• Hanako at the international school

    Ladies and gentlemen!

    I have been working on this short story for about half a year but I have only found the time to complete it accurately today. This is the second tale of the mysterious femme fatale Hanako. More tales about her will follow in the future. Enjoy!

     

    Attention: This is a horror short story. Some elements might be brutal, disturbing and frightening. These are the purposes of a horror story. It's a fictitious story inspired by Japanese horror animes, mangas and movies. It's not based upon real events, locations or people. Except for the fact that I wrote this short story, it doesn't have anything to do with my convictions, personality or preferences. Again, if you're not eighteen years old, you shouldn't read this. Please note that there might be mistakes in the text. I don't have an editor. I'm my own editor. You have been warned.

    Hanako at the international school

    It was pouring rain outside and Hisato’s mood wasn’t any better than the awful weather. He had spent his summer working in the pastry shop of an overtly demanding baker. Since he was his father’s childhood friend, it was impossible for him to quit. To make matters worse, his girlfriend’s family had moved to Hakodate and she had decided to break up with him to start a new life. His mother had had a kidney surgery and had spent most of the vacation at the hospital. His father had visited her regularly and Hisato had been spending most of his free time with his little brother Katsuki who had been more interested in watching anime than having conversations with his older brother.

    Hisato apprehend his last year in high school. He had just avoided summer school as his grades had been mediocre last school year. He knew that the upcoming year was going to be the most challenging one yet. Hisato still didn’t know what he wanted to do after completing high school. His friends were regularly talking about their ambitious dreams to become actors, doctors and lawyers but Hisato couldn’t share their enthusiasm. Whenever they asked him what he would like to do later on in his life, he looked down, changed subject or avoided giving specific answers.

    The bell rang and interrupted his gloomy mood. His English teacher stepped inside the room. She was always perfectly dressed. Her hair was severely combed in an anterior direction. She wore heavy make up. Hisato always thought she made a tremendous effort to look at least ten years younger than she actually was.

    ‘’Good morning, dear students and welcome to your final year at Otaru International School.’’

    She went on to rattle about the importance of the final school year, how challenging it was going to be and that the students needed to make up their minds about their future lives. It was all torturous talk to Hisato who looked out of the window to get some distraction but only saw the empty school yard, the busy main street and the foggy beach of Ishikari Bay covered by plastic debris and algae.

    ‘’I almost forgot to introduce you to your new classmate! Please welcome Hanako!’’

    Hisato turned around and looked at the girl sitting in the back of the class. He wondered how he couldn’t have perceived her appearance earlier today. It must have been due to his gloomy mood. Hanako looked splendid. She had dark, long, silky hair. Her oval face was gentle and smoothly shaped. She had alert eyes, full lips and rosy cheeks. Her skin was immaculate, her body was very feminine and her legs were unusually long. She looked almost too perfect to be true until Hisato noticed a small peach-coloured half circular scar below her right eye. Somehow, this minimal flaw made her look even more intriguing.

    Hisato noticed how excitedly some of the boys around him looked at their new classmate. Strangely enough, Hisato didn’t feel sexually aroused by the beautiful girl at all. He thought that he was probably still getting over his recent break-up. Still, he couldn’t stop looking at Hanako. She had a very strong aura that was strangely inviting and mysterious at once. Hanako was unlike any other girl he had ever met.

    She was also dressed unlike any other girl. She wore an elegant black silk kimono with a complicated formal tateya musubi obi knot. She wore two black satin armbands covering her wrists and a large neckband with a ribbon. Her hair was pinned-up elegantly with large purple pins. Hanako almost looked like a bride.

    Otaru International School had a loose dress code that forced boys to wear pants and polo shirts and girls to wear a dress covering knees and shoulders. Hanako’s dress respected these requirements but her stylish traditional appearance wasn’t comparable to what others girls would wear. She almost looked as if she came straight out of the nineteenth century. Hisato already saw several girls looking at one another in surprise and even heard some of them gossiping about Hanako’s elegant clothes.

