He walked into the forest at the crack of dawn as the early morning light crested over Mount Fuji. He was going to score big today, he just knew it. September had the highest yield of any month; he’d definitely find a few mobile phones and iPods, hopefully some expensive jewellery and maybe he could steal an abandoned car. His hands started to twitch at the thought of treasure lying a few steps away, ripe for the taking.
Before he took off down the path, he gave a quick look to his left and right. The last thing he needed was a police patrol coming his way. They might think he wanted to kill himself.
‘No Keiji-san, I’ve just come to loot the bodies …’ Yeah, that would go down well.
With this in mind, he crept down the path and passed a bunch of wooden signs along the way.
YOUR LIFE IS A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM YOUR PARENTS
caught his eye as he passed a sign and he shook his head at how feeble these words were. A precious gift from your parents. ‘No. Your life is your own,’ he thought. Not that he particularly cared, he was here for one thing and one thing only. Money.
He had walked for about an hour before he decided it was time to venture off the path. When he thought he had found a good spot, he opened up his satchel bag and took out a roll of neon pink tape. He wrapped it around the nearest tree multiple times, to make sure it was secure. With a final tug, he set off from the path and meandered his way across roots and lava rock. The forest was silent. All that could be heard was the crunching of twigs underneath his booted soles. He nearly fell a couple of times and cursed out loud, kicking loose rocks and roots that threatened to topple him. He carried on like this for some time, unwinding the pink tape behind him, before he saw something through the trees that caught his eye. A yellow tent. He hurried over towards it but as he got nearer, he crouched down and watched for any movement. The last thing he needed was for someone to actually be in the fucking tent.
He crawled through the trees, around the tent until he came to the entrance. It was empty. He got up and went to investigate. He found old men’s clothes, papers and a book. He picked up the book and turned it over. Kuroi Jukai by Seichō Matsumoto.
‘Of course, it fucking is,’ he whispered as he tossed the book to the ground. If there was one thing he was definitely going to find on his little raids, it was always Kuroi Jukai and Kanzen Jisatsu Manyuaru by Wataru Tsurumi.
‘If these guys knew how literally people took their words about this place, would they regret writing their books?’ he wondered, before he concluded, ‘Probably not. They’ve made a shit ton of money.’
He left the tent and, to his right, he saw a yellow line of fresh tape leading further into the forest. Maybe the tent guy was up ahead? He decided to follow it. He left the pink tape, which had practically run out, for the yellow one, ducking under branches until he came to a stop. Hanging from a tree in front of him was a body. He could see a glint of metal on its wrist. He hurried over and saw it was a watch. It wasn’t anything fancy but it would get a few thousand yen if he flipped it to the right person. He went to reach for it, but he stopped as he realised the wrist was still warm.
The Looter took a step back and looked at the body in front of him. Usually, he didn’t care. They were just corpses, rotten and deformed, no longer human. But this one had been alive not too long ago. Something on the ground caught his eye, and he noticed a brown, leather wallet. He opened it. Inside was a few hundred yen and an I.D.
According to the I.D. the kid was sixteen years old. Sixteen years old! What could a sixteen-year-old possibly have to worry about that they needed to hang themselves in a place like this? Itsuki was spelt with the kanji 一喜 meaning ‘One and Only Happiness’. How insulting. He placed the wallet back on the ground and looked at the body once more.
‘Well, Itsuki-kun, you’re one with this Sea of Trees now. You probably won’t be found and your body will swing here as it rots. Is this what you wanted?’
He shook his head as he watched the body sway. His eyes darted towards the watch and the wallet, but he thought to himself, ‘Not this time.’
The Looter looked around the forest once more before he set off back the way he came. This place was giving him the fucking creeps.