Hyouka:Volume 2 Chapter 3
3 - "The Invisible Intrusion"
The next day.
As I was rather reluctant to take action the previous day, I received a call from Chitanda early that morning. It was pretty much an order from our club president asking me to come no matter what. As I had no good reason to resist such a gently worded request, I ended up heading to school that day as well. Well, it's not practical to jump off a ship in the middle of its voyage, and I had no intention to.
As I exited my house, I noticed an international letter had been delivered to our letterbox. As it was addressed to my old man instead of me, I didn't bother to open it. I didn't even need to see to guess who the sender was: Oreki Tomoe, my older sister.
My sis was not content with just staying in the country, but desired to wander around the world. She should be somewhere in Eastern Europe by now. Time and again my sis has got me involved in all sorts of bothersome things. Though those bothersome things are on a completely different meta-level from the type that Chitanda gets me involved in. But as the letter this time was not addressed to me, this probably means I'm more swayed by the frank and honest Chitanda than by my sis, which isn't a bad thing.
...Or maybe not.
Anyway, we now come to the Geology Room.
We didn't particularly do anything prior to Eba's arrival. As per usual, I took a seat in the shade and started reading my paperback novel. Just because I watched a mystery movie didn't mean I would go out of my way to buy a mystery novel. It was just a normal novel bought from a regular bookstore.
Opposite me was Chitanda, who stood by the window, unbothered by the scorching summer sun while looking at the grounds below. She must have a resistance to heat, as she doesn't seem to be tanned at all despite standing under the sun for so long... She just stood there staring at the grounds below, or to be more precise, she may have found something to meddle in amongst the people preparing for the Cultural Festival. But it was just her curious eyes sparkling, meaning she too was bored.
Ibara, on the other hand, was far from bored. As the real person responsible for the compilation of the "Hyouka" anthology, she was busy writing notes about it this time as well. A while ago I asked her what she was writing when all that's left is just to publish the manuscript. She gave me a terrifying stare and said, "If the manuscript could be sent to be published right away, there wouldn't be any need to edit it!"
Well, keep up the good work then.
As for Satoshi, he was reading a paperback novel just like me. As his hands were covering the book cover, I had no idea what he was reading. Though smiling was his default expression, he doesn't do it when he's reading. Having said that, it was strange to see such an expressionless Satoshi for once.
As I was thinking that, his expression gradually returned to normal. Placing down his book, he lifted up his face and looked around.
"Say, how many detective novels have you guys ever read before?"
Ibara stopped writing upon hearing that question and turned her head around.
"Fuku-chan, what are you trying to say?"
"You know, after listening to Nakajou-sempai yesterday, it got me thinking. Though his method of deduction was quite like those seen in detective novels, it was still way off the mark. So I thought maybe I should read a few more detective novels to help us deduce this better."
Hmm. Indeed, while Nakajou's reasoning sounded innovative at first, after thinking about it overnight, it was no different from your average detective show on TV. It was not rare for Satoshi to make such connections in the strangest places.
"Hmm, for me I've only read a normal amount of detective novels,"
"So how normal is your amount anyway? That's why I'm asking," Satoshi said and smiled, to which Ibara also smiled bitterly.
"Well, for me, hmm, normal would mean having read Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen, I guess."
Was that normal? Though I do know the authors' names at least... Satoshi tilted his head as well.
"Rather than normal, that amount of reading should be considered expert. Those are more like classics befitting of the Classics Club, aren't they? ...Is that all? What about Japanese authors?"
"Though there are many of them, it's not like I read much. I read a few railroad mysteries, but that's about it. While I may be somewhat interested in mystery novels, there are many authors whose works I can't seem to enjoy."
Well, it seems the more you read the more you're familiar with them, aren't you? You were the one who showed interest when you heard Class 2-F was making a mystery movie. I suppose amongst the four of us, Ibara was the most proficient in detective fiction.
"What about you, Houtarou?"
I closed the book I was reading and replied, "I don't read those,"
"Are you especially conscious about not reading detective stories in particular? You haven't got much honour in your reading methods, you know?"
Oh, leave me alone.
"I've read a few paperbacks with yellow book covers like this one, that's all."
