Chapter 34:

Homura's Story: Now Usami, Now You Don't!

Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a bunch of planets collided together and formed a massive explosion! It was all like ‘Blam!’ and ‘Ka-boom!’ and it was really epic! From the explosion, an omnipotent goddess emerged – Her beauty, intelligence and badass cape revered throughout the universe. With her incredible powers that she made up on the spot, she defeated many powerful demons, but now she found herself stuck in the body of a highschool girl. And that highschool girl is me, Homura Usami, the most powerful being of all-time! …Although in reality, I’m just a normal girl who likes playing pretend.Bookmark here

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A serial killer known as Watashi had threated to kill one of my friends. Luckily, I knew the murderer’s true identity – Nagisa Mul. Unluckily, none of my friends believe me. They just think that I’m crazy and too idiotic to solve the crime! But I’ll show them! Say ‘goodbye’ to the old chuuni Homura, and say ‘hello’ to the all-new hardboiled detective Homura!Bookmark here

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Earlier that day, when all the students were heading home from school…Bookmark here

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I hid behind a nearby tree, stealthily observing Nagisa. I was at least 5% sure that he was Watashi. That number may not seem very big but there’s, like, one-thousand people in Japan, so that’s a 0.5% chance that he’s the killer. Still, I didn’t technically have any proof, so I had to spy on him carefully.Bookmark here

“Hey, idiot girl,” Nagisa called out in my direction, “I can tell that you’re spying on me. Your cape is so obviously blowing around behind that tree.”Bookmark here

Dammit, Watashi was even smarter than I thought!Bookmark here

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I sighed, emerging from my hiding spot, holding my hands above my head.Bookmark here

“Yeah, OK. You got me,” I sighed, “So what now? Are you going to kill me?”Bookmark here

“You’re so thick,” Nagisa said, gritting his teeth, “Firstly, I’m not Watashi. I dunno how many times I’m gonna have to say it before it sinks into that tiny brain of yours. And secondly, if I was Watashi, why the Hell would I kill you in front of a huge crowd of people?!”Bookmark here

Dammit, that was two-for-two. I was truly dealing with a hardened criminal here. But I wouldn’t let that deter my investigation.Bookmark here

“So, what are you doing tonight,” I asked, “Looking for more Utopia Online players to murder?”Bookmark here

“As I told your friends, I’m going to my father’s funeral. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really should get go--”Bookmark here

“Can I come?” I asked smugly, cutting him off, “As a fan of Utopia Online, I’d love to pay my respects to the man responsible for ImagineTech’s cutting-edge VR technology!”Bookmark here

“Whatever,” Nagisa exhaled, “Knock yourself out, see if I care.”Bookmark here

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I had accompanied Nagisa Mul to the funeral, in order to look out for suspicious behavior, but he actually seemed rather normal for the entire time. He chatted with a few of the other guests, shed a few tears and even delivered a somber speech. Maybe he really was telling the truth? Was I, the great and powerful fire goddess, wrong? After he had finished his vocal delivery, he stepped down from the podium and sat beside me. He stared at me in disgust as I was typing up a text on my phone.Bookmark here

“This is a funeral, show some damn respect.”Bookmark here

“Oh, sorry” I apologized, putting my phone away as I leaned over to him, “By the way, I think I believe you now. I don’t think that you’re Watashi anymore.”Bookmark here

“Hmph, so you finally realized it,” he whispered back to me, “But even so, the real Watashi is still out there.”Bookmark here

“I know,” I said, putting a hand on Nagisa’s shoulder, “And we’re going to catch them.”Bookmark here

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After the funeral, I had followed Nagisa back to his house. Since my parents are forensics experts, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to use some of their inherited genius to find some evidence at the scene of the crime.Bookmark here

“Why are you following me?” Nagisa asked, unlocking the door and stepping inside.Bookmark here

Before he had time to close the door, I followed him inside, walking around the hallway in search of clues.Bookmark here

“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?!” he grumbled, “Take your shoes off, you damn idiot!”Bookmark here

“GaRam Mul was killed inside his home, right? Which room was he killed in?”Bookmark here

Nagisa sighed as he walked past me, grabbing my hand and leading me upstairs.Bookmark here

“…If you want to know so badly, I’ll show you.”Bookmark here

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Nagisa and I stood at the doorway to Mister Mul’s former-bedroom. There were a lot of blueprints decorating the walls and complicated machines scattered across the floor.Bookmark here

“Here it is,” Nagisa muttered, “The bedroom of a workaholic who cared more about his dumb project than his own son.”Bookmark here

I removed a magnifying glass from one of my cape’s built-in pockets and crouched into a fetal position, searching for clues.Bookmark here

“What are you doing?” the boy asked.Bookmark here

“Crouching increases my deductive abilities by forty per cent,” I stated.Bookmark here

“That sounds like total BS,” Nagisa retorted.Bookmark here

“Ssh! I’m working right now,” I hushed him, dropping to my knees and crawling around on the floor.Bookmark here

“Do you actually have any idea what you’re doing?” Nagisa huffed, getting down on all fours and crawling beside me.Bookmark here

“Not a clue,” I smiled, “But there’s gotta be some sort of evidence here, something that can be traced to Watashi.”Bookmark here

