Missing Children (3 page)

BOOK: Missing Children
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Although it was a small body when in comparison to the humans from earlier, the shape was unmistakable.

It was not covered with the fur-like thing that they had on, but the structure of the body looked like that of a human.

“Wh-wha……!”

Recently, there were many things that confused me, and without exception, I was greatly confused once more.

With how odd things kept happening one after another, it was only natural.

As if to match how I felt, the me that was reflected on the water’s surface also had their mouth agape with a speechless expression.

Ahh, so is this the kind of face I make when I’m confused? I wondered to myself.

Gathering strength in my arm, the me that was reflected on the water’s surface also moved their arm.

In this way, I repeatedly felt my body with my two arms, and as I touched each part with my fingers, it transmitted to my brain the message, “My body is here.”

The heat that I felt from this body was warm in a way that was completely different from fire.

The more I touched, the more my mind gradually accepted my body’s existence.

It was if in the act of awareness was what finally awakened all the senses in my entire body.

The voice that I had unconsciously used must have come from this throat.

And if I had been moving with these legs, I realized how difficult it must have been.

Driven by my interest, I continued to feel my body in silence, and just as quietly, the image of the snake became reflected in the water’s surface that I was gazing at.

“You’ve taken this appearance since earlier, but as you were, you did not seem aware of it.”

As the snake said this, I continued feeling my body, replied with, “I only just realized,” and put my hands down.

“I can finally understand myself now. How exactly have I come to this?”

 

I asked, and the snake replied, “That, too, I do not know. I’ve never seen a creature such as  you before now.”

I did not know how many more living things had been born in the time that I had spent thinking here, but as far as the snake had seen, there weren’t any that were like me.

Although I had acquired a body and speech, among other things, it did not seem like I would be able to find the answer to that right this moment.

 

However, despite saying insinuative things, this snake did not seem like he would be of much help to me as I had expected. As I started thinking this, the snake started to speak again, “However…”

Afraid for a moment that he could read my thoughts, I calmly replied, “What is it?”

“You are very strange. Suddenly emerging from an empty place, changing your appearance in various ways, and understand the speech of other creatures…… To me, I see that you are about to change into ‘something.’”

“You mean that I am going to become me? Don’t speak gibberish. I am me. That is what I am going to find out.”

As I said this, the snake darted out his tongue quickly, and backed down with, “No, I know, I know. It’s merely nonsense, so pay it no mind.”

“Now then, I will be returning to my dwelling soon. It was a pleasure to meet an interesting creature such as you.”

“You’re leaving? I apologize for any trouble I’ve caused.”

“It was no trouble at all,” the snake replied, and disappeared somewhere.

 

Only I was left behind in the silence.

As before, my appearance that mimicked the humans continued to be reflected in the water’s surface.

“……Human”

I raised my arm again, and made a fist with my hand several times.

At this rate, it shouldn’t take long to become accustomed to moving this body.

At the very least, I realized that I wouldn’t be able understand the things I truly wanted to know by remaining in this cavern.

“I would prefer to not be attacked, but……”

After I left this cave, I would most likely go to meet the humans.

I honestly still did not know what meaning there was to that, but until I found out the true meaning behind the word “monster,” which they had spoken, my curiosity would not be satisfied.

“……In any case, what a slender body this is. If only I appeared more powerful.”

What had become of the outside world?

At the least, I hoped that it wasn’t winter now.

After all, it was a season that was much too quiet and uninteresting.

It would be preferable if it was the ever-changing summer, but who could say?

With slight expectations and many anxieties in my heart, I staggered towards the opening of the cavern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHILDREN RECORD PART THREE

(translated by Miss-Simplicity
)

 

“….That teacher must be an alien or something. I don’t get what he’s saying at all.”

After checking her surroundings, Ayano whispered this.

It was sunny outside.

A true summer day with a seemingly overabundance of crying cicadas in the sweltering heat.

Sitting lightly in her window seat in the very back of the classroom, Ayano glanced at me, waiting for my reply.

“Ahh, yeah, I guess.”

Knowing that something annoying had started again, I just went along with it and said whatever, making Ayano drop her shoulders and lay her head down on the desk.

“Auu, Shintaro, you’re so cold today, too…”

“It’s because you’re saying dull things. What do mean, ‘alien’? You just don’t understand the lesson, right?”

“W-well, yeah, but…”

Flipping through the pages of the textbook, there wasn’t anything particularly difficult written.

In the first place, this person was just way too dumb. If you couldn’t understand a lesson like this one, doesn’t that make you the alien instead?

“Don’t they say that only idiots blame other people? Anyway, you got a bad score on the last test, didn’t? Won’t you have to take summer courses at this rate? In the first place, you…”

Usually, after being scolded this much, she’d reply with, “I’m sorry, I’m an idiot. Please forgive me,” but she seemed to be holding out today.

