The novel is first published on June 4, 2018 in Japan under Shueisha's Jump j-Books. The release date for an English translated version of the novel is yet to be confirmed.
To my dearest Emma,
After running into the forest, Norman sat next to Yvette as he started writing on a piece of sketching paper that she had given him. Yvette was happily shaking her leg to and fro as she drew on her sketchbook.
That took place on the third of November in the afternoon, the tender autumn wind kissed the forest. Norman, who was wearing his sweater, still felt a tad bit cold. In a blink of an eye, summer has come to an end.
Norman gazed through the gaps of the tree branches as he saw clouds floating pass in the sky.
Who would have thought after catching a glimpse of despair over the Grace Field's wall, one could still be in a state of serenity.
Tonight, Norman shall be "shipped-out".
"Norman, what are you drawing?" Yvette tilt her head as she stares at Norman. Norman smiled warmly as he sees her face, so filled with blissful innocence and purity.
"I'm writing a letter."
Yvette nodded her head, "I'm drawing tha tree ober there!" the young girl grabbed her pencil as she continued to draw.
The younger children are still unaware of the truth behind the House.
Norman turned his head to look at it.
He always thought the Grace Field House, the place where siblings with no blood relations and a gentle foster mother, is a peaceful and harmonious orphanage where they spent a happy childhood in.
But all of these is just a facade, a facade that hides the truth of the orphanage.
Norman stopped writing.
That faithful night, they were exposed to the truth of Grace Field.
At the night of October the twelfth, Conny was adopted by foster parents, and had hence left the House.
The children here will be sent to foster parents before they reach the age of twelve. Currently, the oldest children are only eleven, and they are Norman, Emma and Ray.
"Today is Conny's last day, huh."
During the free period of Conny's last day, Emma was congratulating Conny on her new journey in life. Emma placed her hand on her chest.
Her antenna-like bright orange hair danced in the gentle wind. Meanwhile, Ray was sitting by himself reading his book.
"Another person left before us. Again." Somewhere deep in his heart, Norman sighed. For him, Emma and Ray are his family and dearest friends throughout his life.
The three of them had completely different personalities. There was the always cheerful Emma, who had great athletic ability and love for her family, and Ray, a walking dictionary, realist, and sometimes contrarian. Despite these differences, the three were able to sync up perfectly in whatever they did. They complemented each other. That was their relationship.
But Emma, Ray, and even Norman himself would have to leave the house in the near future.
Even though Norman believed that finding a new family is a delightful thing, another thought began to grow stronger. The more he thought about getting separated from everyone, the more he felt sad. If only we could all live together forever.. These types thoughts were not uncommon to have. Everyone who leaves the house must have had these thoughts, Norman thought as they were sending Conny off at night.
After clean-up time, Norman, who was trying to take out a broom, was taken aback by a loud voice and turned around. It was Emma's voice.
"Conny!? Can you seriously be THIS forgetful!?"
Emma had entered the eating area with a broomstick and found Little Bunny, a stuffed rabbit plush that Conny loved so dearly and never let out of her sight.
Little Bunny was given to Conny on her 6th birthday and was handmade by Mama Isabella herself. Conny loved Mama. Before leaving, she would always hug Little Bunny and say, "If he's with me, I'l be okay. When I grow up, I want to become a mother like Mama."
"Wh..What should we do...?" Emma asked.
Before Emma sank into despair, Ray entered the eating area and said, "I saw the gate lamps from the bath window. Mama hasn't come back yet, so I think it's safe to assume that Conny hasn't left yet."
Upon hearing that, Emma and Norman thought there was still a chance to deliver Little Bunny to Conny. Running to the "gate" from the house wouldn't take too much time. Norman looked at Emma, who had a confused look, and simply said, "Let's get Conny her Little Bunny."
Missing paragraph here
"If we think about how Connie's feeling, we should get a move on it don't you think?" suggested Norman.
Emma took this to heart and nodded furiously in agreement.
So Emma and Norman went towards the gate secretly. There, they learned the "truth" to this world.
The cruel "truth".
Beyond the opened iron gates, the only thing that was there was one truck. No one else was there. Emma's voice echoed in the closed area, but there was no response. While carrying Little Bunny, Emma lifted herself onto the back of the truck, pulled the curtains and peaked in.
Little Bunny fell from her hands to the ground.
Emma turned pale, a pale no one else has ever witnessed before. Upon hearing his name, Norman rushed over to Emma's side.
And then they saw it.
In the back of the truck was Conny. Her body was faced up, and her empty eyes stared at the two. Sticking out of her chest was a plant that they had never seen before. Half of her body was soaked in some kind of liquid.
It was just a little while ago. Not even an hour had passed. In front of them was Conny. Conny, who had changed into her new clothes and put on her hat. Conny, who looked so happy while holding Mama's hand as they left the house. Conny, who laid in from of their eyes and now looked completely different.
Emma and Norman hid under the truck once they had heard the deep voice. Conny was clearly killed by someone. The man whose voice he had never heard before, must be the killer Norman thought as he processed the situation quickly While laying down, the two looked up. In their limited field of vision, what they saw was not human.
In addition to its distorted figure, it had giant claws and jet-black skin. The eyes were arranged vertically behind a mask of some sort.
Norman couldn't believe what he was seeing.
Calling them human-killing demons was only half right. The realization made it all the more disgusting.
Standing there were two alien-looking monsters. They lifted Conny's body and put her in a large bottle. Norman trembled with fear upon hearing the demon's conversation. He had no idea what was happening.
Human meat. Plantation. Important "goods."
We've only been raised to be fed to "demons."
Norman felt Emma trembling underneath the truck. He tried to reach out to comfort her but realized that his hands were shaking too.
The nightmare didn't end there.
"I understand," someone said.
The two heard a voice they were sure they couldn't have misheard. The voice was replying to the demon's orders regarding the next "shipment."
Standing there was their Mama....Isabella.
The winds were remarkably strong and the branches above swayed. The pages of Yvette's sketchbook were turning over quickly, and her colored pencil flew everywhere. Even with that, she let out a high-pitched, happy scream.
"Are you okay?" Norman asked as he picked up the colored pencils near his feet.
"Thank you, Norman. Hey, look at this. Do you think Mama will praise me?"
Norman thinks that she will once looking at the finished drawing. He closed his eyes and nodded.
Mama who everyone adores.
