Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 3 Chapter 6
Alice, Tetsu-senpai, Hiro-san, Major, Min-san, Yondaime and I frantically called everywhere we could think of, but not even one person knew of Ayaka’s whereabouts. Yesterday, she disappeared after leaving the office.
Ayaka vanished into thin air.
Just like last time, she didn’t leave me with even one word.
Right until Wednesday, Ayaka’s location was still a mystery.
“Why did she disappear all of a sudden?”
As soon as I entered the Inspection office, Kousaka-senpai asked me immediately.
“We just don’t know where she is right now, and she disappeared from the day before yesterday. Even though everyone helped to look for her.”
“Fujishima-kun, is this related to you being so seriously hurt?”
“Ah— Actually……” Though I can’t say that it’s completely unrelated, it’s really hard to explain.
“Err…... Well……” Kousaka-senpai leaned against the back of her chair once again. “Fujishima-kun, we’re having the general meeting the day after tomorrow, this is not the time for us to do these things with you.”
“I’m very sorry……”
“Are you okay? Not only do you look seriously hurt, you look terrible as well, and your eyes are swollen.”
“That’s because I kept running around.”
I asked for sick leave yesterday as well, using the power of Hirasaka-gumi to search for Ayaka’s location. Though it was hard for me to walk because of my injuries and muscle pains, I still ran directly to his father’s place to have a look. I didn’t see Toshi-san there though.
I felt weary from my heart. Even so, I couldn’t just ignore the Student Council. If I continue to do nothing, all that I did for Ayaka before this would be wasted.
“So you still can’t persuade the Student Council president?”
“Yeah, it seems that she’s even more stubborn now. She might continue with a six person limit after this.”
That’s true. That person started to become stubborn. Even if she got into a direct confrontation with the sports teachers, I think she would probably still forcibly pass the rules amendment in the general meeting. Besides, she has far more influence in the club president meeting than Kousaka-senpai.
“If that’s true, restoring the Gardening Committee might be really hard……”
Kousaka-senpai said in a small voice, while I could only nod silently.
Though I didn’t mention it to Kousaka-senpai, but for the Gardening Committee to be restored, lowering the lowest limit of the clubs is a mandatory condition. If not, many people would suspect why only the Gardening Club is given preferential treatment as the abolished clubs increase. Just imagining it would inform people of how hard things are, if a similar objection is raised, thinking of going up shore is even harder.
So it’s already—
“Sorry for saying all those opinionated things.”
“W- wait a minute, Fujishima-kun, you don’t need to apologize since you’ve already put in a lot of effort. And besides, there are still two days left, so I will do all I can.”
Kousaka-senpai hopped around while supporting herself on the table with her hands, forcing out a strong look. Her hearty laugh resounded in the hollowness in my body, making my heart ache.
Ayaka left without saying anything again, and the Gardening Club is facing abolishment. What is with this? What in the world is with this situation? I put in so much effort and ran around so much, screaming in my heart, struggling painfully and even hurt my own companion, causing scars to accumulate on myself—
And the results was actually this, it just doesn’t make any sense.
I walked out of the school while holding my bike. When I stepped on the pedal, the gentle wind of May pierced my wounds.
That time, did I say something that I shouldn’t?
Alice once told me, Ayaka was bandaging me at the time, and I kept mumbling when I was lying on the bed— while Ayaka answered me as well.
After that, I sank into deep slumber once again, while Ayaka walked quietly out of the room.
If so, the dream of the rooftop……
I really wasn’t sure. And can such a thing happen anyways? I couldn’t have spoken out loud what I said in my dream, while I can’t prove that Ayaka did say anything as well.
Even so, I still tried hard to think back, did I say anything that might cause a misunderstanding?
But I still couldn’t make anything clear in the end.
Shedding tears while riding my bike, I could only hope that it was the wind that hurt the wounds on my face. If not, my tears might not be able to stop.
I parked my bike carefully when I reached the ramen shop, and I spaced out in front of the portiere for quite some time. Though I didn’t have much expectations, I immediately found out that Ayaka was not in the shop. There was only one silhouette left at the other side of the portiere— Min-san.
I really wasn’t in the mood to open the door and walk in, so I just walked around to the back alley. There wasn’t anyone at the kitchen backdoor.
Everyone was probably looking around for Ayaka today as well. I sat alone on the second step of the back stairs, taking out my phone to check for messages. Of course, I didn’t receive Ayaka’s message, while there were a lot of messages from the gang members who helped to search for Ayaka instead. When I realized that there was no progress after I finished reading all of the messages, I heaved a long sigh.
Alice sealed herself in her room from that day on, and didn’t let even me inside. To her, Ayaka’s disappearance might be a huge blow to her.
Because of that, there was still a piece of the puzzle that wasn’t complete in Hayano Tomohiko’s case, causing the truth to be unable to be revealed. Of course, that’s a thought coming from Alice’s perspective, while to me, I wasn’t sure of the whole matter from the start.
What did Tetsu-senpai do?
Was the greenhouse really the place that Hayano Tomohiko collapsed at?
If so, who moved him by the school entrance?
Who is the killer?
Killer? I suddenly thought of something. I recall that Alice once mentioned this particular word. Does that mean Hayano Tomohiko might have been murdered? By whom? And for what purpose?
And the matter about Minagawa Kengo.
Though there were a lot of questions in my mind— all of them don’t matter now.