When I looked over with these thoughts in mind, Ayano had sat up again, and was glaring in my direction.

Because that face was such a contrast from her usual gentle demeanor, I couldn’t help flinching.

“Wh-what? Are you angry?”

I asked slowly, but Ayano did not answer my question, and instead began speaking matter-of-factly.

“Although you say things like that to me, Shintaro… I know about you. Because you’re smart, you don’t need to study, and instead spend your time looking at dirty sites on the internet. You did that yesterday, too, right?”

Ayano’s words were so unexpected and heavy that my heart started pounding.

I started trying to reason it in my head immediately, “Why does she know about something like that? No, it’s not possible. I always delete my browser history, and as long as there aren’t any security cameras……”

I wondered where the speed of my thought process came from in time like these.

In any case, my brain began coming up with excellent excuses at an unparalleled speed.

Taking the commands from my brain, I immediately prepared the excuses in the back of my throat, ready to say them. I could do this. It was perfect.

“Wh-what!? Wh-wh-what are you even talking about!? I-I don’t look at that kind of thing at all! I’m not even interested in that stuff ! I’ve never looked at it before in my life!”

However, the excuses I had prepared went unused, and in their place, extremely suspicious excuses flew out of my mouth.

Even I could hear how fake they sounded, and as I started to sweat, the reply of “Hmm” that I received accelerated my sweat even further.

Next, Ayano looked at me with scorn and stood up with a loud clatter.

She then leaned towards me, moving in close to my face.

“Liar. I’ve heard all about it, you know?”

Because of the amount of distance between us, the scent of the shampoo from Ayano’s long, black hair lingered in the air more than was necessary.

My excellent brain seemed to have caught on to the scent as well, and was immediately reduced to a disabled stare.

No, but honestly, there was no way she could have heard about anything. My browsing history should be clear. I wouldn’t make a mistake there. I was absolutely confident about that.

“Wh-who did you even hear it from!? And hey, you’re way too close!”

I shouted desperately. Because of the fact that Ayano was so close, I couldn’t face her unless I raised my voice a considerable amount.

“Who……?”

Ayano smiled wide, and slowly moved her face close to my ear. The intense scent of the shampoo finally hung over me, and I had already stiffened, unable to move.

It was no use; I couldn’t understand what she intended to do anymore. With no longer any way out, all I could do was close my eyes.

And as if to dispel my tenseness, Ayano whispered this in my ear:

 

“……Have you forgotten about me, Master?”

 

“……Wait, Ene!?”

When I opened my eyes, I saw neither Ene nor Ayano.

The classroom that I had been seeing earlier had also completely disappeared.

In their place, I saw plumbing pipes crisscrossed on a ceiling, a single light bulb hanging down from it, and Kido looking down at me while drying her hair with a towel.

“Not Ene, it’s Kido.”

Looking like she’d just come out of the bath, Kido was wearing a T-shirt, and had the scent of shampoo drifting from her as she stood with an annoyed expression.

“……R-right. Sorry.”

“I don’t care what kind of dream you were having, but it’s already morning. It’s time to wake up soon.”

And with that, Kido walked off towards the entrance while still drying her hair.

As I stared blankly at the ceiling, I could hear Kido’s voice from the direction of the entrance.

“Come on, it’s morning. Wake up. How Where do you think you’re sleeping?”

When she’d suddenly headed for the entrance, I’d thought it was careless to go out in a T-shirt and with her hair still wet, but it made sense to me now.

Sure enough, I heard Konoha’s voice say, “Eh? Ah, where is this?” He should have been sleeping on the sofa as well, so just what kind of sleeper was he?

It was the third morning since I’ve been involved with these guys.

When I looked at the time, it was right about nine in the morning.

I would usually sleep for about fourteen hours, but due to the fact that this was someone else’s house, as well, it would be a bad idea to go back to sleep.

However, the moment I tried to put strength into my body to get up, I felt a dull pain in both of my thighs. I let out a sudden “Ah……” and fell back on the sofa.

I immediately heard Kido question, “What kind of weird sounds are you making……?” but knowing that she’d very likely be taken aback, I pretended that I hadn’t heard her.

Still, it only made sense. I’d walked so much yesterday, and the day before, so of course I’d be feeling so much strain on my thin legs.

For a brief moment, I began to despair at my own helplessness, but I realized that there was no use in complaining.

It was then that I thought of this as the “mysterious price I had to pay for using power beyond my potential,” just like what often happened in manga.

Yes, I had been given the exciting setting that only a main character would have. Seriously, I was a man that was just too perfect for the role of a main character. It was almost unbearable.

As I filled my head with head with the knowledge I’d accumulated from anime and manga, just as I always did, I eventually remembered the dream that I had earlier.

