reimi’s power. But she was not a Stand Master, not a human. If she was, I’d have been able to see her, just like the three boys. I couldn’t see her, because she wasn’t a Stand Master. Fukashigi had proven I wasn’t. You can fuckin’ see them!? You can’t…? What? You aren’t a Stand Master? Being able to see Stands was proof you had one. And I couldn’t see Sugimoto Reimi. The girl with amnesia…or not. She was a Stand. A humanoid one. She wasn’t human, so had no memories. Stands didn’t simply stand by you, they had powers. Sugimoto Reimi’s power – difficult as it was to believe – clearly allowed her to move the Arrow Cross. She had moved the building to hide Fukashigi. And one other.
I looked at Rohan. He spent most of his time at home, not meeting anyone, and had not realized the girl he lived with wasn’t human. He was grinning, enjoying this turn of events, but he was invisible too. I could see him, but the three boys couldn’t. If Stand Masters couldn’t see him, he wasn’t a Stand. He was something else. Not a Stand, but not alive. But not dead, either. Hidden, just like Fukashigi. How did being under the Arrow Cross keep Fukashigi and Rohan alive? Was there oxygen down there? I didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. The laws of physics didn’t apply. What mattered was
that both were alive. If she’d intended to crush them to death under the Arrow Cross, she could have just let them explode. But if both Rohan and Fukashigi were trapped between life and death, why was Rohan standing in front of me, talking? Because he was a manga artist, and had deadlines. Too worried about his schedule to die if you killed him.
“Rohan,” I said. Thug B looked for him again, but couldn’t see him.
“You can use your stand to control people, or change their nature?” He nodded.
“I can. That is the power of Heaven’s Door.” ? Was that the Stand’s name? Whatever.
“Okay, then first, can you make it so I can see Stands?” Rohan stopped smiling.
“Are you sure? There are some things you’re better off not knowing. Not getting involved with.” I nodded.
“I’m a detective. I need to know all the facts. If Stands are a fact of this case, then I have to see them to know them.”
“Ok. Heh heh heh. I admire your gumption. Then I shall open your doors! Heaven’s Door!” I’m not entirely sure it was strictly necessary to shout his Stand’s name like a fighting move, but he fwipfwipfwip drew his manga character and I went ftttzzz. But this time I saw it. My face peeling away like the pages of a book.
“Aaaaugh!” I yelled.
“Heh,” Rohan said.
“My Stand lets me turn anyone who sees my character into a book. I can read everything there is to know about you, and write new orders or facts into your pages. Ha ha ha!” Trying to keep the pages of my face from flapping in the breeze, I glanced over at Thug B. There were strange dolphins floating in the air next to him. Three of them.
“If you’re a book,” he said.
“Then that means Rohan’s alive, and with us?”
“Who are you staring at?” he growled. I looked at the boy next to him. He had a propeller on his head, like something out of Doraemon.
“Yeah, it’s kind of lame,” he said, bobbing his head. Surprised, I almost laughed, but caught myself in time.
“What was the missing boy’s Stand like?”
“Why should we tell you?” his brother snarled.
“I need all the information to solve this case. I’m trying to find your brother.” The propeller boy filled me in. Fukashigi’s Stand was named NYPD Blue. He was a good cop, but had a foul mouth, and an abrasive personality. Apparently he was a New Yorker to the core. Hunh? Finally I looked at the attractive girl next to Rohan. She looked a little older than me. I could see her at last.
“I apologize for the delay, Sugimoto Reimi. My name is Jorge Joestar.” She smiled, and said hello, but her voice shook. She was scared. Of what? Of the others finding out she was a Stand? She must have seen the hesitation in my face.
“Don’t worry,” she said.
“I don’t know if the truth is always the best course, but misunderstandings and lies will get us nowhere.” She ended with a smile. She was quite beautiful. The best course? Those words were gospel to me. Sugimoto reached out and took Rohan’s hand, and said, “Right, Rohan?”
“Eh? What’s going on?” He said, turning bright red. I was suddenly jealous. Of course, I thought. She was worried about this delicate manga artist. I took her at her word.
“Rohan, next use Heaven’s Door on these boys.”
“Boys?” Thug B said.
“You’re the same age,” he grumbled.
“Make so they can see, um…not ghosts, exactly, but, um…astral projections.”
Rohan caught my meaning, and looked stunned, but the moment Heaven’s Door made the change, the two boys could see him. Amid their cries of jubilation and surprise, I explained my thinking, had Sugimoto let me under the Arrow Cross House to check the suspended bodies of Rohan and Fukashigi. Rohan stared at himself wordlessly, and then looked at Sugimoto, who he now knew wasn’t human after all.
“So what happened to all the food and coffee you had? A waste of my supplies!” he said, making a show of sulking. Sugimoto just smiled.
“Sorry. But I wanted to eat with you.”
“…look, I’m not mad about it, or anything.” They were just flirting! We moved back inside, and I had them explain the basics of Stand powers as we did. I had Sugimoto move the building, did an experiment to prove a theory of mine, and was sure I’d solved another mystery.
“So this explains how the murder display and locked room could be created in one minute, Rohan. When you finished working last night, you went to sleep in your own bedroom, the east sunroom. Like you always do. There’s no way you could get up from your desk, turn the wrong way, and leave through the wrong door. Even if you somehow did, with the furniture in the west sunroom laid out in a mirror image of your own bedroom, you’re much too high strung – if you’ll forgive the expression – to have missed it. You went to sleep in the east sunroom, like you always do. But when dawn arrived, the house had been turned 180 degrees, and you were on the west side. The light was odd enough
to wake you, and you assumed you must have gone to sleep on the wrong side. You got up to trade rooms with Sugimoto, but before you left, you glanced at the empty north sunroom – which was actually the south sunroom. Since you don’t use the south sunroom, it was naturally empty. Rohan, did you happen to look south at all? At the actual north sunroom?”
