Exclusive – Spirit Hunter: NG Novella ‘Urashima Woman’ Chapter 5
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, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4. 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.
Author: Hitomi Amamiya
Just after 3 AM, the area around Urashima Lake is eerily silent, like everything is holding its breath. Usually, during this time of night, delinquents and other ne’er-do-wells would be loitering around. But thanks to the typhoon that had been raging until recently, they were all off somewhere else.
Amidst the silence, sits a solitary person hunched over, briskly working on something.
It’s Yasuko. In her hand is a large, round rock. They’re fist-sized stones that were stacked up by park maintenance.
Yasuko swiftly picks up one of them and places it in the suitcase lying open next to her. In a businesslike manner, she briskly fills every gap of the suitcase with the rocks. As soon as it is completely full, she shuts the suitcase and firmly locks it, as if sealing something in. Looking like she’s tugging a cumbersome piece of luggage through the airport, Yasuko slowly drags the heavy suitcase towards Urashima Lake.
The wind grazes the surface of the water, forming ripples that make the lake seem like it’s made of crepe paper.
They were on the small, boulder-like island that floats in the middle of the lake. Even Yasuko, with all her strength, had a hard time bringing the suitcase all the way here. After all, it isn’t just full of rocks, but a human, as well.
“Whew… This place should be fine. It looks pretty deep too.”
Yasuko puts down the suitcase and pokes her head out to take a look at the lake. The surrounding rocks block the water flow, giving the lake a peaceful surface. Yasuko’s face is clearly reflected in the pool. She looked at the woman in the reflection with the protruding cheekbones and thought to herself how ugly the woman is.
She reacts to the reflection as if it isn’t her.
“Ugly,” “Incompetent,” “A dull girl with a sullen face”…
As a child, her relatives would half-whisper, cutting remarks at family gatherings. But those remarks were only said aloud because they hid the true reason her relatives had such withering disdain for her. Despite being a child, Yasuko still understood that. For, even though she was a woman, her body isn’t able to birth a child. That was the true disgrace for which her relatives punished her.
Yasuko’s family, the Kuramoto family, had been local leaders for generations. They cared deeply about their lineage and were old-fashioned people who believed a woman’s worth was dependent on their ability to birth healthy offspring. But she was born without the ability to perform that function, and because of that, she had been oppressed since her youth. She was not allowed to meet any guests of the family and told to go feed the livestock by herself instead.
The family never had a daughter named Yasuko. That’s what her treatment said, with her always being pushed to remain out of sight in the house.
Yasuko and her cousins knew that it was an outdated way of thinking and an insidious tradition. But they were all unwilling to go against tradition, disliked rocking the boat, or just sadistic types that enjoyed watching the mistreatment of young children. No one ever bothered to lend a hand to Yasuko, who endured this alone for her entire childhood.
And yet, now here she is, working as a midwife.
“How ironic,” Yasuko says to the “ugly woman” she sees in the placid water’s surface. “If the people back at home heard about this, they’d surely start laughing. The girl they cut down for not being able to have children is holding a baby in her arms every day.”
They’re not my children, though. That thought pricks at the back of her mind as she picks up the suitcase.
“Well, then. Let’s get this over with.”
She pushes down the heavy object down to its side and places her foot on the rounded corners of the case, pushing it towards the edge of the lake with all her strength.
It sounds like a fist banging against the inside of the suitcase.
“Oh? …Wow, you’re still alive.”
*Thump* *Thump* *Thump*
The sound gets louder and stronger.
“I gave you some drugs, why didn’t you just decide to stay asleep?”
*THUMP* *BAM* *SMACK*
The sounds get fiercer, like the person inside is kicking, the captive struggling against the rocks stuffed inside, using everything they had to try and bust out. But Yasuko has no intention of opening up the case.
In fact, the sound attacking her eardrums aggravates her, and she responds by kicking at the suitcase.
“Shut up! You’re going to die soon, don’t you get it!?”
With the momentum of the previous kick, she pushes the object of her irritation up to the pointed rock.
“…Here we go. Oh, now that I think about it… Didn’t you say your family died in the water?”
The sounds from inside the case continue on, not paying any heedless of Yasuko’s words. “If that’s the case, you’ll be able to meet them right away when you die at the bottom of this lake. Haha, isn’t that nice? You won’t be all alone anymore.”
“Even if you don’t have your baby boy.”
“Right? Miss Himeko?”
Yasuko pushes the suitcase with Himeko inside one final time, letting it roll down from the tip of the rock into Urashima Lake.
A few days later, an elderly police officer and a subordinate are inside Yasuko’s apartment. Their eyes go wide at the sight of the cute pink and yellow decorations.