But that Mama is a pawn of the demons. She was their enemy.
From that night onwards, Emma, Ray, and Norman paired up with Don and Gilda, who were 1 year younger than the trio, to plan their escape.
Grades are assigned based on score and age. When the "shipping date" is decided, they tell the children that they are going to their foster parents and are taken away. No matter how much the children waited at Grace Field House, it seemed highly unlikely that none of their siblings who had left the house would send them nothing about their new lives. Isabella always smiled and reassured them that no news was good news.
Behind that smile, just how many children has Isabella sent to their deaths?
Way before the children turn one and are send to the plantations, they get a tracking device implanted in their ears.
It's the most perfect plan to control the children. The perpetrators have overlooked nothing.
But Ray created a tool that could disable the tracking device.
When it came to getting ready for the escape plan, Ray's sacrifices were immeasurable.
Ray, who was the same age as Emma and Norman, became a traitor when he was 6-years old, working with Isabella on the side. Knowing the truth of the house, Ray always kept an eye on the "herd of sheep" as Isabella's watchdog. At the same time, he collected information from the demon side in order to be ready for the escape when the day finally came.
But Isabella cut off that relationship with Ray. It wasn't because his cover as a double agent was blown. Instead, Ray wasn't needed to control the children anymore
(The relationship was cut off because the exchanges between Mama and Ray were only to ensure that the premium goods would be shipped without any issues)
After Norman learned of his shipping date, he thought about how Isabella was going to act.
Isabella must be confident in her victory. She believes that she can ship the three premium goods. If that's the case, she doesn't have any "enemies" to deal with.
Norman smiled slightly.
(It's because of her illusion of victory that we can...)
Escape from this house, all of us. None of our siblings will be eft behind.
(We can do it.... We can definitely do it, if it's Emma...)
If they consider the goals of the original plan, the plan had failed miserably and the current situation seemed hopeless Isabella saw through their plans, broke Emma's leg, and the "traitor" Ray was cut off and thrown away.
But even now we still have a chance to win. The "plan" I've written on this letter is our chance.
I have hope.
Even if I am shipped out tonight.
The image of Conny's dead body played in Norman's head over and over. Emma and Ray were told to lay low during this down period. By doing so, they will extend their time at Grace Field House and when the time to escape comes, they'll team up.
That's the plan.
Putting Emma aside for a moment, knowing Ray, he was going to try to calculate how much their chances of escape had fallen even though it was a number they could easily predict. (And Ray would end up doing something drastic upon realizing what that number was.) Norman gave slightly pained smile.
To go that far just to ensure that Emma and Norman would live.
Ray was willing to sacrifice himself.
Norman understood Ray's feelings well. He will make the escape plan succeed with the smallest number of sacrifices. After all, the thing he's doing now is the same as Ray's original plan.
"The plan will be carried out in 2 months, most likely on Ray's birthday. Begin the plan on the night before his birthday," Norman started to put together the details of his plan on the drawing paper.
His plan tells Emma and the others what to do after, even after he himself was long gone.
The Ghosts Incidents at Grace Field House
In the middle of writing a sentence about the plan, Yvette abruptly asked a question, "Hey, I wonder if anyone can beat you in a game for the last time."
Norman raised his head from the paper and thought about it for a moment. The memory that first came to mind was tag, a game they had always started their free time with.
Yvette says "last game" because the night before Isabella announced to everyone that Norman was going to be adopted.
"Haha, I wonder," Norman laughed.
Yvette leaned forward, wanting an answer, "Can Emma beat you? What about Ray?"
"I won't be caught by neither Emma nor Ray. Until the end, of course."
"I see. You're really amazing, Norman," Yvette expressed upon hearing his answer and clapped her hands.
"We really did play a lot of tag.
"The forest in front of them was their playground-they decided that for themselves since they were little. They played tag and hide-and-seek thousands of times in this forest.
(It's so nostalgic...)
Norman reminisced on several of these memories and smiled.
Every day, he would do a lot of things with Emma and Ray. In the spring, they would have picnics. In the winter, snowball fights. He has millions of memories from special days and not-so special days.
He doesn't have memories of when they met. For as long he could remember, the two were simply and always by his side.
Ray, however, was different. He could remember everything from birth until now.
(We should have listened to him more...)
Norman could pull back memories from when he was 3 to 4 years old. There's one memory he remembers vividly. This memory is the oldest and is the first memory with Emma and Ray.
Looking back on that memory, Norman forced himself to smile.
While flipping pages in her sketchbook, Yvette looked older brother sitting next to her. He had a curious look on his face and then asked, "Hey Yvette, what do you think about ghosts?"
"What?" replied Yvette as she tilted her head in confusion.
Norman chuckled at her reaction.
"Ghosts appear in this house," he remembered someone saying. Who said that again? Maybe it was Olivia. She was two years older than Norman.
"I saw it a night ago..."
The children were gathered around the bed in a room before curfew. They were sitting and laying however they liked and surrounded their older sister, Olivia, who lowered her voice so not be heard. Each and every single one of them were listening to her story carefully.
(What did she see? I wonder what Olivia saw.)
Mixed in with the crowd of her siblings, Emma was waiting for the next part with excitement. Olivia held a pillow close to her chest and continued the story. Normally, she would tie her hair up into a ponytail. Tonight, she let her hair flow and her bangs covered part of her face, making it atmosphere tenser than usual.
"When I tried to go back to my room from the toilet, a white figure quickly zipped across the hallway. I got scared and ran back to my room. What I saw was definitely a ghost."
Just then, the rain outside became heavier. The sound of heavy raindrops reverberated all around the room. An older boy sitting in front of Olivia took a deep breath.
"I saw it too. I saw it too."
Marcus looked around the room and started to tell his story.
"You see, 1 heard a sound at night, and when I woke up, it was the sound of a piano. This was in the middle of night, you know! I went all the way to the music room."
"Wow! Marcus, you're brave."
Hearing the praise from his younger brother made him elated. He set the tone of his voice for the next part of the story.
"But when I opened the door, the lights were on and no one was there."
"That's so scary!"
Gilda, who was silently sitting next to Emma, began to cry "I'm sorry! I'm sorry. It's because of Marcus's scary voice!"
"Hey, the one who started to tell ghost stories was Olivia, not me," Marcus replied.
Olivia and Marcus, the two who told their ghost stories shoved each other.
Emma grabbed Gilda's hand and reassured her, "It's okay, Gilda."
