Obediently and quietly the girls take their seats.
Satsukawa: "Thank you, Wakamatsu-san."
I wonder what kind of approach he is going to adopt. Knowing him, he will probably try to be friendly and understanding.
Satsukawa: "Principal Wakamatsu's introduction already addressed the most important points, but let me reiterate that this is, from a legal standpoint, an informal meeting. My name is Keiji Satsukawa, I'm from the criminal investigation section of the Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo. My purpose today is simply to gather information that I believe you possess. As you certainly must have already understood by now, we have evidence that all of you have been inside the shed where the corpse of Hitomi Gotsuji was found. I know that some of you have been questioned already and that you've denied any involvement with that place, however the proofs that are now in our possession are solid, lying at this point would be meaningless.
Let me make it absolutely clear: we know you've been there. What we don't know yet, is why you've been there and why you refused to tell us. This is the reason you've been summoned here today."
Satsukawa waits a few seconds before continuing, he probably thinks that someone might go ahead and say something at this point, but unsurprisingly no one wants to be the first to talk. The first years students nervously look at each others, but in the end they remain silent.
Satsukawa: "So far we've collected several rumors regarding that place, but we don't know how much reliable they are, and it's only fragmented information. For example we have reasons to believe that not just you but many other students of this school periodically were invited to that shed to participate to some kind of not better specified ritual of sort. Let's see... I know some of you have become students of the Mitsugi institute just a few days ago. Not really the best way to start your high school life, isn't it? At any rate I'm eager to understand how come you've been involved so quickly. How did that work exactly? Let's start from the beginning... Hmmm... you. You're Keiko Yoshida, right?"
In the end he decided to pick someone directly. He must have prepared himself thoroughly for this, he even memorized each face and name.
Satsukawa: "Would you mind telling me when did you hear about the abandoned P.E. shed for the first time?"
Yoshida: "It happened pretty quickly... I no longer remember who told me that, but I learned that there was a haunted place in this school... and that I should never go there by my own initiative..."
Satsukawa: "According to what you've learned, can it be said that in this school it's a common belief that the abandoned P.E. shed is a haunted place?"
Yoshida: "Yes... but..."
Yoshida: "I've been told that I shouldn't talk about that with male students... so I think they don't know... At least in my class they don't."
Satsukawa: "Did they tell you why?"
Yoshida: "No... well... among the many things that I've been told, they said that this was all part of some sort of tradition of this school. All the senpai I've talked to went through the same."
Satsukawa: "You didn't think there was something wrong going on?"
Yoshida: "I didn't think it was something serious at first. In the beginning I thought it was fun... it was like talking about ghost stories during summer camps... hmmm..."
Satsukawa: "Matsumoto, was it the same for you?"
Matsumoto: "Ah... hmmm... yes..."
Satsukawa: "So at first, all that you've heard is that there was this haunted place, and that you should never go there. Is that right?"
Matsumoto: "Yes... for the first days everyone kept talking about that, and about strange things happening in this school."
Satsukawa: "I suppose you became curious."
Matsumoto: "Yes, very..."
Clever. Absolutely clever.
Satsukawa: "Hmmm... Matsumoto, I believe that at one point someone must have invited you to that place."
Matsumoto: "... Yes..."
Satsukawa: "You weren't the only one though. How many girls were invited in total?"
Matsumoto: "Twelve... twelve of us were chosen..."
Satsukawa: "Are the other eleven girls you've met in that place here with us now?"
Matsumoto seems to be indecisive about what to answer. She looks left and right for a while and then she musters the courage to speak.
Matsumoto: "Yes... they're all here."
Satsukawa: "Maeda, is what Matsumoto said true?"
Satsukawa: "Why were you suddenly invited to go there, if initially they said you shouldn't?"
Maeda: "I was told that there are people that know how to control the presence inside that place. We would be safe if we went with them."
Satsukawa: "Were they the same people that invited you?"
Unlike the others Maeda doesn't seem to be worried about what she says.
Satsukawa: "Why did they want you to go there? Did they tell?"
Maeda: "They said something about spiritual bonds among humans... According to them many people are required to generate enough spiritual energy."
Satsukawa: "Enough spiritual energy to do what?"
