Owari no Chronicle:Volume12 Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Irresponsible House
What am I supposed to do about this?
There was light. That white light came from the ceiling of a room with wooden flooring.
A light brown sofa sat in the light and a white cardboard box sat on the central white table.
Two people sat on the sofa in front of the box that was sealed with a charm signed with the name Sayama Kaoru.
“Shinjou-kun, stand back. I will open it, but it might explode.”
“Was your grandfather really that exciting a person?”
Shinjou tilted her head and lightly tapped the edge of the box with her right hand.
She looked to the left where Sayama was frowning.
“And if it was going to explode, it would have done so when it fell on you earlier. Right?”
She smiled to reassure him and tapped the side of the box.
She then heard something switch on inside.
Her smile froze on her face and she did not move her hand from the box.
“This is all too sudden, but can I take back everything I just said?”
“For you, I will allow it.”
He gave a refreshing laugh.
“Would you like some help, Shinjou-kun?”
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing at all. Now, how about you remove all your clothes to lighten the load?”
“What do you think you’re doing!? And what is wrong with your brain!?”
She sighed and kept her eyes on the hand touching the box.
“Besides, I couldn’t remove the sleeve even if I tried to take them off. Too bad.”
“So it would have to be a naked shirt.”
“What kind of contradictory genre name is that?”
“Calm down,” he said while casually pulling a stethoscope from his pocket.
Shinjou swallowed the words she wanted to say and silently watched him press the stethoscope against the box.
“Hm. I can hear something moving. Perhaps a clock.”
“This is just getting more and more exciting, isn’t it?”
He nodded and pressed the stethoscope against her chest with a perfectly serious expression.
“I see. You do seem to be getting excited. …The pounding of your heart is giving me a message in Morse code: L-O-V-E. An anagram for ELO + V for victory!”
“Ero is spelled with an R!!”
She used her open left hand to grab the stethoscope and pound it five times on the white table.
A hard sound rang out and Sayama gave a large jerk for each time the sound reached him directly through the device.
She frowned and spoke into the stethoscope’s cup.
“What are you going to do about whatever’s inside?”
“Heh heh heh. Shinjou-kun, that was enough force to just about make my ears bleed.”
He brushed up his bangs while Baku emulated him on his head.
With a snap of his left wrist, something appeared in that hand.
“A knife? Wait, Sayama-kun. Are you going to open it?”
He was taking action without doing anything about whatever was inside.
Her pulse began to race and she placed her left hand on his right shoulder.
Before she could ask him to stop, his left hand raced forward to slice open his grandfather’s seal.
“Do you remember what I said before, Shinjou-kun?”
She frowned and thought about his question while sensing danger in his actions.
…What he said before?
“You can hear something moving and it might be a clock.”
Even as she answered, she realized what he meant.
“You didn’t say it was a time bomb.”
“Correct. I also heard something light rolling around. Therefore, it is a clock and not a bomb. The switch was likely a dummy.”
He opened the box and they both looked inside.
He had been half right.
There was a clock loose inside the box. It was an old pocket watch.
However, the bottom of the box was covered in red cylinders of dynamite.
They were packed in tightly like bricks and the words “ten more seconds” were written on top of them.
Shinjou exchanged a glance with Sayama and smiled.
“You didn’t see this coming, did you?”
“No. It wouldn’t roll around when packed in this tightly. That old man could be so neurotic.”
“Yes, yes. He was very thorough. Now, to be thorough on our end, how many seconds left?”
“Throw it away!!”
He stood up, ran toward the yard, tore apart the box, and threw it.
A moment later, an explosion reached her as a blast of wind.
Sayama saw the large pond in the Tamiya house’s yard blow up.
The heavy cardboard plunged into the water like it was being swallowed and it exploded just as it started to float back up.
What a spiteful old man, thought Sayama as the blast washed over the yard.
A bomb that was activated by opening the box did not need a dummy switch or a dummy clock. And it had even had plenty of time to throw it into the pond after opening it.
…Almost as if he knew I would do this.
Sayama looked up at the water that had blasted up into the night sky.
The pond’s koi had moved to the deep bottom of the pond for winter, so the only animal affected was the reptilian pet belonging to Seizou, the previous head of the Tamiya family. Based on the direction it flew in, it would likely land in the house across the road, so simply put, Kouji was going to have some extra trouble to deal with.
“No problems here.”
As he muttered that, he heard the front door open and Kouji run out. His footsteps sounded overly heavy, so he was likely carrying a pile of confection sets.
