Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 7 Chapter 5
Non-mainstream culture clubs would typically have activities far differed from their group’s name, like our school’s ‘Onsen Travelling Club’ actually being a gathering for those who like the train schedules. There’s also a certain school’s ‘cultural music research club’ being actually a full blown rock and roll club. Obviously, the reason why they would come up with such funny names to pull bluffs on the teachers just to set up their clubs.
However, the history research club was a serious club researching on 19th century European history, as its name implied. As to why it ended up being a survival game club full of gun techniques and military nerds, well, the reason’s obvious. A certain member 6 years ago turned the club from one filled with loads of history book into an armory.
“As expected, the period with the most members was when Major was in school, and now there are only 8 of them. Half of them are in their 3rd years, and they hardly participated in club activities.”
Alice said as she stared at the monitor.
It was the day after Yui-san made a request to us again, December 23rd—the birthday of the Emperor, and also the day I had to go to school for makeup due to lack of attendance in the 2nd semester. I spent half the day in school for makeup classes, and only arrived in the office at evening. By this point, Alice had already investigated lots of things. Shown on the monitor were the files with the enlarged passport photographs of all the members in the R high school history research club, and I didn’t know how she managed to obtain such investigation. I scanned the 4 files shown on 4 different monitors, and they were the ones I met when I went to R High school with Major.
Kirayama Takuji, Second Year, the sick looking glasses guy who talked with Major.
Ooshima Kunihiro, Second Year.
Tadokoro Shinya, Second Year.
And Hirabayashi Minoru, First Year.
So back then, the guys were actual club members?
“Some graduates would will drop by from time to participate in games. They use commercial fields for play, so there will be records. Probably spare time after entering college.”
Alice’s fingers raced on the keyboard, and following this, there were the faces of three young men.
“The seven of them went about buying and modifying metal bullets and gun technology that allows them to fire from afar, and we know for sure that they fired from outside the park, so for the time being, investigate on them first.”
I could not help but try to affirm this, and Alice showed a vexed look.
“I told you that I have no interests in criminals. I want to investigate them because they have the final piece to the puzzle, the moment Katsuragi Kenji died.”
I didn’t know what Alice meant at all. In that case, did they mean that they weren’t the culprits? We’re already sure that they fired from afar, but why chop the head off? They never entered the park.
But Alice completely ignored my doubts, and turned to face the keyboard.
“I didn’t know who among the seven were shooting at the homeless, but the frequency of them going out at night had increased. The dates they went out are aligned, so I guess there’s a high chance of them going out shooting together.”
“You really obtained a lot of information over the past two days.”
Or I guess she had already investigated on them beforehand, like usual.
“I didn’t find out about this. Alice merely shrugged. “Someone already did it, and all I did is to have a peek at his computer.”
Before Alice could answer, I could hear the door being opened violently. Shocked by the violent footsteps, I turned around to look, and found my answer standing there. The camouflage suit with holsters all over it made Major look fatter than he was, and the helmet and large visor practically covered his small face. I could clearly sense anger from his eyes. He pushed me aside, went to the bed, stared at the files of the R high school history research club, and glared at Alice.
“You hacked into my system?”
“I did? You investigated thoroughly there.”
The fist covered in leather gloves landed hard on the mattress, and Alice continued staring at Major with a stoic look.
“You were really careless there. If you wanted to duel against me, you should have unplugged all the internet cables.”
“I have no intention of battling you.”
“Most wars in history are started from those who never intended to be enemies; you should know this better than I do.”
Major left the bedside angrily.
“I respect your insistence as a soldier. From now on, it’ll be a race to see who’ll be the first to discover the truth hidden by the history research club.”
Major snorted, and turned to head for the corridor. I called out for him.
“Anything you want, Vice Admiral?”
“Why—aren’t you willing to help us? We’re already at this point.”
“I said it, didn’t I? Any trouble caused by the subordinates should be dealt with by the superior.”
“How much longer are you going to insist on maintaining that stupid pride of yours?”
“If I didn’t have to bear any stupid self pride, I would have skipped grades to graduate from the research lab and work at a large car manufacturer.”
Major tapped my chest hard with his fist.
“My conquest is based on unbeneficial, pointless and a lack of duty.”
“I don’t understand that you’re saying.”
“If you don’t, it’s fine. It means that you aren’t completely a lost cause.”
I grabbed Major’s arm with my left hand, and swung my right fist at him. I really wanted to punch him, but I couldn’t move at all due to the hard, icy thing on my abdomen.
Major had a TV remote control-sized in his other hand, pressing at my abdomen. There were two sharp electrodes on it, and it was a taser.”
“Don’t force me. I did set it to a point where it won’t kill, but I did modify it.”
Major muttered, and I could sense the fury coming from those electrodes. Do it if you dare, you bastard! I thought.
“What are you doing?”
I could hear Alice’s voice and frantic footsteps from behind. She wrapped her slender arms around my waist, and pulled me away from Major.
“Wh-what are you planning to do to my assistant? If we still have some form of friendship left, get out of here!”
