Noisy Pixel continues the Novella for Spirit Hunter: NG. This is a 5 chapter story posted initially to Famitsu for the Japanese release of the game.
In case you missed it, read the prologue chapter first, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. Each day we will share a new chapter for readers to learn more about this haunting spirit, which is the first spirit to be investigated in the game.
It should be noted that there might be some spoilers ahead, so please read with that in mind.
The calm before the storm ~Two months before~
Author: Ayumu Hosaka
Having retrieved her mail, Himeko slowly ascends the stairs to her apartment one step at a
time, supporting her large stomach with one arm.
It’s true that when a woman nears the last month of pregnancy, it becomes harder for her to see her own feet, which makes stairs especially dangerous.
Whenever Himeko looks down, all she can see is her stomach taking up the entire view, as if it were the horizon.
Even something that would be trivial for another person, her age now takes an intense amount of patience and concentration.
The oppressive heat isn’t helping matters, either.
She pants in the sweltering heat as she reaches the second floor, and then exhales deeply. Despite the massive inconveniences, for Himeko, the swelling of her stomach matched the swelling of her happiness.
This energetic and bouncy bump, so big and round that it would cause Himeko problems, it is a constant reminder that her baby is growing healthily. Himeko smiles at the deep-rooted happiness welling up inside her, and slowly makes her way back to her room.
Thumbing through the mail, she finds in-between some sealed envelopes and flyers a small bag decorated by a drawing of an angel. It’s an Angel OB-GYN Clinic medicine bag. It contains supplements that Yasuko drops in the mail while at work. She carefully selects certain supplements from the recommended list made by the hospital and ships them to Himeko every few days. Ever since their lunch in winter, the two were like sisters, often going out together to buy maternity items, and chatting over email whenever something happened. Yasuko told Himeko she didn’t need the payments for the supplement. But Himeko feels guilty about that, so she makes sure to compensate Yasuko for the supplements at the hospital.
Opening up the medicine bag, she finds several types of supplements and a note written on a torn
piece of notebook paper, as usual.
I’ve put in folic acid and calcium supplements today.
Also, here’s a new vitamin. It’s for 3 days’ worth.”
“A new vitamin?” Himeko takes out a sheet of capsule pills that are a color she’s never seen before.
Although Himeko trusts Yasuko, she looks up the color and shape of pills in her consumer MSD manual.
She finds the capsule quickly. It’s the same type of vitamin commonly recommended in the later
stages of pregnancy.
Himeko writes an email of gratitude on the spot.
Thank you for everything.
I’ll take the new vitamins right away.”
And with that, Himeko fills a glass of hot water and swallows down her regimen of supplements and the new vitamin.
Three days later
A typhoon is drawing near, and the terrible weather is shaking things all over the house.
Although she had bought enough food to last for a few days, she has forgotten to stock up on condiments. Himeko opens the door so she can dash out to the small shop nearby.
She stumbles, buffeted by the powerful, gusting wind. Himeko rushes to pull the doorknob shut then
immediately places her hand on her stomach. “I’m sorry,” she says in a gentle voice. “You must have been surprised by the strong winds.”
It would be terrible if something happened to the baby due to the inclement weather. “It’s dangerous to go out right now, so let’s relax at home with Mommy today.”
As she talks, she feels the inside of her stomach move as if it was replying. “Haha, you’re so energetic.”
Her conversations with her unborn baby were the happiest moments in her twenty-eight years. Here is a life, literally the closest anyone has ever been to her, connected in both body and heart. This sense of security and closeness could only be given by her child. For Himeko, the child in her was an absolute treasure that she would dedicate her life to loving, protecting, and cherishing.
She replaces the charm for safe childbirth that the gusting wind had dislodged. Her phone, charging in the corner of the room, vibrates, the screen lit up in green and displays the name, “YASUKO KURAMOTO.” It’s an email from Yasuko.
Did you take all of the vitamins I gave you last time?”
“Huh?” The sheet of meds that Yasuko sent her had three days’ worth of vitamins, so she finished it today.
