Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chapter 2 (h)

I jump down and so does Satsukawa. I think I have seen enough of this place and its surroundings. In the end you could say that this whole area is pretty much the ideal place for a murder to happen, after 6:00 pm. Not only it would be dark and practically devoid of any students, even the bordering streets would be deserted since nobody has any reason to be near a bunch of abandoned factories.
Whether the murderer came from outside or from inside, it is still a fact that he or she could count on a relatively low chance of being spotted or heard by an occasional witness. There is however the fact that the abandoned shed apparently had been used frequently for months, and the candles may suggest that they gather after dusk. Well, this is not something I can conclude with certainty, that place is so dark that the candles are probably necessary even on a bright day, if the door is closed shut. But at any rate, either Gotsuji was there precisely to meet the people of the abandoned shed, or she knew that they would not be there that day. And in addition the murderer had to know that too if this was planned.
Certainly if this was not planned everything becomes more complicated, but that strange message and the three different fingerprints would suggest otherwise. This murder was planned, and yet many things that were not part of the plan happened. The real question is: what was part of the plan and what was not? Who is involved and how?
Something distracts me from my thoughts. A voice, no... two voices. Two peoples are talking in this isolated place. This is probably completely unrelated to the murder case that I am supposed to solve, but being an innately curious person I just cannot help but wondering who they are and what are they doing.
I look at Satsukawa, he noticed them too. I tell him to keep quiet with the sign language, he frowns, obviously suspicious of my intentions, but for now he is complying.
The voices are coming from behind a structure near the athletic track, they belong to two guys and they seem agitated for some reason. One is dull and sounds really dumb, the other is loud and exaggeratedly dramatic. A change in Satsukawa's expression tells me that he has recognized at least one of them. There aren't really many male students that he should know enough to remember their voices, so I am already getting an idea of who they might be.
Even if I am close enough now to discern what they are saying, I cannot make out the subject of their conversation. They seem to be discussing about something, but their comments aren't articulated enough for me to understand them.
Once I turn the corner I see the broad shoulders of a tall and slender student covered with unusually long hair. In front of him there is an even taller guy, but this one is so massive that he could be mistaken for a sumo wrestler. He notices me.

Kuon: "And that's why, my dear Baba, I regretfully need confiscate them, and may this serve you as a lesson so that you'll refrain from bringing forbidden material to these sacred grounds ever again!"

Baba: "Ah hmmm... Damn you, Kubota! It doesn't end here!"

Kuon: "Rules are rules! If I catch you red-handed again, I fear I'll have to discipline you more severely! Mark my words and repent! Repent!"

Baba: "Hmmm..."

Kuon: "What is it, Baba? Is there a problem? Oh..."

Kubota, the slender guy, turns around and smiles at me. He is holding a suspicious and voluminous bag, which is probably what he just took from Baba.

Kuon: "Oh, but look at who we have here! It's our ever vigilant Satsukawa-dono and the mysterious lady that was with him yesterday! Enchantée, Madame!"

He greets me with an exaggerated western-style bow, and it seems appropriate for me to answer with my signature curtsy.

Erika: "It looks like there are already rumors about me circulating in this school, what a pleasant discovery. But it's a pity I'm only known as a 'mysterious lady'. Allow me to fix that: my name is Erika Furudo, I'm a great detective. As for you, you must be Kuon Kubota, the president of student council."

Kuon: "Unbelievable! Such a splendid lady that I never met before already knows everything about me! While I, so disgraceful of me, couldn't even make the effort to learn her name! Please accept my most deepest apologies!"

I hear Satsukawa groaning, I guess he doesn't really like this guy.

Erika: "It's quite alright, I'm a detective, it's only natural for me to be informed about the persons that are involved in the case I'm investigating. It is more surprising that you know about me."

Kuon: "Ha ha ha ha! I am the president of this fine institution!"

Baba: "You're just the president of the student council..."

Kuon: "Details, my dear Baba! Semantics! What matters is that I have the moral duty to watch over my fellow students and guide them to the right path in our darkest hour! By the way, my dear lady... when you implied that I'm one of the persons involved in the murder case... you meant it in a general sense... right?"

Erika: "Who knows? *giggle* *giggle*"

Baba: "Well, I'm outta here, bye..."

Erika: "Please, stay with us for a little while, Baba. I fear you're involved as much as your friend here."

Baba: "... He's not my friend..."

Kuon: "Ha ha ha ha! My dear lady, you shouldn't say things that might cause misunderstandings!"

Erika: "I see, my bad. So what did I interrupt?"

