Part 27: Takeshi - Third Day - Part 3TrackZweitestock
"It isn't often that you get to see Tsugumi being so still and docile."
"Yeah. Can't you talk to me here? Now you've got me wondering what the big secret is."
"Takeshi... I can't talk to you here because it's confidential."
"Oh, right. That makes sense...let's see."
"...Never mind, it's not a big deal. We can discuss it later."
"If you'll excuse me, then."
Sora left, smiling.
She didn't say anything. Of course, it was normal for Tsugumi not to talk about herself... But now she wasn't saying anything at all.
...I wanted to hear something. As soon as possible. Anything, I didn't care, I just wanted to hear Tsugumi's voice again. I began to believe that I could bear even her harshest, most cutting words.
I turned my head, sure I had been mistaken. The lift to the decompression chamber was moving on its own... Sure enough, it was moving. I ran over and peered into the square hole where the lift was. The lift had gone down, then stopped.
I pushed the button to call the lift, and jumped in. I would go down to the decompression chamber.
Was the lift malfunctioning? I reached out my hand to push the button to take me back up. In that second, something crossed my line of vision. The sound of tiny footsteps was growing fainter... Very tiny. I could tell that they were running through the emergency corridor.
I didn't think they were human footsteps.
(Maybe it's Pipi?)
But if Pipi had separated from Coco, he surely wouldn't be in a place like this. I sensed that the owner of the footsteps was something smaller. It seemed to be running with quite some momentum, sometimes even crashing into walls. It was in a desperate hurry.
(In any case, it's an animal of some kind. But...what is it?)
It bothered me that it had run out of the infirmary.
I had followed right up until that point...but somehow I lost it. Maybe it fell down the stairs along the corridor, or climbed into a duct and jumped down a floor.
(That clever little...)
Maybe it was...a rat?
Could be. It wouldn't be so strange for LeMU to have rats. In which case--
"This is stupid. What the hell am I doing, chasing after a rat?"
Scratching my head, I retraced my steps.
"Hey, who ate their dinner here...?"
There were small breadcrumbs on the bed.
I got out of the lift and stomped over to where You and the Kid were still in the middle of their repair efforts.
"Who was eating bread in the decompression chamber?"
"Huh? What are you talking about?"
You frowned and turned the hand holding the screwdriver toward me.
"How would I know?"
"I don't know either."
The Kid had insulation tape wrapped around his fingers.
"Takeshi, you sure it wasn't you?"
"Why would it be me, if I'm the one asking about it... I mean, it doesn't really matter who it was, but don't you think we'd better be a little more careful?"
"Careful of what?"
"I think there was a rat in here just now. If we leave food laying around, it might get eaten."
"Oh...in that case I guess we should be more careful. We've got plenty of food in the kiosk, for now, but it would be awful if it was broken into."
"Do you think we should try to catch it?"
"I don't think we need to go that far."
"Hey Kid, you don't happen to know how to make a rat trap do you?"
"I don't really know if I know how or not."
The Kid laughed and shrugged his shoulders exaggeratedly.
In the end, I didn't fix anything for dinner...
"Can't you fix anything besides chicken sandwiches?"
"Hmm, well there's not much I can do 'bout that... There wasn't much at this kiosk except chicken sandwiches to start with. I cooked all the hot dogs this morning so they're finished. The owner probably just kept them for a little variation."
The Kid held the sandwich wrapping in his right hand and twisted it around his fingertip. The half-eaten sandwich remained in his left hand, not getting any smaller. It didn't seem like he couldn't finish it....
"What's the deal? Eat up before it gets cold."
You was done eating, and she peered at the Kid's face.
"You must have walked all over looking something else to eat. But it was no use after all, huh? The food washed into the corridors during the flooding is almost all spoiled anyway..."
"But that's okay because we've more stuff to make chicken sandwiches than you could imagine."
"I guess that's true..."
The kid tore off a piece of the sandwich and shoved it in his mouth.
"To survive, it's crucial that you have something you can eat."
"Hey, it looks like he got the picture. Yeah, looks like we've got a real survivor on our hands."
"Yep, that's right."
You answered shortly.
"Yeah, just a little hobby of mine. Sometimes I go into the mountains alone. I carve my own path...sometimes I even get a bit lost..."
"Into the mountains alone? What? Are you training some ancient fighting art on the sly!"
"Geez, Takeshi. Why do you have to get like that?"
"Yeah, out fighting the black bears under the winter moon!"
"Nope. I hunt out hot springs that nobody knows about."
"Yeah, deep in the mountains, someplace no one else has ever been. Oh, now THAT is this girl's idea of romantic!"
