Part 17: Takeshi - Second Day - Part 5TrackKopfsprung
I'd missed bathing the day before.... I dunked my head under the inflowing water and mussed up my hair.
Yup. It was invigorating. I could really feel the minerals seeping into my scalp. The water was cold, but it was actually refreshing.
"Hey, can you get the shampoo for me? Er, what the heck am I doing?"
Tsugumi gave me the evil eye.
Boom! The egg elevator took a big jolt and started to move.
Peeking through the window and into the blue we could see the outside of LeMU. The blue gradually got darker and the steel bulkhead appeared to move further away upward. The higher water pressure increased the force of the water pouring in. The speed of our descent picked up.
I wondered how many feet we had dropped. I shifted my gaze toward the sea bottom, but Dritte stock still had not come into view. The water in the elevator had already reached my chest. My legs were floating...I was on my toes....
"H-hey... Don't you think this is pretty dangerous?"
A strained smile appeared on Tsugumi's face. It seemed she was getting a little worried.
"I wonder if...we'll die like this..."
"No, not 'maybe'! This harebrained idea was all your...cough, splutter..."
I lifted my chin and desperately tried to stick to the ceiling.
I screamed crazily.
Boom! The egg was shaken by a strong shock.
'We made it to the third floor!'
I wanted to shout this, but it was impossible. There was no longer enough air for me to yell. I didn't know if she had panicked or what, but Tsugumi was thrashing her arms and legs around desperately.
In the blur underwater...I pinned down Tsugumi's shoulder.
"It's alright. I'll take care of it."
I felt Tsugumi's body relax.
I focused every ounce of strength in my body on turning the heavy handle... Because my body would float, I couldn't gain traction with my feet.
Bracing one leg on the handrail, I continued turning and turning it.... The water pressure began pressing in on my eardrums. My body was screaming for oxygen.
The mass of water and Tsugumi and I were all spit out of the elevator and on to the floor. But we didn't have time to catch our breath. Seawater was flooding into the hole in the elevator more ferociously than ever. I got up immediately and rushed to the watertight door on the elevator. First I closed that door, locked it and then closed the door on the LeMU side as well.
For a while, I couldn't move.
Tsugumi, too, lay sprawled out on the floor. I didn't feel angry with her. Because relief was the dominant emotion...
(That was such a stupid thing to do... What if we really had died...?)
Tsugumi was coughing a little, looking down. She didn't try to look at me. I thought that maybe she was reflecting on what she had done.
(That's it, maybe... Maybe she just isn't a 'people person' and has a hard time getting along with others...)
She seemed fragile, and lonely... Maybe she needs someone's help...?
It was the first time that I had realized there was anything weak about her. Sitting all alone in the middle of that sprawling floor she look so small, like a newly born chick.
The darkness hid our surroundings from us and felt oppressive. I walked slowly forward making sure of each step. In my right hand I had a huge toolbox.... It was so heavy it felt like my shoulder might break under its strain.
"I wonder if this area is full of water from yesterday's flooding."
Tsugumi shot a question back at me.
Two syllables...that was all she said.
"What's your problem, anyway?"
"Just a minute ago you were desperately screaming for help to keep from drowning."
"I didn't scream anything."
"Yeah, but your eyes did."
"There you go, acting all tough again."
"I'm not acting tough. Besides..."
"Ouch. Don't just stop all of a sudden like that. It's dark and I can't see."
"Listen up. I'll only tell you once more. I never, ever asked for help."
Tsugumi turned back to me. Shrouded in the darkness, I couldn't really make out her expression.
"Yeah, but if I hadn't opened up that door, chances are you and I would both be floating drowned in that egg."
"If I have to be saved by you, then I'd rather die."
(Geez. Why can't this girl ever be honest with people...?)
I went around Tsugumi and walked further along the flooded corridor.
"One more thing that I wanna get off my chest -- what were those words all about anyway?"
As she fired another short question at me, Tsugumi passed me again.
"What you said before we got in the egg on the second floor. 'I really...really need you!' Your eyes were watery. You were begging me, right?"
"Yes. I did."
(Oh. That was an unexpected answer....)
"What about it?"
"S-s-so you are depending on me after all. And now you finally admit it?"
Tsugumi continued forward without talking....
"In other words, IF something were to happen, you want to be with someone you can rely on. You're afraid to be alone. That's why you wanted me to come."
"...are SUCH an idiot."
"Don't you get it yet?"
"That EI elevator is a neutral buoyancy elevator so it for the most part it doesn't require outside power. But it does need power for the intake and release of water from the ballast tank...in fact that's the only time it needs power. And since this is a blackout..."
"You couldn't operate the ballast valve...that much I know."
"Well, do you know Archimedes principle?"