Erika: "Then let's talk about how and when the corpse was discovered, and by whom."
Satsukawa: "As we already disclosed to the press, allegedly the corpse of Hitomi Gostuji was found around 6:30 pm by a male student named Meito Oda."
Satsukawa: "I'll get to that later. Before that, it's important to consider that Meito Oda was one of the victim's classmates and a close friend since childhood."
Erika: "Friends! You should always check who are the victim's closest friends when dealing with murder cases. Oh, and of course close relatives and lovers too."
Satsukawa: "Why do you say so?"
Erika: "Why? Isn't it obvious? The closest a person is to you, the higher is the chance you'd want to kill her."
Satsukawa: "That's... completely the opposite of what I'd normally expect."
Satsukawa: "In the first place, why would someone be close to you, if they hated you."
Erika: "Oh, there are a lot of situations... but that's beside the point. Relationships might start in a good way, but they can easily degenerate. Let me reverse your question. Why would someone hate you, if they weren't close to you?"
Satsukawa: "Uh... what?"
Erika: "Don't you understand? People don't hate without a reason. Well... for the most part they don't. Before hating you, they first need to know you. And if they barely have any contact with you, if their lives are completely separated from yours, why would they go all the trouble to commit a crime and kill you? In that case they could simply ignore you. Conversely, if they have to deal with you frequently and if your life is tied to theirs in any way, then they'll have to kill you, if they can't stand you any longer."
Satsukawa: "I think... there are better ways to solve these situations... They don't have to kill anyone."
Erika: "Sure, from a completely rational standpoint you're right. But don't underestimate hate. It's the strongest human emotion after all."
Satsukawa: "Isn't that love?"
Erika: "Love can turn into hate as easily as food can turn into rot. But how likely is the opposite to happen? Not much, trust me. So once you consider that, what do you think is the strongest emotion again? There, you see, when people hate they feel compelled to take action against the source of their resentment. You might think that they don't have to, rationally, but to them it's like they have no choice."
Satsukawa: "Wow... you sure have a bleak view of the world..."
Erika: "Sure it's a very bleak view, and some might think it's sad and depressing, but it's simply the right view. How do I know it's the correct way to look at the world? Simple. If I were wrong on that, my reasonings would also turn out to be wrong. The fact that I'm always right, proves without a doubt that assuming the worst from people around you is the right approach to life."
It seems that I left Satsukawa completely speechless. I'm sure right now he'd want to debate and argue that I'm wrong. I've met a lot of delusional persons like him, but it isn't really their fault. This society pretty much indoctrinates us into the so called positive thinking. From a very young age they teach us that the world is wonderful, life is grand, friendship is everything, love is eternal, justice always triumphs and evil is always punished. Bullshits.
This isn't a just world, good is almost never rewarded, criminals run our lives, corruption dwells in every human heart, friends will forsake you as soon as they no longer need you, love will inevitably wither and die and then lovers will cheat on you with someone younger, richer or prettier. Aaaah, this is the truth, the one and only truth!
And of all the people of this world, with their eyes clouded by lies that they are constantly fed on since their very birth, I am the only one who can see reality for what it is. I am the only one who can truly appreciate and love the perfection and beauty of the truth. I like the truth for what it is, I like the truth in its purest ideal form, I like the truth as a supreme concept. It is therefore irrelevant how the truth reveals itself. The truth of the world and the truths of the single persons might be ugly, disgusting and revolting, but the truth itself is beautiful. Truth is perfection, truth is justice!
It is my duty to destroy all lies and bring the truth to light. And you think I'm evil because of that? How hypocrite! I am a great detective, what do you expect? That I will show you cute little bunnies and adorable kittens? I am here to show you a detestable individual and his petty reasons that brought him to commit the worst possible crime. I am here to dig in the filth of humanity and bring the rotten findings to your very eyes. So stop hiding behind your false beliefs. There is absolutely nothing good about the truth of a murder, whatever you dig up, it can't be anything else but scum and putrescence. If you still think that this kind of truth must be unveiled, as you should, then admit it already: there's no such thing as an evil truth, there's no such thing as a truth that mustn't be told. Because truth is a good in itself, all else is irrelevant.
Erika: "You see, Satsukawa-san, all humans are substantially ugly, weak-willed, cowardly, self-centered and selfish persons deep in the inside. They compensate to that by working hard every day to hide their hideousness by creating a shell made of whatever society deems as acceptable. As long as the single individuals stay far enough from each other, they will only be able to see each other's shells. And that's how this world runs, that's how we can maintain moderately peaceful existences. But what happens when someone gets too close to you, is that he'll end up seeing what you are behind your mask, and that is almost always invariably a grim finding. That's when people start hurting each other, and that's when hate starts growing."
There is a sort of... twisted, perverted pleasure in revealing uncomfortable truths, a pleasure that even I can't fully explain. Right now, for example, I feel ecstatic. And this, in the end, is nothing. My words didn't really reach this man, they merely unsettled him. He didn't recognize that I'm right, and his mind right now is occupied into finding ways to deny my theories and prove them wrong.
However, the mere fact of blurting out a truth that nobody wants to accept feels great, it's liberating, it's uplifting.