You wriggled as if intoxicated by the image.
"Oh now I get it. You were soaking in the hot springs with a bear."
"No, no, no. Would you shut up about bears already!"
"Heh, heh... So, despite appearances, you're really wild at heart."
"Oh, what might you be suggesting? Oh, heh, heh. "
You drew herself up in an exaggerated fashion.
"Oh yeah, you talked about stitching up your own finger. I suppose that was also while you were out searching for hot springs?"
"Huh? Oh...yeah...I suppose. But it was just a surface scratch and I only needed a few stitches."
"Hmph. Just like I thoughtbear wrestling."
"Just give it up!"
You turned red-faced as she exploded.
"Wee, hee, hee..."
"Aaagghhh...I can't take this anymore."
You let out a sigh and turned away from me. I supposed she was fed up.
(Maybe I got a little carried away...?)
But You's face clouded over a bit.
(Teasing her could have gotten her THAT down...)
Just as I was thinking that, You avoided my eyes and muttered -
"Hey, Takeshi...? Umm, about Tsugumi..."
It seemed like she wanted to say something but she didn't know what to say.
"What's up? What is it?"
"Um, what I mean is, uh..."
Just then we heard the sounds of people running through the water toward us.
Splish, splash, splish, splash.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Hey Coco, you about ready to eat?"
"Yeah, all that running around's made me starved!"
That's right, I remembered she was the only one who hadn't eaten yet. I handed Coco the last chicken sandwich I had kept in the food warmer.
"Alright, time to eat!"
"Yay! Chow time!"
"Oh, this is yummy! Mmm. This blend of soy sauce, mayonnaise and fried chicken is perfect. Yum. Supreme...."
"Yeah, Kiddo. This is divine, isn't it?"
Coco shot the question to the Kid, who was standing in front of the store.
"Uh, yeah. Sure. But I'm getting a little tired of it."
A last bit of unfinished sandwich remained in his left hand.
"Really? Put some of this on, it'll be even better."
"Huh? What is that?"
"Here it comes, ooey-gooey."
Coco pulled out a tube she had hidden behind her back, held it over the Kid's sandwich and squeezed.
"What the heck is that?"
"Sour cream! It's supposed to be for salads. It was the last one at the gift shop."
The tube said: "Add some spice to your life" and "Crab-flavored cream sauce: mild."
But sour cream isnt spicy?
"That could really broaden your culinary horizons."
"Yep. Munch. Gobble..."
She doused her sandwich with the sour cream, opened her mouth wide and shoved it in.
"Delicious! It doesn't get any better than this!"
The kid looked at her doubtfully before taking a bite.
"This might be what it needed."
"I told you! Yummy, yummy!"
With that, both Coco and the Kid covered their sandwiches with cream before polishing them off.
Coco called to Takeshi while crumpling up her sandwich wrapping.
"What're we gonna do with Tsugumi's sandwich? How's about I hold onto it for her?"
I had made it for her and I had stuck it in the warmer to keep for her. But then again...
"Sorry Coco. Tsugumi's still asleep. She won't wake up for awhile, so..."
You gave Coco a pat on the head.
"Is that right?"
"Yep, I'll bet she's pretty tired. Let's let her sleep a bit longer."
"Okay then. So she can eat it later, after she wakes up."
"Let's save it for her. No snacking on it on either!"
Coco pointed to the sandwich nestled deep in the food warmer... So she'd noticed it.
"Alright. Roger that."
"Okay, time for some after meal exercise"
"Bow wow! Woof!"
"Hey, hold on. I wanna go too."
Splish, splash, splish...
Coco, the Kid and Pipi ran toward the rest area together. You and I watched them from behind.
"Oh, by the way, You... Is Tsugumi resting up?"
"Yeah, actually, I just stopped by the infirmary to check on her."
"How was she?"
"I'm not a medical expert or anything, so I can't say anything specific. But she seems to be recuperating. Satisfactory progress, I think."
"Maybe too satisfactory..."
"What do you mean by, 'too satisfactory?'"
"I really don't know how to put it..."
You suddenly stopped talking and let her head fall forward.
"Well, if her condition is stable, that's good isn't it? The operation went well, right?"
"What's up with you? Lose your confidence somewhere or something?"
"No, it's not that..."
"Hmmm...yeah, yeah. That's it!"
You lifted her head as if she had just realized something.
"Perhaps I've lost some of my confidence, but I know Tsugumi is recovering."
"Life force is an amazing thing, huh?"
"You know, humans don't die so easily."
I get the feeling that shes dodging the subject.
