Friday, June 22, 2012

Chapter 1 (h)


As we approach the infamous P.E. shed, I realize how much isolated in respect to the rest of the school it is. The many trees that surround it provide an almost full cover from the eyes of passersby from the more crowded areas, and since there aren't any lights there, the effect must be multiplied after dusk. Once you consider these factors, it's not strange that Gotsuji chose that place for her secret meetings. Unfortunately the privacy she was looking for created the perfect opportunity for the culprit to kill her without being seen. The important question here is who and why she wanted to meet in secrecy.
As if to confirm my thoughts, the proof that you can hardly notice from afar people hanging around the shed presents itself in front of my eyes. There are students, a group of them, and they eluded my senses until now that I'm barely fifteen meters away. I send a quick, silent glance to Satsukawa. He noticed too and he is probably as curious as I am to see who are those people. I suppose that there isn't any reason to be surprised. The school was closed soon after the incident and regular lessons only restarted today. For all those students that wished to see the crime scene with their own eyes there weren't many chances to appease their curiosity before now. Nothing wrong with that as long as they comply to what the yellow tape says and don't trespass.
We are very close now and I realize that the group is made of girls wearing sport uniforms. How lucky! It appears that I'm just about to meet the female basket club!
One of the girls jumps in surprise when she sees us and that alerts the rest. They back away unsure about what to do and feeling ashamed for having just being caught doing something they weren't supposed to.

Satsukawa: "I hope you weren't thinking of sneaking inside."

He's obviously teasing them with a half joke, but some of them take it as a serious chastisement and apologize with exaggerated bows.

Satsukawa: "Whoa! Calm down, you didn't do anything wrong, as far as I can tell..."

I step forward and check them one by one, let's see if I can tell who among them is Kagami Hibari and who is Yuu Azuma. I bet the captain is the shortie with the number six, and the valiant knight defender of girls' violated honor must be the tall one with that cool and manly attitude.
They are looking at me in turn, they must be all wondering who am I.

Erika: "It's a nice day, isn't it?"

I smile with confidence and enjoy their confused looks.

Erika: "It's sunny, and warm... but not too hot. It's really the perfect day to spend outside. And this place... this place is simply divine, calm, serene... the ideal spot for a pic-nic, isn't it? I bet you girls just couldn't resist, who would want to stay under a roof on a day like this? Training for the club is important, but so are the little small things that make our existences worth of being lived. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed, and isn't it just wonderful to be alive? *giggle* *giggle* *giggle*"

If I had a camera I would definitely take a shot of this fine gallery of dumbfounded and outraged expressions, but I suppose I can live with just imprinting it in my nearly perfect photographic memory.

Kagami: "W-wait a moment, you! Who the hell do you think you are!"

Erika: "Aaah! I'm glad you asked! What a delightful question! My name is Erika Furudo and I'm a great detective, pleased to meet you!"

I conclude my introduction with a curtsy.
I like to make an impression on new people I meet, and I think I did a wonderful job. Wasn't my performance absolutely memorable?
Meanwhile Satsukawa seems to be troubled again, what a hopeless guy.
I'm waiting for reactions, but the girls are just looking at me as if they have just seen an alien. Good manners would dictate that they introduce themselves to me now, but I suppose it is up to me to break the ice again.

Erika: "You must be Kagami Hibari, am I right? I've heard a lot about you."

Kagami: "W-what? H-how do you know me?"

Erika: "Didn't I just tell you? I'm a great detective, this is nothing for me. My job is to observe and learn from my surroundings. There is much that one can understand from little, apparently insignificant particulars with a bit of intelligence and deductive skills, decidedly more than the layman can imagine. But that's precisely the point, I can see hints where others don't and that's why I can learn their secrets, because they can't erase what they cannot notice."

Kagami: "Ug... uggaaahhh..."

Club member A: "Excuse me... are you here to find out about... what happened?"

Erika: "Indeed! Now that I'm here it's only a matter of time before the culprit will be righteously exposed and punished."

The girls start chatting among themselves animatedly.

