Part 63: Chapter 3 Daily Life, Part 9
This piece of paper... It looks like someone must have slipped it under my door.
"Meet in the dining hall!"
The handwriting is...really good. But to want to meet up so suddenly... Who wrote it? And why? What's the point of calling me out like this? I'm kind of nervous, but...there's no way I can't check it out now.
: Oh, Makoto!
: Hiro...? Then the letter I found in my room...
: Yup, I wrote it.
: Your handwriting is...really nice.
: Well, I was always taught that if you had bad penmanship, a ghost would come and haunt you.
...Who taught you that?
: And why did you want to meet with me?
: Oh, I just did what Kyoko asked me.
: I'm just an errand boy on this. Anyway, whaddya say to a late-night bath session?
: Okay, let's do it!
: N-No, I...
I was totally lost. Hiro grabbed me by the shoulder, pulled me close, and whispered into my ear...
: It's all an act, so the mastermind won't notice. Everyone's waiting in the bathhouse.
What...? Then...did Alter Ego finish his search...?
: Y-You got it, Hiro! Let's go take a dip together!
I was probably louder than I needed to be...but me an Hiro hurried to the dressing room.
As soon as I got to the dressing room, an angry voice echoed out.
: Hey! You! How long were you gonna keep us waiting!?
Taka's irritated voice pierced the air as he stared pointedly at his wristwatch.
: It's almost 10 o'clock, you know that!? Bedtime for all the good little boys and girls!
: Tch... Shut up...
: What'd you say!? You want me to make you cry, little girl!?
: Taka... He seems to be even worse off than I'd heard. Well, maybe it's a good thing. Maybe he's finally starting to grow a personality.
: What--!? You got a lotta poop fallin' outta that mouth of yours, you know that!?
: How rude... A maggot like you has no right to speak that way to our heaven-sent Master...!
: Hm? Are you back to your normal gloomy self? I can hardly keep track at this point.
: Sh-Shut up...!
: Well anyway, everyone's here, right!? Then my messenger duty is complete!
: You wanted us all to meet here, right Kyoko? So, what are we doing here?
: Isn't it obvious? It's gotta have something to do with Alter Ego, right!?
: Yeah, totally! Did he finally find a clue? What is it? A way out!? The mastermind's true identity!?
: It's gone.
: I came here a little earlier to check up on things, and that's when I discovered... Alter Ego--the laptop--has disappeared...
: You're kidding, right...?
: H-Huh...? What...? She's...gone?
: You can't be fudgin' serious! What'd you do with him!?
: Was it the mastermind? Did they finally notice what we were up to?
: I told Alter Ego to yell if anyone he didn't recognize appeared. If it was the mastermind, I'm sure he would have alerted us.
: Maybe we just...missed it?
: I was in the laundry room right next door all day. There's no way I wouldn't have heard it.
: B-But...if it wasn't the mastermind, then...
: The solution to this particular mystery is obvious! It could only have been...him!
: Mr. Ishimaru! You stole her, didn't you!?
: What!? I'm the Ultimate Moral Compass! I would never do something like that!
: I don't think it counts when you say it about yourself like that...
: You're the suspicious one here! You're nothin' but a big, jiggling sack of fat!
: Shows what you know. This isn't my true form! I still have three more transformations left!
: Er...wait, I mean--it wasn't me! Everyone knows YOU'RE the thief!
: Wrong! It's you!
: Well I'm sure it was *one* of you. So whoever did it, just hurry up and confess!
: No. There's no way either one of them did it.
: Huh? Why not!?
: I told Alter Ego to yell if either Taka or Hifumi came into the dressing room.
: It was a countermeasure against the clear danger that one of them might come for it.
: But...I never heard any yell.
: Exactly. Which means it wasn't them.
: Then...who was it?
: The fundamental circumstances are becoming clear... If it wasn't the mastermind, and it wasn't Taka or Hifumi...then quite simply, it was someone else.
: Makoto, Celeste, Sakura, Hina, Toko, or myself... One of us must be the thief.
: Why would any of US wanna steal Alter Ego!?
: How about this for a reason?
♪ Music cuts out, then restarts after a few seconds ♪
: There is a traitor among us.
: One of us is working for the mastermind--a spy. And that's the one who stole Alter Ego. Can you deny the possibility?
: I-It can't be!
: I've actually been thinking for some time now that there might be a spy among us. The mastermind brought someone in to help keep things moving smoothly.
A spy for the mastermind? A...traitor? No... It's impossible... Something that horrible... Th-There's no way!
: Why do you not speak? Are you struck silent by your inability to comprehend such a possibility?
: I don't care!
: I don't care...who... Someone, anyone...save her... Please, rescue her... I'm begging you... I just want to see her smiling face again...
: Same here. How many times do they hafta kill bro before they're happy...? I'll beg, I'll scrape my head across the ground. Just please give him back...!
: This is pretty messed up... But still, I think I kinda get how they feel...
: I think Alter Ego is most likely still safe, for the moment at least.
: If they wanted to destroy it, they wouldn't have taken it. They would've done it right here.
: So you're saying whoever did it has something else in mind for him...
: That doesn't matter. Nothing...nothing else matters...
: No matter what it takes, I'm gonna get him back! That's my promise as a man!
: I swear I'll save her! Using the power of love...!
*Ding dong, bing bong*
: Mm, ahem, this is a school announcement. It is now 10 p.m. As such, it is officially nighttime. Soon the doors to the dining hall will be locked, and entry at that point is strictly prohibited. Okay then...sweet dreams, everyone! Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite...
: It's nighttime...
: It is unfortunate, but we will have to leave the search for tomorrow. For now, everyone get some sleep.
: How can you be so casual! We don't have time to wait around!
: What good are you if you are too tired? You will be much more effective after a good night's sleep.
: Who gives a crap about "effective"!? We're talkin' about our FEELINGS here!
: Anything we do at night brings a higher chance of the mastermind noticing us. Celeste is right. We should begin out investigation tomorrow morning. What do you think, Makoto?
: I...agree with you. If we run around tonight in a panic, the mastermind is sure to notice, and we won't get anything done. Taka, Hifumi... I know how you feel right now, but... It's best if, just for tonight...you can try and endure it.
: Okay, then let us part for today. We will begin our search for Alter Ego in the morning.
: And you should think about what I said--someone may very well be spying for the mastermind.
Alter Ego...gone as quickly as he appeared... We'd finally discovered some small measure of hope. But even that was taken away from us. And we couldn't even put up a fight. We were given hope, and then when that hope was taken away...despair. It's just like...just like what the mastermind is doing to us... Then...could it really be true? Whoever stole Alter Ego... Could they really be working for the mastermind? If that's true...
: No! It can't be! There's no way!
I didn't even realize I'd yelled that out loud. The scary thing isn't the idea of someone spying on us. What's really scary is the idea that we're starting to doubt each other again. That scares me more than anything.
I threw myself into bed, trying to shake off all those unsettling thoughts. Before long I fell into a restless sleep.
: "Murder" is a word whose definition changes with time, with place, with society. If murder is evidence of abnormality, then all of history's greatest heroes must have been abnormal. Sometimes the murders that people forgive are way more abnormal than the ones they don't!