I feel as though everything will disappear from my side. Not only Ayaka, but also my NEET companions and Alice.
Why did it turn out like this? Did I do anything wrong?
I repeatedly thought about all of the possibilities, but no matter how I thought about it, my thoughts still returned there.
It’s probably written like this in my page of God’s notebook: ‘Just die in loneliness.’
Even so, I met Ayaka. That was a miracle that almost overthrew God’s plan, so that’s why Ayaka had to face a cruel, inescapable fate, having to jump down from the top of a building. Even when a second miracle happened, causing her to open her eyes, because she got closer to me once again, it was as though all of her white pieces were turned black in the last few steps in a game of Othello. Many things were pieced together, causing Ayaka to go missing in the end.
God won. What a joke!
Why was the plan not better thought out from the start? Why did the miracles happen!?
From the moment that I was given birth until I die, You should have let me be alone! If so…… If so, Ayaka wouldn’t need to undergo this kind of treatment—
All of a sudden, the sound of the door opening interrupted my thoughts.
“What are you doing? There aren’t any customers here right now, so you can come in the shop.”
I turned around slowly. Min-san poked out half of her body out of the half-open door, her bare shoulders a piercing sight.
Would this person disappear one day as well? While thinking of such a thing, I shook my head.
Min-san knitted her brows slightly and walked into the kitchen again, walking out some time after that. She suddenly pressed the cup of ice cream in her hands on my injured cheek.
“It huuuuuuuuuuuuuuurts! What are you doing!?”
Because of the extreme fright, coldness and pain, I nearly did a somersault when I jumped.
“That’s because you look somewhat forlorn. How is it? Have you cheered up yet?”
I sighed and sat down once again.
Min-san came closer, sitting at a distance so near that she could almost touch my shoulders. The place that she touched felt rather hot. I deliberately thought that it was caused by Tetsu-senpai’s punches. I couldn’t look Min-san in the face.
“Oi, why don’t you hurry up and eat it?”
I didn’t even have the energy to scoop the ice cream into my mouth, so I could only watch them melting gradually in the cup.
“Let me tell you something.”
Min-san said dismissively after eating her portion of the ice cream:
I finally raised my head slowly to look at Min-san. Looking at her fiery eyes, I fell into dejection once more.
“…… Believe what?”
“I’m…… not as strong as you, Min-san…… I can’t do such a thing.”
“You’re very strong! Though you might not know it yet, I know.”
“If you’re talking about the matter that I’m now known as one of the Four Heavenly Kings because I defeated Tetsu-senpai, then please don’t. It feels really idiotic.”
“I’m not talking about that. Think about it yourself……”
Min-san’s cold hand caught my wrist.
“Aren’t you still alive right now?”
I lightly raised my head and saw a pair of kind eyes.
“You encountered so many terrible things, both your body and soul were harshly attacked, and you even saw so many poor souls who were dragged to hell without a reason, but you’re still living your life properly.”
Being stared at by Min-san, I felt a hot emotion being transmitted to me, causing myself to be unable to speak.
“It’s not that I’m strong. That was because there was someone by my side supporting me each time.”
“That’s fine enough. Don’t people often say that luck is a type of strength? Though that’s a lie, this is true— having companions is one of your strengths. It’s a strong point that belongs to your world.”
My world’s— strong point……
But my world is actually facing utter dissolution.
“That’s why I’m telling you to believe it.”
Min-san held my wrist tightly.
“Your world isn’t as fragile as you imagine.”
Even though I heard such kind words, it was as though I was a kid who was near tears after being blown down by wind, tightly clutching at Min-san’s warmth with only one finger, unable to speak even one work. How am I supposed to believe this!?
At that moment, the phone in my pocket started to ring. The rousing guitar prelude of ‘Colorado Bulldog’ rang, sounding as though it threw fear, uneasiness and questions into a steaming pot at the same time.
To muster the courage to pick up the phone, I must once again ask Min-san to hold my hand tightly. How can I be said as strong like this?
‘Prepare to take action tomorrow at six.’ Alice ordered.
“…… What does that mean?”
My voice was so hoarse that even I, myself, couldn’t hear it clearly. Take action?
‘Do you even have to ask? Of course it’s the results of our investigation.’
Investigation? Since it’s already too late now, it doesn’t matter at all.
‘Everything is clear now, there’s not even one question left now.’
“Is that so? Then congratulations.”
‘What is with your weak answer? I’m telling you that everything is clear now. As an assistant detective, you should feel happier or more joyful about this!’
What do you mean I should feel happier about this? So what if the mystery is solved now? Hasn’t Ayaka already gone missing!?
‘So are the holes at the two sides of your head an entrance and an exit? Haven’t I told you that everything is clear now?’
‘And I know how Ayaka is right now as well.’
I stood up. Even though Min-san was angry because of me pushing her down, her cup full of ice cream spilled onto the ground, I didn’t notice it. What did Alice say just now?
“A- Ayaka, she……?”
‘Are you looking down on me? A NEET detective is ‘omniscient’, she can see through everything, but cannot come in contact with anything—‘
“W- where is she right now? Is she okay?”
‘Prepare to take action at six tomorrow.’
“Oi, Alice! Don’t mess around! Hurry up and tell me! Alice! Alice!”
She hung up. Though I knew that it was fruitless, I continued to dial Alice’s phone number repeatedly. Of course, no one answered. I really couldn’t take it anymore, and was about to rush up the stairs, Min-san suddenly twisted my ear forcefully at a side.
