Chapter 0:


52 Hertz

The serial killer, Hirota Jito, who has been accused of murdering 6 civilians in the Ikebukuro region has been apprehended late Thursday evening. Thanks to the local police force, residents are now able to reside at home with ease.” Bookmark here

The radio made a soft fizzing noise before a new voice blasted through the speakers.Bookmark here

Yes indeed, thank you to the local community for their assistance during this case! The police force is very grateful for the input of the witnesses.”Bookmark here

As of now, the accused has said no words to the media since his confinement. Any news of the trial will stay confidential. Once again, our hearts go out to the family of the deceased. We thank you for your cooperation.”Bookmark here

Next, regarding the weather, central Tokyo has been experiencing extensive amounts of rain for the past few days. Please remember to bring your umbrellas with you! Indeed, the gloomy weather will persist throughout the next…Bookmark here

The radio’s sound faded slowly as the sound of the rain hit the windows. In a small dark room, a couple of monitors were placed on the floor, facing a messy futon. The electric blue lights emitted from the various screens reflected onto the walls. Books, empty noodle cups, wires, and stacks of papers were sprawled all over the floor. In a corner of the room, a big desk was barely visible under the piles of things covering it. There, in the middle of the room, was a big blanket-covered silhouette facing the many monitors.Bookmark here

“Fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two. Um.” Bookmark here

A pale hand reached for a bag of marshmallows that looked like it was ripped open by a hungry bear.Bookmark here

“Fifty…”Bookmark here

She took a big bite out of the marshmallow. Her hands were pale and small. They looked like glass that could shatter at any moment. She hastily typed with her free hand, jerking her hand this way and that on the keyboard. Her movements suggested she was in quite an impatient mood. Suddenly, the sound of someone pounding on her apartment door was heard. The muffled voice of a man called out from outside.Bookmark here

“Ko-chan, open this door. How many times do I have to knock?”Bookmark here

He started clicking the doorbell over and over, like a child slamming the elevator buttons.Bookmark here

“Ko-ah~ Ko-chan!”Bookmark here

The mound of blankets did not budge. In fact, the hand was typing even faster now.Bookmark here

“YAH! You make me run errands for you and now you don’t let me in??? Do you know how much money I make in a day??? Do you know??? I don't need to take babysitting as a side job!”Bookmark here

The door opened as the man let out a gasp.Bookmark here

“Huh? It’s not locked.”Bookmark here

A tall man in a black suit walked in. He had a cigarette in his mouth, with some stubble on his face. He must’ve been at least 6 feet tall, seeing as he nearly slammed his head into the doorframe. His very messy black hair was long; down to his shoulders. He had tied it back into a loose ponytail. Holding two white grocery bags, he slammed the light switch on while kicking off his shoes. The pile of blankets moved slightly.Bookmark here

“This,” Bookmark here

he said, dropping the bags in the room,Bookmark here

“they only had the spicy curry flavor left.”Bookmark here

The hand reached for the bag and emptied it on the floor. Various cups of ramen, all spicy curry, toppled down to the floor. After a brief moment, the girl looked up at the man. Her blue and grey eyes looked sharp, despite her dark circles. Her forehead was covered with a long fringe of messy black hair, which stopped just above her big eyes. The rest of her hair was very short, like a boy, but it stuck to her face in all sorts of weird angles. Despite the overgrown fringe and sharp eyes, she had a very gentle feel about her. Pale skin, rosy cheeks, and a tiny body. Just like a porcelain doll. She opened the first bag.Bookmark here

“......there aren't….the marshmallows...” Bookmark here

She emptied the other bag and shoveled through it, this time cans of soup rolled over the messy floor. The man huffed, leaving a cloud of grey smoke floating near his face.Bookmark here

“I brought you a bag of those things just yesterday. How many are you planning to eat in one sitting? Just eat the noodles.” There was a moment of hesitation as he scratched the back of his head and knelt, placing his big hand on the top of her head.Bookmark here

“I’ll cook you a real meal this week. You can’t live off of those blocks of sugar forever.”Bookmark here

