Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 1, part 1 [English]

nakulas May 16th, 2013 12,686 Never
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  3. CHAPTER 1
  5. "This one's full of corpses."
  7. I was fed up with all of this. I sighed again, bringing today's total to who-knows-how-many.
  9. "I suppose the idea is that killing people off in all sorts of hideous ways will attract readers. Honestly, though, that sort of meaningless cruelty just strikes me as bad taste."
  11. "So, how do you want them to be killed off?"
  13. "As long as there's a clear relationship between the killer's actions and motives, anything's fine. I just can't stand those stories where everybody gets killed off on a whim or whatever."
  15. "I see," said Mitsuki.
  17. She was fed up, too. I wasn't sure whether her ire was directed at me and my views on literature, or at the person who wrote the narrative that was full of corpses. Either way, a pall descended over us. It wasn't showing any signs of leaving, either.
  19. "What a pain."
  21. I tossed the papers I had in hand on the table. Since they weren't bound together, a number of the papers slid off the table and gently fluttered to the ground. I didn't particularly care to pick them up.
  23. "Akihito, show some respect to that wastepaper. Our predecessors put their hearts and souls into it."
  25. "When you call it 'wastepaper', I can't bring myself to care a bit, no matter how many souls are in it."
  27. I let out a strained chuckle at Mitsuki's admonishment as I picked up the papers.
  29. Wednesday, April 11th - lunch break.
  31. That's the literature club for you.
  33. The club issued a quarterly magazine called "Lady of the Night". This year's spring issue would be our 200th, and in commemoration of that, we figured that we ought to do something special for this issue. We talked it over with the other club members and our staff advisor, and in the end, decided that we would make this issue a commemorative issue. As such, we would look through all our past issues - which meant we had to excavate them from the mountains of cardboard boxes laying around the club room - and select only the finest stories from them for inclusion.
  35. And that's how Mitsuki, the club president, and I, the vice-president, ended up hard at work selecting stories from our past issues.
  37. Unlike the regular classrooms, the literature club's room had long tables and folding chairs. Old copies of "Lady of the Night" and other papers occupied a good two tables' worth of space. I looked over a new set of papers. What an unproductive thing to be doing. Not just the act of having just two of us attempt to get a grasp on more than a thousand stories, though that was awful in and of itself. The fact of the matter was that some of the writings didn't even seem to flow logically and coherently. _That_ was unproductive. So, for the time being, I judged them on how well-organized they were, and on how good their prose was.  Everything else was a secondary concern. Incidentally, our club had three other members in it, too, but they were all weird in one way or another, so it didn't really matter whether or not they were there. ...Come to think of it, if they had been around, they might've actually slowed us down.
  39. "And here we have a mystery with slipshod sci-fi tricks everywhere and nary a criminal motive in sight."
  41. "If you got that much out of it, just toss it away."
  43. I sighed. Mitsuki cocked her head, dramatically.
  45. "I was under the impression that mysteries and young-adult novels were our best bet. Or do you mean to say that anything interesting goes? Even violent action stories and horror stories?"
  47. "Just use your discretion for that sort of stuff."
  49. "If you say so," said Mitsuki.
  51. Then, she handed me a stack of papers.
  53. "This one's a fairytale, but it's fairly interesting."
  55. "Oh? What's it called?"
  57. "Little Red Riding Hood Sans Hood"
  59. "Who the hell is she, then!?"
  61. I retorted reflexively. Little Red Riding Hood without her hood? The hood is her only distinguishing feature. Something must be wrong with her. Well, then again... depending on how you look at it, the lack of a hood might be a new distinguishing feature unto itself. Either way, I had just one thing to say.
  63. "Are you taking this seriously?"
  65. "I am. This is my first time selecting stories for 'Lady of the Night', though, so I haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet."
  67. Mitsuki suddenly looked serious.
  69. Oh... I get it. I shouldn't have said that. It's not like I was any better, anyway. Sure, we were judging the stories on the quality of their organization and prose, but our evaluation of those qualities was subjective to begin with. Those were awfully vague parameters. It was an impartial selection only in name. In all honesty, we were just picking out the stories we liked.
  71. "Sorry about that," I apologized.
  73. I had gone too far. After that, I stuffed my cheeks with my lunch: a cutlet sandwich from the school store. Of course, I still had to keep flipping through the papers with my free hand while I chewed. We should've realized how tough this would be when we realized that we wouldn't be able to get it all done during club hours after school.
  75. "Goodness. This ought to be recognized as a new form of torture," grumbled Mitsuki.
