The door of the observation room opens and another of Kimura's subordinates appears. He has come to tell us that all the belongings of the suspect that were found have been finally delivered.
This is a good timing, now I can only hope that they made a thorough research, and that Hibari doesn't have any strange hiding places. If all goes well, I will be able to obtain one of the keys to this mystery.
Erika: "Let's go. Checking Hibari's belongings takes priority."
Kimura: "Yeah, I'm very curious to see if this relevant evidence actually exists."
It better be there, I would hate to let Kimura claim that I am all talks and no substance.
I walk back to the open space, followed by my entourage of bodyguards. I can barely breathe with all these smelly men around me, they are suffocating me.
The strange party is led to one of the desks where a schoolbag and three boxes have been placed; these are all of Hibari's belongings that were found inside her school.
This is the part where I am supposed to start browsing among them, but somehow for a few seconds I feel a bit indecisive. What if it isn't here? As long as the box is closed the cat inside will still be 50% alive. Opening the box could mean killing the cat, but if you don't open it, you will condemn the cat to exist in an overlapping state of death and life for all eternity. That is a fate far worse than any death, and I cannot allow that!
Kimura: "What's wrong, princess?"
I ignore Kimura's sarcasm and I empty all the boxes and the schoolbag on the desk. Several objects falls in a disorderly fashion. I level the heap that thus has formed with my hands, so that every single item can become visible to my eyes at the same time. The result looks like some kind of modern art painting. Everyone around me is looking at it, trying to spot something unusual among the various objects.
I smile gleefully. This is my victory. It is here, in front of me, the truth behind Teramoto's tricks. I have already understood everything. How careless! She should have chosen someone smarter to be the caretaker of her deepest secrets. Hibari might be faithful, but she isn't very reliable. Of course someone like her couldn't think of an elaborated hiding place. And even if someone suggested one for her, she would have probably thought it was too much of a bother.
Satsukawa: "What's that?"
Satsukawa also noticed. In the end everyone would think it is something unusual just by looking. I take the strange object before he does, and I shove it in front of Kimura's eyes
Erika: "Behold! This is what I was talking about earlier."
Kimura raises one of his thick eyebrows, displaying all of his skepticism.
Kimura: "And what's that thing exactly?"
Erika: "A key."
Satsukawa: "Erika, is that strange object what Hibari used to close and open the shed's door?"
Erika: "Congratulations! We have a winner!"
Satsukawa: "But... wait a second! Then when I said they used a metal wire, I wasn't wrong!"
Erika: "I never said you were wrong. I just asked how exactly you'd use a metal wire! That's pretty important, I think. Look, this thing isn't flexible at all, so how would you use it?"
It is a pretty thin object, it must have been made with some kind of resistant metal; iron, I think. It is L-shaped with a ring attached to the shorter arm. The ring is as thin as the rest but it is perpendicular to it, rather than being parallel.
Satsukawa is focusing on the object and he pretty much already understood what is the main obstacle.
Satsukawa: "Wait... I can solve this, just give me a few minutes..."
Erika: "Sure, Satsukawa-san! I'll definitely wait the twenty minutes that your mind requires to understand how this tool is supposed to be used! Forget it! Right now Hibari is defending herself against Oosugi's barrage of insidious questions. There is but a single wall that still prevents her from telling us all that she knows. You just show her this key, and the wall will fall."
Kimura: "I'll consider your suggestion, but for now we'll let Oosugi do his job."
Erika: "You don't quite understand, I fear. This is just a waste of time, and as long as Hibari thinks she must protect her friend's secrets, she won't tell us the truth, and she'll end up telling something stupid again."
Kimura: "Maybe you still haven't figured it out, but I don't trust you one bit. I have no idea what that thing is. For all I know, it could just serve you for your own purposes and completely mess up ours."
Satsukawa: "Ahem, Boss... I think you should listen to Erika this time."
Kimura: "Why? Explain it in a way that can convince me."
Satsukawa: "It all makes sense now, the more I think about it, the more I realize that Kagami Hibari is completely unrelated to the murder."
Kimura: "What's with this nonsense?! The way I see it, she's in it up to her neck!"
