Hyouka:Volume 3 Chapter 5-2
5-2 "Juumoji" vs the Classics Club
061 - ♥14
I feel my heart racing.
In situations like these, there's a way of staying calm, and that is to treat everyone looking at you as pumpkins. Since my family grows pumpkins as well, it was quite an easy vegetable to visualize. I'll be able to calm down will calm down should calm down...
Oh no! But right before me wasn't a person, but a microphone!
Then I must try another method. I'll try tracing the character for "person" (人) on my palm and then "swallow" it. (Note: A traditional Japanese charm. )
Writing the word three times, I swallowed it, by which time I realized.
The character I wrote on my palm wasn't "person", but "enter" (入). (Note: slightly different stroke sequence between 人 and 入. )
"We'll begin as soon as the music ends. You ready?"
"Music ending in five, four, three......"
"And that was Breathe by The Prodigy!"
"Now then, let us begin with the topic that's trending in the Kanya Festival right now. Our guest for the final day is Chitanda Eru-san of Class 1A, who is the president of the Classics Club! (Applause) Now that's a great applause, even though it's just the sound effects box."
"Anyway, we've now come to the final day of the Kanya Festival. The topic of the day is of course the 'Juumoji' Incident. In case you haven't already heard, it's about a series of thefts from various clubs right after the festival started. Outrageous, isn't it? (Says excitedly) So now, this thief is kind of artistic, shall we say? He first targeted the A Capella Club, then the Go Club, followed by the Fortune Telling Association and Gardening Club, following the order of the Gojuuon sequence. The items being stolen are namely, water, Go stones, the Tarot Wheel of Fortune card, and (Purposely asks) what was it again?"
"(Quickly answers) An AK."
"Yes, that's it. (Asks casually) What's an AK anyway?"
"It's a water gun. The Gardening Club uses it as a fire precaution."
"I see, you've done your research well. If you've read the Kami High Monthly Extra Edition, then you'd already know this, but Chitanda-san's Classics Club happens to be this thief's final target. Invincible he may seem, the thief did leave a hint that he would target ten clubs, as his name 'Juumoji' (ten characters) suggest, starting from clubs that start with [A] all the way down to [KO]. So how do you feel right now?"
"Oh yes, (brief pause) with everyone's help, we would be able to catch 'Juuomoji' in his act."
"Oh really? (Delighted) For a quiet person like you, you're pretty confident!"
"Oh, not really."
"(Attempting to make conversation flow) But you still think you can catch him?"
"...... The Classics Club is located on the fourth floor of the Special Block, right at the corner. It's where the Geology Room is. (Without hesitation) As you would know, the Geology Room, like most classrooms located in the building's corners, has only one exit. It is an environment that is unfavourable to the culprit.
With everyone's help, in case he does succeed with the theft, he would not be able to escape easily."
"And how would they help?"
"By coming to the Geology Room. We've only got four members in the Classics Club, so we're short in numbers when it comes to guarding the place. (Says passionately in order to leave an impression) We're counting on everyone's help!"
"Hmm, (Says soberly) but isn't that request a bit lacking in something?"
"(Pauses briefly) Actually, in order to confront 'Juumoji', we have prepared something."
"Now that's more like it. So, (Lowers voice slightly) what have you prepared?"
"I'm not sure if you could call it a prepared item.
"In these three days, 'Juumoji' has come close to accomplishing his ten character sequence. But he has yet to find anything that starts with [KO] in the Classics Club. Knowing he's not one to quit easily, 'Juumoji' would definitely fulfill the expectation of everyone, who is eager to find out who he is.
For that purpose, (Speaks slowly) we have prepared a manuscript for our club anthology Hyouka."
"Yes. Hyouka is the name for our club anthology, it's a strange name, isn't it? Actually hidden in this name is a secret that concerns the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival, or the 'Kanya Festival' for short. For anyone who's interested, please do come and buy a copy to find out for yourselves."
"A secret concerning the Kanya Festival, huh? Now I'm curious. But what's that got to do with 'Juumoji'?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I meant the manuscript for that anthology. But it's not just any manuscript, but a manuscript that has been proofread for printing. Thus a 'Proofread Manuscrip'. ([KO]URYOU GENKOU 校了原稿)"
"(Delighted) Aha, I see! In other words, an item that begins with [KO]. So this is what you've prepared in order to invite 'Juumoji' to a showdown, right?"
"Well, (A bit embarrassed) something like that...... Though it's not like we're not anxious about it."