    Suddenly, the boy next to Hisato stared at him. Hisato looked at him with surprise until he realized that the boy sitting right in front of him also stared at him. When he turned his head around, he realized that all the boys in this classroom stared at him, some with a look of surprise, others with an expression of confusion and then again some with barely veiled anger in their eyes. Their looks sent shivers down his spine until he finally understood why they kept looking at him. Hanako only had eyes for him. She looked at him intensely and smiled mysteriously as if they were sharing a secret only they knew about.

    Hisato felt irritated because he didn’t like the attention but also because he had never seen this girl before in his life despite sensing a strange interest for her. However, his interest was respectful while the other boys looked like they were about to get up and approach Hanako immediately. If she were looking for a quick new acquaintance, Hisato should have been her last choice. Perhaps this modest distance was exactly what attracted them to one another. Their mutual interest was more profound than simple sexual attraction.

    Their teacher had expected Hanako to step forward and introduce herself but it was as if she were glued to her chair with her eyes only focused on Hisato. The teacher realized the shifting mood in her classroom from curiosity to hostility and broke the awkward silence with an uncomfortable harrumph.

    ‘’Hanako’s family has just moved to Sapporo. Please be so kind and help her with her integration. Hanako, we are very pleased to have you among us.’’

    The teacher smiled brightly and Hanako smiled back to her but it was a bitter smile that didn’t seem to be genuine.

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    Hisato was sitting by himself and eating some seaweed salad that wasn’t as fresh as it should have been when his best friend Genzo sat down beside him. He had gone to a local American restaurant and bought a large cheeseburger with fries and a coke.

    ‘’Why are you sitting here on your own instead of being with your future girlfriend?’’

    ‘’I’m not interested in having a future girlfriend right now.’’

    ‘’I understand you have had a dreadful summer but you should turn the page and seize that opportunity.’’

    The two teenagers looked towards Hanako who was sitting all by herself and eating some sushi and drinking a cup of Aloe Vera tea. Suddenly the girl who had been sitting next to her in class approached her. Hisato didn’t like her very much. Her name was Yuka and her father was the owner of a large local soda company who liked to show off his gigantic yachts, private jets and expensive cars. Yuka was the most popular cheerleader in school and thought the world was hers. It was obvious to Hisato that she didn’t approach Hanako to be her friend.

    ‘’Look, girl, you can wear grandmother dresses all you like but this is my turf. Don’t even try to get in touch with any guys in our class. Do you understand, fancy freak?’’

    Before Hanako could reply, Yuka had taken her cup of tea and spilled the drink all over Hanako’s beautiful dress. The new student rose up in surprise but Yuka had already turned her back on her and approached a group of cheerleaders who had been filming the incident and started giggling loudly. Hanako looked gloomily at Yuka as she left the cafeteria with her cheering friends.

    ‘’Hey, Hisato, I didn’t know you were such a womanizer. That new girl only has eyes for you. I don’t understand what she likes about you but we all know you’re a boring guy who couldn’t get a summer job by himself and needed to ask his daddy to help him find one. Don’t even think about approaching that cutie. She’s mine!’’

    Hideaki sat right next to Hisato and put his arm around his neck. Hideaki was the captain of the high school football team and known for having numerous sexual relationships with the most popular girls in school. He had been working as a ticket agent at Sapporo Dome where his father was one of the managers.

    ‘’Mind your own business!’’

    Genzo tried to defend his friend but Hideaki turned around swiftly and put his big hands on Genzo’s tummy.

    ‘’Oh, hi, Fatso. I can’t believe I didn’t even see you given your gigantic size. It’s probably because you’re even more boring than Hisato. Enjoy your ugly burger, outsider!’’

    Hideaki stood up, laughed at the two friends and walked towards his team colleagues who were witnessing the confrontation from afar and couldn’t stop laughing about it. The boys then went outside for a short football practice. Hisato and Genzo were finally on their own. Genzo shook his head in disappointment.

    ‘’This autumn seems to get even worse than that horrible summer.’’

    ‘’I don’t like it one bit.”