Stunned, I stood by the fridge, and watched Major walk out of the office with his large backpack. Alice’s arms continued to remain latched around my waist.
“If you’re my detective assistant, you should have fought more rationally! If you actually punched him, do you know what would have happened?”
I nodded, and broke free from Alice’s arms, glaring at Major as he closed the door. I wondered why Major dropped by, and if it was just to say some meaningless things, why did he make a trip here? He could have just said it elsewhere. Don’t mislead me into thinking that I can talk sense into you.
I leaned my back on the wall, stumbling back onto the floor. Alice curled her lips, and returned to the bed.
30 minutes after Major left, the office doorbell rang. Running in was a pale faced Hiro, who appeared to have called many people downstairs—
“They didn’t return home last night.”
Upon hearing Hiro’s words, Alice turned around, frowning,
“…Who, you say?”
My scepticism sounded really stupid in this tense atmosphere of the detective agency, and Hiro raised a finger to point at the 7 youths on the monitors.
“I already checked with their parents. Those kids never contacted their parents, and they aren’t picking up their phones.”
After some clarifications, I learned that one of the R high school student’s mom was Hiro’s mistress. Hiro begged her to contact the parents of the history research club, originally intending to hear their whereabouts since the night on December 16. Unexpectedly, he found that the 4 club members and the 3 graduates, the ones we were investigating, did not return home since the previous night.
“Did the parents feedback to the school or call the police?”
“I heard that it isn’t the first time they went out all night without notifying their parents. Today’s a holiday too, so their parents aren’t too worried, it seems.”
Saying that, Hiro covered his mouth hard. I recalled the words Mori-san once said to me.
...We don’t have a place to go back to Those brats are the same. That’s why they can only wander the streets at night, and shoot us with the air guns…
However, the way the seven of them vanished at this time certainly wouldn’t be just high school kids going on a night outing.
I heard intensive typing on the keyboard, followed by a click of the tongue. Alice gave a grim look as she stared at the screen.
“…They switched off their cellphones, but if I can find one of them…”
“Their parents said that they couldn’t obtain intel from the GPS.” Hiro answered, “They probably switched off their phones to avoid letting their parents know where they are.”
Alice nodded with a frozen look, and picked up the microphone.
“Tetsu? Where are you now? R-right…military shop ‘Dragon Slayer’ in Roppongi. Right, a shop Major used to frequent. You showed them the photos? They showed up? How many of them…4, got it. Did they say where they’re headed? Really? Right, good work.”
Alice hung up, and turned around to face us. The black silky hair fluttered for a moment, and landed again.
“We found their whereabouts at noon, and it looks they were at the Roppongi shop they usually visited. I heard there were only 4 real members, and they left some time after 2pm.”
“Don’t they have another gathering spot?” Hiro asked.
“The student in charge of leading everyone’s called Kiriyama, the son of the Kiriyama Construction firm. Thus, they often play survival games at a building in Kita-Shinjuku built by the company, basically home court for the club. The other away courts are located in a shooting range located in Kanagawa, and an abandoned building in Saitama Major had told them about. However, I don’t know where the building is located.”
At this moment, a shrill electronic tone rang. There’s a beeping from the monitor on the top left, and a messy wall of text appeared there.
“The hacking process. Finally got their position.”
Alice shoved the side table with the keyboard over there.
“Where are they?” I leaned over at the bed.
“It’s the SNS they often ue. They probably contact each other through a community site.”
The monito showed the messages they left behind, and Alice quickly scrolled down for the text log. Hiro and I stood by her, staring at the screen, and we inadvertently gasped.
“I heard that the police visited the shop.”
“What do we do? I already decided on the recommendation.”
“Hide the guns.”
“Shall we just surrender?”
“You go then.”
“Just push all the blame to Hira.”
“Hira won’t kill himself right now, right?”
“Push the blame to Hira”
“Tell Hira to hide the guns. Let him be bait.”
“Tomorrow? What time?”
“Anyway, remember to bring the guns. Don’t get caught.”
“Where are we going? Kiriyama building?”
“We can’t gather in the city now.”
“Send Hira a message that we’re gathering at Saitama.”
“Tell Hira to prepare batteries and food.”
The last line was sent last night at 9pm. After reading it, I felt a chill all over. Kill himself? Push the blame?
“…Who’s the Hira here?” Hiro muttered.
“Probably Hirabayashi Minoru. He’s the only one not in this chat.”
“This is bad.” Hiro’s voice was trembling. “They’re already cornered into despair.”
They want to push the guilt of killing Ginji-san to Hirabayashi alone, and force him into suicide. I couldn’t help but shiver all over due to this overly direct thought process. Are you guys idiots? Do you think this kind of game can bluff the police? I’m going to stop them. There’s still time, right? But where are they? In Saitama? If it is, it’ll be the abandoned building Major informed them of, but where? Can’t the location be more descriptive? I again read the text, and grabbed the side of the bed. Then, my fingertip touched something hard.
I looked down, and found a narrow and long shaped item placed in the gap between the bedsheets.
It’s a ball-point pen.
