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Scars on the Pillars (Eng Script)

Since it seems that Visual Novel Reader isn’t always up to scratch (eheh…), the following is a transcript of my English translation for the short story Scars in the Pillars, which is part of Apathy Midnight Collection: Vol. 1. It would be a shame to miss out on its beautiful visual style and music, so I recommend reading with the text alongside you as you play.

PS: If you’d like the accompanying Japanese as well, you can find it in the excel file here:
Hashira-FULLTEXT

Enjoy!

SCENE 1
Boy “Excuse me, I’m looking to rent a room.”
Estate Agent “Ahh, come in, come in. Please, take a seat.”
Boy “Thanks.”
Estate Agent “Will you be living alone?”
Boy “Ah, yeah.”
Estate Agent “I see. So you’re a student then?”
Boy “That’s right. From Hokusei U.”
Estate Agent “That so. You’ve worked hard, then. Come February, you’d be hard pressed finding a place. All the good ones get snapped up before you know it. You’ve come at a good time, kid.”
Estate Agent “It’s early January, so we’ve still got plenty of places up for grabs. It’s much better to get moving all out of the way before you enter. By April, you’ll have your hands full with the entrance ceremony, clubs, parties…more parties…”
Estate Agent “Heheh, just don’t forget to study. Hokusei U. students are a bright bunch.”
Boy “Ah, actually, I’m already a freshman there.”
Estate Agent “Oh, I didn’t realise. You’re not happy with your current place then? Was there anything wrong?”
Boy “No, nothing like that. Actually, I’m still staying with my family in Chiba. I can commute there and back easily enough, but I’m really desperate to move out and be independent…”
Estate Agent “Ahh, I hear you. That’s a good attitude to have. You’ve gotta take the bull by the horns and just go for it. You don’t see that a lot in young kids like you. That’s Hokusei U. for you, huh.”
Estate Agent “It’s not easy being a bachelor, but it’s a step all men have to take at some point in their lives. You’re a shining example.”
Estate Agent “So what kind of room are you looking for? Let me guess, somewhere with an autolock? Would you prefer a place with terrestrial TV? How much can you afford?”
Boy “That’d be nice. I can manage about 100,000.”
Estate Agent “Ah! Well then, we’ll be able to fix you up no bother. That’s more than enough to be living alone with ease. We’ve even got baths with fitted jacuzzis.”
Estate Agent “Your parents really splurged out for you. There aren’t many people who’d dole out that much money for their kid.”
Estate Agent “I bet you’re popular with the girls, too. We’d better find you somewhere with a double bed in case your girlfriend decides to move in. Believe me, we’ve got some lovely spacious places on offer. Shall we have a look now then?”
Boy “U-um! I meant I can afford 100,000 yen in total…”
Estate Agent “In total? You mean, including the deposit and the broker’s fee?”
Boy “Yeah. My parents were really against me doing this since I could commute from home, so I’ve only been able to save up this much through part-time work. I can’t really go any higher than that.”
Estate Agent “Listen, even with a one-month deposit, taking the transaction fees and the advance rent and all that into account, we’re looking at five months’ worth of rent to begin with here.”
Boy “I know. I’ve done my research.”
Estate Agent “And you’re still looking for a place with 100,000 yen in your pocket?”
Boy “Right. I’ll have to cover the cost of the monthly rent through working, but that’s about the most I can afford.”
Estate Agent “That so…”
Boy “Do you think it’ll be difficult?”
Estate Agent “Difficult is not the word I’d be using right now. Are you seriously telling me you’re looking for a flat with that pittance?”
Estate Agent “If you’ve only got 100,000 to spare, that means you want a place for 20,000 a month. This isn’t a hut in the mountains we’re talking about. You won’t find that price anywhere.”
Boy “So I should just give up on it, huh…”
Estate Agent “I’m afraid so. Listen, see if you can persuade your dad to shell out some cash for you. You’d need at least 50,000 before you can think about finding a place.”
Boy “…Damn. I kind of guessed that would be the case.”
Estate Agent “That’s just how it is. I’d start thinking about other options.”
Lady “…”
Estate Agent “Mmm? Ah…yeah.”
Lady “…”
Estate Agent “But we can’t offer him there… I mean, have you seen that place?”
Estate Agent “And it’s…you know…”
Boy “U-um…is there something available?”
Lady “There is. It’s 20,000 yen a month and there’s no deposit or broker’s fee. I believe this property would be exactly suited to your needs.”
Estate Agent “Now come on! No self-respecting student would want to live in a place like that!”
Boy “No, I don’t mind! Really, I’ll do anything to get out of my parents’ house!”
Estate Agent “…The thing is, that place…”
Boy “…Is it…haunted?”
