"How is that possible?" I asked Shirome. "We were only in that tunnel for a few seconds and the gun shot had come when we almost exited the tunnel. No matter who the killer is, nobody could get rid of a gun that fast without alerting someone."
"True," Shirome agreed. "If the killer had thrown the gun out the open windows then he would've had to have thrown it at the ceiling. That way of disposing wouldn't work. The resulting sound when the gun bounces off the ceiling and rolls out of the window would've surely alerted one of the other hostages or even the hijacker. Nobody heard a thing other than the gunshot."
My eyes turned to the other hostages in the car with me. The couple's arguing turned into angered whispers to each other. The businessman was also whispering but his whispers were mostly about him regretting taking the train today. No sounds came from the train conductor, a man in his late forties with greying black hair, but sweat dripped from his chin and his expression reflected his terror. Nobu and I were the only one's in the car that weren't panicking but unlike me, he still looked nervous. I was scared too but I had a history of hiding my feelings and my mind was more occupied with the murder of this unknown woman.
No matter how much I stared at the other hostages, I couldn't find any hints that might hint to the killer of the unknown woman.
There was only one option at the moment and Shirome knew it.
To the surprise of everyone in the car, I stood up from my seat. Everyone but Nobu reacted the way I expected them to.
"What are you doing?" the business man gasped. "He told us to stay in our seats!"
"Sit back down, kid," the train conductor warned. "We don't have any idea how those hijackers will react if they catch you out of your seat."
Having any one of the hijackers come in would be bad but what they didn't know, was that I had a ghost on my side. Someone who could phase through walls and be invisible to everyone but me.
"I'll watch out for them, Nana-chan," Shirome said. "Just be sure to get the information I need, okay?"
I gave the ghost a nod and watched as she phased through the car's door, the same door that the hijacker's Red and Blue exited. With Shirome keeping watch, I could gather the information she needed without worrying about one of the hijackers interrupting. My only problem would be convincing the other hostages to let me investigate.
"Hurry up and sit down! I don't want to be killed because some stupid kid decided he wanted to be hero," the girlfriend Yumi yelled.
"I'm not playing hero," I answered taking a few steps closer to the woman's dead body. Each step closer to the body increased the terror inside the car. I didn't have enough time to care about their feelings while I slid my hand into the woman's tight jean pocket.
That was when a strong hand pulled me away from the body. I smacked the hand away with my arm and turned around to see who pulled me away. With a serious expression on his face, the train conductor looked down at me. I didn't notice before but the conductor was bigger than I thought. He was at least a foot taller than me and much stronger going by his large build.
"Isn't it enough that you endanger our lives with your stupidity? Do you have to be so disrespectful to the dead that you go through their pockets?"
I could tell that the conductor was trying to convince me to sit back down in my seat but I needed information about who this woman was.
I opened my mouth to speak but Nobu yelled first.
"Don't you guys know who this is?" he yelled getting out of his seat. "This guy is the great detective Nanaki! He's solved over eight cases of murder for the police!"
Looks of surprise came upon the hostages once they realized who I was.
"This kid is that detective they've been talking about?" Mitsuo said with disbelief.
His girlfriend Yumi spoke next. "Well, if he's a detective, maybe he can find out if the hijacker really was the one who killed this girl?"
"The hijacker is the one who killed her!" the business man argued. "He was the only one in the train car that had a gun."
"But he was just as surprised as the rest of us!" Yumi yelled back.
The businessman gave her a nervous chuckle. "And I'm suppose to believe something like that coming from someone that looks like you?"
That comment angered Yumi and Mitsuo, causing the boyfriend to jump out of his seat and grab the business man by the collar.
"Are you trying to say my girlfriend's stupid?" He yelled holding the man's face closer to his. "Just who do you think you are?"
"I'm Shimaru Mayuma and I happen to be very high up at the company I work at," he answered trying to sound proud. "I'm only on this train to the middle of nowhere because my boss wants me to convince someone to sign a contract with our company."