This pen—I recalled that when Major just arrived, he pinched at the bed, probably around this area. Did he leave it here? Right when I was about to pick it up, I found it to be abnormally heavy. In the next moment I understood the real purpose of this ballpoint pen, and nearly exclaimed.
Why did Major come to the office? It wasn’t just because he wanted to vent at Alice for hacking into his computer, but also because he wanted us to experience the same thing. I pondered hard, and gulped, before saying,
“Alice, about the Kiriyama Building that was just mentioned—”
Alice showed a look of surprise at my sudden question.
“I guess. It’s probably the Kiriyama building in Shinjuku, right?”
“They’ll gather there, right?”
Alice raised an eyebrow.
“What are you saying, Narumi, can’t you see—”
I cut off her words, and quickly wrote words on my palm for her to see.
“Major is listening. Play along.”
Alice’s face instantly showed various expressions. I pointed at the ball-point, which was strangely heavy due to the battery, mic and signaller inside. She nodded immediately.
“…Right. It’s near Shinjuku. You should hurry there.”
I threw the pen onto the bed, and got up to run by Hiro, still unsure of what was going on, darting out of the corridor.
Deep down the roads from the Meiji Highway in Kita-Shinjuku was an area filled with lots of love hotels, and the Kiriyama Building was a seven storey office located in this area. There’s no lighting in the building, and the sky just got dark, causing the building to basically the same color as the faint black sky. The display board of the building didn’t have a company or shop name, and the glass windows forlornly reflected the neon lights of the hotels opposite.
I dumped my bicycle by the road devoid of crowds, and leaping over the bushes, I found a small figure standing at the corridor of the pitch black building like a stain. I pulled the automatic door that wouldn’t move, and entered the hall. Even in the darkness, I could tell that it was Major from the silhouette. He noticed me too, put the goggles back onto his helmet, and said.
“…So I’ve been had by you, Vice-Admiral. I really underestimated you.”
Major muttered, his face completely flushed. He probably ran all over the building, looking for the members. Of course, he won’t be able to find them thanks to my plan.”
“Those guys are in Saitama, probably…at the abandoned building you told them.”
Only Major knew the exact location of this abandoned building, and though we could find it immediately, every second counts. Nobody knows what cornered kids will do, so I went the other way around to bluff Major into coming here. Good thing I made it here in time. The icy northern winds in the evening were really ripping my ears apart.
“You’re too naïve, Vice Admiral. You came alone. Even if I have to fight you, I’ll use the taser without hesitation.”
“Lead us to the abandoned building in Saitama right now.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said?”
“Who’s the one who didn’t hear? Those guys have guns with them. They’re in a state where they’re cornered and might do anything now. What can you do by going alone!?”
I yelled back at Major, and at the same time, warned myself to remain calm. Major again pulled down his visor.
“I was the one who taught them how to modify guns illegally.”
Faced with Major’s confession, for a moment, I couldn’t say anything.
But thinking back about it, it wasn’t that strange. Major never had any ideals of obeying the law. He breaks the law in every way, whether it’s making his own transmitters, grenades, or amplifying the power of a taser, even modifying air guns wouldn’t be beneath him.
“Do you understand? I taught them not to give any regard to the laws of this country, and saddled them with the rule of not attacking non-combatants. Who’s willing to hear out such words? It’s all idealistic from me. Nobody listens. This ends up happening. Ginji-san’s basically killed because of me.”
Step by step, I approached Major.
“You say that you want to settle things on your own, but you’re just trying to satisfy yourself here.”
At that moment, Major’s right hand flashed. I barely managed to grab his arm, and pulled it before my eyes. Sparks flew from the taser, several centimeters before me. I shivered. Major was for real, not intending to hold back.
“I intend to deal with this alone. What’s wrong about this? If I can’t do this, I won’t be able to forgive myself.”
Major exerted more force in his hand, and the tips of the taser trembled before us.
I could no longer hold my emotions in.
“You wouldn’t forgive yourself anyway!”
“Ginji-san is already dead, and he won’t come back. Even if you kill those kids or force them to surrender, you’ll just be burdened with the guilt of killing someone. Why don’t you understand this?”
Major’s face got twisted, his lips caused out. He agitatedly said some really blood curlding things.
“But even so, those of the same kind should deal with kids who pretend to be soldiers! If I don’t do this, I will—never ever be able to enjoy holding guns, memorize model numbers, wear camouflage suits or smell gunpowder.”
Under the thick lens of the goggles, Major’s eyes were on the verge of breaking into tears. The brat pretending to be soldiers had fragile pride left, almost unable to support his small body. However, the enhanced grip on my arm was about to break it.
“Who’s the one who intend to tase to death now!?”
I yelled at the goggles.”
“What do you call me every time? You tell me!”
Major looked somewhat perturbed, and the force pushing at my hand weakened slightly.
“Don’t you dare say that you forgot! I’m one of the brats who played soldier with you, a useless commander! Didn’t you call me that yourself!?”
The taser dropped onto the floor, letting out a shrill sound.
