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Hyouka - Volume 3 - Chapter 4

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4 Yet Another Sleepless Night[edit]

044 - ♥10

One must not say that one is tired, as that means passing on one's responsibilities to someone else, or so I'm told. If you are feeling tired, then you should say you need to take a rest, and then continue whatever it is you're doing once you've rested enough.

That was what my kind grandmother had taught me.

No, I should not use past tense. My grandmother is still alive and well.

I've never forgotten this piece of advice. But I guess it's fine since I'm whispering to myself alone in my room at night. Right now, I'm feeling a bit tired.

I've entrusted Irisu-san with helping us sell copies of the anthology, and I've also managed to have the Wall Newspaper Club give the Classics Club a mention in their report. So while it was not in vain, for some reason I felt weighed down by something upon returning to the club room.

I am not the type of person to be lethargic. While I'm not exactly a sporty person, I do have an above average record when it comes to running long distances. And for these last two days I've been walking all over the school grounds, so this was not the reason for my tiredness.

How should I say this... I don't become this tired when taking care of my own problems, but this time, I'm feeling a bit tired just handling this all on my own. During this Cultural Festival, I've been asking other people to help out with our problem, enlisting the help of the Executive Committee, the Wall Newspaper Club and Irisu-san.

I became extremely mindful of the ’’Juumoji’’ incident. While I'm curious about how he carries out his theft, I'm also curious as to why he does it as well. Thinking about this, my body becomes so restless that I can't stay in one spot or stand still.

However, after taking a deep breath and thinking as the president of the Classics Club, I just couldn't view other people as objects to be used, and I couldn't treat making requests to other people as some kind of strategy to be utilized.

It's quite unimaginable, to think I could act in such an unconcerned manner.

No, I mustn't become timid. Hasn't Oreki-san been doing his best to help out? We have yet to increase the sales of the anthology.

I must go around making more requests tomorrow. I don't dislike doing such a thing, as it's something I must do, but...

I guess I'm just feeling a little bit tired.

045 - ♦10

I had wanted to go to sleep earlier tonight, but I just couldn't for some reason. So I took out a book from the bookshelf, which was my other treasure, Body Talk.

As I couldn't read Ashes at Dusk since it's not with me, perhaps I may have deified it a bit. For the other that got left behind, Body Talk was actually quite interesting once I began reading it. I should be getting ready to sleep, yet right now my brain's completely invigorated.

Its genre could be classified as slapstick. The protagonist is a young man who is unable to speak due to his deafness, but is able to convey his thoughts telepathically via touching. As he is also able to read other people's thoughts by touching, he is often seen as a troublemaker. Though it discarded realism in favour of an interesting story, the troubles the protagonist encountered still made sense. To put it briefly, there were aliens and zombies. No matter how much destruction was wreaked, a short anthropomorphic cat would appear in a blank panel, signalling the end of the scene in the next page. As a result, the tempo was quite quick, which was unheard of in commercial works. It was more like a comic strip than other mangas. In the end, placing the book on my pillow, I rested on my futon and read it till the end.

By the way, this cat, a Gourdski-like gag character[1], would often appear in all sorts of acrobatic stances at the corners of various panels for no reason whatsoever. It was probably the author's surrogate character. Despite standing upright, it wore no clothes except for a pair of baggy boots. A puss in boots, essentially.

Despite having a silly plot with a communication discord, it had quite a deep meaning as well. All the characters, including the protagonist, were all acting in self-interest, as they're frequently seeking a favourable outcome for themselves. Yes, this is a good work. But if I were to think of presenting this to Kouchi-sempai, then I'd find that there were a few weak points that stood out, like the story being a bit too random, too many panels with nothing but plain backgrounds, one too many rough sketches in the panels, and the dialogue sometimes not connecting from panel to panel.

...And so, I'm still at a loss on what to show her.

The only light came from the lamp beside my bed, with the bookshelf submerging in the flickering darkness.

Ashes at Dusk and Body Talk were two non-commercial works which I have a lot of admiration for. Of course, these were not the only books in my room;there were also commercial works which shone just as bright as those two.

There really were many people who could draw interesting works.

Before turning off the lamp, I got out of my futon and took out my own manga from my desk drawer. I saw nothing but tedious white drawings. I would really not want to take this out.

Well, it's not like my drawing is bad. Though the artwork was a bit inconsistent, it's not that despairingly bad. But upon reading one or two pages...

The panels just don't make any sense, and I can no longer understand the dialogue that was written, nor could I feel anything from the story. I have no idea where it begins or ends. It was pretty much a disharmonious read.

If I were to let someone else read this, they would probably not need sleeping pills anymore.

Yet, I'm reading it right now.