Estate Agent “No, we don’t deal in those kinds of properties. We’re obligated by law to tell you if there’s been a murder or ghost sightings somewhere. It’s not a place with a shady past or anything like that. It’s just…”
Boy “Then I’ll take it! I’ve been turned down by eight different estate agents already and I’m at the end of my rope here. Please, I’m begging you!”
Lady “…Would you like to see it?”
Estate Agent “Are you serious?”
Boy “Yes, please!”
SCENE 2
Boy “Thank you…thank you so much. I really appreciate you doing this.”
Lady “…”
Boy “…”
Boy “Um…are we close yet?”
Boy “Here…huh?”
Boy “Musousou (Reverie Villa)?”
Lady “It’s pronounced ‘Yumeomoisou.’ “
Lady “Shall we look upstairs?”
Boy “Ah, so there are two floors. Is the ground floor already full?”
Lady “No, nobody’s living on the ground floor.”
Boy “Oh.”
Lady “In fact, it’s completely deserted.”
Boy “Ah, deserted? Normally, that would mean…”
Lady “There aren’t any ghosts. It’s just closed off because it’s been in shambles for so long.”
Boy “Oh…oh I see.”
Lady “I’ll show you the interior.”
Boy “Whoa.”
Lady “It’s rather dirty, isn’t it.”
Boy “Ah, no, I didn’t mean…”
Lady “But the pillars are quite magnificent. …The pillars.”
Boy “Yeah, you’re right. They’re pretty nice.”
Lady “This will be your room.”
Lady “It doesn’t have a lock. If you need one, you’ll have to get it fitted out of your own pocket.”
Lady “After you.”
Boy “Ah-“
Lady “It has a fitted kitchen, but no bath. The toilets are communal. They’re at the end of the corridor next to this room. The rent is 20,000 inclusive, without deposit or comission, but you will have to pay your first month in advance by bank transfer.”
Boy “Okay…”
Lady “…”
Boy “Huh? What is that? Can you hear something?”
Boy “Where’s it coming from? The corridor?”
Boy “Yeeek!”
Lady “What’s wrong?”
Boy “Oh, uh, there’s…there’s an old woman!”
Lady “This is an apartment building, so you will be sharing the house with others.”
Boy “Ah, right… You have a point there. Ahahaha…”
Lady “Well, what do you think? Will you be signing the contract?”
Boy “Uh, um…”
SCENE 3
Boy “…Here it is.”
Sister “No way! You’re moving into HERE, Onii-chan?!”
Boy “Yup. It’s called ‘Yumeomoisou’. Pretty cool, right?”
Sister “It is SO not living up to its name right now. Omigod, what’s this?!”
Sister “It doesn’t even have a door!”
Boy “Yeaaah, they said the ground floor’s kind of abandoned.”
Sister “Wha- abandoned? You’re totally being scammed here somehow, Onii-chan. This is not normal.”
Boy “It’s fine, really. It’s pretty normal inside. And the pillars are really something.”
Sister “Onii-chan, come on. Please don’t live here on your own. We should all live together. Isn’t it about time you forgave dad already?”
Boy “Forgive? What’s there to forgive? I’m not mad at him and I don’t resent him for anything.”
FLASHBACK
Parents “…”
Boy “…So that’s it. You know, I kind of suspected it myself.”
Father “But it doesn’t change anything. You are, and always will be our child.”
Mother “That’s right. You’re a student now, so we thought it would be for the best to bring this up sooner than later. You’ll always be our Taisei.”
Boy “…Yeah, and I love you too, Mum, Dad. I just wish you’d told me earlier than this. So I was abandoned, huh.”
Parents “…”
Boy “I guess you don’t know who my real parents are.”
Father “…We don’t, no.”
Boy (Taisei) “Does Ruri know about this?”
Father “We haven’t talked to her yet.”
Taisei “Good. Can you keep it a secret from her?”
Mother “All right. We won’t tell her a thing.”
Taisei “Also, I think I will move out after all.”
Mother “What are you talking about? This is your home. You’re already close to university, you don’t need your own place. We can live together the way we always have, just the four of us.”
Father “…If Taisei wants to live alone, I think we should respect his decision. We can go flat hunting this Sunday.”
Taisei “No, I can do it myself. I’ve still got some savings left from work, so I’ll see if I can find something with that.”
Father “…Taisei.”
Father “I understand that you want to be independent, but do you realise how much that costs? I can support you financially if you need to.”
Taisei “Thanks. But if I’m going to live alone, I want to do this by myself. I don’t think it’ll go well if I start asking you for help, Dad.”
Mother “Taisei, your father’s only trying to help…”
Father “All right. You can do as you like. But just remember, this is your home. If you run into any trouble, we’re always here for you. Just don’t try to shoulder the burden all by yourself.”
Taisei “Thanks, Dad.”
END FLASHBACK
Taisei “…”
Sister (Ruri) “Onii-chan! Earth to Onii-chan!”
Taisei “Mm? Ahh, Ruri. Sorry, what were you saying?”