Without being serious, I gave him a suitable response.
"Ahh... So that means, only Japanese authors, huh? You're kinda rigid, you know?"
He gave me an instant reply. It seemed like this answered his question well enough. As always, Satoshi possesses a wide range of knowledge for no particular reason.
Satoshi now turned to Chitanda, who shook her head slowly,
"I don't read any of those."
He sounded surprised. Though it was also surprising for me as well, as based on her tendency to seek out an answer for every riddle she encounters, I would expect her to be pretty interested in detective fiction. Satoshi tried to make sure of that.
"Not a single one?"
"I think I'm probably not that interested in mystery novels after reading some. And it's been many years since I've touched one."
Rather than not having read any detective novels, she ended up rejecting them after reading them. To think that our lady would be weak at detective novels despite encountering situations not unlike those seen in detective novels. Sounds pretty contradicting. That would be like a businessman who dislikes reading business novels. But thinking carefully, that isn't entirely strange.
"Really? But Chi-chan, weren't you enjoying it yourself when we were watching the Class 2-F mystery movie?"
Chitanda smiled gently.
"I was just happy that Irisu-san had invited us to show us something she and her friends had made... It's not like I particularly enjoy watching mystery movies."
I see, that makes sense.
Well, that means there's just one person left. Everyone must be included, after all. I asked Satoshi, who looked as though he had understood everything and was nodding eagerly, "So, what about you?"
"I presume you've read all the detective novels around the world, past and present?" I asked jokingly, to which Satoshi flatly denied, "No, I haven't."
Ibara began to smile from the tip of her lips.
"Oh, I know what Fuku-chan likes to read,"
Satoshi hung his head in embarrassment. It would seem Chitanda's interest was piqued.
"Eh? So what is it? Fukube-san, it's not a secret, is it?"
In other words, if it's a secret, Chitanda would definitely not pursue it any further. I know this based on experience, that our lady does have some restraint on her curiosity.
Meanwhile, Satoshi was at a loss for words.
What? Just say it, already.
As I thought that, Ibara quickly spilled the beans.
"Fuku-chan's an avid Sherlockian!"
...Ah, I get it.
A Sherlockian is a fan who is passionate about Sherlock Holmes. While I'm not too sure of the details, I've heard these people have actually done research into the fate of the bulldog raised by Holmes' partner. It was a serious interest that was not to be treated as mere child's play or entertainment. Though for Satoshi, it was probably a bit of both.
"What's a Sherlockian?"
"Um, you see,"
As Ibara was trying to explain to an oblivious Chitanda, Satoshi corrected her quietly.
"An avid fan is not called a Sherlockian, it's Holmesian..."
What's the difference anyway?
Just as we were teasing Satoshi, Eba had arrived at the doorway and bowed her head courteously as usual.
"I'm sorry to inform you that we could not secure an empty classroom today, so we would request that today's meeting take place at the classroom for Class 2-F, if it would not trouble you too much, as it might be a bit messy."
I don't see why she finds the need to apologize for that.
"Well then, let's head to Round Two of our Deduction Meeting then,"
Upon hearing Satoshi's intentionally cheerful voice, we proceeded to exit the classroom. Though I think it's a bit too much to call it a Deduction Meeting.
Activities from the various clubs were just as lively today, as music combining instruments and people singing were heard. The tune sounded familiar. It turned out to be the theme song of Mito Komon. It sounded elegant, but yet not quite.
As we were walking, Eba gave us a briefing in advance.
"The person you'll be meeting today is Haba Tomohiro, of the props division."
I looked at Satoshi, who shook his head. It would seem this Haba was hardly famous either. Yesterday it was the filming division, so today it's the props division, huh? We seem to be going on a trend here. Eba continued solemnly, "Though he wasn't assigned any specific role to begin with, he had decided to barge... actively involve himself in all sorts of fine details. Is there anything else you would like to ask?"
Ibara, noticing something specific, asked, "Umm, if this Haba-sempai was barging... actively involving himself in the making of the movie, why wasn't he assigned an acting role?"
Heh, I see. Indeed, such a person should have been standing in front of a camera. Eba turned to face Ibara and nodded.
"He was passed over."