Satsukawa: "A-hem... do you mind if I ask you what were you doing here?"

They all look at their captain, obviously expecting that she will answer to our questions for the whole team, but it seems that Hibari is still too baffled by my declarations to even notice.

Yuu: "Just a while ago we gathered for our usual training, but in the end we couldn't do anything... the loss of our friend still affects us deeply. It's... it's just impossible..."

Erika: "Impossible?"

Club member B: "It's as if Hitomi is still with us... but when we look where she's supposed to be... she isn't there. We instinctively try to pass her the ball, but then we realize she's not with us anymore... and then... then we just can't go on. We can't play like this..."

Club member C: "In the end we gave up and we started talking about her instead..."

Yuu: "One thing led to another, and in the end we decided to come here, to see the place where she died..."

They all hang their heads, lost in their thoughts and sorrows. One of them starts crying and the girl next to her tries to comfort her.

Erika: "I see. I guess it must be tough for you. Do you mind if I make a few questions?"

They just stare at me without answering, I take it for a yes.

Erika: "Did any of you ever met Gotsuji in this place before the crime?"

They exchange looks, some of them seem to be particularly troubled. No one answers.

Erika: "Did any of you ever enter inside this shed before the crime?"

Just like before. There's no mistake, some of them if not all of them have been there, but nobody wants to talk.

Kagami: "This shed has always been closed! Nobody could enter it!"

A few girls nod.

Erika: "Interesting. So you say that this shed was closed."

Kagami: "Yeah!"

Erika: "Are you absolutely positive?"

Kagami: "I'm absolutely positive!"

Erika: "I don't believe you."

Kagami: "What?! I'm not lying!"

Erika: "If you're not lying, then I guess you just don't realize you can't really be certain."

Kagami: "Ug... uggaah! I'm certain! I'm absolutely certain! Do you think that I'm stupid?!"

Erika: "Ridiculous!"

Kagami: "It's not ridiculous! This shed was closed! Closed!"

Erika: "Sure! And when was the last time you checked?"

Kagami: "Right the day before the crime!"

Club member A: "..."

Club member B: "..."

Club member C: "..."

Yuu: "..."

Satsukawa: "..."

Dlanor: "..."

And suddenly, with considerable delay, the stupid girl is struck with the realization of what she just said.

Kagami: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!!"

Erika: "Do you do that often, Hibari-san? Do you check that the door is closed?"

Kagami: "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Uggaaah! That's not what I meant to say! You tricked me! You just tricked me!"

Erika: "Yes, and you fell for it. Can you tell me what exactly were you doing here the day before the crime?"

Kagami: "I wasn't doing anything! I was just passing by and I noticed the door was closed!"

Erika: "Oh right, you were passing by. This is a pretty trafficked area after all."

Kagami: "Uggah..."

Erika: "And by passing by you realized the door was closed, how?"

Kagami: "It was closed! I've seen it closed, then it was closed!"

Erika: "So in other words you can't say for sure that it was locked."

Kagami: "Ug..."

She's stupid, incredibly stupid, but even someone as stupid as her won't fall for the same trick twice.

Kagami: "Hmmmghmmm... Uggaaaah! Fine! I don't know if the door was locked!"

Yuu: "Senpai... calm down!"

Erika: "You! Are you Yuu Azuma?"

Just like Hibari, she's surprised that I know her name, but she doesn't let that affect her.

Yuu: "Yes, I'm Yuu Azuma."

Erika: "It's come to my attention that you had a discussion with a certain Baba on the day of the crime. Is that true?"

Yuu: "..."

Erika: "You shouldn't be ashamed, I think that was quite a commendable action, if what I heard is true."

Yuu: "It's true..."

Erika: "Are you and Baba on bad terms?"

Yuu: "I can't say I ever liked him, but I never confronted him directly before that day."

Erika: "And what can you tell me about Oda?"

Yuu: "Gotsuji-senpai was his childhood friend."

Erika: "That's not what I wanted to know. What do you think about him?"

Yuu: "I think he's a good guy... He helped me that day and because of that he got in trouble in my place."

So that was all true.

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