"Emma..." Gilda sniffed while nodding her head.
"It's time for bed. Go to sleep!" Olivia told the group.
Everyone returned to their beds. In the dark room, a faint voice could still be heard here and there.
"Ugh! Because of those stories, I can't sleep."
"I won't be scared even if a ghost pops up!"
Gilda moved towards the neighboring bed, which she could only recognize by its faint outlines in the darkness.
"Hey Emma, can I sleep in your bed tonight?"
She was hugging a big pillow and had a disheartened look on her face as she gazed at Emma. Up until last year, Gilda, who was 3-years old, slept in the same bed as Mama. She recently became used to sleeping in the big room with everyone else, but due to the scary stories, she won't be able to sleep by herself tonight.
"Of course! Come here."
To Emma, being an "older sister" made her happy. She was glad that Gilda saw her as a presence to rely on.
Emma helped Gilda get on the bed. She looked at the ceiling and reflected on the stories she had just heard.
The mysterious white figure that appeared in the house. The strange piano noises. While Gilda was scared of the stories, Emma was curious and became more and more restless. She was so excited that she was kicking her legs underneath the blanket without realizing it.
(I...want to try meeting these ghosts!)
The next day, Emma jumped out of bed to the sound of the wake-up bell. She glanced back at her siblings who were still asleep and left the room, wanting to leave the room faster than anyone else.
The two left their rooms and saw Emma rushing over to them while jumping up and down. "So I heard this story from Olivia, and she says that there are ghosts in this house!"
Before even saying "good morning," Emma went ahead and just said whatever she was thinking. Norman was taken aback and could only blink several times in response.
Standing next to him was Ray, who looked dumbfounded.
"What are you talking about?"
Paying no attention to their reactions, Emma powered on, "I wonder how can meet a ghost.
"Do you want to meet a ghost, Emma?" Norman asked to confirm, even though he couldn't really believe what he was hearing.
"Yeah, I do!" Emma nodded, her wavy hair moving along with the action as she hopped down the stairs, "I mean, l've never seen one! I just wonder what kind of ghosts there are! And hear this, Gilda started crying yesterday because she thinks ghosts are scary.
I want to ask the ghosts to stop being scary!" "Hmm. So you're going to tell the ghosts to not show up anymore?"
"There's no way ghosts exist," Ray muttered on the side.
Emma's eyes got larger, "Whaaat? But Olivia said that she saw it! Marcus also said the same!"
"Those could be lies, you know."
"Why are you being so mean, Ray?! They wouldn't lie about this!"
As Emma began to confront Ray (who was clearly unconcerned), Norman got between them.
"Then let's go on a ghost hunting adventure. All three of us.
Hearing Norman's suggestion made Emma heam with joy. "Yeah, let's go!"
Breakfast preparations were well on their way when they entered the eating area. They could smell the soup that was being warmed up. Emma and the others set the tables with forks and spoons.
"Hey Ray, it's okay with you, right? If we go on this hunt, we'll be able to see whether they exist or not," Norman confirmed.
Even if it was coming from Norman, Ray didn't agree and replied,...We're not going to find any. Looking for them will be a waste of time."
During their conversation, Emma was playing with some of her siblings. "When you put things like that, it sounds like you're scared of ghosts and that's why you don't want to go looking for them.
"Are you serious? That's not true at all!"
"Then let's look for them! Together!"
"I'm telling you that they don't exist. Are you listening to me?"
Before Norman could better facilitate this argument, Ray proclaimed, "Fine, I'ljoin, andd l'll show you that ghosts don't really exist."
"Fine with me. Just what exactly do you mean by show?!"
Emma was holding her breath while overhearing their conversation. Ray leaned forward without realizing. She soon understood that Norman had resolved their conflict. "So you mean Ray is going to join us in looking for ghosts?"
"...Yeah, I'll be going, but let me make this clear: Ghosts don't exist."
"You're really joining us? I'm so happy to hear that. Thanks, Ray!" she celebrated while jumping up and down in happiness.
In the midst of her celebration, she accidentally threw the dish towel she had been using.
"Hey Emma! Watch out!"
In the noisy eating area, preparations for breakfast were now complete, and everyone began to move towards their seats at the table.
"Everyone's here, right?" Isabella checked as she scanned the room while ringing the bell.
Emma shut her mouth for a moment and fixed her posture by sitting up straight.
"Let's dig in," everyone said at the same time with their hands pressed together.
And so, breakfast began.
"Where should we start first?" Emma asked while stuffing her face with bread.
Sitting across from her was Norman. He answered, "Maybe we should start hy asking the people who saw the ghosts."
Emma was growing more and more restless; in comparison, Norman was completely calm. is being clearheaded was unheard of for a 4-year old. "There may be more people who have seen ghosts outside of Olivia and Marcus," he continued.
"You're right. If we ask more people, we'll be able to judge whether or not they just imagined seeing something," Ray added.
At first glance. it seemed as though Emma became discouraged after hearing Ray's realistic thoughts. Norman continued, "That makes sense. The next step would be the ghosts. I want to learn more about them."
"I got it! Hey, Ray, what about the library? If we look at the books there, we might find something," Emma enthusiastically replied, gaining her confidence back. She found a way to get her beloved friends to help her.
After lunch, the three headed to the library during their free time.
It was raining outside anyway, so they wouldn't have been able to play in the forest. Most of the children would be playing in the playroom.
When the trio opened the door, they were greeted by rows and rows of books that spanned all the way to the ceiling. They stepped foot into the library, and a thick scent of old paper and ink covered the room. "Which section do you think we can learn about ghosts from?" Emma pondered as she ran towards the picture book section, scanning for books with the word "Ghosts" in their title.
"Hmm, I wonder," replied Norman as he stood up on his iptoes in front of the Encyclopedia section and looked at the spines of the books. "Have you read anything, Ray?"
"I have, but they're all fantasy books," he answered in a bored tone as he grabbed a number of books from a shelf. He was clearly well-acquainted with the library.
Ray placed the heavy books on the table, grabbed a chair and started flipping through the books. He noted, "See, look what's written in this dictionary. 'Imagination.' 'Imagination' is defined as things that people think of which do not exist in the world."
Emma looked closely at where Ray was pointing in the dictionary. She stared intensely at the abstract definition and nonchalantly said, "But we're not looking for 'e-magic-nation. Ghosts might still exist, you know."
