Chapter 2: Part 4
We ended up buying mountains of ingredients, and soon found ourselves standing outside my front door.
There was something up there on the roof. The autumn sun had set, and I could tell under the moonlight that the thing on the roof was a huge chicken. The chicken was leaning forwards and had its wings spread out, so it looked like a spiritual embodiment of those chickens that decorated the front of Rolls Royce cars.
There was also a sign hanging from the chicken’s neck.
wellcom to hous of skares.
That was written on the sign with dirty-looking lettering. The plate itself was lopsided, and the letters were dripping almost as if someone had used an excessive amount of paint. It was an incredibly low-quality looking sign.
… Whee… surprise, I guess…
You’re not going in?
“Well, I really, really do want to go in, but…”
Yuu walked forwards, her body swaying from side to side.
Ugh, why did Sera go through all this trouble? I followed Yuu up to the front door.
Looking closely, I noticed that there was something flat lying right behind the sign on the chicken.
That was… a guillotine blade?
There was a rope or something connected to the guillotine blade, and following that rope, I could see that it was being held by the front door.
In other words, opening the front door would send the guillotine blade crashing down.
What the hell, a booby trap?!
Yuu didn’t seem to notice this and just opened the door. The taut rope suddenly relaxed and the guillotine blade began to fall with a hiss.
“Yuu, watch out!”
Yuu looked up, still no expression on her face. That assassin’s blade was already boring down on her.
Clang! Her gauntleted hands clapped smartly around the guillotine blade.
T-The legendary blade-catching technique?!
Ohhh, that was pretty cool. Yuu didn’t really move around that much, so I guess it was fitting that she would know a skill like that.
Yuu took her hands off the blade, and it began to shoot up into the air.
That rope… was it made of rubber?
The guillotine blade bungee jumped back up, but this time began to come down right on my head.
Hyah! I tried to do a little legendary blade-catching of my own… but I was too slow and the blade stuck right into my forehead. I held my forehead, completely regretting that I had not just evaded the damn thing, before extracting the blade and setting it softly against the house so it wouldn’t do any more harm.
Geez… what was this supposed to accomplish? This didn’t feel like a celebration at all. Why was Sera… wait. Was Sera really the kind of person to do something like this? I mean, she would probably do it to me, but definitely not towards Yuu. That girl tended to worship Yuu, after all.
In other words, this was Haruna’s doing, wasn’t it? That’s really the only thing that made sense here.
But well, even for her, this was a bit… click.
Click? What? I heard a sound I’d expect after switching the bathroom lights on, and then something under my feet exploded.
A landmine?! Look at what you’ve done to my pants… so, when Yuu was waving from side to side, she was just trying to avoid the landmines?
It was all fine and good because I was a zombie, but what if Yuu actually stepped on one of those? Also, Orito and Tomonori were both coming later, weren’t they?
Which meant… I had to step on all of them!
I tap-danced across the pathway, stepping on each and every land mine buried there. Giant booms echoed through the air, which I had a sneaking suspicion might bother the neighbors. At the same time, the hems of my jeans burned to a crisp. I tried my very best to minimize the damage to my clothes as I finally reached the front door and opened it.
I saw Yuu standing ahead of me. But she was just standing there. She hadn’t even taken off her shoes.
This time, I was the one who spoke up first.
“You’re not going in?”
We have entered into a magically warped space. If we are careless, we may never be able to return.
An unfamiliar hallway stretched out seemingly infinitely in front of me. I couldn’t see the kitchen or the living room or the bathroom anywhere. All I saw was a rectangular space continuing endlessly before me.
Don’t just go off and magically warp my house, dammit.
“How did the house turn into this mess…?”
I do not know.
“Fuhahahaha! Welcome to the haunted house!”
Haruna’s bratty voice echoed all around us. It was like we were in the middle of a 360 degree surround sound system.
“I’ll be your lovely director on this day, the worst day of your year. Be grateful!”
“Haruna, what in the world are you thinking here?”