"The roles were decided by a count of hands. He didn't get enough votes."
Now I get it. I finally spoke.
"And why are we meeting this person?"
In other words: Would someone who decides to barge... actively involve himself in a project accept the opinion of us outsiders? Eba showed an unusually troubled expression.
"I too have doubts about his selection... but it was Irisu that chose him, so she must have her reasons. If you ask me, it probably has something to do with him being the most proficient in mystery fiction amongst the entire crew. At least that's what he claims, himself."
As I could find no response, I decided to force a smile to her.
Still, Satoshi had emphasized "the Empress" Irisu being good at making people do her errands skillfully. If he was correct, then it would be as Eba has said, that Irisu does have her reasons for picking Haba. To begin with, this was just one of the matters that Irisu had gotten us involved in, so it's not like we hadn't suspected such a ploy from her. As I was thinking, Satoshi showed some dissatisfaction.
"Just where on earth has Irisu-sempai gone? She has totally not shown herself since."
Come to think of it, he's right. We haven't seen her since the day before yesterday. Though Eba answered our question right away.
"She said she would be looking for a replacement screenwriter while you figure out the 'correct deduction'. She's also having some difficulty on her end."
We came upon the corridor linking the Special Block with the General Block.
Before we arrived at the Class 2-F classroom, Chitanda opened her mouth gently.
"Are you close to Hongou-san?"
Eba looked briefly confused. Though she didn't look worried, I could feel she was struggling to find the right words to answer.
"...Why do you ask?"
"I was just curious," Chitanda smiled at Eba and said, "I couldn't stop thinking about what the person who wrote the script was like. She seemed like a very serious person,"
We now arrived before the Class 2-F classroom. Eba stopped her footsteps, turned around, and slowly said, "Hongou is a good friend of mine. She's sincere, attentive, and has a stubbornly strong sense of responsibility, as well as being kind and tender. But, is there something you would learn from me telling you this? ...Anyway, Haba is expecting you inside."
She then turned her back towards us and left without even introducing us to Haba.
It was just as Eba had described it—the Class 2-F classroom was quite untidy. There were the rucksacks seen in the movie as well as their yet to be shown contents lying everywhere. On the blackboard were some messy notes that seemed to be the filming schedule, with a long sentence written across the top in yellow chalk that read "Next Sunday = Absolute Ultimate Deadline!" The tables and chairs too were in disarray, and for the first time I realized how much of a crisis this class was facing with their project. As I wondered whether this was also part of Irisu's schemes in having us meet Haba here, we entered the messy classroom.
In the corner of the classroom where the sun didn't shine stood a male student. Bespectacled, he was rather skinny for his size. Upon seeing us, he raised his hands in a melodramatic way and said, "So you're the observers sent by Irisu. Pleased to meet you, my name is Haba Tomohiro."
Like yesterday, Chitanda once again introduced us starting with herself. Haba repeated our names many times as though trying to memorize them before gesturing us to take our seats.
While I have no idea how Haba would have behaved normally, he seemed to be in a good mood today. As he watched us take our seats with a satisfied expression, he nodded.
"I hear you guys are quite good with mysteries, at least compared to our class, where there's hardly anyone that's good with them."
It would seem the people of Class 2-F have been misinformed. Even Chitanda had noticed this and stated, "We're with the Classics Club."
Haba's eyes widened.
"Ah yes, the Classics Club. So you must be familiar with all the books from the Golden Age, then? Wow."
He seemed to be even more mistaken than before. Then again, as the Classics Club was a club engaged in unknown activities, it's not surprising that it would be mistaken as a club that is proficient with mystery novels.
As Haba was still muttering "Wow", he took out a piece of A4 sized paper and placed it on the table before him. It was the map of the theatre seen in the movie. On it were written the formal names for each room as well as the positions of all the windows, and an unintelligible designer name called "Nakamura Aoi" or something like that. Even the blocked passageway was well-marked.
Satoshi raised his voice without even thinking.
"Sempai, what is this!?"
"Hmm? Were you not shown this before?"
Without saying a word, Satoshi took out his own self-drawn map.
