Hindi na ako makatulog. After that revelation about Hiro ay hindi na nakapahinga yung utak ko. Nakaupo lang ako ngayon sa sahig habang piapanood kong matulog sina Akane at Riye.
Naisip ko naman bigla ang serial murder case. Wala pa rin kaming matukoy na suspects pero may clues na kami sa mga pagpatay. If Hiro’s deduction was correct, the next murder would happen at 7 A.M. In addition, the things related to number thirtten really bothered me. Why would the killer do that? Gusto niya bang magpakilala by using that method? Or was he just teasing us?
Ni-review ko ulit yung mga nangyari kahapon. The first victim was Mr. Victor Delima, 43 years old. The cause of death might be because of poisoning or he was stabbed to death. The second victim was Ms. Reynalyn Geronimo, 37 years old. The cause of death was also poisoning but she was hanged when we saw her. Hindi ko alam kung bakit kailangan pang gawin ng killer ang pagtatago ng totoong cause of death pero siguro akala niya ay mga normal na pulis at investigators lang ang mag-iimbestiga sa mga pagpatay niya. Hindi niya alam na kayang tukuyin nina Riye at Ken yung totoong dahilan ng pagkamatay ng mga biktima.
“Still can’t sleep?”
Napalingon naman ako sa kama at nakita kong gising na pala si Akane. Ni hindi ko man lang naramdaman ang pagkagising niya. Bumaba naman siya sa kama at sinamahan ako sa lapag.
“Naba-bother lang ako sa case na ‘to.”
“Yeah. Me too. Pero sa totoo lang, nag-iba talaga ang pakiramdam ko noong nasa 14th floor na tayo kanina.”
“Dahil ba kay Ms. Reynalyn?”
“Hmm, maybe? Pero bago pa man tayo pumasok sa room niya ay iba na ang pakiramdam ko.”
“Anong ibig mong sabihin?”
“I mean, it felt like someone was watching us that time.”
To be honest, I felt that, too. Iba ang pakiramdam ko sa building na ‘yon at alam kong hindi lang ‘yon dahil kay Ms. Reynalyn.
“Sa tingin mo, ‘yong killer ang nakabantay sa atin?” tanong ko sa kanya.
“Ewan ko. Baka. Or worse, it’s a Shinigami.”
“You mean, Shinigami ang killer?”
“No, that’s impossible. Shinigamis are silent killers and skilled assassins. They won’t leave too much evidence and loopholes in their killings.”
Bigla akong kinilabutan nang marinig ko ‘yon. Nakakatakot talaga ang Shinigamis base sa mga naririnig ko sa kanila.
Sakto namang nagising si Riye kaya sumama na rin siya sa usapan.
“May mamamatay na naman ba ulit?” malungkot na tanong sa amin ni Riye noong nasa lapag na siya.
“Let’s just hope Ms. Reynalyn was the last. Pero hindi tayo sigurado. We need to be prepared,” sabi ni Akane. “Shall we go to Miyu? Mukhang tulog pa yung mga lalaki. I can hear them snore.”
Nag-prepare muna kami bago lumabas ng kwarto. Pagtingin ko sa relo ko, 5:30 AM na. Dumaan kami doon sa creepy hallway tapos lumabas kami sa agency. Nakakatakot nga dahil madilim pa at wala pang mga tao. Nakita namin si Miyu na naka-park doon sa labas kaya agad kaming pumasok.
“Welcome, Master Akane, Master Riye and Master Akemi.”
Nilatag ni Riye ang pictures na kinuha niya during the investigation at nag-discuss ulit kami ng possible scenes na nangyari during the crimes.
“Sa tingin n’yo, saan mangyayari ang next crime, kung meron man?” tanong ko sa kanila.
“Based sa places na pinangyarihan, I guess the number 13 should be involved. The first murder happened at the 13th Avenue while the second crime happened on the 13th/14th floor of a building.”
“We should monitor those areas associated with the number 13,” Riye suggested. “Miyu-san, track all those places please.”
“Yes, Master Riye.”
The van’s interior illuminated and several video feeds were suddenly projected on the sides. Sa pinakagilid naman ay naka-project ang mapa ng buong city. Akane tapped one dot and it zoomed out into a street, where we could see people and buildings real-time.
“You girls are early. Himala,” komento ni Ken pero walang pumansin sa kanya. Busy si Akane sa pagtingin sa map habang si Riye naman ay sa pictures. Ako naman ay nakatingin lang sa kanila. “And yes, I’m talking to myself.”
“It’s okay, Ken, you can talk to me,” Reiji said with a deadpan expression which made it funny.
Pumasok sina Ken at Reiji at naupo sa tabi namin at nahuli naman si Hiro. Napatingin ako sa kanya dahil bigla siyang humikab at ang gulo ng buhok niya. He looked like he just got out from bed. Pagtingin ko, 6:45 A.M. pa lang pala pero doon ko rin naalala na maaaring 7 A.M. mangyari ang susunod na pagpatay.
Halos umikot naman ang paligid ko nang biglang umandar si Miyu. Pagtingin ko ay natumba rin silang lahat. Tiningnan namin ang main screen at may nag-blink doon sa radar.
