This title is too long!:Volume3 Chapter1 1
Chapter 1-1 - May 22, I touched her II
I'm a high school boy and a bestselling light novel author, strangled by my classmate who is my underclassman and a voice actress.
This is my current predicament.
I'm lying on the soft bed. This bed's mattress is really bouncy, nice to sleep on.
My classmate, a voice actress who's a year younger than me--
In other words, Eri Nitadori, or Stella Hamilton, is on my body.
She, dressed in a ¾ sleeve shirt, reached her hands out for my neck. The slender fingers on her hands were wrapping around my carotid pulse, clamping them from the sides.
Her hands are really cold.
I feel that I have a muffler made of chains wrapped around my neck.
In my vision, I can see her head.
The faint brown hair is short, unable to cover the sides of her face. The hair's pretty and thin, and looks really clear.
Thus, even with the backlight on her, I could clearly see her face
The large eyes are dichromatic. The right eye's a faint grey, and the left's brown.
At this point, there's no need to mention it, but I think she's pretty.
And her cold hands really feel comfortable.
It's probably because this room's a little too hot, so hot that I'm spacing out, which is why it feels very comfortable.
I really want to keep it this way.
How did it end up this way?
I start to recollect the events that transpired.
May 22nd, Thursday.
I took the Limited Express to Tokyo. In this wonderful weather--
The train proceeded smoothly.
I'm a professional author.
I wrote a novel titled 'Vice Versa'--
Currently, it's lined in the Pocket Book (Bunko) section of the bookstore.
My work is classified as a 'light novel', released by a publisher called Dengeki Bunko.
I debuted two years ago, in August, back when I was in my first year of high school. Currently, the series is published till the 9th volume. After taking a year away from school, I started going to school again, and I'm in my second year of high school.
Delightfully, 'Vice Versa' is selling well, and the decision was made to adapt it into a TV anime that's to be aired in July.
The After Record of the anime, in other words, the recording of the voice actors' work began at the beginning of April. To attend the recording session every Friday morning at 10 A.M., I would take the Limited Express to Tokyo every Thursday evening..
I was seated at the last row of the free seating carriage, to the left.
Eri Nitadori, the girl with long black hair and faint blue glasses, was seated at my right.
Eri Nitadori is--
My classmate, seated right behind me in the classroom, a year younger than me, who took leave from school for a year.
At the same time, she's a colleague. She's a rising voice actress, voicing the character Meek in the anime 'Vice Versa'.
Since the second week of the After Record, she learned that we took the same train ride to Tokyo, and if there was anything to talk, we would keep it to the train. We would avoid talking to each other at the recording studio and the school, to avoid revealing our identities and relationship.
Till last week, she would ask all kinds of questions about my work as an author, and I answered obediently. I just needed to ask, so I felt at ease having a conversation. Typically, if someone were to ask me to chat with a girl, I guess I'll probably slip away.
A major case happened last week...or I should say, an incident, but I guess I barely managed to settle it. Even I felt that I worked hard, kinda.
It was less than 10 minutes since the train left the station.
During these few minutes, Nitadori and I boldly argued over the potato chips flavor, and we showed our tickets to Miss Conductor, whom we caused lots of trouble to the prior week.
After a rather short conversation, and during the few seconds of me seriously pondering the idea of 'I hope to have Nitadori as the protagonist of a novel one day'.
Nitadori fell asleep.
Her head rests on my shoulder before I knew it, and the weight on my shoulder doesn't feel too light or heavy.
I guess she deliberately added some perfume since her wig's giving off a fragrance--maybe that's what I'll call it. That black hair's very close to me. Her closed eyes are so close to me, it seems like they're able to feel my breathing. I can clearly see her long eyelashes, white skin and red lips.
I don't know what I should do.
I don't want to wake her up when she's sleeping so soundly, but if she's going to continue leaning on me, I think I'm going to have some bad imaginations. So this is inappropriate. Really inappropriate.
Even without this happening, that action of hers is almost equivalent to kissing my cheek, and I'm already unable to calm down.
Can I hang on for another 2 hours with such repressed feelings? No, I can't.
But I feel that I can't do something inhumane like saying 'don't sleep with your head tilted' and push Nitadori back.
And furthermore, if that causes Nitadori's wig to fall, I'll be more flustered before, so much that I want to jump out from the train.
Right when I'm panicking inside and not moving at all.
"Please let her sleep."
I hear a soft voice diagonally above me. The hushed voice barely made it through the noise of the train.
I turned my eyes towards the aisle, and found that it was Miss Kamishiro.
She appears to be about 27 years old, has short black hair, sharp eyes, and looks strong.
Whenever Nitadori heads to the capital, she'll come along, so I get the feeling that the latter is Nitadori's bodyguard.