Although she is puzzled as to what the sudden contact was for, Himeko replies that she took it all. Scarcely a moment passes before the screen lights up again.
“——Good to hear.
Okay, I’ll see you later.”
“Later…?” Himeko recalls Yasuko telling her that she was on the night shift today, so she would be spending the night in the hospital.
What did she mean by later? Himeko twists her head in confusion. Maybe Yasuko would be getting off early because of the typhoon, and she’d be dropping off more vitamins later…
Himeko quickly writes an email asking if that’s what she means. However, this time, no reply comes from Yasuko. Himeko waits for a while, but the phone remains silent. She recalls Yasuko talking about “rush mothers” who would come into the clinic close to birth. Because they didn’t even have maternity passbooks, the hospitals had trouble handling them, and sometimes they’d end up taking more time than anticipated. That might explain why Yasuko wasn’t responding right now. Himeko ends her staredown with her phone and stands up to start preparing dinner.
Suddenly, she feels it… a stabbing, intense pain in her lower stomach.
“…Ngh.” A pain unlike anything she’d ever felt before was throbbing stronger and stronger.
“Can this be…?”
She isn’t in her final month yet. But it’s not unheard of for labor pains to come before the delivery date. Taking a deep breath, Himeko slowly exhales it, as if she’s releasing the pain in her lower stomach. Yasuko had taught her this breathing method. Then, comforting her baby, she pats her stomach with words of reassurance as she drags her body sideways across the room to the corner with the phone charger. She has the number of a taxi company she intended to call in case of unexpected labor. However, Himeko had been told constantly over these past few months, like an incantation, “Miss Himeko. If you go into labor, contact me immediately.”
Those were Yasuko’s words lingering in her ear. “Got it? Promise?” Yasuko would keep saying the same thing over and over, every time they met.
It worried Himeko a bit that Yasuko hadn’t replied to her e-mail, but she would definitely rather phone Yasuko, someone she considered like an older sister, rather than a taxi company. But if Yasuko didn’t answer the phone, Himeko would call the taxi instead. The most important thing was her baby’s life.
Before the first ring finishes, Yasuko’s voice sounds in her ear. “What is it?”
“Oh…! Miss Yasuko.”
Not expecting that she would pick up so quickly, Himeko clumsily explains that she was feeling pains that may be indicating that she is in labor.
“Oh, really? That’s faster than I thought.” Himeko assumes she’s talking about the labor pains coming before her final month.
“I miscalculated. I thought it would start in the night.”
“Nevermind. Are you at home? I’ll head over. Wait right there.”
Despite the roaring storm outside, the sound of the ticking clock fills the room. It has been over 5 hours since she spoke to Yasuko.
Something is swirling inside the amniotic fluid, and this pain that feels like something clawing at her abdomen was besieging her at regular intervals.
Despite her disorientation, Himeko grips her phone tightly and calls Yasuko for the umpteenth time. The call is quickly routed to voicemail.
Immediately after she gets an email:
“——You’re not in actual labor yet.”
Stay still for now. Take deep breaths.
——Remember the yoga pose I taught you before?”
If you loosen up your hip joints, the delivery will go faster and smoother. Make sure to do yoga.”
“——It’s all for your baby! Understand? Do your best!”
At first, Himeko figured that Yasuko couldn’t answer the phone because she was driving. But if that were the case, then how is she able to type out all those emails?
Maybe traffic is jammed up because of the typhoon.
Even so, the distance between the hospital and Himeko’s apartment isn’t more than an hour’s
drive, even going by the long route.
Yasuko saying that she miscalculated was also bothering Himeko. Battling both irritation and suspicions, Himeko buries her face into the cushions in an attempt to quell her rising emotions. That wasn’t going to solve any problems. The last thing she wants to do now is something that might endanger her child.
Himeko decides to take matters into her own hands and prepares to call the taxi company instead of waiting for Yasuko. However, the voice on the other end tells her that all the cars are currently busy due to the weather, and they wouldn’t have anyone to pick her up immediately.