“Oi, Narumi, don’t you have anything to say to me?”
“Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch! Sorry! I’m sorry! Thank you, Min-san!”
At the moment when I was about to cry, Min-san finally loosened her hand. I thought that the skin on my face would be peeled off from my wounds……
“Think about it, it’s useless even if you go to Alice’s place right now. It’s impossible that she would let you in.”
“That’s…… That’s not wrong, but……!”
“Just go home for today. You should sleep earlier when you’re injured. Don’t you have to wake early tomorrow?”
Min-san flicked on my forehead.
“And you should really believe in Alice.”
After hearing that, I forcibly swallowed my agitated emotions surrounding me that were about to erupt.
Why didn’t Alice explain immediately? Nothing happened to Ayaka, did it? Unlucky thoughts filling my mind, I pondered while riding home.
And of course, I couldn’t sleep at all.
Half past five early morning next day.
Looking at the sky with approaching daylight at my right, I rode my back into the alley between the buildings. My sleep-deprived mind was still foggy, and I felt that the sky was exceptionally piercing though the sun hasn’t risen yet.
A petite silhouette was sitting on the lowest step of the emergency backstairs. It was Alice in mourning attire.
“I never thought that once again, I have to rely on the barbaric transport from primitive times known as a bicycle. Though I’m really unwilling to, there is no other choice. I decided not to accept Hiro’s help, after all.”
Alice used her black veil to cover her green face, voice trembling slightly. The small teddy bear on her knees was already half-squashed.
"Oi, where is Ayaka? Can’t you at least tell me if she’s okay?”
“I can’t tell you yet.”
“From this moment on, the unraveling of the mystery is irrelevant to Ayaka. You’ll know when it ends.”
“You’re always being so roundabout every time!”
“Don’t scream piteously like that of a zombie, if you faint because of anemia, I’m going to be very troubled. Did you not sleep yesterday?”
“It’s more surprising if I could!”
“Are you really so worried of Ayaka?”
For some reason, the NEET detective looked at me from below the shade of the thin veil with a sincere gaze.
“Why? Why do you care so much about Ayaka?”
“I’m the one who should be questioning you why you’re asking me so many questions! Of course it’s because I’m worried about her! Because Ayaka is my……!”
My voice choked in my throat. What is Ayaka to me? A friend? Is that term really appropriate? If it’s appropriate, why was Ayaka’s expression so sad in my dream? No, was that really just a dream? Was it truly a dream? I’m starting to get confused.
Alice stood up. With a dull thud, she pressed her doll on my belly.
“Being unable to express this in words is a type of answer as well. Go. We might have to pass through quite some places without rooftops, I wish to end this matter earlier.”
Though it was already near the end of May, riding a bike in the cracks of dawn is still quite cold. A doll separated the warmth of Alice’s body and my back, but it still felt exceptionally clear.
I turned my head over to ask when we were crossing the bridge:
“So everything ends just like this?”
When the NEET detective is in mourning attire— that would signify the revival of the words of the deceased, and they are spoken through other people, restoring the reputation of the dead while harming the living. From now on, all of the mysteries will be unraveled by Alice’s hands.
Alice said— everything is linked to Ayaka. Why?
“Is Ayaka really so deeply involved in this matter? Because……”
“Don’t- don’t you keep speaking to me.”
Alice’s answer was accompanied with sounds of her teeth chattering. Perhaps it’s because the road in this area is rather uneven?
When I rode to the main road, Alice finally answered:
“Everything ends today. Isn’t it the Student Council general meeting tomorrow? We might still make it.”
The Student Council general meeting. I nearly turned my head around to look at her while pedaling again.
“H- hey! Please look forward when you are riding? Not only you are on the bike!”
I never thought that Alice would actually mind a thing like this. I thought she was only interested in unraveling mysteries. For whom did she do this for? For Ayaka? Or for me?
Or to speak for the dead?
I rode down the gently curving path. There weren’t any houses at the two sides. A factory was on my left, a shrine was on my right , while the large school building of my school is blocking the nascent rays of sunlight.
“Don’t ride to the school, just stop at the shrine.”
“Stop at the shrine? Why?”
“Just stop there. I have an appointment with someone.”
The shrine. I remember that Tetsu-senpai once said that Minagawa Kengo often went there even after he dropped out.
Is there something of note there?
I parked my bike by the entrance of the shrine. Alice nearly fell down from the backseat with her doll, and I hastily held onto her. Does this count as carsickness? Usually, her face was already stark white, but now it glowed with the unfortunate green that appears when glass is stacked together.
“Can you still walk?”
“Are you really okay? I think it’s better for you to hold on to me.”
As before, Alice tightly held on to my belt.
I walked forwards while being pushed by her, passing through the entrance of the shrine. It was a broken down shrine that had so sign of an abbot. There was a path leading to a cemetery at our left, while a uniform-clad silhouette was standing there. When we met each other’s gazes, both of us shouted at the same time in shock.
“Fujishima…… kun? S- so it really is you!?”
“Kaoruko-senpai!? W- why?”
“That’s my line, why are we gathering at a place like thi—“
Kaoruko-senpai stopped halfway through her words, because she saw Alice walking out from my back.
“Narumi was not the one who asked you out. The message was sent by me. Nice to meet you.”
“You…… sent it? Who are you? Wh- why do you know so much about Tomohiko and I?”
