Originally posted on 31 July 2012
Zero Novel: Chapter 2-5

Miku Hinasaki

Prompted by the child, she turned the corner, where she came face to face with an old screen. It was covered in dust and its gold leaf was peeling off, but there were hints that it must once have been quite a fine object. However, it created a dead end in the hallway.
What do I do?
Miku forced back tears and turned to the child.

"Use that to take a picture." The girl pointed in the direction of Miku's hands, before suddenly disappearing like smoke. Huh? Miku thought, looking down at her hands, where she held a camera she hadn't noticed before. It was a bellows camera, and quite an old one. However she looked at it, it seemed like the kid had told her to take a picture of the screen using this camera. It was easy even for Miku, who had only ever used instant cameras, to operate.


As she murmured this, surprised, she looked back down at the camera. She had completely forgotten of it until that moment, but it was undoubtedly her mother's camera, the one in life she had called the "Camera Obscura". It was not unreasonable for even Miku to forget. Right after her mother had died, her brother seemed to be hiding something, something he didn't want Miku to see. But for some reason, she now held that Camera Obscura.

Though doubtful, Miku did as the child in the kimono had said, readying the Camera Obscura and aiming it at the screen. A blue circle appeared in the centre of the viewfinder. When she aimed away from the screen the circle vanished, but when she tried again it instantly glowed blue. Proportionally to its glow, something echoed in her secret heartstrings. Her secret heartstrings... her sixth sense...

As she held the Camera Obscura, she felt a strange sense of relaxation. Inside the mansion, having no idea which way to go, she felt as though the camera was her ally. That feeling connected her to her late mother.
My mother is watching over me...

"Daaark... daaark..." said a voice from behind.

She turned and saw that while she had been preoccupied with the camera and the screen, the ghost of the woman with crushed eyes had turned the corner and was chasing after Miku.

But something strange happened. She turned around, still looking through the camera's viewfinder, and as soon as she focused on the woman the circle within it began to glow red. When the woman's image was perfectly inside the viewfinder, the glow intensified, and the camera began to vibrate even more strongly in her hands.

As though prompted by something, Miku clicked the shutter. With a pleasant crashing sound, the air around her was torn apart. Propelled by hatred, the woman twisted as she got closer to Miku. It was as though she was being sucked into a whirlpool in the air. From the centre of the vortex the camera emitted a current, and the next moment the woman in the swirling air was sucked inside the Camera Obscura, vanishing.

Miku took the camera away from her face. The overcast atmosphere that had been surrounding her was now clean, erased. There was no trace of the woman, either.
This camera... the camera left by my mother sucked the aura into it...

Though it was only faint, for the first time since coming to the mansion she felt courageous. She would look for her brother with her mother. Perhaps it was far-fetched, but that was the way in which she thought of things, and stayed put, not running away.
The girl before...
She looked around her, but couldn't see the girl anywhere.

Miku once more aimed the Camera Obscura at the screen. She angled it so that the blue light was stronger, and pressed the shutter. The flash blinked, and as the photo was taken the screen in the viewfinder became invisible, a hidden door on the other side. Lowering the camera, there was no change in the screen.

Had it been a simple hallucination? No, she saw it clearly. To be sure, she moved the screen. As she coughed at the dust it was covered in, her torch illuminated a hidden door, just like the one she saw when she took the photo. She had found it with the help of the mysterious child and her mother's old camera. By going through it, she might find a clue about her brother. Carefully, Miku put her hand on the door. Though it creaked a little under the force she placed on it it was not locked, and opened without trouble.

Inside was a room with a sombre atmosphere. In the centre was a fireplace. First of all she hugged the wall and examined the room. An old suit of armour was against the wall. It wasn't for show but looked to have actually been used - used often, at that. Also in the room were chests of drawers, lion heads and various other antiques, dusty and untouched. There was no trace of her brother anywhere.

In the adjacent room was a bookcase filled with books. All of the books were tattered so badly it was impossible to tell how old they were. She could barely make out descriptions of ghosts, rituals and folk legends, such as "Human Sacrifice in Legend" and "Strange Tales of Communion with the Dead". Further in were stairs leading to the second floor, and a clock on one side. The hands of the clock had stopped, pointing at 11:45. It seemed to have stopped long ago, and spider webs were strung across it. Nothing here seemed to suggest that her brother had passed through, either.

Feeling her inflated expectations wither, she moved closer to the fireplace in the middle of the room. Only the dust on the floor surrounding the fireplace had been disturbed. It looked to have been used recently. Maybe it was her brother - as she shone the torch around, she noticed a red notebook lying near the fireplace. It seemed new.

She picked it up and opened it. Written on it was the name "Tomoe Hirasaka". Hirasaka was the name of Mr. Takamine's assistant. They weren't acquaintances, but Miku had heard about her from her brother. Miku flipped through the notebook. Something had been scribbled in it in nervous handwriting.

27th of August

The more I investigate, the eerier things get. Perhaps it's a good topic for Mr. Takamine's next work, but honestly, I'm reluctant to go along for research. I have a bad feeling about it. I don't want to go to that mansion. But it's my job, so I have to go, and I don't want that feeling alone to interfere now that I've finally got to do research with Mr. Takamine.

Having a strong sixth sense isn't easy. There are limits to how good it is to have more information than is necessary.

10th of September, 8PM

When I was in front of the mirror near the entrance, I clearly saw the figure of a woman with long hair wearing a kimono. Ropes were tied to her arms and legs, which dragged as she walked. Come to think of it, I think Mr. Ogata spoke about something similar. So there is someone in this mansion after all...

11th of September, 6:30AM

I saw that woman in a white kimono again. She speaks to me. She knows that I have a strong sixth sense. The woman's name is Kirie... Kirie?

I think it's best to stay away from her. I don't want to be near her... I'm scared...

12th of September, 1:45PM

I can sense the presences of children playing. I can't see them, but they beckon to me repeatedly. Are they playing demon tag, or hide and seek...? Maybe they're the children from that photo.

There were so many heads in that room. The heads chopped off by the Himuro family master speak to me. I should never have come here. My sixth sense was correct in that respect.

The mirror breaks. Breaks... breaks... Many people collapsed on the floor throughout the mansion. So, so many... They all look like they were trying to run away from something. And with such desperate looks on their faces... Something is coming from deep inside the mansion. A coldness like nothing I've ever felt before. I don't know anymore whether this is real or if it's a dream.

A girl in a white kimono keeps appealing to me about something. I'm having trouble concentrating, but her voice remains strangely in my head. What am I meant do about what she's asking? I can't get out of the mansion anymore...

fi ve p ieces of
the mi rror
have to tell Mr. Takamine... how to break the curse...