Ruri “What’re you spacing out for like that? I can’t visit you all the time with school and all, you know. Come on, let’s get your place tidied up already.”
Taisei “Yeah, good idea.”
“…”
Taisei “Ah…”
Taisei “Uh, hi. I’m Ishigaki Taisei. I’m just moving in toda-“
Ruri “What was THAT about?”
Taisei “Oh, it’s just this old woman who lives here.”
Ruri “Yeah, I figured that much. I mean what was she doing over there?”
Taisei “Dunno.”
Ruri “She was scratching on that pillar. So you’ve even got weirdos living with you. I really don’t like this one bit.”
Taisei “I’ll show you my room.”
Ruri “This is your room, Onii-chan?”
Taisei “Yep, this is the one.”
Ruri “You realise it’s like, right next door to that granny?”
Taisei “Yeah, I noticed.”
Ruri “How can you be so laid-back about all this? I can’t believe you…”
Taisei “Come on, let’s go inside.”
Ruri “Eww! This place is disgusting!”
Taisei “That’s why we’re here to clean it.”
Ruri “By the way, when are you getting your stuff delivered?”
Taisei “Hmm? Tomorrow, I guess?”
Ruri “So where are you gonna sleep tonight?”
Taisei “I figured I’d just nap on the floor.”
Ruri “Well you’re braver than me. I wouldn’t sleep alone in a place like this even if you paid me.”
Taisei “Ruri, you don’t have anything to do after this, do you?”
Ruri “Well, not really. It’s different for me cause high school’s already started. Why do you ask?”
Taisei “I was wondering if you wanted to get dinner together. I’ll treat you.”
Ruri “You should just come home for dinner, jeez.”
Taisei “…Ha ha…”
Ruri “What’s with that unconvincing laugh?”
“…Listen, I don’t know what’s happened between you and Mum and Dad, but Mum’s been really lonely, you know. Just make up and come back home, please. I can help out.”
Taisei “I told you, we haven’t fallen out. I just wanted to live on my own. I’ve wanted this for a long time.”
Ruri “Hmm. Well you don’t look very happy about it to me.”
Taisei “Really, I’m fine! Listen, let’s just get this place cleaned and go get dinner, all right?”
SCENE 4
Taisei “So I’m living alone now… Maybe I was a little early going about it, leaving all my livingware behind.”
Taisei “I said that, but I didn’t really see anything special about the pillars myself.”
Taisei “Huh? There’s scratches in it. Don’t tell me that old woman made these? Nah, haha…”
Taisei “I wish they’d never told me. Ignorance is bliss you know, Dad.”
Taisei “…”
Taisei “What’s that noise?”
Taisei “It’s like…some kind of scratching noise. Is it that old woman scratching at the pillar again?”
Taisei “It’s so faint I can barely hear it, but it’s also just loud enough that it’s getting annoying. I’ll never get to sleep at this rate… Should I go and check it out?”
Taisei “I should probably submit a complaint. What do I do? Hmm… Hmmm…”
Taisei “I guess I managed to sleep. …Yeah, and that sound’s gone now. I feel really exhausted. Maybe I’ll take a walk or something…”
Taisei “Waah! What the hell…? You’re kidding… Did that old woman do this?”
Taisei “Uh, excuse me…”
Taisei “Reminds me of when Dad used to mark my height on a pillar each birthday as a kid. I guess it was a fake birthday, though.”
Taisei “…I wonder when my real birthday is? Maybe I’m not even 19.”
Taisei “…Yeah, I really need to report this.”
Taisei “Umm…”
Estate Agent “Good morning! Ah, you’re that kid from the other day.”
Taisei “Sorry to bother you…”
Estate Agent “Ahh, I knew it. You want to move out of there, don’t you? I told you, it’s no place for a student. Well, that much is a given, since there’s no deposit or broker’s fee.”
Estate Agent “Your one month’s rent and commission fee comes to 40,000. You should just imagine you lost at pachinko and get out of there fast.”
Taisei “I don’t plan on moving out, actually.”
Estate Agent “Oh, that so? Well, you can do as you like. You’ve got guts to stick it out in there, kid. Call me a coward, but I wouldn’t last one night in that place.”
Taisei “Um, I came to ask you about the old woman living there…”
Estate Agent “Old woman? What’s she done?”
Taisei “Yeah, she’s been scratching on one of the pillars.”
Estate Agent “Eh? Scratching?”
Taisei “Yeah, the noise goes on all through the night and it’s getting annoying…”
Estate Agent “Well, if you’re dealing with tenant trouble, your best bet is to talk directly with the landlord himself.”
Taisei “Oh, the landlord. Right.”
Estate Agent “Yeah, have a chat with them. …But there’s no one registered living there, you know.”
Taisei “What?!”
Estate Agent “None of the people who rent out the place stay there for long. There isn’t supposed to be anyone else living there.”
