You look at the row of letters, scowl and mutter, "How awful," then turn the page. I suppose that's how the majority of people in society would react, I suppose.
The world is inundated with newspaper articles just like this one. What is happening in Hinashiro could happen anywhere in Japan - perhaps it really does.
To my eyes, however, these words appear written in blood. I came to this town not too long ago, trying to come to terms with the strange incidents and accidents I've investigated in my own way.
And a suicide. Another suicide. This time, a middle-schooler jumped from the roof of the housing complex where she lived. "Those apartments are messed up," a 17-year-old high school council girl who likes going clubbing told me. She's a bit of a strong type - in terms of her sixth sense, that is.
I asked her what was messed up about them. Her answer was that something heavy "falls" from the building that makes her want to stay away altogether.
"There's something weird about it for sure. I knew they'd been gathering for a while. You'd be better off not sticking your nose in."
I was grateful for the warning, but I went to check it out anyway - to check out the apartments. I could sense nothing. But whenever I tried to ask questions of the middle-schoolers who live there, even just getting myself to say, "Hey," was tough. In the end, I simply left, dejected.
Beyond this, I honestly can't decide at all whether something is weird about them or not. When I saw the article, though, a chill ran down my spine.
Middle-schooler in suicide by jumping...
I couldn't simply frown and skip past it. The esper girl won't say another word. It's like she's waiting for something. I have a really bad feeling about this.
A bit of a time difference. The second happened the day after my last submission was printed, and then a third not long after.
Every time, one after another, just middle-schoolers jumping from the roof. I'd been ready, feeling like something was going to happen, but for some reason I hadn't anticipated that the same thing would simply happen again and again, indifferently.
"It happened. It happened, didn't it?" the esper girl said extremely quietly.
Apparently, a strong power is gathering, and no one can interfere. Oh, right, we're just watching, I thought. I'd known for a long time that I couldn't participate in what was happening there.
Are my senses beginning to numb? It's a pulse that's calling out. It's seducing them, beckoning them along. There is nothing they can do to escape its power, not as long as they're still in this world - or so the girl told me.
Now that a third victim has emerged, the world has finally begun to mutter. I hear the housewives talking about it as I walk down the street.
"Scary, isn't it?"
No one tried to figure out the cause. Come to think of it, none of them left a suicide note. That's why for a long time, it was just passed off as mysterious serial suicides of middle-schoolers.
The police appear to still be entertaining the possibility that they're just accidents. It's also not out of the question that somebody pushed all three of them from the roof. That answer is probably closest to the truth, but I doubt there's any way to prove it.
All I understand myself is that pulses seemingly have something to do with it. Thanks to writing about those, I'm now being urged to write articles for occult magazines. Not that I would be against doing that, if it came to it.
Just when will this end? Imagining middle-schoolers endlessly tossing themselves to their doom like lemmings is so depressing.
I'm just... tired.
The reality of multiple middle-schoolers throwing themselves off a roof for no reason really gets me down. My power to feel is being stolen away. How can death come so easily? What a goddamned nauseating situation this is.
Maybe I can't accurately tell you everything that happened then and there. I think I can at least write a solid account of how it ended, though.
A fourth middle-schooler jumped. But while she (this was a girl) sustained serious injuries she managed to survive, and it was her father who died instead.
What an unspeakably bizarre, fateful thing to happen. Luck, misfortune, sorrow and a need to get away, all jumbled up. How could something like this be possible?
At the time, an ambulance had been parked on the ground. It was there for a girl who, a little earlier, had attempted to jump from the roof and had just barely been saved by a fellow middle-schooler. A man came walking by, passing alongside the vehicle.
When the fourth jumper actually fell from the roof, the man had been walking immediately below. It was her father.
In the end, these impossible-seeming coincidences converged, with the father perishing and the daughter surviving.
Was this caused by a pulse?
"When I ran over, the young lady was breathing. I could tell at a glance that the father was beyond help."
The paramedic recalls that at the time, it seemed to him like the middle school girl had a curiously happy-looking smile on her face. If it were really a smile, just what was it that she was so satisfied about?
This isn't receiving much coverage, but there were high school students involved in the incident, too. A group of high-schoolers were trying to persuade the middle-schooler group to stop the serial diving. Even understanding that, they can't have been too far off the mark.
Neither the middle-schoolers concerned nor the high-schoolers will say much on the subject.
"If you don't take action, nothing's gonna change. Somebody told me that."
"Their generation isn't like ours. That doesn't mean that everything is separated, though. There must be some things where we can see eye to eye. I guess."
It's not like a tragedy didn't occur, but I feel like somewhere amidst these incidents I can see a flicker of hope, or something like it. Maybe that interpretation comes from an adult's wilful assumptions, though.
What did the fourth girl to jump say? She herself is refusing to talk. None of the media have reported any specific statements from her, which seems like a natural measure.
However, she seems to have been the leader of the middle-schoolers living in that strange complex. She was a symbol of one, at least.