Kuon: "My fellow companion broke one of this school's rules by bringing here something he should have better left home."

Erika: "And I suppose the forbidden articles are inside that bag."

Kuon: "You're a great detective indeed, my dear lady!"

Erika: "Mind if I take a look, I'm curious."

Kuon: "Ha! A ha ha ha! Forgive my rudeness, but I believe the contents of this bag are not meant for the pure and innocent eyes of a lady such as you!"

Erika: "Hey Dlanor, he just implied I'm innocent and pure, what do you think?"

Dlanor: "..."

Baba: "Uh? Dlanor?"

Erika: "That's her name. She's from England."

Baba: "Heh, no offense, but if they ain't from Japan they ain't for me."

Kuon: "We aren't here to discuss about your fetishes, my dear Baba!"

Baba: "Heh, if you saw my collection of cuties, you'd fall in love with 'em too."

Kuon: "Heresy! There's absolutely no place in my heart for anyone else but... Ha! Ha ha ha! What are you making me saying, Baba? Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Erika: "Ooh? What you were just about to say, Kubota? Please continue."

Kuon: "Nnnooo! No no no! I can't possibly reveal the deepest secrets of my heart! They shall remain hidden under the veil of mystery!"

Satsukawa: "Sigh... are the contents of that bag part of your deepest secrets as well? Because my eyes are neither pure nor innocent, so..."

Kuon: "Oh well! If you put it that way, I guess I've no choice but to disclose that what's inside this bag is a collection of hentai doujinshi, and they're of the most disturbing kind! Traps, futanari, guro, and what not!"

Satsukawa: "Futanari? Guro?"

Erika: "Sometimes ignorance is a bliss, Satsukawa-san."

Baba: "Muhehehe! The chick's a lot less pure and innocent than the cop!"

Erika: "You sure brought a lot of them with you, Baba."

Baba: "Well..."

Kuon: "Aaah! The lust of a boy at the apex of his puberty knows no limits!"

Baba: "Kewl... I need to remember that line..."

Kuon: "Even so, rules are rules! Whatever would happen to human societies if rules weren't respected? As the president of this fine institution..."

Baba: "No, you're just..."

Kuon: "Whatever, my dear Baba! It is my duty to see that these foul publications you've smuggled inside this school will be promptly dealt with! Confiscated!"

Erika: "I see, and what are you going to do with them, Kubota?"

Kuon: "Ha ha ha ha! Nice question, my lady! Of course, I will destroy them, for their very existence is an offense to purity and to all that is good!"

Erika: "Destroy them, uh?"

Kuon: "Of course!"

Erika: "You don't seem to be upset about that, Baba."

Baba: "Uh... whatever, I've got a lot of those still."

Erika: "I see... and you're just fine with that, even though there must be about fifty doujinshi in that bag."

Baba: "It can't be helped..."

Erika: "Ha ha ha ha! Poor Baba! Okay, I'll help you then."

Kuon: "My dear lady! There's no need for you to help such a lowly individual!"

Erika: "Regardless of the man, rules are rules, and we must respect them. Whatever would happen to human societies if rules weren't respected? *giggle* *giggle*"

Kuon: "Nothing would happen! In the end rules are just meant to be broken!"

Erika: "Hey! You're contradicting yourself! And is it really fine for the president of the student council to say that?"

Kuon: "'Omnia munda mundis', my dear lady! It's Latin! It means that everything is right for the righteous!"

Erika: "What a stupid sentence, who the hell said that?"

Kuon: "Julius Caesar!"

Erika: "There's no way he said that!"

Kuon: "Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus!"

Erika: "Did you really memorize his full name?"

Kuon: "Nostradamus!"

Erika: "Now you're being ridiculous..."

Kuon: "I really love the sound of Latin names! They truly are wonderful! So regal, pompous and awe inspiring, just like me! I think I should have a Latin name myself! How about... Kuonus Kubotus Nipponicus?"

Erika: "Stop that already! You're completely evading the subject!"

Satsukawa: "He does that all the time..."

Erika: "What was I saying now? Oh, right! I don't think you have the authority to confiscate a damn thing, and you certainly cannot destroy what substantially belongs to someone else."

Kuon: "What is this trickery?! Are you suggesting that I, Kuonus Kubotus Nipp..."

Erika: "Please, drop that ridiculous name already..."

Kuon: "Are you suggesting that I, Kuon Kubota, do not know which are my God-given rights?!"

Erika: "Precisely."

Kuon: "Unthinkable! Unimaginable! Preposterous!"