My mind was in a confused state as well, but I could grasp the current situation more or less. Alice probably sent a message to Kaoruko-senpai in my name, asking her out. It probably contains some personal information that she couldn’t ignore in the message as well.
But why is the person here Kaoruko-senpai?
Alice’s left hand was tightly holding on my belt, while her right hand cuddled her doll, speaking in a determined tone that doesn’t match her appearance:
“I am a NEET detective, a messenger for the dead. I have come to locate Hayano Tomohiko’s lost words, conveying it to the place that it should be.”
“Wha—“ Kaoruko-senpai looked rather displeased, and glared at me. “What is with this situation? Is this a prank? Fujishima-kun, who is this little girl?”
“Hayano Tomohiko was murdered.”
That was Alice’s response. Even for Karouko-senpai to stay quiet, the help of an assistant detective isn’t required at all. That’s because I don’t know what to as well.
“He was…… murdered?” Senpai inquired.
Was he really murdered?
“From a certain perspective, he was. At least, Hayano Tomohiko understood that there was a possibility of such an interpretation, so that’s how the first changes in the case were caused. If not, the truth of this case is actually quite simple, and should have been revealed four years ago. Because of the overlapping thoughts of many people, the truth was hidden. As for me, I am going to expose the buried words of the deceased under the sunlight right now. Hayano Tomohiko, and also Minagawa Kengo— there are two people in total who should hear their words. One of them is you— Hayano Kaoruko.”
I wonder if she understands what Alice is talking about.
I asked for Kaoruko-senpai who couldn’t move at all:
“…… Then who is the other?”
A chill came upon my back.
Alice started to push on my back, pushing me towards the cemetery.
“Senpai?” I asked timidly. “Why don’t we set out? You can probably find out something important. Though I’m not sure if it would be good or bad for you to find out about this.”
Kaoruko-senpai’s originally blank gaze suddenly recovered its radiance, and she stared at me.
“That is something that you must know.”
Going along with Alice’s pushes, I passed by the tombstones and columbariums. Looking back slightly, I saw that Kaoruko-senpai seemed to be following with uneasy footsteps.
“…… But why the cemetery?”
Senpai’s voice was trembling slightly. The cemetery seemed to have been long forgotten, weeds growing all around, while each tombstone was covered with dust, even the names on them were faded as well.
“Being a cemetery or not is insignificant. The most important thing is, it’s directly next to M High.”
Alice explained while standing at my back. The school grounds of M High was at the other side of the wall. The triangular greenhouse roof dazzling because of the morning sun could still be seen in front of the school building as well.
When we continued to walk towards the cemetery, the barren state was even more horrendous. Dried up grass grew everywhere, while there wasn’t even stones paving the ground, the soil directly exposed. The amount of rubbish like damaged water tanks and charred blue plastic pads increased visibly as well. There wasn’t even a tombstone at the corner position, and was like a building construction site abandoned halfway through the process.
“That’s the one.”
Alice pointed at a corner of the cemetery while saying. In front of the wall that had weeds gathering in front of it, there was a certain object— it looked like a very broad board.
When we slowly approached the target, Kaoruko-senpai found something odd even earlier than me.
“…… Is it a blackboard?”
That’s right, it was indeed a blackboard. When I swept aside the grass, a blackboard stained with dirt and mud appeared. It seemed like it was a dismantled blackboard, as the rack with the wheels were placed behind the board.
“Narumi, please turn it over.”
I followed Alice’s instructions, toppling it by pulling on the top of the board. There were signs of what looked like red paint painted from the middle of the blackboard back right until the upper right corner.
“…… What? What does this thing mean?”
Kaoruko-senpai asked in an anxious tone.
Alice chose not to answer, continuing to order me: “Narumi, clean away the paint.”
I wasn’t sure what was happening as well, but I still took out the turpentine from my bag as Alice ordered. The paint seemed to be painted on quite some time ago, so it was somewhat hard to remove it completely. In the acrid smell that pervaded the air, black stains appeared below the removed paint.
“That’s fine already, Narumi. The things that had been hidden in the past are completely clear right now.”
When I was going on with my work, Alice said while using one of her hands to hold on to Kaoruko-senpai while the other to cover her nose.
“What…… is this? What’s wrong with this blackboard?”
“The black stains that you see right now is the blood that Hayano Tomohiko threw up.”
I heard Kaoruko-senpai gulping.
“Wh- what are you…… talking about?”
Looking at Alice who was leaning closely to her, senpai said in agitation.
“When I looked through the teaching equipment management list of M High, I noticed that a moveable blackboard disappeared without a reason three years ago. This is the one.”
“Does that mean Hayano Tomohiko collapsed here?” I inquired. Why this place? Besides, this place is quite some distance from the place where he was found.
“Wrong wrong wrong. Haven’t I told you before? The place that he collapsed at was the greenhouse. Similar to Hayano Tomohiko’s situation, this blackboard was moved as well. As for the reason that there weren’t any bloodstains at the place where he was found and the crime scene, that’s because Hayano Tomohiko’s blood was left on this blackboard and the snowy ground.”
“Snow? Why? He was obviously in the greenhouse—“
Alice shook her head. Standing beside her, Kaoruko-senpai’s face was stark white long ago, staring at the blackboard by her feet— eying the old bloodstains made by her own brother.
