Iriya no Sora UFO no Natsu:Close Encounter of the Third Kind

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Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu - Close Encounter of the Third Kind[edit]

Someone once said that nonsensical feelings are good.

Therefore, he also decided for himself. Returning on the road from the excluded mountains, it seems that you would have to endure congestion when swimming at the school’s pool was what Asaba Naoyuki thought.

Even if it was the last day of summer vacation of the second year of middle school at 8 o’clock at night, 5 minutes of swimming was more than enough.

Near the video store as he stopped his bike, the duffle bag banged against him while it rested on his shoulder, as he walked on the dimly light street as he returned from school.

He crossed the north side of the business district as he rode on.

The fast feet going through the long hall of the club room were not there.

Looking at the appearance of the situation gave the feeling of sneaking into enemy territory like a spy stealthily as he stood in the shadow of the incinerator. With the only redeeming feature of a small backwoods town’s school somehow being its grand wideness, having stepped onto taking up the white line of summer severely to make flexible the little understanding about what department attracted clumsiness, the right hand side of the old gym looked like a Nazca[1] landscape from the eyes being fooled by the change in darkness while the front gave too much of a silent floating appearance with the municipal middle school’s wooden building there, seeing that to the left was the first brand new Sonohara District 4 shelter on the inside of the structure. Naturally, some form made a sound to an unexpected degree that could clearly reach the ears. A phone continued to ring forever with a police car chasing after something, a motorcycle starting its engine somewhere in the surroundings, and someone buying juice at a vending machine as they were saying something out of courtesy. Incidentally, in the standing night sky, “Buddha’s” red letters showed themselves to the eyes. Quite recently, sounds at the outskirts of town came from the Buddhist alter room’s poster column. Because the mood had broken, nothing was seen and done about.

In the middle of the school building is a clock tower that pointed to 8:14 at night.

It was not approximately 8:14 at night by some error. (そんじょ)

With Asaba not having brought his homework for this period to completely hand in and keep the homework load down, surely the grand separate summer nights at the clock tower that furnished the school building made a wooden three-story time bomb that could not help the rest. He must have hated that clock tower. That clock tower’s gears’ life came to an end, and, at 8:14P.M., it seemed as if time stopped around the world. If it seemed to resound, it was because summer vacation was not over yet. This month and a half, that dial looked up at a person speaking of, at best, the exercise club’s chestnut in its burr (いがぐり), something that was really not expected to be in one’s head and did a little sabotage in running away from any understanding, with the clock tower not having a second hand in spite of that as one second at a time continued to whittle down a month and thirty minutes, and for that matter, eternity for even and equal time.

And then now, Asaba was behind by thirteen minutes that time did not fill.

It was after thirteen minutes at the earthen pipe. Circumstances begged for forgiveness given that second semester was beginning. (TL note: In Japan, second semester starts in fall.) Kawaguchi Taizou, age 35 and single, who was the second year class four natural sciences teacher, had all the people who could not turn in their homework stand up on a platform with a scientific sharp look in their eyes as the rest took their seats, with the lined up heads made into rampant (ばっこんばっこん) minced meat while the reason why homework was not turned in concerning scientific defense was probably demanded.

…But sensei, there was no way. I saw a UFO break like a plate on the first day of summer vacation, with a pyramid on the other side of the moon that was going take someone away. That pyramid, because it was for the sake of their invasion of earth and their secret base, had me pushed into jail, where I, besides seven other boys and girls from countries around the world, similarly were kidnapped. We escaped from that jail, took their ray guns, and really ran amuck, despite accidentally committing an offense in escaping from the UFO, which resulted in us finally being able to return to Earth last night. It was not like I had spare time to do homework. But, it is because we saved mankind from destruction that I can reason with you, sensei, today just as the sun exists. Well, being different because I do not have a suntan, the UFO’s field squad leader depended on radiation exposure. Hey! Look at me! Does that not look like the fifth lucky dragon circle?

Eight of them split if I am not mistaken.

Though “the newspaper club’s chief Suizenji-san, agreed, summer vacation’s length always was looking for secluded UFOs at the Sonohara military base’s rear exit” was saying this honestly, he was not thinking that the results would seem to become different. That reality was hiding with Asaba together in the incinerator’s shadow. Just under thirteen minutes later, that meager historical fact became certain.

Asaba Naoyuki’s middle school second year vacation at Sonohara Military Base’s base hill was smoking and extinguished.

It was thirteen minutes later.

Because he was a criminal sentenced to death, it was like his last chance to have a smoke.

Therefore, he thought it was a good idea to sneak in for a midnight swim.

Of course, it was a must.

Soon, near by, the focus was slipping away from a seminar as in the middle of darkness a sole bird sung a verse and a measure. Asaba made a last confirmation of the formless surroundings. It was just a three-story wooden school building, but “your outlook may do something to cause wickedness,” and just about everything opened its eyes to glare at Asaba. In the middle left of the school building was the staff room with that so-called next-door “nap room,” which Asaba knew made for a small, tatami-matted useful, unknown club room. He thought about that case in which the night watch teacher was there. But, because the school had lights on in every window that he could slip in from, Asaba really did not know in the first place whether or not the school had so-called people who were night time homework teachers and the like for left-behind things.

Since the pool in line with the gymnasium was the goal, Asaba was hiding thirty meters in distance from where the incinerator was. Even if the fence surrounding the pool was there, a plastic panel connecting the height to a high wall surrounded the pool. If that surely had a bad name like the high Berlin Wall, “This then could not be an attraction as the girl’s pool for instruction,” said the male students’ voice with resentment throughout firmly like an impregnable wall. However, as far as Asaba was concerned, that wall was an ally. Thanks to that wall, you could not see someone’s shape from outside the wall. He was reaching the entry route’s goal. Because the changing room’s entryway lock was completely worn, the key was hung up for care on a powerful knob so that the lock turned without slipping out in the end, which Asaba knew well.

Just a little more courage.

No one else was expected. Absolutely no one.

But…the anxiety would not go away. However, if by any chance he was seen, he would receive a good scolding.

He ran.

The duffle bag clattered, although he hid his body for the last thirty meters that he ran. The changing room’s entrance had hand-written characters on it that masked the block wall’s shadow for hiding. Taking a deep breath, he once again checked the surroundings a little at length for relief. He thoughtfully turned the door know to the changing room with both hands. Due to abrasion that the metal rubbed smoothly in “self-interest” from the feeling left in the hand, the lock easily slipped.

At that time, a patrol car’s siren could be heard.

“By no means could that have any relationship to me,” thought Asaba as his body unintentionally stiffened, and he stopped breathing.

“Again,” he thought. Some time ago, when he was hiding in the shadow of the incinerator, it could be heard as well.

It seemed as if the siren melted as it faded into the distance, but abruptly stopped as it faded.

Tonight, many patrol cars were frightfully out. He wondered if there was some incident. By the way, just before the summer break, “Because spies from the northern vicinity are in concealment, be careful,” said a circular notice that went around. Neither summer vacation nor shit probably had spies, right?

He took a deep breath.

He opened the changing room door and tried taking a peek inside.

It was pitch black.

Too dark, to the point that he thought that changing clothes inside was impossible. Turning on the lights by any amount would be bad no matter what. Since he was a little lost, Asaba decided to change clothes in this place. Seeing it was in the masked block wall’s shadow, it was impossible that someone come. With the bag hanging from his shoulder on the grating and the zipper pulled open, at that time, it became apparent to Asaba that something important was seemingly missing.

As it was on the way back home from his mountain seclusion, it was so.

In other words, inside this bag was jammed that luggage from his mountain seclusion. There were things like his toothbrush, towel, changes of clothes, bug repellent, camera, and a tiny wireless radio. But, thinking about how in the mountain seclusion about bread and water was not necessary.

That said, now he did not have bread and water.

That thing left him amazingly dejected.

Asaba squatted down there. Before evening, he made a momentous decision to rent an adult video so that he leapt and howled as he went to a far away video store, thinking, “This is it!” as he realized that he had forgotten his wallet when he put his hand on the package, which resembled that time’s disappointment.

Wild thoughts ran through his head.

If that was the case, should he skinny dive?

Wouldn’t that be about as absurd as what a complete moron would do?

It appeared that swimming in the school’s pool in the middle of the night would somehow give an amazingly good feeling if for only a moment, which would give him the feeling of becoming a transient, uneasy exhibitionist. As he thought, going butt-naked would be dumb. Getting relief from something like bread and water was like changing something from old to new that was not there, as he randomly fished inside of his bag.

Dishevelled, rolled up, and defective bread came out.

When he was sleeping inside of シュラフ, it was the weak point of the school’s gym assignment.

Making sure no one was around once again, Asaba hurriedly took off his trousers and trunks, which made a weak impression as he put on his clothes. You could also look down on him for taking off his T-shirt. Given that it was not like the attaching pocket, a sea impression and not a different inner beneficially leaked air.

But, he thought it was strange like that.

It was because he had come this far at last.

He decided it in his heart. Kicking in to take things out of the bag, Asaba entered the inside of the changing room. Barely able to recognize and follow the contour of the lockers, he fumbled to make progress in the chlorine-smelling, damp darkness. He passed the shower and sterilization bath. While he felt the soft slime on the bottom of his feet, he thought, “If I am not mistaken, last year, three houses were ruined by becoming bloodstained.” “Sensei, I’m going to die…I’m going to die,” said a crying, lively voice that spread across the city, which Asaba apologized for from the bottom of his heart. Sorry, those three houses, the mess at the time was amusing.