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    Yuka was on her way home. She had just finished her cheerleading practice. Her friends had sent her some pictures and videos of the incident with the new student. It was not the first time Yuka had intimidated another classmate. In a certain way, it was a mark of respect. Yuka didn’t care about most people. If she approached a classmate in such a hateful way, it simply meant that she considered her a potential concurrent. Yuka was upset that Hideaki had only eyes for Hanako since the beginning of the day.

    A cold blow suddenly rushed through Yuka’s blonde hair. She shivered and turned around but didn’t see anything. The wind must have been caused by a passing truck. She was walking down the main street of the industrial area of Otaru. Yuka wanted to go to one of her father’s factories and take a ride home in his new car instead of taking public transit.

    She continued to walk down the road beside numerous parked trucks but even though the sun was shining and Yuka was anticipating meeting her father, she had goosebumps and felt like she was being observed. She looked over her shoulders once more but she was all alone.

    Yuka moved on when someone suddenly grabbed her right arm and violently pulled her in the tiny space between two parked trucks. Yuka wanted to scream but her attacker put the other hand on her mouth and muffled it. Before Yuka could react, her body was twisted around, someone pushed a knee in her stomach and violently pushed her on the street.

    Yuka fell to the ground and could finally see who had been attacking her. The noise of an approaching truck suddenly caught her attention. Yuka heard tires screeching and a honking horn. She had time to turn her head away from the sight of her assailant and now faced the hood of a large vehicle.

    It was the last thing the vain cheerleader would ever see as the hood of the trunk broke her neck, bumped into her side and threw her bloody body ten feet across the street before it hit a traffic sign.

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    During the first week of school, there were numerous activities related to possible career choices. On this second day of school, Hiseato’s uncle was going to present his job as a member of the city council. The senior grade students had gathered in a small auditorium with a gigantic screen that was going to be used for a brief presentation. Hiseato knew he didn’t want to get his uncle’s job. It involved a lot of bribery, hypocrisy and pretentiousness. Hiseato didn’t really like his uncle who had divorced his wife and also abandoned their son to focus on his next career steps and getting engaged to the mayor’s eldest daughter who was twenty-five years his junior.

    ‘’Hiseato, you won’t believe what I’ve just heard on the news today!’’

    Genzo was out of breath when he sat down next to his best friend with a bottled iced coffee in his hands.

    ‘’No, Genzo, what is it then?’’

    ‘’Yuka is dead!’’

    Genzo had only whispered those three words but Hiseato rose from his chair as if his friend had yelled the horrible message at him. Some students around him looked at him and giggled. They apparently weren’t aware of what had happened yet. Hiseato sat down and looked at his friend in disbelief. He still remembered Yuka insulting Hanako quite vibrantly at the cafeteria.

    ‘’How did that happen?’’

    ‘’It was a traffic accident. She got hit by a truck last night. She was dead right away.’’

    Before Genzo could give any further details, the principal made her appearance on stage. She always dressed like an ambassador, delivered lengthy speeches and appreciated being in the spotlight. She introduced her guest with enthusiasm and made sure to point out that he was Hiseato’s uncle. Hiseato sank back into his chair and wanted to disappear.

    He looked over to Hanako who was sitting a few rows beside him. She was dressed in a red kimono today and her hair was braided elegantly. Hanako realized Hiseato was looking at her, put a big smile upon her face and waved in his direction.

    The lights in the auditorium went out and the presentation was about to start. However, there seemed to be a technical issue with the computer. Some students started to giggle.

    But suddenly a picture appeared. But it was unlike anything the students, teachers and principal had anticipated. It did indeed show Hiseato’s uncle. But it didn’t show him in his office, with the mayor or during a press conference. It showed him in a filthy hotel room with a helpless naked boy chained to the bed.

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    Hideaki blew out the smoke, looked across the roof of the gym and shook his head in disbelief. The football team had just finished its practice and the captain smoked a cigarette with his teammate Bunji.

    ‘’I wish I could make it unseen. That picture will haunt me until the end of days. I’m not even surprised that Hiseato’s uncle is a pedophile. His whole family is a bunch of weirdos. I’m glad the cops came so quickly.’’