Erika: "The problem is that Oosugi thinks the same..."
Kimura: "Is that so? Then that settles it. I still haven't received your report on the interrogation of this morning, Satsukawa, so I don't know all the details. But Oosugi does, and I trust his judgment a lot more than yours, no offense."
Damn! I messed up!
Erika: "Oosugi's judgment! Did you pay any attention to the clothes he wears? How can you trust the judgment of someone who can't even dress himself properly?"
If only I could make Hibari see this. This little tool, this key...
Kimura: "Is that all that you've got to say? I'm hardly impressed by your fashion opinions."
Talking to this man is completely useless!
Erika: "Fine, Kimura-san! Have it your way! But don't forget my words, this is just a huge waste of time."
Kimura: "I agree, but it'd be rude to kick you out at this point, so I'll deal with it."
The men around me laugh. That wasn't even funny, and they laugh like a bunch of idiots. This is extremely frustrating, but I won't give them the satisfaction to see how much enraged I am. On the contrary, this is the time where I should pretend that I am giving up.
Erika: "Okay, Kimura-san, you've won! But after Oosugi is done, you'll definitely let me show this to suspect, okay?"
Kimura: "I wonder about that."
Rokudou: "Hmmm, I think it's a good compromise. There's no reason not to accept."
Kimura: "It's not that. I just have the feeling that no further questionings will be necessary by time Oosugi will be done. I'm sorry, but it appears that we didn't need any 'great detectives' after all."
Rokudou: "Aaah... that'd be quite disappointing."
Kimura: "For you? Certainly it would be, but I've known Oosugi for a long time, and I know when he's serious about making a suspect confess. This time he's serious, that means he's sure she's guilty. He won't let her go until she talks, and she will in the end. I don't remember a single occasion in which he returned empty-handed from an interrogation that he took that seriously."
Rokudou: "I see... well, there will aways be other times."
There is no way I can simply accept that.
Erika: "For the time being, let's just go back to the observation room, and let's see if Oosugi will actually get what he wants this time."
Kimura: "I don't suggest you bet your money on that, you'd lose."
The problem is that he is probably right. If Oosugi gets serious, that stupid girl will end up messing up again. I cannot let that happen, I must come up with something.
Right now we are all walking back to the observation room. The door to the room next to it, where Oosugi and Hibari are, is less than two meters far. If I make a run for it, maybe I can manage to open it. I just need to enter inside with this tool in my hand; I just need to make Hibari see it. If I act quickly enough, maybe I can make it, but I need a diversion. The worst part is the man that is guarding the door. Even if I somehow manage to slip through the people surrounding me, that guy will definitely stop me. This is troublesome, and I don't have enough time to think about a plan.
Think, Erika, think! There must be something that I can do, there must be something that can help me. Maybe... Dlanor? Ah, come on! Who am I trying to fool? Dlanor is completely useless in this place, I cannot count on her on this situation. Then what else can I do? Rokudou? No, even if he thinks that my recklessness is funny, he never helped me once with that. He is not the kind of person that would expose himself directly. He is pretty smart in his own way.
We are close now, there is no time. I must come up with something. I need a diversion, I need... a miracle.
Miracles will not happen. Miracles do not exist. This is the end of the line. The door of the observation room will open, and I will quietly walk through it. After that it will be game over. As soon as I enter inside, I will lose my only chance to disrupt Oosugi's interrogation. Therefore if I want to do something, the time is now. I must run, but Satsukawa just placed himself in front of me. Can I slip past him? I can hardly imagine that. To think that that door is so close. It opens to the inside, so I just need to grab that handle and push. It would not even matter if then I would be grabbed by half a dozen hands. I just need to bring this thing there.
But it is really useless after all. I cannot even hope to go that far. I curse my weak body. If this wasn't the human world, if this was the metaworld...
Satsukawa: "Ah, Morinaga-san, about that matter we talked about yesterday..."
The time suddenly has frozen.
Satsukawa stepped forward, distancing himself from me. He reached Morinaga, the man that is guarding the other door. But Why? We passed near him already in two occasions, if Satsukawa had something to tell him, why he didn't do it before? Did he just remember now?