Alice raised her head to look at Kaoruko-senpai and started her explanation:
“I’ll just explain this in order. The reason that this case is so complicated is because there are three facilitators out of the murderer’s expectations, while these three people contributed to the hiding of the truth in a completely unexpected manner. The first person’s role was to move Hayano Tomohiko by the school entrance, causing the others to mistake the crime scene.”
“The facilitator that you spoke of…… Who is it?”
“The said first facilitator was actually Hayano Tomohiko himself.”
“You…… Don’t mess with me!”
Kaoruko-senpai screamed. If senpai didn’t do so, I might have already pounced on Alice to get things clear.
“Why? Why would Tomohiko do such a thing? Do you mean Tomohiko who collapsed because of his illness could actually crawl on the snowy ground to the school entrance without assistance?”
What is Alice talking about? Hayano Tomohiko crawled to the school entrance himself? Why? Even though his own life was in danger?
I didn’t have the confidence to listen silently till the last second. And are all these connected to Ayaka? Will I get to know about all of this after things end?”
“I’ll explain all of this together later. The second facilitator’s role was to pretend that he was the main reason that caused Hayano Tomohiko to die, and his aim was to hide the true killer.”
“…… Was it Tetsu-senpai?”
I asked in surprise.
“That’s right, it was Ichinomiya Tetsuo. But Tetsu wasn’t in the greenhouse that day at all. I’m thinking that the gathering of the Gardening Committee delinquents in the greenhouse to bully Hayano Tomohiko together was probably a lie that they concocted together, as there isn’t any concrete proof at all. And that means, not one fact can prove that Tetsu did ask Hayano Tomohiko to be his gofer that day. He’s just the first witness, seeing Hayano Tomohiko crawl to the school entrance with his own determination. He probably heard all about the truth from Hayano Tomohiko, and decided to be the scapegoat after calling the ambulance.”
Tetsu-senpai— he was indeed lying.
But why did he do so? He might even be arrested if things aren’t clear.
“That’s not wrong. But to Tetsu that time, he had nothing to lose anymore.”
Alice looked upwards at the sky with a melancholic gaze.
“That time, Tetsu had no other alternative but to give up on because of glaucoma. Narumi, you revealed that using your fists. The owner of the boxing hall treated him like his adopted son, allowing him to further his studies to high school. At the moment when Tetsu found out that he couldn’t repay him for raising him with his fists, he already planned to leave school and the boxing hall to be a NEET. So—“
Alice looked at Kaoruko-senpai’s face once again.
“He inherited Hayano Tomohiko’s dying wish, unhesitatingly sacrificing himself.”
Kaoruko-senpai’s expression was tangled together long ago, and her voice became erratic as well.
“…… This— must be…… a lie. What dying wish. Why would Tomohiko, for something like this……”
“The next one is the third person’s role. I’m guessing that he either found Hayano Tomohiko along with Tetsu, or he was informed by Tetsu about this, and rushed to the greenhouse that became the crime scene, and perceived one fact after looking at the condition of the scene. He decided to dispose of the evidence right after that.”
Alice pointed at the greenhouse separated from us by a wall not far from here, and pushed Kaoruko-senpai forward. Senpai’s face was still pale, and she walked rather unsteadily. I hastily put away the turpentine into my bag as well, chasing them hurriedly. Disposal of evidence? Does that refer to the blackboard?
“Narumi, look. You’re probably quite familiar with this, are you not?”
We walked about ten over meters along the wall. There was a large board about my height covering the wall. I nodded in answer, toppling the board onto the barren ground.
A large missing slab of bricks was covered by the board, and couldn’t even be described just by saying that it’s a hole. The wall was destroyed to the extent that a person could easily pass by it, while steel bars were exposed all along the gap.
And this gap was coincidentally located opposite to the greenhouse backdoor.
I am very familiar with this secret path.
That’s because everything started from here. The poppy flowers that became the raw material of Angel Fix, and Ayaka who cultivated them unknowingly. Ayaka’s brother, Toshi, smuggled out the raw material from this path.
“What…… is this? Why is there a path like this? But then, so what?”
Kaoruko-senpai said in contempt. That’s right as well, senpai doesn’t know anything. This is just a whole lot of empty words. That’s because the only people who know of this secret route are the organization manufacturing Angel Fix, the NEET Detective Squad who went after them and Hirasaka-gumi. Even the police don’t know about it.
“Actually, there’s another person who knew about this.” Alice answered my mumblings. “…… The person who created this path.”
Ah…… No, wait a minute. The reason that the drug manufacturers knew about this path in the first place was because—
“…… Was Minagawa Kengo the one who created it?”
I never thought about it before this— the existence of this possibility. But this path was indeed man-made.
“He was the third facilitator.”
Alice said in a small voice.
“He had only one motive, to get rid of the blackboard stained with Hayano Tomohiko’s blood, and it in a short time after the case occurred. The blackboard was an old modeled wooden blackboard, so the blood probably seeped into the blackboard already, and it’s useless even if it was washed. Being aware about that fact— it’s my assumptions starting from now— he opened the backdoor, stuffing the blackboard between the small slit between the wall and the greenhouse.”
Alice pointed at the wall while saying.
“But it was only an emergency act. As the outer wall of the greenhouse is made of glass material, even though the inner part of the greenhouse can’t be seen clearly because of the surrounding racks, the blackboard could still be seen. I’m thinking that this board was probably placed at the other side of the wall that time, and was used to block the blackboard from the outside.”