    ‘’You can say that again. I’m just wondering who exposed that picture.’’

    ‘’I wouldn’t even be surprised if one of his victims were one of the students. Revenge could be a strong motive.’’

    ‘’Maybe it’s Hiseato. You never know what his uncle could have done to him when he was a kid.’’

    ‘’That would explain why he is so weird. Man, we shouldn’t make jokes about it. Sincerely, that whole thing is creepy. First, Yuka dies in a random traffic accident. The next day, Hiseato’s uncle gets exposed as a pedophile. Our school seems to be haunted. What’s next?’’

    ‘’You will be discharged and Genko is going to be our new captain!’’

    Bunji laughed and threw his cigarette into the abandoned schoolyard. Clouds were gathering and a few drops of rain were already falling. Bunji shivered.

    ‘’I’m going home. How about you?’’

    ‘’I’m fine. I’ll finish my cigarette. See you tomorrow.’’

    Bunji left the gym roof while Hideaki stayed behind and thought about the eventful start of the school year. His thoughts were somber but his attention slowly shifted towards Hanako. Hideaki didn’t even understand why he was so obsessed with her. She barely spoke to anyone, dressed weirdly and seemed to have an unusual interest in Hiseato. And yet Hideaki desired her like he had never desired a girl before.

    Hideaki suddenly heard a noise and turned around. He thought that his coach might have caught him smoking. But nobody was on the roof. Bunji had already left as the rain intensified. Maybe the noise had been caused by a stray cat.

    The football captain turned around, finished his cigarette, stood up very slowly, stretched his arms and legs and looked around the modern infrastructures of the prestigious private school.

    With the increasing sound of the rain, Hideaki didn’t hear the person behind him coming. The violent blow to his back was so unexpected that he stumbled forwards, slipped and lost balance.

    Hideaki didn’t even have time to scream as he fell from the roof. He managed to turn his body during his fall and could see the unexpected assailant who had pushed him with such force. His eyes opened widely in disbelief. Hideaki was in complete shock until his body hit the ground fifteen feet below the rooftop. His world faded to black with the sudden impact followed by an ugly cracking sound as his neck twisted in an unhealthy angle.

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    Two weeks had passed since Yuka had accidentally died in a traffic accident and Hideaki had committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the gym. The school’s two most popular students had died within twenty-four hours and the atmosphere was somber. The principal was busy organizing seminars about road safety and suicide prevention but her pretentious enthusiasm made coping with those grisly events even more difficult. By being so involved, she simply did too much.

    Hiseato also had to deal with the fate of his pedophile uncle. He had lost his job, was currently in prison and awaiting trial. Hiseato had expected to get bullied in school but nobody seemed to care about him after the two tragic deaths. Even at home, his parents and his brother didn’t bother talking to him. Hanako had tried to invite him to a coffee shop on two occasions but Hiseato had refused the offer twice. He wasn’t in the mood of hanging around with girls. He preferred spending time with his best friend Genzo who truly understood him.

    They had just finished a science laboratory and were heading for their lockers. As Hiseato opened his locker, he saw a folder that hadn’t been there before. He looked around to see whether someone in the vicinity had deposited the file in his locker but Genzo and him were all alone.

    Hiseato looked at the folder. It read Wakkanai Orphanage. Hiseato opened the file and saw the picture of a very young boy. He didn’t recognize the boy immediately but Hiseato had a jolt when he read his name. He turned the pages of the file frantically and found more evidence for what was becoming clear to him now.

    Genko realized that something was wrong with his friend and approached him cautiously. Hiseato looked at him but instead of explaining the situation, he gave his friend the file. Genko read the file with modest confusion that slowly transformed into alert interest and suddenly into shocked surprise. He closed the file and looked intensively at his friend.

    ‘’We need to discuss. Let’s have dinner at the burger restaurant.’’

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    Hiseato was still shaking his head in disbelief while Genko and he were waiting for their burgers.

    ‘’I just can’t believe my parents didn’t tell me they adopted my little brother.’’

    ‘’Maybe they were just waiting for the right moment to reveal the truth.’’