Reading my own manga, it feels more like I've ingested some stimulants rather than sleeping pills. With a somewhat unspeakable feeling, I returned the manuscript of my manga to my desk drawer. It's no good, I shouldn't have read this to make me fall asleep. As staying awake would be troublesome, I decided to take some real sleeping pills and get to sleep.

046 - ♠12

After saving energy for a long while, I can more or less predict my own patterns. By saving up too much in the day, I ended up with excessive usable energy at night, which was bad for sleep. I couldn't fall asleep even this late at night. The clock had long since passed one o'clock and was now approaching two.

To think I don't even remember what energy it was that I've saved in bulk, though I do know I've not used up any. How ironic that during the period of the rosy high school life known as the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival, I could not find an outlet to use any energy.

Waiting to fall asleep, I thought of reading a book, but right now there was only that boring paperback novel. While a boring book could at least substitute for sleeping pills, I instead opted to surf the internet. I was now searching for the official homepage for the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival.

Clicking the link on the search engine site, I twitched at the pain remaining in my right eye.

The top page caption read ’’KANYA FESTIVAL NOW OPEN! ALL ARE WELCOME.’’ An image of the play taking place in the Gymnasium was posted on it.

Scrolling down the page revealed a list of the participating clubs of each day, a transportation access guide, advice to visitors... And my eyes landed on a place I did not notice two days ago - the mail order section.

It was a mail order service for all goods related to the Cultural Festival. On sale was of course stuff sold during the Cultural Festival.

The items listed include original T-shirts by the Fashion Study Club, the Literature Club anthology Kodama, and the Manga Studies Club anthology Zeamis. Is that all? If it's the Kamiyama High School Cultural Festival, then surely they have more to sell, but it seemed this was all there was.

Now isn't this a bit empty for a shop? Looking further, there was a mail order form with an email address attached. The address shares the same domain name as Kamiyama High School, and the account name was ’’somuiinkai.’’ Satoshi, surely the Executive Committee should have done better than this. To begin with, I've yet to seriously ask Satoshi what it is that he does in the Executive Committee.

And then there's this email address. They could have at least used an English name for it. But ’’somuiinkai?’’ ...Then again, I have no problem with a name that's at least understandable to a Japanese-speaker like me.

All that remains to be seen on the site are links to other basic external sites, which don't reveal much information. Anyway, I figured it was about time I got to sleep, so I switched off the computer and returned to my room. As to how to fall asleep, I decided to worry about that after I crawl into my bed.

047 - ♣15

I decided to take a walk during the night.

Having just taken a bath not long before, my body was particularly sensitive to the night breeze. As it was late October, I could easily catch a cold if I'm not careful. Hence I wore a jacket just to be safe.

I could just about see the new moon above the skies along with the stars. The weather was just as great today as it was yesterday. As things go it'll probably be fine tomorrow as well, which is good. As a member of the Executive Committee, it's good because it means the events tomorrow will go smoothly under good weather;as a member of the Classics Club, it's good because it means we can get more visitors coming to school;and for me personally, it's good because I get to participate in as many outdoor events as I like. I get to see the various clubs preparing and performing all sorts of skills which I've only heard of. It would be a pity if their chances to show off their skills were denied by the rain.

For example, the performance of the Magic Club's second year, Tayama-sempai was superb today. While I have the knowledge of how the cup and ball trick actually works in my database, even I would not be able to perform it as well as he did. That was why I applauded from the bottom of my heart. By the way, when I said I am unable to perform, it's not that I do not possess the skills, but it's more to do with me not being confident enough. Just because I wanted to learn the secret to the cup and ball trick doesn't mean I wanted to try it out as well.

You could say I am similar to Houtarou in this aspect.

...However, while Houtarou himself insists that he hadn't done much during his three years at junior high, he wasn't exactly the worthless person he claims to be.

I walked in the dark, under the streetlamps surrounded by winged insects in the residential district. As I was wearing sneakers, I could not hear my own footsteps. I could hear someone watching their late night TV shows from somewhere.

Ever since entering Kamiyama High School and coming into contact with a rare medium called Chitanda Eru, Houtarou has changed. Or I should say, he's revealed his true worth. And since then he has demonstrated his sharpness, his clarity of vision, or perhaps instinct, deductive skills if you will, which I had never known he had before. Ever since that day when Chitanda-san was simply sitting alone in the Geology Room, I have been amazed by him many times. Houtarou was no simple colourless and useless human being. He has become an amazing individual hiding an amazing secret power within him.

There was a saying that a skilled hawk hides its talons[2]. When I discovered Houtarou's hawk side, deep inside, did I truly feel happy for him?

This is why I have decided not to expect Houtarou to solve the ’’Juumoji’’ incident, as it's not suitable for a person like him. Instead, I will be the one to do it.