The three continued to argue, wasting my time every second they continued. I needed to find the woman's wallet and her ID inside so I can at least find out her name.
Looking at the conductor, I noticed that his attention had moved to the couple arguing with Mayuma. I took this as my chance to go through the woman's pockets. My hands checked inside her jacket's pockets and I managed to find her wallet inside the breast pocket. Checking the contents, however, cunfused me further. Ignoring the few bills, I pulled out her ID but the woman had several ID's in her wallet, each one saying a different name. She didn't have a single credit card in her wallet so I could only find out what her name was by these many ID's. She even had dozens of business cards in her other pocket, each one marked with a different company's name. Confused and frustrated with what I found, I checked her other pockets...
Only to find the cell phone that belonged to the woman. The hijacker was too surprised by the sudden murder of the woman that he forgot to throw out her cell phone!
"They're coming back, Nana-chan!" Shirome yelled as she phased back into the train car.
I had no time to check the woman's cell phone but I had enough time to stuff the device and the wallet into my pockets and hurry back to my seat. Everyone else wondered why I hurried back to my seat but when they heard the handle on the train car's door shake, they too hurried back to their individual seats. They all managed to seat back down in their seats when the hijacker Red and his partner Blue walked in. The two hijackers took a quick look around the room and going by their looks, they didn't notice anything out of place.
"Okay, looks like no one left their seats," Red said. "Nobody gets shot this time."
Blue spoke the moment Red was finished. "But we're here to tell all of you that our partner Green has placed enough explosives in the train that if we wanted, we could kill every single person riding."
Despite the gasps he created, Blue continued to speak. "We won't set them off if our demands are met," he assured them. "So you better be hoping that these guys give us what we want..."
Blue took a look at the dead woman and pointed his gun at the body. "We can't do anything about this but if we figure which one of you bastards killed this woman and blamed it us, then you can be sure we'll give out the due punishment."
With that said, the two hijackers had split up to the other cars in the train to repeat the message they gave us.
Blue's words were a threat used to intimidate the murderer but it wasn't a good threat. He basically told everyone in the train car that they had no idea who the murderer and nothing would happen if they didn't find the culprit. If the murderer didn't confess to the crime, the hijackers would be forced to take the blame and the killer would walk away. If the murderer had any brains, he would chose to stay hidden until this hostage situation was over.
These hijackers couldn't find the killer but that didn't mean Shirome couldn't.
Once the hijackers were gone, I took out the ID's and business cards I took from the victim.
"Why does this woman have so much ID's and business cards?" Shirome asked. "They're all from different companies so none of them could be where she works and whatever she does for work must require many identities."
I was listening to Shirome but everyone had their eyes on me. They noticed the many cards in my hands.
"Did you take those from the woman?" Mitsuo asked.
"Your parents must not have brought you up right, seeing how easy you steal from the dead," the conductor said shaking his head.
"Those aren't credit cards though," Mayuma noticed. "They're business cards and ID's."
"I don't care what they are, the boy better put them back."
The conductor stood up from his seat and took a few steps to me before being stopped by Nobu, who stood in the way between him and me.
"He's a detective," Nobu said standing as straight as he could. "It's his job to find the murderers before they get away..."
"So why don't you sit back down and let him do his job?" Nobu asked but the tone of his voice made it sound more like an order.
I was starting to like this Nobu guy. I might not know much about him other than the fact that he was the only one in the car that believed I could find the murderer. The others were too afraid of the hijackers to be any help but Nobu was the only one that kept his calm despite being in such a serious situation. I felt like I could trust this guy.
"Why are you so determined to stop me from investigating, Conductor-san?"
The answer surprised everyone in the car, including me since it was my voice that asked the question.