Forcing open the swinging door, the night’s poolside appeared.

Accordingly, Asaba’s reminiscent laughter scattered away. Being away from home for a second now gone, he almost turned around to step on the turn-on squirting hose.

At the night poolside, a previous visitor was there.


It was a girl.


First off, given that it was twenty-five meters in length and fifteen meters in length, of course, the pool’s dimensions were there. Also, from the very thing of having a magical stillness to the water’s surface, it was by far simpler than combining starlight and cramming the reflection in the depth of some light year, as if it seemed that the pool’s shape with cut off by the visible night sky above. With Asaba’s eyes just coming from the changing room’s darkness, that strange scene was quite bright. In the middle of that strange scene’s brightness, a girl’s back was turned toward Asaba, as she squatted at the edge of the right hand side of the pool while she firmly held onto the handrail. She was wearing a school swimsuit. She had a swim cap on her head. She was staring earnestly at the water’s surface that was like pitch black metal.

“I wonder who that is,” he thought as if that was not the only needed thought.

Coming across a more than surprising situation, all other considerable things wound up disappearing.

Quite similar to an upright pole, Asaba just stood there.

Like anyone not wanting to be discovered entering, anyone that did not when caught was about to get hung. Because the changing room’s door had been forcibly opened, it was not like you could not hear the footsteps of someone approaching. If that girl had been there from the very beginning, you would think that you would not expect that she could not hear such sounds. Still, even with limited sight, the girl did not notice the appearance of Asaba existence at all. Occasionally turning her back to Asaba, she gazed intently at the pool’s surface without moving. In that back was indescribable, characteristic seriousness, which gave a nervous feeling in the air as if after this someone was going to commit suicide by leaping off a tall building over there.

The girl moved.

While she held the handrail tightly with her right hand, her left hand stretched to touch the water’s surface.

Even with something like experimental discretion, the girl’s fingertip was just short of disturbing the water. Even as the leaves on the trees did not move, the ripples on the water grew and crossed over the water’s surface like a radar wave, where it ended up reflecting at the pool’s edge. With that appearance, the girl watched fixedly and intently.

He wondered who it was.

He seemed to think finally.

Perhaps she was a student there. He could see what looked like a school-assigned swimsuit without a name tag on it. He thought that her age was about the same as his, not including the affirmation of her appearance from behind. On the girl’s oblique back was a big bag that looked like she was going to throw it away when she put it down. The scattered clothes in the surroundings made it quite lively. As he thought that if that was her bag, then those clothes should be hers as well.

He thought.

What he meant in other words, had the girl been changing clothes into her swimsuit at the poolside?

Thinking that amazing thing, why had he grown up as a human being? “Why couldn’t I,” screaming to a higher power, “been born as a hose under her foot or that deck brush on the wall instead?” Since no one was at the school or the school pool at night, only a lone girl could have the stars shine on her while the petals fell on her clothes one by one from that spot, which made Asaba lose control of the power of his will.

From the girl’s remaining earnest appearance from behind that was drifting, Asaba felt a badly urgent sense of comfort. He thought that it was embarrassing to embrace such wild delusions. Why the girl was here and what she was doing, he did not know. But, because the girl had not noticed him yet, he thought that it was horribly unfair. In meeting her, he felt that it was not good to feel like he had ill intent by peeping at her.

“I’ll call out to her,” he decided.

She should know of my existence.

“That decided, what kind of voice should I use, since we learned in English to stand and not get settled in place as one likes?” Asaba inhaled.

The timing was poor.

At the exact moment Asaba inhaled to spit out his voice, the girl made a failing attempt to stand up. Squatting at length, the girl began to stand up a little, staggering, “Umm…”

Asaba just sprung up in surprise, knowing that she could only mean him, as she tried to turn around with her whole back facing him, which, even under normal circumstances, was vastly dangerous enough to break someone into small fragments.

For just an instant, their eyes met.

Their eyes opening in wonder t the space between them, only to have the girl fall ass first into the pool.

Together with a loud watery sound, a large sheet of spray scattered on the poolside’s tiles.

Asaba was confused as well. With the rapid development of circumstances, fear struck. As it was, he thought he could get away. With the confusion showing in their eyes as they looked around at the surroundings, of course reality would set in now. The pool had a cheaply made, high wall surrounding it. Because each side also had a magic mirror, you could not see from the outside inside as well as not being able to see from the inside outside. Whoever the night watch teacher was now would have the brilliant idea of storming in yelling.

They should run away.

Deciding at last with severe hesitation for what seemed like an eternity, Asaba’s legs stopped making an about-face in the direction of the changing room.

The sound of the water would not stop for eternity.

The girl in the water started to struggle. Sometimes, the arms and legs pushed out at unexpected angles and broke, striking and sinking into the water’s surface.

He thought she was joking or something.

Also, because he noticed that it really looked like she was drowning, it was up until now that he was going to run away that his body soon did not move to run out. Hurriedly rushing over to the pool, he jumped off into the middle of the water as it was. Jumping into the air with short pants on feet first to save her, it looked like a Japanese pumpkin[2]) swelling underwater. Pushing his way through the water with both hands as he walked, because the girl’s hands stretched while she splashed water into his eyes, in a loud voice,

“Look! I’m going to catch you here,”

as she struck him with her leg? That is to say in a moment the girl got tired. As the bottom of the pool was slippery, Asaba’s head soon disappeared underwater as he gave a shout in surprise.

As it was pitch dark, he could not see anything.

Given that he was supporting the girl freely as they moved about, of course he could not breathe.

Panic set in.

Just like that, he did not understand anything. Where was he stretching out his hands to what he thought was the edge of the pool, where were the surface of the water and bottom of the pool, where was his upper body facing, and where was his lower body facing? It was the same peaceful, surging water he was in. But because the girl was once again trying without much success to free herself, Asaba and the girl’s bodies increasingly continued to struggle in desperation. He could not believe how strong she was. Asaba thought he really was going to drown like this. Because this was where his foot settled and it was really near the bottom of the pool, risking his life seemed to tell him that both of his legs and one arm were searching in the water dazedly.

His fingertip touched the edge of the pool.

The tip of his toes touched the bottom of the pool.

One way or another he managed to take up a stance. Finally, the faces of the two were above water.

Also, while he coughed up the water he had swallowed, he thought throughout this entire body, “I’m saved.” From some time ago, expecting to be in a bottomless swamp of a pool, from the bottom of the depths of Asaba’s stomach, he could not lay out how he had properly tried to stand on his feet.

“Mother, I’m not little anymore,” he laughed.

And then Asaba rose his face,

eyes in agreement but not in place.

Not taking even one puff of a cigarette, he met the girl’s face at the point-blank range of the beginnings of birth.

The two immediately breathed deeply with them both embracing each other as it were. The two churned the movement of the water, their bodies shaking a little.

Asaba was a little taller than her. The remainder of the hair that was sticking out of her swim cap was dripping water. “Aside from myself, human beings from the beginnings of birth try to make facial expressions,” straightly stared Asaba. Because he was not expecting anyone at the school nor the pool at night, especially some strange girl under the illuminating light of the stars,

he could not think of the reality of the incident.

Slanting her neck just a little, the girl tried to say something.

Also, like emitting the voice of an infant who has not yet learned how to speak, he could hear what seemed like the interjections of a foreign language.

And then,

“Ah,”

suddenly, Asaba and the girl’s bodies were glued together by some strong power. Because she separated herself from Asaba by just half a step, she turned her face and covered her nose and mouth with both of her hands.

Seeing that as a cue, Asaba was brought back to reality by this one action despite being charmed by the eyes of the girl in front of him. Perhaps because of his confused thoughts created by that strange smell, secretly breathing into the palms of his hands to make sure he had no bad breath,

   * Huff* 

he turned to face the girl.

He thought he was going to die from too much surprise. The girl vomited blood. Grasping her mouth with her fingers spread apart, blood fell down in drops.

“…!! Ah…huh..yikes! Umm,”

With Asaba gazing upward by a handbreadth in a shameful panic, the girl, almost catching his voice,

“A nosebleed,”

he seemed to be saying, relieved in the water by one hand, she wiped the blood that was flowing from her nose to her mouth. Because Asaba misunderstood in his thoughts that she was vomiting blood, he really could not see well enough if the blood was coming from her nose.

However, Asaba seemed to question if they were not the same thing.

Anyway, it somehow could not be good.

That fact was not a good change.

Asaba shot out of the pool with the impetus of a rocket, but the girl was already rushing over to the poolside. So that he just could not see the direction that the clothes were being scattered in, his hand flew to the handzipper that was less than the width of his thumb. With the confused part inside of him telling him then, “It’s about time I should head to the bathroom,” only a little part remained calm enough to tell him, “The girl left her bag, didn’t she?” A dark green, being made of something as hard as a hard subject to the touch of a hard hand, the pocket was full. The soldiers from Sonohara Base were carrying something that resembled a bag. Pulling the zipper to open the bag at once, the leader was pulling out a bath towel as he entered, right under the eyes of that thing that was entering that was spontaneously gasping for breath.

Taking a cup full of pills, which was not bigger than a can of juice, there were three plastic bags.

He ended up seeing a thing that he should not have seen.

So he thought.

Asaba wound up closing the zipper hastily. At any rate, because he was losing his head as the large amount of medicine that was snatched away from him, it had a big impact on his eyes, which was more than he needed to see. Therefore, right next to the bottle of medicine was a loaded 9mm gun with 16 shots that said, “I should not look any more at this thing,” with a grip that stuck out, which Asaba had not noticed until just now.