Taisei “You’re kidding me! There’s definitely an old woman living there! I’ve seen her plenty of times already! You don’t think she’s a…ghost, do you?”
Estate Agent “The doors don’t have locks and no one’s managing the property. I’m 99% sure you’re looking at a homeless woman who’s snuck in.”
Taisei “…But when I went for the viewing, I’m sure that lady said there was a tenant… Yeah! Ask that lady! The one who went with me to Yumeomoisou!”
Estate Agent “Lady? Oh, her. About that… The moment you agreed to move into that place, she suddenly up and quit.”
Taisei “…Quit?”
Estate Agent “Yeah, unbelievable, ain’t it? I thought she was a bit flaky when she first started working here. Is that how you kids treat jobs these days?”
Taisei “Well, would you mind giving me her address?”
Estate Agent “Hmm… Well, considering she’s already quit, I suppose it’s all right. Just don’t tell anyone I told you.”
Taisei “Got it.”
Estate Agent “Here you go. The girl’s address.”
Taisei “Thank you.”
Estate Agent “Also, I guess you’ll be needing the landlord’s number for Yumiomoisou?”
Taisei “Ah, yes please.”
Estate Agent “Err… Hmm? That’s strange…”
Taisei “What is it?”
Estate Agent “Well, what do you know. I only just realised – that girl’s address and the landlord’s address are one and the same.”
SCENE 5
Taisei “…This is the place.”
Taisei “Maybe she’s out?”
Taisei “This place is just about as lavish as Yumeomoisou. Is it abandoned, though? Nah, couldn’t be. It’s supposed to be where this lady’s living.”
Taisei “I guess there’s no one home. Hmm… Well, I came all the way here, so maybe I’ll just wait a while.”
Middle-aged Woman “Hey, kid.”
Taisei “Uh, me?”
Middle-aged Woman “What are you doing at that house?”
Taisei “Ah, well…”
Middle-aged Woman “There’s no one living there.”
Taisei “Wait, there isn’t?”
Middle-aged Woman “Not a soul. It’s been deserted for years. Creepy, no? I wish they’d just knock it down. They can’t just let it stand here forever. We pay our taxes and this is how the government treats us?”
Taisei “But there’s supposed to be a woman living here…”
Middle-aged Woman “A woman? I told you, it’s empty. If you don’t believe me, have a look for yourself. You’ll see what I mean. It’s not locked, so no one’ll get mad at you for entering.”
Taisei “All right…”
Middle-aged Woman “I’d be careful, though. That place is haunted.”
Taisei “Haunted?!”
Middle-aged Woman “Ahahaha, I was kidding. Are you that superstituous?”
Taisei “…Right…”
Middle-aged Woman “Well, see you around, kid.”
Taisei “Is there really no one living here…?”
Taisei “…I’m coming in!”
Taisei “I guess there really isn’t anyone here. It doesn’t even look habitable. This is worse than Yumeomoisou. It’s actually in ruins. …What’s this?”
Taisei “The central pillar? Why is it covered in scratches?”
Taisei “Am I hearing things?”
Taisei “Where’s that coming from…”
Taisei “What is this?”
Taisei “…Sawdust?”
SCENE 6
Taisei “…Home…huh.”
Taisei “Really…what was I thinking?”
Ruri “Onii-chan!!”
Taisei “Ruri!”
Ruri “You came back! Come on, let’s get inside.”
Taisei “Hey, hold on. I…”
Ruri “Mum! I’m hoooome!”
Mother “Oh, Taisei!!”
Mother “Your dad’s working late tonight. Really, I wish you’d have told me you were coming sooner. I’d have prepared more food.”
Ruri “Hey, how come you get all the attention, Onii-chan? But you know, dinner was pretty awful last night without you. It felt like we were mourning or something.”
Ruri “But Mum’s a completely different person today. She’s been smiling and laughing… Please come back, Onii-chan. For us.”
Mother “Ruri’s told me all about it. She said you’re living in quite the apartment. And there’s a strange old recluse living there? You ought to get yourself out of there. If something happens to you, you’ll only have yourself to blame.”
Taisei “…”
Ruri “Onii-chan, really, think about it. Do you really wanna put yourself through this?”
Taisei “Hmm? Yeah, you’re right. I guess I’ll think it through. Anyway, you should get going, Ruri. Mum’ll be getting worried about you.”
Ruri “Okay.”
SCENE 7
Taisei “Hmm? Is that…”
Taisei “Ah… Hey! What was she doing?”
Taisei “You’re kidding me… She did that to this telephone pole…?”
Taisei “Oh my god!”
Taisei “…What the hell’s this?!”
Taisei “Hey, old lady!”
Taisei “Are you all right?!”
Old Woman “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry!”
Taisei “Huh?”
Old Woman “I won’t steal any more food. I won’t eat any more, I promise I won’t. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”
Taisei “Um…hold on…”
Old Woman “Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me…” *cough hack cough*
Taisei “Are you okay?! Do you need help?”