Shirome already possessed my body and I didn't notice. Somehow, Shirome had solved the murder and had to possess me to get enough information to prove her deduction. I could feel the ghost taking in my recent memories, taking in the information she couldn't gather when she had to keep watch. While taking in this information, Shirome crossed my legs and arms while giving the rest of the hostages a wide grin. I could only watch and listen to what Shirome decided to do next.
The hostages were struck speechless but Shirome wasn't going to accept that.
"Come on, answer the question, Conductor-san," Shirome ordered. "Or maybe you would like tell us your name first?"
"My name?" The conductor repeated.
"Yes, your name," Shirome said grinning wider. "Out of the five hostages in front of me, you are the only one whose name I haven't heard. Is there any reason you have to hiding your name?"
"If you need to know, my name's Fuku-"
"Fake!" The ghost yelled. "That name's fake!"
"What are you talking about? You didn't even let him finish!" Yumi argued.
"Shut up and let us talk, idiot," Shirome answered. "I'm doing my awesome deduction."
Yumi wanted to yell back at me but her boyfriend stopped her. Going from his expression, he wanted to hear what I had to say. The businessman Mayuma had the same expression. Everyone in the car had their attention on me and were listening to Shirome.
"Why would a train conductor need a fake name?" Shirome asked herself. She pointed at the conductor. "They would only need one if they weren't the real train conductor!"
The fake train conductor stumbled, surprised that Shirome saw through him somehow. He opened his mouth to argue but the ghost wasn't going to let him talk.
"I'm sure I saw your face somewhere but when I took a good look at face, I instantly found out who you really are."
Shirome made my body stand up and walk over to the business man Mayuma. Without warning, Shirome snatched the rolled up newspaper the man had next to him. She unrolled it and took out the front page, showing the picture to everybody. On the front page of the newspaper was the picture of the Prime Minister candidate Sosuke Sendou speaking to a crowd with several other people standing around him. Shirome took my finger and swung it towards the picture.
"This is you, isn't it?" Shirome yelled the finger landing on a man in the picture. "Well, isn't it, Aso Watanuki!"
The conductor Aso Watanuki started to sweat when he heard me say his name.
"Aso Watanuki?" Mayuma gasped copying everyone else and looking at the conductor. "That's Sendou's right-hand man!"
"Right-hand man to a Prime Minister candidate?" Mitsuo said sounding like he didn't believe it. "What's someone like that doing on a train to the some town in the country?"
"That's a good question," Shirome said giving Mayuma his newspaper back. "But the better question is..."
Shirome chuckled as she continued. "Why would the right-hand man of a possible Prime Minister go out of his way to convince a couple of men to hijack a train just so he could kill a poor woman?"
"Convince?" Nobu was confused for a second until he figured out what I meant. "This guy is the one who planned this hijacking!"
"That's right, Nobu-chan," Shirome chuckled. "He planned this entire hijacking just so he would have a chance at killing this woman. He even got rid of the train conductor for his plan."
Nobu looked back at the fake conductor Watanuki. "But what reason does he have to kill her?" He asked.
"The only reason she was killed was because she stumbled upon the winning lottery ticket for her career," Shirome answered. She held up the cards I took from the victim. "I wondered why this woman had so many business cards and ID's but then it hit me. She's a freelancing reporter, she needed different identities in order to find the pieces of information that are news worthy. Well, she found the single piece of information that would fetch a small fortune from any newspaper..."
"She found out something that would ruin the chances of Sendou's election! And with that, you would also lose your position!" Shirome yelled pointing at the killer. "That is your motive for killing this woman, Aso Watanuki!"
There was only silence after Shirome told everyone about Watanuki's motive but to our surprise, the fake conductor began to chuckle which escalated into loud laughter.
"I'm Aso Watanuki but so what? You can't prove I killed this woman!" he laughed. "There isn't anthing on my body that could be used to shoot that woman. And I don't know what you mean by saying my reason to be here is to kill the victim! I'm only on this train because I wanted to view the relaxing scenery at the destination! You can't prove that I'm the murderer!"
