This morning, cicadas are chirping noisily.
After doing the radio gymnastics, I went over to Saori's house and had breakfast with her.
Saori had invited Fumio to join us, but he quickly left, saying that he was too sleepy from staying up too late last night and that he would go home to sleep.
Saori was a little depressed.
I was the only one who fell for it.
I'm already acquainted with Saori's mother.
She calls me Clara-chan.
But you know... Her mother. Every time I get up or down from my seat, she says, "Clara's up!", "Clara's sitting down!", "Clara's standing up again!", "Clara's sitting down!", "Clara's standing again! ".
It makes no sense.
Anyway... what we had on the table this morning was miso soup with white beech mushrooms, salted sardines, boiled spinach, natto (fermented soybeans), and white rice.
A clean and proper Japanese breakfast. To be honest, I was happy. This kind of food is not included in my sister's menu.
I took a mouthful of rice and a sip of miso soup.
「I'm so glad I was born as a Japanese~!」
I exhaled, "Fu~wa!" and Saori replied, "What's wrong with that?" with a questioning tone.
Incidentally, I did not mean to make a joke.
When I was puzzled, Saori turned her head down, looking embarrassed.
Well, I guess she did her best in her own way.
During this breakfast, Saori lied only once.
It was when I asked her, "Are you used to Onee-chan by now?".
Well, when she answered “yes”, her eyes were swimming so much that I could tell she was lying even without using the power of my eyes.
Anyway, she never let me catch her tail, including the nightly wiretapping.
Honestly, I'm starting to lose confidence. If she really is the devil, she's more than just cunning.
When I came back from Saori's house, my sister was just leaving the house. Practice for the track and field club starts at nine o'clock.
She goes to work by bike, so she should be at school in about 15 minutes.
I looked at the clock in the living room and saw that it was around 8:30. I've spent more time at Saori's house than I expected.
I take a glass of milk from the refrigerator, pour it into a glass, lie down on the sofa and turn on the TV.
This is the proper way for a JK to spend the morning of summer vacation. I watch reruns of children's anime.
However, the anime does not start when I turn on the channel.
What appears on the screen is a rough animation that seems to be from the web in an L-shaped message frame. The light is pink. There is a handsome man sitting on the bed, looking away from the camera, talking haltingly.
The message at the bottom says, "Shocking confession of a handsome model -- revealing her relationships with fifty-three people, from popular idols to famous actresses!" That's what it said.
「Uwaa... a Yarichin? I wonder if it's just a publicity stunt?」
The video cut off, and the announcer and commentator were shown on a hastily made set with a white background.
『Well.. I was surprised』
『I guess it's like a terrorist attack in the entertainment industry. This video...』
After the exchange between the announcer and the commentator, the discussion moved on to a detailed examination of the contents of the video.
The video was broadcast live on the Internet for twenty-seven minutes this morning, from 7:24 to 7:51.
The URL had been sent a few days ago to a famous director of one of the stations, under the name of "Anna-Kamishima", asking him to watch it if he wanted a scoop.
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My eyes widened, it was Hikaru's sister's name.
Just the other day, she sent Hikaru an email telling her that she would be coming to pick her up soon. Is this really Hikaru's sister's work?
Next, the 53 women with whom this handsome model has had relationships. A list of them was displayed.
About a third of them were involved in illicit affairs. In addition to celebrities, the list included the wives of current ministers. And they're all young women, nearly half of them apparently missing.
No matter how I look at it, it's a very dark case.
「If there are a lot of celebrities involved, this is a better way to sell the name of Detective JK... but I don't think I should leave now and go back to Tokyo...」
At the same time I was muttering this, the announcer said, "Another case of <Mysterious Disappearance> has reappeared, this time in Tokyo", and I raised my eyebrows.
As I listened intently to the conversation, I noticed the handsome model, the president of his agency, his manager, and the female model. And the editorial staff of the publishing company where this handsome model used to work has been missing since the day before yesterday.
And the sender of the URL is Anna Kamishima, a suspect in the "Mysterious Disappearance case".
The media - at least this program - concluded that it was the same kidnapper from the previous mass kidnapping of the track and field club, who abducted this handsome man and forced him to make a scandalous confession.
Was there a time when Saori could have been involved in this case? Of course not. At the time when the handsome man was confessing to the camera, I was there with her.
（Did she have friends, and they did it?）
I can't deny that possibility. But it's obvious that I shouldn't take any chances now. At once, the possibility of Saori being a suspect has faded.
I pick up my phone and call my sister.
And I hurriedly said.
「Today's plan is canceled, because the situation has changed!」
Actually, I was going to hit Saori with a gun shell today, to make it look like an accident.
◇ ◇ ◇
「I'm counting on you, Akira」
「I'll take care of it」
I winked at Papa, and left his room.
The large room with the round table was empty.
I suppose that's just as well. It takes every ounce of courage I have just now to step foot in this room.
Today, we have a second death. First a female detective, then Hikami-kun.
After he was killed, everyone hurried back to their respective rooms as if in fear.