For a moment, I thought the goggles were snapped by the grip, only to realize it was just my imagination. Major merely pushed me aside, and I could only watch him kneel down to pick up the gun. I started to shiver, my body seemingly sensing a cold.
Why was I saying such useless retorts? Was that any difference from Major’s stupid pride? I can’t complain even if I’m attacked with several million volts.
However, Major kept his head lowered as he held the taser, remaining slightly. I couldn’t endure this silence that was crushing my heart, and spoke up.
“…I’m coming even if you tell me not to.”
“What’s the point of you coming then, Vice Admiral? You won’t be of any use.” Major sighed. He’s right; I’m just a detective assistant. I don’t know how to wield a gun.
Major walked by me, and pulled hard at the automatic door. The frosty air blew into the hall, and I got up to give chase after the small figure in camouflage suit.
He stopped, turned around to look, still holding the taser.
The goggles reflected the light from the streets, and I couldn’t see his expression. The tightly curled lips gave me a feeling that there was nothing more we could talk about.
The same thing repeating again? Communication failed, and violence again isolated us.
Major knelt down, stuffing the taser into the holster. I saw that Major didn’t want to use violence on me, and him ignoring me was despair for me. I could only feel a chill.
But at this moment—
A strong light appeared beside Major and me. At the same time, there were the sounds of some engines and braking. Major covered his eyes with his hands, and turned to the land leading towards the Meiji Highway. 3 heavy looking vehicles came out from the dark alley, and the first one was parked right before me. The tall, massive figure got out from the co-passenger seat, blocking the car headlights, his completely bleached hair and hem of his crimson jacket were fluttering under the backlight.
“Are you done with punching each other out now?” Yondaime asked. “If you haven’t, get punching. My subordinates are all so bloodthirsty it’s noisy bringing them around. On to Saitama!”
“Aniki! Good work!”
The Hirasaka-gumi members got out from the wagon cars one after another. Everyone looked really massive because they were wearing double jackets and not the usual black T-shirts.
“Stop yapping away and order that shorty of a commander.”
Yondaime spat. I merely bit my lips and lowered my head. If I was careless with my words, I might really cry. Again, I faced him, but he remained knelt down. The goggles reflecting the light also meant that I wasn’t able to see his expression clearly. I guess he too was like me, trying his best to contain his feelings.
“This is an order from the Vice Admiral to the Major. Lead 20 reinforcement soldiers to the frontlines ASAP.”
“You got to be kidding.” Major’s voice was quivering. “The bullets are metallic. If they’re to charge without any equipment…”
“We all got full face helmets ready.”
Yondaime answered without waiting for Major to finish. At this moment, I realized that all the members had motorcycle helmets tucked under their armpit. I gulped stiffly; I never thought of preparing such things. Really, Yondaime’s a lot smarter than me, and as Major said, I alone won’t be of any use.
But it doesn’t matter for me. I’m the detective assistant. It’s my job to get everyone involved.
I heard a few blunt sounds, and found Major smacking his thigh with his fist. Only on the 6th hit did he finally stand up.
His eyes were glittering with moisture under the visor.
And after exhaling some white breath, he commanded,
“—I’ll drive the first car! Everyone, follow me. If you’re late, it’ll be 200 push-ups!”
The abandoned building in Saitama was an old folks home that was halfway built, and as it was located near to the highway, it became a spot for supernatural hunting. However, as the interior furbishing was really bland, the trend faded after a while. Major spotted this place right after he graduated from high school.
“There’s a security system I set up near the highway back in the day. Those guys might have noticed us by now.”
Major got off the driver seat of the wagon car, and said this to Yondaime in the second car.
The exhaust sounds from the vehicles moving down the highway seemed so far away from us at this point. Right beside us was a forest as black as the dark night, and as we walked down the wide path tiled with cobble, we spotted a darker shadow. I guess it’s because we’re in the hills that I could feel the air and cold on the skin and losing as compared to when I’m in Tokyo.
I looked at the cellphone, and affirmed that it was almost 6. Also, I found that Alice had been trying to contact me for quite a while. I hadn’t noticed them till this point.
“There’s no need for you to go too! You’ll just get in their way!”
“What if a bullet hits you in the eye? Just leave everything to Major and Yondaime. Come back.”
I heard almost half of the voicemails Alice left me, and closed the phone before anyone realized. How could I possibly back away at this point. I was the one who riled everyone up.
Yondaime got out from the driver seat of the second driver seat, and asked Major,
“Are those brats really inside?”
Major took out a pair of night vision goggles, and stared at the stone road in front of him. Looking on from it, it appeared the old folks home was like a stream stopping under the night sky, devoid of any light. However, Major kept his goggles, saying,
“They’re here, and it’s not just one of them. No doubts. They aren’t using any lighting at all, but they do use heaters.”
I got off from the co-passenger seat, and heard the footsteps of the Hirasaka-gumi on the stone path that sounded like an afternoon rain. Looking back, I found that everyone already had their helmets on. These guys look like an army able to reduce a town of 2,000 people to nothing in less than an hour, really terrifying.
“Been a while since we struck first!”