Bath towel in hand and a nonchalant expression on his face, Asaba ran in a hurry back to the pool. Because the girl was in the middle of trying to climb out of the pool, she mistakenly gave the appearance that she was trying to climb the round iron poles used for skiing, resulting in Asaba turning away thinking that it was not good to watch her in a scrutinizing fashion as she strained herself, and he thus presented “that” bath towel to her.

If Asaba were to go back for a glance for a moment, he would have struck a glance at the girl’s upturned eyes. Sitting at the edge of the pool, as it were, with both legs in the water, both ends of the towel on her shoulders were being used to hold her nose. It appeared that the nosebleed had already stopped, but it was just startling to see the bath towel dyed red.

“What should I do?” he thought.

It continued to give the sensation now that made it seem that this was just one step away from reality. To be honest, he just thought a little as well that she looked somewhat in poor shape.

“Well, I should get going home,” he informed her of the feeling that he wanted to get up and leave this place quickly, a feeling that was by no means small inside his heart.

However…

The girl quietly fixed her eyes on Asaba. Asaba turned to look the other way again.

As it were, if he was going to leave her behind like this, it was not like she was going to sit at the pool’s edge forever, or at least that was the feeling he got.

“Did you see?”

Suddenly, the girl seemed to ask.

The unforeseen crossroads blocked the words in Asaba’s mouth. “Speaking of becoming confused at the sight of blood, it was bad enough that I wound up opening her bad and refusing her cry for help,” he thought. At that, because this was settling so that he could clearly ask, it seemed somewhat cunning but not manly.

Measuring the distance by eye so that it was neither too close nor far, Asaba sat on the pool edge next to the seemingly same girl.

“…Are you sick?”

The girl in just one mere instant, having seemingly just a merely dubious face, soon shook her head.

Asaba continued to wait for her to speak thinking that perhaps some explanation existed behind that, but with that, the girl kept quiet. Asaba put up with the dead silence, thinking about what he should say.

“What is your name?”

The girl replied.

“Iriya.”

What she was saying also sounded like a foreign language, giving a bit of an awkward feeling, given her strange voice.

“…So that is your name? How about your last name?”

Using a timid breath, the girl answered like that.

“Iriya, Kana.”

“I am unsure if it ‘Iriya,’” he thought. That seemed like the name of a place in the city of Sonohara.

The girl patiently waited for what Asaba would speak next.

“If there was something I could say,” thought Asaba.

“…Do you not know how to swim?”

“Because I wound up saying that, I could not ask something a little more sincere instead of asking that like the idiot I am,” he thought to himself. Deciding that she could not swim, was she in the middle of remembering sometime ago that she could not save herself?

Like putting together the pieces in Asaba’s field of vision, the girl loosely nodded.

“If there was something I could say,” thought Asaba.

The fact was he was thinking, but because he could not prolong the conversation with the girl that his words seemed to be cut up into pieces, which meant that he could not make a “question” go through the swirl of proper questions with meaning. The more questions he asked straight from the mouth like, “Who are you?” the more they would just end up becoming single words. He did not think that the girl would respond with such a clear answer. The continuing silence, the extra tension, the more he should say something the more in a hurry he should be in a hurry to say, “Then, I’m going home,” with the exception of what words and thoughts came to mind.

“Can you swim?”

Suddenly, the girl seemed to inquire.

Because he could swim, she was asking the question. It was from that little understanding that it came.

And then, that single word (TL note: “Can you swim?” can be a single word in Japanese) became the breach.

“…Umm, you know, if it would be alright with you,”

this girl could not swim. And then, but if she did not mean strong points as in one’s real strong points, he could swim.

Placing that point of himself, he was unsure whether or not he could certainly show her. “I will teach you, how to swim that that is.”

Asaba seemed to say.

Because he ended up saying that, he remembered his own hesitation in suggesting it himself. This girl had a nosebleed a while back. She had taken heaps of that unknown natural medicine from that bag. He did not know what she herself was thinking, but to begin with, was it not impossible to speak about the matter itself about that girl swimming in the pool and the like?

Even if the girl was shaking her head in agreement, it seemed she had a little happy face.

By just looking at that face, Asaba made a sound taken aback by the course of events.

“Wait a second.”

Thinking about trivial matters like kick boards, he turned to storehouse tools for the small first harvest of the year. If he turned around incidentally from worry, although he meant to wait, the girl became attached to Asaba’s back like a puppy. Knocking over the kick board pile, and also always looking among the things that were not pretty slippery that she could, the back of the girl’s eyes were itching.

He thought.

If it was done accidentally, also meaning more than the girl not being able to swim, perhaps she had been unable to swim since the day of her birth with today being the first time.

Even so, for what reason she had come to try swimming, he was unsure how she had come to this momentous decision.

“Surely, it seems that way,” also cried the thoughts in Asaba’s head for a basis.

Asaba pondered whether she was getting really sick as the girl shook her head. But, even if she did not have the so-called illness, generally you would not carry just that medicine.

For example, unless you had something like a naturally weak body, you would not do that.

Something like falling ill for a long time with a severe illness nowadays could finally just be cured.

“Finally, it seems that way,” Asaba thought. “Having to go back and forth between being healthy and ill from childhood, also by the grace of the school and summer vacation, something to the degree of a faraway field trip for the homework of the body, just watching only a friend’s synchronized swimming for class in the pool, but also waiting a long time to swim, just now having the tools available for curing it for the mother who wants to try asking, ‘Would it be alright to go the pool?’ as well as being able to say something like ‘What kind of idiot would say to this child that they decided, “Ah, it’s no good with having no more medicine to take next take”’ but never accepting consolation, it seemed that she absolutely had to sneak out of the house stealthily to go to the pool at night, “thought Asaba.

If he considered it, also for some reason or other giving a line of fine feeling, also creating a mood like packing your thoughts when gazing at the pool, also wearing that damned serious swimming cap, also the sudden nosebleed and large amount of medicine, all really seemed like what gave a good explanation.

Returning to the pool with two kick boards in hand, he jumped in feet first with a splash. With the girl hesitating a little at trying to imitate entirely, as it were, whatever Asaba did.

Handing over the kick board to the girl,

“If you can hold onto this, then you should not have to think about it,”

there upon casually giving a good mood,

“…Umm, you know, is the water getting in your face?”

The girl timidly shook her head.


That said, if it was not to begin from there in the first place, she would not succeed.

It was because she was suffering from it being her first time. Encouraging and soothing, the girl by no means could keep the water out of her face. However, if it started to seem that she could put her entire head in the water gradually with extremely painful effort, she was there a while back. Practicing to reach out to grab the edge of the pool with her body and practicing to take breaths while doing the flutter kick, she increasingly practiced moving with the use of a kick board.

And then, at 9P.M. on the last day of summer vacation in the second year of middle school, less than ten minutes had passed.

And then, if the girl at that time had held onto her kick board, she seemingly could have swum 15m. Because it was an extremely slow motion of rising wake in a magnificent sheet of spray as she turned to make her lap for the flutter kick, she was going to let go quickly in the aforementioned turn. Nonetheless, if he thought about it, she had gone from being a completely hopeless beginner to someone who made large rapid strides. Originally, he was unsure how good her reflexes were.

With Asaba teaching her how to swim timidly on the beginning as well, he thought that it seemed that the girl’s nosebleed would soon stop there again. Yet, the girl’s desire for steady, quick improvement showed. With the girl as silent as ever, Asaba’s words just once again managed to shake around inside his head, but with every lap that it looked like she could do her, her facial expression brightened little by little.

“Amazing! If this trend continues, she’ll be the ace of the swimming next week.”

The girl looked like she just had a little happy face. In less than the span of an hour, for Asaba, this “just a little” seemed to one way or another make the subtle difference between reading between the lines and not. Now her face thus far seemed to have the happiest look to it.

“Well, it’s about time to graduate from the kick board.”

Just at the moment, the girl’s facial expression stiffened.

“If it’s okay, you could swim by yourself some more. It somehow seems like you are already becoming one with the kick board as well,” he declared to the girl in victory. However, saying that as if some sort of agreement was reached, Asaba could see something that looked like he had wholeheartedly thrown knives into her despair.

“Ah, um, you know,”

Asaba surprisingly giving in after a while,

“Well, to start with, see how I am holding this with my hands? Keep a cool head about you, ok?”

It appeared that Asaba gave his approval as he said this.

With the girl also giving her consent this time, it looked like she showed just a little relief on her face stretching out both of her hands. She grabbed Asaba by the wrists. In turn, Asaba’s hands took the girl’s wrists and formed a grip around them.

Thus, Asaba finally noticed “that.”


In a moment, the girl also noticed that Asaba had noticed as he tightened his body in apprehension. Until just now, “that” being on her wrists, the girl might have forgotten herself.

Asaba searched the girl’s wrists with his fingertips.

There was something stiff and round.

Slowly, he tried turning her wrists over.

Because it was smaller than the size of an egg yolk, like a metallic silver sphere, the girl’s wrists were buried in his.

The girl patiently and intently kept watching.

The movement of the water was shaking her body.

Reality shook in the water, continuing once again.

As if saying, “I don’t want it to hurt,” holding out in both hands the silver balls for wrists that Asaba seemed to be able to see well, the girl started to approach him.

The problems in life. He should have prepared to listen to her from the onset.

