Episode 1 Murder at Jouji Girls’ School
During the evening of that day, Akira was guarding Kyouko. Although Kujou said it was fine to start the next day, Akira could not wait there leisurely, since Kyouko might be attacked.
It was now past eighteen o’clock. The Sunroad Shopping Street at Kichijouji1 was crowded by shoppers and people who were trying to get home. According to Kujou’s profiling, offenders would not attack Kyouko at a crowded place. It’s when Kyouko is walking through a place with less people by herself that he has to pay attention on.
… The man named Carter…
If he was an American, he should be tall and strong. If a man like that appeared around Kyouko, it would be very distinct. Thinking of this, Akira turned to look at the flow of the people on the shopping street; however, he did not see any one who looked like that.
After nineteen o’clock, Kyouko said goodbye to her friends, and rode the subway in order to get home.
The Inokashira Line of the subway was pretty crowded due to the commuter rush. Focusing on an English book, Kyouko let her body tremble with the subway.
Seven minutes after the subways started moving, she got off the subway at Takaido Station. Akira followed her.
Takaido Station intersected a major road named Kanjouhachigosen. In front of the lively station, there were many people passing it.
After examining the tickets, Akira looked back.
There wasn’t anybody who looked suspicious.
To be safe, Akira ran after Kyouko.
Kyouko’s home was located in a quiet residential area after a ten minute walk from the station.
It was a very ordinary house.
An ordinary girl from an ordinary family.
“…Why will someone like her become the victim…”
Looking at Kyouko who disappeared at the entrance, Akira murmured.
Nothing unusual happened today.
The second day of guarding.
This day, nothing related to the case happened either. With a red bean bun in his mouth, Akira spent the peaceful time chasing after a high school girl who was enjoying her break.
However, this peaceful time was broken on the next day.
The third day of guarding.
A little before noon, the door of the Akihara family’s house was opened and Kyouko came out dressed in her uniform.
“What? Isn’t there no school today?”
With this simple question, Akira started to follow her.
Kyouko rode the subway to Kichijouji.
Passing through Sun Road, she went to the gym after arriving at Jouji School.
“I see. I think she’s part of the Volleyball Club.”
Seeing of her retreating figure, Akira crossed his arms as if he was thinking.
The words ‘The rascal’ that Tamura said when he illegally enter the school and bumped into Akira. And then the teacher who was exposed for falling in love with a student and was transferred to Kumamoto. That person was aiming at Kyouko.
What was his motive? Akira closed his eyes.
Kujou said Carter was in love with someone besides Kyouko, which meant Kyouko discovered someone else as his lover, and it seemed possible that she put the letter into the mailbox.
…The revenge of the transfer…
Akira’s conclusion was logical. Because of the man’s selfish reason, the anger was accumulating.
“Damn it… How can this happened! Carter, I will break your intrigue!!”
The sun had completely sunk and the sky was dominated by darkness. It was half past twenty right now.
Because the competition was around the corner, all the club members practiced intensely; however, the long club meeting was about to end.
Kyouko finished changing and left the school. She went through the shopping street and headed the station of Inokashira Line as usual, however…
“… What?… ”
Starting his tailing again, Akira felt something wrong.
She even passed the Kijijouji Station, and kept going towards the south alone.
Is she not going back home? … Akira chased after her anxiously.
The road which led to the Onshi Park in Inokashira.
There were some folk art shops, hot dog stands, and fry chicken stands on both sides. But she went straight into the park without a single glance at them.
There was an enormous lake at the center of this park. Couples usually rode boats during weekends. Sakura bloomed everywhere within the park in spring, so the park was a famous cherry-blossom viewing spot.
Although this park was crowded during the day, it became unpopular during the night. This park was managed thoughtfully, but it wasn’t bright everywhere. The black and deep street walk was dominated by darkness.
Akira made a deep sound at the back of his throat and tightened his breath.
Kyouko walked around the park for about ten minutes and then went past the bushes. She sat onto the bench, which was in the corner of a playground with large tracks. There was a famous museum near the park.
There was no one around. Since the light was far away, the area around the bench was pretty dark.
Akira held his breath and hid within the shadow of the trees.
A few seconds later, she turned on her phone to check the time and then turned it off immediately to look at the night sky.
“… What if… She’s just waiting for her boyfriend…?”
Her joyful and peaceful daily life from the past two days flashed through Akira’s mind.