Originally, I would not have been able to seek out the truth using my database alone. However, right now, in order to be able to look up to my friend's eyes, I decided to mimic him. I am well aware of how shameful this is. All this talk about how this is to ’’promote the name of the Classics Club,’’ that's all just an excuse.

That I understand very well.

Well, even a grade school student would be able to come up with excuses like that.

Now then.

The potential suspects for the phantom thief ’’Juumoji’’ are numerous. As expected from Houtarou's sharp observation, ’’How many people do you think have entered and left the school grounds during the Cultural Festival? And that's not counting that we have nearly a thousand students.’’

This kind of scenario is often found not just in detective novels, but also in real life investigations as well. This is true even for a small scale crime. In order to pinpoint the identity of the culprit, we must first narrow down the suspects.

From within the six billion people in this world, suspects would be narrowed down by first investigating into details like travel patterns or personal circumstances. For example, if there were a murder within a mountain mansion that was surrounded by mountain fire, the killer would no doubt be someone within the mansion (provided no one heard any helicopter taking off). If a rich young lady gets killed in her holiday retreat, then the killer would be someone who went to the retreat with her. Going along these patterns, the culprit could be narrowed down to around a dozen, by which we could begin investigating their alibis.

However, the ’’Juumoji’’ incident was different.

The thefts did not occur in any sealed environment. As the A Capella Club had their cooler box outside, anyone could have stolen its contents if they wished;the Go Club did not have a lock in their room;the Fortune Telling Association only had one person, so the culprit only needed to wait within the restroom nearby;the Gardening Club was targeted when they decided to leave the room for a bit;and then there's the Magic Club yesterday. Not knowing when the item was stolen, anybody could be a suspect, hidden within the sea of anonymity.

First, the culprit is no doubt a student of our school. It's difficult to conceive of someone from outside our school planning something like this and carrying it out for two consecutive days. But this still means there are nearly a thousand suspects. A thousand! It would be a bit silly and pointless to declare ’’The suspect is amongst these thousand people!’’ Even a proper law enforcement agency would have their work cut out questioning the alibis of a thousand people.

...The only place that was strange was The Cooking Club. If I were to believe their president who said they had prepared a ladle, then it means the ladle was stolen just before the Wild Fire contest began. As the culprit had the time to prepare a declaration of crime and the Kanya Festival Guide, there was a possibility that the culprit had come from within.

However, would members of The Cooking Club want to obstruct the Wild Fire tournament, which requires a lot of meticulous preparation? A ladle is one of the most basic kitchen utensils. What if we had decided to make a stew dish instead? It would have quickly aroused suspicion. Surely it would make more sense for the culprit to pick a less risky target like the Occult Studies Club ([O]KARUTO KEN オカルト研) or the ’’Cheering Club ([O]UENDAN 応援団) and Cheerleading Club Combined.’’

I decided to discard that possibility.

Then how am I supposed to trim down the number of suspects from these thousand people?

...Then again, a serial killer or serial arsonist would have been difficult to find as the suspect base would be huge. In most detective fiction, they would usually have to wait for the culprit to commit their next act before they could form a database. Recalling one of my favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, no one could figure out who the culprit was when the first Napoleon bust was smashed.

That's it. By waiting for the incidents to accumulate, we can then identify the common link between the victims, and then using this link lure the culprit to commit his next act. (By the way, while this common link could be called the ’’missing link,’’ I just realized the missing Wheel of Fortune could be called a ’’missing ring.’’ So which one is correct? To quote Chitanda-san: I'm really curious about it!)

The only piece of detective work I can do is to wait at the next scene of crime. That's the only way.

By waiting at the scene, the culprit may commit some errors or run into misfortune, leaving behind clues which could significantly narrow down the number of suspects. In other words, I'm waiting for him to make a mistake.

Had I realized the culprit had stolen something from the Magic Club before the show had started, but only left his crime declaration after it had ended, I would have stayed behind. Surely not everyone who had remained in Class 2-D's classroom till the end was only there for the magic performance.

In that case, I need to wake up early tomorrow, and arrive at Kamiyama High School first thing in the morning in order to get to ’’Juumoji's’’ next target, a club that starts with [KU]. While I'm not that confident with my own observational skills, I'll definitely find any clues left behind by ’’Juumoji.’’

The world must be getting strange for me to find conclusions from my database alone. Perhaps I'm interested in seeing if I could amaze myself.

I made a heel turn under the residential streets lit by the moonlight and streetlamps. As I slapped my cheeks to get myself geared up, I ended up being barked at by a dog.

Translator's notes and references[edit]

  1. Jump up↑ http://atomrocks.edublogs.org/hyotantsugi-a-k-a-gourdski/
  2. Jump up↑ You can find more information and an explanation of this proverb here


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