“What is up with this room?”
“A baby bed, toys, milk sterilizer, diapers, and a pacifier. What’s that thing called? That thing that circles above the bed.”
“A merry-something? Maybe?”
The walls are covered with wallpaper of cartoon animals. The type of thing often seen at nurseries and pediatric offices. Plush toys and educational toys were strewn about the room, which was deeply unsettling, as it belongs to a middle-aged woman who lives alone.
“So, she was prepared for life with the child …But this is still going overboard.”
“Get a look at this.”
The subordinate gestures to a small bottle. Many of them were lined up on top of box shelves. They all contain a thick liquid and something peach-colored floating inside. From the size and color, it looked like a mature goldfish at first glance. But they have no tails, and the overall shape isn’t quite a match.
“Wait, are these…?”
“Yup. I think they’re fetuses.”
Each bottle is labeled with a date. The oldest label reads “March 27, 1988.” The next closest is one from July 15th of the same year. The newest bottle is one from February 13, 1999. The two frown and look at each other.
“That midwife’s been doing this crap for over a decade?”
“It seems like it.”
“I’m sure they’ll be deemed ‘hospital waste,’ which means that’ll just get classified as object embezzlement. Man, what kind of morals would someone have to even think about this?”
Continuing their search, they discover a stainless steel container that reads ‘STERILIZATION NEEDED.’ Inside are similarly-shaped empty bottles. The two notice that the bottles also have what appear to be names written on them as well.
“She must have taken the fetus out of the delivery room with this container.”
“…And then she’d take the fetus home and gave it a name.”
“I suppose she felt like she was their mother.”
“She’s insane…” mumbles the inspector and gives the order to start collecting photo evidence. “Kuramoto’s coming for inspection soon. She’s got quite a temper. She might get rowdy and destroy some of the things in here.”
Outside, a shrill voice pierces the air.
“Hey! Let go of me! What will the neighbors think!?”
The door opens to reveal Yasuko, her hair a frightful mess, struggling against the officers’ hold.
Shortly after that night, Yasuko will be detained as a material witness and suspect to the baffling case that would be dubbed as the Kissouji Pregnant Woman Murder. Yasuko however, furiously insists that she is innocent.
“They’re just going to let me out after two or three days, so let me just stay at home! I haven’t done anything. They’re going to say I’m not guilty and release me!” She continues to thrash about at the entrance, telling them to let her go because she didn’t do anything.
“Hey, it’s not safe to be causing a ruckus like that in here.”
Yasuko grates her teeth at the inspector that came from her room.
“I’m the one in charge of your questioning.”
“I’ve already told you many times. I was the one that birthed the boy that night.”
“There’s no way you birthed the boy. Besides, the doctor performed the delivery…”
“You don’t understand a thing. I’ll prove it to you! I’ll show you my maternity passbook.”
“Hey-” cuts in the subordinate. But the inspector waves his hand to silence him.
“Kuramoto. The mother of the baby is Himeko Shimizu, who’s still missing.” The inspector looks closely at Yasuko’s face trying to read her true intentions. If the baby was still alive, considering how long ago the baby had disappeared, this might be their last chance to save his life.
The inspector questions her once more in a calm tone. “Kuramoto. Where is Himeko Shimizu right now?”
But Yasuko’s expression doesn’t change much at all. “How should I know where that woman is? She just kept on trying to talk to me every time she came to the hospital. Asking me to take her out to lunch or go shopping with her. It was so irritating.” She goes inside the room, dragging along the police officer that was half-restraining her. She whips out a piece of paper from the bottom shelf, one of the shelves lined with the fetuses.
“Here it is. Here’s the proof that I’m the mother of the baby.” It’s a birth certificate. It bears the seal of the mayor, and it was properly filled out. It’s a compelling piece of evidence. But it’s not enough to fool a police officer. Not wanting to upset Yasuko for now, the inspector accepts the fake birth certificate and tucks it in his inside pocket.
“I’ll make sure this gets filed away properly. There’s something else I need to ask you about this room. Kuramoto, can you tell me about those bottles lined up over there?”
“Yes, of course.”
“They’re all children I gave birth to. It’s a little sad and lonely how silent they are, though.”
Night had fallen, and Yasuko is inside of a solitary cell at the detention center once again. When she returned to her home during the inspection, she honestly believed that she would be released immediately without charge. Yet, she’s back here now in the detention center.
Finally, out of handcuffs, Yasuko stretches out her unburdened arms and leans back on the futon in the room, which is folded into thirds.
“Whew, I’ve finally been released. Handcuffs are so heavy. That hurts.” Despite her complaints, her days inside the cell weren’t actually so bad. Her cell is clean and tidy, and the futon covers and sheets get rotated out every three days for freshly washed ones.
