It will happen very soon.
Teramoto sent one of her lackeys to tell me where I should go when they will start gathering. The appointed time is 5:30 pm, about 20 minutes from now. Everything is in order. Eleven first year students have already been selected to join us in this final ritual. It seems that, albeit the whole school is talking about this special event, no teacher has been alerted, or maybe they are just turning a blind eye. What matters is that so far there are no signs of potential interlopers, and It can be expected that there will be none. Something less to worry about.
But if what I have heard is true, then the actual ritual will start much later. There is no need to be in time just to listen to long and boring explanations about how to behave during the event. Right now there is something more interesting to witness.
Satsukawa certainly learned a valuable lesson a few days ago, so he knows that he shouldn't lower his guard around me. But I guess that he didn't imagine that I could vanish in plain sight. The point is that I couldn't really miss this rare chance. As soon as I spotted Oda and Takamiya together, I knew that I had to follow them. Considering this is already this late, normally they should be heading home. The mere fact that I have seen them going somewhere else inside the premises of this school, is enough for me to understand that at least one of them has something important to tell to the other. Well, the key point here is that I must try to eavesdrop on their conversation, and Satsukawa was in the way.
They are sitting on a bench, in a small green area behind the main building. It can't be said that they are being particularly secretive, but there might be still something interesting to hear. Fortunately in this place there are many things I can hide behind: trees, bushes and even small fences.
I must say it was quite funny how I fooled Satsukawa, I must refrain from laughing, or they will notice me. He just averted his eyes for a few seconds, and I quickly hid crouching between the small gap of two vending machines. The poor fool didn't even think I was still close by, and he started running in the direction he thought I was escaping to. The ironic part is that I am still pretty close to where we both were, and he is probably looking for me in some remote place.
Don't laugh! Don't laugh!
I am pretty close, I can already catch some words, but I need to go a bit further. I am behind the bench they are sitting on, but since they occasionally face each other, I still risk of being spotted. I need to quietly and swiftly move to the next hiding spot. It is about five meters from here, but I can do it. I just need to wait for the right moment. Turn your head, come on! Come on!
All right, now!
This is embarrassing. How could this happen?
Erika: "Aaah! Good evening, how do you do?"
Meito: "What in the world are you doing?"
Erika: "Me? Why? I was just passing by... Fancy meeting you here."
Sumomo: "Hmmm... nice to meet you again, Furudo-san."
Erika: "Am I interrupting something?"
Meito: "Not in that sense! We were just talking..."
Erika: "Good, I like listening to interesting discussions. Please don't mind me, and feel free to continue."
Meito: "Why do you need to stay?!"
Erika: "By the way, Oda, I'm glad to see you're starting to feel better."
Meito: "I don't feel better at all..."
Erika: "But the fact you're still here means that you resumed club activities, doesn't it?"
Meito: "I just realized that doing nothing all day makes it even worse. I thought that by working on something I could distract myself, but it didn't work that well..."
Erika: "I see, that's why you looked for Takamiya and asked her to cheer you up. Makes sense.
Meito: "That's not what I asked from her!"
Sumomo: "We were talking about Hitomi. It's been a week already..."
Meito: "It still doesn't feel real..."
Erika: "Don't tell me you were just brooding over her loss and remembering the days when she was still alive. Boring..."
Meito: "You're tone is completely different from the first time I've talked to you. The truth is that you don't really have any sympathy all!"
Erika: "Why would I? I didn't even meet that girl. Why should I care about her and not about any other person that dies in the world with each passing second? Do you feel sad for all of them? Don't be a hypocrite!"
Meito: "You wouldn't be that way, if you ever lost someone dear to you!"
Erika: "Now, you really said something absolutely stupid."
Erika: "Stop being such a drama queen, Oda, you're making me feel sick. You think you're so special just because you've lost a friend? What about those who have lost their entire families?"
Meito: "You say another word and I'll to punch you in your face, I don't care if you're a woman!"
Erika: "You're so self-absorbed that you don't even realize that you're not the only one mourning Gotsuji. But I don't see her acting all depressed and angry like you do!"
Meito: "What the hell are you talking about?! Who's..."
Erika: "Oh? Did you suddenly notice?"
Meito: "Shut up!"
Sumomo: "Both of you, give it a rest..."
Meito: "Damn it!"
Oda takes a deep breath. He realized that he should calm down.
Meito: "I'm sorry... Sumomo..."
Sumomo: "Why are you apologizing? It's nothing..."