If I say one thing, she'll say another, thought Ray. He started to fall asleep, seeing as there was no point in reasoning with Emma. At that moment, Norman called out, "Hey, take a look at this book that l just found."
The book that Norman brought was much thinner than Ray's but contained stories of haunted houses, tales of fairies and detailed excerpts of strange happenings in real life. Emma flipped through the book and took note of a certain entry. There was an llustration on this page that caused her to pause. She turned to the two and said, "Hey, look at this! It says that if you leave a letter for a ghost underneath your pillow, the message will get sent to the ghost!"
"Sounds like a big fat lie," scoffed Ray. He frowned when thinking about the book which was clearly written to trick children.
Emma looked up from the book and exclaimed, "We've got it! The next step is to write a letter to the ghost!"
She grabbed the book and dashed out of the library. "Did no one listen to me at all?" Ray asked.
"There, there, Ray," Norman replied.
The two got up to chase after Emma.
While carrying the book from the library, Emma climbed down the stairs and headed towards the play room.
There were toys all over the spacious room, and the children were playing.
Some were making castles out of blocks; others were playing with puzzles; another group was playing chess; and there were children painting. Everyone in the room was spending their playtime the way they want to.
"Oh, it's Emma."
"How strange of you to bring a book. What happened?" asked her older siblings who were playing cards.
They looked at her curiously.
"I'm going to write a letter to a ghost!" she explained while pulling out a sketchbook and some crayons.
Norman and Ray arrived a little later and sat next to Emma. "Umm, how should I start it? 'Dear Ghost, how are you?"
Unsure of why Emma was asking a ghost about its feelings and day-to-day life, Norman suggested, "Emma, I think you might be starting at the wrong point...?"
"Oh my, what are all of you up to?"
The person who approached the trio was Isabella. She wore a long black dress with a white apron on top and tied her hair into a neat bun. Emma looked up at Isabella, who was sitting next to her. "We're writing a letter to a ghost!"
"A letter to a ghost? How interesting!"
"If we put this letter under our pillows at night, it'll get sent to the ghost!"
Emma showed the book to Isabella and began to clumsily write alphabet letters on the sheet of paper. Norman observed on the side and asked Isabella, "Mama, do you think ghosts exist?"
With her eyes downcast. Isabella paused to think about Norman's question and then smiled. "Yes, I do think they exist."
"See! I told you!" Emma stated in a flash. She looked at Ray.
He had a different book on his knees and was suddenly in a bad mood.
"Mama, have you ever seen a ghost? Are they scary?" Emma continued her onslaught of questions.
Isabella patted Emma's head and laughed. "I've never seen one. But the ghosts in the house love all the children and are looking after everyone, don't you think?"
"I see! So they're good ghosts!"
"Haha, they also might scare the children who don't follow the rules!" Mama added as she pretended to be a ghost scaring Emma.
The young girl raised her voice and laughed in response Norman couldn't help but smile at this scene.
"I've finished it!
Emma finished writing her letter after Isabella had left. The letter, covered in colorful alphabet letters, reads "Please don't scare Gilda, okay?" In large letters, "I want to meet you!" was also written. She folded the letter neatly, took it to her bed, and placed it under her pillow.
Emma, who was completely satisfied, did not forget the original plan. "Okay, now it's time to ask the people who've seen ghosts their stories."
"Come on, Ray!" Emma pleaded as she dragged him. He showed no concern and was already reading book that had to do nothing with ghosts.
He gave a nasty glare to Norman, not Emma for some reason. Norman couldn't help but laugh.
The first person they interviewed was Olivia.
"Yesterday's story about seeing a ghost? That's fine. I'll tell it to you in detail."
Olivia was in the middle of studying with her close friend Michelle. She stopped her studying session and turned to Emma and the others. Norman was going to take notes with a pencil, and Emma was holding a magnifying glass.
"Emma, what's that for?" asked Ray.
"I had to bring this in order to look at something closely. This will solve the mystery!"
"Doesn't that defeat the purpose of interviewing...?"
While Ray and Emma were talking, Norman took notes on Olivia's stories. "I saw it...probably 4 nights ago. The time was...around midnight."
"I remembered something after hearing that story. I have a feeling that I heard the sound of something that night. It sounded like something was being dragged on the floor," Michelle added uncomfortably.
"If it's you two, you must not be imagining things" Norman replied, putting his hand to his chin.
Olivia saw a white figure run past the hallway at midnight She added that it didn't have a face or legs. It seemed to be floating.
"The ghost went down one flight of stairs, moved towards the bathroom and then disappeared."
"I understand it all now!" exclaimed Emma as she held the magnifying glass in the air. "The ghost wanted to take a bath!"
"Let's move onto the next story," Ray muttered under his breath and made his way briskly towards the exit.
Emma, who was ignored, was angry, so Norman calmed her down.
The next person to interview was Marcus.
In the middle of the night, he had heard a strange sound and woke up. He heard a sad tune being played on the piano. There is only one piano in Grace Field House and it's in the music room He wondered who was playing the piano and went to the room Upon arriving, he saw that no one was in the room. But if no one was there, why were the lights on? "
It was really creepy with just the piano there."
Marcus, in an attempt to scare the children, made his voice scarier than necessary while recalling the story. But the trio didn't give him the reaction he had haped for. Norman and Emma spoke to each other calmly.
"If the lights were on in the room, that means that another child might have visited the room before Marcus entered."
"So you're saying that during that time, someone else must have been in the music room?"
Ray was skeptical of Marcus's story and asked more questions, "Are you sure that no one else was in the room? Did you look closely?"
"I checked! No one else was in the room." Marcus cried sadly at his siblings who were not being very nice to him right now.
"Marcus, do you know any other children who've seen ghosts?" asked Emma.
He turned to the younger girl and answered, "Hmm, I wonder who said they have. Come to think of it, Helena had a story."
She had asked Marcus what he thought of monsters. The trio were able to get their hands on brand new information, and so, they went to find Helena.
Helena was coloring in a coloring book alongside Gilda, Anna, and the other young girls. She was focused on filling in the small details of the princess and castle drawing with her crayons "Emma and everyone else are researching ghosts? How interesting!" replied Helena when she heard Emma's story. "I don't know if it's a ghost...but remember the drawing that's hanging on the wall? From time to time, it changes into a monster.
Emma's eyes widened and repeated, "The drawing changes?"