“…….no, I didn’t.”
“If you had, I’m sure you would have seen the Kintaro display already completed. And it was bright enough that, if you had stopped to look, you would have noticed that everything in the room was backwards. Because everything was laid out the way you were used to, you didn’t notice in the few seconds you were there. The only thing out of place was the position of the sun. So, you left the east sunroom, which was on the west side, crossed the work room, and woke Sugimoto in the west sunroom, which was on the east side. When she woke, Sugimoto noticed that the building had somehow turned, and immediately turned it back. She did this while you were in the work room, headed for the hallway to the north sunroom. Without you noticing, the north sunroom moved from the south side of the building back to the north, where it was when you found Tsukumojuku’s body.” Sugimoto nodded.
“That’s more or less accurate. I didn’t consciously turn the building back, but when I woke up, the building did turn 180 degrees, back to the way it normally sits.”
“But…that means…” Rohan started, but I didn’t let him.
“Yes, this only makes sense if the center of the Arrow Cross House, the square room you use as a work room, does not turn with the four arrows. That’s what I just verified. As I thought, no matter how fast the house is spinning, the center room doesn’t move at all.” The laws of physics did not apply. Conventional logic would never have allowed me to reach
this solution; only once I absorbed the logical contradictions of it could I reach the truth.
“I believe the four arrows and this central building are not actually linked. They appear to be part of the same building, but are technically two different pieces.” I had my eyes fixed on Sugimoto, but I could see Rohan’s jaw drop next to her.
“Remember, Rohan, there was originally a building with no windows or doors on this hill. Later on, without anyone noticing, it became this building. It wasn’t rebuilt; it was remodeled. The Arrow Cross was built around the Cube House, but the original building remains – and you work inside of it. Right?” Sugimoto seemed very impressed by the accuracy of my deductions.
“Wow. You’re absolutely right.”
“In other words, Sugimoto’s Stand power was originally shaped like Cube House. But five years ago, it changed shape to Arrow Cross House. This sort of thing happens with Stands sometimes, doesn’t it? Rohan. Sudden changes or evolutions occur to both the visible Stand and the Stand’s abilities, right?”
“Yes. Nothing like that has happened with Heaven’s Door, but it is possible.” Thug B – Nijimura Muryotaisu – was waiting outside. His weird looking dolphin stand, Grand Blue, was originally only one dolphin. But now it was three. Things like that happened. And during the fight with this killer whose name I was better off not remembering, a similar thing had happened to his Stand, Killer Queen. When they first encountered him, all he could do was touch things, turning them into bombs that he could detonate remotely. Then it could split part of itself off into a bomb that could track its prey automatically – Sheer Heart Attack. And now it had a new power, Bites the Dust, which could make people explode if they so much as spoke his name. Unless they defeated this killer, or somehow got him to turn off his third power, Rohan
and Nijimura Fukashigi would have to stay under the Arrow Cross, away from oxygen.
“I do have some questions,” I said.
“When you were shaped like Cube House, what power did you have?” Sugimoto hesitated.
“…sorry. I don’t remember.” I suppose she wouldn’t. Sugimoto Reimi was a Stand with the power to move the Arrow Cross House. She had replaced whatever…personality? I guess? The Stand attached to Cube House had had.
“…I see. Then…it seems you sleep at night like a normal human, but during that time, what happens to the Arrow Cross? In other words, does it frequently turn on its own, like it did this morning?”
“Hmmm…well, I’d be asleep, so I wouldn’t remember, but this is the first time I’ve ever woken up and found the building turned.”
“………..? Interesting.” There were a few details we had not yet clarified, but I also had to catch Tsukumojuku’s killer, figure out how they made the locked room, and search for the killer whose name must not be remembered. I was about to proceed when Nijimura Muryotaisu came into the room.
“Sugimoto, why are you moving the house?” he asked.
We went outside, and Arrow Cross House was rocking back and forth. It had been impossible to tell from inside, but it was as if the building sensed something wrong, and was trashing wildly to get our attention.
“This isn’t me,” Sugimoto said. I looked around. From looking at the building and the land around us, it was
hard to tell, but once I looked up it fell into place. The clouds in the sky were matching the movements of the house exactly. But it wasn’t the sky that was moving. The ground was moving, and the Arrow Cross House was staying perfectly still. The polar bear was pointed due north at all times.
“It’s like a giant compass,” I said.
Hirose Kouji flew up into the air on his Doraemon propeller, Blue Thunder. A chasm had opened along the borders of Morioh, and it had split off from the main land. It was now an island floating on the sea, headed north along the coast of the Japan Sea. We all stood stunned after hearing his report.
“While we’re all surprised may not be the best time,” Rohan whispered in my ear.
“But what sort of person are you?” I didn’t know what he meant, so I had no answer.
“I’ve been wondering if I should say anything,” Rohan continued.
“But like Sugimoto said…” I don’t know if the truth is always the best course, but misunderstandings and lies will get us nowhere.
“You’re a detective, and seem to have what it takes.” I’m a detective. I need to know all the facts.
“So I’ll tell you the truth. When I used Heaven’s Door to read your book, all your adventures as a detective in Nishi Akatsuki were listed under the heading: Forgery.”
“Behind your left ear, I found the Real account. It was very short. ‘Born in 1889 in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain.
Became a pilot in the English air force, and fought in WWI. Murdered in 1920 by an air force general.’ That’s all it said. I have never met someone with real and fake books, and the real contents are very strange. England and the Canary Islands don’t exist, and 1889? You were born 123 years ago, and died 92 years ago. If this is truly your real life, then how old are you?”