"The person known as 'Juumoji' has been able to carry out his acts without being caught so far, so he's a very alert and bold individual. Since everyone's attention would be on us, his final target, we would of course feel a bit anxious. (Emphasizes slowly) Maybe there's another way, but we couldn't think of anything better."
"I see, so you're serious about this showdown?"
"Yes, we are. (Smiles and speaks gently) As we've purposely arranged a target item, while still feeling helpless at not knowing if it would be stolen. So we would like as many people as possible to come to the Geology Room."
"And there we have it...... (Speaks with vigour) The final target, the Classics Club, is all prepared! All that's missing is people! And they're seeking people interested in finding out 'Juumoji's' identity, or even desire to catch him themselves. That said, it may still be possible for 'Juumoji' to succeed with his act despite all the security...... In anycase, do come to the Classics Club clubroom, located in the Geology Room on the fourth floor of the Special Block this afternoon.
"That was our guest Chitanda Eru-san of Class 1-A, president of the Classics Club. Thank you very much for your time, and I wish you good luck!"
"Thank you, we'll do our best."
The mike turned off.
I proceeded to give a deep sigh.
I've managed to mention every memo that Fukube-san and Mayaka-san wrote, including "Proofread Manuscript", "Introduce Hyouka's Contents" and "Location of Clubroom". Besides these, I've also written along the side Irisu-san advices, "Do not make requests that demand the favour to be repaid" and "Do not make people think the problem is huge". For the first advice, I made sure there's no favour that needs to be repaid, and for the second advice, I made no mention of the fact that we still had many copies of Hyouka that remained unsold. I'm putting into practice the advice of making people think that "only they could accomplish this request of mine".
Thanks to these preparations and advice, I had managed to encourage myself to do this broadcast. I closed my eyes and thanked everyone who had given me their strength from the bottom of my heart.
"Hey, you're pretty good at this. Though hardly eloquent, but you've managed to convey what you wanted to say well,"
Yoshino-san said as he tapped gently on my shoulder.
I suddenly felt a sting. Oh, no, I wasn't referring to Yoshino-san's words, but a discomfort within my heart. I've been aware of this feeling during this whole festival. And right now, after the broadcast, I felt it prickling at me. It's hard for me to describe in words......
No, I should only think of the Classics Club for now. Will we be able to pull this off? We'll find out at the Geology Room later on. Placing my hand on my chest, I made a deep breath.
062 - ♠18
I took a look at my watch, it was past two o'clock.
I did so while handing a copy of Hyouka to the expressionless man before me,
"That'll be 200 yen, please."
After he promptly paid up, he was followed by another customer right behind.
This was not a dream from an afternoon nap. There were more customers coming, more copies were being sold. This was reality. The Geology Room was packed with people.
According to Satoshi, the Global Act Club room was also quite packed earlier this morning. If they could attract that many people just for the purpose of catching "Juumoji", then it's only natural that as his final target, we would also get just as many, especially when we've advertised ourselves on the radio broadcast. As a result, we were able to sell off the Hyouka copies quite quickly, compared to before when only up to two copies per hour were being sold.
Of course, having many people gathered alone does not guarantee sales. So most of the credit for this has to go to Chitanda, joining up well with Satoshi's down-to-earth PR. As another copy was sold, I came to be amazed by their dynamism.
Right now, they too were in the club room, so too was Ibara in her tracksuit, who came despite her duties with the Manga Club.
Those three stood at the centre of the room, forming a triangle with their backs facing outwards, while extended their arms firmly. Within that triangle was another triangle made of yellow stickers plastered on a table.
Within the centre of these two triangles was a stack of A4 paper. The cover sheet on top read Hyouka Manuscript. This was the "Proofread Manuscript" bait that the Classics Club was using to lure "Juumoji" out.
By the way, those were the manuscripts for Ibara's section. Since Chitanda and I wrote too many for our sections, while Satoshi wrote too little.
Those three guarded the manuscripts, emphasizing the showdown between the Classics Club and "Juumoji" to the crowd. There was no way to know when "Juumoji" will strike. The crowd who came was either feeling bored, or maybe it's due to Satoshi's advertising, they all decided to buy a copy of Hyouka from me. I couldn't see it from where I was sitting, but there's a makeshift illustrated poster drawn by Ibara that was posted on the door. The showdown felt like something from a Spaghetti Western, which was kind of embarrassing when you calmly think about it, but perhaps it wasn't so bad if it's to keep the Kami High students entertained till the very end of the festival.
As I was busy selling the Hyouka copies, I had no way of knowing...