The cell has surveillance cameras, but it isn’t like she’s being watched 24/7, so she didn’t feel like she had no privacy whatsoever. During her free time, she is free to nap or read a book. Her job as a midwife kept her busy all the time, and she’d been working hard for so long. In some ways, detention felt like she’d been given a little vacation.
Relaxing comfortably, she reminisced about the baby she held in the delivery room a few days ago. “He really was an adorable baby…”
It was a boy that looked like an angel.
Cleaning the newborn baby’s body felt so satisfying to her. How fortunate a mother must feel to have carried a child like that in her body. Just how thrilling the past few months must have been for Himeko Shimizu, who now lay dead at the bottom of Urashima Lake. Thanks to her job, Yasuko had seen over a thousand moments of birth. But the joy of pregnancy would forever be something that she could never fully understand.
And that’s why she decided to steal the boy. Who cared what that other woman felt? She got to have all the pleasure of childbirth, and fate had cruelly denied that to Yasuko. But now she would no longer have to make do with a silent fetus. Why should she have to be treated so badly her entire life and spend her life agonizing over this?
“…It’s so unfair.”
She’ll just keep feigning mental illness and let a few years pass by. And once she was free again…
“I’ll just find myself another baby…” is her last thought as she slowly drifts off to sleep.
Deep in the night, odd, watery sounds emerge from the corner of the room. The disgustingly damp sounds slowly inch closer to the futon Yasuko is sleeping on.
Yasuko is suddenly awakened by the sudden chill and the disconcerting sound.
“…Hm?” Groggily opening her eyes a little, she sees something black hanging in front of her. From its ends, it seems like there are drops of water falling to the floor in pitter-patters. Still half-asleep, Yasuko draws her face closer for a better look.
It smells ripe. Like mud, or fish. It’s an indescribably rank smell, one that is completely out of place in this relatively clean cell. Unable to tell what she’s looking at up close, Yasuko leans back to take in the whole figure.
It’s a woman. A wet woman, who is dressed in white clothes that stand out against the darkness.
Yasuko jumps up from the futon with a fearful gasp and flees to the wall, half-tripping.
The woman is soaking wet with a protruding belly that looks like it’s about to burst. Her wet hair clings to her face, obscuring her eyes, nose, and mouth. Every part of her, from her torso to her fingertips, seems like it’s bloated from taking on water. It’s almost as if a woman who had been drowned is now upright, slowly marching towards her.
A familiar woman’s plea echoes deep inside her ear.
“Give it back… My baby.”
Can it really be?
“…Yes, my… baby.”
The woman creeps towards Yasuko, each movement once again producing that unpleasant wet sound.
“Where…? Tell me…”
“A-Ahh! Don’t come any closer!”
“Tell me… Hurry. Tell me. My…”
“Shut up! That child’s long dead now!”
The statement stops the wet woman’s movement momentarily…
But then her march towards the wall resumes again.
“Y-You might not remember because you blacked out, but that child is dead! The child you gave birth to is dead!”
Before Yasuko realizes it, the woman is close enough for Yasuko to feel her own breath deflecting off her interrogator.
“Where… Tell me…? My baby? Tell me…”
“I said, that child is alread-”
Yasuko suddenly finds it hard to breathe. “Ug-ugh, huhhgh?” She can’t breathe through her mouth or nose, as if only her face had been submerged in water.
“Ghhug… nnngh!” Yasuko opens her mouth wide like a carp, trying to suck in as much oxygen as possible. But the only oxygen that fills her lungs is in the form of water, not the air she needs to survive.
Soon, moisture accumulates on the outside of her body, her body’s internal fluids being osmotically expelled from her body from the massive influx of water. Yasuko reaches towards the ceiling in a plea for help.
But the agonizing feeling never subsides. Yasuko falls to the ground, her eyes wide open.
The next day, Yasuko’s body is found in her cell. She perished due to unnatural causes, seemingly by drowning.
Perhaps due to extreme shock, her hair had turned all white, and around the body were puddles of water.
But when the surveillance footage is examined, all it shows is Yasuko in pain, reaching out her arms as if she was drowning, with no apparent cause to be seen.
Later, in the dark corners of the Internet, a rumor arises that a woman, sopping wet from head to toe, stands near Urashima Lake at night.
The woman has a hand placed on an empty baby stroller, staring at Urashima Lake, mumbling to herself.
“Where… My sweet child…”
“Where is my baby…?
Tell me… ”
Translated by Nagisa Mihara
Come back tomorrow for the next Chapter.
You can read our review of Spirit Hunter: NG now.
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