“I’m shaking with excitement.” “Aniki has been settling everything with his mouth recently!”
“Can we beat them to near death?”
Everyone’s voices was contained in the helmet, and the conversation got more intense.
“I’ll say to everyone first.”
Major stood in front of this helmet squad, and spoke clearly,
“As much as you can, do not hurt the enemy.”
“Are you kidding?” “Who’s able to do that?” “We came here to beat people up!”
“Quiet! This is an order! If you can’t do it, you aren’t a soldier, and you should go home now!”
“Hey!” “Who has to listen to your orders!”
“Aniki is the one who ordered us. We’re all elite soldiers!”
“Do you know how much we outrank a Major?” You guys are 8 ranks below him…
“An-anyway.” Unable to take this anymore, I decided to speak up, “Everyone, obey Major today.”
“Right!” “If you say so, aniki!” “We’ll leave our lives to you!”
“Quiet, get moving. If we waste more time, that Hirabayashi brat might really get killed.”
Yondaime quietly commanded, put on his goggles, and walked towards the stone path. The Hirasaka-gumi members and Major too gave pursuit in a rush.
“Listen up, when I say get down, lie down on the floor. Anyone shooting at us, hide behind cover, and if you can’t, move side to side towards the enemy…”
Major advanced along Yondaime as he explained to the Hirasaka-gumi members. At this moment, my gut seemed to wince for some reason. However, I could only pull down the goggles I borrowed from Major, pull my knit cap down to my eyes, and be at the back of the group.
I kept checking the taser in the pocket of my coat; it was an enhanced modified weapon Major lent me, but to be honest, I really didn’t want to end up using it.
“Just follow behind us, aniki.”
The gang walking in front of me said to me,
“Just 5-6 brats playing with air guns. We’ll handle them quick.”
But despite hearing this, I felt an inexplicable sense of uneasiness.
We walked out of the forest, and saw the ominous silhouette of the old folks home. In fact, it was the front side that was built into a building, and the back area was still mostly steel frames, as though there were numerous crosses under the night sky.
Right at the top of the corridor was a tall second level without any glass panes installed, and I could see that one window as lit, while the other was dark. Major quickly reacted like lightning, and immediately took out a miniature launcher before firing it at the window. Flames were ignited from the launcher, and the bright tail from the shot flew into the window. At the next moment, a loud boom and bright lights, followed by the sound out many birds flapping their wings, flying out from the surrounding forest. It was a stun grenade fired by Major.
“Mukai Hitoshi. Surrender now.”
Major’s voice echoed all around. The Hirasaka-gumi led by Yondaime went past Major, and charged into the corridor.
“Watch the stairs. 8 of you go up! Don’t leave the walls!”
Yondaime’s voice rang by my ears, and numerous flashes and footsteps crossed each other. After a while, there was a groaning voice coming from the second floor.
I cautiously entered the corridor, unable to see clearly in the darkness, and all I could see were the plain decorations on the concrete walls and ceiling. The long, narrow windows didn’t have any glass windows installed, so the place was as cold as it was outside. The floor too had a thick layer of wilted leaves and dust.
“The room at the corner of the U-shaped corridor on the second floor is sheltered from the wind. They’re probably hiding there.”
Major turned around to say as he climbed up the stairs. Yondaime nodded, and began scaling the stairs. He was only wearing a pair of goggles, and I could not help but worry for him. I knew that he hated having his vision and voice blocked, but he didn’t have to be the first one in at this moment!”
“Don’t underestimate us!”
Again, the growls of the Hirasaka-gumi members could be heard right before the stairs, with some weak sobbing mixed in. I shrank my neck back in, and was the last to climb the stairs.
The surrounding darkness everywhere meant that I couldn’t determine the structure, but it seemed this place was a wide lobby. It’s probably an elevator hall, I guess. Looking down from the windows, I could see a massive atrium before the main corridor, and there were a few hulks there wearing full face helmets. Through some light from the flashlight in my hand, I could barely something twitching under their feet.
“What are you doing? Seriously, what are you doing?”
“Ow ow ow, stop trampling! Ugh! Please! Stop stepping on us!”
Two young men were trampled under the feet of the Hirasaka-gumi members, their camouflage jackets making them look as though they had swelled in size. I shone my flashlight on their faces, and found one of the history research club members I met at R high school.
“How many of them left?” “Where are they?”
The duo was unable to answer the questions in the face of these face creaking voices. The guns fell by their sides, but there was no gunshot to be heard. Even for students who often played survival games, they wouldn’t be able to react calmly when suddenly attacked by a stun grenade and a squad thrashing them.
Suddenly, I heard a loud bang from behind, and I turned around to find a flash deep down the corridor. Yondaime kicked down a door, and a whole squad of people in helmets roared and rushed in. At this moment, a soft metallic sound could be heard in my consciousness. It was a little different from the BB bullet sound I heard before, and the hard bullet hit the concrete wall and ceiling, bouncing off them.