Who the hell was she?

“It is nothing, really.”

It was a reverse in superiority. Now, the girl was scary enough to threaten someone. Asaba tried taking a step back, but his chances were fixedly turning bad in that single-minded gaze, and a curse could leave from that expression that sounded seemingly like a foreign language. He could not step forward by any means instead of first taking a step backwards.

“Are you trying to make fun of me?”

The girl was already before his eyes.

Between the faces of the girl and Asaba, already, the silver ball had just buried itself into her wrist.

“It has an electric taste, you know.”

No one was supposed to be at school in the middle of the night nor was there supposed to be anyone at the pool under the starlight, but some unknown girl was, although perhaps it was nothing, despite the reality of event appearing unlikely.


Suddenly, he could hear a police car.


Quite surprised, that from his own mouth came such shameful regrets that he let out some tears. He could hear it from quite nearby. Was it coming from inside the school, or was it the case that it was possibly turning to return outside in the grand surroundings? He could see the reflection of the police car’s flashing lights in the gym windows. It was no more than one or two vehicles.

The girl was silent.

Although his facial expression changed, you could not see what looked like surprise in his eyes from the one minute beyond the last ten minutes. That said, Asaba’s panic stirred up again. Anyhow, he must not panic in any way. Since he did not understand what was what, Asaba pulled on the girl’s hand losing himself in trying to climb out of the pool but not being able to do so.

And quickly ending up at being close to the pool’s edge, that man appeared before Asaba.

Coming from the changing room’s swinging door, he walked slowly to the poolside.

Tall, you could not quite tell his age.

The jacket of his suit hanging over his shoulder, he already had a bath towel in the other hand. He was not wearing a necktie. Having a young countenance in his eyes, he gave the feeling that he was bursting in laughter at some vulgar joke all the time. Save for looking horribly tired, in some respects, a mood hung in the air like he was about to be beaten up by a pickpocket.

“It’s time to go home.”

Stopping and standing, all the while straight at the girl from the poolside, the man seemed to say that.

In reality, with the girl’s nosebleed and all, he thought that the blood ended up flowing and disappearing in the pool drain.

As he did not know what was what due to the confusion, he thought it would be just alright to lie about not being afraid. Yet, Asaba stuck to his bluff. Taking one step forward, the girl stood with her back to Asaba to take a position to protect him.

Upon seeing that, the man unexpectedly seemed to show a look of admiration, with his face saying,

“Oh.”

Whispering from the girl’s back,

“It’s okay; I know him.”

Asaba, seeing the man lose interest in his eyes, over her shoulder said,

“Who is that?”

The man replied.

“…Hmm. Well, you could say that I am her older brother. And yourself?”

With Asaba on guard in apprehension, he purposefully made his voice sound ill-humored.

“I’m a student of this school,”

he seemingly ended up pretending to say that. As the man was turning around to survey his surroundings,

“Why again? At this time?”

“I wanted to swim.”

With Asaba answering in a single word (TL note: “I wanted to swim can be a single word in Japanese), the man suddenly laughed throughout his face.

“…Is that really so? I see. That is the problem with today being the last day of summer, isn’t it?

The man squatted at the poolside. Watching Asaba intently while laughing with a big grin,

“You know, I did that when I was younger, too. When I was a live-in school janitor, I used to time and time again jump in like a thundering old man. Let’s have a competition as comrades with guts to se who is a better swimmer. While swimming was a big deal, on the second time, with one time the old man coming rushing out holding a broom, but in coming here from that edge with the intention of catching me, he was unable to do so. So, just because I was so skillful at getting away from the old man and playing crank calls you know, ‘Aah, Nagasawa-kun,’ mimicking the school’s principal, Nagasawa being the old the old man’s name, ‘Aah, Nagasawa-kun. He was kind of like a mountain demon in his ability in catching students sneaking into the pool. In a way, he had the head, of a mountain demon, that is.’ Well, that old man would always get very mad. That was amusing,” indicating several men and cars outside of the pool. The sound of a quite engine, the gnawing sound of tires on gravel, the seemingly opening slapping sound of a door could be heard.

They were surrounded.

Furthermore, anyone with the exception of this man did not come to enter the pool area.

He completely did not know anything about this man’s character. Besides understanding the brotherly air from the story, he could not tell if it was just an outwardly fake appearance. Asaba badly seemed to think that it was the opposite of a light sensation.

“Umm.”

He took another wild guess.

Who the heck are you people?!

Then, the girl and the man also in agreement could not think of an answer to give to bring clarity to his guess. Because Asaba’s words were as quick as the sudden drawing of an arrow, the man went ahead from there.

“You know, I think I have yet to thank you. That old man Nagasawa, we brats came to get along in playing with him, you know…How honor comes to light each and every time something bad is done, we expect something will smear our name in getting caught. Yet, the old man never told the other teachers about what we did…Therefore, you might say, even now, it seems you played a relatively tolerable and innocent prank,” so he seemed to say, gazing patiently at Asaba.

“For the reason that you stayed here without speaking, you cannot ask anything concerning alternatives.

That was what he seemed to be saying.

Asaba felt like he understood.

With the man watching him, Asaba bowed a little.

The man flared up in laughter. Taking out of his jacket pocket what looked like a wireless device,

“We are done now. C has 1: we are leaving this place,”

saying just that quickly, and then standing while stretching.

“Well, I guess we are finished here. Let’s put away the kick boards here. Then, get cleaned up. By the way,”

facing the girl,

“Isn’t today your first time swimming?”

Taking advantage of Asaba’s help at the pool, the girl answered in just a single word (TL note: “He taught me” can be a single word in Japanese),

“He taught me,”

with the man making a face that said, “Ooh.” The girl having part of the towel thrown over her head,

“This guy took care of me. Look you,”

so she appeared to say, forcing herself to bow with a jerk with the bath towel over her head. “You should have left a while ago. With that lot outside, it is getting dangerous.”

The inside of his head was in confusion.

Even though she spoke and he heard, it was like a mountain.

Walking with an uncertain gait at the poolside and pushing open the swinging door to the charging room, there Asaba turned around to show his back. The man waved his hand a bit. With the girl next to him, she stood stock still like a poorly balanced doll. She was quietly watching Asaba from the shadow of the bath towel on her head.

All said, the reality of the incident did not seem likely.

Forgetting to put away the kick boards and wash his eyes, the man said nothing.


§


Asaba Naoyuki’s summer of UFOs began, in retrospect, two months ago on the 24th of June after school.

Being in Sonohara Middle School's third year in class 2 meant meeting a certain man's high specifications, which were those of Suizenji Kunihiro. As student number 12, at fifteen years of age and 175cm tall (TL note: about 5'9”), with a deviation value of 81 on the national exams, and running the 100 meter (TL note: about 109 yds.) dash in 11 seconds, his face was hardly known.

However.

Asaba had always thought that this person had really been mistaken from birth about his use of energy.

In any case, the man writing had the route survey chart of the first ambition at the “CIA.”

Adding up the third year second class with the number 12, 175cm, a score of 81, and the 11 second time, Suizenji Kunihiro was the self-titled Sonohara Middle School Newspaper Club's Club Head and Editor-in-Chief. Why he was called “self-titled for seven days was because the Newspaper Club was recognized as an official club school wide. The only members were always third year student Suizenji and second year student Asaba as the two of them, but this spring Sudou Akiho from the same class had thought something in coming to trespass on that like, “Maybe I should join as well.”

So, there were three club members now.

According to school regulations, if you had three members for yours club, you could petition to become an official club with a club room and budget. Therefore, Akiho always was pestering for a petition of prices and materials, but that was not quite the spirit of Suizenji's vitals. That motive was also amazing.

“'For the sake of protecting the autonomy and self-reliance of journalism, it should keep a prudent distance from organization,' what an idiot!” said Akiho.

Speaking of which, even if Suizenji had tried with failure to petition, the school would not recognize the club, according to Asaba's thoughts.

It was because the paper space contents had substance.

At Sonohara Middle School, nobody knew nor wanted to know that Suizenji Kunihiro had run 100 meters in 11 seconds nor did they know or care that Suizenji Kunihiro was a paranormal phenomena maniac.

Furthermore, as long as the public made accusations of the CIA, in Suizenji's eyes, it was not too much of a measure of one for explicating the reality of paranormal phenomena. If you were to ask Suizenji why the CIA had such a transient ambition, it would seem that the person himself would reason, “If you were to come from the position that the CIA has superbly amazingly skilled spies, participation in secret tactics, and absolutely secret documents for reading, you would probably understand my desire to know everything.”

Then, if it was something that really meant “understand my desire,” this would generally cause the seasons to change.

For example, this winter, Suizenji's theme was to “achieve the reality of psychic abilities.” This time, because it was Suizenji (and Asaba's) job to broadcast at lunch break, he was guilty of making a reckless teacher angry for making the entire student body the subject of his telepathy experiment.

Thus, after spring came, Suizenji changed his theme to “achieve the reality of ghosts.” This time, leaving 110 watches to cover an event while sneaking into the women's bathroom in the middle of the night at the Uwasa Line at Ichikawadaimon Station after hearing a rumor about ghost's there, a reckless teacher got angry.

Because such a man was editor-in-chief, it was, in other words, such a newspaper.