Erika: "What a great girl! Well, Takamiya, I'm sure that Oda didn't bring you here just to chitchat. There must be a more specific reason."
Meito: "That doesn't concern you!"
Sumomo: "Meito-kun wanted to know more about Teramoto and her strange rituals."
Sumomo: "The whole school kept talking about that since early this morning."
Meito: "Kh.. I've always known about Teramoto and her clique, but this whole ritual thing is completely new to me. I've suddenly learned a big secret about my world that I've always been unaware of for all this time. Both Sumomo and Hitomi have been part of that, and I've never been told a thing. I've found Hitomi dead inside that shed. I can't stand anymore all this shit!"
Erika: "Aaah, I'm totally with you on that. It's time for all the truth to be told, don't you agree?"
Sumomo: "By the way, Furudo-san, shouldn't you prepare for the big event?"
Erika: "There's still a lot of time. I see no harm in chatting a bit before that."
Sumomo: "Also... where's Satsukawa-san?"
Erika: "Oh, now that you mention that... Where did that man go, I wonder? Well, he'll probably show up sooner or later, no need to worry."
Meito: "I'm going home, there's nothing for me to do in this place."
Erika: "Could you stay a bit more, Oda? I have a suggestion."
Meito: "What's now?"
Erika: "Since the three of us are all gathered here, it might be a good chance to talk about what happened on the day of the crime."
Meito: "Why do I still need to answer questions about that?"
Erika: "What I'm suggesting is a bit different. Think about it, I'm a great detective, and you're the two persons who knew Gotsuji the best in this school. Who better than us can shed light on this murder?"
Sumomo: "You're proposing to discuss about what truly happened that day?"
Meito: "Sorry, but I'm calling myself out. I've no intention to play detective games with you."
Erika: "How strange, I thought you wanted to know the truth at all costs."
Meito: "Of course I want to know what the hell is going on!"
Erika: "Then I'm offering you a chance to take an active role on that. Of course, if you have a better idea, please go ahead."
Meito: "Kh... The hell with you!"
Erika: "Well it looks that you'll join us, after all."
Sumomo: "All right... where should we start from?"
Erika: "From the beginning. Who met her first?"
Meito: "... I did. She was waiting for me in front of my door, like usual."
Erika: "Oh right, she waited for you so you could carry her schoolbag."
Meito: "Yeah... uh... huh?! Why do you know?!"
Meito: "You told her that?!"
Erika: "Focus! What did you do then?"
Meito: "What do you think we did? We started walking to school."
Erika: "Anything relevant happened during that time?"
Meito: "Nothing. We just talked about inane stuff like usual. I kept grumbling like usual. She kept teasing me like usual."
Sumomo: "They joined me on the way to school. That's when we met that day."
Erika: "Do you remember Gotsuji telling you something strange or unusual?"
Meito: "That was the usual garbage... nothing important at all."
Sumomo: "She told me that Meito-kun was a beast and that he tried to assault her. He he..."
Meito: "You don't have to tell her these particulars! Beside, that was totally false! Just Hitomi being her usual self!"
Erika: "Ha ha ha, I see. It looks like you used to have a lot of fun together. But was Gotsuji really her usual self? Wasn't she different?"
Meito: "Not at all."
Erika: "According to Takamiya, lately she was a bit strange."
Meito: "What? Really?"
Sumomo: "Hmmm... yes, I really think she was different."
Meito: "I had no idea..."
Sumomo: "Maybe it was just with me..."
Erika: "It's more likely that Oda was too dense to notice."
Erika: "And in the end, men simply can't understand the subtle changes in a woman's heart."
Sumomo: "So true..."
Meito: "Please, Sumomo, don't team up with her..."
Erika: "Did anything else happen on the way to school?"
Meito: "Not that I remember..."
Sumomo: "You had that accident with that girl from your club. Right in front of the school gates."
A girl from Oda's club? Junko Andou again?
Meito: "Ah, right. I got hit by her bicycle."
Erika: "We're talking about Junko Andou, right?"
Meito: "Yes... you know her?"
Erika: "How did that accident happen?"
Meito: "She had tinkered with her bicycle again. She has this obsession of fixing everything that is mechanical or that has electric parts. When there's nothing wrong with them, she wants to improve them. But that usually results in making them dysfunctional instead."
Erika: "In other words she goes on an endless cycle of fixing and breaking everything around her?"
Meito: "I never thought it that way... but yeah, that's a good way to describe her daily routine. She only does that with things that belong to her, though."