CHAPTER 1 – LORE OF THE “ONE-MAN HIDE-AND-SEEK”
As expected of an apartment fit for the elite, even the front entrance was huge.
“Thanks for letting us in,” Shigure said, then let out a small sigh of relief as she clutched at my sleeve. She must have been worried we’d be turned away. I gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
As we followed Yumie-chan’s mother down the hallway, she turned back to look at us.
“Yumie’s not hiding out at your place, is she? Are you kids here as some sort of spy for her?”
“I’m afraid I’ve never met Yumie-chan before, Miss. But judging by your beauty, I’m sure she’s a really cute girl.”
“Oh, that girl’s really drab and unrefined. I can never understand what she’s thinking.”
It pained me somewhat to hear a woman speak so badly of her own daughter, but to speak out now might make her change her mind and forbid us from checking out Yumie-chan’s room. Thus, I held my tongue.
Finally, we were shown into Yumie-chan’s room.
“This is Yumie’s room.”
The room we were ushered into was probably the smallest in the entire apartment, only about 6 tatami mats large, but it was undoubtedly a junior high school girl’s room. However, it also felt somewhat plain. There were lots of personal items around, yet their placement didn’t make the room feel lived in at all.
Aside from some fashion magazines and manga on the bed, the rest of the room was tidy and neat. There were lots of soft toys around, but even those were lined up nicely, contrasting sharply with the books on the bed and the wide-open closet door.
Piles of clothes which had been hanging in the closet seemed to have been taken out, and were neatly folded and piled in the corners of the room. Spotting some nightwear among the items, I politely averted my gaze. I knew it wasn’t as embarrassing as seeing underwear, but I thought it would be polite to respect a girl’s private belongings.
“Well, I have to get ready for work. Don’t steal anything,” Yumie-chan’s mother warned before leaving the room.
“……Yes,” Shigure whispered, slightly taken aback. On the other hand, I was annoyed at the woman’s implication that my little sister was a thief.
However, I guess it wasn’t hard to imagine why this woman had become so critical and suspicious of others. Unable to trust anyone in her profession, she couldn’t even empathize with her own daughter. Watching her leave, I gave Shigure another pat on the shoulder.
“…Yes, I’m fine, big brother,” Shigure sighed as she assured me, placing her hand over mine.
“Well, let’s get started, shall we?”
“Yes. Big brother…?”
“I’ll take a look through those magazines.”
With a change in mood, we shifted into detective mode. I was usually really frank, but this was about Shigure’s friend, and it was a personal issue within their family anyway, so I couldn’t speak my mind. Even though I was pissed at the woman’s attitude, there was nothing I could do to change that.
Let’s not think about ‘lores’ first. Let’s pretend this was a simple case of a girl who ran away from home.
In that case, there was a chance that she’d contacted someone who had posted an ad on the ‘friendship board’ featured in the magazine I was holding in my hand. She was a junior high school girl, and this magazine was a little too mature for girls her age, but she was also at that age where girls started to t
ake an interest in such things. I remembered hearing the girls in my junior high school class talk about topics such as these.
Flipping through the magazine, I soon found the page featuring the ‘board’.
It wasn’t hard to imagine Yumie-chan contacting some guy here, and being attracted and lured away by him. Besides, judging by her family environment, she must have been a lonely girl craving for human contact.
However, something else soon caught my attention.
Flipping through the magazine a few more times, I discovered that it often opened up on a specific page.
“Shigure, there’s an interesting page here. Yumie-chan has bookmarked it.”
“Really? What page is that?”
I spread the page out fully for Shigure. It was a special feature on the occult. And the title was…
“It’s called, ‘How to play the one-man hide-and-seek’…”
“Hmm… So Yumie might have tried out whatever is written on the magazine.”
If she had searched the Internet on her smartphone, Yumie-chan might have found many different methods to play the one-man hide-and-seek, but it would be hard to tell which was true and which was fake. Thus, she must have tried out this method published in the magazine instead.
“Big brother, look at that,” Shigure said as she pointed at something on the table.
A few nail clippings, with a small scattering of rice. A red thread on a needle, a large box cutter, and a normal glass cup.
“In the trashbin too,” Shigure pointed to the bin, which was filled to the brim with pillow fluff.
It was obvious that Yumie-chan had dissected and emptied out some soft toy.
“But there’s no soft toy without its stuffing.”
“Yes, but there’s a box cutter here, which means she’s used it.”
I knew then that Yumie-chan had indeed carried out the one-man hide-and-seek, based on what I’d read on the Internet and the method written in the magazine. Now, I took a closer look at the article.
– Select a soft toy with a name.
– Remove all stuffing from the soft toy.
– Fill the toy with rice and nail clippings, then sew closed with red thread.
– Fill a cup with saltwater and place it at your hiding place.
– Begin at 3 a.m. in the morning.
– Turn to the soft toy and say, ‘I will be It first’ 3 times.
– Bring the toy to the bathroom and submerge it in a bucket filled with water.
– Turn off all lights in the house, and tune the TV to a static channel.
*For most digital TVs, switching it to analog mode can help you to tune to a static channel.
– Close your eyes and count loudly to 10.
– Return to the bathroom with the box cutter.
– Tell the soft toy ‘I’ve found you, (toy’s name)’.
– Stab the soft toy with the cutter.
– Tell the soft toy ‘You’re It now, (toy’s name)’.
– Go to your hiding place with the saltwater and wait.