Helena took the three to see the picture and went down the hallway. In the hallway leading to Mama's room, there's a wall with everyone's drawings. "It's this one," she pointed out.
Her picture depicted a large bird flying off into the night sky "This is amazing," said Emma, fully impressed with the bird.
The large-sized bird could be seen in the forest from time to time. It boasted brown-colored wings and had black spots on its white belly. Helena took all of these small details and transferred them to her drawing. It truly was a well-drawn picture. She's the best drawer in the house. "I want to say it's just a regular drawing, but Abbie recently said that the bird changes into a monster. She said it had such a scary face that she started crying."
"Really? It's that scary?"
"I haven't seen it myself, so I don't know," replied the girl shrugging her shoulders.
"And then Chucky overheard the story and said that this drawing's cursed."
"So, it's a 'cursed' drawing and not one of a bird?"
Emma, not understanding what 'cursed meant, glanced at Ray, hoping he had something to say. "A curse....? Hmmm."
Norman examined the drawing carefully. Emma stood next to him and used her magnifying glass to help out. "It doesn't seem like anything's here," said Emma who couldn't see it as anything but an ordinary picture.
Norman looked at Helena and asked, "Did Abbie see this at night?"
"No, she said she saw it when the sun was setting. Around 5 PM, I think."
"I see, so ghosts can show up at any time-not just at night," Emma realized.
There's no connection between the ghost and the drawing Besides, a drawing can't change because it's 'cursed. That doesn't happen in real life."
Ray put a damper on Emma's theory. At that moment Norman took a closer look at the drawing.
He mumbled, "Hmm this drawing... "What did you find?" Ray asked.
After a while, Norman turned his attention to his brother smiled and shook his head, "Nothing. Must be my imagination."
The trio went to Abbie to hear her side of the story. Ever since seeing Helena's drawing, she's been scared and closes her eyes whenever she needs to go through that hallway. They asked a number of their siblings about their experiences.
"We collected a lot of information today."
Norman was sitting in the play room, looking at his notebook His notebook was mostly comprised of key words. He could remember the full story by just looking at the words.
In addition to Marcus, there were several children who said that they had heard the sounds coming from the piano. They said that the sound had stopped before they were able to see who was playing. They didn't see who had played the piano, but the song that everyone heard had a somber, dark, and sad tone to it. It seemed like a fitting song that a ghost would play, they said.
"The only thing left to do is to look for the ghosts at night," Norman said to Emma.
Hearing this, Emma had a great idea and said with pride, "I have something I have to make!"
She placed the library book under her armpit, and instead of the magnifying glass, she had a box full of materials for handicraft in her hand. She grabbed a thick sheet of paper and began folding it. "Emma, if we're going to look for these ghosts at night, we should take a nap during the day."
"I'll be okay!"
"You'll definitely going to fall asleep, you know."
"I won't!" she replied, not paying any attention to the suggestion from her two friends.
She rolled the paper into a thin tube, but while she was trying to tape the paper, it unfolded. "Ahh!"
Norman saw Emma's frustation and helped out.
"Hey, Emma, it's almost the end of free time, so clean up," called Olivia and Michelle, who were preparing for dinner.
"Got it! We're cleaning up now!"
It was already the evening. Emma quickly grabbed her handicraft supplies and placed them in the box. She was in such a hurry that she accidentally knocked over a box that had pencils, pens, and other items for drawing. "Oh no!"
"Emma, what do you think you're doing?" asked Ray as he angrily picked up the pencils.
Norman also helped.
Once free time ended, the schedule was always the same. They would eat dinner, take baths, and then return to their rooms. "After lights out, meet me in front of the stairs, okay?" Emma said to Ray and Norman.
The rain had stopped and it was suddenly very quiet.
Emma waited until everyone was asleep to get out of bed. She looked at Gilda, who was sleeping in the bed next to hers. "Gilda, just hold on a little longer. We're going to ask the ghost to stop being scary, okay?"
She exited the room without making a sound and made her way down the hallway. Ray and Norman were there. Ray had brought a lantern with him. They could control the amount of light by adjusting the top. The light made it so that their shadows went in all directions. Outside the window, the crescent moon was rising slowly.
"Emma, you didn't wake anyone up, did you?" asked Norman.
"I didn't. We're all good," she replied softly, as if she was telling someone a secret.
While Emma was so excited about looking for ghosts in the morning, she now trembled as she saw the dark hallway in front of them. "Our house is pretty scary at night!" she whimpered. "If that's the casr, then go back to bed!" Ray scowled.
"That's definitely not happening!" she replied, going back to her regular enegetic self.
"Shhh," warned Norman.
Emma immediately closed her mouth. If someone woke up during their ghost hunt, they would have to return to their beds. "Where should we start?" asked Emma.
Norman pointed down the stairs. The stairs creaked, and while they wouldn't have paid any attention to it during the day, the darkness made it uncomfortable. The lantern made their shadows look much bigger as they made their way towards the drawing.
The drawing was located in a hallway near the play room. Emma and the others reached the drawing, and Ray put down the lantern. "It became a monster!"
The drawing of the large bird now had a terrifying face and a ghostly shape. The ghost figure was headed towards the dark area of the drawing. "Are you serious?" exclaimed Ray.
Emma was slightly disappointed in how quickly they had found the ghost. "Do you think the ghost did it?" she asked, looking around to see if anyone else was there.
Norman replied in his usual calm fashion, "No, Emma. The drawing hasn't changed at all since the afternoon."
Ray, upon hearing Norman speak, was surprised, "...What?"
"Why? It's changing, isn't it?"
The two were confused, so Norman took the lantern from Ray to show them. They got closer to the painting. "This is a drawing that plays tricks on you."
When the drawing was illuminated, the drawing returned to its original form, depicting the giant bird flying into the distance. "It's true! This is Helena's drawing of the bird."
The "ghost" that they thought they had seen was merely the bird's white stomach. The spots on the bird's stomach could be interpreted as the eyes of the ghost. "Oh, it's a simulacrum right?"
"It's an optical illusion where people think they see a human face when it's just lines that are exaggerated."
Emma, who didn't understand any of these words, turned to Norman. He explained, "When you see the drawing in the light, it ooks like a bird. But when you turn off the light and see it in the darkness, the white portion becomes more prominent, and you can't see the rest of the drawing that well. That makes it look like a ghost. Abbie saw the drawing at night, so she must have seen the "ghost" portion of the drawing.