Satsukawa: "At the very least I think you should return that bag to Baba when he leaves school. No matter how much questionable the contents are, as long as they aren't illegal, they need to return to their legitimate owner."

Kuon: "Oooh, I see! The laws of the country supersedes the laws of this institute! In that case I'll humbly comply! But as long as we're on these sacred grounds, I'll hold onto this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have important duties to attend to!"

Erika: "Oh right, 'important duties'. Perhaps you can enlighten me on what exactly these 'important duties' of yours are."

Kuon: "My dear lady! I'd never dare to bore you by recounting such trivial details!"

Erika: "Is that the same thing you said to Meito Oda when all the three of you were supposed to work on a certain assignment? Did you tell him that you had 'important duties' to attend to?"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chapter 2 (g)

We walk outside and I can finally breathe fresh air again. The stench of that place still haunts me, I hope it didn't get soaked up by my hair and clothes, I hate when that happens.
I wonder if that workplace is really healthy, I don't think it is ventilated enough. The unrefined geeks of that club probably do not care about such details, I doubt any of them has a girlfriend.

Satsukawa: "I'm impressed..."

Erika: "Huh?"

Satsukawa: "It totally blew my mind... how did you know?"

Erika: "How did I know what, exactly?"

Satsukawa: "The fact that the latch of the P.E. shed has been installed by that girl."

Erika: "So you also reached that conclusion despite her denial?"

Satsukawa: "Well... I can't say I'm completely certain, but judging by her reactions I think it's safe enough to assume so."

Erika: "Interesting. What kind of reactions did you notice?"

Satsukawa: "Well, to be precise it's the lack of reactions what I really observed. There are no humans without emotions, only humans that hide them."

Erika: "Very true, but I think she does that on a regular basis."

Satsukawa: "Right, but the less emotions and reactions one shows, the more are the reasons to think he's hiding them."

Erika: "I see, so you realized that whenever Dlanor's questions were bothering her, she became even more silent and still than usual. Not bad, Satsukawa-san, I have a slightly better opinion of you now."

Satsukawa: "Slightly..."

Erika: "So I guess that what you want to know is how come I suspected that from the beginning."

Satsukawa: "Exactly."

I take a look at my surroundings. I need to get a better idea of the school grounds' layout.

Erika: "Let's walk, I'll explain on the way."

Satsukawa: "Sure, where are we going?"

Erika: "Just taking a tour of the school's perimeter."

We begin to walk in the direction of a running track. It's empty, either this school doesn't have an athletic club or today they are practicing elsewhere. Not far from here there is a small baseball field, a few male students are playing what seems to be a training softball match.

Satsukawa: "So, what's your explanation? How did you reason out that Junko Andou was probably involved with the P.E. shed?"

Erika: "Obviously whoever wanted that work to be done needed to do it in secrecy, and it's doubtful that occult freaks would also possess the required skills for such manual labor. When I heard that there was a do-it-yourself club in this school, everything snapped into place."

Satsukawa: "I see... it does follow, but why Andou?"

Erika: "It's just a matter if seeing patterns, Satsukawa-san, there is evidence that only girls are involved with that place. It's clear that our cultist ringleader prefers girls for some reason. Maybe she thinks they are more easily manipulable, maybe she distrusts or hate males, or maybe it's just an arbitrary decision, as in the case where, for some irrational rule of her little circle, only female students must be involved in the private matters of her cult. In the end that's not so strange, secret societies often have sex barriers. Think about Freemasonry, for example."

Satsukawa: "In other words you're claiming that they wanted someone who was part of their 'club' to do the job, because that meant entering in their secret base. However since they lacked the proper competence and skills, they needed to find a suitable member that possessed those. Therefore Junko Andou, the only female member of the do-it-yourself club, was a natural choice."

Erika: "Exactly."

Satsukawa: "But it seems like she's the kind of person that really can't care less about the supernatural, and she claims she told that to Teramoto."

Erika: "I think there's a pretty interesting story behind that, but, whatever happened, in the end they must have reached some sort of agreement. I don't know yet if she lied to us and became part of their group or if they simply made her work for them after making sure she wouldn't talk."

Satsukawa: "It could be, it's not like there's much chance she'd talk either way."

Erika: "Right, she's a girl that can keep her secrets very well hidden."

Satsukawa: "But wait, you didn't explain the most important part."

Erika: "Oh, what still confuses you, Satsukawa-san? *giggle* *giggle*"

Satsukawa: "Why were you so sure that they added the latch themselves? What if it was already there to begin with?"

Erika: "Really, Satsukawa-san? You can't tell?"