Soon, rain smelling faintly of algae began to fall.
The spray of water hit the ground, his shoulders, and his head, so Sayama put what he held into his pocket, removed his coat, and held it over his head.
He heard Ryouko’s distant voice from the main building.
“Young masterrrr! Are you okay?”
“You should be more worried about your neighbors who lack a proper sense of tension. They are probably in a panic right now.”
“Wow. You’re so calm, young master.”
After her smiling voice, he heard the door close, so he looked behind him. Despite the wind, the detached room was relatively unharmed. The cloth on the sofa had blown off, but that was about it.
Long ago, he had seen that room lit up like this.
Even at night, he had been able to play safely in the yard and he had always found his parents when he reentered the light.
Now, he had Shinjou instead of his parents and the pain in his chest was added to the mix.
…When I returned here after my mother’s death, I was terribly opposed to going into that room.
He had moved to the room next to his grandfather’s in the main building and his life centered on his grandfather had begun.
His left hand was holding up his coat, so he looked to his right hand. It held the pocket watch from the box.
It was the type a civilian working for the military received as an officer and it had not been tampered with.
“Is this memento of the National Defense Department left for me? And one from everyday life at that.”
He thought to himself as he walked toward the detached room.
…Come to think of it, this is the first proper memento I have gotten other than the Leviathan Road and a few odds and ends.
He felt he would never have found it without pursuing the Leviathan Road, but he also felt that might have been different if his parents had not died. But…
…That is something I would like to discuss with Shinjou-kun.
He no longer had to think about these things on his own.
He nodded, returned to the room, and heard a sound.
The TV in the wood floor room was on and Shinjou was watching it from the sofa.
He called out to her, but she did not turn around. She was bent forward a bit watching the TV.
The news was on.
“Oh? Is it about video games? …The major companies Kimco and Gandai are merging? Will the new company name be Kintam? It seems to me the end would have a rising intonation, but what do you think, Shinjou-kun?”
She still did not turn around.
He placed a hand on her shoulder and she gently fell to the side and lazily lay there.
She looked up at him from below.
“Do you have something to say?”
He thought for a while and finally found his answer.
“The new company name could also be Ganco, couldn’t it!?”
“Enough of that!! Get over here and sit down!!”
She got up and patted on the empty spot on the sofa.
He wondered what this was about.
…She is asking me to sit down?
It is impossible to avoid having my imagination run wild. What is she going to do? Is there an ear-cleaning set? There is, there is, there is! Is there enough space to rest on her lap? There is, there is, there is! I am ready for anything!
“Sayama-kun, why are you folding your coat so happily?”
“Ha ha ha. Shinjou-kun, why are you glaring at me so happily?”
She turned her back and slapped the sofa’s armrest several times.
Can she not wait any longer? Heh heh heh. Shinjou-kun, when you are this excited, it fills me with excitement, too.
“But calm down, Shinjou-kun. We cannot speak unless you are calm.”
“Oh? You actually intend to speak?”
She corrected her posture to face him, but she was still glaring.
“Um, is it just me or are things more intense than usual today?”
“I see nothing out of the ordinary for a collaboration between the Sayama family and the Tamiya family.”
“Do you ‘ordinarily’ find bombs in your house?”
“You do here.”
Shinjou glared silently at him with her mouth hanging open, so Sayama nodded.
“This is a simple difference between household environments. You make your omelets sweet, but we make them a little salty here. This is the same thing.”
“I really feel like you’re trying to avoid the issue.”
“Then should I start having mine sweet too? That way you can make them for me.”
She looked surprised by that question.
“No, um, well. I do know you’re changing the subject to avoid the issue, but…”
She looked at him with a troubled expression.
“I can make a salty one too next time.”
“Whatever you like is what I am most willing to accept.”
“But I’ve never tried them salty.”
She thought for a bit and nodded.
“I need to try it both ways. Yes. …Wait! I just tried out something even stranger! This house is too strange!! Is it a salty flavor!? No, it’s a mystery flavor. It’s twenty-one different flavors!”
As she raised her voice, the room’s intercom rang and Ryouko’s voice came from it.
“Setsu-chan? Setsu-chan? Did you just say something about my house?”
Shinjou frantically shook her head and a quiet laugh came from the intercom before it cut off.
Shinjou fell silent and the sound of the TV filled the room.
In that relative silence, she gave a weary sigh and Sayama patted her shoulder a few times.
