“I have no idea…but did you know? That guy saw something even scarier than the graves,” Satoru found a chance to change the subject.
“What did he see?” As I expected, Maria took the bait.
“You can’t ask right away. Satoru hasn’t thought of something scary yet, so give him some time,” I teased, but Satoru was serious.
“I’m not lying. That guy really did see something. It wasn’t exactly in the courtyard, but…”
“So what did he see?” Ken couldn’t resist any longer.
I thought Satoru would be smiling conspiratorially at sharing the secret, but instead his face became expressionless.
“An unbelievably huge shadow of a cat.”
It went completely silent.
At this time, I admired Satoru for his oratory skills. If there were ever a job for making scary stories, he would be the first to be picked for it. Though of course, I can’t think of any society that would have such a dumb job.
“Is that, a copycat…?” When Maria asked the question everyone was thinking, we all started talking at once.
“It seems like copycats show up at the elementary school a lot.”
“But I wonder why?”
“Isn’t it obvious? They target children!”
“They often come out at night during autumn.”
“They sometimes show up at your house, but usually only around midnight….”
We were simultaneously afraid of and attracted to the dark. We were obsessed with scary stories about evil spirits in the mountains and rivers, but out of all of them, copycats were the ones that made us shiver with fright. Although the stories circulated among children were all embellished, most agree that copycats are about as large as an adult. Although they have the face of a cat, their limbs are abnormally long, and they slink behind children like a shadow. When they reach a deserted area, they’ll reach out from behind and pin the child down. The child will go numb as if hypnotized, then the copycat opens its mouth a hundred eighty degrees and chomps down on the child’s neck so he can’t pull away. In that way, not a drop of blood will be spilled, so the child’s body will never be found, and so on.
“And then? Where did he see the copycat?”
“I don’t know whether it was a copycat or not. All he saw was a shadow,” Satoru said confidently, his previous embarrassment forgotten. “But the place where he saw it was really close to the courtyard.”
“Where though? There’s no way to enter or exit the courtyard from outside.”
“It wasn’t from the outside.”
“Huh?” I doubted what Satoru was saying, but then why did I feel a shiver run up my spine?
“It was at the end of the hall in the administration wing and disappeared right in front of the door to the courtyard…”
No one could say anything to this. Although I don’t want to admit it, Satoru got the result he wanted. Anyway, they were nothing more than made up stories told among children. At that time, I still believed that.