Part 30: Takeshi - Fourth Day - Part 3TrackDrittestock
Sora was bewildered by the sudden sensor trouble. It was taking her a few minutes longer than usual to finish the bio scan.
"Sora wasn't able to see us, and sometimes we couldn't see her, so... Does that mean the ceiling sensors from the bed, over to the elevator are all temporarily broken?"
"Yeah. That's what's affecting Sora."
"So she left through the emergency corridor."
"Yeah. But she was kind enough to leave candles burning for us."
When we had found the emergency flares in the elevator, I was completely shocked. She wanted to keep us away that badly?
"Sorry to keep you waiting. I have the results of the bio scan."
After a delay, Sora appeared in the door of the infirmary.
"And where has Tsugumi hobbled off to?"
She couldn't have gone far...in any case, we would find her, and when we did, we would figure everything out.
"An EI has gone down to Dritte stock. Tsugumi is slowly moving past the isolated sector."
"EI..? Oh, the neutral buoyancy elevator! If we call it, EI will come to us, right?"
"Okay, I'll run over there."
"What? Hold on, Takeshi... You can only enter and exit that sector using EI, so if you just wait a little..."
"We can't just let her be! What if her injury gets worse!? And besides, I want to hear a good explanation for why she ran off like this!"
I left them there and ran out. The buoyancy elevator was right nearby.
The lamp lit up, letting me know that it was working normally.
The doors shut quickly and it started going down.
(If she doesn't use EI, she can't get up here... Until I get there, she definitely can't leave the sector... Alright... Watch out Tsugumi, because here I come!!)
I cracked my knuckles.
Did she really mean to kill herself...? Was she actually trying...? Then maybe I should just let her.
I wanted to give her a piece of my mind first!!
I hoped she would just stay alive long enough for me tell her all that I wanted to say...
The stale air of the isolated sector on the third floor flowed into my lungs. Next to the elevator I had ridden in, another elevator was still stopped. An elevator with a hole blasted in it... You couldn't even smell the stench of acetone anymore. I walked toward the end of the hallway, marshalling my wits.
I realized that there was a room on the left side of the corridor that I hadn't seen during the power outage. Thinking to explore a little, I set my foot inside.
It said 'Cosmic Whale' on the entrance. Apparently that was the name of this attraction. I couldn't tell from a quick glance exactly what the attraction was. A whale floating in empty space. The whole scene was surreal. Was there an explanation written somewhere...?
(...Wait, I don't have time to waste like this...)
After making sure that Tsugumi wasn't there, I left through a different door.
The door said 'Kraftwerk.' I pushed open the door and stepped inside.
For better or for worse, in LeMU we didn't have to worry about the electricity. I looked around, but there was no trace of Tsugumi.
It was impossible to go beyond it... The only door left was the room on the right. I decided to go in there.
There was no sign on the door, but I supposed it would be called something like a 'pressure regulation room,' or something. I assumed that the pipes must be connected to the boilers and turbines in the Generator Room. Come to think of it, Tsugumi had done the repairs in there... I remembered her closing a valve right with her tools spread around her...
She was there. Leaning in just like the time before. She didn't have any tools. She wasn't closing off a valve. Instead, craning her neck, she seemed to be looking over at the other side of the pipes.
"Hey, Tsugumi... What are you doing here?"
I pretended to be calm. It wouldn't do to lose my temper right off the bat. I suppressed the urge to shout. She was injured, after all...
She stood up slowly and looked my way.
"You looking for something?"
"No, not really."
She stepped back as if she were keeping watch over me. I could tell that she was agitated... She hadn't expected to see me. Her gaze didn't fix on anything... Her eyes kept flitting to the pipes behind her. Her gaze... It bothered me...
"What's behind you?"
"...N....nothing... There's nothing behind me."
I casually tried to angle around so that I could see the pipes behind her.
"Don't come near me... Don't get close..."
What? She changed position. She didn't want me to go behind her.
She had taken another step back and knocked something off.
Clang, clang, plunk...
Along with a small splash of water, several screws or nuts fell into the crevice between ducts.
She quietly looked around. Favoring her right leg, she slowly turned... With her back to me, she looked further back into the room. Then took a relieved, if amazed, breath...
(What was going on?)
Then pushing me aside, she tried to head out of the room.
"...Move, you're in my way."
"Don't bother me..."