She then notices a stain on her carpet that looks like someone knocked over a glass of water. It’s the stain from her water breaking.
Like her own worries, the stain gradually grows bigger, changing the color of her carpet. Himeko knows
that her water breaking didn’t necessarily mean the baby was coming soon.
But that moment was definitely coming more quickly than she had expected. Envisioning a future that she’d rather not, her eyes turn glassy for a moment.
She collects herself and realizes that now isn’t the time to be thinking negatively. The life of her child might be depending on the decisions she was going to have to make.
Gritting her teeth with the pain, she grasps the drawer handles and pulls herself up slowly. She stuffs her bag with her maternity passbook, insurance card, and the charm for safe childbirth, then swings the bag over her shoulders.
It’s not like I can’t just walk there. She begins taking small steps towards the entrance.
Back when she was working, she’d walk to the nearest station on her own two feet, whether it was raining or snowing. And even though she is heavy with child, she still goes out every day to shop for groceries and does housework.
“That’s right… It’s not like I can’t walk…”
Fortunately, she opens the door to find that the rain and wind from earlier in the day had calmed significantly. Realizing it was now or never, Himeko puts on her raincoat and slowly begins her trek down the hallway, dripping with raindrops.
The rain feels like needles as the wind drives it into her face. The spray of water becomes mist, turning everything she can see into a stark white haze. The streets are like shallow rivers, and the gutters overflow with rainwater. The calm skies from earlier are evidently the eye of the typhoon.
A small tinge of regret passes through Himeko’s mind. But she immediately shakes her head to dispel the thought. If she allows herself to lose hope now, it would have dire consequences.
She can’t quite fit her stomach in her raincoat, so she shields it with her bag as much as she can as she splashes her way through the river-like streets.
A car races past Himeko.
A rush of water slams into her back, almost causing her to fall forward. But she manages to grab onto a nearby signpost and steady herself.
The car had splashed dirty water into her mouth. Using the pole to support her weight, she bends forward to cough up the water. Her feet were stuck in a muddy patch, the mud clinging to her like shackles. Rain drips down her eyelash, blurring her vision, and making it seem like she was in some sort of dream world.
Going forward in a storm like this would be an ordeal, even for someone who wasn’t pregnant, and would probably be considered foolish by most. But no matter how difficult her path, her only choice was to keep moving forward. The birth cannot be delayed or stopped now. Nature is going to take its course.
And so, despite being beset by rain and strong winds, Himeko pushes herself forward. She no longer feels the pain in her stomach, as if the feelings toward her unborn child are canceling them out. The emotions she feels for her child now border on obsession, an obsession that drives Himeko’s legs forward, ignoring all obstacles.
Himeko arrives at the entrance of the hospital faster than she thought she would. It is after regular hours, so she finds the glass doors locked. Wheezing and panting from her watery journey, she leans against the entrance and slams the glass door with as much strength as she could muster.
“Open up! Please!”
She slams both her hands on the entrance, hoping it won’t be mistaken for the sounds of the storm. “Hurry! Someone, someone! My baby is in danger!”
Finally, a light flicks on in the corridor previously dimly lit only by emergency lights. The door at the very end of the hallway opens, and the fluorescent ceiling lights flicker on.
“Ah… Ahh…” Someone finally noticed me.
Himeko lets out a sigh of relief and allows her hand to slide down the glass as she sinks to the floor, her eyes pleading for recognition and help as she looks down the hallway. Standing there, she sees the silhouette of a person in nurse wear. She can’t make out the face, but from the body shape and gait, she immediately knows who it is.
She rapidly heads towards the door, charging forward as if she were using her shoulder to slice through the wind. Her eyes were narrow, and it looks like she’s grating her teeth.
She looks like a demon. A demon filled with rage.
That’s what Himeko’s immediate reaction is. She can’t help but to fall back on her behind and try to scoot away from the glass doors. But when Yasuko draws near, she’s smiling as usual. She unlocks the door right away and pulls the sopping wet Yasuko inside.
