A Simple Survey:Volume1 File06
File 06: 385D
I was led here by a number I was cursed with.
“…I don’t quite understand what you are trying to say.”
“I don’t entirely understand what has happened to me either.”
I was in a small non-chain café a bit away from the station. I was speaking with the woman who was the only other customer.
I did not know what it meant, but I knew it had some meaning. It had always been the same. This was yet another checkpoint in a chain of events.
“385D. That number has been around me for a long time now. The very first time, I received a piece of junk mail with that number on it. When I searched the block at column 38 and row 5D on the map, I found a plastic plate. When I left my things with the hotel cloak room, I was #385. The D came from the word ‘deposit’. That indicated my things were to be treated as more valuable than normal luggage.”
After that, 385D was constantly following me around. When I found a time bomb and had no idea what to do, I randomly entered 385D and the timer stopped. I had once used a laser at an angle of incidence of 38.5 degrees for a data transmission. The D referred to the wavelength of the light used in the transmission. It stood for “deep blue”.
“So while you were chasing after 385D or being chased by 385D, you made your way to this café?”
“You don’t believe me. Well, look at this table’s production number,” I said as I pointed at the small sticker on the side of the table.
I did not need to speak it out loud.
“It says 3-85-D.”
“That’s 385D. That number is everywhere.”
I had hesitated over whether I should sit across from her, but the café’s owner had glared at me suspiciously while I remained awkwardly standing. I quickly sat down due to the pressure of his gaze. The woman did not seem to particularly mind that I sat across from her.
“Tell me. What do you have? From everything that has happened to me so far, I must assume that you have something related to the full picture of 385D. It might just be a small piece. I want you to tell me what that is. What am I to do next?’
“Why do you think I have something like that?”
“I met you while following 385D.”
“What if I told you I didn’t know anything about it?” she said smoothly.
Her voice gave me a feeling that she would act the same even while viewing the end of the world.
“Then I would give up here. But I doubt it will come to that. I’ve managed to come this far. Whether I want it to or not, 385D always gives me the answer. I could probably make it through a university entrance exam or the lock on the entrance of the White House using 385D. That is how my life has worked ever since that day.”
The look in the woman’s eyes changed ever so slightly.
She sipped at a coffee I did not know the name of and said, “I see. This is very interesting, but how did you get to the address of this café? Its address is quite different from 385D.”
“That was a tricky one. I started with 385 and D. If you want to use D as a number, you must switch over to base 16. That also means you cannot think of 385 directly as 385. If you convert the base 16 number 385D into base 10…”
The woman’s expression did not change as I gave my rapid explanation. She had said it was interesting, but she did not look particularly interested. Well, whatever. I explained the process of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
“…And after all that 385D is transformed into 12-9-41 which just so happens to point to this café’s address. And the sole customer in the café was you, sitting at a table with the production number 3-85-D.”
“I see. It does indeed seem you have gotten wrapped up in something quite strange. But it seems to me that initial junk mail might have had some ill intentions behind it.”
“So what is the next 385D you have for me? Do you know?”
“I called this strange, but I never said it was 385D I found strange. In fact, 385D itself is meaningless.”
I fell silent and the woman continued.
“Let me check something first. You have been followed around by the exact number 385D this entire time, right? It hasn’t been some different number. It has been 385D the entire time. And the consistency of the coincidences is what you find so odd, right?”
“Yes. That’s what I’ve been explaining to you this entire time! 385D is everywhere around me!!”
“But 385D, 3.85D, and 38-5-D all seem like completely different numbers to me.”
“They are, aren’t they? When working, do you see a monthly wage of 55,000 yen and a monthly wage of 5,500 yen to be exactly the same? And setting 385 aside, what even is D? The number loses all meaning as soon as you throw a letter of the alphabet in there. If you insist on it being a base 16 number like before, it could work, but it hasn’t been consistently base 16, now has it?” The woman raised her index finger. “What clinched it was this café’s address. You forced a number that clearly had nothing to do with 385D into fitting the pattern. You redid the calculations as many times as it took to make it fit. That is the truth behind this. You are not being followed around by 385D. Someone has led you to connect every number you see to 385D.”
“Led me…? So 385D was never really there…?” I said blankly.
With her index finger still raised, the woman said, “What I was calling strange was that ‘something’ has trapped you in a mindset where you are obsessed with 385D. I do not know what the person who did this is after or how they did it, but if they can make 385D fit completely different things, it could be used for a cult or something. They could claim that everything in the world is related to ‘something’ and all your problems can be solved by relying on that ‘something’. You might have gotten caught in some experiment being run by some dangerous people.”
“Wait, this is way more than just being followed around by a number. What is this? What is happening to me? What have I gotten involved in!?”
“Listen.” The woman stood up with a light smile on her face. “I was just killing time after having finished a ‘job’. I suppose I can solve this 385D puzzle of yours to help kill some more time.”
“What do you mean by ‘job’? Oh, right. Who exactly are you?”
“It may be due to 385D’s influence that you got so far into this conversation without asking that.” The woman paused for a moment. “Let’s just say the ‘jobs’ that seem to follow me around have much deeper meaning than some number.”
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