“But… If that’s the case… It will be so awkward to keep on watching her.”
Akira didn’t have the hobby of peeking at other’s privacy. Now he attempted to look away.
The shadow behind Kyouko… Swayed.
Akira was rubbing his eyes to check if he had seen an illusion, but the shadow became darker and moved behind Kyouko silently.
The next moment, the jet black shadow moved abruptly.
Within the street lights’ dim light, a dull metal piece reflected a beam of light.
“It’s a knife!!”
Yelling, Akira ran out of the shadow of the trees at his fastest speed.
“Run away, Kyouko! He’s behind you!!”
Both she and the jet black shadow shouted in surprise.
However, the violent action did not stop.
The high-held piece of metal attacked Kyouko with murderous intent and greed.
Akira did not have any fear. The only thing in his mind was to protect Kyouko, so he hit the jet black shadow with his body.
The two people fell onto the ground.
Akira looked up to check Kyouko. She was holding her left hand and aching. He could tell that there was blood bleeding from that hand.
The close call, or the fatal injury, was avoided… But.
“…Damn it… She was injured…”
There was no time to regret.
The shadow was aiming at Kyouko’s life for sure. After fixing their position, they tried to hurt Kyouko again. But Akira had not simply fallen onto the ground. He had held the hand holding the knife tightly when he fell.
“Carter… I won’t release my hand… No matter what will happen!! ”
A person aimed at Kyouko’s life. A person protected it.
Their determinations collided and attacked each other in the dim darkness.
“No matter if you’re an American… If you’re an adult… I don’t care! I will protect Kyouko no matter what will happennnnnn!!”
Hearing that ghastly yell, the shadow used its full force violently.
Imaging the strength of an American, an adult, Akira used his full force to withstand it.
“I won’t let your hand go! This hand!”
“Won’t let it go… ”
“Let it go… Eh?… ”
Akira did not release his hand but showed an incredulous expression. He was trying to withstand a strength that would easily throw him away, so he used all his strength…
Contrary to his expectations, the right hand holding the knife could not even move under Akira’s force.
A familiar voice came from a close place.
Kujou came out from another shadow.
“Don’t worry. Although your wrist was hurt, it’s no big deal.”
Yui said in order to comfort Kyouko, who was sitting on the bench and aching.
Kujou stood next to Akira.
“The murders of Azusa Nishino and Yukitoshi Tamura. And the murder attempt to Kyouko Akihara. Those offences were all done by you”
Kujou shined his light on the jet black shadow who was holding a knife with murder intent.
… The face that was lit…
Beautiful long, black hair and delicate facial features. Mari Kitamikado, the person who was the principal of the student council, who was overwhelmingly popular in the school and had greeted the three courteously, was there.
“… W, Why… Why are you here, Kitamikado? By the way, isn’t Carter the offender…!?”
Kujou continued depriving Mari from the knife.
“Carter isn’t the offender. He is, if anything, the victim.”
“What!? Carter is the victim!?”
“If Toshiyuki Tamura had killed Kyouko Akihara, then I reckon the series of cases would have been buried in the darkness.”
“Wait, wwwhat’s going on!?”
Kujou took a deep breath.
“This is an exchange murder.”
“An… Exchange murder!?… What’s that!?”
Kujou started to unravel the mysteries of these tangled cases.
“We considered the case of the murder of Azusa Nishino and the case of the murder attempt of Kyouko Akihara as completely different cases. We and the police only suspected the stalker Yukitoshi Tamura when Azusa Nishino was murdered from the side of his motivation. However, it was impossible for him to murder Azusa since he had an alibi.”
“Of course the person who killed Azusa Nishino was not Toshiyuki Tamura… Because it was Mari Kitamikado, who was right here.”
“And there’s one more case: Yukitoshi Tamura preparing to murder Kyouko Akihara.”
“W, wait a second, Kujou. Are you saying Kitamikado had reasons for killing Azusa? And does Tamura had reasons for killing Kyouko?”
“That is the key of this mystery. According to common sense, we know that killing a person requires motives. It is natural for people with motives to be suspected. However, you took advantage of the common interest between you two, and utilized it to do something that went against common sense. ”
Kujou turned his exceptionally serious gaze onto Mari Kitamikado.
“The person Yukitoshi Tamura wanted to kill was Azusa Nishino. The person Mari Kitamikado wanted to kill was Kyouko Akihara. This is the truth. But if they do it directly, they will show up to the police without a doubt. Thinking about that, you suggested exchanging victims. ”
“Exchanging the victims?”