"Then after that, she was scared and didn't want to loak at the drawing again."
Emma was amazed. "This is cool! Helena is so talented to be able to draw something like this."
"Helena most likely didn't know about simulacrums. I wonder if she'll be surprised when we tell her tomorrow."
"We have to tell Abbie, too!"
With that, they now know that all of them could go through this hallway without being scared. Her sister would be able to relax, and that made Emma smile. "Did you notice it from the beginning, Norman?" asked Ray.
He tilted his head, "Hmm, when heard that the drawing changes, I thought it might have been an optical illusion of sorts."
Without making it obvious, Ray truly admired Norman's ability to solve the mystery of the drawing. He himself wouldn't have considered optical illusions as a possibility.
And so, the mystery of the changing drawing was solved.
Ray picked up the lantern from the ground. "We solved the mystery. Let's go to sleep."
"No, not yet! We haven't seen the white ghost or the ghost that played the piano!"
So, she didn't fall for the bait, thought Ray as he clicked his tongue in disappointment. Emma, still in high spirits, pulled out a thing that looked like a bow. "Ta dah~!"
This is what Emma made during their free time at the very last minute: a cross made out of paper. "Emma, did you make those tubes?"
"They're not tubes. I read about it in a book. It said that ghosts are weak against crosses. If we run into a bad ghost, we'll use this," Emma answered as she waved her cross around proudly.
Because it was made out of thick sheets of paper, one could hear the sound of the air getting cut due to the force.
"You do you," Ray replied indifferently.
"There aren't any sounds coming from the music room. Shall we look for the white ghost first? Olivia said she went down the stairs to the 1st floor," suggested Norman.
"Yeah! Let's do that!"
It was time for the three to go down the stairs and check out what Olivia had seen.
The stairs went.
All three of them had heard the sound. They stopped in their tracks and looked at each other.
Whoever was going down the stairs was descending slowly, and whoever it was was getting closer. There was someone coming from the 2nd floor. "It's the ghost!"
"We don't know that yet!"
"Let's watch the stairs carefully from this area. They won't notice us.
The three hid near the stairs. Ray turned off the lantern, and in one moment, the entire area turned black. When their eyes adjusted, they could make out the outline of the stairs due to the light coming from the moon. The three watch the stairs intensely.
Before long, they saw it. There was a white figure without a face and without legs and it was floating, just as Olivia had described. "But if it doesn't have legs, we wouldn't have heard its footsteps," Norman whispered.
The white figure continued down the stairs and didn't notice Emma and the others. It made its way towards the bathroom "Okay! Now's our chance!" Emma declared and dashed to the bathroom.
"Wa-wait up, Emma!"
The two chased after their impulsive friend.
Emma knew that there was only one entrance to the bathroom, so the ghost couldn't escape. She yelled, "Mr. Ghost! Hello!"
The ghost yelped due to the loud voice coming from behind. The ghost looked left and right, and then made a run for it and pushed past Norman and Ray. It ran down the hallway. Norman was pushed back, and Ray had fallen on the ground. Upon seeing this, Emma was angry, "Hey! Don't you dare do bad stuff to these two!"
Emma grabbed her handmade cross and declared, "Bad things, go away!"
While waving her cross, she ended up hitting something that wasn't supposed to have a body, and it made a dull sound.
"Emma, I think the correct term is 'evil spirits, be gone," chuckled Norman.
Ray sighed and fixed his pants. When he turned on the lantern again, they realized that they were in front of the bathroom.
"Do you think it worked?"
The white figure was simply the bed sheets that they had all been using. Emma pulled the sheets away to see what was under it. "Emma, it hurts."
Under the sheets was Chucky, who was rubbing his head and had tear-filled eyes. Upon seeing Chucky, Emma exclaimed "Whaaat? Why are you here, Chucky? Look at this!"
In the sheets, a large map of the world was forming. The group slowly realized that someone had wetted the sheets.
Chucky grabbed the sheets and started rolling them up. "It wasn't me! I swear, it wasn't me! It was Jimmy who wetted these sheets! The three stared at Chucky while listening to him blame his little brother.
"I'm sorry. I was lying," Chucky said.
He later revealed that he wanted to hide the sheets from everybody.
After pleading with the three to not tell anyone, Chucky returned to his room. Emma also apologized for hitting him with the cross.
"So, the white figure that Olivia saw was Chucky, who was holding bed sheets."
"He tried to hide it from everyone by mixing it in with everyone else's laundry."
Chucky wasn't concerned with the ghost rumors since he was so focused on hiding his secret. "It's a good thing we didn't tell him that Helena's drawing might have been cursed...or that his ghostly appearance was also a part of the drawing's curse"
Emma looked at everyone and they all silently agreed to not say anything about the ghosts until tomorrow.
Ray turned to Emma and said, "See? There aren't any ghosts."
"...Well, you were right about the white figure, but-"
"We still don't know about the piano playing ghost," jumped in Norman, who wanted to help Emma.
At that moment, they heard a loud sound come from the piano.
Their eyes went large. A sad melody was echoing through the house.
"It's the piano ghost!"
They rushed up to the 2nd floor and towards the music room They burst through the door. "N-no one's here," Emma stated in shock.
The lid of the piano was open and the chair was pulled out. The music sheets was the only thing that was lit. They turned on the lights, and Norman and Emma began to inspect the room There wasn't anywhere in the music room that someone could hide. They searched from behind the photograph and scanned the bookshelf that carried even more music sheets. Ray approached the piano, set his lantern on the chair, and looked at the keyboard. "Like I said, ghosts don't exist.
He continued, "We'll know the identity of the ghost tomorrow morning."
"What do you mean?" asked Emma, who was clearly confused. They haven't even seen the ghost and Ray was confident that they would know its identity tomorrow morning. Norman, standing next to Ray, looked at the keyboard himself and understood what Ray was implying. He had a slightly complicated expression on his face and said, "I see what you mean. But Ray this...
Emma tried to see what the two were talking about, but she was too short to see the piano keys. "Hey, can you explain wh..."
Her reply was cut short and was replaced with a snore. Her body had fallen slump while holding onto the piano chair.
"Oh, it looks like Emma is falling asleep."
Emma is filled with energy every morning. It's almost as if she has a "morning switch" to wake herself up. She usually never stays up this late, so it makes sense that she would collapse in exhaustion. "I knew it'd be like this," Ray growled while trying to pull the girl from the chair.