Taisei “Is this…sawdust? Don’t tell me…”
Old Woman *cough cough hack*
Taisei “What the… Hey lady, have you been eating the scratchings from the pillars?”
Old Woman “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I won’t eat any more, I won’t, so please forgive me. I’ll be a good girl, I’ll be a good girl, I’ll be a good girl…”
Taisei “You were that desperate for food? That’s just too sad… Hold on, lady! Get it together!”
Taisei “It’ll be okay! I’ll get help! Somebody! Somebody call an ambulance!! Quickly!!”
SCENE 8
Doctor “Ishigaki Taisei-san?”
Taisei “Yes.”
Doctor “Do you happen to know the name of the old lady?”
Taisei “No…I’m afraid not. I only just moved in, and we’ve hardly ever spoken.”
Doctor “…I see. It’s going to be problematic if we don’t have her on register. Do you have the name of the landlord or estate agent?”
Taisei “I can’t get my hands on the landlady’s address right now, but I can give you the name and address of the estate agent I used.”
Doctor “That should do. Thank you.”
Taisei “So, how’s it looking for her?”
Doctor “It’s hard to say right now, but she’s not exactly in good condition. She’s suffering from severe malnutrition.”
Doctor “Okay, I’ll be right there. Err, Shigaki-san, was it? Feel to leave whenever you like. And thank you very much for your assistance.”
Taisei “No problem…”
SCENE 9
Taisei “Why’d I come back here? I should have just gone home.”
Taisei “I hope that lady’ll be all right. I should definitely try to go visit her tomorrow.”
Taisei “…Huh?”
“Again… It’s that noise again. Wait… Who’s there?! There can’t be anyone else living here! So who’s making that sound?!”
??? “…Onii-chan.”
Taisei “What?! A voice? A kid’s voice? I can’t move a muscle. And my eyes…they won’t open. Is this sleep paralysis?!”
??? “…Onii-chan, you must be hungry.”
Taisei “Who’s there? There’s someone there beside me. I’m so scared… Why can’t I move?! Move… Move! MOVE DAMMIT!”
Taisei “What the-!!!!”
??? “…Onii-chan, you must be hungry.”
Taisei “You’re freaking kidding… That’s the sawdust from the pillar… You want me to eat that? S-stop… STOP!!”
“Ah…guh…gueh…nguhh…”
“Eat up. Eat up, till your belly’s all big and round. Eat up. You’ve gotta eat up…”
Taisei “Gyaaaaaah!!”
Taisei *cough cough hack hack cough!!*
Taisei “Bleurgh… My throat feels all weird. Was that a dream? It felt…strangely real…”
Taisei “It…wasn’t a dream? Guh!”
Taisei “…It…wasn’t…a dream…”
Taisei “…Huh?”
Taisei “Ah, coming!”
Trenchcoat “You escorted an old woman who lived here to the hospital yesterday, is that correct?”
Yeah…?
Trenchcoat “I’m with the local constabulary.”
Taisei “You’re a detective?”
Trenchcoat “You escorted an old woman who lived here to the hospital yesterday, is that correct?”
Taisei “That’s right.”
Trenchcoat “Would you mind accompanying me to the station?”
SCENE 10
Taisei “So…what is this about exactly?”
Trenchcoat “Well, the old woman you rescued? She passed away.”
Taisei “Ah… I kind of guessed that was the case.”
Trenchcoat “We were hoping you could confirm her identity. …Here we are.”
Doctor “Shigaki-kun, there you are.”
Taisei “Ah, the doctor from yesterday. Thank you for taking care of her.”
Trenchcoat “I’ll get straight to the point. Is it true that the old woman was clawing out bits of wood from the pillars and eating them?”
Taisei “It’s true.”
Trenchcoat “You witnessed this?”
Taisei “No… Not directly.”
Trenchcoat “Would a starving person really resort to eating wood shavings? I can think of much better leftovers to choose from in this day and age. I don’t see how she’d eat something like that of her own volition.”
Taisei “But she was throwing up bits of wood. It looked painful.”
Trenchcoat “Maybe they didn’t come from her mouth?”
Doctor “No, that can’t be. Frankly, I was surprised too. Some time later, she started having a violent fit, completely unprovoked, and she tried to attack anyone around her. She was clawing and scratching and biting… She looked so frail, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Trenchcoat “So, it’s true then. She really was eating them…”
Doctor “We gave her a checkup and it seems that that’s not the case. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to diagnose her as human.”
Trenchcoat “What do you mean?”
Doctor “Look at this.”
Trenchcoat “What in god’s name…”
Doctor “This phenomenon began to occur after death, and it’s going on even as we speak.”
Doctor “I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s no precedent. It may be hard to believe, but her body is petrifying into wood.”