There's something she apparently said. Since these are words that have come through so many people's mouths, I don't know just how much of them are her own. This is what she said: "Deliver the warning. Deliver it to the source."
The middle school girl who nearly became the fourth to jump.
For a time, she was almost driven to jump herself. It seems as though she has been able to recover from the shock of it all.
When I managed to see her for a short time, she seemed truly happy about the current situation. She was with her family in the apartment where they live, and the lights were on. For now, at least, she has found a place where she belongs - even if it's only a transient one.
Is a pulse something like a person's thoughts? Something created from hopes and desires, distorted, with their own special frequency? If an accumulation of emotions creates a pulse, sometimes acting as if it has a will of its own, maybe it's waiting even now for its time to shine. Or is it already everywhere, selecting, calling and seducing people?
"Sometimes, when I look at one of the high-schoolers these days, I feel like throwing up."
The girl who told me this was a middle-school girl in her early teens.
"Not out of hate. We're just divided. Our worlds are totally closed off from each other. They're the last generation to cling to cheap values. They make little groups in the same styles, protecting themselves from invaders, only befriending those in their circle. Their networks are divided here and there, and never expand. Even when you're just walking through town, all that catches your eye is how bad their manners are, right?"
So why is it that I get the feeling that middle-schoolers, this new generation, are so very close to death? Death dives. Suicide manuals. Such abrupt deaths.
"Because there's no answer. We don't have the peace of mind of things we hope or wish for. We won't get that unless the very world itself changes. We need new time, new space. But that's impossible. The future is closed off. The actual feeling of being alive gets weaker and weaker without end."
Is this a warning from the girl's generation? Are they being cornered? Maybe that's what it's like for the middle-schoolers living quietly in that complex, in their own separate time period. In that world.
This sorrowful generation, who can do nothing but reach out their hands into the empty sky, illuminated by the light of the moon. But maybe, in another world, there are middle-schoolers living with a different hope.
Their strong point is their intelligence. As they cast aside childhood, they can start a revolution. That is our meagre, faint hope, too.
The complex was constructed 20 years ago as public housing, with countless families having lived there in the intervening years. Finally, those families began to dissolve. Its 20-year history was a history of dissolution itself. Anyone would realise it if they looked at the buildings at night. You would be surprised by just how few lights within each ten-storey building are actually on.
What are the children up to? They are gathering. They all get together in one place, sitting in front of a shining screen and play games until their families arrive home.
Even as the middle-schoolers undertake their repeated dives of despair here at the complex, this is what they are doing. Gathering - in front of that shining monitor... Their mothers and fathers don't know what to do. They don't know where the problem lies, and aren't too enthusiastic in their interest in the first place. They appear enthusiastic about their education, but since that education is superficial, it doesn't touch the children.
It's a huge nuisance to try talking to the children who live in the complex. They all give one fixed answer. Nothing seems wrong with it.
"Yes. No. No, my mother isn't home yet. My father will be late. Yes, I'm fine. I'll be sure to tell them."
But they were all disinterested. Even in the deaths of the middle-schoolers. They're like cells.
Maybe something more terrible even than despair exists there. Or is this just a needless concern, and these kids will turn out to be well-mannered, smart, understanding middle-schoolers in time? Five more years. When this complex has been around for a quarter of a century, what will the children be doing?
Pulses, electromagnetic waves of accumlated human emotion. Create a magnetic field.
Despair and a feeling of hunger that tries to bury something lacking have a heavy effect on pulses.
Malicious pulses are related to the series of death dives by the middle-schoolers at Hinashiro's housing complex. Three have jumped already. Many have been affected by them.
The fourth dive concluded in a bizarre manner when the middle-schooler who jumped landed on the head of her own father, who had been walking below. What kind of ending is this? Does this mean that the father died in his daughter's place? The pulse's effects appear to have twisted events in an unexpected direction.
It seems as though a group of high-schoolers were in contact with the middle-schoolers of the complex who were carrying out the death dives.
I managed to confirm these high-schoolers as Mika Kishii, Yukari Hasegawa, Chisato Itsushima and Arisa Kahara. Need to keep a close eye on this group. They tried to talk them out of it, and ended up putting an end to the death dives, it seems.
The middle-schoolers' leader appears to have been a girl called Lil. She was the fourth to attempt suicide, during which she sustained severe injuries. I hear she's made several remarks about the reason why she jumped. Doesn't sound like she was leading herself, though. More like a sort of symbol for the middle-schoolers.
A representative for a generation who can only keep throwing themselves to their deaths, huh?
The middle school generation who live in this complex are in despair at the world. The serial dives are the new generation's attempt to appeal for the creation of new time and space, the idea being having that warning reach the source.
But why were the middle-schoolers in such despair? Was it the fault of the very world that created this complex?
Was it a breeding ground for pulses?
The eeriness of the elementary-schoolers' generation. They seem apathetic towards the fuss over the middle-schoolers' suicides, too.
Looks like the fourth dive caught the media's attention. Even if it's only for a time, everyone's focusing on the issue of middle-schoolers and suicides.