Hayarigami: Short Story #1

The Internet Lady

There is a job called "internet lady". You set up cameras around your house, streaming your private life 24 hours a day for all the internet to see. Most of them are "models" belonging to a certain agency. You can apparently get paid more depending on the number and location of the cameras you set up, especially if you put them in a changing room or shower room.

This a story I heard from a friend of a friend. It's the tale of a man named A―that's right, the tale of a man who watched one of these internet ladies.


A was a college drop-out, mostly living off an allowance from his parents rather than working part-time. He lived alone in a studio apartment in the city, and spent all day every day watching the life of a woman on the other side of the net. Online, she called herself "Kana". The images seemed to be playing in real time, but there was no audio.

Kana's profile was posted on the website of the company for whom she worked. According to it she was 20 years old, 5'6", with a BWH of 83-53-85. She lived in a one-room apartment with a combined dining room and kitchen. Naturally, her occupation was "model". She didn't seem to have any other job besides, and the only time she left her house was to go shopping.

Kana seemed to enjoy being filmed, sometimes smiling or making peace signs at the camera. Since there was no sound, she would occasionally write messages in a sketchbook and hold them up to the camera. These reactions were not directed towards A himself, however, but were more likely a mere charm offensive directed at an undefined number of men.

Kana returning home. Kana washing the dishes. Kana folding the laundry. What A liked best of all was watching her get into the bath. Kana had cameras set up in the entrance, kitchen, dining room and changing room. Since she had a modular bathroom, he was unable to watch her actually bathing. Surely watching her use the toilet would have been a step too far.

A watched the feed transmitted from the changing room camera intently. He could see a space there where a washing machine would be placed, but it was currently empty. Kana did her laundry at a laundrette. Once, she had written in her sketchbook: "I'm gonna buy a washing machine soon~." There was a conspicuous scratch on the wall, which would be hidden were a washing machine to be placed in that spot. She apparently found the scratch "lame~" herself.

One night, after several weeks had passed since he began watching Kana, A returned home from his shopping trip and started up his PC as usual, taking a peek at Kana's room. More than an hour passed, but still she didn't appear. The lights in the apartment were off, and it was dark. Kana couldn't spend every day shut up inside her house, so this was not too out of the ordinary. Thinking that she must be out shopping, A waited for her to return.

A few hours later, a figure finally appeared before the camera. The room's light flickered on, illuminating her residence.

It was not Kana who stood in view of the camera, but a man. Was he a friend, perhaps, or maybe a boyfriend? No one but Kana had ever shown up on the screen before. A didn't know anything about her circle of friends anyway.

The man was tall, with an extremely stooped back. He wore a black jumper with the sleeves rolled up and black jeans. His long hair, hiding his ears, was covered in grease, giving off a filthy lustre. He didn't turn his face towards the screen, as if aware of the camera's presence. The man prowled about the room, turning his head to look around him. Something glinted in the man's right hand. In his oddly hairy hand he gripped a kitchen knife with a blade more than 20 centimetres in length.

Who was he...? Was he Kana's boyfriend, with whom she'd had a falling out over something? Or a stalker, maybe? Either way, he was a man with a knife. He obviously wasn't there to chat.

The man deliberately slid open the closet door, slipped inside, and closed it behind him. Less than a minute later, Kana arrived home.

Wait, there's a man in your room, A wanted to say, but Kana was somewhere far away along the network. As she entered the room she looked up at the lit light, tilting her head in confusion.

...It took only a moment. The sliding door of the closet opened, and the man swiftly wrapped himself around Kana from behind. Catching Kana by surprise, he plunged the knife deep into her throat. Kana convulsed, not even getting the chance to resist, going limp and crumpling forwards onto the tatami floor. The man stabbed the knife into the collapsed Kana over and over. Blood splattered all over the room, painting it deep red. The man shoved Kana's body inside a vinyl bag, hiding it inside the ceiling of her closet, then vanished from the screen―from A's view.

Those images... had they been real? If so, A had witnessed something terrible. He knew he should probably report it to the police, but some part of him prayed that it might have been some sort of performance. In the end, rather than go to the police, A contacted the company Kana worked for. He learned, however, that it was already bankrupt. He scoured the net for evidence, but the company definitely had gone out of business. The images of her A had been watching should have been playing in real time, 24 hours a day. That would mean that the bankrupt company had been streaming them. Or were they past videos that had been preserved somehow...?

A nervously investigated whether or not the incident with Kana had really occurred. He searched for previous burglary-related homicides and similar cases, but could find no articles that seemed to match.

Had the video been faked after all, then? A took another look at Kana's apartment, loading up several old videos saved on his harddisk. He viewed them from the day he had begun watching her up until the scene of the tragedy. They didn't seem faked.

A let out a long sigh, flopping onto his back on the tatami. That was when he noticed it: there were small stains on the ceiling, small enough not to be noticed unless you took a close look. He peered more closely at the ceiling, noticing similar stains all over it. They were a blackish red, almost like bloodstains. There were even some on the dust-covered lampshade covering the light. The light... he felt like he'd seen one like it somewhere before.

The memory of the ceiling in Kana's room came back to him. There had been several cameras set up inside her room.

Hadn't he seen this ceiling somewhere before? He couldn't have. A raised his head. He checked Kana's room one more time. As he finished viewing the scene of the tragedy, he gulped. The splattered blood reached the ceiling. The cord hanging from the light swayed. The cord led to a light in the same shape as the one in his own room. A mentally removed Kana's image from her room, trying to remember. The changing room was to the right of the kitchen. To the left of the changing room was a door. The shape of the tap. The layout was just the same as his own apartment... A peeked behind the washing machine in the changing room. A mark was there that matched the shape of the one on the wall of Kana's house.

Could Kana possibly have lived there before? No, that was ridiculous. Kana couldn't be inside the ceiling of the closet, could she? A returned to the living room, looking up at the ceiling. He was struck by the feeling that the woman who had been chopped up into tiny pieces was observing him in real time, 24 hours a day.

"I'm imagining things," A muttered to himself, and looked at the screen. Upon it, he saw a familiar room―it was A's room, from before he had arrived home. Clear images of a man prowling around it were displayed on the screen. The man opened the sliding door of the closet and hid himself inside it.

Now that he thought about it, A realised that he couldn't remember having turned on the lights after he had got home. As the thought hit him, the closet door slid softly open. A man's oddly hairy arm appeared in the gap. In his hand, he gripped a kitchen knife.