Dragging her right leg, she tried to leave.
I put my hands on her shoulders. But she shook them right off.
"Don't you touch me!"
She glared at me, without trying to hide her annoyance.
"I said you were in my way! Leave me alone! Why are you following me?"
She spat the words out all at once. But I didn't let up and fired a question back at her.
"What are you doing here? Are you looking for something? Or are you finishing up some repairs?"
"You won't answer stupid questions, is that it?"
"What are you doing here, yourself? I'm free to do what I want, where I want."
She was trying to make a wall of words.
I shot back, trying to make a crack in the wall that she had up.
"I came here on my own. I left the others. Because I heard that you came here on your own."
"Why...would you do that...?"
"Because my hurt friend suddenly went missing that's why! Of course I came looking for you!"
Her expression grew more and more severe.
"I didn't ask you to come, and there's no reason for you to be here. I'm not like the others. So don't treat me like one of your gang."
"Tsugumi! Cut it out!"
I snapped. I clenched my fist. Then I shoved it in her face. But I stopped it just in front of her nose...
She didn't even flinch.
"Agh... Believe me, I don't want to be friends with someone like you. But we don't have a choice. We all want to get out of here! Don't you want to get out of here as soon as possible? As long as we're in the same boat, we're friends. In Japan, people with the same goal are called friends..."
"Friends, friends, friends, friends... There you go again just saying that."
"That kind of tired, hypocritical crap makes me sick."
Tsugumi's voice stayed completely cool. There was no place for my raised fist to go.
"And one more thing. Weren't you listening to me yesterday?"
"I don't want to escape. So I'm not your 'friend'."
"I don't care if you are from Germany, America or Japan. Got it?"
I lowered my hand. I couldn't say anything. Giving me a glance, she moved toward the door dragging her foot. She was moving awkwardly... Still dragging her left foot...
Did I say, LEFT foot!?
Yes, but I think you left out a few !?s there.
"Whoah, whoah, whoah! Wait a second!"
I yelled with all my might.
"What! I said don't talk to me!"
She turned around forcefully.
"Your foot... Is it all right?"
"The leg you hurt the other day...was your right leg, wasn't it?"
Her face stiffened. Her eyes flicked away. She averted her gaze. She stood rock still. What was... going on?
"Let me see."
I grabbed the hem of her skirt. And without hesitating yanked it up.
An immediate, brutal slap...
Tsugumi took off running. The sound of her footfalls grew faint. As did her shadow, disappearing down the hallway. What was left was me, stunned.
She had hammered my cheek. I might have broken teeth. I might have a nosebleed. She hit me so hard my brain rattled. But I didn't feel any pain...
(Compound fracture of the right thighbone. Injuries requiring 40 stitchesAnd she could run a day later???)
Sora greeted me as I stepped out of the elevator into Zweite stock.
"Takeshi - your face is swollen?"
"Yeah, I know."
I left the room holding it.
"It seems that Tsugumi will come back to this floor in a little while. But..."
"But if we do find her, try not to get mad or yell at her."
"For a little while, I think it is best if we let her do as she wants."
I pressed the compress to my cheek. It started to hurt right about the time I had forgotten about it...
"Don't you think she might be quite nervous right now? She's thinking about things... She's pondering all sorts of things in her heart... Everyone's words will fall on deaf ears... She's not able yet to just listen. Of course..."
"You're worried about her injuries, but for a little while, let's leave her alone. If she is in any serious danger, I will let you know right away. So for just a little while....please, Takeshi."
I nodded assent to Sora's earnest request.
My footsteps echoed quietly.
"I don't think it is an accident that she came to be here."
Sora continued speaking right next to me.
"Not an accident?"
"I do not know the details. This is the first time for me to encounter a case like her's. I don't have any data for this... But it seems to me that she has her reasons. Reasons that are difficult to explain... Something that is hard for others to understand... Something that compelled her to act even if it made her injuries worse... That's what I feel."
"Earlier, You was saying the same thing."
"Yes... That we shouldn't probe. That until she wants to tell us, we shouldn't press for information..."
Maybe I had gotten a little too close to her boundaries. Boundaries she didn't want invaded. Whatever feelings and reasons she didn't want us to know about. Was that why I was warned, harassed and pummeled...? If I thought about it that way, it made more sense.
"Well...maybe so. Maybe I came down too hard..."