I leaned my back on the wall and advanced deep into the corridor, peeking in at the devastation in the room through the damaged door. There’s a lantern and something glowing red, probably an electric heart. I couldn’t tell whether the ones rolling on the floor in the darkness were the Hirasaka-gumi members or the ones in camouflage. A terrifyingly soft gunshot rang again, and I hurriedly retreated.
“Damn it damn it damn it, just die already, all of you!”
I could hear a boy yelling in madness. I remembered hearing this voice before, it’s the leader Kiriyama.
“Surround him!” “Take his legs out!” “You guys are willing to attack your allies too? Calm down!”
The Hirasaka-gumi members hollered.
The gunshots finally stopped, and with bated breath, I covered my head before entering the room again.
The room was a lot spacious than I imagined, and there’s a sweet, rotting stench coming from the trash at the wall. The wall had a human shape and a bullseye target spray painted onto it, with hundreds of holes due to the bullet marks. Kiriyama’s back was against the wall, holding the airgun firmly. The remaining trio were struggling on the floor, held down by the Hirasaka-gumi members.
“Don’t come near me, you bastards, or I’ll shoot!”
Kiriyama’s gun was pointed right at the back of the crimson jacket with the dragon patterns.
“Souichirou, don’t be reckless!”
Major shouted from the other end of the room. However, Yondaime approached Kiriyama. It was obvious the latter was increasingly nervous as he raised the gun.
Kiriyama let out an ear-piercing shriek, and Yondaime immediately swung his arm. The red jacket flew in the face of the fully automatic fire, and I could only widen my eyes and gulp. However, Yondaime had already vanished, leaving only the jacket on the floor. At the same time, he had already ducked past the fire, and landed a punch on Kiriyama.
Kiriyama fell to the floor, rolling in pain. Yondaime grabbed him by the parka collar, and asked,
“Don’t you dare go to sleep now. Where’s Hirabayashi?”
Kiriyama was choking really hard, gastric juices mixed with his saliva as they flowed out from his mouth. It’s not unexpected that he wouldn’t be able to talk after taking a punch in the gut from Hinamura Souichirou, who’s able to dent a metal block. However, Yondaime didn’t care as he pressed Hirayama’s head down onto the floor, speaking with a more heinous tone.
“I’m asking you where Hirabayashi is. If you’re not going to talk, I’m going to snap your fingers one by one.”
I shivered in shock due to Yondaime’s threat. Sometimes, I would forget that he’s dakudou thorough and through.
“Souichirou, don’t hurt him.”
“Shut up.” Yondaime glared over his shoulder at Major. He grabbed Kiriyama firmly by the arm again, and the latter couldn’t help but scream in pain,
“…Ro-ro-roof! He’s on the roof!”
Another one right under Pole’s feet said sobbingly,
“Hira? He-he’s on the roof. We didn’t do anything. He ran up there.”
Upon hearing this, Major went running to the roof immediately.
I ran up the stairs, pushed aside the door leading to the roof, and heard a sharp sound from the concrete below me. The reflected bullets grazed by my cheeks, and I could feel warm liquid oozing out. I held the handle, lowered my body, and got up to the roof. My injured cheek was pricking in pain due to the icy feeling.
There was no shelter on the roof, only a wide night sky. The concrete extended everywhere, striking an abrupt boundary in the distance. The Northern winds were howling at the trees, forming swaying shadows. I stared intently in the darkness, looking around. There was only a low chest-level wall, without a fence.
I walk out of the door, and looked to the right, and found Major’s little body there. He wasn’t moving, and due to the strong Northern breeze, the short hair on the back of his hair and the helmet strap were swaying.
“…Why are you here?”
There was a young voice from the silent darkness opposite us, almost overpowered by the sound of the wind. I started looking from behind Major, began seeking in the darkness, and found another little figure from the wall opposite.
“What do you mean? What exactly do you mean? You came here. I told you not to bother about me!”
It was Hirabayashi. The one wailing was Hirabayashi. His little body was dressed in a deep blue duffle coat that was flapping strongly in the Northern winds, looking as though he would be blown up into the sky. I guess he never went home after school yesterday, and was dragged all the way here.
If that was the case, why was he aiming the assault rifle at Major?
“Go back! This has nothing to do with you, senpai!”
Hirabayashi sounded as so he was on the verge of tears.
“How does it have nothing to do with me? My own squad broke the roles, and the commander has to take responsibility. I’m just fulfilling the responsibility I should be showing.”
“Shut up! I don’t want to play this soldier game anymore!”
Major continued to approach, one step after another.
“right. This is a military game. Kiriyama and the others aren’t playing a fun game anymore. That’s why I’m here to guide everyone back.”
“Don’t act as if you know anything. You don’t!”
“I do! I saw their SNS chat group. They wanted to push the blame to you!”
“But I did shoot back then.”
Major stopped, and I, who was approaching as well, stopped in my tracks. The strong winds blew at us, and I, stumbling away, could only lean to the short wall by the side.
“You lent me a gun, senpai—so-so I fired. When I shot with the normal BB bullets, I couldn’t even hit anything. Kiriyama-san said that I wouldn’t be able to hit anything even with metal bullets, and so the 5 of us shot at that old man together—”
I grabbed the rough, thin and long handrail of the wall, barely holding myself from nearly falling over. Tears and winds practically covered over Hirabayashi’s voice.
