Part 130: My Mission
This aged doctor was Nanjo's son, but the atmosphere about him was very different.
Nanjo's son said that very indifferently.
"...After the accident on that island was taken up by the broadcasts in a most indiscreet manner, even my father, who was Mr. Ushiromiya's doctor and friend, was focused upon by many with a wholly regrettable interest. All of it was without proof, and they even managed to defile all of my father's previous achievements. I still feel a great deal of resentment because of that."
"True. My apologies."
The doctor finally remembered that Ange was also a victim who had been exposed to the same curious eyes as he had been.
"In that case, you can probably understand why I don't want to have anything to do with that incident. That was an unfortunate accident. The only ones who want to make a fuss about it being a crime are those irresponsible TV shows and magazines. I am more than fed up with their attitude."
...Nanjo had been bathed with attention for being one of Ushiromiya Kinzo's few friends. Because of that, there was probably an aggressive and persistent rush among the Witch Hunters and the press to use Nanjo's son as well, a surviving relative, as a source of information. The doctor went on and on, criticizing the press indignantly.
"I really understand how you feel. For a person like me, who was observed even in her personal life, and whose privacy, likeness, and even human rights might have been violated, it's really easy to pick up on the anger of someone in your position."
"...And for that very reason, I want to know, more than anything else, what in the world happened in the incident that so thoroughly ruined my life. So I came here. I'm a related party just like you. Not a magazine columnist or an interviewer. Please, don't get the wrong idea."
"I didn't come to do this for fun. Quit looking down on me. If we're gonna argue over whose life was most screwed up by that incident, you're no match for me."
Ange spoke sharply. The doctor, who hadn't imagined that he would be talked back to in such a forceful manner, couldn't help but fall silent. From Ange's perspective, the doctor really was whining over nothing. She really didn't want to be looked down upon. It was about time to let him understand how many days had passed for her before arriving on this island.
The doctor realized that he'd said something wrong and remained silent for a while, looking uncomfortable.
"I visited here today to bring some resolution to my life. I'm 18. That incident took away 12 years of my life. And it'll probably keep on taking. Since that day when I was six years old, I've remained shut away in darkness. Are you saying that despite that, I still don't have a right to know...?"
"...No, how rude of me. It seems that since all the others who came were ill-natured folk, I instinctively put up my guard. I apologize for my rudeness. I understand. If you'll swear not to breathe a word of this to anyone, I'll tell you everything."
"Thanks, Doctor. Then if you would. Please tell me anything you can."
"Just how close were they?"
"Very close, it seems. It seems that their connection through chess led my father to stay at Mr. Ushiromiya's mansion quite often. Although I may not be one to talk, Mr. Ushiromiya was extremely moody. And my father was an exceedingly magnanimous man, who excelled at interacting with humans like him. It's not hard to imagine that he was a rare friend for the isolated Mr. Ushiromiya."
"That day was the day of the family conference. At the Ushiromiya family conference, the inheritance and how it would be distributed were rigorously discussed, making it almost like a financial conference. Which means Doctor Nanjo must have gained a trust so great that he was asked to attend even that, right...?"
"He was most likely called there to assist with Mr. Ushiromiya's health, because it was not at its best at the time. As Kinzo's close friend, I'm sure my father would have kept his mouth shut, and that he was trusted not to leak the secrets of the family conference."
"...Wasn't Ushiromiya Kinzo in very bad health at the time? Were there any medical charts left behind?"
"Perhaps he brought the medical charts with him on the day of the accident. I'm afraid to say that the entire folder of Mr. Ushiromiya's medical charts has been lost. He was my father's patient, so I do not know the details."
"Around the time of the incident, did anything strange happen?"
"...Yes, there was one thing. However, it seems exceedingly likely to invite misunderstandings, so I very much do not wish to discuss it."
"...What is it? Please tell me."
For a while, the doctor beat around the bush, but after saying that much, he wouldn't be able to fool Ange by dodging the subject. He eventually gave in, and after making Ange swear herself to secrecy again, told her...
