The discussion regarding
the case goes on for several minutes. Satsukawa seems to be quite
excited about the constant progress that we have made so far, but the
truth is that we have reached a dead end. I have already talked to
everyone that it is believed to be related to the crime, almost all
the evidences that could be gathered were already analyzed, no
conclusive proof has been found. Gotsuji had many friends, but most
of them have solid alibi, so there is no point in questioning them.
The culprit must be among the persons that I have already talked to,
but I am missing vital clues. Therefore my only option at this point
is to probe those people, in other words, I must cause reactions. I
will throw stones into murky waters and look for whatever will
surface. The problem is that certain conditions are required in order
to get the best possible results, and that means I must patiently
At any rate I still
haven't received any reports regarding the victim's computer, they
sure are taking their time with that. Hopefully something relevant
will come up. For now, I must keep the pressure on certain
individuals. I can't really be sure it will give me any results, but
since they are still hiding things from me, there is a chance they
will turn out to be useful.
Finally, the bell signals
the end of the fourth period and the start of lunch break. The almost
soundless atmosphere suddenly livens up with the voices of hundred
students talking at the same time. On the background an ominous noise
can be heard. It starts as a quiet rumble, but then it grows in
intensity, more and more, until it becomes a thunderous roar. It's
coming closer, it's heading right where we are. Satsukawa looks
worried, but there is no need to. The stampeding crowd of hungry
students is aiming for the food stalls, and where we are now, we are
Here they come. Like a
raging torrent they flood inside the cafeteria. A huge compact crowd
rapidly forms around the food shelves, completely hiding them from my
sight. The many voices blend into an incomprehensible mass of noises,
but occasionally I can distinguish students yelling their requests
and vendors stating the prices.
They are all pretty much
focused on their battle, so only a few actually noticed us. More
people will, though, as soon as they leave with the spoil of wars in
Erika, I think you are overdramatizing the situation."
Erika: "Don't spoil
the mood, Dlanor. This is war, that's how these guys and girls see
it. It would be rude to trample on their feelings by downsizing the
seriousness of this everyday strife."
Satsukawa: "Ah, I
can empathize with that... It certainly brings back a lot of
did you also need to fight for your food, back in your high school
days? Didn't you bring your own bento?"
Satsukawa: "I wasn't
that lucky, my parents have always been pretty busy with their jobs.
What about you, Erika?"
Erika: "Me? The mere
thought that something like this could happen in the all girls
boarding school I was enrolled in is utterly preposterous. Running
and yelling were prohibited and severely punished. At any rate, the
cafeteria there was the real deal, they served us food directly at
our tables. This one here barely qualifies as such, there isn't even
Satsukawa: "This is
a catering service, I think. The food is made elsewhere and then
brought here every day. Look, I think it's even written on these
tags... Food service provided by Ushiromiya... group..."
Erika: "Would you
shut up, Satsukawa-san? I'm trying to concentrate!"
Damn it! I have just
listened to something extremely unpleasant. I feel like I am going to
I better think about
something else, I must concentrate on my surroundings. More and more
students have noticed me at this point, it is only a matter of time
before Teramoto shows up. Meanwhile it wouldn't be a bad idea to try
and listen to whatever the people around me are talking about. If I
focus, I can listen to specific conversations even in the middle of
this chaos. I just need to isolate the background noise from what
really interests me. This isn't something that everyone can do, but
with enough practice and the right aptitude it isn't impossible.
I am picking up several
conversations, most of them are trivial and irrelevant, but some are
about me and about what I have done yesterday. The news regarding how
I freed Hibari from suspicions are already spreading, just like I
hoped. That girl must have been bombarded with questions from her
many classmates this morning, and she certainly didn't omit to tell
that she is no longer a major suspect. Inevitably that has become a
hot topic, I am witnessing it right now.