“We aimed at his ears and eyes, and practically hit them all. We watched him bleed out on the night vision goggles.”
There was clattering in Hirabayashi’s voice, and I realized that it was his teeth trembling. The gun pointed at Major was shaking heavily too.
“So-so it’s pointless for you to come here too, senpai!”
Pointless. The word echoed emptily in the darkness.
What was Major’s expression at this point? What feelings did he have as he went forward?
“Don’t come over! I’ll shoot!” He said.
Major stopped a few steps away from Hirabayashi, and asked,
“And why did you come here?”
“How would I know?” Hirabarayashi was already breaking down in tears. “Kiriyama-san said that everyone was to get to together and deal with the guns—but when I came here, nobody was talking. They were just shooting at wild dogs to pass the time…”
Because they couldn’t do anything. The brats who committed a crime of murder had no ideas. The result of them running away was the roof as the Northern winds howled.
“So what? Are you going to jump off here?”
Major coldly asked, and Hirabayashi’s throat trembled.
Numerous footsteps could be heard behind us. The gang in helmets slammed the roof door violently, and dashed out. Yondaime broke out from the terrifying gang, glanced aside at Major, me and Hirabayashi in turn, and immediately raised his hand to stop the gang from moving.
“Do-don’t come near me! If you do, I’ll really shoot! I killed the old man; of course I’ll kill you!”
“Shoot it then.” Major said.
I gasped. Major took off the helmet, and tossed his goggles aside. The soft natural hair fluttered in the night breeze.
“I’m a Major, a combatant. I came here today, prepared to die, so if you want to shoot, shoot it. Then you’ll get back your honor as a soldier, and if you want to jump after that, do it.”
“Wh-what are you saying? I don’t understand!”
“Hey Major.” Yondaime kept his voice down, “Stop playing around. That brat’s cornered already. He’ll really shoot.”
“I said it’s fine.”
I spoke up without knowing what I wanted to say, and Major, with his back turned on me, raised his hand, saying,
“Vice-Admiral, we’ll meet at Yasukuni!”
Again, Major took a step forward.
“What do you mean? What do you mean!?”
A teary voice echoed in the wind,
“Stop. Don’t come here. Stop, stop, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
Hirabayashi’s voice started to have some madness mixed in. He continued to aim the gun at Major’s chest as he backed himself against the wall. I could even see that he was exerting strength on the trigger. A chill surrounded me, and this was the worst possible outcome. These guys are all idiots. If they want to die, they can die alone for all I care. If this guy shoots now, Major will have his brains blown out, and he’ll fall because of the recoil. It’s all because Major insisted on his own stupid pride that things turned out into this unsalvageable mess. If that guy’s the only one able to save himself, we can only laugh at this. Of course, we know very well that if someone jumps off the roof of a three level building, God will enact his cruel stubbornness, and result in the worst possible outcome. Damn brat, you can land on the hard asphalt and die all you want. and an evil feeling repeated itself in my consciousness.
But the moment Major took off his camouflage jacket and stepped forward again, my consciousness of madness started to break. No, wait! What am I doing! I can’t let them die, not like this. Why did I come here?
My right hand subconsciously touched the pocket of my coat, and my left hand held firmly onto the short wall. The railing was made of two long and thin metal rods.
Two long and thin rods that goes around the entire roof—
“Don’t come near me!”
Hirabayashi screamed, and the trembling gun calmed down at that moment.
An electric current flowed through my hand. I took out the taser from my pocket, stabbed the two electrodes at the two metal rods, and pressed the witch.
I couldn’t see any sparks, nor hear any discharge.
Only the button in my hand let out a click.
At the far end of the roof, the little body in dark blue duffle coat jumped up, and fell. The rifle too slipped from his hands. Major got up from the concrete, leaned over, and grabbed Hirabayashi by the arm as the latter was falling off, immediately pulling him back.
The rifle landed on the concrete floor, giving off a hollow sound.
Hirabayashi’s little body fell by Major’s feet, and the sound of the breeze swept at the intensely rising dust.
Another sharp sound rang by my ears; it turned out to be the taser falling out from my hands. After a while, I realized it.
The Northern winds got increasingly stronger, and the rustling of the forest got louder.
The helmet team led by Yondaime approached Major like a team sending off someone on a funeral. I wasn’t the one who got electrocuted, but my legs were shaking.
I head a sobbing voice echo with the wind.
It’s over, I thought.
I held onto the handrail, collapsing over at the wall.
Everything was over. The Hirasaka-gumi led by Major went on a suppression operation, and achieved complete victory, which is something to be happy over. However, I didn’t have the strength to stand up. Why exactly was that? For whose sake, and why, did we do such a stupid thing? For Major’s stupid insistence on his pride? Or for the sake of getting the brats who shot at the homeless with airguns for fun? Why couldn’t we just leave everything to the police? It doesn’t matter to me how ugly their deaths will be.
