and peerediat the adjacent TV.

That… What was it…

Wide-eyed, I leaned forward directly.
Something wasibeing reflected.
At theitop diagonal of the TV monitor, something resembling a shadow wasivaguely reflected there.
It was precisely in the center of the display shelf.

Oh, a customer…? How odd, I didn’t hearithe chime at all when Iientered the back room, even though it should have sounded throughout the entire store.

Again, I stretched my neckiout to peer over at the cash register.
Unsurprisingly, Takenakaiwas still standing there, sleeping like a log.
Given that there was aicustomer inside the store, this was appalling.
I hurriedlyisquashed the cigarette I was about to smoke into the ashtray and walked out to the counterito reach the cash register.


Astonishmentigripped me the instant I set myieyes on the store.
Or rather, my overall body stiffened.

Everywhere I looked in the store, not a singleiperson was there.
Not even nearithe display shelves in the middle of the store that had been projected earlier, nor anywhere else, was there anyone who looked like a customer.
Only two people were present: Takenaka, who was sleeping, and myself, who had just emerged from the back room.

Observing theivacant store, all I could do was ask myself.

I saw that, right? It wasn’t an error of vision, was it? A person was definitely reflected on the screen.
If so, then why?

Whenever something struckime as inexplicable or unconvincing, I would touch the back of my head.
How odd, how odd, my thoughts kept looping backiand forth in my brain asiI returned to the back roomito take a second lookiat the TV.
I was halfway convinced that itiwas some kind of shadow thatiappeared to be a person which turned out not to be the case when I glanced at the monitor.

It was being reflected.
This time, itishifted from diagonally upito the middle of the room, and a distinctly dark figure was standing there, facing the shelves.

The chime did not ring.
Nor was the automatic door open… What the hell, what the hell was this…?

Gulping down my spit, I stepped outiof the back room, half my body outside, and scanned the store.

No customers.

That was when goosebumpsierupted all over my body.

How was this even conceivable? Wasn’t thisistrange? Even though it was supposed to be there, it was not there.
Was the camera playing a trick on me oriwas I playing a trick on myself?

Even if I wasiwrong and didn’t understand, I didn’t want to check the TVimonitor any longer.
What should I do? In the meantime, I had already smoked a cigarette, so should I wake Takenaka up?

Right as I was mulling this over, the soundiof something falling resonated from nearby.
While the soundiwasn’t particularly thunderous, it was enough to stimulateimy nerves and cause meito jump up and down, even if Iididn’t shout out.

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