    ‘’Genko, I’m not a child anymore. I’m seventeen years old.’’

    ‘’Well, your brother is only fourteen. Perhaps they didn’t want to confuse him.’’

    ‘’He deserves to know the truth!’’

    The burgers were being served to Hiseato and Genko. Genko put some ketchup and mayonnaise on his fries. Hiseato had ordered some onion rings instead and grabbed a bottle of honey to pour some over it.

    ‘’I’m just wondering who deposited that file in my locker.’’

    ‘’Well, I might actually have a guess.’’

    ‘’What do you mean?’’

    ‘’There is only one person who is constantly trying to get your attention. She keeps looking at you all the time. She has invited you to the coffee shop twice already. She has tried to team up with you in science class.’’

    ‘’You mean Hanako has deposited the file in my locker?’’

    ‘’I have seen her strolling around our lockers during lunch when I went back there to grab the can of coke I had forgotten inside.’’

    ‘’Genko, there are hundreds of students walking around our lockers every single day.’’

    ‘’The girls’ lockers are on the other side of the basement. She wasn’t even supposed to walk around there. I’m telling you; she is acting very suspiciously.’’

    ‘’Let’s assume you are right. How could she possibly know about my brother’s adoption? How did she even get the file? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.’’

    Genko didn’t answer as he was starting to eat his burger. Hiseato started with his onion rings. He had gained three pounds of weight over the past two weeks. His friend’s negative eating habits started affecting him. But Hiseato preferred to have dinner with his friend these days than to dine at his place where his parents and brother kept ignoring him.

    His friend was enjoying his burger when his facial expression suddenly changed. Genko’s rather pale face suddenly turned reddish and he started to cough and sweat. He let his burger fall on his plate. Hiseato could see the tiny shrimps in the curry sauce of his burger. Genko had ordered a simple chicken curry burger. The shrimps weren’t even supposed to be there. And Genko had a severe seafood allergy.

    Genko fell from his chair as his eyes were popping out. He was breathing heavily, choking intensely and trying to vomit. Several customers stood up and looked at Genko in disbelief as they didn’t understand what was going on. Hiseato ran around the table, went down to his knees, grabbed his friend’s fiery head and tried to make him vomit to get the shrimps out of his body. Genko’s body was shaking uncontrollably and Hiseato wasn’t able to stabilize him. A waitress approached helplessly and called for the manager. Genko’s eyes turned white as he suddenly stopped shaking and didn’t respond to Hiseato’s help anymore.

    ‘’Someone call an ambulance! Good God, my friend is dying! He has a severe seafood allergy. What are you guys waiting for? Call an ambulance!’’

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    Four weeks had passed since Genko’s death and two weeks since his funeral. Nobody could understand how the shrimps had gotten in the burger sauce. The cook swore positively that he hadn’t put any shrimps on the burger. The waitress said that she had brought the burger straight from the kitchen to the customer. Somebody must have modified the burger while it had been waiting on the counter before the waitress could pick it up. There were no cameras in that area of the restaurant. The police was investigating the mysterious case and the restaurant had been shut down.

    Hiseato had developed a depressing routine over the past two weeks. Each day after school, he went to the cemetery before taking the Semi Rapid Ishikari Liner from Otaru to his home in Zenibaku. When he took the usually busy train late in the evening, it was almost empty. Hiseato had become more and more isolated and even Hanako had stopped asking him to go to the coffee shop. As a matter of fact, she had been missing in school for the past few weeks. Hiseato started to think that she was creepy. He couldn’t forget what Genko’s last words to him had been: ‘’She is acting very suspiciously.’’ Hiseato had initially thought that his friend was exaggerating but he didn’t know what to believe anymore. Three students had died under mysterious circumstances. His uncle had been exposed as a pedophile. He had found a file about his brother’s adoption. Hiseato felt that there were more gloomy surprises coming his way.