Haba groaned, "...This makes things easier,"
"Umm, where'd you get this map?" asked Ibara, to which Haba replied, "This building was built by the Furuoka Town government, after all, so I only needed to look it up in their town hall. The deduction can only be done with this map,"
He then smiled.
On Haba's map were marked the position of the body, as well as where everyone else was scattered before. Him being this enthusiastic wasn't a bad thing, as I too would want to know such information.
Haba looked even more excited as he went on, "Still, for a mystery writer or reader, a mystery written by an amateur like Hongou wouldn't be enough to satisfy them,"
He sounded pretty confident. Chitanda asked, "Was Hongou-san not proficient with mystery stories?"
"Yup. She had never read any before the making of this movie."
"But I heard she did do some research,"
Haba raised the corners of his lips to form a smile.
"They're all old stories. Look over there, those are the things she went through overnight,"
He pointed to a corner of the classroom with his chin, revealing numerous volumes of books piled up together. A glance at them showed they were all paperbacks. Chitanda leaned over and asked, "Umm, would you mind if we had a look at those?"
Haba looked troubled at Chitanda's interest being directed to such unexpected places. I too was wondering what she was up to, though our lady's curiosity was easy to read. Without waiting for a reply, she got up out of her seat and went to pick up a book.
Looking at the mountain of books beside the map, Satoshi said in an intrigued voice, "Ahh, the Nobahara translated version... And it's the new edition as well."
They were the Sherlock Holmes stories that we were just talking about a while ago. The covers were well embossed with a handwriting-like font printed on a white shiny paper, enticing the reader to start reading the Sherlock Holmes stories right away upon buying. Ibara gazed at the books and said coldly, "So she only studied Holmes as research?"
Haba replied, "Yup. That's why I said she's an amateur."
...So people who read Holmes are only amateurs, huh? Quite a bold statement he's making here. And he's saying it in the presence of Satoshi, a Sherlockian (though he prefers to call himself a Holmesian). Yet Satoshi smiled without seeming too bothered.
"Well, I get that a lot."
Taking the first book from the top of the mountain of books, Chitanda began flipping through the pages. We really should be getting back on topic... I had no idea whether she noticed my anxiety or not; most probably not. Chitanda's hand stopped at one of the pages.
"What is it?"
"There are some strange markings in here. Look,"
She showed me the page she was on, and I instantly knew it was the Table of Contents without even reading the words. Indeed, there were markings before the title of each short story. Though I did not think of those markings as "strange" as Chitanda had.
|The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
"And this one as well,"
|The Case-Book of Sherlock Homes|
Upon seeing those, I quickly dispelled Chitanda's concerns.
"What's so strange about those? They're probably just marking notes used by Hongou."
"Is that... so?"
Though she didn't seem too convinced, she decided to let the matter rest for now. During this time, Satoshi seemed to be muttering something, as I was about to ask him, he met my gaze and gave me a gesture that said he wouldn't know either, and turned his attention back to the map.
"Let's leave that aside,"
Tapping his fingers on the table, Haba spoke.
"Rather than that, let's begin with the deduction,"
Sigh. Seemed like he couldn't wait to start with his own deductions already. Then again, I too wanted to hurry up and get this over and done with. So I grabbed Chitanda's hand to stop her from picking up another book, and she only then realized that Haba was waiting, and reluctantly placed it back on the mountain-like pile.
"I'm sorry. Please do begin."
Haba gave a nod, and took a ballpen out of his chest pocket. Probably an item needed in order for the lecture to proceed, so pay attention, folks.
"All right. The way I see it, this mystery isn't that difficult. In fact, it could be classified as an easy one."
He paused to watch our reactions. I didn't give any, by the way, and I had no idea what reactions the others were giving either.
"First, this murder was unpremeditated, or rather, it was only half-premeditated. So it's not one of those 'Just as planned' cases. It just so happens that the conditions were right for the killer to carry out his plans. Are you following me?"
Not a bad opening speech. No, to be honest, that's not exactly what I was thinking. I see, now that he mentions it, no matter what technique the movie employs, it won't be able to portray an elaborate plan without it not making sense. As for the reason,
"...What's the reason for that?"