  77. Mitsuki tossed the issue of "Lady of the Night" she was working on onto the table. She leaned back in her chair and blankly stared at the ceiling.  As the laws of nature would have it, the way she bent against the back of the chair made the prominences on her chest even more prominent. My gaze was drawn to her. That was really something. I don't think I'll ever understand what some people see in flat chests. Then again, I don't understand why big boobs are the number-one priority for some people, either.
  79. "Hey, Akihito."
  81. Mitsuki slowly sat up straight and looked straight at me with her white eyes. It was like she was looking at a pile of dog crap on the side of the road. I knew I had to stand firm, then and there.
  83. "Yeah, what?" I replied.
  85. My gaze never left her chest. If I had looked away, she would surely have interpreted that as an admission of guilt. To avoid that, I had no choice but to keep on staring at her chest.
  87. "You're being lewd."
  89. "But I've been working so hard!"
  91. I drooped my shoulders in jest. It didn't seem like Mitsuki wanted to reprimand me any further.
  93. That said something about how close our relationship was.
  95. Nase Mitsuki. She was a second-year in high school. Her family owned quite a bit of land in the area. The first thing I should mention about her is the way she perpetually exudes elegance. She was the spitting image of a young lady from high society. Her pale skin was as smooth as china. She had big, round eyes and plump, rosy lips. Her sleek, lustrous, black hair fell to her hips. It was angelic. She was a beautiful girl, of the friend's-hot-big-sister type. Eventually, she was to be the heir to her family's empire; but for now, as a second-year in high school, she was the president of the literature club. There was a neverending flow of people knocking at the club room's door, all of them enchanted by Mitsuki's gorgeous figure and her voluptuous breasts.  I wasn't going to let those vagrants pollute our literature. As the fellow in charge of receiving visitors, I made sure to get those reprobates to leave with all due haste. I was a total gentleman about it, of course. You know what? Let me correct that. I firmly denied all comers to the club, using language that you wouldn't even hear out of a thuggish little middle-schooler.
  97. A complaint wafted forth from Mitsuki's beautiful lips: "...If only we had some new members, this would be a lot easier."
  99.  That was all thanks to this commemorative issue. If we hadn't decided to do that, we wouldn't have been wasting our time with this mountain of papers.
  101. "We promised not to talk about that, didn't we? We agreed that we'd get this done with just a few efficient people."
  103. "That's the problem. As of now, we're just 'few'; not 'efficient'."
  105. I was at a loss for words.
  107. That was all I had going for me: efficiency. And now I don't even have that? What a cruel way of putting it. Just then, the alarm I had set on my phone went off. I pulled my phone out and shut the alarm off. I didn't want to make a huge deal out of it, but I knew that I had to leave the club room.
  109. "I'll be right back."
  111. "You're dumping all this work on me?"
  113. Mitsuki looked up from her papers and glared at me, with her eyes narrowed. As I stood up, I replied.
  115. "Of course not. I'll catch up after school."
  117. "I don't want your excuses. Tell me why you need to leave," she demanded.
  119. She had a fearsome look on her face.  I wasn't going to be able to get out of this one scot-free with a joke or two. Seeing as I had no other choice, I devised a desperate excuse.
  121. "Well, it's a natural-ish phenomenon. You know, _that_."
  123. "...What do you mean 'ish'? Besides, if you experience 'natural phenomena' whenever an alarm goes off, you should really get that checked out."
  125. What a mess.
  127. Well, she wasn't wrong. Even Pavlov's dogs would be surprised if I were really conditioned to experience a 'natural phenomenon' whenever an alarm went off. By the way - Pavlov's dogs were given food whenever a bell rang. Then, whenever the bell rang, the dogs would start slobbering even if there wasn't any food. Such was life at the Pavlov residence.
  129. Well, whatever. That's not the point. As things stood, I didn't have the luxury to pick and choose my excuses. I had to get out of the club room and away from Mitsuki as quickly as possible.
  131. "Either way, I'm about to burst, so I'm heading out. You don't want to see me have an accident, do you?"
  133. "......"
  135. It goes without saying that I felt a contemptuous gaze from behind me. That was fine. Just a few seconds later, I became certain that I had made the right decision. For, you see, the moment I stepped out of the club room, I felt someone else staring at me from somewhere. It's a good thing I had put some distance between me and Mitsuki. For the time being, I decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. I started meandering in the general direction of the restroom.  I was sure I was being followed. I checked my surroundings, stretching as I did so, so as to avoid tipping off my pursuer.
  137. I glimpsed a small girl hiding in the shadows of the stairwell. She was staring at me. I think that she thought she had hidden herself from me. If so, she was underestimating my spidey-sense. I suspected that she had gotten herself new red-rimmed glasses on account of entering high school. It was those red-rimmed glasses that tipped me off. She thought she could hide from me - I, who can identify anyone by their glasses! A terrible mistake on her part.
