Part 9: Girl APart 9 - Girl A
This update contains:
A brief flashback to the guy with a hundred stakes in him
"Why today? This sucks, this blows...."
But I couldn't take the day off. Take even a single day off, and abnormalities would emerge in the system imposed by my "minimum attendance shift chart." Then I wouldn't be able to graduate.
"Graduate, graduate.... What's with the insistence on graduating?"
It was something I'd decided on myself, but I couldn't help griping about it.
Unusually, though, it wasn't "God's gaze." My neck muscles weren't growing twitchy.
Could it be the demon from the day before yesterday....!?
I immediately lost my calm; my heart began beating wildly. A supreme tension controlled my movements, making me walk jerkily.
The serene morning scenery metamorphosed, leaving me with the sense that everything around me was rejecting me.
Birds chirped atop telephone wires, and I could faintly hear the relaxed BGM of morning news programs playing in the houses I was passing.
In the midst of this vista that seemed like it couldn't possibly have less to do with a murder case, I was on the verge of picturing myself dying hideously.
No, get a grip....
I hadn't clearly identified her face. Also, if she were a Suimei student, it would be natural for her to keep following after me. Our destination was the same, after all.
I was anxious about what might be behind me, but I fervently suppressed the urge to turn around, and attempted to act natural as I carried out my plan.
Heart pounding, I went on walking. After having continued for about another minute, I whipped back around with all my might.
Our eyes were about to meet, so I hastily faced forward again.
Why was she following me!?
This road was obviously the long way to school.
In the end, was she really tailing me....? In any case, I didn't recognize her face. The fact that she was wearing glasses made it instantly clear that she wasn't the demon from the day before yesterday.
That alone was enough to make me feel relieved. At this rate, I might as well hurry up and head for school.
I had to cancel my daily routine of eating breakfast in the park, but it couldn't be helped.
To me, your existence is no more than the equivalent of "Passerby 1" or "Girl A." So don't stick your nose in my business!
It would seem that our final destinations differed; she had gone in the direction of the seniors' classrooms.
Was the whole being tailed thing just a result of me over thinking everything? But there was undeniably something off about the fact that she'd followed when I made a detour.
Was she trying to torment me? Had I done something to earn her spite? No, I hadn't. There was no way I had. Since at school, my existence is like air.
Then what could possibly be her goal....?
Though the private rooms around me were normally empty, surprisingly enough, today there was already someone in the nearby Room 36.
The sound of music leaks through from room 36. It sounds familiar, somehow...
OST:A Familiar Song
The door setting the room apart was closed. The illumination of the desk light leaked out from within.
As I entered my room, I clicked my tongue a little.
It'd be hard to chat and stuff, with someone in a neighboring room, since I have a habit of inadvertently talking to myself.
Well, no matter. For the time being, I'd start by logging into ESO. There wouldn't be any problems if I took care not to talk out loud.
Irritated, I smacked the keyboard with my palm.
About two hours had passed since I'd started playing. My stress just kept building up today.
The pair I'd formed a party with were n00bs no matter how you looked at it.
I was being nice enough to try and help them shine, but they'd dive in on their own and die on their own.... and while they kept repeating that, the other magic user didn't make a single effort to provide magical support.
Thanks to that, the whole party had been massacred countless times.
Which was why they did nothing but complain in our chats. Dammit, you people suck at this.
It pissed me off so much that I PK'd them, stole their items, and immediately escaped to a different area.
Liselotte could easily do the kinds of things that Neidhardt couldn't. That was why I came all the way out here to log in at @Cafe. Hehehe.
The one downside to Room 37 was its distance from the main counter.
As I passed it, I nonchalantly peeked inside, but no one was there. Come to think of it, I'd heard the sound of someone standing up a short while ago.
But a bag had been left at the foot of the reclining chair. It was a student's bag, with a stuffed animal strap hanging down from it.
Not that I cared one way or the other. If I spent too long looking, the other customer might come back and suspect me of being a pervert or a thief.
Having thought that, I was about to go get my drink.
But the letters displayed on the monitor of the powered-up PC entered the edge of my field of sight, and my eyes opened wide.
I was deliberately trying not to pay attention to news about those incidents. I didn't want to know the details. That way I could keep telling myself it had no connection to me.
No, but setting all that aside.... Perhaps there was some kind of meaning in the fact that the customer in the room next door to me at a net cafe was looking at a New Gen wiki site.
For an instant, that demon-girl's face appeared in my brain, and goose bumps covered my whole body. I forcibly chased away such negative thoughts by shaking my head.
I was over thinking it. That's right, this was paranoia, plain and simple. There wasn't a single day when the New Gen incidents didn't show up on some TV program, and anyone would be interested in them.
That was all there was to it. Yeah, that had to be it.
All right, time to get back to refilling my drink.
The sun was setting, and after a little while, it would begin to get crowded. In the front room, I saw several customers waiting by the register for someone to guide them to their rooms.
From here on out, the number of people would keep increasing as night approached.
After another hour, all the private booths around Room 37 would be filled up. At that point, I'd probably head home.
Cup in hand, I was heading back to my seat. Along the way, I happened to glance into the corridor that led to the bathrooms--
I saw a form of a bespectacled girl in a Suimei uniform vanishing into the corridor's depths. More to the point, it was the same Girl A, who'd come chasing after me this morning.
Thinking that my eyes might've been mistaken, I hid in the shadow of some bookshelves and kept looking in the direction of the corridor. But from then onward, she didn't show herself whatsoever.
My eyes had been mistaken, hadn't they....?
Right, I'd only caught a glimpse of her.
And a ridiculous number of Suimei girls used this cafe. Even glasses-wearing girls were here in abundance.
But if it were indeed Girl A....? What could be the meaning behind her being here....?
A mere coincidence? Or.... had she come after me? ....Somehow, I was starting to get kind of scared.
In the end, I'd left the store shortly after getting freaked out.
Though I wanted to return home as soon as possible, the sidewalks were surging with people, and I couldn't progress as quickly as I'd have liked.
I was starting to feel worse and worse. I hate crowds.... They give me the sense that everyone's looking at me and snickering.
When the light turned red, my only option was to stop. I swiftly scanned the area. Girl A was nowhere to be seen.
Mildly relieved, I relaxed my shoulders a little, since they'd been frozen in place this whole time, and faced forward--
Stunned, I took a single step back.
On the other side of the crosswalk. That girl was there, in the midst of the people waiting for the light to change.
And the gaze coming from the depths of her glasses was blatantly pointed at me. She didn't try to look away.
Time for a Delusion Trigger! Positive? Negative? Neutral?
On a side note: I have things that I need to do over the next two days. While I will still end the vote tomorrow (as per what has become the norm), I cannot guarantee that I will have the time to post an update tomorrow or the day after. We'll see what happens.