Trenchcoat “…That’s…not possible…”
Doctor “I can’t imagine that this condition only manifested itself after death. The upper part of her body that hadn’t petrified looked human on the outside, but the inside was all wood. There was no blood, muscle or bone.”
Taisei “Th-that has to be wrong. She was clawing at the pillar with her own bloody fingernails. I saw her! I saw her doing it!!”
Doctor “Ishigaki-kun, how long have you known the woman?”
Taisei “I can’t say I knew her at all. I only just moved in a few days ago.”
Doctor “I’m amazed a young man like you moved into a place like that. In fact, it’s almost unthinkable. Are you hiding something from us?”
Taisei “Hey, come on… You can’t blame me for trying to find a place to live!”
Taisei “Why are the police getting involved anyway? Is this a criminal case?”
Doctor “It’s standard procedure to call in the police when an unidentified person passes away. I did believe that she’d eaten the pillars at first, like you. But that wasn’t the case.”
Taisei “Even if we were to assume that she was eating chippings, her physical composition defies all logic.”
Doctor “Honestly, if we’d realised this earlier, we wouldn’t have contacted the police as soon as we did.”
Trenchcoat “Ishigaki-kun, would you mind accomanying us to your estate agent?”
Taisei “Accompany you? But the old lady’s…”
Doctor “We’ll take care of that. She’s in no condition for an autopsy, but we will have to pass her on to forensics.”
Trenchcoat “Looks like our doctor’s fascination got the better of him. He’ll be staying for the long haul. In the meantime, care to accompany me?”
SCENE 11
Estate Agent “Welcome! What can I do for y- Ah, well look who it is.”
Taisei “Ah, actually, today I-“
Estate Agent “Oh! You’ve brought your dad! So you finally decided to get out of that place!”
Estate Agent “It’s enough to make any father worry. I’ll show you somewhere really nice. The two of you can check out the place together. What do you say?”
Trenchcoat “I’m afraid I’m not his father. I work for the authorities.”
Estate Agent “You’re a detective? This is a surprise. All right, what’s the kid done?”
Trenchcoat “There was an old woman living in the apartment house you showed to this boy. I was hoping to ask you a few questions about her.”
Estate Agent “Old woman?”
Taisei “Hey, come on. I told you about her before.”
Taisei “I told you that there’s no one else living there and you said she must have been a squatter.”
Estate Agent “I still think you should be asking all this to the landlady and not me. Besides, I’d barely call that place real housing.”
Trenchcoat “So you let people live in a place that can’t even be called housing?”
Estate Agent “Oh come on, sir. It was just a figure of speech. This kid here said he was looking for a place for 20,000 yen.”
Estate Agent “I kept telling him he was better off looking elsewhere, but he insisted. He was at the point of bursting into tears, weren’t you, kid?”
Taisei “That’s true.”
Trenchcoat “Well then, could you tell us the name of this landlady?”
Estate Agent “Sure thing. Let’s see now… Ah, here it is.”
Estate Agent “Now hold on a second. Hey kid, didn’t I already give you this address just the other day?”
Taisei “You did, yeah.”
Estate Agent “Well, that’s strange.”
Estate Agent “I never realised up until now, but this must be the wrong address. Who in their right mind pulls pranks like this?”
Estate Agent “Wait a second. Can I see that address again? Hmm…”
Trenchcoat “Have you been to see the landlady, Ishigaki-kun?”
Taisei “I tried, but it was the wrong address. The house I went to back then didn’t seem like the kind of place anyone could live in.”
Trenchcoat “…Huh.”
Estate Agent “Ah! Here it is! This is the place! Here you go.”
Trenchcoat “Would you mind showing us around the property you rented out to Ishigaki-kun?”
Estate Agent “Mm? That’s fine by me.”
Trenchcoat “I’d like you to come with us too, Ishigaki-kun.”
Taisei “Sure. I’m heading home that way anyway.”
SCENE 12
Estate Agent “I’ve just gotta make this clear, sir – even if a tenant’s been causing problems, the responsibility doesn’t rest on the estate agent.”
Estate Agent “And if she really was a squatter, then that’s unlawful residency.”
Taisei “Err…aren’t you going the wrong way?”
Estate Agent “What are you talking about? This is a shortcut. How long do you think I’ve been in this business? I know all the side streets in this neighbourhood. You should learn a couple, kid. It’ll come in handy.”
Taisei “Hmm.”
Estate Agent “Ah, here we are.”
Estate Agent “See? I’d hardly call it an apartment myself. I never said anything about it being an apartment in the first place. God’s honest truth.”
Estate Agent “Well, here we are.”
Taisei “Umm…where are we?”
Estate Agent “What’re you talking about, kid? This is the place.”
Estate Agent “A landowner erected this storeroom a long time ago. I don’t really know the details, but his business went downhill or something to that effect.”
Estate Agent “He sold off all but this tiny plot of land and now this storeroom’s just sitting here without a purpose.”