Before I know it, Miss Kamishiro got up from the seat on the right end of the row I told her to sit at when she got onto the train.
She hushes her voice, and hands something over to me.
To avoid shaking Nitadori's head, I receive it with my left hand.
With my hand, I receive an earphone, and a black object that's as thick and large as a 100 Yen coin, connected to a cord that's about 30cm long--what are these?
"This is a microphone, sensei."
Miss Kamishiro told me. I wonder if she could read minds, or that she read my thoughts because my expression was so spaced out, or both.
Miss Kamishiro said it so nonchalantly, but I never thought this person would call me 'sensei' too.
I guess she already knew of my actual name and pen names from Nitadori. But I didn't really hate that title, so I didn't refute.
"Please attach the cable I'm going to give you to the earphone, and then put it onto the left ear. Also, please hold down the microphone to the side of the throat."
Miss Kamishiro continues to explain with a flat, calm tone, and sits down in front of me, before turning behind to hand the cable, which I received.
There's a little tip at the end of the cable. I see thinking that, I attach the cable to the earphone, and put the earphone at my left ear.
Even this dull-witted me can tell what Miss Kamishiro wants to do.
She wants to talk to me while keeping it a secret from Nitadori. Does she always carry this thing along? Or is it that she only does so today? I don't know.
"Can you hear me?"
I can hear some little noise with Miss Kamishiro's voice. The voice's vague as compared to hearing it directly, but I can still hear her words well enough.
With my hand hand on the microphone, I press it down to the left side of my throat, and press the switch in the middle, trying to speak,
"Ah, yes. I can hear you."
I spoke in a voice so soft, no bystander can hear me.
"Yes, it looks fine."
Miss Kamishiro answered. It seems that she's able to hear me.
This little thing is called a 'throat microphone', able to sense the vibrations of the throat, and can be used even in noisy situations. I know the existence and name of it, but it's the first time I'm using the real thing.
Speaking of which, I remember a certain anime about high school girls driving tanks, and the girls would press on their throats whenever they speak.
It's really useful, and I'm impressed. While I have some knowledge, actually experiencing it is a different feeling.
It's a good experience, and next time, I want the device to show up in 'Side Sin'.
I feel that if Sin's going to commit a robbery in modern Japan, he'll use the money he gets to buy entire wireless communications sets back to Reputation.
In that world, there are magic spells that work like directional speakers to convey voices to specific people. If there are such devices however, anyone can use those devices even without that kind of magic or training.
No, I guess this kind works better if prepared and used by Shin. The plot will proceed this way; Shin will ask his mom to buy him a complete wireless communicator set as a birthday gift, and after setting it up, he'll contribute greatly in Reputation.
In Reputation, the outstanding magicians are able to cast spells faster than the others, and able to sense magic from further away. With such a device, there won't be any presence left behind, and can be used to trick them.
My delusions progress to such a point at that moment, and I intend to record the idea into my smartphone.
But Miss Kamishiro won't allow me the time to do so.
"I have something to say."
Yes, I understood that.
I look out of the window at the flowing scenery, and while mindful of Nitadori's head on my right shoulder, I quietly listen,
"Do you hear me? --I can't observe your face now, so please keep your answers brief if you have to."
Hearing the poised voice by Miss Kamishiro, I hastily answer.
"Yes...I'm sorry. I'll answer--but before this, may I ask a question?"
I'm tense, but I end up saying what I want to ask.
"What is it?"
"Well...erm, I only know your last name, Miss Kamishiro. Regarding your relationship with Nitadori...Miss Nitadori, I think I have a rough idea as to what it is. But it'll be bad if I'm wrong here"
"Understood. In any case, I have yet to introduce myself. I do apologize for that. Now then, let us begin from here."
And so, Miss Kamishiro told me a lot of things, while I merely answered from time to time as I listened.
Miss Kamishiro's full name is Akane Kamishiro, legend for Kamishiro, and red for Akane.
The name sounds cool, like a female protagonist in a combat fiction.
I really want to use this name for a character in a certain story, but now's not the time, so I pass on seeking her approval.
Also, she even told me her age without me asking. Shocking, she's already 35. Looking at her strong appearance, I thought she would be younger, about 27 or 28. I then state this to her.
Only at this moment does she answer with a kind voice. Only at this moment.
And as I expected, Miss Kamishiro's the personal bodyguard to Eri Nitadori. She has been accompanying Nitadori ever since the latter lived overseas, and it has been over 5 years.
To avoid abduction overseas, it's necessary to have a bodyguard and a chauffeur. Thus, she has been fetching and sending Nitadori off in place of the latter's parents. Miss 'Kamishiro' takes the 'place' of the parents, and I found it cool.