“So does this mean that this hole was opened to move the blackboard?”
“That’s right. Witnesses testified that Minagawa Kengo still frequented the school even after he dropped out because of a lack of credits. However, he wasn’t actually going to school, but was secretly damaging the wall from the cemetery.”
I fixed my gaze on the metal door at the other side of the wall once again.
“As long as that object is in the greenhouse, there is a chance that it would be found out. But moving such a large item out of the school is too hard, so that’s why he made a hole in the wall. I’m guessing that this part of the wall was already nearing collapse, because it would always be rammed on every time the backdoor is opened. But enlarging the hole so much that even a blackboard could pass through was probably done single-handedly by Minagawa Kengo.”
Because— nobody knew about what he did. A lonely expression suddenly appeared on Alice’s face.
The lost words of the dead that nobody could find, Alice found them. Using Tetsu-senpai’s words, piecing together the numerous fragments.
“As such, the reason that Minagawa Kengo took over the jobs of the Gardening Committee and forcibly established the Gardening Club— do you understand it now?”
Did Alice direct those words at me or at Kaoruko-senpai? I just don’t know. Holding onto Alice whose body was much smaller than her, Kaoruko-senpai finally stood up after some effort, while her gaze was fixed on the greenhouse entrance at the other side of the huge hole.
Which was also the thing that Minagawa Kengo used all his effort to protect.
“He did it…… only to prevent other people from finding this thing?”
Senpai asked weakly.
“That is correct, everything was done for this matter. If the greenhouse is torn down, everything that Minagawa Kengo did will be exposed under the sunlight. A large object like a blackboard cannot be handled by one person alone, so he could only move it to the deserted boundary of the cemetery, letting it rot naturally. If the secret pathway is found out, someone might just reach this place, so that’s why he founded the Gardening Club. Besides that— there’s probably another symbolic reason that they must protect the greenhouse for.”
Alice looked at the top of the triangular greenhouse roof, a sharp expression on her face.
The thing that Minagawa tried to much to protect is actually—
Finally, something was about to get pieced together in my mind.
The victim and the witnesses twisted the truth of the case just to hide the murderer.
The thing that they wanted to protect.
“Why!? I don’t understand, why did they try so hard to protect a greenhouse? Besides, if— if things are really as you said, does that mean even Tomohiko was one of the facilitators? Wasn’t he murdered? Why did he still……?”
“You are absolutely correct. The thing that Minagawa Kengo, Ichinomiya Tetsuo and Hayano Tomohiko was the same. Look.”
The arm that was black because of the mourning attire pointed at the sky— right at the greenhouse roof reflecting the rays of the morning sun.
At that moment, a weak sound suddenly rang. It was the sound produced when a motor undergoes friction with metal.
Just when Kaoruko-senpai and I narrowed our eyes to look at it, the sunlight suddenly scattered disorderly, starting to change their angle of reflection as well. The roof of the greenhouse was moving. The skylight fell into the greenhouse, opening slowly.
Like a pair of hands preparing to catch something, holding it in one’s lap.
Like a pair of glass wings.
After that, the sunlight that was not hindered by anything shone in directly, causing the colors of the floral vegetation to become even more dazzling.
The drops of water from the rain last night flowed along the open skylight, falling into the rays of sunlight while glittering.
“This thing killed Hayano Tomohiko.”
Alice’s soft explanation melted into the tranquil dawn.
“Do you see the gray box below the framework? That is a temperature and sunlight detector controlled by a thermostat. I think you can probably see a round lamp hung below it as well. If a heat or light source is placed near the detector, the thermostat will activate mistakenly, closing the heater while opening the skylight. It’s the same no matter it’s the morning, or a snowy day.”
A snowy day—
I started to imagine the snowy scene that day.
Snow was accumulated on the glass roof. There were only two people in the greenhouse that had the heater turned on and a warmly lit light. A blackboard, tables and chairs, and textbooks. Hayano Tomohiko was the only student present that day. The electric light in the greenhouse suddenly stopped shining. Probably one of the circuits short circuited because of snow.
A smile showed on Sayuri-sensei’s face.
That’s okay, please wait a moment. It’ll light up after moving it slightly. Hayano-kun, can you please turn off the circuit breaker? Mnn, that’s fine. It’s lit, it’s lit!
Sorry, I have to go for a staff meeting, can you please do revision by yourself for now?
After that, Hayano Tomohiko was left all alone in the greenhouse, while the thermostat heated by the electric light activated in mistake. The heater was turned off……
The skylight opened……
A large pile of snow fell on him……
The blackboard collapsed—
“That’s enough, Narumi.”
I felt a hand gripping my arm tightly, slender fingers in a black glove sinking into my skin.
It was Alice.
I shifted my gaze from the greenhouse roof mysteriously reflecting the rays of sunlight, turned around, and saw Kaoruko-senpai squatting by Alice’s side while covering her ears. Her shoulders, back, and black hair were all trembling.
“Tomohiko, he…… Actually……”
I could only stand there blankly. I didn’t just say everything out, did I?
Or maybe Kaoruko-senpai saw the exact same thing that I did?
Alice said while placing her hand gently on senpai’s back:
“Of course, that’s just an accident.”
I couldn’t see the detective’s face from my position. What expression is on her face right now?
While what kind of expression is on my face as well?
