I summed up the impression I got after a brief look around.
The dismembered dead bodies of a runaway boy and girl with a promising future ahead of them were supposed to be the proof of my success.
All that lay there was an unconscious murderer.
“But to call himself a murderer and not kill me? Did we develop a bond that crossed friendship or something?”
Crossed beneath, mind you. The murderer’s flashlight lit the depths of the thicket. While the willow trees swayed in the wind, they didn’t give way to any ghosts.
“Looks like the Ikedas got away…”
All that remained were for me and him to be tied up. If the world were its own protagonist, that would be an unparalleled happy ending.
I removed the murderer’s black hood. Most prominent in the student council newsletters, the captain of Kaneko’s club spilled froth, snot, and tears in his fainted state. I put on airs but hadn’t killed him.
“A bit excessive for self-defense.”
No matter how you looked at it, I was on the offense, not the defense this time.
“But you didn’t get a souvenir for me, you’ve only got yourself to blame for this one,
Mii-kun.” I spoke to the unconscious Sugawara Michizane. He must have been quite the popular one on the trip.
In the end, he never once showed any interest towards that petname.
“I guess you’ve forgotten too. About You, Mayu and me.”
I could understand if he forgot meeting me in the past, but he could at least remember the faces of the student in his own grade. After that, at the very least, if he only recalled Mayu… I wonder what would have happened.
A murderer searching for kindred spirits. Mayu wasn’t kindred to a murderer, she was one and the same. It would be more accurate to label her as a fraction of a plural form.
Not what Sugawara was looking for.
Then what would happen? … Perhaps nothing at all. They would pass each other by and end up here regardless.
“The relations between man and woman are difficult indeed.”
That was the most a high school boy who had bluffed and misrepresented his way into living with a girl could imagine. But I had to praise myself, that complete nonsense story I had indoctrinated the Ikeda siblings with had quite the polish.
To say they were blindfolded and leave the place they were confined a mystery. The seams would come out if any specific place was identified. I made the culprit—me—into a bisexual pedophile. When I took them out to play with them, we had a run in with that heart-throb of a murderer, and as I was exchanging blows with him the two of them ran with perfect coordination. Yep, it’s perfect
The two of them looked on quite dubiously as I read my maiden work aloud. While they nodded their heads at my nest of lies, I was worried they might pay too much respect to the original. If they bastardized my work before it got to the press, I would feel a tad empty as a writer.
“It’s fine, they’re obedient, good kids… I guess not.”
The way things were going, Mayu was set for the slammer. The plan was full of holes.
“… I should put in a call already.”
My reluctance was no lie. I was about to take out my phone when I recalled the pen-shaped self-defense item in my hand.
“It’s surprisingly useful.”
I rolled the stun gun around my hand as I paid it my thanks. I had thankfully amassed the right conditions on my first day.
“But this really is a failure.”
I planned to have the police indict and arrest Sugawara after he’d killed the kids.
It would create a possible misapprehension that the runaway siblings were wrapped up in something violent, it would both seal their lips and clear the suspicions surrounding Mayu and myself.
When I told them I’d definitely save them so they had to act as decoys, I do think there was something quite wrong with them for readily accepting, but there was definitely something wrong with me for actually saving them. My body moved on its own the instant I saw Sugawara standing over them. I grabbed the nearest weapon I could find and charged.
My creed was supposed to be intellectual, cool and lazy. I only managed to fit with the last one. This was a failure unbecoming of me.
“… It’s got to be that, my blood boiled when I saw my rival right before my eyes… yeah, let’s make it something like that.”
I tacked on a cheap reason. I’m pretty weak against human dramas and tearjerkers, aren’t I. Though that’s a lie. In the first place, the plan failed the moment I let those kids take a bath.
“… It’s my handiwork, no doubt about it.”
And that had never gone well before.
“Yes, enough of the pity party.”
I tossed the stun gun in the same direction as the knife. I pulled my phone out of my hoodie pocket, selected the newest entry and pressed the call button. The dial tone rang around fifteen seconds.
“… Oh, yes, hello… Don’t go to sleep, Geronimo, it’s time for work. Confess? Alright, when I hid some sweets in the closet, they went rotten and attracted ants… yes, I had a coincidental run-in with the murderer. Yes. Pure. Coincidence. Please come and nab him already. We’re at the shrine by the community center. Eh? Her? Why night’s the time to sleep, isn’t it? Yes, I’m counting on you.”