“You will get used to it. Humans are very adaptable and their preferences can change.”
“I think there are some exceptions to that.”
She hung her head, but…
She looked up again. The ends of her eyebrows were lowered in a troubled smile.
“Well, whatever might happen, I can’t just stop talking, can I? But…”
She looked to the empty table.
“If that box was a dummy too, does that mean we got nothing out of this?”
“It is too soon to say that, Shinjou-kun.”
Sayama pulled something from the pocket of his coat that sat folded next to him.
“That damn old man had created a false bottom below the box. I cut it open and found this.”
It was a single document with a printed title.
“This is the authorization for my mother’s job.”
Shinjou gasped below the light.
She read the document Sayama held out to her.
“Japanese UCAT General Affairs Department Third Manager Sayama Yume is appointed as manager of the ‘Study’. –March 25, 1985.”
That was all it said.
…This is related to what Ryouko-san mentioned, isn’t it?
Sayama’s mother had worked somewhere other than UCAT.
…And that place was called the “Study”.
“What was this ‘Study’? I wonder where it was.”
“Can you think of any possibilities?”
Shinjou could only tilt her head at Sayama’s question.
For one thing, her idea of a study was a kind of personal office.
…But Sayama-kun said the study at Kinugasa’s residence was the same sort of thing.
She made a guess using Kinugasa Tenkyou as a starting point.
“The Kinugasa Library?”
But was there really a study in that stepped library? It could not be in the counter and the preparation room in the back had no doors.
“Is it hidden with a concept space?”
“It is not. The study really is there. It is just hidden in some other way.”
Hearing Sayama speak, she asked about what he meant.
“Do you think it’s in the Kinugasa Library too?”
“Yes. If you spend enough time at that school, you will eventually find that place somewhat strange. …This simply means I have evidence to back that up. When we gather at the library later, we can all search together.”
He crossed his arms and had a smile on his face.
“But this has gotten interesting. Back when Siegfried showed me the group photo from the National Defense Department days, he said his predecessor had found it.”
“You mean…he was referring to your mother?”
She chose her words carefully, but he did not nod in agreement.
Instead, he chose his own words carefully.
“My mother helped my father. The two of them visited Professor Kinugasa’s house together. They searched through what he had left behind because my father wanted to produce weaponry to fight Top-Gear and my mother wanted to gather information to use against Top-Gear. So if she managed the ‘Study’ in the Kinugasa Library…”
He crossed his arms.
“I told you about the scenes of Professor Kinugasa’s past I saw, didn’t I? In the Kinugasa Document, he said he had sealed Georgius ‘in a place I know very well’. That place may have been this ‘Study’.”
Shinjou let out a gasp of surprise, but Sayama simply continued.
“I have no proof. After all, he said he had hidden the negative Georgius while my mother left me with the positive Georgius. But…”
“He still said he sealed it in a place he knew very well, right?”
In other words…
“What if Georgius was sealed inside the ‘Study’ somehow and your mother couldn’t remove the seal?”
“Excellent reasoning, Shinjou-kun. This is worth investigating.”
As he spoke, he pulled out his cellphone, set it to speakerphone, and called a saved number.
He breathed in two seconds later.
“Sibyl-kun? It is I. I know you are busy, but I would like for you to look into something.”
“I want information on the Kinugasa Library’s previous librarian. The one who preceded Mr. Siegfried. Please ask the general affairs department.”
He moved the phone from his mouth so Shinjou could hear Sibyl’s voice.
After a pause…
“As I expected, there is no information on Siegfried-sama’s predecessor.”
Shinjou quietly listened to the voice.
“Siegfried-sama took over as librarian on January 7, 1996. That was the beginning of the third term that year.”
Sibyl seemed to have realized something as she spoke because a hesitant tremor filled her voice.
“Mr. Siegfried took over as librarian just after the blank period ended. It was only two weeks after Top-Gear’s destruction on December 25, 1995. Do you have a question about that?”
Sibyl could be heard breathing in, but after a few seconds, her clear voice returned.
“Testament. I do not know the situation, but I can say one thing: Have a good past, Sayama-sama.”
“Thank you,” said Sayama before ending the call and looking to Shinjou.
He crossed his arms and a smile appeared on the corner of his mouth.
He let out a breath and leaned back into the sofa.
He stretched his arms up onto the back of the sofa.
“We still have no proof, but it seems to all come back to the Kinugasa Library.”