“Killing intent, detected. Approximately one kilometer from here,” Miyu reported.
Agad namang tiningnan ni Reiji ang map para i-compare sa radar.
“Here,” sabi niya kaya lumapit kami sa kanya.
He zoomed in a street where a guy was walking and someone was following him. We couldn’t clearly see the face of the guy at the back since he was wearing a cap, shades and face mask. Pati ang gender niya ay ‘di namin matukoy dahil sa coat na suot niya. Bigla namang lumiko ang lalaking sinusundan niya kaya gano’n din ang ginawa niya at pagkatapos no’n ay wala na kaming makita.
“Miyu-san, speed up!” sigaw ni Riye at muntik na naman kaming matumba dahil sa pagbilis ng takbo ng sasakyan.
Umupo na lang muna ako para kumalma. Oo, ilang beses na akong nakakakita ng mga patay pero hindi ko pa rin mapigilang hindi matakot every time na makikita ko sila. Hindi ko lubos maisip na may mga taong kayang pumatay nang ganun-ganon lang.
‘Get used to it.’ Napatingin ako kay Hiro. He was in my mind again. ‘Humans are naturally evil. But some of us can hide it or even oppose it.’
‘Pero nakakalungkot pa rin,’ I said. ‘I know that we are sinful by nature pero hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit kailangan pang umabot sa pagpatay ng mga tao.’
‘They must have their own reasons. Some are nonsensical but usually, they are driven by primitive emotions. Love. Pain. Anger. Emotions that can easily fuel revenge. When people are hurt, even if they don’t admit it, they want to get back to those who hurt them. To make them feel what they have gone through. That’s how humans think.’
I know that. Deep in my heart, I knew what he meant but it was still hard to accept ngayon.
Napatingin na lang ako sa labas habang hinihintay na makarating kami sa place na nakita namin kanina. Mula kasi sa loob ng sasakyan ay kaya mong makita yung labas. The surroundings from the outside were reflected on the van’s interior so it felt like the vehicle became transparent.
Bigla namang may nahagip ang mga mata ko. She was holding a suit case and the same business attire. But what surprised me was the fact that she was staring at me. I thought I was just imagining things but I realized I was inside the van and it would be impossible for normal people to see us.
Siya ‘yong businesswoman na nakasabay ko kahapon sa elevator. But why was she staring at me? Why was she here?
“Nee-chan!” sigaw ni Riye at doon ko lang na-realize na nakatingin na silang lahat sa akin with worried expressions on their faces. “Ayos ka lang ba?”
“Y-yeah. I’m…I’m fine.”
Bigla namang huminto si Miyu kaya nag-alala kami dahil wala na siyang nade-detect na killing intent. Agad kaming lumabas at hinanap ang alley na nakita namin sa feed kanina.
“Shit! Shit! I smell blood!” sabi ni Ken kaya lalo pa naming binilisan ang pagtakbo.
“There!” turo ko sa harapan namin. About 200 meters from here was the alley we saw a while ago. Nauna na si Reiji habang gamit ang sixth sense niya at sumunod naman kami sa kanya.
We ran as fast as we could but I halted when I saw someone familiar walking near us. It was the the guy from the elevator. Bakit din siya nandito?
“Akemi!” tawag sa akin ni Akane at medyo malayo na sila sa akin kaya tumakbo na lang ulit ako pero agad din akong napahinto dahil kumpleto sila rito. The cool guy in the elevator was also here and he was smiling as he walked with his head down.
Napakunot ang noo ko pero agad din akong natauhan nang nakita kong nakahinto na sina Akane. Tumakbo ako papunta sa kanila at nanghina ang mga tuhod ko sa nakita ko dahil mas disturbing iyon kaysa sa dalawang nauna.
Deep in the alley was the lifeless body of a guy, a knife impelled through his throat, holding a weird knotted metal.
“T-this is not happening,” Riye muttered as she approached the body. “Is it also poison?”
“Yes,” Ken confirmed. “It was injected right here.”
Nanlumo ako bigla. Parang wala na akong maramdaman dahil sa nakikita ko ngayon. Gusto kong umiwas ng tingin pero hindi ko magawa. Nakatingin lang ako sa leeg ng lalaki at hindi makapaniwalang may gagawa nang ganito kalalang bagay.
“I’ll call Sir Ryuu.”
Kinuha ni Reiji ang phone sa bulsa niya at nag-dial doon habang kinuhanan naman ni Akane ang bangkay at crime scene. Napatingin naman ako kay Hiro dahil naglakad siya pabas ng eskinita.
“The killer should still be here,” he said while looking around. Gusto kong sabihin ang mga nakita ko kanina pero natatakot ako. “Did you see them?”
Kahit nakatalikod siya sa akin ay alam kong ako ang kausap niya. And somehow, alam ko rin ang tinutukoy niya.
“Mmm. Tatlo sila.”
Pagkasabi ko no’n ay bigla siyang lumingon at napaatras ako dahil sa nakita ko. He was smiling.
“That means we have a lead.”
