“Then could you sign this contract?”
I took a contract and written oath out of my bag, lining then on the table. When I handed a pen over, Jessica took it without the slightest doubt, writing her name on the line without particularly reading the contents.
My head thudded in my chest as I watched over it. I mean, the contract clearly stated, even if she died, not the slightest bit of responsibility would fall upon the employer, meaning me. If she read something like that, it wouldn’t be strange for a girl in her teens to feel dread.
But without the slightest sign of that, she finally signed, and the contract was complete.
“Thank you,” I put the form away in my bag. “Then shall we move onto the specifics?”
“First, what I want you to do is find the defendant’s house.”
“It’s somewhere in the forest?”
“I don’t know the specifics, I immediately replied. “ But it’s next to a river, apparently.”
Jessica tilted her head and asked. “But aren’t there plenty of rivers?”
“That isn’t so,” I denied. “The only river flowing through the Dark Forest is the Flaste River. It doesn’t branch at all, so if you proceed from upstream down, you should be able to find it.”
“Where’s up stream?”
I folded out the map. It contained the Dark Forest, and its surrounding countries.
“The Commonwealth of Sadom is to the Dark Forest’s north. The Flaste River flows from there. It just proceeds in a straight line south.”
Okay, okay, Jessica took her notes. “Teacher, I have a question!”
“What should I do when I find the house?”
“Good question.” Without any particular retorts, I chose to go with the flow. She had a bit of a befuddled personality, but once you got used to it, it was a little fun.
“After you find it, what I want you to do is to contact me.”
“But the Dark Forest is no-man’s land, right?” Jessica scrunched her brow, thinking as she spoke. “Do they get any cellphone reception there?”
“You’re quite sharp,” I felt a little impressed. “Of course, there’s no reception in the Dark Forest. No matter how hard you search, it’s outside range. You can’t use a cell phone.”
… And so, I made a preface, as I took out the other item I had prepared beforehand, and placed it on the table.
“Use this satellite phone. If it’s this, you’ll be able to connect no matter where you are on the planet.”
… Also, it’s a rental, so don’t carry it home, I emphasized.
Satellite phones are expensive. I don’t want to pay reparations.
“An airship, a satellite phone, it’s a little exciting, isn’t it.”
As she looked to be in strangely high spirits over a phone, I handed over a digital and analogue film camera as well.
“Huh? Why are there two cameras?”
“As a precaution,” I replied at once. “You can’t use a digital camera if the battery runs out, and there are some places film cameras can’t capture.”
“Film becomes useless when hit with x-ray radiation. Apparently they’re out there, monsters that emit x-rays. And when they x-ray it in the airport, put the camera in a separate bin.”
Jessica muttered, “I see, this is a learning experience,” as she wrote down everything I had said.
Perhaps she really was a good girl.
“So, about after you find the defendant’s house, first I’d like you to photograph its inside and outside.”
“Won’t that be illegal breaking and entering?”
“It won’t,” I said distinctly. “You can only be charged with illegal breaking and entry because the country has such a law. There are no laws in no-man’s land. So no matter what you do, you won’t be charged.”
“I see. So no-man’s land isn’t a foreign country in the first place.”
“That’s how it is,” my conscience hurt a bit as I wondered just what sorts of bad things I was teaching this child.
“When you take it, make sure to use both the digital and film cameras.”
Jessica gave an energetic reply.
“So after you take the pictures, I want you to make off with whatever’s in the house.”
“Sure, but what if there are a lot of things?
“I’ll leave it to your selection. If possible, I want something related to her birth. Especially the defendant’s father and grandfather. Please search to see if there’s any information about them.”
“Alright, got it.”
Maybe it was around time her head was about to pop. She scratched her green hair.
“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “Based on the evidence you find there, the defendant’s life to come will change.
Jessica blinked her round eyes. “Her life?
“That’s right. It’s a huge responsibility. You’re the only one I can count on. Think you can do it?”
“Yes! Without any signs of deep thought, Jessica answered. “I’ll do it! Leave it to me!”
She likely made that statement without thinking over anything. But since the moment I got roped into this case, it was the first time I ever felt relieved.
… For now, I’ve found someone who’ll be my ally.
… Really, I felt sorry for doing something like deceiving such a good girl.