Its name being until just recently Taiyoukei Denpa Shinbun. (TL note: translated as Solar System Electo-magnetic Wave Newspaper)

However, when Akiho joined the club, circumstances changed just a little. Even now, Suizenji's relative news story themes abided in nearly seven percent of the space, but the “serious articles” that Akiho was in charge of were bit by bit enlarging that territory. Lately at the editorial committee meetings, Akiho said, “The paper name should change,” which meant a rise in spots of contention. Finally ending with good results after five hours of the end of the war of words thanks to Asaba's work as arbitrator, both parties barely found a common ground at the critical point in their line of speech so that they could calm down to call it the Sonohara Denpa Shinbun. When Asaba was asked about his thoughts on the new name change, reasoning in the seat next to Nishikubo,

“'You know when I heard “Taiyoukei' that I could not but help smile at the oversizing of its sound, but in just hearing the relation to 'Sonohara,' it gave that ama-zing kind of feeling that was familiar to Denpa.”

With Suizenji Kunihiro going on a rampage today as well in the atmospheric club room's chief room for a citadel, in the monthly Sonohara Denpa Shinbun, everywhere the eyes looked on the school's bulletin boards were the deep wall newspapers' guerilla bulletins in a repeating manner.

Going back two months from now, it was after school on June 24th.

Facing Suizenji's interest in the theme from spring of “spirit phenomenon” whose hopes were weakening bit by bit, Asaba endeavored in his manual labor. While staggering in his walk with heavy luggage carried in both hands, he followed the way to reach the club room's chief room. By taking care of the luggage by putting it temporarily on the floor, Akiho was probably coming to try calling out in a feeling voice.

“Akiho...if you're there, please close the door...”

He breathed. It was because of the Newspaper Club's unlawful occupation that Sudou Akiho poked her head out of the closing door as Asaba rolled his eyes holding the largest luggage.

“What is that?”

Asaba entered the clubroom, and he put the luggage on top of the table. He took something like a deep breath near the pipe chair.

“Ha...that was heavy.”

Coming from taking it out of the library, it was a mountain of graduation albums. Approximately twenty volumes accumulated to about 50cm (TL note: about 20in.) in height of books. Because it was a lot a paper, it was awfully heavy.

“Even this is not all of it. There is another second pile nearly the same size. How old is this school to have these documents!”

With Akiho's appropriate expression of admiration,

“So, what should we do, with this stuff, that is?”

“Umm, chief, have you not been listening?”

“What?”

“The planning for the July issue. That 'Shiver! Looking at ghost photos in the graduation album!' thing.”

“Eh? Planning for next time, what's wrong with Mount Dozing Off...”

Asaba took out a can of Oolong tea out of his muddled pants pocket, and pulling open the pull tab,

“Mount Dozing Off, listen, you jerk! Exam question prediction experiment!' probably. Let's throw that out.”

“What the hell?!”

Hearing Akiho unintentionally raise her voice, Asaba seemed to show a little surprised face. Since even if it could be helped that the three people of the Newspaper Club were trying unsuccessfully to be political factions, Suizenji was a conservative and Akiho a reformist. If Akiho was eyeing “serious space,” Asaba was thinking that perhaps she should be happy about ぽしゃったら why that hand of Suizenji was coming to plan. Sipping the hidden taste in the Oolong tea, what he was thinking again to say something in an upward glance in an inquiry from Akiho's appearance. Because Akiho had that rude and sudden look in her eyes, Asaba approached her until he dropped down sitting roughly in a pipe chair. In front of his eyes was a personal laptop, the cursor was flashing near the middle of an article written and drawn with “giving out puppies” on it. Akiho's hands placed on the keyboard, suddenly said,

“But Asaba, you did not investigate or make various preparations. Is that altogether futile?”

“It can't be helped, you know. It is because the chief did not throw out any reasons. Look, should the chief and I occasionally do night duty and crowd together in the club room? If Kawaguchi were to fail at hearing the story of the planning for exam question prediction, 'Perhaps you guys did not even think to sneak in the staff room in the middle of the night.'”

Incidentally, Asaba and Akiho's 35-year-old single homeroom “slave-to-science” teacher Kawaguchi Taizou, and third year class two number 12, 175cm tall, score of 81, 11 second dash, “truth seeker” Suizenji Kunihiro, of course, had an extremely sour relationship.

“You know Kawaguchi, that little faculty morning pep talk of his is the death of me. It is like getting stabbed with a nail by the homeroom teacher summoning the chief to the faculty room. Since it seemed it was somehow becoming a pain in the ass, he will have to dance with death in the bigger distinction in planning if the exam questions go poorly.”

“The chief?”

“The chief.”

Akiho coming wretchedly close to Mayune and said,

“...But, I just can't seem to believe it. How that Suizenji Kunihiro has about the opposition of a nail in living together with the teacher.”

Asaba, laughing, said,

“Well, I really don't understand that man. He has entirely done something like repentance. Even if it was accidentally, caring for the chief is about the same as Mount Dozing Off, aiming to photograph spirits, or something like that, which is like walking around trying to avoid a treasure-load of shit falling from the sky, probably from just not thinking, you know.”

Rather, Asaba thought that in his heart he regretted his way of doing things.

Because he chugged the Oolong tea dry, Asaba stood up, applying vigor to a “Well then.” He put as many of the mountain of graduation albums that he could carry in his hands on the table.

“But, I think the planning for this time is pretty good, too. Look, just because old photos have just that little bad look to them, you would expect that having one flake of persuasive power would quite considerably make a siege against the weaker photo for the stronger photo's victory.”

“Somehow, I ended up saying something like that.”

Akiho seemed to be saying to continue going back to “We are giving away puppies.” Asaba, grasping the meaning perhaps said,

“That, what is it?”

Seeing how surrendering is an important thing to do for someone, and because it is the romanization of human strength, looking up at the picture, Asaba glared with moist fixed eyes.

“What the hell is with 'we'll see whether or not it's real in any case!' It get it, you know. A lot more mixed up and always you just make that face of 'I keep company with the chief, 'but it doesn't seem to say that I don't hate you really. Things like ESP and spirits and all.”

Two months after being born a male mongrel, growing up serving and feeding people as a duty,

“I am not helping with that plan. Humph, I deny all knowledge and have nothing to do with it. You know, coming to borrow all those albums, finishing them all exactly on time would surely be as a person walking the circumference of the sexagenary cycle[3]. If I were to show that Chief two pages just once deciding not to shout, 'Whose...talent...is THIS?!' Aah, Asaba really was thinking he was a neutral power. In this club, my only ally is just myself really, right? Haaaa...The path of a reformist is a lonely road.”

At that time,

“How absurd!!”

Perhaps, you would expect him to be eavesdropping outside of the door.

“Who on earth is talking about reform!! Your reform will go from joy to sorrow like the athletic club's victories to defeats!! We are searching for people who want cats and dogs!! Special Correspondent Sudou, by all means, answer me!!”

Just kicking open the door with authority, Suizenji came walking in. Melon bread in his stable hand and a Tetrapack of milk in his left, his silver-rimmed glasses shone vaingloriously as he galloped but not flew on one of his whims.

Asaba, choosing to be dumbfounded at Suizenji's impetus, asked,

“...Umm, did something good happen?”

Akiho, giving a cold-hearted glance, merely spoke one word,

“Idiot.”

“Pooh!” laughed Suizenji,

“If you could pick a flower by the root and not yet be able to sweep away the characters of 'Denpa' from the pen name, you could not see it by all means Special Correspondent. If I remember correctly, perhaps something like 'The Sonohara Middle School Newspaper' would be an appropriate pen name crowning your small-minded reform spectacle. However! Now that the pen name ended up becoming Taiyoukei Denpa Shinbun, with Denpa being the same as a naturally quick report in the knowledge of the genre as 'Taiyoukei' was the same as magnificent...”

There, Akiho stood up kicking her chair.

“I want to reform the Newspaper Club! Who does not want to do surgery with Denpa through societal common sense like caring for yourself! How can you let the read escape from the main point of a pen name!”

Suddenly, as well as trying to get out of a rock and a hard place in the argument that came up again, Asaba suddenly laughed.

“What, so wasn't I right in saying that the Chief also has lingering affection for 'Taiyoukei Denpa.'”

“I am king here! Through and through, right? Incidentally, Correspondent Asaba.”

With Suizenji holding his melon bread in his other hand, he pointed like he was shooting at the mountain of graduation albums piled up on the table.

“Something like that?”

Asaba was bewildered. In the first place, Suizenji had ordered Asaba to request to take the graduation albums out of the library.

“...Here are the graduation albums, but...I borrowed them from the library.”

“Correspondent Asaba. Why on earth are those here?”

Akiho next to him also raised an eyebrow at this. Without Asaba understanding anything,

“Ummm, therefore, doesn't it seem to make use of the middle of the picture to bring it to light?”

“Correspondent Asaba. Where exactly does this conversation seem to use that picture?”

Asaba reasserted Akiho without thinking, and Akiho made a face that said, “even if you look over here, you will get nothing from me.”

Both of them said at the same time, “Wasn't it the Chief's idea? 'Look in the graduation album for spirits.' That was in the July issue's new planning.”

“Were you listening, Asaba? Perhaps you would like to kill the pre-planning?”

Suizenji, for this reason, was long-winded. By fixing your eyes in the direction of the day after tomorrow, like looking up at the setting sun, in a whisper-like voice, it murmured, “death.”

Asaba could hear it.

Akiho could not hear it. When Akiho listened again at that time in wonder,

“That thing really is DEATH!!”