Ayano.

I had seen her in my dreams several times before, but in these past few days, I started to see her more frequently.

Was it because of the heat? Or was it because I was subconsciously rejecting becoming close to someone?

If I thought about it, it was also like this when Ene had come.

After she’d come into my life, I started having dreams about Ayano every night.

Once, when I’d been having a dream about her, Ene had forcefully woken me up, and we gotten into a fight over that.

It wasn’t the usual casual bickering we did, but actual yelling on my part, and she also raised her voice for once….. What kind of quarrel had it been that time?

I had been considerably tired in the middle of the night, so that’s probably why I can’t remember much.

Anyway, I felt bad as soon as I woke up, and apologized profusely to Ene.

I clearly remember how she has bossily said, “It’s no use picking on a virgin, so I’ll forgive you.”

This was exactly why I’d rather forget about that incident but…… Even I was amazed by how masochistic my mind was.

As I thought about these things, I suddenly heard the sound of running water from the kitchen. And after hearing the sound of the refrigerator being opened, I realized that she was making breakfast.

“Ahh, I feel kind of bad. I’ll help out.”

I said, and tried getting up again. To avoid putting stress on the areas that hurt earlier, I got up carefully, and didn’t feel very much muscular pain.

“Hm? Shintaro, you can cook?”

Kido asked while rinsing the tableware. I wanted to answer, “Yeah, of course,” but naturally, I hadn’t ever tried to actually cook anything.

As for Momo, the taste of her cooking was equivalent to a deadly poison, but in terms of trying, it was true that she had more than I did.

I had no such cooking skills.

“Ahh, I see. Then sit.”

Kido said sharply, and continued washing the dishes.

I could gradually feel the sadness from not-being-needed beginning to spiral in my heart.

NEETs are fragile creature that die if they don’t keep thinking they’re needed by someone.

Fortunately, this room was rather comfortable because that guy had fallen back asleep in the entrance.

And on the contrary, nobody else had woken up. There was no reason for me to have to move.

I felt bad for being spoiled by the motherly demeanor that Kido had taken, but I’d continue to take it easy for a while longer.

I wondered what breakfast was going to be.

At the moment, I felt like eating a normal breakfast of bacon and eggs, or sausages.

But wait, wasn’t this something unbelievable?

Staying with a girl under the same roof, spending the night, and then having her make you breakfast?

Hey hey hey, this is it. Hey, this is finally it.

……

……No, I should stop. Although I wanted to think of it as that, there was no way it was actually going to happen.

And if I didn’t get rid of the thing nagging at my chest, I wouldn’t even be able to find an appetite for breakfast.

The only ones here were Kido and I.

If I was going to ask directly, it had to be now.

Standing up, I headed for the kitchen.

There, Kido was standing in the same apron as yesterday, with her hair tied behind her, and had just started the fire for the frying pan.

“Do you have a moment?” I asked, and Kido replied without turning, “What? Didn’t I tell you to sit?” while cracking an egg into the frying pan with her free hand.

I did want to keep sitting, but I couldn’t have that leisure right now.

Starting out slowly, I opened my mouth.

“Yesterday, in the middle of the night, I feel like Kano came back…… Did you know?”

“Kano? No, I had no idea.”

Kido replied as she began to stir the eggs.

Scrambled eggs, huh? I started to digress, but then continued talking.

“Hey, does he…… Uh, does Kano… hate me or something? Has he said anything to you?”

What had happened with Kano late last night had been bothering me ever since.

He had suddenly appeared looking like Momo to deceive me, and on top of that, changed into Ayano and disappeared somewhere.

I was tired then, so I still thought that it had been some kind of strange dream.

In the first place, I had never talked to anyone about Ayano, so Kano shouldn’t have known about her, and also, I had been huddled on the ground, but when I woke up, I was sleeping on the sofa. It just didn’t seem real. 

Even as I came to figure it out, it had been a creepily realistic dream.

I didn’t feel comfortable talking to Kido about it, but I just wanted some confirmation that it had only been a dream.

At my question, Kido stopped moving the chopsticks, and turned to face me.

“Did he say something to you last night?”

As she said this, Kido reached behind her to turn the fire off the stove and crossed her arms while still holding the chopsticks.

Kido seemed to guess from the tone of my voice that I wasn’t just asking this offhandedly, and a slightly worried expression appeared on her face.

“N-no, it’s nothing like that. It might’ve just been a very realistic dream, anyway. And besides, it’s not like he can read peoples’ minds, right?”

“Yeah, Kano isn’t able to do that. Anyway, Kano seems to have taken quite a liking to you, so I don’t think that he’d find you disagreeable or anything……”

Kido said this and lowered her gaze, making a sad expression.

From the looks of it, she didn’t seem to be lying.

BOOK: Missing Children
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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