Part 44: Infinitum NihilPart 44 - Infinitum Nihil
The sky was a little dull, somehow. As though its colors were fading. But in exchange, the fall leaves at the park and so forth were brilliant. Maybe the trees were stealing away the sky's vibrancy.
I stuck my toothbrush in my mouth as I gazed up at that subdued sky.
One of the nice things about the base where I lived was that I could freely use the open space of the roof, without needing to worry about catching anyone's eye.
It was inconvenient when it rained, because the sink was located outside the container housing, but on days with good weather, I would come outside and brush my teeth like this.
Rubbing my sleepy eyes as I moved the toothbrush, I thought back over what had happened yesterday.
Rimi had stayed in my room with me until late at night. She'd held my hand for almost an hour, the full time it took me to calm down.
That said, nothing else happened between us before she went home.
....If I had the ability to talk about such things, I'd already be living a full-fledged life.
No, more than that, the part of me with ulterior motives made me want to throw up.
Rimi was pure-heartedly trying to help me as a friend.
But she had already done a great deal to save me simply by telling me, "I'll be there for you."
Despite the huge impact of learning about Dr. Takashina's murder in the "brainless" incident, I had managed to become much more mentally stable now than a day or so earlier.
It had seemed much too real for a delusion.
Which meant that it had been a delusion of mine, the same as when Ayase split in two.
Did something like that truly exist....
Was "Shogun" targeting me because I possessed it?
If I did have such a power--
One of my childhood memories came back to life.
The bus rolled over, and my classmates had gotten hurt.
Mr. Saitou, my teacher, died.
Those images had appeared vividly inside my head.
I'd seen them clearly. Were they--
just a form of "precognition"?
My body threatened to start quaking, and I wrapped my arms around myself to suppress it.
"Then I'd be...."
Cheerful despite how early it was, she gave me a huge smile. When I saw her smile, my shaking stopped.
It was strange....
I was supposed to have a hard time with 3-D girls, but for some reason, I could relax if I were together with Rimi.
"I came to pick you up."
"What're you looking all blank for?"
"I told you I'd come pick you up, didn't I."
Right. Thanks to "Shogun," I was now afraid to so much as walk around outside by myself. Seeing me like that, Rimi had told me, "I'll be there for you."
She was sticking to her promise.
"Did you think I wouldn't really come or something?"
"Fu~fu~fu~, too bad for you. Contrary to appearances, I'm the devoted type--"
Rimi said, winking impishly.
What eroge is this from?
Although the ultimate best pattern would be if she
"Barged into your room and forcibly shook you awake."
Rimi, standing beside me as I had that kind of idiotic daydream, abruptly tipped her head back to look at the sky.
Her eyes grew distant again--
"Why do you think--"
"Winter skies appear faded?"
There had been seven colors in sunlight. The familiar colors of the rainbow.
In order for those seven colors to reach human eyes, they had to pass through the Earth's atmosphere.
As they do so, a phenomenon known as diffusion takes place.
Slanting off in random directions means that it ends up going here and there, all over the place. This makes it easier to reach human sight.
Out of all the colors, purple and blue scatter most easily.
That's why the sky is blue.
But Rimi's answer was utterly separate from scientific proof and its absence of romance.
"Fewer people desire blue."
I had the feeling that I'd heard her say something similar before.... when was it again?
SFX: Rimi's humming the tune of The Blood of The Contract for Our Sins in the background
Going to school together.... huh. No matter how I looked at it, this was the essence of being IRL.
"Shogun" and Yua were scary and obnoxious and the "Die. No, really, go die" type, but it was thanks to them that I was able to undergo this sort of real-life experience.
Maybe I should be a tiny bit grateful to them....
I tried to compell myself, but--
Dr. Takashina's face revived at the back of my mind, and my crazy mood soon drained away.
It might be my fault that he'd been killed.
"Shogun" had murdered the doctor with a connection to me, either as a sign to me or a form of provocation....
Fear and insecurity overwhelmed me.
I glanced at the back of Rimi's head from behind her and a little off to the side.
What kind of expression was she making....?
She was humming.
This was a song from the "Phantasm" CD I'd loaned her yesterday.
Her footsteps seemed light.
We weren't even talking, so why did she appear to be having so much fun....
As I watched her, my anxiety decreased a little.
....But honestly, I wondered why Rimi was this kind to me.
This was one aspect of my coping strategy.
I felt bad, since Rimi had gone as far as to pick me up, but "arriving at school with a girl" would be much too conspicuous. Especially if the class juvies spotted me; they might use it as an excuse to pick a fight.
That was why I went to the bathroom and bought some time, so it would look like I'd come to school on my own.
Ayase was a celebrity. I'd figured I'd hold back on talking to her in school, since it would make me stand out, but with her standing there as though to block my way, I had no choice but to follow her lead.
"Takumi, what's happened with the police since then?"
On the verge of shrieking, I clamped a hand over my mouth.
Wh, why are you bringing up such a risky topic with all these people around!
I took a flustered look at our surroundings. The situation was pretty bad.
As expected, Ayase was the target of everyone's attention.
Not only was her coming to school rare in and of itself, but she was also the lead vocalist of "Phantasm" and, furthermore, an androgynous beauty.
Girls and guys alike were deeply interested in her.
Normally, it'd be inconceivable for her to talk to an otaku freak like me.
The onlookers' gazes stung. I wanted to flee....
"You have no choice but to do so."
....She said the same thing every single time we met.
Ayase might have been on my side, but I got pretty sick of her when she repeated herself like she was the village idiot.