Suizenji suddenly roared like Gojira. (TL note: a.k.a. Godzilla) While making a show of irritation by hitting his forehead with his hand, he walked briskly across the club room, declaring,

“Answer me now, answer me both of you correspondents!! Aaah how is it, how is it that if you two can not hear the sound of laugher that you cannot break it!!”

A window was left open at the end of the room, and Suizenji cried like he was facing anti-aircraft missiles under the blue sky after school on June 24th.

“I have fallen behind ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................!!”

He changed suddenly and completely.

Quietly closing the window with both hands, Suizenji reasserted his height by the light of the printing glass. By striking a changed peaceful expression,

“Now, both correspondents. Today, namely June 24th, is what day, do you know?”

The two once again exchanged glances. Asaba saw the look in Akiho's eyes that said, “What the heck? Did you eat something weird?” but Asaba shook his head to say, “Hell if I know.” Reluctantly, Akiho answering without a shred of confidence, said, “Thursday maybe?” and Asaba answered in speculation with “Toilet Paper Day.”

“Wrong.”

Then, Suizenji majestically gave the right answer.

“June 24th, in the eyes of the entire world, is UFO Day.”


Aah...


Gradually, both of them grasped it.

Suizenji's theme of the season was to continue infecting others with the season.

Past the winter of ESP, beyond the spring of ghosts, Suizenji was giving a thorough update that cried as the harbinger of whatever was the subject of his interests, but he went on the pilgrimage again.

Asaba, heartbroken, let his shoulders drop. Akiho returned to “We are giving away puppies.” Three months after surgical birth in good health, are clever, are good pets, and are polished, said a pressed space key while,

“I see, it's already that time, isn't it?”

Asaba just said,

“But it was so incredibly heavy...”

“I am going to start wearing my summer uniform tomorrow, like this.”

But, Asaba just whined,

“But it was so incredibly heavy...”

Suizenji, going suddenly back to his informal tone,

“Hey, hey! What's with this feeling, you guys? Show a little excitement, excitement you know!”

“Who on earth would do that?” both thought simultaneously. Above all, Asaba had taken a lot of damage. Taking a fleeting glance at the mountain of graduation albums on the table top, he thought that he shouldn't return them again as he got a sinking feeling in his body. But Akiho said,

“In other words, because we're done with spirits, are we going to end up looking in the last spurt on UFOs from now on?”

“Ah.”

Suizenji nodded his head, and narrowing his eyes, made an incredibly large smile. Each and every year, a few incoming girls were deceived by this smiling face, and they ran in the most foolish move to thrust love letters into that weird Suizenji's shoe locker with their precious paper resources.

Because Akiho thought to listen in advance just in case,

“Umm...why is June 24th UFO Day anyhow?”

“Special Correspondent Sudou! You are still the Sonohara Denpa's Correspondent, aren't you?! I will proudly say that I will devote all my energy in having nothing to do with that kind of journalist!”

“How the hell would I know that!”

“Then, here's a hint. The time: Tuesday, June 24th 1947A.D., the place: about 9500 feet above the peak of Mt. Rainier in the state of Washington in North America.”

With that hint, Asaba had a reaction while he recovered little by little from the pain.

...That, that thing, somewhere...

Mount Rainier.

He remembered having heard that name before.

If he remembered correctly, he had read all the tome long ago in UFO books meant for children something...

“...Ummmm, that Kenneth Arnold case[4].”

That name unexpectedly came to mind and spilled forth out of Asaba's mouth.

Because it was long ago, he could not remember already what seemed to be a friend's face and nickname, which was a horribly missed treatment of that name. Since that name was left on a single-sided piece of paper in his head, it moved him just a little.

“As expected of Correspondent Asaba!”

Suizenji could hang on the wall the compromise on the cork board, perfectly sticking on the red, round seal of approval in “Asaba's” column of “A List of Good Things to Look for.” Turning around,

“While Kenneth Arnold was flying in his light aircraft over Mount Rainier's peak, 'While something like a thrown saucer skipped on the water's surface, there flew nine unidentified flying objects,' he witnessed. Officials would report this among the first of incidents of UFO sightings, with June 24th thereafter in the whole world's eyes becoming UFO Day.”

Suizenji seemed to say that with true satisfaction in his nod of agreement.

But Asaba, still having lingering affection for “looking for spirits in the graduation album,” asked,

“...But, then, what is our next issue's project? Even though we have something?”

“Of course. For the next project, we will thoroughly investigate to gather data to go the rigorous distance. We will carefully make the necessary preparations.”

“Huh?”

“By all means Special Correspondent, I will leave every page of the July issue to you. Please diligently write your thoughts to your heart's content those articles. We will make provisions to collect data in absolute secrecy between then.”

Both Asaba and Akiho letting out a “Riight...?” in a block-headed voice,

“E-even if you say that sort of thing suddenly, it is problematic.”

“Uh, umm, doesn't 'we' really mean me and the Chief, right?”

“Correspondent Asaba, you don't have any confidence in physical strength, do you? I don't mind working like a dog or like I was born to drink myself to death, but right now it feels like that work has been drilled into me.”

Asaba was becoming uneasy. Collecting data in absolute secrecy meant that the reverberation of people talking was quite eerie. Perhaps the person who suggested such an outrageous thing should leave before they got taken out and beaten to death.

“Absolute secret data collecting? Where...?”

“Where else, but in the mountains out back?”

Upon hearing that, Asaba felt just a little relieved. Certainly, it was not like such negligence had not consumed his summer vacation in its entirety. Asking again,

“But, why are we doing it again in the mountains out back, really?” Suizenji laughed fearlessly and completed his answer with natural gusto.

“If UFOs exist, they will be in the mountains out back.”

Because summer as well as June 24th approached, it would happen after school.

After the winter of ESP and the spring of spirits had passed, Asaba Naoyuki's summer of UFOs had finally come.


§§


“And?”

It would be bad if that first breath turned out to be a sigh. If he breathed in, that smell somehow reached his nose. It was the smell of chalk that had avoided breaking into little bits in the damp dust cloth. That was the smell of the classroom, the smell of the school, the smell of the significance of a summer vacation gone and past, and the smell of the first day of classes for the second semester.

“Really?! You were really in the mountains behind the Sonohara Base all throughout summer break?”

Without raising his voice and falling prostrated limp on top of his desk by the window, if he nodded his head like a dog rubbing its chin against his arm, Nishikubo was peering into Asaba's face as he stood to the side of the desk asking,

“Aren't you quite the idiot?”

summarizing Asaba's summer vacation in practically a single word (TL note: “Aren't you quite the idiot?” can be a single word in Japanese).

As feared of the development by the river mouth would get muddy with wringing oil and ignoring it from the beginning of the present era to the last in the country left and right, Japan had just arrived barely escaping alive to the beginning of vacation time.

“Was it as I thought? Did you do something like camping in a tent and cooking in the middle of the mountains?”

You really are an idiot for doing that was what Nishikubo's tone asked.

With Asaba being absent-minded, it would be a pain in the ass.

“...Because the Chief had taken out a light tiger, I have been shopping at the convenience store constantly to buy in bulk, haven't I? Therefore, I have been eating convenience store obentos and retort curry, things like that.”

In actuality, because he almost ended up mastering every kind of convenience store obento, he was already done for a while with trying retort curry. Since Akiho sometimes had brought refreshments for him to eat, he thought himself as really thankful now.

“Besides, I really was not in the mountains all that long, you know. It was probably only about three or four days because normally if you couldn't eat or bathe, you would go home. It was like the Chief was always watching me though.”

“Huh? Then, what kind of Chief would not bathe throughout summer vacation?”

“That's incredible. Just because you retired a little in the way of the greater part of a month in those back hills, umm, kind of like baseball camp.” Nishikubo twisted his neck,

“Just what is it? Didn't it have something, just something, to do with the commemoration of a sports park, you know?”

“Yeah, yeah, it was that. You bathe yourself in the water supplies there. That's it. Because we have the special forces, it was impossible in the first place for us to somehow just be stuck in the mountains alone all summer long with no water supply or toilet.”

“But bathing yourself, there has to be some nice people there.”

“During the day, right? If it was at night , we could get into someone's car for this. But even during the day we are the Chief's entertainment.”

As expected, Nishikubo laughed. Asaba also looked like he had contracted a smile.

“Well, you know,” responded Asaba.

A little too much for his throat, he had a bad memory that perhaps was the reason for the lack of light.

But, he thought is was not just that.

If he tried reflecting in kind, “It was not amusing in the least bit” was the feeling he got seemingly in the end.

He was successful even in feeding a raccoon.

In the middle of the night at the sports park was a large swinging tire where they “collected data” of burning firecrackers.

And then, however, above all else, “No one except friends came to the 'secret base' set up in the middle of the mountains for watching for 'enemies,' which meant that, to confess in the spirit of honesty, the project had been skipped. In this day and age, it was becoming unthinkable to make-believe doing a secret base, but the Chief was a person who ended up seriously in his heart to have seemingly lied about his good age. Even if it meant that half of it was forced, if you finished diving inside that once, there was no mistake that “it felt good for a moment.”

Perhaps it was apparently not such a bad summer vacation.

And yet, being the last of the last, given an absurd feeling,

creeping in the pool,

and then,

“Hey!”

Asaba returned to himself as Nishikubo was hitting him in the shoulder.

“What's up with you spacing out?”

“Sorry. What is it?”

“...As I was saying, did you really seclude yourself in the mountains behind the Sonohara Base looking for UFOs? Did you take any good pictures?”