No response, huh…?
“What happened to Sera?”
“… Haruna, I can see your underwear.”
“That was a lie. But you can definitely hear me, can’t you?”
“Aren’t you a clever one?! You Eroward D. Morrison!” (1)
What exactly was running through her head?
“So, where’s Sera?”
That little bastard… I could see a mental picture of her arrogantly turning her back to me right now.
“Ah.” Haruna seemed to have struck on an idea, and continued in an incredibly mischievous tone.
“What if I told you… that leaf woman is in the kitchen?”
It sounded like Haruna had just come up with the idea on the spot, so it was probably a bluff, but…
……… It was certainly a possibility.
Okay, let’s hurry. You could say that there was no easier way of getting yourself cooked than eating Sera’s cooking…
And I would sooner die than let food like that get served on Yuu’s birthday.
“Well well, seems like our moth is flying right into the flame! And bringing some green onions with him too!”
Haruna said that as if she had been waiting hours for the right moment to let that little gem loose. Well, it was true I was carrying green onions though.
“Yuu, just wait here.”
Yuu’s head moved slightly to the side and then went back into its original position. She didn’t show any emotion, but I knew exactly what that gesture of hers meant.
“I want to go with oniichan! If I’m with oniichan, I can face anything that comes our way! So let’s go together, ‘kay?”
That’s how the little Yuu inside my head translated her head movements. Ahh, she sure is cute, isn’t she?
I took Yuu’s pale, gauntleted hand in my own.
“Don’t let go, okay?”
Yuu’s jaw budged just slightly downwards in a little nod.
We took our first intrepid step into the hallway, when…
“Ahh, you can leave all the stuff you’re carrying over there.”
Haruna’s voice completely cut through the beginning of this dramatic adventure scene. I scratched my head and left the veggies I had brought in the entranceway. We set off again.
A magically warped space, huh…? Did Haruna really have the power to do such strange things like this? The hallway was around three meters tall and just as wide. I couldn’t see the end of this hallway… and I could swear it was sloping up a bit.
I found myself staring down that hallway…
Rumble rumble rumble rumble…
That sound didn’t really make me happy… but it just kept getting louder and louder, and eventually I could see something black coming at us with great force. I soon confirmed it was a huge iron ball hurtling towards us, the ball just as wide and tall as the hallway.
… Well, I guess having a huge iron ball roll towards you was a pretty standard thing in a place like this.
So now there was an iron ball in front of us and the doorway behind us. But even if I wanted to escape outside, the door wouldn’t open.
It felt like we had already reached the climax of this little action thriller, even though we hadn’t taken more than a step into the hallway.
Yuu used her gauntleted hands to point forwards. I followed her fingers and saw a slightly caved-in portion of the square wall. So I guess there was a place we could go to escape from danger.
So Yuu wanted us to jump into that hole there? Wait… the damn iron ball was pretty much already rolling past it!
I gripped Yuu’s hand and ran towards the iron ball.
Just a bit more… but the iron ball was faster.
We’re not going to make it! But Yuu thrust herself in front of me.
Do not mind me. Ayumu, save yourself.
Yuu then took me by the arm and judo threw me over her shoulder. Yuu, you… are you telling me to go by myself into the hiding spot? What a saint you are! What a-
The iron ball had already rolled past the hiding spot and hit me fiercely from behind. My body curved as the ball rolled over me, sticking me right to it. I doubt even Robin Hood’s bow was this curved.
And, that immensely strong collision with my body was enough to completely stop this three-meter diameter iron ball traveling at 40 kilometers an hour.
I weakly stood up, wobbling all the way, and pushed the iron ball back.
“Don’t worry about it. You were just trying to help.”
We rolled this giant ball back together, and using the hiding spot properly this time we were able to squeeze our way by it.
But, now our way back was completely blocked off.
We had no choice but to push forwards, so that’s what we did. I was expecting to find more weird traps along the way, so I kept my eyes and ears open.