Maeda: "To keep the demon binded to that place."
Satsukawa: "Is this demon the presence that haunts the shed?"
Satsukawa: "Maeda, do you believe this demon actually exists?"
Even Maeda has problems answering that question.
Satsukawa: "Is there something that prevents you from speaking freely?"
Maeda: "Everyone... seems to think the demon actually exists."
Satsukawa: "But you don't."
Maeda: "I don't know..."
Satsukawa: "Yamazaki, what about you?"
Yamazaki: "Well... at first I thought it was all a prank..."
Sastukawa: "Like a sort of initiation rite for first students?"
Yamazaki: "Well, yes... something like that..."
Satsukawa: "And what do you think now?"
Yamazaki: "I think there's really something there. After all..."
Satsukawa: "After all?"
Yamazaki: "Well... what I've seen there can't be explained in any other way."
Some people start whispering among themselves, on both sides. Yamazaki's last statement is causing many reactions, and I think I just saw Teramoto smiling.
Satsukawa for a few seconds seems to be indecisive as to what to ask next, but he quickly reaches a decision. He is really playing it safe, too safe for my tastes. He wants to keep them talking and he is trying to leave questions that they might refuse to answer for last.
Satsukawa: "I want you to tell me exactly what happened on that day, from the beginning. First things first, when did that happen? Uzuhara?"
Uzuhara: "Eh? Me?"
Satsukawa: "Your name is Ami Uzuhara, right?"
Uzuhara: "Yes! That's me!"
Some girls start giggling.
Satsukawa: "Uzuhara, do you remember which day that was?"
Uzuhara: "Hmmm... hmmm... which day that was..."
Satsukawa: "You don't remember how many days before the crime?"
Uzuhara: "Oh, it was the day before... I'm trying to remember if it was a Tuesday... or maybe a Monday?"
Satsukawa: "Thank you... Uzuhara... Endo, can you confirm that the day you were all invited inside the shed was Wednesday, April 10?"
Endo: "Yes, it was that day."
Satsukawa: "Do you remember the time?"
Endo: "We were brought inside the shed at around 18:00, but we were asked to gather half an hour before."
Satsukawa: "Was there a reason for that?"
Endo: "They gave us instructions about what to do and not to do once inside."
Satsukawa: "What kind of instructions?"
Endo: "We were told to never talk for any reason, mobile phones were banned. We were told to sit around the magic circle that was drawn on the floor and to do whatever we were asked. They stressed out that it was for our safety, else the demon could hurt us... Oh, and each one of us received a protective charm."
Satsukawa: "A charm? Like the usual charms you can find in a Shinto shrine?"
Endo: "Yes... they were Shintoist charms."
Satsukawa: "What happened then?"
Endo: "They led us inside, they were all pretty serious about it, that's when I started to feel a little scared... The door of that shed... I didn't quite understand it back then but... it wasn't supposed to open..."
Satsukawa: "You're talking about the latch?"
Endo: "Yes... I know because some girls decided to check the shed in spite of the warnings. They said they couldn't enter because it was closed from inside. I didn't believe them at first."
Satsukawa: "What made you change your mind?"
Endo: "I've seen that door with my eyes, there's just no way to close it or open it from outside. I thought it could be a trick, but after talking to several people I realized it's really impossible."
Satsukawa: "So, how did that door open?"
Endo: "Uh... hmmm..."
Satsukawa: "You can't tell me how?"
Endo: "She... used some sort of spell... and... it was as if the door was never closed to begin with..."
Satsukawa: "Endo, can you tell me who did it?"
She shakes her head.
Satsukawa: "Why can't you tell me? Is there anything that's threatening you?"
Endo: "I don't want to be one to say it! Why it must be me?"
Wakamatsu: "Endo! Answer the question!"
Satsukawa: "It's all right, Wakamatsu-san, maybe someone else can tell us? Maeda?"
Maeda: "Well, it's not like there's really a reason not to say it... I mean, we were told that we should never talk to outsiders about what happened there... But that was before all of this happened..."
Satsukawa: "That's right, you no longer have any choice, we won't let you go as long as you don't answer all of our questions."
Maeda: "Well... the one who did it was..."
Teramoto: "It was me."