“Though your brother coughed out blood, he still understood the reason for the accident. If a person has problems with one’s heart, he would probably have something to be used in emergencies, but he was aware of what would happen if he was found in that situation, so he did not ask for help from anyone, but went outside by himself. Perhaps he deliberately avoided the school building, passing through the courtyard? Leaving the greenhouse as far as possible without letting anyone realize it, that was your brother’s aim.”
“And then…… And then he just died. Idiot, isn’t that just plain stupid!?”
Kaoruko-senpai raised her head, tears drawing out a bright streak on her face.
“That might be so. But your brother’s efforts were not wasted, because the first people to find him were Ichinomiya Tetsuo and Minagawa Kengo.”
That was an indescribably chilling miracle.
“The three had the same sentiments. That’s because they were all students from the mystical class full of flowers, even if they had to give up on their futures, the thing that they wanted to protect was the same— the one and only teacher who didn’t give up on them.”
I couldn’t help but kneel down by Alice’s side as well.
Something seemed to be overflowing soon. As though seeing a scene made of light rays, colors, flowers and laughter, the conversation between the graduates from the classroom full of flowers that I met in front of Minagawa Kengo’s grave was mixed in it as well, and the sorrowful gaze when Tetsu-senpai was beating me up……
Ayaka, who smiled while being surrounded by flowers……
And finally, Sayuri-sensei who showed the same dazzling smile opposite to her.
Everyone wanted to protect all of this. If the truth is found out, even though it was only an accident, Sayuri-sensei would probably still lose her job. That’s why……
So many things were sacrificed. The reason for concealing the truth was to protect her.
“Why? W- Who are you? Why do you know even this? Why didn’t you— Why didn’t you just hide all of this from other people? Why did you……!?”
Kaoruko-senpai stood up, shouting loudly while holding Alice’s shoulders.
Alice extended her hands gently, covering Kaoruko-senpai’s face.
“I repeat . I am a NEET detective, a messenger for the deceased. Digging other people’s graves to locate words lost; harming the living just to protect the honor of the dead, shaming the deceased to console the living. Because you cannot be ignorant of this matter— which is also what your brother wanted to protect.”
“Why? I don’t want to know!”
“You’re asking me why? Didn’t you plan to destroy the place that your brother was trying to protect without knowing anything?
Kaoruko-senpai stayed silent.
“But you know of Hayano Tomohiko’s words right now. The thing that he wished to protect was completed by Minagawa and Tetsu, so that’s why the greenhouse could continue to exist, and there are still flowers blooming in this school. This is an undeniable truth.”
Alice closed together her palms, lightly putting it in front of Kaoruko-senpai’s chest.
“So you must accept this matter, isn’t that right?”
Kaoruko-senpai couldn’t give any response. After leaving Alice’s side, senpai stood alone on the dry, cracked ground, looking at the greenhouse roof. The senpai right now looked like she didn’t want to suppress herself anymore, tears falling non-stop.
“…… The problem is, there is only one day left.”
After that, senpai’s tearful voice rang.
“What you want me to do? There’s no other choice. And I…… don’t have that intention……”
Alice took one or two steps back weakly.
I supported her small body lightly from her back.
“Narumi probably told you of the way before this.”
Alice’s voice lost its gentle feel.
“The mission of the detective is already accomplished. Hayano Kaoruko, the rest is up to you to decide.”
Senpai bit her lips, gripping her own hands tightly.
Why did Alice choose Kaoruko-senpai to be the target for the words of the dead?
That was just because she is Hayano Tomohiko’s sister— because she has the ability to accept his thoughts, protecting it as well.
I said while holding onto Alice’s delicate body:
“Senpai, on the day of the general meeting, I will still suggest an amendment for your suggestion. Even if you could finish counting the members of a club with one hand, to some people, that might still be a very important place.”
Just like the greenhouse was important to Hayano Tomohiko.
To Ayaka and I—
“Just as I said on Monday, can you please restore the Gardening Committee? If you would agree……”
“How is that possible!”
Kaoruko-senpai covered her ears once again:
“Please, don’t speak anymore! I’m almost at my limits right now, and am very confused! Originally…… Originally, I didn’t know anything!”
Kaoruko-senpai immediately turned around and ran away from the scene. I looked at her silhouette passing through the weathered tombstones and columbariums, and she was then lost in the forecourt of the shrine.
After watching her leave, Alice and I were still closely huddled together, standing there silently for quite some time. I could really understand senpai’s pain. The things that are accumulated unknowingly after a long time cannot be gently melted by the truth.
That is why it is better not to find out about most of the things buried deep under the ground.
To know is to die.
“Didn’t you say that there are two people who must know of the truth?”
One of them is Kaoruko-senpai. Then the other one is—
“Mnn, I don’t know as well.”
Alice answered softly.
“I don’t know if I should tell Kuroda Sayuri about this matter.”
“That’s unusual. Usually, you would definitely say that a detective cannot protect or help anyone or something like that, telling the other party immediately.”
No matter how cruel the truth is, it is only a choice. Because of that, Alice would tell the words that anyone is unwilling to know of to the surviving people. However……
“But if she knows of the truth, Kuroda Sayuri might resign.”
“Mnn, my thoughts exactly.”
In sensei’s heart, Tetsu-senpai and Minagawa Kengo are still the sinners who bullied Hayano Tomohiko, causing him to die. If we don’t expose the words of the deceased, their honor cannot be restored. Even so, does doing this right now have any meaning? It would only hurt sensei even more.