“Yuu, you should be careful too-“
But when I turned back, I saw Yuu was holding out her hand to me.
“You want to hold hands?”
I can’t believe she would ask to do such a cute thing with me…
Ah, and she nodded! She definitely nodded! My god she was cute!
“Okay then. Shall we proceed?”
I gingerly touched her fingertips like she was some kind of princess… and it was precisely at that moment.
Krchhh. I heard an unfamiliar sound and saw a pair of panels open in the floor.
Yuu’s beautiful silver hair fluttered in the air.
It was a trapdoor! A trapdoor had appeared just under Yuu’s feet. The trapdoor itself wasn’t very large, which meant I was outside of its range.
I gripped Yuu by her clumsy-looking gauntlets. That was way too close.
“I’m going to pull you up now, okay?”
This type of stuff happened quite a lot to me, but for a zombie like me this was no sweat. Pulling up one person would be like scooping up a goldfish.
What… was this ominous sound? It was almost like there was a rive-
Before I could even turn around I felt a huge amount of water slam into me from behind. After hearing what I heard, I was already expecting this to happen, but I had underestimated the pure force of the water. I began to lean forwards, and was treated to a full view of the inside of the trapdoor.
The water rushed into the hole in the ground.
Wow, what a deep hole that was. I couldn’t see the bottom at all. I was gripping hard onto Yuu’s now-wet gauntlets, but those things were getting pretty slippery.
I couldn’t really brace my legs very well, probably because I was grabbing onto Yuu with both hands, and I felt my body sliding towards the trapdoor.
Let go. You will fall in too.
The memo Yuu showed me soon became swallowed up in the flood and disappeared into the hole.
Whoosh. Whoosh. The water rushed past me and continued to fall into the hole. All my muscles began to tremble.
I gripped tightly onto Yuu’s hand, almost as if giving her a handshake.
“Yuu, did you really think I’d let go? Don’t underestimate me. I’m three times as much of a perv as you think! I’m here touching a girl’s slippery slidey skin, so I’ll never let go!”
In the middle of my little act, my body was thrown cleanly into the hole.
“I didn’t fall in, okay? I was just touching your hands and then I just suddenly wanted to hug you close.”
I pulled Yuu to me and hugged her tight as well fell further and further.
So, what was going to happen now? I shut my eyes and thought back to when I was thrown in, when I felt something collide with my back. Huh? I thought this was supposed to be a bottomless pit.
Gatagatagata! I felt myself sliding down a flight of stairs headfirst. Wait… stairs?
When I opened my eyes, I found myself back in my own home.
What happened to the magically warped space? What happened to Yuu? Ah, Yuu was still there right in my arms… thank God.
It seems that the hole was the correct way out.
I see. So even if I had managed to pull Yuu up back there, we would’ve never gotten out moving forwards.
Why did you fall in?
Her beautiful, blue eyes looked up at me. Yuu’s silver hair and my clothes were all soaking wet, but neither the stairs nor the hallway here was wet at all.
“I just wanted to be with you, obviously. Hey, Yuu… back there, what gave you the idea that you shouldn’t have been born?”
I bring misfortune to everyone.
“All the misfortune that happened right now was Haruna’s fault. So, are you trying to say that Haruna shouldn’t have been born either?”
Yuu shook her head, her wet silver hair swaying behind her.
“Nobody can avoid misfortune. Life is filled with painful experiences, so almost everyone at some point will want to die.”
I think so too.
“In that case… birthdays are truly happy occasions. After all, you’ve fulfilled your responsibility to live on another year.”
Yuu’s expression was as doll-like and emotionless as ever, but she gripped my hand tightly and nodded.
At that point, I saw Haruna coming down waving a bath towel around, looking extremely satisfied with herself, almost as if she had just succeeded in some epic quest or something.
“How’d you like that?! The Three Great Traps of Harunaland! Pretty crazy, right?!”
Alrighty. Time to dole out some punishment.
(1) Reference to Tales of Phantasia character.