“Yes. Yukitoshi Tamura would murder Kyouko Akihara, and Mari Kitamikado would murder Azusa Nishino. By doing this, the people who were related to the victims were able to create a perfect alibi. You told Tamura, right? To stay in a game center with a security camera near the scheduled date for the murder.”
“I see, that’s why Tamura had a perfect alibi. ”
“You finally understand, stupid.”
Kujou smiled gently.
“However… This did not go well in reality. You murdered Azusa Nishino according to the plan, and after that, Tamura was scheduled to murder Akihara, but I guess he said something like he really could do it and started complaining. So you two argued. Both in the school and in the park. Your anger increased day after day because you murdered Azusa first, and it finally exploded… And you let the momentum lead you to kill Tamura.”
The desolate park became even more silent.
After a while, Mari Kitamikado, who had listened without saying a word until now, slowly opened her mouth.
“Mr. Kujou, even if your inference is correct, I don’t have any reasons to murder Kyouko.”
“… Right… That was what I worried the most about, but then I suddenly realized, what if Mr. Carter was a key to this mystery?”
Mari’s eyes trembled slightly,
“Akihara, are you calm right now?”
Kujou turned around and tended to Kyouko.
Sitting beside Yui on the bench, Kyouko nodded.
“Then I have a few private questions to ask. I want you to answer me as soon as you can. Akihara, you like Mr. Carter. Is that true?”
Kyouko’s reaction showed her astonishment.
Then she replied silently, “… Yes… ”
“Have you told your feeling to the teacher? If you do not feel uncomfortable, I would like you to tell me something about it.”
Kujou urged her gently.
“I… Told him about my feelings. Since… I was the moral monitor… I’ve… Hesitated for a long time… I had to be the model of other students… However, at last… I was swept away by the will to tell him about my feeling…”
“And what was Mr. Carter’s response?”
“‘I’m happy about your feelings. Thank you. But as long as our relationship is teacher and student, I cannot answer to your feelings.’ He said to me.”
“… He never mixed official business with private affairs…” Akira finally understood the sentence Kyouko said on the rooftop.
“Is it okay for me to ask another question?”
Although what Kujou had asked was for solving the case, he continued asking ruthlessly.
“I have an important question to ask… You had an idea that Kitamikado and Mr. Carter were in love with each other, correct?”
Akira opened his mouth with silence and astonishment, like an idiot.
Kyouko hesitated to start speaking out the memory she sealed in her mind, which she could never forgot.
“… That was… A day when the meeting of moral monitors was prolonged… When I was walking in the hallway and thinking about leaving school as soon as possible… I saw the door to the student council room was slightly ajar… I was thinking, ‘Who would be here at such a late time?’… When I peeped into the room from the door crack… I saw… That Mr. Carter and Kitamikado were… Kissing…”
Kyouko’s grief disappeared onto the ground with her tears.
“… If that was the case… He did not…He did not have to lie to me… He could have directly said that… He was already in love with someone else… And reject me… ”
No one was able to stop a heart’s cry, which became sobbing. Yui hugged her, who was doing that, gently.
“… I… ”
After a while, Kyouko slightly raised her face.
“… After I saw that… I was crying all the way at home… But when I was very tired and could not think of anything… There was suddenly a fire lighting in my heart. It was lighting faintly even on the next day I woke up… ‘Keep it down… Keep it down…’ I kept thinking that, but… When I met Kitamikado at school… I accidently… Spoke out…”
“What did you say?”
“I said, ‘Although love is unconstrained, as the moral monitor, I have some thoughts on the romantic relationship between a teacher and a student within the school. Since you are the president of the student council, please be prudent about secretly meeting with Mr. Carter in school…’”
“I see… A while after that, Mr. Carter was transferred, correct?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
Calming down, Kyouko showed an relaxed expression.
Kujou looked like he was satisfied as he turned around.
“I was thinking that Akihara had a romantic relationship with Mr. Carter at first, because the person who brought the letter from the suggestion box to the principle was you, Kitamikado; however, if that’s what was happening, I couldn’t find any reason for you aiming at Akihara. So I thought about it in a different direction. Then I found the reason why you had to murder Akihara.”
The empty park.
This place, which was dominated by darkness and silence, became even more quiet, as if it had something to confess.
