Opening Statements (5)

If there was a single sound I could here, I’m sure it was the boisterous roar of the sea.

The display in the center of the court showed nothing but a sandstorm, however, once Prosecutor Schaefer inserted the second disc, the scene switched at once.

Unlike the previous footage, this time’s seemed to be in some sort of room. But even if you were to call it that, the room was exceedingly narrow, such that ten people would be enough to fill it to the brim.

The room’s interior was neat and tidy, with nothing that stood out between the floor, ceiling and walls.

In that room without a single window, there was a door in the center, and beside it was a small, flickering number alongside a line of buttons.

Seeing that, I understood at once. This was…

“This security camera caught footage of the hotel elevator.”

As if to take over my mind’s voice, Prosecutor Schaefer distinct timbre resounded through the courtroom.

She continued on.

“At present, the elevator is stopped on the second floor. The display should confirm that.”

Sure enough, the elevator’s interior had a blinking digital number, and it was currently displaying a two.

But it immediately began to move. The elevator swayed with a bump, and the number changed to one.

“The elevator has moved,” said the prosecutor. “It is here that the defendant boarded the elevator.”

The door opened. From the dim hallway, a hooded figure entered the elevator.

As the black long coat covered their body down to their feet, an outsider wouldn’t be able to determine their figure, let alone their gender.

… To think there was a sword concealed in that coat.

As I predicted, Claudia pushed the elevator’s button. She pushed the ‘close’ button first, before pressing the one for the top floor.

… She was a surprisingly methodical one.

To this point, I’d been seeing her as a monster of unknown origin, but just seeing that action alone made me think the girl in the video really was a normal human.

The elevator started moving again. The number displaying the current floor shifted to 2, 3, 4, 5… once it hit 12, the lift stopped with a terrible sway, and the doors opened up.

After Claudia got out of the elevator, for some reason, she stopped at the side of the door.

… What was she doing there? Wait, could it be she’s worrying over how she’s supposed to close the door?

My intuition hit the mark. Claudia hit the elevator button from outside. And because of that, the door that was just about to close opened up again, and for some reason, the culprit who had just pushed the button herself stepped back in surprise.

I heard some laughter from the gallery. But despite all that, I didn’t quite feel like agreeing with them.

These laughs were ridicule. Seeing a human lower than them, they were laughing only to make a fool of her.

Maybe it really is a good thing your were blindfolded, my fair lady.

The Claudia in the projection had the hood pulled down deep, so I couldn’t quite see her expression, but I’m sure she was distraught.

After fidgeting right outside the elevator a bit, the door eventually closed automatically, and it returned to an empty scenery.

The empty elevator was dull and uninteresting. There weren’t any notable changes, but after a while, the elevator began moving again.

This time, the numbers went from 12 to 11, 10, 9, they kept going down, coming to a stop at 2.

“The victim boards the elevator.”

Just as Prosecutor Schaefer said, from outside the door came the victim in his guard uniform, Hal Anderson.

With no idea he was going to be killed, he pushed the elevator button in a business-like manner. Without going out of his way to press ‘close’, his gestures indicated he didn’t have any interest in anything besides his destination.

… I guess that was natural. A normal person would know how to ride an elevator.

Then why did Claudia make such an elementary mistake?
Did she just spend her life in the countryside, or some backwards region where civilization hadn’t developed…
Whatever the case, there was no way of knowing at the present moment.

Even as I thought over questions without answers, the footage played on. Whether it was the elevator or the camera that was shaking wasn’t certain, but the quaking screen soon stabilized, and the door opened.

The guard went out to the rooftop viewing platform with composed gait. I doubt he’d push the button outside, even by accident.

After Hal Anderson left, a few tense of seconds passed before the door automatically closed.

There, Prosecutor Schaefer paused the image to switch the second disk for the third.

“Hold it. Is that the end of what was caught on film?”

She took a glance at me. Ignoring my question, she inserted the third CD.

“Both disks show the elevator on the night of the 11th. For documentation purposes, the cameras are set to switch over at midnight.”

The prosecutor spoke quickly as she stood, but I couldn’t quite get what she was trying to say. It seems the judge was the same. After letting out a sigh, Prosecutor Schaefer revised her statement.

“What I’m trying to say, is that the second CD only holds a recording of the 11th from 0:00 to 23:59, while 0:00 to 23:59 of the following day are preserved on this this third disk here.”

“Meaning…” I took over her explanation. “After the guard went outside on the second CD, there was nothing of note recorded?”
“Oh, you’re surprisingly insightful, Mr. Lawyer.”

Ekh, this woman. She really does rub in that extra word.
Her nature to never forget to abuse her opponents in her speech had always been in place, and in the mock trials, I was always at the receiving end of her sarcasm.

Calm down boy. The only ones who get emotional are the amateurs. Deal with it calmly at all times.

“As the defense has stated, after the guard left the elevator on the second disk, nothing happened up to 23:59. But more importantly, the following footage was taken on the third CD. The footage recorded in the hotel is automatically set to record to a different medium alongside the change of the date. This is a measure on the security side implemented to avoid human error.”

“Hmm, I see, so that’s how it is.”

Stroking his white mustache with a finger, the judge let out a somber voice. Perhaps it was the case he didn’t fully get it yet.

I’m nervous. About him as well.

“Well then, please take a look at the third video. But even if I say that, there’s not much left to see.”

It was an intriguing phrasing, but I chose not to object. I’d rather not say something unnecessary to be hit with her toxicity again.

To prove the prosecution’s words as true, the digital clock at the image’s edge started the count from 0:00.

For a while, there wasn’t any real movement within the footage. The prosecutor hit fast forward on the remote, and the digital clock began turning at an alarming pace. Eventually, when 0:28 was displayed, the elevator’s door opened once more.

Before it was a figure wearing the same black coat as before, entering the elevator with composed steps.

… Even so, it really was black. Because blood would stand out on a white coat, did they purposely choose black?

After the black coated figure pushed a button, the door eventually closed, and the elevator began moving.

Arriving on the first floor, the elevator door opened, and the figure in the black hood swiftly slipped into the hall.

“This is where the footage ends. Thus is the criminal course that led to the defendant’s murder of the victim.”

That was long. In truth, not much time had actually gone by, but because the pressure was so great, it felt as if I had been compelled into penance for several days, weeks even.

But it didn’t seem the prosecution intended to end its opening statement yet.

“Next I shall explain how the body made its appearance in the park. Using this fourth footage.”

Did this woman intend to settle guilt in the opening statement alone?

I relifted my hips that were about to fall into my chair, and prepared for what was coming.

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