The impossibility made Asaba laugh,

“It is not like we came across some corpse out there, but I thought it was really high.”

“What the...how boring,” Nishikubo seemed to be muttering, when his interest in Asaba's mountain seclusion was flaring red,

“Ah, but I have heard things.”

In the seat in front of Asaba was Hanamura, but he was in his desk upside down and backwards when he butted into the conversation.

It seemed he had been listening in all this time with his back facing them.

“It seems there have been a lot of rumors for a long time involving UFOs at Sonohara Base.” Indeed Nishikubo seemed dubious,

“Surely even I have heard about that kind of stuff, but, you know, what about it? Couldn't they be mistaking UFOs for stealth craft or something? It's not just Sonohara you know with these UFO stories. There would also be a lot of talk of eye witnesses of UFOs on the street of huge airports existing. Particularly because of how the combined forces of the Air Self-Defence Force and the USAF at Sonohara Base are together, how also always at strange different times airplanes go missing, and because they don't separately announce 'That was our aircraft' for each disturbance that happens that could be mistaken for a UFO sighting.”

“It is just the Chief's opinion, but...”

Asaba said, but his mouth suddenly closed.

“Eyewitnesses close to Sonohara Base could leave out the enigma of the overemphasis on aviation, calling out Area Sonohara's foo fighters, making a splendidly famous space for UFO mania. It was often recorded in something like that group of journals, wasn't it? Originally, foo fighters were World War II Allied fighter pilots who had overemphasized the mystery of reporting eyewitness accounts of aircraft, which began with what were thought to be German and Japanese secret weapons perhaps, but when the war was ending, German and Japanese pilots seemed to say they both thought they had seen the same thing, 'an Allied secret weapon.' Eventually, now what was something of a natural phenomenon could be said that it might not have been mass hysteria. Of course regarding UFO mania, if you mentioned 'foo fighters,' it would be an alias for UFOs really, but...”

Nishikubo as well as Hanamura, somewhat impressed, had a half stunned expression from hearing Asaba's story.

Asaba noticing the two's facial expressions,

“That is just the Chief's opinion though.”

“Pat,” Nishikubo put his hand on Asaba's shoulder.

“In all honesty Asaba.”

“Wha, what is it?”

“That's enough, that's enough. And? And your Chief said something about the true nature of Area Sonohara?”

“Yeah...that Chief, I cannot really understand that man who is both fine and rough. I have not tried properly listening to him, but unexpectedly, I think he is a good guy, but there is just something about his personality.”

“So, what do you really think then?”

He somehow got the feeling that he was kind of following the details,

“Among the biggest influences of UFO mania, really meaning good sales of products, it is really just a theory that 'Sonohara Base has missing man-made UFOs, right? In America, it seems there are similar stories. Recovering crashed UFOs, it is rumored that they have made incredible high-performance aircraft that imitates the technology. Perhaps that.” Hanamura seemed to think that odd,

“Then, umm, shouldn't UFOs have flown around fighters going voom voom increasingly during the war?”

Nishikubo also seemed shocked,

“So man, just what about this so-called 'incredible high-performance aircraft?' Why did we suddenly 'acquire technology from crashed UFOs?'”

Asaba was offended in his heart from being made to feel like an idiot. However, Asaba made an attempt to show that he did not believe the theory of 'man-made UFOs' at face value. Having somewhat of a self-torturing mood,

“...Yeah, if you have a picture, you know. One of a foo fighter. But it has to be printed on a PC printer though. Quite famous, right?”

Seemingly saying this, he pulled a bound notebook out of his bag with his collected data. Rummaging through the file contents,

“Hmm, ah, I found it. Here.”

From the looks of it, mixed in with the bunch of stinking lies of spirit photos, wrinkled printouts were spread out on top of the desk.

Nishikubo and Hanamura leaned forward.

Because some idiot took them in monochrome, if you did not give an explanation of what it was, you would not really understand what came out, even if it looked like the shape of a UFO in the photo.

First Nishikubo said,

“What's this? Which way is up?”

“Like this”

Asaba put the printout in the right direction, showing Nishikubo how to look at it. “Starting about this time of year on the internet, it has become a bit of a topic of discussion. Around here on the ground and around here in the sky, there is a foo fighter in the shadow of the center of that small fire. The photographer is unknown.”

“And here is the abominable snowman, and over here is the Loch Ness monster.”

Hanamura disrupted things, but Nishikubo stared at the printout surprised and serious. Pointing at the shadow of the “foo fighter,”

“Is this the light from the wingtips?”

Asaba tilted his head, saying “Huh...”

“This, probably because it is from the No. 4 apron on the west bank, the Chief and I, who were not seemingly separated from each other in the back mountains, took it there I think. This photo file was streamed together into a movie on the net, but I do not understand at all how it somehow is sloppier over here.”

“...It is an airplane as I thought. The point is that this idiot here cannot give any explanation for these photos.”

“Well certainly, UFO technology, etc. is different as well as just the development of secret weapons in testing that has been done so if that is about it, then I don't think it really strange. Look, there are stories of a war breaking out soon, too.”

Very soon, there will be a war.

That kind of thing seemed like a joke to many, specifically those among Asaba's generation. Those born before them were continuing to say “very soon,” but on the contrary, the people on the news just kept quarreling over the issue, which made one wonder how long until that would pass before the “real war.”

“There won't be a war,” said Hanamura.

“Perhaps there won't be a war,” said Asaba.

But there Nishikubo said,

“But to the north lately, they have been getting bombed by airplanes, you know. This morning, while skimming the news, a college professor was saying something about them winning badly this time really.”

But Hanamura left the conversation.

“That is how he always is. But yeah, if that war really somehow doesn't happen, it will be me and everybody else looking like complete idiots. Well, having a complete shelter here at the school, once a month we have been doing, like, drills and stuff.”

“Asaba.”

Asaba, Nishikubo, and Hanamura all had the same face as they raised their heads.

It was Akiho.

“You got a minute?”

Saying just that, Akiho dragged Asaba away from his desk. Because in this class Sudou Akiho was acquainted with the art of war with school factions, Hanamura did not seem to openly make fun of Akiho by mimicking her as expected.

“Why are you late today?”

“I wasn't. I barely made it.”

“Kawaguchi and everyone somehow got to class on time together, you know. So, don't play the good victim.”

Saying this, Akiho, taking a bundle of papers clipped together out of her bag, pushed them onto Asaba.

“What's this?”

“Work, can't you even see that? Finish skimming over that quickly.”

He was surprised.

She had copied this summer's homework (TL note: In Japan, students are assigned summer homework during their summer vacation).

“...This looks like it was a lot.”

“Of course it was. It is good that you understand that, but don't imitate it like you copied the answers verbatim, okay?”

“Umm.”

Even though he quickly tried to thank her, she whispered in an angry voice, “If you would finish it quickly!” so that Asaba in a confused state thrust them into his shirt down his neck. Putting them away there shocked Akiho.

“...Yeaah.”

At that time, Asaba remembered something important.

Akiho should have been listening.

“What?”

“Umm, I would like to ask you a quick question.”

“Tell me what it is already.”

“Tell me if this sounds a little strange, but concerning our school's girl's swimming uniforms.”

Akiho's eyebrows suddenly dimmed. Making his resolve firm, Asaba continued from before.

“This, the shoulder strap, that is, around the edge is a white line, right?”

“Aren't we awfully well-informed. Why do you seem to know about that?”

Akiho patiently stared at Asaba's face,

“You jerk, you were peeping during pool lessons, weren't you...”

“No, I wasn't. If I was municipal pool management, wouldn't I make the school swimsuits about a likeable as a child's?”

Akiho was under deep scepticism by the look in her eyes that Asaba was peeking, but consenting for the time being,

“And?”

“That has a name tag on it you know, on the chest and back, right? It looks like short-sleeved clothes, right? That name tag, can it come off easily?”

“What do you mean?”

“In other words, you could fasten it with just something like a magic marker or hook, as in if you could take it off instantly, you could, or it could be sown on, just that kind of thing.”

Akiho thinking a little, replied,

“Usually, I think they are sown on. It would be bad if they came off. Why did you ask such a thing?”

Having meant in conclusion, it was not derived from any one thing.

You could see that that girl was about his own age. It somehow or other seemed that wearing the school swimsuit was a school assigned thing. But in reality, the school swimsuit seemed similar in design to any other school swimsuit. Even without having a name tag, for example, by something of a reason, it just was not probable to say that someone was by chance wearing a brand spanking new school swimsuit at night.

You could not say anything clear about that.

At that time, the clock tower bell rang. Second period began.

“...Thanks!”

Not only regarding the homework copies, giving his gratitude for her response to the question, Asaba returned to his own seat while he pondered. Nishikubo only checked the situation with the appearance of a fleeting side glance as expected, but Hanamura insisted by saying, “Hey, tell me what you were talking about.” Yet, Asaba could hear those words without break for half a minute, which made Hanamura immediately give up. The surroundings of anyone began to have the feeling of fully regretting things related to vacation time.

Staring at one dot on the desk alone, Asaba thought.

Who exactly was that girl?

...And formerly, she first showed up. Besides her colleagues, nobody was hurt.

Materializing at the pool was that mysterious man, so he said.

And then he obeyed those words.

With that time, having something like a disorder, anxiety, and fear, it was good because now that thing he seemed to say remained inside his head. However, that thing together with time wound up fading. Why at that time, did he want to say something and not say it...immediately, he thought it would become a regret that would torment him.