Kujou narrowed his eyes silently.
“If the exchange murder went as planned, then there would probably be no way to prove it; however it failed, so there is evidence that shows that you had committed two murders and one murder attempt. I reckon it would be very clear if we checked your alibi. I think this is enough. Can you tell the whole truth? Kitamikado, you attempt to be perfect at everything.”
“… Oh, well.”
Being stared at by everyone, Mari sighed once and crossed her arms. As a lady, she organized her thoughts into words elegantly.
“It was a coincidence that I met Tamura. I witnessed him chasing after Nishino after school. But I left him there. If I did not know anything about Nishino, then that man did not matter to me. He would do nothing to my life. ”
“Then how did you get to know Tamura?”
“I didn’t mean to get close with him… Until… I saw that. It was all Kyouko’s… Your faults.”
Kyouko murmured with astonishment.
“You are a great moral monitor. As a model for everyone in school, you controlled the atmosphere of it in a good way. I was impressed.”
Mari smiled gently.
“However… You failed. You fell in love with a wrong person. This is what you should know through your experience,”
Now Mari’s negative spirit showed up from the depths of her smile.
“When I received the advice from Akihara, I contacted Tamura.”
“… Mr. Kujou… Mr. Tamura was a really pitiful person…When his zealous love was broken in front of him… That heartlessness and humiliation… Can you understand?”
Mari sympathized with Tamura’s sorrow with her face down.
“But you seduced Tamura.”
“‘Seduced’ is such a bad word to use. It was Tamura who changed his love into hate. By chance, our interests were the same. We both wanted someone to disappear from this world. That’s all.”
“Wait a second. What do you mean by ‘That’s all?’ You didn’t have to kill people!! Plus, exchanging victims means you were going to kill a person you didn’t even know!? How can you do that so easily!”
Akira’s common sense made him disdainful of Mari’s explanation, which went against common sense.
“I don’t expect a person like you to understand. To remove the one that may threaten ourselves was the family rule when Kitamikado Plutocrat2 was established. However… Mr. Tamura could not understand our sublime teaching.”
“Then… How did you…”
“I gave him a reward.”
Mari smiled coquettishly at the confused Akira and spoke with a sweet voice.
“Yes. He looked like he did not know a single woman, so I used my body to teach him.”
The obscene words leaked out from the lady were insane.
“As Mr. Kujou said, it was an exchange murder. As long as we could exchange victims, everything would be successful. Thus, I gave him two things to show my determination to Mr. Tamura: my body and the murder of Azusa… However… He was such a jerk.”
Mari pointed to her cheek with her finger, and posed a cute troubled face.
“Then you asked Tamura to come to the school.”
Kujou calmly analyzed Mari’s words, which were said with madness.
“I even prepared the merchant hoodies, but he did nothing. At last, he wanted my body again, so I gave him a slap instead.”
“… I see… And then he bumped into me in front of the door.”
All the mysteries were solved.
“Even after a while, Tamura didn’t even show me his intention to murder Akihara. That’s why you cornered Tamura this time.”
Mari was still smiling with insanity.
“That night, at the park, Tamura was finding excuses frantically for himself.”
The situation right before Tamura’s death showed up.
He appealed with tears:
”I know your determination. Just give me a little bit more time. With a little bit more time, I will set my heart. I can set my determination. So I want to push it back a little bit… In order to kill Kyouko Akihara… In order to kill her, before killing her, let me have sex with you!!”
When Tamura’s desire gushed out, Mari’s jet black darkness was detonated.
“… By the time I realized… I was holding rocks covered by my blood.”
Lit by the moon coming out from the clouds, Mari’s ecstatic smile showed her strange view of life.
When she murdered Azusa Nishino, to her, it was just a phase she had to go through. It might have been triggered by the teaching of the Kitamikado Plutocrat, or the fault of the empty heart she was born with. No, both of them were possible reasons.
The heart of the arrogant lady was finally broken and went berserk.
Unable to bear seeing that anymore, Kujou changed the topic.
“By the way, you said that it was all Kyouko’s fault, which means she discovered the romantic relationship between you and Mr. Carter, right? Can you tell me more regarding that?”
The night wind slightly messed up Mari’s hair.
She looked down, and started to talk as if she was yearning to recall the past.
“I started to date Mr. Carter about half year ago. He was intelligent and humorous, and most importantly, he was mature. He would accept my willfulness without a single frown.”