Chitanda just asked something incredible. Haba looked rather displeased that he was interrupted so soon after starting, but quickly replied with a cheerful expression, "The reason being that if everything was planned, Kaitou would be asked to go to the right side of the theatre. Instead, what we saw was that he picked the key at random and went off to that side on his own. So I believe the killer merely made good use of this condition. Well, it shouldn't be too far from the truth, since there are many such examples in murder mysteries."
Though there are many instances of a trickster making a person pick the exact card that he wants to be picked, it didn't seem to be the case this time. So Haba's making sense so far.
Haba continued by pointing his ballpen at the Right Stage on the map, the room marked "body found".
"As you all know, this is a sealed room murder. The only exits available at the scene are here, here, and here. Two of them are sealed off and unusable, while the other was locked when the body was found. There are also two windows, with one sealed off while the other was covered by tall grass on the outside, which showed no signs of anyone treading through it. In other words, Kaitou's killer did not escape via normal means,"
He'd now reached the point where Nakajou had stopped, to which he smiled.
"That said, the killer was no longer in the room after Kaitou was killed, a typical sealed room situation. While you may not have thought of this before, a sealed room situation is usually established the moment the body is found. Or to be more precise, when everyone else has entered the room and found the body. Now, how is this established? One only has to think along the lines of detective fiction writers past and present.
"Let's start with the simplest method. The killer may choose to take the master key and use it to enter the scene of crime, and then return the master key to where it was.
"But this is totally uninteresting. There would be an uproar if that was actually the case. Not even an amateur like Hongou would choose such a method. So let's have a look at the facts.
"The keys were found in the theatre office. In order to get to the office, one has to go past the lobby. And anyone passing through the lobby would be seen by Sugimura in the second floor equipment room, or would at least attract his attention. So if the killer had wanted to get the master key, he would have had to hope that he didn't get seen by Sugimura. It just doesn't make sense for a killer to take such a risk.
"Now, what if it were Sugimura that was the one to take the key? That wouldn't do either, as he too would have to risk being seen by Senoue, Katsuda and Yamanishi."
Hmm, he's quite prudent with his deductions, isn't he? Now if only he could do the same with his attitude.
"Now, this fact that the lobby cannot be entered without being watched is quite important, as it means not only the Right Stage, but the entire corridor cannot be entered by the killer from the lobby. Do you now know the meaning behind this?" he asked as he lifted his face from the map. Like a teacher waiting for a student to answer his questions, he looked at us one by one.
...Oh! Ibara noticed his gaze meeting hers.
After a brief silence, she gave a short reply.
"The killer used some sort of physical trick?"
A momentary glimpse of disappointment was shown on Haba's face.
Though he soon returned to his upbeat manner.
What's his problem anyway? Was he getting upset about someone guessing his questions correctly? He seemed rather lacking in prudence and blunt about it.
"Indeed, if the killer used some sort of string to lock the door from outside the room. But that doesn't make sense either. As the killer would not be able to come out of the right corridor, which is effectively a second 'outer sealed room'. In other words, it was not possible to create a sealed room from the outside.
"One may argue that this sealed room is made by none other than the victim himself. Perhaps the victim wasn't killed instantly, and decided to lock himself inside to run away from the killer, and ended up dying in there. But that doesn't change the fact that this 'outer sealed room' still exists.
"Then, what other possibilities are there available? These include the killer not being present when the victim was killed, or the murder still taking place when the victim was found. To put it simply, the victim was killed by some mechanics, or he was quickly killed without anyone else knowing. Do you get it now?"
Yeah, I get it.
Though there were also people who did not get it, especially Chitanda, who had hardly read any detective fiction. She raised her hands apologetically.
"Umm, excuse me, but could you please elaborate further?"
Haba seemed pretty pleased with Chitanda's request, and nodded as he began explaining cheerfully, "Mechanics basically means the room was rigged with some sort of booby trap, which ended up killing Kaitou. For example, it could be a bow gun or poisoned needle. Being quickly killed without anyone else knowing means Kaitou was still alive the moment the door was unlocked, and the murder took place discreetly during this brief moment when everyone went to confirm whether Kaitou was dead or not."
Chitanda let out an unsavoury gasp.