The girl’s gaze shifted onto the man’s hand.Bookmark here

“Oh..then I am indebted to you. Thank you.” she bowed slightly.Bookmark here

The man smiled and stood back up. As the girl picked up a can of soup and read the label, the man walked over to the desk and pulled out the foldable chair. He shifted his cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other.Bookmark here

“The boss wanted me to convey his thanks to you on his behalf. He says you’ve turned another unsolicited case into a closed one. To be honest, he’s just going to keep asking for your input since you’re so...perceptive. Why don’t you take it easy for a while, our dear Kitamura Haruko-san? You aren’t an official member of the investigators' team and they're already whispering about how much of a genius you are... This feels like child labor...” Bookmark here

Haruko stood up slowly from her blankets and brushed the dust off of her very obvious oversized white t-shirt and jeans. She faced the man, laughing slightly at his change from formal to informal speech.Bookmark here

“I’ve worried you. I apologize. The cases aren’t...difficult to do. Hirota Jito’s case… he was kind of a messy criminal. Anyone would be able to see through his actions.”Bookmark here

She smiled and placed her hands behind her back. Seeing the man’s blank expression, she glanced around her, then back at his face.Bookmark here

“Yulan? What’s wrong?”Bookmark here

“Please don’t tell me that’s my shirt.”Bookmark here

“..It is.”Bookmark here

“And those pants?”Bookmark here

“They’re yours as well.”Bookmark here

There was a moment of silence. Yulan stood up rapidly and yelled.Bookmark here

“KO-CHAN! If you need new clothes, just tell me!”Bookmark here

He dropped dramatically to the floor.Bookmark here

“A young girl such as yourself....wearing such unfit unmarried woman wearing a grown man's clothes…I CANNOT ACCEPT THIS!”Bookmark here

He pointed his finger towards Haruko with a look of determination on his face and pulled out a pink magazine from the messy desk. The title read: “New summer addictions! Custom tails and furry wails, get your very own cat maid outfit today!”Bookmark here

“Here! Pick anything you want from this one.”Bookmark here

Haruko felt her tired, sharp eyes widen. She stared at the model on the front page who wore nothing but an apron over her frilly skirt. A long, black tail stuck from behind her.Bookmark here

“That’s a maid cosplay magazine, mister.”Bookmark here

“eh?”Bookmark here

The sound of the rain hitting the windows continued. The man stood, at a loss, with his magazine in hand. Quickly, he slapped his cigarette out of his mouth, smoothed his hair back, and chucked the magazine to the floor. His face sparkled.Bookmark here

“Ko-chan, don't get any ideas. I am simply a man with certain needs-”Bookmark here

The small girl threw the cup of ramen right into Yulan’s very unfortunate face, cutting him off mid-sentence.Bookmark here

“Hah…those magazines take up so much room...” Bookmark here

she said, pressing the palm of her hand on her head. She looked exhausted but embarrassed at the same time. Seeing Yulan tumble over on the desk, she smiled contentedly.Bookmark here

“....Since you’re here, take all your weird magazines with you.” Bookmark here

She coughed slightly. Bookmark here

“This place is too small to fit them all.”Bookmark here

Haruko looked up quickly and winced at how this small girl said “them all.” His forehead had a nice bright red mark on it now. While fixing his hair, he pushed himself back up.Bookmark here

“Hahhhh, this terrible treatment...even after everything I've done for you…here.”Bookmark here

Yulan quickly switched the subject by handing Haruko a thick, yellow envelope. It had been stamped with red ink and the front read “Miyazaki High School. Recipient: Kitamura Haruko.” The small girl quickly opened it and stared reluctantly at the paperwork inside.Bookmark here

“It says I passed...the entrance exam. They...sent the results so soon as well.”Bookmark here

Yulan bent down to Haruko’s height and smiled. Bookmark here

“Congratulations on your acceptance. You’ve now graduated from being a Hikikomori.” Bookmark here

“A what?”Bookmark here

Yulan turned the small girl around so that she would face the door. He knelt  beside her and placed both his hands on her shoulders. His black eyes looked like they were soaked in rainwater.Bookmark here

“Hikikomori. A social hermit. Now, go out and enjoy the final year of your youth.”Bookmark here

Real Aire
Marshall Eastman
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