Mari suddenly looked up to the moon
“Since I was very small, I was taught that I must act perfect in front of people. So in school, I must act like a popular and perfect president of the student council. One day, he appeared in front of me. At first, we talked in the student council room. And after that lunch, in the morning, I spent all my extra time with him. That was when I realized, that I was not my usual self when I was with him… I could take off the mask I was always wearing… That was the moment I felt my new life had begun. I felt I had received a brilliant school life that I did not have before. ”
A princess who had found her prince was over there. Such hope-filled eyes became a color of nothingness that swallowed everything up when facing Kyouko.
“You broke our relationship.”
A voice lacking emotions came out from the mouth distorted in the shape of a new moon,
Kyouko’s face cramped up due to fear.
“She saw what she shouldn’t have seen. However… She should have hidden it at the bottom of her heart without ever saying it out loud. Her degrading heart caused by the envy emerging from her lover being taken away broke everything… Understand? Miss Bitch?”
“… Oh?… Hearing that, I have a question.”
Kujou showed the face of a detective.
“Oh, really? What is it?”
“The person who brought the letter to the principal office was you, Kitamikado, correct? If that’s true, then normally, the one who wrote the letter would be Akihara. Then I want to ask Akihara: Did you put the letter in the box in front of the student counselor office in order to expose that Kitamikado and Carter were in love?”
“No. I’ve never done that.”
Detesting the word of expose, Kyouko denied straightforwardly.
“Yes. That’s what I thought.”
As usual, Kujou was staring at Mari all the time.
“Mr. Kujou, you are such a playful person. In fact, you’ve already solved the case, right?”
Suddenly, Kujou smiled.
“I have no match for you… As you see, that letter was written and posted by me.”
“Eh!? Wait a minute! Why did you do something that would strangle yourself!?”
After thinking about it, Akira screamed at Mari’s absurd actions.
Mari opened her arms up wide at the starry sky.
“Kitamikado Plutocrat… Does not allow me, who is always perfect… To have a single blemish. Furthermore, it’s ridiculous to let someone to have an advantage over me.”
Then she spoke in a refreshing tone, as if she got rid of everything.
“So… Before he became my blemish, I let him go.”
Mari’s joyful laughter continued.
“… Y… ou… What the heck… ”
The repressed murmur could not be heard by her.
“What the heck! Are you kidding me!!”
Akira’s feeling that accumulated over and over exploded.
“Kitamikado!! Don’t you know Carter well!? When had Carter betrayed you! Wasn’t he the only person with whom you were able to take your mask off and trust!! Hadn’t you loved him from the bottom of your heart?”
Mari calmly received the question filled with wrath and sorrow.
“Flowers are… Most glamorous when they are picked at the moment they bloom… The same is with love… I wanted to preserve it as a beautiful memory within me before it got dirty. What’s wrong with that?”
A loud sound.
There was a sound of a big slap echoing in the park.
“Let me tell you, idiot. Carter did not tell anyone about you even at the end. He really cared about you! And You! Discarded him!”
Kyouko held the hand that she slapped Mari with strongly, and tears dropped. She was crying out front her heart with all her voice.
“… No… It shouldn’t have happened… ”
Mari looked down weakly.
“You couldn’t even believe the man you loved, but you believed in others when murdering people. Ridiculous. That’s why you betrayed Tamura as well.”
Kujou’s strict voice slapped her ears.
“Trust is not a thing to be provided with. It’s received from a person who knows you well. Know that trust created by interests is even thinner than a piece of paper. ”
Kujou took one step forward as he told her in a gentle voice different from before.
“… And then… I have to tell you another thing… That what Akihara had said was true. I went to Kumamoto during those two days.”
Mari’s hair swayed slightly.
“Mr. Carter continued working as an English teacher vigorously. So after talking with him for a while, I asked him about his relationship with you. I even told him that I’ve heard everything from the principal of Jouji School… And what do you think he said?”
Kujou’s face was clouded with sorrow.
“… To the very end… He didn’t say anything about his relationship with you… ”
Mari’s shoulders trembled silently. Then she frantically tried to stop the voice leaking out with hands.
However, when she knew the truth, she couldn’t control the torrent of feelings that had already overflowed once.
Several translucent teardrops wetted her feet.
Thus, this case came to an end.
1. Kichijouji – a neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan.↩
2. Kitamikado Plutocrat – a company belongs to the Kitamikado family.