You smiled when she said that.
Four stone statues were lined up in one corner of the area.
I wondered if there were some kind of meaning to all of it.
It looked like Coco, the Kid and Pipi were running amongst the figures as they played.
"By the way, I wonder where Sora went..."
"Hey, you're right. Now that you mention it, Sora was here until just before we ate."
"Maybe she's still in the Control Room? It only happens once in a while, but sometimes she'll dive into LeMMIH's main console and not come out for quite a while."
"Seems like she get pretty caught up in her work..."
I wondered if that was that all it was.
"Well, I'll go check it out."
"Alright, you do that."
With that, she ran out a nearby exit and down the corridor. As for me, after a quick stretch I let my eyes follow Coco and the others. The same two people and one critter were circling about the stone statues. It seemed they were playing a game of chase, not really caring who was "it." Without seeming to get bored, they kept running around and around in the same place. On the other hand, I got restless watching them.
(Phew, what a sight...)
It looked kind of fun, but I didn't quite feel like asking to join in. I let my eyes roam around.
"Whoa! Sora, so that's where you were?"
After her unexplained disappearance, Sora was now standing next to a nearby flowerbed.
"Yes, I have been here for a little while. I've been looking at the flowers."
I looked around at the flowers. In the flowerbed, short roses, marigolds and marguerites were all planted together.
"Yeah, but they sure don't seem to be doing very well."
"I see what you mean."
Nobody had watered them for the past several days. The soil was dry, its surface cracked. The flowers had wilted and the plants were beginning to dry up.
Sora muttered to herself as she gazed at the flowers.
"A bud sprouts from a seed. A flower blossoms, reproduces, a seed matures and returns to the earth. From that seed comes another bud, another flower, which blossoms and reproduces, a new seed which in turn returns to the earth. And on and on just like that... What is the purpose of life? Why do flowers bloom?"
Uh-oh, shes getting philosophical on us.
I was unable to reply at once. Why, indeed, did flowers bloom?
"Whatever the reason or purpose, I think life is a wonderful thing. When I see a flower struggling to exist, growing from a crack in the concrete, I have a strange and wonderful feeling. Flowers are always striving desperately to live. Even in an environment such as this, in the depths of the ocean, without enough light or carbon dioxide... Even in such parched and cracked soil... They never even think of giving up, but just struggle courageously to live. Doesn't it inspire you? Or, maybe not. Maybe it's no use contemplating the meaning or purpose of flowers..."
Sora glanced up at the ceiling.I followed suit also looking up.
The shrill sound of a siren rang out loudly. Tiny sensors hidden in openings of the ceiling panels were moving wildly. Once again, I heard the sound of flowing water coming from somewhere.
"No way. It can't be another flood!"
Massive amounts of water rained down from the ceiling. The drops poured down upon us mercilessly. Soon after, we were suffused in a heavy mist...Sora's appearance changed to that of a rainbow.
"What in the world? Hey, Sora, what's going on?"
I tried to steady myself while asking. However, it seemed that a smile hovered about Sora's mouth.
I looked up again, checking the ceiling. The drops of water were everywhere.... I couldn't see much due to the fine mist.But....
"Oh, its sprinklers, huh!?"
Sora nodded without speaking.
I sipped water from my cupped hands, both tasting and testing it in my mouth. The water from the sprinklers was neither a liquid to extinguish fires nor seawater.
"Ah...this is filtered water!"
"Yes... This complex uses the purest possible water."
"That means... Perhaps its...meant for watering these flowers?"
Sora gave a small grin and laughed. She laughed but didn't answer... The ceiling was designed so the water sprayed down perfectly on the roses and other flowers below. Not long after that...
"Hey, what's going on over here?"
"Sora! There's an alarm, an alarm!"
"Sora, Takeshi...are you guys okay?"
Everyone came running over in a frenzy, splashing water with every step.
"Don't tell me there's another flood!?"
"No, no, no."
"So what is it? I mean...everything is totally soaked. Takepyon, you're drenched..."
"Don't worry about me."
The drops of water were still pouring down from the ceiling.
"Oh man, we ran over here as soon as we saw the warning on the monitor!! We were expecting a fire or something..."
"That's what I keep telling everyone- there's nothing to worry about. Uh, let me explain... Wait, first, You, could you put that away?"
She held a fire extinguisher in both hands as if braced to use it. She had pulled the safety pin and held out the nozzle, ready to spray at any instant's notice. It was a pretty clumsy looking attempt.
Sora smiled and gazed at the flowerbed.
"Uhhh... You don't suppose this was just a prank?"