  139. Well, anyway.
  141. Let me be totally honest. Ever since that day, Kuriyama Mirai has been stalking me. It's kind of like that one urban legend.  You know, "The call is coming from inside the house!" Granted, we weren't so close as to be calling one another, but after three days of her shenanigans, I guess I got used to her, or maybe just mentally prepared for her.
  143. "What a pain," I muttered.
  145. I started walking again, acting as if nothing had happened. After a little while, I had a feeling that I was about to be sneak-attacked, so I spun around. I guess her reflex mustn't have been fast enough. Half of her body was sticking out from behind one of the columns in the hallway. Geez. She _really_ looked suspicious. Even more frighteningly, she didn't even try to re-hide herself more carefully. She just stood there, stock-still.
  147. "Well, that sure must have been my imagination," I loudly said to myself.
  149. I kept on walking down the hall. A little while later, I turned around again, only to find her standing there motionless, with both hands against the wall. Frankly, her entire body was on view. She was looking straight at me, her eyes unmoving, much like a wax effigy. She was so bad at this, it was terrifying. From my point of view, a girl who looks good in glasses looks quadratically cuter than a girl who doesn't. And she still managed to inspire fear in me... that must be the work of the devil.
  151. I walked a bit farther down the hall and turned around again. She had stopped with one foot in the air. Don't tell me that she thinks I can only see moving objects. What am I, a frog? This time, I posed as though I was going to start walking again, but instead looked over my shoulder. She was standing there in a forward-leaning pose. And she was still as stationary as a statue. Holycrapholycrapholycrap. Are we playing Red Light Green Light now?!
  153. Is this a test? Is she trying to see how long I can go without commenting on her!?
  155. "......"
  157. A minute passed with our eyes locked on one another. I couldn't figure out what the hell she was thinking. Anyway, the point of the matter is that she was at point blank range. If I were to affront her, this whole situation would end up the same way as it did on the roof the other day. Bad End.  Much as I would've liked to consider the school building a safe place during school hours, I simply couldn't. Not after having seen all of the bizarre things she'd done over the past few days.
  159. I glanced away from her, so as to make my way to a place with fewer people. And then.
  161. She threw open the door of a nearby supply closet and leapt into it to hide. She must've gotten her foot caught in a bucket or something, judging from the awful clatter that followed.  She fell back into the hall, covered in brooms and mops and things of that ilk.  In a situation like that, your typical adolescent male might try to look up her skirt. I, on the other hand, would not. No, I was far more concerned about her red-rimmed glasses - had they fallen off? Did something fall on them and break them?  Seeing that they were unharmed, I felt a kind of subtle delight slowly welling up within me. That was no time to be laughing out of relief, of course. I knew that she didn't want to hear me say it, but I said it anyway.
  163. "Are you okay?"
  165. She slowly lifted her upper body off the ground.
  167. As she adjusted her glasses, she replied, "Oh, Kanbara. What a coincidence."
  169. "Coincidence, my foot! If 'it was a coincidence' was a good enough explanation of why you just fell out of a supply closet, 'What a coincidence!' would be the motto of trespassers everywhere!"
  171. "This is unpleasant."
  173. She scorned my clever reply yet again. Using a lens-cleaning cloth, she wiped the smudges off her glasses. Cleaning your glasses at a time like this? That takes serious guts.  I stood there silently for a while, watching her silently clean her glasses. It didn't look like she was going to be done any time soon. Somehow, I ended up realizing what she was up to.
  175. I prodded at her: "I don't think you'll find any good excuses hidden in those glasses."
  177. "W-w-w-w-w-what? I w-wasn't looking for an e-e-excuse."
  179. "Just look at you! You look as shifty as anything!"
  181. "Because you confubbled me!" she pouted.
  183. She was playing the victim now. I had no idea why she was mad at me. I must say, though, a girl in glasses looking sullen makes for a pretty picture.  While those thoughts were running through my head, she cocked her head.
  185. "Are you listening to what I'm saying?" asked she.
  187. "Yeah, yeah, I am. The hidden potential of glasses and all that, right?"
  189. "I never said anything about that! I was talking about whether or not I should think up a good excuse!"
  191. "Oh... right. So, have you come up with anything good?"
  193. "U-u-um. S-s-s-see you l-later!"
  195. And with that, she ran off like the wind. I saw her off with a snigger. Sure, she acts like a stooge, but once you get to know her, she's pretty cute. I was about to head back to the clubroom, when I noticed the entrails of the supply closet out of the corner of my eye. Seeing as the culprit had already escaped, it devolved upon me to clean up her mess. I sighed mightily. The hallway was empty, so no-one heard me.
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