But for now, he was prepared for that.

He himself, left together at the poolside with that girl as a man, left, in addition, the changing room.

That was reality.

Outside was parked a large, white van, and there were men wearing black suits. Because he thought there seemed to be five to eight vans, he got the feeling there were ten to twenty black-suited men.

Sooner or later one drawing near, he said that in any case that Asaba would be escorted by car to his nearby house. Such polite words were used. He could not give any explanation to attach to thinking of apologizing, but they tried it just quickly to him to make him leave from that place, so all they had to do for convenience was escort him by car, so he said.

He obeyed the black-suited men's words.

In the video room, a bicycle came to a stop, etc., and that time was forgotten.

He got into a van that was parked nearby as he was urged to do. Carrying his bag in his arms, holding his shoes in his hands, that was the problem of being soaked to the skin. Because the car started running, he remembered to take his T-shirt out of his bag to put on. There his memory was suddenly interrupted.

What exactly had awoken him, he truly did not know.

If he had a feeling, he was soon sitting by himself on bench at a bus stop near his house. Because he was dressed properly, expecting to have left his bicycle near the video room, the bench's legs did not have a chain lock on them. The bus stop's clock pointed to 2:10 at night.

Now he could calmly remember that thing as well, but being too afraid at that time caused tears to come out.

He knew the feeling. It became each joke respectively. It meant a loss of memory, even if it was something calm like from TV or manga that turned into something romantic. He did not even try to think of something scarier than this in such a small space of time. Since he did not understand what had happened to him in between that, he could not have done anything in regards to having complete responsibility. Since he probably did not understand leaving it alone, he did not question himself leaving it alone in terms of complete responsibility.

Being too afraid, he could soon not remember the combination to the chain lock.

By the disorder of something like death, he pedalled to escape home.

Really, he could not laugh at something so scary.

“...Wait a sec! All of you put on something quickly in your seats!”

The class head's in-group was shouting. In the back of the classroom by the rubber balls were two male students who did not agree but sat in their seats reluctantly while they complained.

“Sheesh, what a bunch of loud morons.”

“If society has a generation in change, they should be the type, you know, to speak out 'for our honorable nation,' right?”

He thought staring at one point on his desk.

In fact, wasn't last night's incident all a dream?

In all honesty, it gave a little of that kind of feeling. At any rate, all of it was a bit absurd as well. If he had met by chance a girl, in both of her wrists were buried silver metal balls. The mysterious man and the group of black-suited men.

With the exception of some characters, everybody was unidentified. The physical evidence was zero. The finishing blow in riding in the van was being interrupted for the remainder of his recollection.

By just talking with someone, he thought he absolutely could not come to believe it.

If in case he passed that story to someone, he thought he himself could not believe it.

First of all, because he concluded that he could not give enough credibility and the like to his memory even if he pulled it out of his ass, by just having that surrealistic event happen, anything that was “super” special ended up losing its reason to insist upon “the reality of the even it had as well. If the thing was the cause of his confusion concerning his memory, the thing was he became conscious on the bus stop bench soon near his house. By the reality of just those two things, he could certainly think that the sequence of events was in reality all a dream beginning from a little around sneaking into the pool. Weary in mind and body from his mountain seclusion, summer vacation had wound up ending with him stressed out from not having done his homework. Next to that, it seemed he could also force getting to the source of the reality of that evasive dream and the confusion of his memories.

That being a dream, it seemed he could think about how to relax.

Concluding that he could not understand the events he thought had awakened his body was also more than far off.

However, that peace already could let him live peaceably as other people do.

...But he was that cowardly yellow-belly. He needed to sober up in good moderation.

He seemed to have already cried to himself.

...Was it the stress in the fatigue of his mind and body? That's it, isn't it? If so, even if he could see it and hear it as a sign of mourning, was that true? Indeed anything was a really convenient explanation, wasn't it? “Present day rationalism” provided for every home to have a car without fail installing a supernatural trash car. Did that mean to explain something? Listen to some good unselfishness, you prick, losing to fear from something in part of your memory crying out, just being defeated by just a single thing out of it all. Having nothing more to worry about, for the sake of seemingly wanted to think, he brought out “ a psychological explanation” of fifty to one hundred steps of old folk remedies if to say it was without any objectivity and revival properties, which was really just unsuccessfully trying to reconstruct everyday homemade things.

That was the extent of their aim.

That rode in that hand.

If he seemed to think it was a dream, it was his loss.

His mouth warped into a bitter smile. He was doing it somehow or other. Who exactly was “they?”

Since when had it become a story of “victory or defeat?” He thought it was as if he were a super never-ending religious fanatic talking to himself.

However...

Even more so, the black water's surface crossed over in ripples like the waves of a radar being reflected back, but wearing a shitty, serious swimming cap, but having a towel soaked in read blood, but having a strange voice that sounded like she was speaking a foreign language, but she seemed to have just a little happy smiling face when she swam 15 meters (TL note: about 16 yds.) with a kick board, but she had a silver sphere shining in her wrists and black eyes peeping out from くっつきそうな point-blank range, but he could not think how all of that had been a dream.

Certainly, practically denying reason, he did not grasp those sentiments.

Really, who exactly was that girl?

He wanted to know that.

How he could come to know that, thinking that he could not meet that girl one more time despite wanting to meet her, he knew that that was the only thing he needed.

However, even so still, he really believed that “Iriya” existed.

“Rise.”

The sliding door entrance of the classroom was poorly greased so that the sound hurt everyone's ears.

If it gave the feeling accidentally, everyone in class stood up bowing by the flying-like order of the class head. By just having Asaba seated ,when he tried to stand up confused, everyone was already sitting. It was a huge helping of math, but he climbed onto a platform saying, “よっこらしょ,” with the grunt of an old man making people believe he had just now crawled out from the grave. A textbook was put down on the teacher's desk like it was thrown down, and if he heard correctly, it seemed like death was drawn in his future in that voice that said,

“Aaaaaaaah.”

It had not come to meet him by mistake. It was because he seemed to remember continuing class fro there. And then, he expected that voice of “Aaaaaaah, then” to continue forever, but it suddenly came close to stopping midway. The knocking sound of the tendency for restraint made him expect not to be able to hear only around half of the vicinity of the class hall, and he was not wrong in thinking, “I'm dead” to the other half.

Narrowly opening the door, the class homeroom teacher Kawaguchi Taizou, age 35 and single, peeped his head in.

“Iizuka-sensei, do you have a moment, please?”

Iizuka let out an “Ah” and an “Oh” somewhere in the middle of his voice.

Asaba let out a small sigh. Whether it was from the many conflicts from being a Newspaper Club member or since birth they could not agree, Asaba did not know how to come to know the man known as his class's homeroom teacher Kawaguchi. With Kawaguchi's face looking into the outfield, Asaba soon looked in escape outside at the open windows to the left. He looked down from the second story window in the vicinity of the Sonohara Middle School building's main gate. Particularly, there wasn't anything interesting. There was just a row of aged sakura[5] trees about the same age as the school building, a left-wingish school-like carved stone monument, a right-wingish school song carved in that stone, and the old-looking painted edges of the school building's upright entrance's roof. The hidden background noise of the cicadas' call brought up the upper stratum of consciousness. Without the summer rays of the sun making any shadows anywhere, bu the clattering of the scattered gravel in the parking lot, he remembered seeing that white van somewhere that collected just the simmer of hot air, which made his body freeze.

It was that man.

Next to the white van, that man was standing.

Appearing at the poolside, the story of the old man of a janitor of thunder, carrying undercover the mood of being worn out like a bitter yet old man, it was that man.

Wearing a suit that seemed to resemble nigh, hanging his jacket over his shoulder like last night, the man was not wearing last night's necktie. He was holding his hand to his forehead looking up at the school building. And then the man soon recognized Asaba, having a face that said, “What an unexpected meeting with this guy,” smiling in the middle of his face like last night, and he sent him just a single wave from right to left.

Kawaguchi was talking.

That voice came flowing in his automatically.

“Ah..., having circumstances during homeroom did not work, but Iizuka-sensei would like to have just a minute of your time.”

The cries of the cicadas immediately became louder.

A premonition or something like that was not a pure amiable thing.

Asaba slowly,

slowly,

slowly,

turned his head to the middle of the classroom.


Iriya Kana.


In pretty handwriting, she seemed to have written that on the blackboard.

It was that girl, but she stood on the platform. Really wearing a brand new summer uniform, holding in her hands a sparkling bag like that of a complete first-year student, wearing hallway slippers from having put her shoes in the shoe rack once again, and wearing wristbands on both wrists was what she had on.

The cry of the cicadas grew to a drumming noise.

Kawaguchi was saying something. Introducing the transfer student, Kawaguchi's mouth seemed to be moving. However, Asaba already could not hear those words. He also could not hear the chatter in the middle of the classroom. In addition, the girl's voice, just that awkward voice that seemed like she was just speaking one-word phrases as if she was just beginning to speak like a newborn, he could clearly hear.

“I am Iriya Kana.”

He thought somewhere in his heart that he decided that it was an alias. Inside of the head of a cicada it was .

The girl's self-introduction, one way or another was rehearsed many times before this, meant to bow with feeling.

Thus, Asaba not moving as it was in his seat at the window, he watched quietly.

Asaba thought that if he tried thinking about it it made sense.

With summer vacation ending simultaneously, summer really did not end.

It was because summer would continue for a while after this.


The summer of UFOs.

References[edit]