Watanuki's laughing continued until Shirome began laughing herself. Her laughing caused the man to stop his laughter and stare at me with a confused but nervous expression.
"I'll admit that did prevent me from finding out until now but I know what you did with the gun, Aso Watanuki," she said. "You simply threw it away..."
"But you didn't throw it out of the window! No, that would make a loud enough noise that anyone with good hearing would find you out! You had to throw away the gun without making any noise and I wouldn't have figured it out if I didn't notice you trying to stop me from investigating the victim's body. If you weren't the murderer, then what reason do you have to stop a detective from doing his job? None! You don't have a reason unless you were the murderer and you were trying to prevent me from getting any clues from the victim's body! Finding that out allowed me to find out how you discarded the gun."
Shirome led my body to the seat where Aso Watanuki sat and everyone watched as I got on my knees in front of the seat. She made my hands search underneath the seat until she found what she was looking for.
"This is how you-"
Shirome couldn't finish her sentence as the large man struck my face with his fist. It was a surprise attack that caught us by surprise. My face flared up with pain while the surprise of the punch caused Shirome to be ejected from my body. The ghost floated in the air, stunned by the punch. I was holding my bleeding nose while I looked up to see the furious Aso Watanuki glaring down at me.
"I won't let some kid ruin my career!" He screamed getting ready to strike me again. Looking at him closely, I saw black steam rising from his body. Only Shirome and I could see the black steam.
"Sendou was going to become the Prime Minister and this stupid bitch Miru Sayoi had to find out about his mistress! She tried to blackmail us but we weren't going to give her the huge amount of money she wanted! So I had to kill her before she ruined our chances! These stupid hijackers were supposed to get the blame but why did you have be on the train today? I'm not going to let anyone ruin Sendou's chance at becoming Prime Minister! Not that bitch Sayoi or the damn detective Nanaki will stop us!"
Watanuki swung his fist at me again, Shirome screaming and trying to stop his fist from hitting me. She couldn't touch the physical world so the fist merely went through but that was when Nobu came. He stepped in front of Watanuki and caught his fist before he struck me. The man glared at him and swung his other fist at him but Nobu merely moved his head out of the way. Then with a quick but powerful swing of his arm, Nobu punched Watanuki in the face with enough force that the large man fell on his back.
"These are the fists of an aspiring boxer, murderer, so just try to hit him again. I'll stop you every time until the police arrest you!" Nobu said taking a boxing stance, placing his arms in front of him like a shield. "Hitting Nanaki just proved that you are the murderer. The great detective Nanaki had caught you! There isn't any way out of this!"
This would have normally the part where the murderer found out he couldn't run away and the demon would leave his body but Watanuki didn't look like he was admitting defeat. The furious man ran, running until he left the train car. Black steam followed wherever he went but only Shirome and I could see the trail it left behind.
I stood up and moved to see Watanuki running through the other cars, leaving behind a trail of black steam.
"Why isn't the demon leaving his body?" I asked Shirome in a whisper.
"Aso Watanuki isn't admitting defeat, he still thinks he can get out without being convicted," Shirome answered. "But I don't know what he has that could help him escape..."
Shirome stopped talking, for reasons I needed to know immediately.
"What is it, Shirome?"
What she found out had the effect of making the ghost look horrified. She knew the only path left to the murderer Aso Watanuki and what I saw the man doing made me realize what Shirome found out.
Watanuki was yelling at the hijacker Red in the next car.
"It's the hijackers, Nana-chan!" Shirome yelled. "He's going to tell him that he's the one behind the hijacking and use them to make sure he escapes!"
I wasn't listening to Shirome as I was more occupid with what Watanuki just did.
He took the gun from Red and turned around, seeing me looking back at him.
He swung the barrel of the gun in front of him, pointing it right at me...
And pulled the trigger.