That apart, nothing
really relevant is being said. I was hoping for indiscretions, some
kind of rumor that could pique my interest, but nothing of that sort
is being discussed. Two boys are joking about Teramoto and about how
her secret cult was uncovered, they think they cannot be heard in
this confusion. A mixed group of five is discussing about the great
Hibari hunt that I started yesterday, one of them actively
participated, and he is giving a detailed account of his heroic
deeds. Another group is animatedly arguing about the supernatural,
one guy keeps telling that it's all rubbish, but he is outnumbered by
girls that apparently have been thoroughly fooled by Teramoto's
tricks and propaganda.
Pointless, this is all
absolutely pointless. The small and trivial talks of these brainless
students aren't of any interest to me. So I decide that this isn't
worth my time, I might as well stop focusing.
However... a group of
girls that was originally talking about Hibari, suddenly changed
topic, they are talking specifically about me now. This isn't
particularly relevant, but at this point I am curious, and I need to
kill time anyway.
"Who's that woman
anyway? Great detective Erika Furudo? What's with that?"
"She doesn't look
much older than us, do you think she's actually a detective?"
"I've heard she's
just a civilian, the man with her is the true investigator."
"I'm sure I've heard
the name Erika Furudo before..."
"No way! Are you
telling me she's actually famous?"
"Don't listen to
her, her memory is really bad. She's probably confusing her with
"Uaaah! That was
"I'm just stating
"At any rate she's a
strange person, no matter how you look at it..."
"Careful! Don't look
into her eyes! Don't make eye contact!"
"Ha ha ha ha!"
"Wait! Wait! I
"Oh? So who's she?
I'm really curious!"
"She's one of the
victims of the Rokkenjima incident!"
incident? What the hell is that?"
"W-wait a second!
Victim? Does that mean she's a ghost?!"
"Don't be silly! I
told you her memory is all jumbled up, there's no way that woman is
actually related to that incident."
"Do you remember the
story about that incident? I only have fragmented memories."
"Yes, a few years
ago there was still a lot of people talking about that. It all
suddenly died out at one point, and everybody stopped caring ever
"So, was Erika
Furudo one of the victims?"
I've read several articles about the Rokkenjima incident, I remember
all the names of those who are supposed to have died there. Erika
Furudo is not among those."
"But I'm sure..."
mixing it up with something else."
"Hmmm... now I
remember. There was this girl in middle school that was a real
fanatic. She knew everything about the Rokkenjima incident, every
speculation, conspiracy theory and so on. She's the one that told me
about Erika Furudo."
"That doesn't look
like a reliable source, don't you think?"
"But still, when you
think about the Rokkenjima incident, a great detective really fits
nicely, don't you agree?"
"Ha ha ha! So true!"
"C-can somebody tell
me what this Rokkenjima incident is about? I feel left out!"
Are you still with me?"
Erika: "Where else
do you think I am?"
reminded you something bad, you shouldn't think about it."
Erika: "I wasn't
thinking about that!"
Is this a damned
conspiracy to remind me that hateful case? To think there are still
people talking about that cursed Rokkenjima incident in this century!
The students of this school shouldn't even remember that day. Now I
am really in a bad mood. There is nothing that I could hate more than
an unresolved mystery!
should concentrate on the current case. Don't you need to talk with
someone? Why are we still here doing nothing?"
waiting for that someone to appear."
Satsukawa: "Who are
you talking about?"
Erika: "She'll come;
surely. At this point everyone should know that I'm here."
it's really difficult to follow you, you know?"
Erika: "That's good,
I don't want to be followed."
Satsukawa: "Not even
by your partner?"
Erika: "Dlanor is my
partner, you're just an occasional helper."
it's always good to know what your role is... Oh..."
She is here. Followed by
her entourage, Teramoto makes her appearance. All the actors have
been assembled and the show can finally start. The spectators seems
to have noticed what is about to begin and they gradually become
quiet, not unlike what usually happens when the lights of a theater
are turned off.
Unknowingly following the
script, Teramoto spots me and comes closer. My first line comes after
hers, so for now I simply look at her, waiting.