“So that’s why I’m only telling you. I’m leaving the rest for you to decide.”
Alice raised her head and looked backwards at me. Separated by a black veil, Alice’s face turned around. Even so, a faint sadness was on her face, so I couldn’t answer her at all.
If I tell Sayuri-sensei about this truth, exposing the thing that Minagawa Kengo wanted to protect under the sun, and then asking the teachers to support the reestablishment of the Gardening Committee— such a thought suddenly flitted past my mind.
But this is just like blackmail. How can I do this?
Besides, it might not make it now. The Student Council general meeting is on tomorrow.
Even if the Gardening Committee is established once more like this, Ayaka is still—
“That’s right, Alice.”
“Where is Ayaka? You said that she is connected to everything, what does that mean?”
Her name did not appear from the start to the end. What is with this? Where did Ayaka run off to?
“Oh, you’re talking about that.”
Alice turned around, shrugging in a helpless manner.
“I never thought that you would actually be ignorant about this right until now.”
“What….. does that mean?”
“Really. I suggest that you’d better increase your observation sensitivity, and try to shift your attention to illogical matters. Aren’t you an assistant detective?”
“So what does that mean?”
“Who do you think found the blackboard first, and confirmed if it was covered in paint? Also, who hung the electric lamp onto the thermostat beforehand? Of course it couldn’t be me, Major or Hiro.”
Facing the dumbfounded me, Alice pointed at the other side of the gap.
“Ayaka is just behind that door.”
The metal door suddenly opened, fragments of bricks dropping from the gap. I saw Ayaka clad in her uniform, standing there with her brows raised while placing her hand on the door handle. I couldn’t comprehend the truth all of a sudden.
“Didn’t I tell you not to say it before this!? I am not mentally prepared yet!”
When our gazes met, Ayaka was so embarrassed that her whole face was red. With a ‘bam’, the door was forcefully closed, while Ayaka’s silhouette disappeared without a trace once more.
“E- Erm……! S- Sorry! Th……”
The voice separated by a door felt unusually agitated. It’s Ayaka! So she’s okay?
I truly thought that she disappeared again.
“Where…... did you run off to? Everyone— Everyone was worried of you!”
Alice blocked my path as I was about to rush to the door.
“Sorry for making you look for her here and there. That day……. The day when you and Tetsu had a fight, Ayaka suddenly ran over to the office at late night, and then I kept sheltering her.
Alice…… Actually sheltered Ayaka?
So that’s why she didn’t let me enter the office. But who would have thought that Alice would actually hide someone in the office.
“But why? What in the world happened!?”
“I’m not too sure about this as well. Why don’t you ask her yourself? It was so hard to convince her to go back today, what a relief. She even planned to ask me to bathe every day, what a pain.”
“So…… Which means……” A voice came from the other side of the metal door. “It’s a bit…… Please wait until I’m mentally prepared fir……!”
I felt that the reason is absolutely unimportant. Because Ayaka is back already.
“S- Sorry. I won’t disappear without a reason again.”
“Then it’s about time for me to go to the staff office now! I have a lot to explain to the teachers!”
Footsteps rang, and then there was the sound of the metal door at the other side being closed.
Even when the sounds disappeared, I still stood there blankly.
Should I feel happy because of this?
Ayaka is back. Is that true? I underwent a lot of piteous events, but I still understand that happiness can only last for a moment. So if there isn’t anyone at the other side of the door, that must be because from the start—
As I was about to extend my hand towards the door handle, my belt was pulled on from my back.
“…… W- What is it?”
“Where are you planning to go to? Are you thinking of leaving me alone here?”
I originally planned to walk directly to the classroom to wait for Ayaka to come back, but I completely forgot about Alice.
“…… Do you want to go to the classroom with me? Everyone would probably be happy to see you.”
“Stop joking! I’m going back. On your primitive transport!”
“Do you want me to teach you how to ride it?”
“Stop the nonsense! Of course you’ll be the one riding it!”
Alice frantically hammered my back.
“Really, though you wore a sorrowful expression like you were abandoned by the whole world an hour before this, but you have the energy to make fun of me right now. How dumbfounding.”
The case ended now, and Ayaka is back as well.
Even though there is no way everything can return to its original state, it’s fine as long as she’s okay.
“…… Hey, so the detective’s task has ended now, right? So shouldn’t the promise not to help have ended as well? Should we call Hiro-san here?”
Alice thought for awhile while frowning, and shook her head:
“No, I’m a detective right until I return home.” So you’re here for a picnic?
“…… If you like riding the bike together so much, I’m fine with that.”
“I’m not saying that I like it! There are no shelters, and it would wobble, and your skills are terrible!”
“Then why do you still want to—“
“Shut up! Just hurry up and send me back!”
Alice was so annoyed that her whole face was red, and she frantically pushed on my back with her doll, right until the entrance of the cemetery. What an odd fellow. I would use up a lot of time sending her back to the office and riding back again, but when I said that, Alice gave me the unreasonable request of ‘don’t wobble, don’t ride too quickly, but please ride faster!’
But when the bike continued to go forward, she would hug me silently from the back. So I don’t really dislike riding in a pair like this. Whenever the bike accelerates when going down a slope, Alice’s trembling could be felt even through the teddy bear, that felt rather fun.
Of course, when we reach Hanamaru Ramen, I would have to accept her rapid fire complaints after she calmed down even slightly.
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