The sight of people being torn apart in front of their eyes. There was no way everyone could remain calm after being shown something like that.
And then there was Chihiro Kaneko, who kicked Hikami-kun's limbs down into the hole, then turned her blood-stained face toward Papa and me and smiled. Then she said, "You're next".
I'm scared. I'm scared but... if nothing is done, we'll really be killed next.
Now that Hikami-kun is dead, the number of votes we have at our disposal has been reduced to three. There are only ten of us left. If we can't get at least half of them to vote for us, we'll never be safe.
So I came to persuade someone I thought I could get.
I stand in front of the door of the person I want, and knock on the door.
I knock on the door discreetly, so as not to echo through the rest of the room.
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Immediately, I hear a scream on the other side of the door, "Hii!" . She's completely terrified. Well, I guess that's understandable. After what had happened... Still, from the tone of her voice, it seemed that she had already regained consciousness to the point where she could have a conversation.
「W-w-who is it?」
「It’s Akira Mizuki」
The person I visited was Misuzu, whom I knew but had never spoken to as far as I could tell.
I had never thought of dealing with an amateur reader model, even if we had been in the workplace together.
「What, did you come here to laugh? Isn't that right! You must insult me by saying I'm a woman who can't become a model anymore!」
Misuzu's screaming at the other end of the door. She's paranoid.
You're not a model. Don't compare reader models with professional models. I suppressed my desire to say so, and spoke as softly as I could.
「I'm not laughing at you. I'm sorry you had to go through that. Hey, Misuzu... don't you want to get revenge on that ugly guy, Fumijima? Don't you want to make him pay for what he's done?」
There was a moment of silence, then the door opened slowly. Misuzu's face peeked out through the door, looking exhausted. But her eyes were filled with sanity.
She was not dressed in that semen-soaked outfit, but had taken a shower, prepared by Aramaki-san. She's wearing a one-piece loungewear-like T-shirt.
「What... do you mean?」
「Before that, can you let me in?」
Misuzu looked as if she had made up her mind and opened the door for me.
The room was exactly the same as mine and Papa's. When Misuzu invited me in, she asked me with a somewhat nervous look.
「Um... revenge on Fumijima?」
「I'm saying we should team up. Three votes from me, the President, and Yamauchi-san. And if we have you, that's four votes」
「S-so, if we team up, we can send that bastard to hell in the next round of voting?」
Misuzu comes at me excitedly. I guess she hates Fumijima so much that she can't help it. But I shake my head.
「Don't be hasty, Misuzu. That ugly guy is the next best thing. We have to take care of Chihiro Kaneko first」
Misuzu tilted her head. So this girl didn't see the exchange between Hikami-kun and Chihiro Kaneko earlier.
「Just now, Hikami-kun died. He was tricked by Chihiro Kaneko. She's got a grudge against the President and Hikami-kun. So she's probably going to try to get votes to take out the President next. If the President's vote is lost, it'll be harder for you to get revenge on that ugly bastard, right?」
「You mean you'll help me take down Kaneko-san first and then Fumijima?」
「Yes, I promise. But four votes, including yours, is not enough to defeat Chihiro Kaneko. I need at least one more vote to get five. How about it? Can't you get one of your juniors to join us?」
Then her expression darkened.
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「I don't think so」
I asked, but I knew that from the start.
When Misuzu had been voted out, I'd seen them say that they'd always hated her.
「Well... what about that ugly one? Will you go ask him for me? Ask him to vote for Kaneko」
When I said this, her eyes widened and her face scrunched up in fear.
「No, no, I'm not going to ask him! If I go to him, he'll do something terrible to me again!」
「But that ugly guy's crazy about you. He's going to marry you. I'm sure he'll do whatever you ask. Once Chihiro Kaneko is out of the way, that ugly bastard is next. You just have to hold out one more time... please」
Misuzu looked as if she was about to start crying. Then, after a long period of hesitation, she drooped and spoke.
「...I'll do it, I'll do it, but you have to promise me that you'll get Fumijima next time」
「Yes, I promise」
A moment of silence.
Perhaps, if Misuzu visited that man's room, she would be raped without question. I'm aware that I'm asking her to do something cruel.
But I'm not lying when I say that I want to get rid of that ugly guy after Kaneko. I don't think I can forgive that ugly guy either. As a woman.
「The sooner the better. We need to get Kaneko to vote before that ugly bastard vote for someone else...」
「...Okay. I hate it. I'm really scared but I'm going to visit Fumijima now」
And then we leave her room.
「Okay, I'll go back to my room...」
「Yeah, I'll take care of Fumijima」
She smiles graciously. Then we turned our backs on each other, and I walked to my room and she walked to Fumijima's room.
But when I look back on the way, Misuzu seems to be so excited that she is dancing and skipping, and I do a double-take.
No, no, no... that's not true. It's an optical illusion.
Maybe she was about to fall and tried to stay on her feet or something. Yeah, it's just my imagination. Maybe I'm tired too.
(1) A person active sexually with multiple partners