"But the ghost..."
"Emma, we need to return to our beds," Norman stated as he and Ray carried Emma to her room.
At night, a countless number of "ghosts" which looked like white fog danced around the house. Their shapes changed from people to birds in a bizarre fashion. Someone was playing the piano. It was a sad melody, but for some reason the ghosts seemed happy. Emma chased after the ghost. She ran down the stairs, past the bathroom, and into the music room. Just as she thought she had caught the ghost, it was nothing but bed sheets.
"Emma, wake up."
Emma opened her eyes. The one who was trying to wake her up was Gilda, who looked slightly tired. Emma is usually the one who wakes up Gilda, but now that the roles had reversed, she realized that she must have seriously overslept. "It's strange to see you oversleep since you're always full of energy every morning," teased Olivia.
Emma was confused. Did she not wake up last night after lights out? Maybe she just slept through the night? Was it all a dream?
She tied her shoes and made her way to the eating area. "Hey last night, we went to look for ghosts, right?" Emma asked as she pulled on Norman's shirt.
"Yeah, we went.
"Don't say it so loudly," Ray cautioned Emma.
Emma sighed in relief and continued, "Thank goodness I was beginning to think it was all a dream."
She tried to remember her last thoughts from the night before. "Oh yeah! IHow do you know what the real identity of the piano ghost is, Ray?"
He looked directly in Emma's eyes and said, "Ihat's something we're going to find out right now."
"But how? What do you mean?"
Norman chuckled and whispered in Emma's ear, "Look closely at everyone's fingers. We'll catch them before they wash their hands for breakfast.
"Their fingers?" she tilted herhead in confusion.
But she followed their directions and one-by-one looked at everyone's hands closely. "Robert, your fingers are white!"
She noticed white marks on her older brother's fingers Robert was startled and responded, "Uh, the person who did that was you, Emma!"
She had no idea what Robert was referring to. Robert moved towards the sink area to wash his hands and said, "The one who left white paint on the piano keys. It was you!"
"What? Then the person who was playing the piano at night was you all along?"
Robert was taken aback by Emma's erratic thought pattern. "Then the one who left wet paint on the piano keys wasn't you?"
"Paint on the piano keys.... Oh!" she understood everything and went back to her two friends.
Ray took out the tube of paint from his pocket. It was white. "I thought that putting wet paint on the keyboard would reveal who was playing the piano."
Not knowing what to do, Robert showed them his hands, and just as Emma had said, white paint covered his fingers.
"It was dark and I couldn't see well. I thought that the black keys were dirty, so I tried to clean them with my fingers and by then it was already too late. The paint was on my hands."
"Why were you playing the piano at night?" inquired Emma.
Hiding dirty bed sheets was one thing, but playing the piano at night wasn't necessarily a bad thing. He should play during the day without hiding from anyone. Robert looked like he was troubled and was trying to figure out the right words. "If I play during the day, everyone will gather around the piano. Then feel like I have to play happy songs..."
It's true that when Robert plays the piano, a crowd begins to gather. He would play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Do Re Mi while his younger siblings would sing along. "But to be honest, I really want to play dark, gloomy songs. I want to feel the heavy emotions that these songs were written with."
"So that's why everyone said that the ghosts were playing scary songs and were surprised."
"Robert, you're so considerate and thought about how these types of songs would scare the others." "It's because of that that the others think that there's a ghost in the house."
"But how did you disappear from the music room? Did you hide somewhere?" asked Norman.
After putting Emma in her bed last night, Norman checked all the beds to see if the children were there or not. The only person who was missing was Robert. Due to this, Norman already knew that Robert was the true identity of the piana ghost. But he didn't know how his older brother hid.
"Guess there's no helpin' it. Come with me. I'll show you."
He bent down and asked, "Do you know what a contrabass is?"
"Contrabass? You mean the big instrument?"
In the music room, there were several instruments in addition to the piano. There were violins, accordions, and more. All of them were placed in their cases and lined up against the wall. In that mix, was a contrabass case. The instrument was hard for the small children to learn, so it was locked away in its case for the most part. Robert confirmed, "Yeah, it's the really big violin. You see, there isn't anything in that case. It broke way back in the day and so it's just an empty case that sits in the room. Whenever someone enters the room at night, that's where I hide."
"I see. I didn't even notice the case," Norman was impressed with his older brother.
If they had looked closer, they would've noticed the white paint marks somewhere on the case. But they overlooked it Norman noted that he still needed to work on his observation skills.
"It's a secret, okay?" Robert said while putting his finger on his lips. He noticed the white paint, sighed, and washed his hands.
Isabella, with hands on her hips, appeared in the room. She seemed to be bothered by something all morning She furrowed her brows and asked, "The paint on the piano keys. Who did it?"
Robert instinctively pointed to the younger children. Norman didn't think they would get caught this soon and kept the straightest face possible. But Emma turned to look at Ray.
Ray had no idea what they were talking about, but Isabella had seen through them.
"Clean it up properly, will you?"
Ray snatched the cleaning cloth and had a sour look on his face as he made his way towards the music room.
"Haha..of course we would get scolded for using paint," chuckled Norman.
"Yeah. I wouldn't have thought of using paint in the first place," replied Emma, clearly moved by Ray's plan.
Norman decided not to say anything after seeing Emma's expression. Emma was always running around saying whatever she felt, but she was much more perceptive than the two boys and was flexible enough to soak up everything about her surroundings. The girl returned to her usual smile and exclaimed, "Let's help Ray clean!"
"Let's go." The three finished cleaning the paint off the piano by the start of breakfast. Emma, fully satisfied with solving all the ghost incidents, ate her breakfast happily. But before she could put a second piece of bread in her mouth, she realized she had completely forgotten something very important. "Ooh I can't-"
She started to have a coughing fit and beat her chest.
Norman, sitting across from her, was worried and asked, "Emma, are you okay?"
Ray didn't say a word and poured milk into Emma's mouth.
She stated, "I forgot something!"
She stood up from the table and continued, "The letter!!"
After eating breakfast and quickly cleaning the dishes, she called the two to come to her room. "I completely forgot that I put a letter underneath my pillow."
Emma placed her hands underneath her pillow and started looking for the letter. Ray looked from afar, thinking that they would find her letter crumpled somewhere on her bed. "It's a reply letter from the ghost!