Naglakad ulit siya papunta doon sa lalaki sa likod namin, habang ako ay naiwang nakatayo rito. Totoo ba ang nakita ko? He actually smiled? That cold and expressionless face could actually smile? Whoa.
Nagsagawa naman ng autopsy sina Riye at Reiji, habang sina Ken at Akane ay naghahanap ng evidence sa katawan at sa crime scene. After a minute or two ay dumating sina sir Ryuu at dinala na nila bangkay. Bumalik rin agad kami kay Miyu pagkatapos no’n at nagsabi kami ng insights namin tungkol sa murder case.
“You mean they were there? Sa second crime?” tanong sa akin ni Akane.
“Yeah. Nung sinundan ko si Ms. Reynalyn noong hapon ay nakasabay ko silang tatlo sa loob ng elevator. Tapos noong pumunta tayo ro’n kinagabihan, Ms. Reynalyn was already dead. Then I saw them around here a while ago.”
“Ibig sabihin, posible na sila ang primary suspects sa serial killing na ‘to,” dagdag ni Ken.
“We should find out who they are, as well as their relationships with the victims,” sabi naman ni Riye habang nakatingin sa mga litrato.
“Shall we get to work?” sabay tayo ni Hiro at sinundan naman siya ng apat.
Somehow, I felt a bit intimidated. They already knew what to do and they complement each other as well.
“Riye and Reiji, stay here with Miyu and find out their identities using any method available. Akane and Akemi, go to the building and see if those three live there or if they checked in as guests. Ken, you’ll go with me. Let’s find them,” Hiro ordered and I was surprised to hear him speak a lot. The guy who was quiet all the time and preferred to use his inner voice was suddenly giving orders to us.
“Got it!” sagot ni Akane at hinatak niya ako palabas ng sasakyan. Tumakbo naman siya kaya napatakbo rin ako at pagtingin ko ay nakangiti siya sa akin.
“Confused?” she asked. “Don’t worry, he’s always like that!”
“I mean, si Hiro. He’s a natural leader. ‘Yang expression mo kasi ay gulat na gulat.”
“Ah. Uhm, hindi lang kasi ako sanay na gano’n siya. Ang weird.”
“He is usually composed but his eagerness to solve a case increases as the case becomes more challenging. He’s too competitive for his own good. And during those moments, his natural leadership just comes out.”
I see. Gano’n pala ang personality niya. Pero nakakamangha. Kahit na pare-pareho silang nasa Atama ay sinusunod lang nila ang sinasabi ni Hiro without any complains.
Pagkarating namin sa building ay napahinto naman ako dahil bigla akong may na-realize.
“Wait, Akane. Paano natin malalaman kung sino sila kung hindi natin alam ang mga pangalan nila?”
She just smiled at me. “I told you, Hiro is a natural leader. Before he gives order, he already calculated everything in his head.”
“Anong ibig mong sabihin?”
“Miyu is a specialized and programmed vehicle. If the suspects were seen by Miyu’s feeds, then getting their information would just be a piece of cake. And since you described their appearance to Reiji and Riye, that would make their work easier.”
“Wow. For real? Ang galing pala ni Miyu,” I blurted out.
“Of course! Miyu was designed to help the Atama family so the programs and devices in her were installed to suit the members’ skills and capabilities. One more thing, she was made by Sir Aiwa.”
Napakunot naman ang noo ko. That name seemed familiar. Nakalimutan ko nga lang kung saan ko nakita o nabasa.
“Uhm, sino nga ulit si Sir Aiwa?”
“Natatandaan mo pa ba si Sir Hiroshi?”
“Oo naman. Bakit?”
“Sir Hiroshi is the head of the Technology department and he’s the grandson of Sir Aiwa, the Legendary Mechanic.”
Doon ko naalala na nabasa ko ang pangalan niya sa isang libro about sa history ng Tantei High. He was called the Legendary Mechanic because of his contributions to Senshin’s welfare. He was also the one who developed the notepad, mirror camera, and ID device among many other inventions.
Bigla namang tumunog ang phone ni Akane kaya pareho kaming napatingin doon.
“Oh. Looks like they already found the identity of the suspects.”
Riye summarized the data they got from Miyu and we studied their personal information.
Roberto Garcia, 38 years old. He was the big and bulky guy in the elevator and I was surprised to learn that he was Ms. Reynalyn’s ex-boyfriend.
Sarah Angeles, 27 years old. That businesswoman who was staring at me a while ago. I really have a weird feeling about her. Sabir in ni Reiji ay wala silang makuhang masyadong information tungkol sa kanya pero they were still trying.
Ace Francisco, 26 years old. The handsome guy and he attended the same university with Mr. Victor.
“Roberto, Sarah and Ace, huh? Now let’s see kung isa nga sa kanila ang killer.”
Naglakad kami ni Akane papunta sa lobby pero bigla akong may naramdamang kakaiba. It was the same suffocating feeling I felt when I saw those green eyes in the alley.
‘That’s right, dear. Solve this crime and prove yourself. Then I shall decide whether to take you or not.’
Nanindig ang mga balahibo ko nang marinig ko ‘yon at lilingon pa lang sana ako pero hinatak naman ako ni Akane.
Who in the world was that?