Satsukawa: "Well... not everyone hides himself behind masks. It looks like you have no qualms in revealing your true self."
Erika: "Only when I wish so, Satsukawa-san. I can be pretty devious, don't underestimate me."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu, milady is right. You should always be prepared and constantly alert around her, Satsukawa-san. If you don't, you'll get in a lot of trouble! Hu hu hu!"
Erika: "What my butler said! He really knows me well, doesn't he, Dlanor? *giggle* *giggle*"
Dlanor: "Miss Erika, we should resume the briefing. Time is running short."
Erika: "Right. This was an entertaining exchange of opinions, but we should focus on the case at hand."
Satsukawa: "Agreed. We were talking about the victim's friends, if I'm not mistaken."
Erika: "Correct, and not just friends. Anyone who was close to the victim."
Satsukawa: "Well, from what we've gathered the victim had a lot of friends, she was a very easy going and extroverted person. However everyone agreed that her closest friends were Meito Oda and Sumomo Takamiya. They're all from the same class."
Erika: "What can you tell me about this Sumomo Takamiya?"
Satsukawa: "Not much. Her club activities ended at 5:00 pm and she left school shortly after that. She seems to be completely unrelated to this crime and, for all that we know, she and her victim have always been good friends."
Erika: "What about Meito Oda, then?"
Satsukawa: "He was made to work for the student council after committing an infraction. He's been there from the end of the last period to around 6:30 pm, probably a few minutes earlier. He was supposed to help the student council president alongside another schoolmate who was also under punishment."
Erika: "But that didn't happen?"
Satsukawa: "At first it did, but then the president found an excuse to leave and he brought the other student with himself. Figure, those two even denied it at first, but once we told them we had proof that they left school at 4:48 pm, they confessed they ditched their duties."
Erika: "So they never returned?"
Satsukawa: "That's right. Which means Meito Oda was left completely alone for almost two hours."
Erika: "No one can confirm he's been in the student council's room the whole time?"
Satsukawa: "No one. He has no alibi."
Erika: "How was his relationship with the victim?"
Satsukawa: "They were constantly bickering, but it looks like there's never been any significant quarrel. At least not to anyone's knowledge."
Erika: "Did the victim have a boyfriend?"
Satsukawa: "She had a few in the past, but they never lasted for more than three months. She's been without a boyfriend for the past six months."
Erika: "Unless she kept it secret."
Satsukawa: "I suppose it can't be excluded, but judging from the phone calls and mails she received for the last few months, I think it's unlikely."
Erika: "Family members?"
Satsukawa: "She lived with both her parents and her six year old younger brother. A moderately normal family all considered. There are no criminal records on them and there are no complaints from the neighbors. Considering the kind of crime we're dealing with, the investigation team believe it's extremely unlikely that they're involved. We didn't gather many informations on them."
Erika: "No one else?"
Satsukawa: "That's all. Now, I guess it's time to get to the best part."
Erika: "How in the world Meito Oda found the corpse of her friend?"
Satsukawa: "That's right. It was very late when he supposedly finished his work in the student council's room. He was supposed to head straight home. However, he found a message from the victim inside his locker."
Erika: "From the victim?"
Now, that's interesting.
Satsukawa takes a transparent plastic envelope from his suitcase and invites me to take a look at its content.
There's what seems to be a notebook page inside. It looks like it's been folded and crumpled. There is something written with a red marker on it in a somewhat flamboyant style.
"Meet me in front of the old P.E. shed.
This message is absolutely fishy.
Satsukawa: "We confirmed that this is the victim's writing style, and the page comes from a notebook she possessed. In addition we found her fingerprints on it."
Erika: "Are you telling me the whole truth, Satsukawa-san? Shouldn't there be three different fingerprints?"
Satsukawa opens his eyes wide. It's a delightful view, I really missed this feeling.
Satsukawa: "I was... getting to that... but how..."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu. Milady, I'm looking forward to listen to your explanation."
Erika: "Of course, Rokudou. Let's begin with the obvious. Since Meito Oda claims he found this message, then it follows logically that he left his fingerprints on it. It really wouldn't make sense if he didn't."
Satsukawa: "Indeed. But why did you conclude that there had to be other fingerprints? I admit that even I don't know why we found them."
Erika: "I believe this message wasn't meant for Oda at all. We know that the victim wanted to be free by six o' clock, hinting that she had an appointment with someone at that time. However look at this message, it doesn't tell anything about a meeting time. Why would the victim be so concerned about not being late then? But that's not all, if you look at the cracks in the paper you can tell that this message was folded, probably by the victim. That's what you normally do when you send messages this way, right? However there are other signs that show this page was crumpled. And when normally do people do that with messages of this kind?"
Satsukawa: "Uhm... uh... I suppose, after they've read them and... ah..."
Erika: "Right! After they're no longer of any use and they can be tossed in a trash bin! But there's only one person that could have logically done this, and that's the original intended recipient of this message."
Satsukawa: "But... wait! Why couldn't that be Oda himself?"
