Chapter 15. Chieri Shimizu
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~Two years ago, Chieri's PoV~

Chieri Shimizu stared at the announcement board in front of her. Her eyes sharp, thoroughly scanning through the lines of names printed in that announcement. She just finished middle school the other day, took the entrance exam just last monday and was currently praying to whatever god who will answer her prayer that her name would be among those who passed the exam. 

She wasn't the best when it came to studying. She was easily distracted by a lot of things that every teacher who was unfortunate enough to teach her had to give her reminders every now and then despite her earnest effort to learn. All for the sake to repay both her parents who worked hard to fulfill Chieri's education expenses.

As a local textile factory laborer, Chieri's father's salary alone wasn't enough to fill their meet ends, thus why her mother also worked as a cook at a local chain restaurant. And every last money they earned which didn't go to their primary need went to Chieri's school expenses.

She might be not the brightest in her study, but Chieri wasn't stupid enough to dismiss the parental love she was given for sixteen years she had live in this world.

And finally, she saw her name just right above the red line which separated those who passed the test and those who didn't.

"Yes!" Chieri shouted out of relief, until she realized she just startled everyone surrounding her and apologized afterward.

But, the first hurdle had been cleared. She got accepted in her first choice of highschool (although by a hair) and finally got the chance to make her parents at home proud of her.

"You got accepted?! For real?!" Chieri's father, Seigi Shimizu asked with widened eyes.

"I'm barely above the red line though, so I got kind of lucky~" Chieri said.

"Fufu, I guess I'll have to cook something special for dinner tonight," Chieri's mother, Erika Shimizu gleefully said.

"Nice idea! Oh, can you pass me the beer, Erika?" Seigi said as he turned to her wife.

"Dear… you have a night shift tonight, right? It'd be a bad idea for you to work under alcohol influence," Erika told him with an intimidating glare.

"I'm sorry, I got carried away."

Despite their modest way of life, Chieri thought this was the happiest moment in her entire life. That was until that night, Chieri received a message from her father who should be working at that hour. 

[The weaving machine broke down so I got to leave early today!] 

"Oh my, that's rare! I guess I have to prepare your father's share now," Erika responded.

That wasn't bad for Chieri since she wished to spend more of her time with her parents at home. 

The thing was, her father never appeared at the front door for an hour despite the distance between their home and the factory being only forty minutes walk away.

"Yes, this is Shimizu's household. Yes, this is his wife speaking," Erika said from the distance as she picked up the ringing phone.

At that time, Chieri wasn't ready for the hard swallowed pill she was about to take.

"Eh?" 

Without any warning, Erika fell on her knees with her face filled with shock and disbelief.

"Mom?!" Chieri shouted out of concern.

"No… no way, are you sure it's him?" Erika asked the person over the phone with a cracked voice.

There was a long silence between Erika and the person over the phone until Erika answered with a confirmative answer and put the phone down.

"Mom? What happened?" Chieri asked once again with an even more worried tone.

"... Kheuk…"

"Your dad, he got involved in a hit and run and is now in critical condition."

~•~

"Excuse me! Can you tell me where the ER is?!" Erika frantically asked one of the nurses who passed by.

Chieri and Erika didn't waste their time as soon as they received the call and ran all the way to the hospital where Seigi was being brought.

With the help of the nurse, they immediately found the emergency room with ease, to find a horrifying fact right before their eyes.

There was a man lying on one of the hospital beds, covered in blood stained sheets from head to his ankles. Chieri didn't want to believe it. The proof was right in front of her, but her mind couldn't accept the fact that the bed had his father's name on it.

"NOOOOOO!!" 

Erika's hysterical scream became the last thing Chieri remembered that night, signifying the beginning of her vengeance.

After some time, both Erika and Chieri reported this incident to the police who told them that they would do their best to investigate their case, only to receive another unexpected event on their end.

"Eh? What do you mean you're closing our case?" Erika asked in disbelief.

"Exactly what I said, the higher up decided to call off the investigation since we currently have our hands full with other cases with higher priority," the policeman told Erika as he lowered his head.

"This has to be a joke, right? Why would you close the case you just received less than three days ago without any consent from the victim?!" Erika once again protested as she slammed the counter.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but that's the only thing that I've been told by the higher ups. There is nothing more we can do to help you with your case, I deeply apologize."

Chieri's heart crumbled as she witnessed the despair reflected on her mother's face as Erika wailed, pleading to the young policeman to do something about the incident. The police who were supposed to serve justice instead abandoned Chieri and Erika in their most vulnerable state. 

Chieri cursed them under her breath, recognizing that something fishy was going on behind the police's organization. And yet, there was nothing she could do as a highschool freshman to prove her intuition. On the other hand, her mother wasn't in her best mental state after losing the man she loved and unlikely to be proactive to uncover the truth behind Seigi's death.

"Mom, we should return home now. Let's not waste our time here any longer."

~Yayoi's PoV~

"I see… an unilateral case closure, huh? That indeed sounds fishy," I muttered to myself as I lit my fourth cigarette for the day.

It's easy to imagine that the perpetrator was someone with authority over the Superintendent General. A very important political figure, or maybe someone from the Superintendent family himself? In any case, it shouldn't be that hard to find who the killer was from Shimizu's testimony.

"Shimizu, can you tell me the exact date and time when the accident happened?" I asked Shimizu.

"March 30th, 2020. It was Monday night between 07:00 p.m. and 08:00 p.m.," she answered.

"Chieri, as I previously stated, I shall grant you your wish if you join my cult. However, is that really what you want?" I asked her.

"... What do you mean?"

"If you kill this perpetrator, don't you think it will create a contradicting result? If revenge is what you want, shouldn't you make them suffer for their life rather than granting them a free ticket to escape punishment on earth?" I explained 

Chieri thought for a moment, putting her hand on her chin as her head slightly hung down, facing her own reflection on the water.

"You're right! Minacchi -no, milady! That bastard deserved fate worse than death!" Chieri shouted as she lunged at me with her arms open.

"Thank you! Thanks! Please, make him suffer for what they've done to me!" 

"I will, and welcome to the cult, Chieri."

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