    It had been a misty and rainy day when Hiseato went on the train and sat on the last seat to the left of the last waggon where he would usually sit in order to avoid meeting anyone who knew him. Hiseato noticed that somebody had left his newspaper on his seat. He picked it up and rose his eyebrows. Hiseato had never read the Sapporo Daily Newspaper because the publishing house had gone bankrupt when he was a little child. The newspaper he had just found had been published roughly twenty years ago.

    Hiseato read a few articles about economy and politics until he stumbled over a medical article. The article talked about the first successful sex reassignment surgery performed on a citizen of Sapporo. It talked about a local man who had become a woman. Hiseato already wanted to turn the page when he suddenly stopped. He recognized the doctor on the small picture whom his mother had often visited when he was a child. Hiseato started reading the article more closely and couldn’t believe his eyes. His heart missed a beat, his eyes popped out and his breathing stopped. Hiseato shook his head and read the article twice to make sure he hadn’t misread it. He hadn’t. Hiseato had missed his station and was now heading to downtown Sapporo but he didn’t care at that point anymore. Reading that article was a life-changing experience. And now he had more questions than answers.

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    Hiseato’s brother Katsuki stayed at his best friend’s place at the weekend. This was the occasion Hiseato had been waiting for so eagerly. He could finally openly talk to his parents two days after having read the newspaper article. His parents were still feeling depressed over what had happened to Hiseato’s uncle and they weren’t too enthusiastic when Hiseato had told them that he wanted to have a serious talk with them after dinner. They had been surprised by his unusual sense of urgency. After all, Hiseato had been quite melancholic himself since his best friend’s tragic death.

    The family had just finished dinner. Hiseato’s father wanted to know what was going on but his son insisted on waiting until his mother had washed the dishes. When she was finally ready, Hiseato put the file of his brother’s adoption and the newspaper article on the table. Instead of explaining himself, he watched his parents read the file and the newspaper article in shocked disbelief. Hot tears were running down Hiseato’s cheeks as he was suffering through the frosty silence until his parents had finished their reading session. His father and mother looked at each other in bleak despair.

    ‘’My son, I think we owe you some explanations.’’

    His father spoke very slowly and calmly. He had a defensive body language and was avoiding eye contact with his son. Hiseato had never before seen his father so insecure and reserved.

    ‘’We also owe you an apology.’’

    His mother seemed to deal with the situation a little bit better and she seemed more saddened than shocked. Hiseato had thousands of negative thoughts on his mind. He felt like accusing his parents. He felt like yelling at them. He felt like tearing the whole kitchen table apart. He could barely control himself and was surprised by his own discipline. Perhaps the dreadful events of the past few weeks had started to suppress his emotions.

    ‘’Your father and I had been best friends in college. I had gone through a lot of intimidation for behaving like a woman, dressing like a woman and falling in love with men. Your father was the only person who appreciated, encouraged and supported me. When I finally became a woman, our solid friendship turned into a love story. Your father and I had always dreamt of having children but that wasn’t possible biologically speaking.”

    His mother smiled at Hiseato and he immediately felt his frustrations decreasing. Being an outsider himself, he could empathize with the horrors his parents had gone through two and a half decades ago.

    ‘’It’s an incredibly complicated process to adopt a child. There are so many administrative obstacles. But we wanted to have our own family and fought very hard for it. We visited numerous orphanages but most of their principals refused categorically to give a child to a transgender woman. After several years, my doctor at the time recommended Wakkanai Orphanage where a transgender woman worked as an educator. We immediately fell in love with you. You had such bright and vivid eyes, you could already walk really well at your young age and you liked to draw little animals. We knew immediately that you were the child we had always wanted.’’

    Hiseato smiled warmly before somber thoughts came back on his mind like grey clouds announcing torrential rainfall.

    ‘’Who are my real parents?’’

    His mother hesitated and sighed. She looked at her husband who still hadn’t spoked yet. So far, his parents’ anecdotes were those of love and courage. Hiseato wondered why they had never told him the truth until he realized that it was actually his own story and not the story of his parents that was so tragic.