“Like what?”Bookmark here

“Doesn’t Watashi always leave cotton at the scene of the crime?” I asked, rummaging around on the floor. I turned around in one swift thrust, smushing my skirt-clad butt into Nagisa’s face.Bookmark here

“W-watch where you’re going, moron,” he blushed, “No one wants to see a girl’s panties flashed right in front of their face, ya know?!”Bookmark here

“Fufufu,” I snickered while winking cheekily, “I can think of a few people who would.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, if you were actually attractive,” Nagisa smugly interjected, “Anyway, banter isn’t going to get us anywhere.”Bookmark here

“You’re the one who started it,” I informed him, still searching for a trace of Watashi. “Aha,” I exclaimed, picking a ball of cotton off of the ground.Bookmark here

“Don’t get too excited,” Nagisa said, slowly standing up, “Watashi always puts on sterilized gloves before handling his balls.”Bookmark here

“Aww, boo,” I frowned as I tossed the cotton aside, the cogs of my detective brain turning, “Wait a second, Nagisa. How do you know that?”Bookmark here

“H-huh? Oh, uhm, well you see,” he started sweating nervously, “Th-that’s just my theory! I mean, think about it! Surely the cops would’ve been able to analyze Watashi’s DNA by now if he used his bare hands!”Bookmark here

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I stared up at Nagisa, our eyes interlocked and unblinking, waiting for one of us to break the silence.Bookmark here

“Wow, you must really think that I’m a total idiot,” I stated bluntly, “I’ll admit that your little performance at the funeral was pretty convincing, but I wasn’t fooled for a second. You see, I’ve also been putting on a performance – The truth is... I’ve never trusted you. They say that if something is too good to be true, then it’s probably false, and your innocent charade is no different.”Bookmark here

I pulled myself up off the ground, adjusting my skirt as I approached Nagisa menacingly.Bookmark here

“Wh-what the Hell are you talking about, you idiot?!” he barked, his calm and collected demeanor quickly fading away.Bookmark here

I pressed my face against his for a few uncomfortable seconds, before licking his cheek.Bookmark here

“This is the distinct tang of someone who’s lying, Nagisa Mul! Or should I say… Watashi?”Bookmark here

“Get the Hell off me, you freaking weirdo,” he gasped, shoving me back onto the floor.Bookmark here

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Before I had time to react, Nagisa placed one of his feet onto my skull, slamming it into the ground. I looked up, my head spinning as Nagisa reached into a pocket on his pants and dumped several cotton balls onto the ground.Bookmark here

“Fine, you got me. I am Watashi. Unfortunately for you, a guy like me will always overpower a girl like you.”Bookmark here

He was right. While I was older than him, I was also significantly shorter. Still, Detective Homura isn’t backed into a corner that easily.Bookmark here

“Fu… Fufu… Fufufu,” I slowly chuckled, “Fufufufufu! In your face, Shiotani! I was right, and you were wrong! Who’s the idiot now?!”Bookmark here

“What are you so happy about,” Watashi hissed.Bookmark here

“I caught Watashi, I caught Watashi, I caught Watashi~”Bookmark here

“You’re thick! Haven’t you figured out the situation that you’re in yet?!” the killer yelled, “Do I have to spell it out for you?! I’m about to murder you!”Bookmark here

“Really now? There’s something that I forgot to tell you,” I smirked, “My parents are forensic scientists. If you kill me now, it’ll only be a matter of time before authorities find the body. And when that happens, my daddies will stop at nothing until they’ve identified my cause of death and the identity of my killer!”Bookmark here

Nagisa’s eyes widened as his breathing got heavier. Sweat continued to run down the side of face as his smug grin was replaced with an agitated grimace.Bookmark here

“But if you don’t kill me, then I’ll head straight for the police station and tell them all what you just told me – That you’re Watashi! You’ve fallen right into my trap, Nagisa Mul!”Bookmark here

Nagisa looked like he was about to puke! I could tell exactly what he was thinking –‘How was I, Watashi, bested by this incredibly smart and sexy chuuni girl?!’ …or something like that.Bookmark here

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Watashi let out a visceral scream as he repeatedly stomped on my skull. My vision started to grow hazy as I stared at the pool of blood that had formed under my head. Watashi grabbed me by my hair and held me up to face him.Bookmark here

“Why,” I stammered, “Why are you… doing this?”Bookmark here

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” he scoffed, reaching for a bunch of cotton and stuffing it down my throat. I tried to resist but I was too weak.Bookmark here

I felt myself losing oxygen as Nagisa dropped me back down on the floor. I closed my eyes as everything around me was swallowed by darkness.Bookmark here

Shiotani… Bonabelle… This is as much as I can do… Please… Remember what I told you… Remember that Nagisa Mul is Watashi… Bookmark here

I opened my eyes one final time and stared up at Watashi. The expression on his face said it all – He knew that he was going to lose. But he had no idea just how spectacularly he had messed up, because there was one part of my plan that I hadn’t told him.Bookmark here

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Earlier, I mentioned that I was typing up a text during the funeral, but I put my phone away once Nagisa sat beside me. That text message was actually my final gambit, an announcement of my death, ready to send at any moment should worst come to worst, and now was finally the time. I reached into my skirt pocket, removing my phone and hitting Send. This is it – The last occult, the greatest trick. This… is my… LAST OCCULTISM!Bookmark here

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...And everything faded to black.Bookmark here

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END OF PURCHASEBookmark here

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