Satsukawa: "Did I miss something? Is there a relevant hint that I'm not seeing?"

Erika: "I think it's more correct to say that you're blind to the painfully obvious."

Satsukawa: "Damn... what it is?"

Erika: "I'm not telling you. *giggle*"

Satsukawa: "I guess it's something you noticed by looking at the latch itself... you must've noticed that it was newer than the door."

Erika: "I can't deny that it did look newer, but this is something I was already pretty sure of even before checking the actual site."

Satsukawa: "Is that a trick to confuse me? Even before checking the crime scene you've seen the pictures..."

Erika: "Please, Satsukawa-san, when I want to trick someone I use way more refined techniques. What you just accused me of is nothing but a worthless child play."

Satsukawa: "So in other words you guessed it just by the mere description of the setting?"

Erika: "If it was something that only I noticed and never told to anyone, it wouldn't be fun. Right, Dlanor?"

Dlanor: "The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader."

Satsukawa: "Is that one of the ten Knox's rules?"

Erika: "Correct."

Satsukawa: "You said it wouldn't be fun... Not fair, fun? Is that what Knox's decalogue is meant for?"

Erika: "I imagine that depends on your perspective, for what concerns me it's a matter of fun. It isn't fun if the one who's supposed to solve the riddle thinks that it was impossible to solve when the solution is revealed. It's only fun when he realizes he could and should have solved it... and feels like an idiot about it."

Satsukawa: "I see... So I'm an idiot for not realizing what you did already?"

Erika: "Oh, definitely."

Satsukawa: "I give up... please tell me..."

Erika: "No, I want you to come to the realization of your own stupidity slowly by yourself."

Satsukawa: "That's... very nice of you..."

Erika: "It's a pleasure, literally."

I stop walking. We reached the northern border of the school grounds. Since the Mitsugi Institute's entrance faces south, it means that we are on the opposite side now. Incidentally this is also the side that the crime scene is closer to. A brick fence is running through the whole perimeter, it's about one meter and a half high.
I try to climb on it and I succeed with little effort.

Satsukawa: "Wait! What are you doing?"

Erika: "Can't you see? I Just climbed on the top of this low fence. Not really the best on security, don't you think?"

For some reason Satsukawa decides to join me. He jumps on the top of the fence with a single smooth movement and makes my attempt look awkward in comparison. He is pretty agile, I imagine he trains himself on a daily basis on the off chance he will need to pursue some dangerous criminal or something.

Erika: "Impressive. I see that where you lack in intellect you compensate in brawn."

Satsukawa: "I'll take that as a compliment. Is there any reason we're standing on the top of a fence, anyway?"

Erika: "I just wanted to test how easily climbable this brick wall was. The experiment was successfully completed."

Satsukawa: "Let me guess... you're thinking that anyone could have climbed this fence, including Gotsuji's murderer."

Erika: "To be more precise, I'm thinking that the surveillance camera in front of the main gate is absolutely meaningless and doesn't prove anything."

Satsukawa: "And that means Teramoto and her friends could have slipped inside the school again after they left. Yes, I was already aware of that."

Erika: "The fact that the murderer could be someone who had already left the school grounds doesn't necessarily mean it isn't someone who was still inside. But I think it's important to note that we can't really exclude anyone. How come you never mentioned this?"

Satsukawa: "It must have slipped my mind. Anyway there's always a chance someone managed to get past a fence, unless it's very tight on security."

Erika: "But there are other factors to consider. For example, what's that building over there?"

I point my finger to a huge structure standing on the other side of the street. It runs almost for the whole length of the school grounds. It's in a really bad shape, broken windows, discolored paint, several cracks on the walls on so on.

Satsukawa: "Starting from the opposite side of this street it's all industrial area. That building is an abandoned factory."

Erika: "An abandoned factory, uh?"

Satsukawa: "The last ten years have been quite grim for Japan's economy. This ward was particularly affected by the crisis. I'm no economist but I heard that delocalization is all the rage now. That of course means that in this country there's less demand of factories and blue collar workers as there was in the past."

Erika: "Such a shame. We're no longer doing wonders as we used to after the war and people call it 'grim'. I'm so moved with compassion that I could almost puke."

Satsukawa: "It might not be that bad if you look at the big picture, but for the single persons losing their jobs and the way to support their families it's a tragedy."

Erika: "Satsukawa-san, we're talking about global economies while standing on a fence, maybe we should stop this before someone sees us."

Satsukawa: "Agreed... let's get back down on the school grounds, shall we?"