I didn’t have enough charge on the phone for this, I complained as I cut the call.
I gazed at the call time and fee on the screen as I drew a picture of the individual I’d just hung up on in my head.
“I remember you, Natsuki-san.”
And the fact I called her Onee-chan when we first met.
“I wonder if she remembers me.”
Whether she did or didn’t, if I asked she’d tell me, ‘I haven’t forgotten for a single day. And wait, you’re the one who forgot, Mii-san, I was impatiently waiting for you to remember’. I could definitely see her saying it.
Eight years ago, the police woman who appeared and released us from our imprisonment, that had to be her.
“Now then, I should withdraw.”
I proclaimed to myself, stood, and took my gallant leave. Everything was going swimmingly.
Or it would have, but I couldn’t stand. Oh, but standing was the least of my worries, I realized as I clumsily collapsed. I was smacked down all buddy-buddy next to Sugawara.
“Now what’s this? Am I getting a growth spurt… oww, wait, it’s suddenly hurting…”
The heat was coming back to the open holes in my body. As a side effect, the sense of pain I’d momentarily lost was revived. I could feel blood dripping all over my body.
It happed the moment I tried to leave. Did someone cast white magic on these lands?
“Ah… that sounds nice. So I’m being influenced by the bond with someone’s heart, secreting narcotics into my brain.”
Hooray for endorphins. They’ll lift you up soon enough, just hold on a bit longer.
I did a bit of trial and error. Could I move with only my right arm and left leg? I imitated a zombie that had broken free of the graveyard as I crawled along the gravel.
“Hm, mnn, tyah… kuh, not enough guts.”
My left arm wouldn’t bend. My upper body was convulsing. A red fountain was being constructed on my right leg, and we were on the verge of opening a public park with it as the centerpiece. That alone was enough to restrict the human body. To send people flying, disappear, and create body doubles was a dream within a dream.
I had arbitrarily convinced myself anything apart from the head and torso wasn’t fatal, but I guess having two large holes opened up was pretty dangerous. Perhaps it was that, he had cut open an artery. An amount of blood as unbelievable as a fisherman fishing up buried treasure stole away my body heat. It was too cold. I could no longer grit my teeth.
“I need to stop the bleeding…”
The method to stop bleeding I learned in health class was the first memory to leave me with the blood. I didn’t have the willpower to do it even if I did remember.
“Crap… I must say I was certainly a little thoughtless. Should I request an ambulance?”
But what would I say to my aunt and uncle in that case? Their opinion of me was already at rock bottom from that whole jumping off a building stunt. I’d be beheaded by my aunt at this rate. Was their excessive care of me due to the word that began with the alphabet character that resembled the number 1? If that really was the case, instead of being happy, I’d have to demand to know why. I’d also like to clean out my ears and hear the reason they took me in to begin with.
So I could still yawn at a time like this.
Would I die if I slept? It was supposed to be night, but the edges of my vision were white. That whiteness gradually took on the shape of a naked angel plowing a field of dandelions. If I shouted at this crude affront to all agriculture to “Shove dandelion cotton in your ears and go home”, it probably really would be the end of my life, but unfortunately, that isn’t what I saw. At most, a person with no legs.
Hadn’t I seen this somewhere before? When I grew sleepy from that fatal injury. The wound from back then still remained on my head. There was a time I stopped tending to my hair and grew it out to hide it. But when summer came along, it just became irritating and I lopped it all off. Who do I even have to hide it from, I next convinced myself. The feeling I got that moment was more refreshing than a bath in spring water… huh?
Wait a second, isn’t this my life flashing before my eyes?
“This is bad, this is bad.”
If you say it three times, it gets worse? Should I take that old saying at face value… I got the urge to test it out.
The madman rooted in my asserted it so, and I accepted two of his responses. I decided to sleep.
I slept on family, on Mayu, on Sugawara, on the Doctor, on Natsuki-san, on those kids, on school, on exams, on happiness, on being Mii-kun.
I left it all on the wayside and slept on my own.
Not longing for either life or death.
Good night, good night.
I was an idiot. I must have been dreaming, to think anyone could live so earnestly.
At the end, I had submerged those young children in lies for one last show of trickery.
It was only on a later date that I learned they hadn’t kept their promise.