"It was very curious. The sender was made out to be me, but I had no memory of it. Someone had faked my name and sent it. The destination was Rebun Island in Hokkaido. Excluding the Northern Territories, it is at the northernmost tip of Japan. The recipient was apparently a residence on Rebun Island, but... the name was my father's. However, it seemed that there was a problem with the destination address, so it was stamped as Address Unknown... and returned to the sender, 'me'."
It was... truly a strange tale. Nanjo's son's name was written as the sender. However, he said that he hadn't mailed the letter. In short, that meant someone had faked his name and sent it. The destination was 'Nanjo Terumasa', on Hokkaido's Rebun Island. But the lot number written on it didn't exist, so the local post office had been unable to deliver it and instead sent it back to 'the sender, Nanjo's son'...
"...What was inside?"
"...I do ask that you keep silent about this. It is extremely troublesome to me as well. And even so, I cannot throw it away..."
The doctor stood up and faced a bookshelf. There was packed a group of dictionaries that could only have been ornamental, meant to make it very clear that the owner was an intellectual. When he pulled several volumes out from there, a large, brown envelope peeked out from behind them. He took that out and tossed it onto the desk. It had been been carefully sealed with cellophane tape, and its faded color and dryness made it clear that it had been sealed 12 years ago...
"I ask most solemnly for your silence on this matter."
Being so persistent that it was annoying, the doctor removed the seal with a paper knife. Then, when he tilted the envelope, an already opened mail envelope spilled out. The envelope had a weight to it, hinting that there was something other than a letter inside.
Following that incident, Nanjo's corpse had not been found, and he had eventually been treated as dead after going missing under extraordinary circumstances. And despite that, this letter addressed to a Nanjo in Hokkaido existed. One could almost take this as a sign that he had faked his own death and escaped to Hokkaido.
"...Was Doctor Nanjo really in Hokkaido? Or else, was there another person with the same first and last names in Hokkaido?"
"If my father had somehow escaped from the accident and lived on in Hokkaido, that would have made us of his family very happy, regardless of the circumstances. I also thought of that possibility at first. However, the envelope's destination address does not exist. In short, this envelope was mail that had no way of reaching him."
"...Is there a possibility that the sender miswrote the correct address?"
"Of course, I cannot deny it. However, judging from the residence's house number, I find that hard to believe."
Up until Rebun City, it's fine. But I just couldn't wipe away the feeling that the sequential number after it, 1234567, was a little insincere. It felt like a fake number that some kid had made up.
"They probably wrote a nonsense number that clearly didn't exist. I think it's natural to assume that, from the very beginning, this envelope was sent to a nonexistent residence to which it had no chance of being delivered."
If the destination address doesn't exist, mail is generally returned to the sender. But even in the case of an incomplete address, the local post office will often courteously, and to the best of its ability, research to find whether the sender's intended destination exists. When they still can't find it, the mail is sometimes returned after an investigation of several days. It seemed that the same thing had happened with this envelope, and the stamp was postmarked on October 3.
It was postmarked on Niijima. Niijima was a long way away from Rebun Island. On top of that, the destination was also nonsensical. It had taken more than a week for the mail to be returned.
Why do something like that...? Even before asking what it was that had been sent, this envelope was already wrapped in mystery...
"...And inside it?"
After getting the doctor's permission, I tilted the already opened envelope. From the inside came a small, folded letter, and a small key with a number plate attached. Then, a magnetic card slid out. A112 was engraved on the key's number plate. I didn't know what it meant.
The magnetic card was pitch black and had gold characters engraved in it. 'Members' was written in English. The jet-black, gold-lettered card design made it feel like something very high-class. But of course, I didn't have a clue what kind of card it was just from that.
...I unfolded the letter. Its contents were extremely brief, and only the following was written:
Also written was the name of a certain massive bank known throughout Japan, as well as the words 'Central Branch'. That was all.
"And this is...?"
"...It's a card, a key, and a PIN for a safe-deposit box. And it wasn't a normal safe-deposit box either. It was an unsettling one, which was apparently reserved only for special clients."
