Antique Shop『BEAR』 - Chapter 54
Chapter 54 – Mystery Camera
After watching the Omikoshi, they took the train back and returned home before dark. Kuma went to his room to research the incident that Aoi had told him about and learned a lot of information.
May 10, 1998.
The body of a woman is found behind Sakurada Tenmangu Shrine. The body shows signs of having been assaulted, and the investigation continues to search for the culprit.
May 12, 1998.
A woman’s body is found on playground equipment in Sakurada Minami Park. Her clothes and personal belongings are discovered at the bottom of a lake.
May 20, 1998.
An object believed to be part of the corpse of a missing woman is found in a flowerbed at Sakurada Minami Elementary School.
May 31, 1998.
A street robbery occurred on a prefectural road. A woman who was nearly taken away was slashed in the chest when she called for help from a nearby person. The man who committed the crime escaped.
June 3, 1998.
A strange odor was detected in the “Garden” apartment. When the police entered the apartment, they found two women locked in a room. One of the women was already deceased, and the survivor was brought to the hospital. The survivor’s life is not in danger.
June 4, 1998.
19-year-old Minagawa Shinya, suspected of committing the series of crimes, is arrested and taken to the police station.
January 25, 1999.
The defendant Minagawa Shinya was sent to a juvenile reformatory.
This series of news was quite a sensation at the time. The horrific nature of the incident; the fact that the perpetrator was a minor; and the fact that his father was residing with him in the apartment, and even though he was suspected of aiding and abetting the crime, his father was cleared of all charges and moved out immediately. Since the perpetrator was a minor, he was not sentenced to prison, but to 15 years in a juvenile reformatory.
This was a time when prison sentences for crimes against minors were light. Kuma felt a pang in his chest. When he checked the camera, he noticed that there was a human-like figure near the playground equipment in Sakurada Minami Park, albeit one that could not be clearly distinguished as a person. Furthermore, there were red and black guardian dogs at Tenmangu Shrine.
The following day, after finishing his part-time job, Kuma went to the apartment “Garden”. The address could be found by searching the Internet, and it was even listed on the website for accidental properties. Garden was an old and disheveled two-story apartment building that had not been torn down, but was hardly clean. There were three rooms on the first and second floors, and the entrance was completely visible from the street. From the outside, it was hard to tell if there was anyone living there.
The walls were totally stained and discolored by mud and exhaust fumes to the point that it was impossible to recognize the original color of the walls.
The information on the website mentioned that Minagawa lived in the leftmost room on the first floor. When he retrieved his camera and took a full-view shot, only the front of Minagawa’s room appeared blurry. If only the entrance to Minagawa’s room was photographed, the entire screen would be blurred. Upon reviewing the image up close, the area that he assumed was blurry was occupied by a shape that resembled a human shadow.
It was as if the woman’s shadow was moving in an undulating motion that made it seem blurry when photographed. If one paid close attention, one could see that it was attached to the front door as if it were sewn on, and was moving as if it were struggling out of it.
There seemed to be three shadows in the picture: one with long hair, one without arms and shaped like a daruma doll, and one with a half-split head. Kuma almost dropped his camera in shock. In reality, nothing was visible. What he was seeing was only on the camera screen.
“What’s the meaning of this…”
Kuma hopped on his bike and headed for the station.
Once at Sakura Chuo Station, he walked towards the Haneda Photo Studio with his phone.
The owner looked slightly uneasy when he saw Kuma.
“You’re the customer who bought the camera the other day. How can I help you?”
“This… camera… you may not believe this, but… there’s a strange phenomenon going on.”
“Please have a seat.”
Kuma settled down in the chair in front of the cash register.
“So, what are you seeking?”
“The camera… it shoots really well. It works fine so far. But look at this…” Kuma showed him the photos of the apartment he had shot earlier. “I don’t know why, but… I took a few pictures like this one…”
The owner stared at the camera and his eyes lit up. “No way…”
“I’m not supposed to share this kind of information with you, but since the store is about to shut down, I will tell you. The previous owner of this camera, you see. The previous owner of this camera was actually a murderer who used this camera to film dead bodies and abusive scenes. After the culprit was caught, his relatives came to me to ask me to purchase the camera in order to cover their moving expenses. It had been confiscated as evidence by the police, but I bought it at a low price for its performance and functionality.”
“The owner of the camera was Minagawa Shinya, wasn’t it?”
The owner continued on with an indifferent face. “I don’t know why it remained unsold for so many years. Film cameras and classic cameras sell well. So when you bought it, I thought the camera had finally met its new owner.”
The owner glanced at the camera. “Would you like to have it returned?”
“No, I didn’t come to… to return the product. I’m just glad to know the… facts.” Kuma muttered vaguely as he left Haneda Photo Studio.
“This camera… can capture mysterious phenomena…”
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