"Uh, you know..."
Now it was my turn to smile.
"Yeah, I guess it was something like that... Over on that wall there's some kind of weird shaped and colored button... I thought 'What the heck does this do?' I couldn't help giving it a little push..."
When I said that, You tossed the fire extinguisher aside. Then she turned to hide her face to try to contain her laughter.
She balled up a fist and swung it in my direction.
"Listen here! You're not a kid, you know! Just who broke the group rules the other day, huh? What ARE you thinking?"
Hey, unmarked buttons are fun to push
You was poised to launch into a sermon. She rambled on, but the words didn't reach my ears. I was gazing in wonder at the flowers. The previously wilted and drooping flowers had, in such a short time, become full of life and seemed to be dancing about.
Oh. That day was relatively painless
Everyone was already fast asleep. Some were snoring. For us, the situation wasn't getting any better; but at least it wasn't getting any worse. It was better that we just sleep to prepare for what might come... If only I could...
"I can't sleep."
If anyone were awake they would see me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. How could I be so tired but not be able to sleep? I started wondering about my body.
I took a walk to get my mind off of things.
I saw the corridor was covered in water as I quietly slipped out of the room.
The ocean water flowing into the room was colder than usual, maybe because it was evening.
(Damn, now I'm even more awake...)
I continued down the road, my heavily soaked shoes weighing me down with each step...
I didn't encounter a soul as I walked down the corridor. Nobody had come to get us...but I decide not to let it get me down. We were still alive. We had survived up until now, and we would live for the foreseeable future. I thought to myself that anyone who had made it this far would survive.
(Yeah... We'll make it...)
As I nodded to myself, I turned a corner in the corridor.
It seemed like I had reached the end of the floor. I turned around and headed back along the passageway.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"...don't scare me like that, Sora."
I was surprised. For an instant I had stood there frozen. Because the moment Sora had appeared around that corner, she and I had been face-to-face. We were so close, it seemed like our noses overlapped. Realizing this, I took three steps backward. I could feel my heart pounding.
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to get so close to you."
Lies. You wouldnt be blushing if you hadnt meant it. <>
Sora's cheeks turned a soft red.
"Oh, did I look strange...? I..."
"No, no. Don't worry about it. You're beautiful, as always."
"Oh, well, thank you. It is just...I'm a little embarrassed."
Huh? I felt like I'd just blurted out something ridiculous...? But Sora had smiled when I said it, so maybe it was okay. I tried to calm myself down.
"Well, anyway. Everyone is still sound asleep, so I haven't told anyone but..."
As she said that her face suddenly changed.
"A little while ago, Tsugumi was tossing and turning in bed. So I dispatched the medical wagon to keep her still."
"Yes, I was surprised. She was seriously hurt, you know...And still..."
"Hey, she should wake up soon, don't you think?"
"Yes, I think she may soon regain consciousness..."
"Well, she shouldn't be tossing and turning like that. She'll reopen her wounds."
"Yes, actually that is why..."
"Hey! We can't let that happen! That's it. I'll go and check on her!"
I just left her standing there, calling after me.
I poked the button to open the door, but it seemed to take forever.
Tsugumi was, lying there on a bed in the back of the room. I walked slowly over to her... and sat down on the bed next to hers. I could hear a computer working over at the other end of the room, collecting data on her pulse and blood pressure. The data told us the most important thingshe was still alive.
Had she really turned in her sleep? Or would she continue to sleep like this...? At that moment, her fingers began to twitch.
Her eyes opened. I wondered what should I do? What I should say? Where to begin?
"Uhh.... Good morning..."
That was all I could say. I hadn't thought of what to say beyond that.
"...What time is it now?"
"I'm not sure..."
I pulled my PDA from my pocket and checked the time.
"It's May 4, 1:42 a.m."
Tsugumi appeared weak as she slightly moved her body.
"How are you feeling?"
"That's a stupid question..."
"I'm just asking. Tell me how you're feeling."
"Awful. My whole body...hurts. I feel terrible."
Tsugumi lifted her hand up to her face, opening and closing it slowly. She still couldn't move much.
"How's the injury? Does it hurt? You may still be under a bit of anesthesia."
"Hey... You didn't forget did you?"
Tsugumi' s eyes wandered about the room. To the ceiling... And the sheets... The the cast on her leg...
"Oh, right. I remember. I remember now. I..."
Tsugumi tried to get up, but, noticing the various IV cords snaking up her arm, she frowned. She was alive. She was injured, but still breathing. Her life had been saved, and for that I was grateful. But...it was my fault...I was the one who caused her injury...