    ‘’Your real parents are a poor farmer’s daughter and the mayor’s son from a village in Northeast Hokkaido. Your biological father abused your biological mother very badly. He would actually end up killing her and going to prison where he remains until today. The couple had three children that had been brought to three different orphanages. Experts thought that it would be the best idea to separate the three children in order to deal with their early childhood traumas.’’

    Hiseato shivered as he continued to listen to his mother.

    ‘’You had only been with us for a few months, when we got contacted by the orphanage again. Your younger brother had been transferred to Wakkanai Orphanage. He was a very depressive and solitary toddler and needed a companion. We were asked whether we could imagine adopting your brother as well. That’s what we decided to do.’’

    Hiseato finally understood why his parents had never told the truth to their children. He wanted to know the whole truth now. Hiseato had a few more questions.

    ‘’You said that there were three children. What happened to the last one?’’

    Hiseato’s mother hesitated yet again as tears filled her eyes. His father remained silent. Hiseato understood that this conversation was one of the biggest challenges his parents had ever faced despite their already complicated past. Hiseato started admiring his parents’ unexpected resilience.

    ‘’You had a little sister. She was the most complicated case. You were a really joyful child. Your brother was suffering from depression but our love managed to set things right. Your sister however was different. She was transferred from one orphanage to another. Nobody could deal with her. She would physically assault toddlers, kids and even educators. We had been thinking about adopting her but that wasn’t possible. She was deemed too dangerous and was eventually transferred to a psychiatric hospital.’’

    Hiseato was in shock but the story wasn’t over yet.

    ‘’When she was thirteen years old, she killed her psychiatrist and escaped. Nobody knows where she is today. She is considered very dangerous.’’

    Hiseato suddenly had a terrifying thought.

    ‘’What’s my sister’s name?’’

    His father looked at him for the first time during the entire conversation. His eyes were frosty, intense and scared.

    ‘’Her name is Hanako.’’

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    Katsuki and his best friend Tomoki were less than pleased when they learned that Tomoki’s parents had hired a teenage girl that was supposed to keep an eye on them and Tomoki’s infant brother Umeji. They felt like they didn’t need a babysitter and could take care of Umeji but the parents insisted that the girl’s curriculum vitae was excellent and that she would prepare them an extraordinary meal. The parents had to leave in a hurry because Tomoki’s grandfather who had been suffering from colon cancer for months was on his deathbed in a hospital in Aomori.

    The two teenage boys however changed their minds when they met the girl who would keep an eye on them. Katsuki had rarely seen such a beautiful girl. She wore a clean red kimono, decent make-up and had the smoothest hair he had ever seen. Even though the girl was about three years older than the boys, they were immediately attracted to her.

    ‘’Hanako is quite something, isn’t she?’’

    ‘’You can say that again. I wish I had a girlfriend like her. She’s one of a kind.’’

    The boys stopped playing their video game when Hanako advised them that their dinner was ready. Katsuki and Tomoki were surprised to see that Hanako had prepared three delicious bento boxes for them. When they arrived in the kitchen, she was already feeding Umeji some fruit porridge.

    Tomoki and Katsuki started to eat while Hanako was bringing Umeji to his crib. She came back and smiled radiantly at the two boys who happily smiled back at her.

    Suddenly Tomoki started to cough. Katsuki looked at him in surprise. His friend’s eyes were rolling hectically, his pale face had turned red and he was sweating uncontrollably. He tried to rise from his chair but collapsed immediately. He hit the ground with a muffled sound. Katsuki was speechless.

    ‘’Don’t worry about him. He will wake up in two to three hours. I’m only here for you, my little brother!’’

    Katsuki looked at Hanako in disbelief. Her smooth face suddenly looked cold. She slowly rose from her chair and was holding a large knife in her hand.

    ‘’You will never abandon me again!’’

    Katsuki got up and looked around frantically. Hanako was standing between him and the entrance to the house. Katsuki turned around and ran up the stairs to the living-room with the balcony. Hanako followed him slowly but steadily. Katsuki opened the door to the balcony and looked around. The garden was at least fifteen feet below him and Katsuki was afraid of heights. He turned around to look for another way out but there was none.