It's said that she didn't need to do that much in Japan, given the good security. However, whenever Nitadori had to spend her nights outside, she would accompany, or in other words, 'watch over'.
Thus, as I had expected, she would accompany Nitadori to Tokyo, participating in the After Record.
That was also the case when I first met and spoke with Nitadori on the train, April 10th.
Both of them had green rail passes (TN: In other words, first class rides on the green car). After that, Miss Kamishiro and Nitadori would arrive at the station together, and be seated at the front seats of the same carriage.
At the end of this very long self-introduction, Miss Kamishiro spoke with a really displeased tone,
"But letting her slip from my sight last week was my fault...this will be the biggest failure in my life."
Even though I couldn't see her, she's definitely baring her fangs. If I saw her, I'll be utterly terrified. Good thing I couldn't.
The train continues to move forward, stopping at many stations.
It passes through a long, long tunnel, slowly slipping into a station by a lake. The number of passengers increased, but nobody sat beside Miss Kamishiro.
Nitadori maintains the same pose throughout, sleeping on my shoulder.
I turn to my right, looking at her sleeping face. Nitadori's really sleeping nicely.
"Milady...hasn't been sleeping well recently."
Miss Kamishiro says.
I turn my eyes forward again, and see Miss Kamishiro seated normally, looking forward. I'm guessing that she has a pair of eyes on the back of her head.
I press my hand on my throat, answering,
And Miss Kamishiro continues to explain with a poised voice, as though reporting the events happening on this world.
"Milady felt guilty for doing such a thing."
Since I killed off Meek so easily.
But I feel Miss Kamishiro's probably unable to understand these words.
"I too feel that such a plot development is really terrifying."
Miss Kamishiro simply answered. She's scary.
"But most importantly, Milady didn't feel that way. She's often regretful about the fact that she tried to kill you, sensei."
I couldn't say anything. Then, Miss Kamishiro continues to talk,
"I have just heard of what happened to you two at school. You changed the future plot progression, hinting that the character Milady voices will return, have her owe the favor, and then--"
Miss Kamishiro pauses for a while.
"You remember her name, and the matter of her sending you a fan letter."
That was because I could never forget, and I'll never be able to forget.
"I guess, Stella Hamilton--is her actual name after all."
Her reply proves that my guesses are correct. Great.
"But she has intended to hide everything in school. I hope that you'll help. "
My secrets aren't divulged, so she's likely to blackmail me, but she chooses to spare me.
Nodding, I clearly state,
"I'll guard this secret with my all. I won't talk to her again in school, just in case, to prevent it from being revealed"
Then, I ask Miss Kamishiro,
"Miss Kamishiro, you know that Nitadori once sent me a letter, and I replied, right?"
I ask this just in case. If not, she wouldn't be mentioning about 'me remembering the name'.
She simply answers.
This alone allows me to understand how much Nitadori trusts Miss Kamishiro.
In other words, Nitadori's about to honestly say how she once thought about killing herself, and unable to talk to her parents about this.
"Milady was really happy. If not for that incident...I guess I'll be driving down the expressway instead."
Miss Kamishiro says.
I don't know if 'that incident' here refers to the changing of the plot, or that I called her Stella, or both--
In any case, if I did anything wrong, Nitadori wouldn't be taking this train, and I probably will never have the chance to talk to her again.
I heave a sigh of relief, really earnestly.
And then, I say to Miss Kamishiro,
"Good thing I have the chance to talk. This is a god-given opportunity."
"Sensei, do you believe in god?"
Miss Kamishiro asks with a slightly incredulous tone,
I immediately answer,
"No, not at all."
"...Well, let us not talk about that."
She choose not to talk about that, and I decide to say what's on my mind. If not now, then when? I have to thank her.
"Miss Kamishiro, I really have to thank you."
"Huh? --What are you saying?"
She answers in surprise, and I continue,
"What happened last week, in the infirmary, well, I'm really grateful for you going along with that unreasonable, impromptu act. I haven't thanked you for that."
"Ahh...you don't have to. I just did what was the best option I could take back then."
Miss Kamishiro coldly replies, and then continues,
"But to be honest...I'm really impressed. I never thought you could come up with that plan in such a situation. Or I should say that you're a sensei capable of creating something on the fly?"
Ahh, I'm glad to be praised.
"Thanks...for the praise."
And to hide my embarrassment, I answer that first,
"Sensei...are you a judo practitioner? Or any other martial art?"
She asks, but I really don't have that kind of experience.
"No, none at all. I just said it to shake off the policeman. I only had some experience on judo in gym class, so I can't really say so."
"Well, I guessed so...but despite so, you managed to save Milady, and me in the process. If that really got its way to the police station, I don't think the matter can be settled even with me being fired..."