"Anyway, these two possibilities are rejected as well as they have the same flaw, do you know what that is?"
Haba turned to Ibara as though goading her to respond. Ibara raised her brows indicating she knew what he was up to. She didn't need to answer but still decided to.
"Yes, it's the condition of the body, right?"
"...Exactly. It is indeed interesting to speak with someone who gets it."
Though he was being unreasonable, I sort of got what he was doing, and I laughed in my thoughts. Haba cleared his throat and said, "The condition of the body, in order words, the theory that Kaitou could have had his arm severed and been killed by a machine or killed quickly upon the room being entered is rejected. First, for such a machine to kill him with such force, it would have been discovered right away. Second, as a strong force would be needed to kill him, killing him discreetly under everyone's noses was just not possible.
"It is difficult for the sealed room created by Hongou to be entered from the front."
Haba finished his explanation, sat further back into his chair and took a breath. He soon resumed his extremely confident attitude and turned to me.
"You, Oreki-kun, was it? What do you think of this deduction?"
At that moment, I had really wanted to tell him, It was great, can we go now? But I get the feeling Haba is purposely saving the best of his deduction for last. He probably had a standard answer prepared in advance no matter what I said. But as I remained silent, he made a forced smile, as though gesturing to me in an attempt to get the flow moving, Hurry up and say you don't get it!
As expected, he made a scoffing laugh and raised his voice.
"No, this won't do! But this isn't impossible, right?"
He then slowly stood up and walked toward one of the rucksacks seen in the movie, then stuck his hand inside the bag and carried it like that over to us.
"As you know, I'm with the props division. I'm responsible for buying the necessary equipment needed for the filming of the movie. It was we who made Kaitou's 'blood' as well as his 'severed arm'."
The object he pulled out from the bag was exactly what I expected it to be.
"Hongou can be quite careless in her preparation. For example, though she intended there to be lots of blood to be used in that scene, the filming crew was in a panic when we found out our stock of fake blood was not enough. Still, she specifically requested us to get a rope. She told us as someone would be required to climb down it, so we would need a very sturdy rope. So I asked if a standard safety rope would do, and she was fine with it. Do you realize what she was intending to do with this?" he said while returning to his seat, placing the rope on the table. He puffed up his chest confidently as he continued, "Let me give you a hint. Despite her slender appearance, Kounosu is actually a member of the Hiking Club."
He took a glance at every one of us. Ibara probably gets it. Satoshi continued to maintain his smile while looking at his notebook, but he probably didn't get it. Chitanda simply looked puzzled, so she certainly did not get it.
In any case, seeing as we all said nothing, Haba spoke in a voice as though telling us an incredible secret.
"In other words, if the killer can't enter from the first floor, then he only needs to enter from the second floor. That is the remaining viable route. The right corridor on the second floor was occupied by Kounosu, and it was no coincidence that she was assigned there. If I had to guess, it's probably due to her being in the Hiking Club.
"Hongou's trick is actually quite simple: To have the killer climb down from the window on the second floor using a rope, kill Kaitou without anyone noticing, then return back up the same rope."
"Umm, so the killer enters the Right Stage from upstairs, right?"
"Well, duh. If the killer had entered from any other route, the locked door would serve no purpose... Now, I'm sure you all get it by now. As the movie hasn't got a title, if it's to have one, then it ought to be named 'The Invisible Intrusion'."
Haba puffed his chest as though declaring, Now how's that?
As though what he just said was the undeniable truth, he said, "Now, let me hear what you think of it."
He asked us what we think of it, huh? We exchanged glances with each other. Ibara's face looked as though she was prodding me to show him some; I decided to ignore her, I had no intention of wasting any unnecessary energy just to rebuke him as we did with Nakajou yesterday. While Nakajou was very passionate, Haba was extremely confident. I turned my head the other way and met Chitanda's gaze. I sensed what she wanted to say and gave her an approving nod.
Nodding back, she turned and said to Haba, "We think it's a wonderful deduction."
While Haba may have thought her response a matter of fact, she was merely saying it out of courtesy.
"Oh, you flatter me too much,"
He then turned to Ibara with a smile.
"What about you?"