“Oh, dear, look at you. I told you to wait at home.”
Why didn’t you come pick me up?
Were you unable to pick up the phone? Why did you keep sending only emails?
And what was with that severe expression a second ago?
And now the beaming smile right in front of me.
The confusion is almost enough for Himeko to start questioning it all, but…
“I know you were worried about the baby, but what if something had happened? It was reckless of you
to come walking here in a typhoon.” The hands gripping hers fend off Himeko’s words. Yasuko is acting like her older sister, as usual.
“We had another rush mother today. Things were so busy; we didn’t have a moment to rest,” Yasuko explains, using her hands.
But Himeko spots some things that she can’t ignore. The strap from Yasuko’s cell phone is peeking out of her upper pocket. And her upper lip has fresh cream on it, making it obvious she had been eating something sweet just a moment ago. Perhaps she had just taken a break after she finally finished her work. But if that were true, she could’ve quickly taken a moment to reach out to Himeko, couldn’t she?
Did she do this on purpose? Did she deliberately not respond?
Wait, were those pills she gave me not actually vitamins…?
Suspicions she never wanted to consider quickly sprout up, one after the other. Simultaneously, the pain that had faded now returns with a vengeance, causing Himeko to double over in agony.
“Oh, your uterus is opening up. You shouldn’t move. Sit tight and stay there.” Yasuko rushes back down the hallway.
Before today, Himeko would’ve felt sorry for imposing on Yasuko. But now, as she watches Yasuko return, pushing a stretcher with an intense expression on her face, all she feels instead is a sad suspicion that everything was just an act.
She feels like her heart is going to burst.
But after some intense palpitations and unbelievably excruciating pain, an energetic first cry echoes throughout the delivery room.
“Congratulations. Yes, it’s a healthy boy.”
The delivery doctor smiles at Himeko, whose face is covered with beads of sweat. “It was a premature delivery, so I must say, I was a bit worried. But, there’s nothing wrong with your little boy. You went into labor so suddenly, but you did so well.”
The doctor removes his gloves and walks over to Yasuko, who is behind the partition, cleaning the baby on the processing table. “Well then, Miss Kuramoto, I leave the rest to you.”
“Of course, doctor. I’m sorry you had to stay behind on a day like this.”
“I don’t mind at all. As long as I get home, it’s fine.”
“You never take night shifts.”
“Yes, they take a toll on an aging body like mine. Well then, miss, make sure you listen to the midwife here, now, okay?” The doctor gives a quick wave, quickly takes off his white coat, and then exits the delivery room.
The doctor’s rapid departure gives Himeko a bit of concern…
But she can still hear the healthy voice of the baby, and she allows herself to feel relief from a safe delivery after everything she’d gone through today.
That includes burying all the growing suspicions she had about Yasuko, a combination of exhaustion, pain, and the anesthetics.
She turns her head a bit, where she can see the adorable legs energetically moving from behind the partition.
“Ahaha, of course, he is.” Yasuko is diligently wiping the small legs kicking her arm with some gauze. “Oh, he really is adorable. I’ve never seen such a cute boy before.”
Perhaps she misunderstood. No, she wants it to be that way. She wants this important memory to be as happy and pleasant as possible. Wishing that, Himeko patiently waits for the glorious moment her baby is laid next to her.
She waits, but the baby still hasn’t been brought to her. In fact, it seems to Himeko that his crying is gradually becoming quieter.
Becoming worried, Himeko swallows the pain and sits up, the bed creaking at her movement.
She freezes at Yasuko’s barked order.
“I’m checking the heartbeat! I won’t be able to hear the sound from the stethoscope if you make a
racket behind me!” The sharp rebuke causes Himeko to quickly change her mind, and she looks back up at the ceiling, readying a quiet apology.
But she didn’t see a stethoscope in Yasuko’s hand.
Instead, it holds an ominous syringe filled with a sinister-looking liquid.
Come back tomorrow for the next Chapter.
You can read our review of Spirit Hunter: NG now.
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