It's only after I hear her say this that I realize how terrible the worst case scenario would have been.
"Right. If things ended up that way, even the anime airing might be severely affected...I want to thank that Miss Conductor, but I can't say the truth..."
I express my true thoughts, only to hear Miss Kamishiro lashing at my left ear with an unprecedented harsh voice.
"Seriously? What are you thinking?"
No matter how dull-witted I am, I can tell that it's a furious tone.
The normally terrifyingly collected Miss Kamishiro is just terrifying to me now.
Unable to say anything, I don't know what she's angry about, and I don't know what's she's going to say next.
"Aren't you worried about your own life? If Miss Conductor didn't find you, you might have died, you know?"
"Ah, you're right."
Now that she mentioned it, it is true.
Miss Kamishiro presses the switch of the microphone, but doesn't say anything. This is the first time it happens.
And so, I continue,
"But it turned out alright. Looking at things now, nobody died, and I managed to perform an unprecedented act. Good thing it didn't get out of hand."
For the second time, she remains silent.
I, seated behind Miss Kamishiro, am unable to see any expression on her face. I guess she's having a headache over it. No, she definitely is.
But isn't that good?
I didn't die, Nitadori didn't become a killer, and the plot progression of 'Vice Versa' is more optimistic.
Hm, isn't that good?
"If...Milady actually killed you on the spot, sensei, she might have killed herself."
After a long pause, Miss Kamishiro speaks up. She sounds calm, but I feel a chill down my spine. It's about what'll happen after I die, but I don't wish for that to happen either.
"...Good thing that didn't happen."
"But I would have tried to stop her even if I have to die."
"I'll leave that to you then."
For the third time, she's silent.
Miss Kamishiro looks as though she wants to say something, but doesn't. I can sense her speechless expression through my ears, and sense the atmosphere through the seat in front of me.
I guess a little explanation will be better, and so I press my microphone onto my throat, saying,
"Erm...I don't hate the 'all well that ends well saying'. I feel that even after encountering some setback, as long as we're still alive, we can reflect on it and use the experience for our future."
"...Hm,, I'll do that too."
"Did you fail before, Miss Kamishiro?"
I ask, and she quickly replies,
"Last week, when Milady came to look for you, I didn't follow. That's my greatest failure in this life. To be honest, this might cause me some psychological trauma. I suppose my gut won't feel good if I'm to recall that incident."
For the usually poised Miss Kamishiro, those words sounded really timid. If I'm to boast, I'll probably say that she's human after all.
Bodyguarding is a really tough job. One has to be often wary of the surroundings. Luckily, I'm a high school boy and a light novel author. Thinking about this, I suddenly heard a puzzling question.
"Sensei, what do you intend to do to Milady?"
I don't think Miss Kamishiro is joking, so I suppose it's a serious question. However, I really don't know what she means.
Intend to do what? Refer to 'waking her up because I feel uncomfortable being a pillow'? Doesn't seem to be the case.
Intend to do what? Refer to 'I got strangled, so I want her to lose her job as a voice actress'? Doesn't seem to be the case. Or I should say, definitely not.
Do what? I want to know the meaning to this question.
Thus, I decided to do that.
"Erm, I don't know what you mean."
For the fourth time, Miss Kamishiro remained silent, and so I frantically add on.
"Well, Nitadori is a girl with all kinds of experiences, so one day, I hope to have her as the basis of a light novel character. Or I should say, I did think of it. I really wanted to do that. However, I hope it won't be rude to her. Of course, I'll explain to her properly, and get her approval."
When talking to Miss Kamishiro, I forget that there's a girl still leaning on my right shoulder. It's not heavy at all, but it does give a strange sense of presence. I want to try adding this when writing the thoughts of a protagonist. If I'm to use her as the basis, I'll have to get approval from her, I guess?
Miss Kamishiro answers,
"Well, when that happens, please do so."
After that, there's no conversation.
I have become Nitadori's pillow, so I can't move, and can't reach for the luggage on the rack. I got got nothing to do.
Thus, I start to stare at the window. Less than a minute, and it seems the fatigue from the person sleeping beside me has spread to me.
I'm starting to feel tired.
But I have to get off first. I can't sleep.
No matter what, I have to stay awake.
Luckily, the weather's fine. Let's look outside the window, and think about the future plot progressions for 'Vice Versa'.
I can't use my laptop, but luckily, I have a smartphone in my pocket. Let's use this to record the idea.
Still remember having such thoughts back then.
However, I can't remember when I fell asleep at all.
And when I woke out, I found that the train was about to enter the terminal, where the bright lights shone.
The seat beside me, and in front of me--
Are both empty.
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