In the end, I hung around in LeMU by myself and just killed some time. I didn't see Tsugumi during that time. I decided to have an early dinner... You, Coco and the Kid had finished their meal and moved to the rest area, where they were relaxing and letting their food digest.
I had almost finished tidying up the kiosk.
"Hee hee hee...!"
I pulled out the object I had secretly hidden behind the warmer. Actually, there had been one sausage left at the back of the refrigerator. There were no hot dog buns, so I stuffed the sausage into a bread roll. I slapped on the ketchup and mustard and took a big bite.
"Mmm...mm...this is so good...!"
My mouth filled with the juicy flavor as I bit down.
"Mmmm....meat..... mmm... yum...."
Fried chicken sandwiches were good, but not every meal, every single day. I hid in the back of the kiosk and devoured the sausage.
"Oh, Takeshi, there you are."
Surprised by Coco's voice, I choked on a piece of sausage. Coco appeared in front of me.
"Takeshi? Are you all right?"
"-------------------agh!! A, ahgh...*cough* *cough*..."
Blinking and struggling, I finally managed to swallow the chunk of meat. I swallowed the rest of the sausage in one bite to remove the evidence. I struggled to control my breathing.
"Not a word about what you just saw, okay?"
"Um, okay sure, but... Takepyon, you didn't eat your sandwich before."
"Oh, I see. You were saving it to eat later?"
"Ah, yeah. That's it."
"That was all? Oh, good. I was worried about you. I thought you'd lost your appetite."
"No, I'm fine. I ate."
I scratched my head.
(Sorry, Coco...I was selfishly eating a sausage all by myself. Please forgive me....)
Inside, I apologized silently to her.
Oh, that reminds me... Takepyon. Takepyon! I talked to Sora. And guess what? Sora said she spoke to Tsugumi."
Surprised, I blinked.
"She spoke to Tsugumi?"
"Yeah. When she went back to the infirmary."
"And when Tsugumi ran into Sora in the infirmary."
"She apologized for going all crazy and smashing the stuff. She even cleaned up the mess."
"Yup. That's what I heard."
I was surprised. No, I was really surprised.
"What else? Did you hear anything else?"
"Anything else? Umm.....well... Sora said Tsugumi was asking questions and stuff."
"Yeah, she asked her a really silly question."
"A strange...question? What'd she ask?"
"Um, what was it?... Oh, yeah!"
"'What do you know about my past?'"
"Or something like that...."
"Sora said she didn't know anything. I guess Tsugumi was satisfied."
"Is that it?"
"Yup, that's it."
"Come to think about it, that is kind of a silly question."
Yes...it was very weird.
"Coco, where's Tsugumi now?"
I said this trying to restrain my sense of urgency.
"I think she's still in the infirmary. She went to bed. At least that's what Sora said."
"Bed? She went back to the infirmary and went to bed?"
"Yeah, I think."
"Are you sure? Is that where she is now?"
"Probably, huh... All right, then. I think I'll go and check on her."
"What is it? What, Coco? Is there something on my face?"
For some reason, Coco was staring at my face. She laughed quietly.
"You like Tsugumi, don't you?"
"...Huh? Y-you gotta be kidding me! There's no way!"
"Really? I wonder?"
"It seems to me like it's written aaAAaall over your face."
Flustered, I rubbed at my face. Nothing came off on my hands. At least nobody had been writing on my face again... Coco, watching me, had a smile as bright as the sun.
I hope she's resting properly...
"Heeey, Tsugumi, can I come in?"
I spoke into the intercom and opened the door.
All the smashed equipment had been tidied up. Sure enough...
"Oh, you really are in bed! I don't believe it!"
"What? Could you keep it down....?"
Her voice was normal.
"Am I not supposed to here or something?"
"No! No, not at all! I was just surprised, that's all."
"Um, yeah, surprised. You came back."
"Yeah...well.... I had to come back from that sector. There was nowhere to go."
"Hey, that's not what I.... Ah, no, never mind. Anyway, I'm glad you're back."
"Yeah. Glad. Relieved?"
Tsugumi looked at me intently.
"My head hurts a little. Noise makes it worse."
"Oh? Yeah, I'm sorry. Hey, you hungry?"
"You want me to make you a sandwich?"
"Okay. I'll go get you one. Wait right here. I'll be back soon, okay? So don't move."
I tried not to make any noise as I left.