After he finished putting his affairs in order following his father's funeral, he had visited the bank. PIN and key and card. There was no doubt that something of great importance was kept there, and he had been naturally curious about what it might be.
At first, he hadn't known what to do. The card wasn't something he'd owned in the first place. When he mustered up his courage and showed the card to a bank clerk, he was then switched to a clerk of clearly high status... and was guided to a large vault on the fourth basement.
The security on the way there was strict. The doctor had himself stored valuable items such as real estate transcripts in safe-deposit boxes before, but this was something on a whole different level...
"...But, anyway, I was frightened at how imposing that secure vault was. And I wondered what kind of shady objects might await me that had to be stored in a place like this."
"When I passed the card through the reader, I was asked to input the PIN. And, after that eight-digit number was input and authenticated, I was permitted access to the vault. It was an incredible scene. A world like something from a sci-fi movie. The massive, dimly-lit silver room was covered with doors to safes."
He had entered that room along with the clerk. It seems that as soon as the card was read, the vaults he had a right to were determined, so that safes he could open were lit with a green light, while those he couldn't open were lit with a red one.
"A112 was one of those safes that were marked... By the way, there were several other safes marked with a green lamp besides that one. I think there were at least 20. There might even have been more in the other corner. In any event, I only had the key to A112. I had no way of checking the contents of the other safes."
As the clerk watched, the doctor had unlocked and opened the safe. When he did, a safe drawer like a large cabinet had opened, and an expensive-looking duralumin case peeked out... That was carried into a separate room, where for the first time, the clerk left, and he was introduced to the contents...
"And the contents were...?"
"Cash? How much?"
"I have heard that a pack of one million yen in fresh banknotes is precisely one centimeter thick. Since those were packed tightly into a duralumin case of such a size, there was probably 100 million in total. I don't know, because I didn't count. I didn't even touch it with my hands. I realized at once. This was dangerous money."
It isn't normal to store a whole hundred million yen in cash in a case in a safe like that. It's much easier to deal with if you put it into an account and turn it into numbers. When someone is unable to do that, then it's clear that there's something wrong with that cash...
"So, you didn't use it at all?"
"Correct. I locked it back up just as I'd found it, returned it to the original safe, and left. I have thought about throwing away that key and card, but I don't know what will happen. For that reason, I have been hiding it in the back of this bookcase for a full 12 years. I still do not know what kind of money that was."
"...Could I borrow this envelope?"
"No. Please just view it here."
" ...Understood. Then, if you'll excuse me. There's something I want to investigate."
...Then I opened to the page with the paragraph Beatrice had written to Onee-chan...and compared the handwriting on both...
But, what is it...? Something's bugging me... What is it...? What could it be...?
The same envelope and contents had been sent to Kumasawa's son, who had once lived with her. But he had been very busy in the days since, and seemed to have forgotten about it while running around all over the place. However, its strange contents had apparently stayed in his memory, and he remembered as soon as Ange mentioned it to him... After a bit of a wait, his thin-lipped wife found the envelope, complaining that he always forgot where he put things right away...
The modus operandi for the sender and recipient was the same as Nanjo's son's. The sender was made out to be Kumasawa's son, and the recipient was Kumasawa Chiyo. And the destination address was in the Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawa Prefecture, Yaeyama County, Yonaguni City, 1-2-34-567. Yonaguni Island was at the western-most tip of Japan. And the lot name was the exact same sequential number that had apparently been chosen without much care.
...Now it was certain. This envelope was definitely sent with the goal of having it be returned to the sender. Its contents were exactly the same. A letter with the PIN and the bank's main branch written on it. A magnetic card. A key with an attached number plate. The inscription on the number plate was A113. The number right after the one on the key that had been sent to Nanjo.
Most likely, inside the vault was the same kind of duralumin case, packed with a hundred million yen in cash...
"...So, you know what this is, girl? Could it be that the same kind of thing came to your place...?"
'Uryu, is it a headache? A headache...?!'
"...Sorry, my head hurts... I've got it... I know..."
'What do you mean, you know...?'
"You don't mean... this envelope... came to your place too, Ange-sama...?"
...I've remembered... I've remembered...!!