"What?!" the two boys were dumbfounded and quickly removed the pillow from Emma's bed.
Laying there was not Emma's letter. Emma ripped open the envelope and pulled out the letter.
Thank you for sending me your letter. I am very happy that you went looking for me, but getting out of your bed and going to rooms like the bathroom and music room in the middle of the night are not good. You need to sleep properly at night, okay?
The House Ghost"
The letter had messy letters, as though they were written by kind boy. Norman re-read the letter and placed his hand under his chin. "How did they know where we were even though we were the only ones in those areas..."
He thought it might have been Chucky, but after thinking more, it wouldn't have made sense. Chucky didn't know that Emma had placed a letter under her pillow. And when they went to the music room, Chucky was already back in bed. And Robert wouldn't have known that they were in the bathroom. Norman didn't have an answer and was baffled, "How did it know what we did last night?"
In response to the question, Emma answered, "Because it's a ghost!"
"It's amazing how we got a letter from a ghost!" she exclaimed as she hugged the letter.
Ray didn't have anything to say.
"Ray?" Norman called out, "What's wrong?"
Ray lowered his eyes and his bangs made it so that no one could see his facial expression. "It's nothing."
"It's like I said. There's a ghost in the house!"
The other ghost stories were misdirects. Somewhere deep in her heart, Emma was excited. If the ghost hadn't told them to sleep properly, she would've told the ghost that they would find it next time.
The bell for their testing session interrupted her thoughts.
"Oh no! The tests are starting soon!"
Emma took the letter with her, and the two boys followed her down the stairs.
"Emma, Ray, Norman, the tests are about the start, you know," said Isabella, standing in front of the test room.
"We're sorry!" Emma apologized as she squeezed Isabella's hand and pulled her towards the room. "Hey, Mama. We got a etter from a ghost! I'll show it to you later!"
"Is that so? How amazing," she laughed.
"It's like you said, Mama. The ghost in this house is watching over us!"
"Hehe, it truly is. Now, hurry to your seat and let's get started."
The three rushed to their seats and put on their headphones. Emma was still beaming because of the letter.
(I have to let Gilda know that she doesn't have to be scared anymore!)
It looked like it was about the rain the day before, but now it was sunny. In the garden, their white clothing was hanging, and there was only one pair of bed sheets out on the line. Robert began his usual piano concert for the children. He played classical music this time. If one were to hear these songs during the night, it might be scary. But listening to them during the day at the concert made them so lovely, one could fall asleep peacefully.
Helena was so happy upon hearing the trio's findings about the drawing.
For a while, she became obsessed with drawing optical illusions. She surprised her siblings with her art. Her biggest fan was Abbie, the one who was originally scared of the monster she had seen in the drawing After that, Emma wrote a number of letters to the ghost. but she never received a reply.
In the end, they weren't able to solve the mystery of letter writing ghost.
"And after that? What happened to the ghost?"
Yvette's commotion disrupted Norman from his train of thoughts. "We tried looking for it and never found it." Norman looked at Yvette, who was around the same age they were when they went looking for ghosts, and chuckled. Thinking about it now, it's clear that the true identity of the ghost was Isabella. Isabella knew that Emma was writing a letter to a ghost, and she most likely used her tracking device to see where the three were moving. That's why she was able to pinpoint exactly where they had gone that night. She even went as far as changing her handwriting to make it seem like a friendly ghost and knew that we wouldn't have been able to figure out the truth.
(Looking over us, huh)
He thought of Isabella's smiling face.
At that time, none of them could have ever imagined the future they were headed towards now. Yvette noticed Norman's gloomy face and suggested, "So...let's go look for the ghost. All of us. I'll help you find it this time!"
He looked at Yvette and returned to a smile, "Thank you."
She smiled back and started drawing again. Norman watched her as she drew. We should have looked for the ghost one more time, with everybody, he thought.
It was a memory from so long ago, but he remembers vividly: the house's chilling air, their body temperatures when they huddled together to see the white figure, the smell of the lantern.
The trio's hearts were beating with excitement, as though they had through a trial to become adults just by looking for ghosts.
"I...want to try meeting these ghosts!"
Emma was fearless after that night. She was willing to do anything for her family. It's the same now with the escape plan Ray, Emma, and himself didn't decide to do any of this out of free will.
She's stronger than anyone, nicer than anyone. When they saw what had happened in the truck, Emma, who rarely shows her tears to anyone, cried in front of Norman.
It was such a terrifying sight that overwhelmed them both Emma wasn't crying because of the fear of dying herself.
She cried because she had lost her beloved Conny and fear that she might continue lose her family.
As Norman was admiring his friend, he laughed at himself. He truly thought that he, Emma, and Ray were going to escape by themselves. It didn't even cross his mind to escape with his siblings, some of whom were only a year old.
I want to become like her.
Norman wished for this from a very, very long time ago.
The Day Emma Cried
Norman, Emma, Ray in Birds Cages
A Gift from the 39th Girl
- The cover of the novel is one of the many fisheye illustrations done by Posuka Demizu. Other fisheye illustrations done by the latter include:
- All the events that took place after the prologue are prior to the main story, before the Introduction Arc.
- The story is written in Norman's perspective.
- Norman writing his letter to Emma could be seen in a flashback scene in Chapter 34 of the manga, as he used a piece of drawing paper from Yvette to write.
- Norman's shipping date from Grace Field House is on 3 November 2045. Which all happened in Chapter 30 of the manga.
- There were at least 4 known orphans who were older than Emma, Norman and Ray: Olivia, Michelle, Marcus, and Robert.
- Ray is not a superstitious person unlike most of the other orphans in Grace Field, as he do not believe in the existence of ghosts.Citation needed
- Ray revealed how all the books he had read are fantasy books, thus implying how fantasy is his favorite genre of books.
- Below are fan-translations of the authors' comments, please scroll down to "See Also" for more information.
- Nanao, author of the novel.
- The names of the new characters, chapter titles, the novelist's name, and the overall story are fan-translations, hence they are not entirely accurate, and so are the page numbers. Kudos to Reddit users USAghoul and Mordred14394 for translating parts of the novel's content.
- ↑ @Yakuneba_staff on Twitter sequel novel announcement.
- ↑ The novel's blurb in the back cover
- ↑ A Letter from Norman: Prologue, page 8
- ↑ A Letter from Norman: Chapter 1, page 23