I wanted to get my hands on it more than anyone. But I didn't know how.
"I, I want a hint...."
"Ho, how did you g, get yours....?"
"....It was there before I knew it."
This again....! Was she avoiding giving me an answer, after all?
"At first I didn't notice it."
"Maybe you can already see yours."
"You just aren't 'seeing' it."
I had no idea what she meant....
Talking with Ayase always wore me out. Spare me the Zen koans, would you?
"I'm.... looking for it, real hard...."
"I.... really want to, to get one, too...."
Misumi-kun spearheaded a mix-sexed group of kids, all staring at me dazedly.
Dammit, they'd spotted me talking to Ayase....
Shit, who knew what they'd say to me.
I'd be fine if they shunned me, but I went cold when I thought about them quarreling with me like a playground gang.
I lowered my eyes, making myself as small as possible, and went toward my seat.
Please, I'll do anything, so leave me alone....
My prayer didn't go through.
"Taku, when the hell did you--!? You were talking to Kishimoto just now, right!?"
All I could do was fall silent. I couldn't lift my face to him.
"It's the first time I've seen her have a real conversation with anyone! What kinda trick did you use on her!?"
I'm begging you, please don't talk so loudly that it reverberates through the whole classroom.
Please let me be.
I've got no intention of laying a finger on Ayase.
I know I wouldn't be worthy of doing so, in the first place.
That's why I'm asking you, please don't make such a big deal out of it....
"C'mon, Taku! Tell me--"
Rimi dove between us.
"Chill out. You're making it hard for Taku."
"Ah? Ahh, my bad, my bad."
Misumi-kun lowered his voice and patted me lightly on the back.
Head still hanging, I sighed quietly. Rimi had saved me yet again....
"Jeez. Daichin, you've got no principles."
"Don't you think your girlfriend's gonna stab you someday?"
"No worries. Sure, I may look frivolous, but I give all of 'em their TLC."
"Tahaha.... what's up with that."
Misumi-kun rubbed my shoulders as he persisted in asking me.
Left without much of a choice, I meekly raised my head.
About half the people from before were taking quick glances at me as they whispered to each other.
--Don't look at me.
The nape of my neck prickled. It'd be the end of me if I caught a delinquent's fancy. Bullying hell would be the one thing awaiting me.
What to do.... should I run? Skip out on classes and hurry on home?
But I couldn't go back alone. My legs froze when I thought about the chances of running into "Shogun" or Yua.
Should I have Rimi come along with me?
She'd said before that she was the "devoted type," and if those words hadn't been a lie, surely she would skip classes with me.
SFX: BAM! Something slams into the classroom's door.
Everyone looked over there to see what was happening.
The transfer student.
Teary-eyed, she rubbed her forehead while bowing to everyone around her, silent as always.
The suddenness of what had happened made the classroom fall silent.
What on earth had....
"Yeah. She barreled into the door all by herself...."
"Mm~, Kozue-chan is such a cutie."
Wh, what a picture-perfect, real-life klutz......
"Think she's okay? It sounded pretty loud."
She was quite the meddler. But maybe I should call it her kindness.
Her running into an accident had provided me with a fortunate side effect.
The people who had been staring coldly at me before had all shifted their attention to her.
GJ, I needed to tell her.
Only-- My ears suddenly picked up on what a group of girls near my desk were saying.
Female Classmate A: "What a pain...."
Female Classmate B: "What's with her?"
Female Classmate C: "Didn't she do it on purpose?"
Barely audible murmurs.
"Is that related to the second generation?"
"Indeed it is."
"Let's attempt a simple experiment."
"I don't have the time to go along with child's play."
"It's quite important."
"The left side of this diagram contains a dot, whereas the right side contains a ring."
"Now, please cover your left eye with your hand, so you can no longer see from it."
"Then look at the dot on the left side of the diagram."
"What do you think? Is the ring present at the corner of your right eye as you regard the dot?"
"It's only natural to keep seeing the ring next door, no matter how you try to look at the dot alone."
"In that case, sir, move your face closer to the monitor, continuing to look at the dot. What happens to the ring adjacent to it?"
"Hoh.... what's this?"
"The ring on the right-hand side disappeared.... did it not?"
"This is not because your field of vision narrowed."
"In proof of that, the ring will reappear if you move even closer to the monitor."
"Hm.... what manner of trick does this use?"
"No, it's not a trick or anything of the sort. It's one of the abilities people's eyes have always possessed but that they normally make no use of."
"This is called a 'dead spot'--"
The sky was shifting to the color of twilight, and several crows flapped their wings and flew away without cawing.
I was waiting for Rimi to come. She had cleaning duty.
It wasn't that we'd promised to go leave school together today.
But.... I was sure she would, for me.
I had already stood here for over fifteen minutes in hopes of that.
I'd had no idea what would happen in the morning, but somehow I managed to pass most of today peacefully and safely.
Misumi-kun, too, had been so wrapped up in talking to the transfer student that he hadn't pursued the subject of me and Ayase any further.
I owed it all to the transfer student, really.
Speak of the devil, here she was, passing beside me.
She lowered her head to me with a face that seemed to be on the verge of tears.
Despite my discomfort, I somehow succeeded in nodding back.
Once again, I thought to myself that she was small. She had a loli physique. On top of that, she was klutzy. I didn't know her well or anything, but she appeared to have a wholesome personality.
Moe traits up the wazoo.
But the girls didn't seem to care for her.
Positive, Negative or Neutral?