“Before we leave for the Leviathan Road and to search for my mom’s past, it looks like we’ll be searching for the ‘Study’.”
Shinjou also leaned back in the sofa and he nodded with a bitter smile while pulling out a pocket watch.
“But we still have an hour until our meeting in the library. …How about a cup of tea?”
He spoke with a carefree tone and looked around with a bitter smile.
…Does this place bring back a lot of memories?
She also looked around at the room she had become slightly familiar with through cleaning it.
It contained a few dressers, bookcases, and containers.
He had once lived here.
…And now he lives with me in that small dorm room.
This room had been left empty after losing its residents, but what had Sayama lost and what had he gained?
“…” Shinjou silently leaned up against him.
She had realized one thing.
After her trip to Sakai a month and a half ago, she had told him her body was now fully functioning. He had rejoiced and celebrated, and she had been forced to give her usual retorts when he took it too far.
But ever since then, he had not checked on her body.
He may have thought there was no longer a need.
She did not know whether he was forsaking her or treating her with care. He had said nothing about it and was avoiding the subject.
However, she had decided how she would think about the issue.
…I won’t let my doubts get the better of me like I did in the spring.
And now, he had once more stepped into this location from his past and he had shown it to her.
This was something he had avoided for so very long.
…Is this the reverse side of treating something with care?
He would surely have the place cleaned and treated with even more care.
Someday. Someday surely, she thought.
…Will the same thing happen with me?
Instead of simply treating her with care, would he step through the door and treat her with even more care?
She looked to him as she thought and their eyes met as he looked around the room.
“What is it, Shinjou-kun? Did my charm get the better of you?”
“No, sorry. I feel like a lot was just ruined.”
She smiled bitterly and he gave a similar smile in return.
He sighed, relaxed his shoulders, and looked around more cheerfully.
“I wonder if there is a photo album in here. How about it, Shinjou-kun?”
“H-how about what?”
She had thought about this earlier and she found herself growing flustered when he chose to show her even more of his past.
…Ah, why am I so pathetic?
She knew he was showing a lot of resolve behind that expressionless face. She might have been imagining it and it might have been a misunderstanding, but she wanted to believe she understood.
So she asked a question.
“Can I really?”
“Yes,” he replied quietly. “Tonight, we will be travelling west together. There, we will complete the Leviathan Road with 8th-Gear. After that difficult but moving journey, we will head to Sakai for the climax of our tear-jerking pursuit of your parents’ footsteps. But when that happens…”
He took a breath.
“I will undoubtedly see your past. I will see a precious past that involves your parents.”
Hearing that, she realized what he was trying to say.
If he was going to see her past…
“You’ll show me your past?”
“Ha ha. I used to be an unbelievably stupid child. Nothing at all like I am now.”
Was he serious or joking? Either way, she knew he was being sincere.
And so she nodded.
I need to make up my mind here, she thought. I need to share all sorts of things with him.
They did not have much time. That was not enough time to go over all of the past that he had never told anyone and that he could not bring himself to remember, but…
…If this is just the beginning…
“Will you show me, Sayama-kun? What were you like when you were little?”
He laughed bitterly again. He must have actually found the album earlier because he began to walk toward the closet.
But then he stopped.
He would often suspiciously start or stop moving without notice, so that was not enough to bother Shinjou. What she found odd was how tense he was.
When she tilted her head and looked up at him, she found he was looking out the open window.
The window let in the cold night air and gave a view of the yard.
The people of the Tamiya house were working to fix the damage done by the previous explosion in the pond. They were cleaning up the rocks scattered from the bottom of the pond, the water that had formed puddles around, and the leaves knocked down by the wind.
“Oh, we should probably help too.”
Belatedly realizing that, Shinjou wondered if they would have to wait until another time for Sayama’s photo album.
But then she noticed what he was looking at.
It was a small form helping the others gather the fallen leaves.
The kimono-wearing girl had a crutch under her left arm and she was a short distance from the rest of the group. But she suddenly turned toward Sayama and Shinjou.
Shinjou froze in place just like Sayama. The girl did as well.
A chilly and quiet wind blew through and it carried a voice. It was Kouji’s after finishing his greetings out front.
“Young master, Setsu-kun, have you not met her yet?”
Shinjou heard Kouji introduce the girl.
“Her name is Tamiya Shino. Due to her circumstances, we’re taking care of her here for the time being.”
|Back to Chapter 4||Return to Main Page||Forward to Chapter 6|