Damn, he's trying to provoke her. Yet Ibara, despite feeling frustrated, decided to nod upon seeing Chitanda's response.
Haba seemed to have finished what he had wanted to say. Sensing the time had come, I proceeded to speak.
"It was a great deduction, Haba-sempai. We shall be able to provide Irisu-sempai with a proper review... Have a good day."
Haba nodded satisfactorily. I stood up upon finishing. We each bade him goodbye and moved to leave the Class 2-F classroom.
Before leaving, Chitanda looked at the Sherlock Holmes books on the chair and said, "Excuse me, Haba-san, but do you mind if we borrow these?"
Though it was a strange request, as Haba was in a good mood, he agreed.
"Those are Hongou's books. Make sure you return them as you have borrowed them,"
Don't freely lend out other people's belongings. I said within my thoughts.
Ibara and Satoshi too left the classroom. As I was about to close the door, I stuck my head back inside to ask something.
"Hmm? Is there anything else?"
"No, it's nothing important. I was just wondering if you've seen the movie yet. I thought Kaitou-sempai's severed arm effect was done rather well."
Thereupon Haba shook his head and smiled bitterly.
"To be honest, I've yet to watch it myself."
That answer was good enough for me.
"Man, he pisses me off," Ibara said, the moment we returned to the Geology Room. As we could feel the seething anger within such a brief sentence, I had no intention of teasing her.
The only person capable of doing that would be Satoshi.
"What's wrong? You look as though you got struck dumb by Sempai's provocative attitude."
Ibara gently shook her head.
"Well, if you're talking about provocative people, I get provoked by you all the time,"
Her description was apt in a strange way. Though Satoshi was known to live his life without much fear, I'd never heard him being called provocative before. Because I would have thought that she would find Haba's in-your-face way of presenting himself annoying to say the least. Seeing as we didn't get what she meant, Ibara sighed and continued, "What I didn't like was the way he treated me like some idiot."
"Mayaka an idiot, huh?"
"Besides that... it's not just me, but all of us, even Hongou-sempai and the rest of Class 2-F were treated the same way. Just because I don't have a good reason to be angry doesn't mean I'm not."
Rather than being angry, she's feeling peeved because she couldn't find a good reason to be angry, huh?
To me, Haba was merely displaying his confidence, though to Ibara it was nothing but a show of arrogance, as she said Haba was looking down on everyone. Indeed, there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Perhaps they're actually one and the same thing even. Yet to even feel angry with that, I felt Ibara pretty much matched the description for the card "Justice" and smiled to myself in amusement.
"He even made fun of Sherlock Holmes! Aren't you mad about that, Fuku-chan?"
She sounded really forceful. Yet Satoshi merely shrugged his shoulders and took it quite well.
"Well, it is indeed true that Sherlock Holmes is beginner level stuff for mystery readers. When I heard Hongou-sempai was doing some research into mystery fiction, the first thing I thought she would look into would be Sherlock Holmes. Weren't you thinking the same thing as well, Mayaka? So don't be so angry, okay?" he said while patting Ibara's shoulders. Rather than Haba's arrogant attitude, she was actually more pissed off by his disrespect of Sherlock Holmes... Well, seeing as Ibara looked at ease saying what she wanted to say, there was no need for me to intervene.
Now for the main problem; I shifted around on my seat and said, "So, what now? Do we submit Haba's proposal to Her Imperial Highness?"
Including Chitanda, who was looking at the Holmes book she opened, the other three all turned to look at me.
First was Satoshi, who said with some doubt remaining in his mind, "Well, why not? To be honest, his conclusion was hardly interesting, but he did say Hongou-sempai had specifically asked for the use of a rope. Leaving the details aside, I think perhaps he's got it spot on."
Ibara followed, unexpectedly nodding in agreement, "I don't find any particular problems with it either... There are no contradictions in his deductions, nor any inconsistencies with the script. I'm not going to reject it for the sake of rejection alone."
The ayes have two votes now. What about the third vote?
As we looked at Chitanda, for some reason, she looked rather troubled. Unable to stay calm, she widened her eyes and opened her mouth, but was at a loss for words.
"What's wrong, Chitanda?"
"Eh... I, I just couldn't agree to it for some reason."