Estate Agent “They’ve been trying to rent it out as an apartment, but it’s rare to find anyone who’ll settle for a converted storeroom in this day and age. Aside from the odd curious student, no one bats an eyelid.”
Taisei “You…you’re wrong. This isn’t the place I’ve been staying in.”
Estate Agent “Err, what? I can tell you for a fact that this is the place you’ve been renting. There’s no other property on the market up for rent at 20,000 yen.”
Trenchcoat “Hold on, settle down. The way I see it, it looks like the both of you have fallen for a scam.”
Taisei “A scam?”
Trenchcoat “Let’s just see this apartment where Ishigaki-kun’s been staying at. I’d appreciate it if you’d join us, sir.”
Estate Agent “Well of course.”
Trenchcoat “…From what you’ve both told me, I suspect the woman who suddenly quit is involved in all this.”
Estate Agent “That damn woman. How dare she! Listen, detective, I’m as much a victim here, so don’t go accusing me of anything, will you?”
Estate Agent “You wouldn’t report me, would you, kid? We’ll reimburse your tenancy fees.”
Taisei “No, don’t worry about it. More importantly, I want to know just where I was staying. What was the point of letting me live there?”
Estate Agent “She was after the money, I imagine. And the address she swapped out was the place she was living at herself.”
Estate Agent “Who the hell does she think she is? You’ve really gotta crack down on those sorts, Mr. Detective.”
Estate Agent “What’s this place? Some abandoned building? You’ve actually been staying the night here?”
Taisei “Huh? Ah, yeah…”
Trenchcoat “So this is your first time seeing the place, sir?”
Estate Agent “Absolutely! We’d never rent out a place like this, and that’s a fact.”
Trenchcoat “All right, let’s have a look inside.”
Estate Agent “Eh? And how do we do that? The entrance is blocked.”
Taisei “You can get in from the first floor.”
Estate Agent “Really? The first floor?”
Taisei “That’s right.”
Estate Agent “Are you sure about this? You don’t think something’s going to jump out at us or something?”
Taisei “Ahaha…”
Estate Agent “Hey, do you know something we don’t, kid? Don’t tell me it’s actually haunted?”
Trenchcoat “Okay, here we go.”
Trenchcoat “Ugh, this is awful. It’s all run down.”
Estate Agent “Yuck…it’s covered in blood. I bet you’d get more income if you opened this place as a haunted house tourist attraction.”
Taisei “Um, Mr. Detective sir, this blood…”
Trenchcoat “I know. It’s the old woman’s blood, isn’t it? I don’t doubt what you’ve told me, Ishigaki-kun.”
Trenchcoat “I just can’t believe that anyone would eat wood scratchings from the pillar. We’ll need a forensics test either way.”
Estate Agent “Hey, it’s been bugging me for a while now – what’s the deal with this old woman?”
Trenchcoat “She died.”
Estate Agent “Died? When? Why?”
Trenchcoat “That’s we’re trying to find that out now. Is this the room she lived in?”
Taisei “Yeah, this is the one.”
Estate Agent “Oh god, this is just as horrible…”
Trenchcoat “She didn’t even have any belongings…? How did she manage to get by?”
Estate Agent “That’s homeless people for you. They’ll take any old place if it can keep out the rain. Drives me up the wall that they get to live somewhere for free.”
Trenchcoat “But anyway, these scratches are really something… And you say she was eating the pillars?”
Trenchcoat “Let’s have a look around the other rooms.”
Estate Agent “…Yeuch.”
Trenchcoat “Looks like she was roaming around clawing at the pillars in the other rooms too…until she got to that one.”
Trenchcoat “We’ve looked through all the rooms and still no lead, huh?”
Estate Agent “What I want to know is why the owner of this property let it get into such a state.”
Estate Agent “Hey kid, you went to the landlady’s address, didn’t you? Did you meet her?”
Taisei “No, I didn’t manage to. I mean, it didn’t look like there was anyone living there at all.”
Trenchcoat “It may be end up being a waste of time, but let’s pay that house a visit, shall we?”
Estate Agent “Hey, Mr. Detective. How long are you gonna keep dragging me around?”
Trenchcoat “Do you really not have any interest in this place, sir? You’re an estate agent.”
Estate Agent “Pfft, this place’d never do well on the market. I think this is as far as my curiosity takes me.”
Trenchcoat “We should at least take a look around the ground floor before we set off. Could you at least stick with us for that?”
Estate Agent “What, the floor with that plank blocking the entrance?”
Trenchcoat “That’s right. Ishigaki-kun, what would you like to do?”
Taisei “I…”
Trenchcoat “All right, I’m pulling it out.”
Trenchcoat “On three. One…two…THREE!”
Trenchcoat “One more time… Heave!!”
Estate Agent “That’s all of the planks out of the way… Well, Mr. Detective? What now?”