Erika: "I suppose it's not impossible, but it's unlikely. He probably wouldn't toss it before finding Gotsuji. But the real reason is that I can't really believe this message was meant for him, because there aren't sufficient informations. This is the kind of messages you'd give personally to someone else. In such cases there's no need to specify a time, because it's implied: 'now'. In other words the victim must have given this to someone that was with her while they were surrounded by people. She had to resort to this method to relay the information because she didn't want the bystanders to know. Or possibly this was done during class, when they couldn't communicate verbally."
Satsukawa: "A... aaah! Of course..."
Erika: "So what I think that happened, is that the recipient of this message quickly read it, crumpled it and then tossed it in a bin. I think it's pretty safe to assume this happened while they were at school. At this point we can imagine that the culprit noticed this exchange and retrieved the message taking care as to not leave any fingerprints."
Satsukawa: "But... for what reason?"
Erika: "Maybe to frame Oda and divert the attention from himself. It's still too early to tell."
Satsukawa: "Damn... doesn't this mean that we can't really get anywhere from this? I thought these fingerprints could prove useful!"
Erika: "So you still don't know who's the owner?"
Satsukawa: "Not yet, but we'll get results soon. Anyway, your reasoning was really amazing..."
Erika: "Of course! Just because of the existence of this message and the many cracks on it, this level of reasoning was possible for Erika Furudo. What do you think, everyone?"
Satsukawa: "That was really amazing..."
Rokudou: "A perfect line of thoughts, as usual, milady."
Dlanor: "However... there was another possibility."
Erika: "Uh? What is it, Dlanor? I'm curious to listen to your reasonings."
Dlanor: "What I thought from the beginning is that Mister Oda used an old message he received from the victim to justify the finding. In other words the presentation of this message would be just a tool he used to explain why he was there without actually telling the truth."
Satsukawa: "That's something I also thought in the beginning."
Erika: "But then why would it be crumpled?"
Dlanor: "By assuming this is an old message he received, it is possible that it has been in his pocket for a while. It doesn't necessarily need to have been tossed."
Erika: "Good. Indeed there was this possibility, and in fact I wasn't completely sure that there was a third fingerprint. But since its existence was confirmed, this proves that my reasoning was correct. By the way, if my hunch is correct, the original recipient is either Takamiya or one of the victim's club members. This is something we should check."
Satsukawa: "There's still the question, why did the victim want to meet someone there?"
Erika: "I suppose she was involved in whatever was happening in that place."
Satsukawa: "I guess I'll drop the bomb now..."
Erika: "You sure know how to catch my interest. What might this be?"
Satsukawa: "According to Oda, he went to the old P.E. shed as soon as he read the message. Once there he found the door open and the crime scene presented to his eyes more or less the same way the police found it. Or so he claims..."
Erika: "That again. Why do you doubt his words?"
Satsukawa: "After a few minutes of panic, Oda decided to call for help. He ran back to the school and started screaming to get someone's attention. At that time nobody was inside the school except a few teachers, the groundskeeper and Oda himself."
Erika: "And Azuma and Hibari."
Satsukawa: "Right, but they couldn't hear him if they were in the gym. Anyway a teacher, a certain Shuuichi Nagaoka, answered his calls and asked what was going on. He didn't believe him at first and he wanted to check the crime scene before calling the police. He claims that at the time he thought it was a prank and decided not to alert anyone else. So in the end they went back to the shed together. And that's where things get confusing."
Erika: "What happened? Someone messed with the crime scene? The body walked away on its own?"
Satsukawa: "Not quite, but close. Right... closed. That's how the door of the shed was when they arrived."
Erika: "Someone closed it while Oda went to the school?"
Satsukawa: "That. Or the door was never opened to begin with."
Erika: "Why do you doubt Oda's words?"
Satsukawa: "Because the door was closed from inside... with a latch. And there are no windows nor any kind of openings in that storage."
Erika: "Ah... Ahahahahahahahaha!!!"
This is great! I can't even contain my laughter! What is this? What kind of joke is this?! So there is a hidden gem mixed in this trivial case after all!
Erika: "Good! Very good!"
Satsukawa: "I knew you'd love this part, but I didn't think you'd love it that much..."
Erika: "A closed room! With a corpse skewered by a sword lying inside! Don't make me laugh! You must be kidding me! I haven't been this amused since... oh that was quite some time ago, wasn't it? Right, Dlanor?!"
Rokudou: "Milady... what do you think about this strange setup?"
Erika: "I think that I'll have a lot of fun by uncovering all the lies that gathered around this messed up murder! That's all I will say, for now!"
Satsukawa: "At this point I already told you almost everything that we know. When Oda and Nagaoka found the shed closed they started to argue. It took quite a while before the teacher finally yielded to Oda's requests and decided to call the police. This is the reason why it's not so strange that Azuma and Hibari left the school without realizing what happened. When the local police arrived, they broke inside the shed and confirmed that a murder occurred. Oda claims that everything was exactly as he saw it the first time. The officers then interrogated the witnesses while waiting for the crime investigation team to take over. And with this my report is concluded."
Erika: "Very interesting. Amusing, indeed! So, when are we going to that school? I'm dying to see the place with my own eyes!"