Hot air was oozing from my ears, landing on my neck. My head gradually got clearer.
I remembered my job; being a detective assistant.
I didn’t come here for anyone else, but for—
Suddenly, I heard the door open.
The long black hair fluttered around, and the girl ran through the Northern breeze, calling for me. It’s Alice, it’s really her. She, dressed in a coat over her pajamas, frantically ran towards me. It felt so surreal, I was a little dizzy. Was I dreaming?
Alice’s petite body leapt into my arms, and I could feel her warmth. She knelt down, her knees basically touching mine as she kept caressing my neck and face. Once she found that I had a graze due to a reflected bullet, she turned pale.
“Didn’t I tell you already, you idiot!? You should leave such gruff work to the gorillas, Major or Yondaime!”
“Wait, Alice, it hurts! I just have a cut. Don’t touch it.”
“I called you about 300 times or so, and you ignored them all!”
She noticed the footsteps behind her, her hand jolted upright in fear, and she hurriedly turned around.
“…Ahh, nee-san, good job.”
Turned out it was the Hirasaka-gumi members, who were still wearing helmets from some reason. Alice was obviously terrified, and hurriedly hugged me.
Yondaime walked out from the ferocious crowd, his coat was tattered by the bullets during the last battle, and he looked cold wearing only a shirt on top.
“You showed up again.” Yondaime frowned, “Why did you come here? You too, Hiro. Don’t drive all the way here just because Alice begged you.”
Yondaime looked back at the door leading to the roof, and I realized that there was Hiro at the stairs, giving a wry smile. So Alice too Hiro’s car here.
“She was on the verge of tears because she couldn’t contact Narumi-san, and I can’t refuse her.”
“Who was crying?”
Alice stood up, and lashed out angrily.
“I didn’t come here for Narumi! Wh-why do you think I came all the way here into the hills?”
“…For a test of courage?”
“If you’re serious, I’m going to fire you right now!”
“Just joking, sorry.”
The commotion that occurred on the barren rooftop again vanished in the winds.
A rustling sound rang by my ears, and it seemed somebody was dragging something here.
A path opened in the human wall of helmets behind Alice, and appearing in front of me was an elementary school-like boy, not wearing a helmet, goggles, or a camouflage jacket. He was dragging a corpse by the collar of the deep blue duffle coat.
No—that wasn’t a corpse. Hirabayashi Minoru was still alive. His eyes remained lifeless, and there was traces of dried spit at his mouth, but he was still alive.
Major dragged Hirabayashi before Alice, and spoke with a worn out voice,
“…Detective time next. Do whatever you want.”
Hirabayashi’s dirty eyes were twitching, and Alice gasped in shock, grabbing the sleeve of my coat. I stood up to support her.
Of course, Alice came here to investigate. She came all the way to this dried up battlefield, where nobody won, for despite it going to dirty her hands, she wanted to personally dig up the truth.
“Hirabayashi Minoru. Stand up.”
Hirabayashi’s eyelids twitched a few times due to Alice’s call, his eyes, sunk in the world of death, flickered sceptically.
A cracking voice oozed out from his lips.
“I’m the NEET detective, speaker of the dead. That’s not the name I should be saying to you, so you can forget about it. Once you reveal the truth, I will have no interest in you, and you can spend the rest of your life repenting, regretting, escaping or despairing.”
Alice’s tone was so cold, the air could be heard compressing, and she focused on Hirabayashi’s eyes.
“I just want to ask you something.”
Alice coldly cut off his words.
“That night, you shot at the homeless with a modified gun, right? Did the old man wear a muffler back then?”
A chill ran from my arms to my neck. I stared at the aloof sidelong face of Alice, and Yondaime too stared at Alice with widened eyes. I guess Hiro too was the same.
The deep blue duffle coat at my feet twitched, and the parched lips tried their best to answer,
“…He…did. But, why…”
The black hair covered my vision, and Alice turned to the door leading to the stairs.
“Let’s go, Narumi. Everything is solved.”
A breath was caught in my throat, and I, without thinking, let out all scepticism in one exhale.
“Wait, Alice, is this really fine? What do you mean?”
I grabbed her by the shoulder, and stared at her face,
“Didn’t we come here to investigate why they had to chop the head off, or how they did it?”
Alice merely lowered her eyes, and the duffle coat at my feet started to rub against the concrete floor.
Hirabayashi’s groan caused me to turn around and look at him in shock, my eyes meeting his corroded ones.
“…What…about…the head…? …Chopped off…?”
I widened my eyes, and felt queasy, as though thousands of worms were crawling all over me. What’s going on? Didn’t you guys do it? Didn’t you guys kill Ginji-san? If—
Suddenly, someone grabbed my arm. I turned my head around, and met a pair of eyes filled with the starry night. Alice was staring at my eyes, and shook her head.
“So I say, the head wasn’t chopped off by them. We’re done here, so let’s go.”
But despite Alice saying this, I couldn’t move at all. Or to be precise, nobody except for Alice could move. She lowered her eyes, and seemed to have given up on us as she turned around, and walked towards the door alone.
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