No, that doesn't make sense. Think, Erika, there is definitely another reason, as unlikely as it may seem to you.
Satsukawa doesn't agree with Oosugi's methods. Satsukawa thinks that false confessions can happen. Satsukawa believes that Hibari is innocent. Satsukawa knows that I want to stop Oosugi. Satsukawa knows that I can come up with crazy plans in order to reach my objectives.
But to think that Satsukawa already figured out what I am planning to do! Unconceivable! In the first place, that would piss me off! There is no way someone like him managed to understand my next move!
And yet why did he place himself in front of me this time? Because then no one else would. If it was him, he could create an opening. And now he is just between me and Morinaga. There is just a small gap I can use to pass through and open the door, but if he is on my side he will let me push him without resisting. This is a perfect opportunity.
I would have never thought that Satsukawa of all the people would become an ally in my mischiefs. This is absolutely unexpected. This plan is absolutely reckless and inelegant, but I don't have any other shots. It is now or never.
It is just a matter of a second, or maybe even less, but a trained hand can move faster than that. This is a gamble, a very risky gamble. I cannot believe I am going along with such an unreliable plan! If this ends bad, I will just make a fool of myself, and Kimura is most likely going to kick me out. And even if I actually manage to open that door, it doesn't mean that I won't be pulled out abruptly, or that Oosugi won't continue as if nothing happened. This is desperate, this is reckless, this is totally unlike me! But I promised I would have saved Hibari.
Then again, why did I promise that? Why do I even care? Since when my promises have any worth? Damn it, this is too late, I have already started it, I am already going. My hand reaches for the door's handle. My body clashes against Satsukawa's back. As I predicted, he just lets himself being pushed, thus blocking Morinaga even further.
I hear a scream. I am sure there are several hands that are trying to grab me, but I cannot see them.
The handle goes all the way down, the door opens; I am pushing it with my whole body.
But this barrier, even if it lasted for a split second, was more than enough for my pursuers to get closer. As the door opens and my body moves inside, three men grabs me from behind and make me lose my balance.
With a last desperate attempt, I push with my legs with all my strength in order to get as much closer as possible to Hibari.
I am falling on the ground, the impact is painful, but my left hand is outstretched, far from the reach of those men. And in my clenched fist... is my weapon.
As desperate as this is, as worthless as this might be, I have reached my objective. Hibari's widened eyes are looking exactly at what I wanted her to see.
Oosugi: "The hell is going on?!"
Kimura: "This damned girl! Shit! I knew it! Now she did it! Let's pull her back! Now!"
Oosugi: "Why in the blasted hell is she here?!!"
Erika: "Kagami Hibari!"
Kimura: "Don't let her talk! Come on! Drag her back!"
Erika: "Do you see what I have in my hand?!"
Good. Her scream made everyone stop. This will buy me a few seconds. Hibari jumped on both of her feet like a spring, taking everyone by surprise.
Kagami: "Why do you have it?! Where did you find?! That's my Slim Jim!"
Oosugi: "W-what?! What do you mean?! What's that thing?!"
Rokudou. I didn't know he could make such powerful sound just by clearing his throat. Anyway, he managed to get everyone's attention and at the same time to calm everyone down.
Rokudou: "Forgive me if I sound too rude, but is it really necessary for three men to gang up against a single lady?"
I am practically face against the floor, so I cannot see clearly what is happening behind me, but with the corner of my eyes I still manage to notice the embarrassment of one of the men that is holding me.
Kimura: "Rokudou! You stay out of this! Your precious Milady has already ruined an important interrogation!"
Naturally, Kimura and Rokudou have already met in the past during my first case. But it is still funny how much they act familiar. My butler must have really left an impression.
Satsukawa: "I'm sorry... this is all my fault... I was careless..."
Kimura: "I'll talk to you later, Satsukawa!"
I guess Kimura will not buy the story that Satsukawa didn't do it on purpose.
Rokudou: "For the time being, can you please just let her up? At this point, it won't change a thing."
Oosugi: "Fantastic! This is truly fantastic! Ha ha ha ha..."
Thanks to my butler's intervention, I am free to move again, and triumphantly I stand up.