Trenchcoat “We go in, of course.”
Taisei “Mr. Detective, I don’t think we should be here. It’s the middle of the day, and yet how come there’s no light coming through? This isn’t right…”
Trenchcoat “Do you believe in the supernatural, sir?”
Estate Agent “What, ghosts? Heh, not in the slightest. But then…I don’t deny that there are some things out there we just can’t explain.”
Trenchcoat “Like what? If I let something like that stop me, I’d never have lasted as a detective. You’re not coming in then?”
Estate Agent “Haha… I’ll pass.”
Trenchcoat “…And what about you, Ishigaki-kun?”
Taisei “I…”
Taisei “…I…really don’t think we should be going in there.”
Trenchcoat “All right. Then it looks like it’s just me.”
Taisei “Uhh…I really don’t think you should do that!”
Trenchcoat “No, I have to check it out. There’s just got to be evidence here.”
Taisei “Just…please be careful!”
Trenchcoat “Gotcha.”
Estate Agent “Hey, kid. You think he’s gonna be all right?”
Taisei “All right? Uh, what do you mean?”
Estate Agent “Mm, it’s nothing. I’ve just got a feeling, that’s all.”
Taisei “Oookay…”
Estate Agent “Wh- Hey!”
Taisei “That…that was a scream just now, wasn’t it? We…we have to go help him!!”
Taisei “Hey! Kid, you’re gonna get yourself killed!”
Taisei “B-but…”
Taisei “Ah! Mr. Detective!!”
Estate Agent “Hey, don’t go in there! Don’t be a fool!!”
Taisei “But…”
Trenchcoat “He…help…HEeeEllLLlpp…”
Taisei “Ah…ah…”
Estate Agent “Hey, shut the door!”
Taisei “Ah…ah…the detective…he’s…”
Estate Agent “Get a grip! It’s too late for him. We need to go!”
Taisei “Huh?”
Estate Agent “We’ve gotta run, you idiot! If we stick around here any longer, we’ll be killed!!”
SCENE 14
Mother “Taisei, would you like seconds?”
Ruri “Mum, Onii-chan, you only just had seconds!”
Father “Oh come on, he’s a growing lad. You’ll have some more, won’t you, Taisei?”
Taisei “Ah…haha. All right then, give me another plate.”
Mother “Good. You’re a growing lad. You’ve got to eat up. Right?”
Ruri “You’ve really been eating a lot lately, Onii-chan.”
Taisei “Hmm? Really?”
Father “Hey, Taisei. I’m not against you moving out, you know. You shouldn’t force yourself to stay here.”
Ruri “Dad, please, can we not bring that up?”
Taisei “Hmm…I’m not really forcing myself. I know you can hardly call it living alone, but the short time I was away taught me something. It taught me that this is my home. It’s my home, and this is where I’ll stay.”
Mother “That’s right. Families should stick together. Now eat up before it gets cold, Taisei!”
Taisei “Yeah. I just can’t get enough of your cooking, Mum!”
Taisei Since that day, I’ve never laid one foot near Yumeomoisou. We ran away and left the detective for dead.
Taisei I only had a few small belongings delivered there, but I left them all in that house. I don’t plan on getting them back. Because I’m never setting foot in there ever again.
Taisei Just who was that old woman? Who, or what, were the children I saw? What happened to the detective? And who was the girl from the estate agent’s?
Taisei …And what was ‘Yumeomoisou’ in the first place? Perhaps I’ll never know.
Taisei But then I’d rather not know. What good would it do me anyway?
Taisei Maybe it was all just a really long dream that felt like it spanned days, caused by an accumulation of stress and worry.
Taisei As for me…I’m just thankful that I have the home I do now.
AFTERWORD
Hi. Hidekaz Himaruya here. I was in charge of production this time. I just looove alpaca! I’m so happy I got the chance to work on this.
I’ve been living in New York during production, so I rarely get the chance to see a starry sky. I really struggled with that during the production. Maybe a New York-styled “Scratches in the Pillars” wouldn’t be too bad.
Thanks to Japanese resource sites and the photos Kasago-san from the team took for me, I managed to convey some really mysterious scenery.
I also had Yoshii-san and Naochika-san paint some of the illustrations. That’s why they look so pretty. I really appreciate their having done that while I had my hands full. Without them, we might never even have completed this work.
Speaking of which, many mysteries in the story remain unsolved, don’t they? Like why was Taisei dragged around like that for 20,000 yen? And was that girl from the estate agent’s single? And who were those kids on the ground floor?
I wonder if the Narugami Academy students or that guy with the glasses who goes to Taisei’s university could solve it? I look forward to more stories from Narugami Academy.
Also, the one peculiarity of the ‘Scratches in the Pillars’ world is that no matter how much snow falls, it never piles up.
Well, I’ve just had another nose bleed, so I’m going to have to love you and leave you. Thanks very much for playing the game.
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