    Somebody was ringing the doorbell downstairs. Katsuki started to scream for help but knew he couldn’t get past Hanako. She lifted the knife with a fake smile.

    ‘’Katsuki!’’

    Katsuki turned around and saw his brother entering the garden below him. He had come on his own and was the one who had been ringing the doorbell.

    ‘’Hiseato!’’

    Katsuki was briefly distracted and that led to his demise. When he turned around, Hanako was standing so close to him that he could see her small peach-coloured half circular scar below her right eye on her seemingly immaculate face. Her smooth face transformed into a scary grimace. Her friendly eyes were suddenly popping out madly.

    The piercing pain in his chest transformed into a burning feeling as his blood was running out of his body along the knife and dropping on the floor. Some of it had splashed upon Hanako’s face. She laughed hysterically as she was pushing the weapon deeper into her brother’s heart. She bent forward, her lips touched her brother’s and she kissed him with cold passion.

    ‘’Goodbye, my brother!’’

    Hanako pushed Katsuki with such force that he fell over the balcony’s grid. His brother was screaming frantically below him. The last thing Katsuki saw was Hanako’s blood-covered dress, the red knife that she had raised triumphantly and her glowing demoniac eyes. Katsuki crushed onto his brother before he hit the ground but he didn’t feel either impact anymore. His heart had stopped beating as his world had turned into eternal darkness.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Okomoto shook his head in grim disbelief. Ichiro looked to the ground in bleak despair. The medical unit transported Katsuki’s lifeless body away. The two officers heard the child’s sobbing mother and the haunting screams of the father. They had discovered the scene of the crime as they had arrived just minutes after Hiseato had run to the house in an attempt to inform his brother about their sinister family ties. Hiseato had been rushed to the hospital. He had lost consciousness when his brother’s body had hit his head but he would live. Tomoki had just awoken in the kitchen and a nurse was taking care of him. Umeji was unharmed. Tomoki’s and Umeji’s guilt-ridden parents had been informed about the incident and were on their way back home.

    Hanako had escaped yet once again. The police officers had been putting the pieces of a complicated puzzle together. They had been called when a girl that fit Hanako’s description had been caught entering and leaving the restaurant on camera shortly before and shortly after Genko’s tragic death. The officers had then learned about the tragic accident that cost the life of a cheerleader and what appeared to be the suicide of the captain of the senior football team. The officers investigated those grisly events as their intuition told them that those weren’t random circumstances. But they needed proof and they found it when interrogating the truck driver that had hit the cheerleader who claimed that she seemed to have been pushed by someone and when talking to the football captain’s best friend who had sworn positively that his friend hadn’t been suicidal and that they had had a perfectly normal discussion just minutes before the young man’s grisly demise.

    The officers had then heard several students talk about the new girl who had joined them and who seemed to make almost all the boys fall in love with her and all the girls brutally mad at her. Okomoto and Ichiro studied her file and realized that it had been faked. Her family name had been made up. The people who had been indicated as her parents were a couple that had been stabbed to death in their own basement. But Hanako had stopped attending school as soon as the police had started investigating Genko’s death. She seemed to have vanished but now she had come back with a bang.

    ‘’We start understanding her patterns. We will predict her next actions. We will catch her soon.’’

    Okomoto spoke with sinister determination. It seemed that he was rather trying to convince himself than his depressed partner. Ichiro sighed deeply and looked at his colleague in a mixture of fatalism and fear.

    ‘’I’ve heard this so many times before. I’ve already lost one partner in this ongoing investigation. I don’t want to lose another one.’’

    Okomoto had never heard his usually quiet colleague speak so emotionally. He put his arm around his neck and then patted his back in encouragement. He knew that wouldn’t help but he wanted to send a positive sign.

    ‘’If I have to sacrifice my own life to stop Hanako from committing further crimes, I would be willing to do that.’’

    Ichiro turned around and Okomoto thought for a second to see tears in his colleague’s eyes. Ichiro turned away, lit a cigarette and exhaled the faint blue smoke. He then spoke quietly but firmly.

    ‘’I would be willing to do that, too.’’

     

    The End

     

    Hanako will return.

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