I had often heard rapping sounds inside my room and I thought it had something to do with the weak foundation on which the building stood.
But that day some sounds were coming from a poster in my room and that was unusual.
Before long I heard someone's footsteps going up the stairs outside and I thought my big brother was home.
But the footsteps went on and on and they wouldn't stop.
That was odd and within less than three minutes I was popping my head out of the door to see what was going on.
I found a woman standing on the stairs, looking confused.
"Er, is___(my brother's name) home?"
I assumed, by the look of it, that she was my brother's girlfriend.
So without thinking very much I replied, "Not yet."
"Oh, I see...."
Looking quite disappointed, the woman walked back down the stairs.
My brother is going out with some weird girl again! I thought and went back into the room. But then I realised something.
My brother was on a business trip and he wasn't coming home until two weeks later.
If the woman was really his girlfriend she should have known that.
And why didn't I remember about his business trip until now?
"Can I please wait for him here until he comes back?"
I heard a voice from behind, and before I knew it was already morning.
After I woke up I was wondering if all of that had been a dream when I got a call from my brother on my mobile.
In the call he said his best friend had passed away and asked me if I could attend the funeral on his behalf.
(When I think about it now that was an odd request.)
I couldn't say no, and went to the address he gave me.
Usually when a house is holding a funeral they put up some temporary direction boards around the house and you will see those as you draw near to the house. But I saw nothing of the kind and thought that was odd.
When I arrived at the house there was no reception either. I thought my brother must have got the address wrong. But just as I took out my mobile a woman came out of the house and greeted me.
"Oh, aren't you ___(my brother's name)?"
"Ah, no, I'm his younger brother."
When I answered, she said, "Of course, ___(my brother's name) isn't a student anymore, is he?" She chuckled to herself and invited me in.
I was then told the house was indeed where my brother's best friend used to live, but it had already been five years since he had passed away, and my brother had attended the funeral too.
I pressed my palms together in prayer at the little altar* inside which was his portrait; I didn't recognise the guy.
As I continued chatting with the lady I was thinking I must call my brother and get some explanation for this. But just then I got a call from my mother.
She told me that my brother had been in an accident in the place where he went for the business trip.
Without so much as saying goodbye to the lady, I dashed out of the house and rushed to the train station where my mother said she would be waiting for me, and together we travelled to the place where my brother was.
We managed to arrive sooner than we thought, but my brother had already gone into a coma. His rescue was delayed due to him having been trapped inside a car.
The doctor said we had to brace ourselves for the inevitable.
As I sat on the bench in the corridor with my mother trying my best to comfort her, my ears caught some irregular sounds of footsteps.
It was still early in the day and it was nothing unusual to hear many footsteps in the building but that particular set of footsteps which had caught my attention was not like usual footsteps.
Then it dawned on me that I had heard those footsteps before - on the staircases outside my flat.
In front of me appeared the woman I encountered at my flat.
"Not yet? Not yet? Not yet?"
I heard her mutter over and over again, and I knew in an instant that she was the one who brought it all about.
I glared at her and said "Go away!" in my heart.
In a flash she stopped muttering and her eyes swiveled round to look at me.
Her face didn't move an inch, yet only her eyes swiveled round like lightning.
Now I became aware that I was dealing with something terrible and felt chills down my spine.
I didn't know what on earth I could do and for a while me and the woman just kept glaring at each other.
Then suddenly there came another set of footsteps and for one second I looked towards the direction where the footsteps were coming from; and when I turned my eyes back the woman was gone.
I was thinking 'what's happened?' when a man, about the same age as my brother, appeared in front of me.
"Hey, you tell him not to make me worry too much, alright?"
He said, and making a fist he gently poked at my head a few times. And then he disappeared.
The man's face was the same as the one I saw in the picture at my brother's best friend's house.
My brother eventually woke up from a coma.
Later I asked him about the call but he said he never gave me one.
I looked at the call log and discovered that his name wasn't on it.
When I told him all the strange things that had happened to me, my brother cried.
*little altar - Here I am referring to a butsudan (仏壇, literally "Buddha altar"), a shrine commonly found in Japanese homes. A butsudan is a wooden cabinet with doors that enclose and protect a religious icon, typically a statue or painting of a Buddha or a mandala scroll. Some people place ihai (memorial tablets for the deceased ) and ihei (portraits of the deceased) within the butsudan.( wikipedia) On the left is a picture of a butsudan.