Hey, I like the sound of that, let me repeat.
As I was busy selling the Hyouka copies, I had no way of knowing whether "Juumoji" had already sneaked in among the uniformed students or visitors in their casual wear, trying to find an opportunity to break through the triangle guard formation of Chitanda, Satoshi and Ibara. Eyeing the heavily guarded manuscript and the copies of Hyouka, I thought to myself Please don't make your move yet, as I hoped to extend the moment for as long as possible in order to sell as many copies as I could.
Regardless of whether they're detective-wannabes or just curious onlookers, I couldn't help but listen in on their conversations:
"...... Is he really gonna come......"
"...... He managed to pull it off this morning......"
"...... I think this is just a staged show by the Student Council......"
"...... Hey, isn't this To Terra... the book that you said you were reading a while ago......"
"...... Aren't they overdoing this a bit? There's no way he'd be able to get through such heavy security......"
"...... Not if he's Lupin......"
Unfortunately, "Juumoji" is no Lupin, but a mere student of Kamiyama High School. He's not gonna pull some amazing stunt in order to get his hands on those heavily guarded manuscripts. Ibara looked quite anxious, since the "Juumoji" incident wouldn't be solved even if they were to successfully guard the manuscripts.
I continued to observe.
Hyouka was still selling. Five copies, ten copies, twenty copies.
Time was passing. Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes.
I opened the boxes that I thought would never be opened, and slowly removed the Hyouka copies within it, until I could see the bottom of the boxes. The rate at which we're selling was simply fantastic. So this was what it feels to be able to do a good business, it feels great, really. I felt like singing. If I weren't an energy saving person, I might just aim to go into business myself based on this experience.
But I guess the limit has more or less been reached. After selling about eighty copies, the sales started slowing down, and I could begin to hear the restless mumblings of the curious onlookers, and I guess our three guards were starting to feel uncomfortable as well. We mustn't be too greedy when it comes to things like these, after all. It was probably time someone put an end to this.
I moved my gaze towards the centre of the crowd.
And then it happened.
A flash sparked.
I had no idea who yell in panic, but the onlookers all turned to whomever made the scream.
"W, what's going on?"
Everyone realized something had happened, with Chitanda and Ibara being one of the last ones to know, since they had their backs to it. In other words, something was happening to the "Proofread Manuscript" they were guarding.
The manuscript which was supposed to be safe suddenly burst into flames.
The initial flash was so vivid it had stunned everyone.
The fire wasn't particularly strong, but rather a trickle of tiny flames. As it happened so quickly, for a moment, nobody was able to react. Turning to see what was happening behind her, Chitanda was so shocked at what she saw that she drew back.
"Fire! Put it out!"
As though reacting on impulse, Satoshi was the first to respond as he frantically shook the flames off the manuscript.
Most of the flames had already gone out quickly, but Satoshi still continued to shake the manuscript, smacking them many times with his sleeves.
Thanks to his quick reaction, the flames had completely gone out. But the manuscript was clearly burned badly, that brief moment was all it needed for it to happen. Satoshi held the manuscript up in the air for all to see.
It was clear to everyone that a hole had been burned through the stack of proofread manuscripts.
Satoshi looked clearly frustrated as he moved his lips, muttering "We've been hit."
After the shock, the whispers began to spread,
"...... Was that him......"
"...... 'Juumoji'? It can't be......"
"...... The thing's all burned up......"
"...... No way the manuscript can survive that......"
The mumblings got more and more excited.
Another voice exclaimed,
"He must have left a notice. Search for it!"
The crowd quickly split into the curious onlookers and the detective-wannabes, with the former discussing excitedly with their friends while the latter began looking around furiously.
...... Very soon the message was found. It was dropped on the floor, along with a copy of Hyouka which many people had stepped on. Inserted within the pages of the badly trampled copy of our anthology was a copy of the "Kanya Festival Guide", and of course, the greeting card that came with it. It was a girl who discovered it.
"Let me see that!"
Satoshi drew near to her, and next to Satoshi,
"You've gotta be kidding me!"
Ibara too arrived. I also walked over from my seat, carrying the money box with me and took a peek over Satoshi's shoulder.
It was a similar greeting card from before, written in the similar curt style:
|The Classics Club has lost its proofread manuscript.|
This completes the "Ten Characters".
And now Chitanda too came to have a look.
Covering her mouth with her eyes wide opened, she was so shocked she couldn't even stand properly.
[COPIES REMAINING: PENDING]
Translator's Notes and References
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