Ibara asked in a sociable way, which I could never do, "Chi-chan, how come?"
Chitanda looked even more troubled.
"Umm, well, I'm not sure of it myself. But, I just feel it's not Hongou-san's true intention... Ahh, I just can't accept this deduction. While it's different from the sense of disorientation felt from Nakajou's deduction yesterday, I just couldn't accept it!"
As long as we don't hear it from the author herself, if Chitanda didn't get it, then there was no way I could get it either. It would seem that Chitanda was against the deduction. Suddenly, Chitanda turned her eyes towards me like a wasp. S-stop looking me like that with those eyes!
"What about you, Oreki-san? Do you think that deduction is correct?"
Ugh. I never thought I would attract so much attention. And I was intending to say something carefree. I shifted on my seat and swung my legs about, and shook my head as dramatically as possible.
"No, I don't."
Ibara fired a response at me right away, "Why, Oreki!?"
...Those are some double standards from you. Feeling sad for her, I answered, "Because Haba's proposal is unworkable. If a murder were to really take place in such a theatre, such preparations might have worked. But it is impossible for that movie."
Satoshi urged me on with his usual smile.
"In other words?"
"In other words, it's contradictory to what we have seen in the movie. Leave the map aside and try to recall the movie we saw the day before yesterday. What do we see outside the window of the Right Stage?"
I'm quite amazed that even I was able to recall, considering I wasn't particularly paying attention when watching the movie. Upon suggesting to them to disregard the map, it wasn't hard for them to recall it either.
Satoshi led the way nodding.
"Ah yes, that window."
"Exactly. The building had fallen into disrepair for so many years, even the sturdy looking Katsuda-sempai had a hard time opening that window. I'm sure you all remember the creaking noise made as he struggled to push it open, showing it to be quite hard to open.
If they were to shoot a scene showing the killer entering via the window, then they would have had to arrange for Kounosu-sempai to climb down from upstairs using a rope, and in order not to disturb the grass, she would have had to open the window while maintaining an awkward hanging position. That is quite difficult to accomplish, as opening such a window would take time, not to mention the sound it would make. And if it wasn't opened properly, the glass may even have shattered. Besides, what do you think Kaitou-sempai would be doing? Would he have just stood there and watched? Of course not.
"Had Hongou not visited the location herself when writing that script, then this method might have had no problem being adopted, considering she wouldn't have known about the window's condition. Haba's suggestion is based on the map alone without even watching the movie itself."
"Oh, so that was why you asked Haba-san whether he'd seen the movie!" Chitanda raised her voice as she exclaimed. She actually heard my exchange with Haba? I have never failed to be amazed by her extraordinary senses.
"Right. If he had seen the movie, then he would have known it was impossible to enter the room from upstairs.
"The truth is that Hongou had been to the site herself and wrote the script based on her observations. Nakajou said so. If Hongou had really intended for the window to be used as Haba had described it, and assuming that Irisu is right about Hongou being a meticulous person, then she would have requested the filming division to prepare for some lubricant to be used on the window at the crime scene. I do not believe she would have simply ignored such defects in the building.
"In short, I can't agree with Haba's deduction. How about it?"
I didn't even need to ask. I could tell Satoshi thought my explanation was appropriate, while Ibara gave an expression as though she didn't really want to agree.
"Well then," a voice behind me said, "This means you have not come to an agreement today either, right?"
As I turned around, I found Eba standing there without even realizing it.
She must be really looking forward to the solving of this mystery. Though she didn't show it as she said, "Then I look forward to guiding you to meet the third person tomorrow."
"Oh... Yes, thank you. We look forward to your assistance."
Chitanda bowed right after finishing. Eba shook her head, and added something else as though it were nothing important.
"But tomorrow will be the last day. If the problem is still not solved by the evening of the day after tomorrow, then the script will not be able to be made in time for the filming."
Today's Wednesday. I see, we're running on a tight schedule here.
As we felt a sense of unease, Eba relaxed her expression and bowed her head deeply.
"...It is I who should be looking forward to your assistance."
Translator's Notes and References
- ↑ a Japanese period drama, Mito Kōmon - Wikipedia
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