Seven wonders overtime – Part 8
Thanks to the cacophony caused by the opening and closing of the door as well as Haruhi’s mouth,
Asahina-san returned from dreamland with a jolt1. After hurriedly trying to stand up in a fluster, she mumbled a greeting.
“Ah, ah, Suzumiya-san, good morning!”
Haruhi seemed to be in a good mood. She advanced to the Chief’s Desk with long strides, then turned around, looked at us with a lordly gaze and waved her index finger like a baton.
“I realized something today.”
Since everyone else declined to comment, I did so reluctantly.
“I realized that in spite of our search for supernatural phenomenon in this world, we’ve been overlooking the Wonders passed down from batch to batch in this school!”
So, were there any? Any Wonders being passed down or whatever?
“I did some investigating, but there were none. Then again, that’s natural, if you think about it. This is a prefectural high school doesn’t have that long of a history, anyway. But that’s a blessing in disguise for us.”
Haruhi spun on the spot as she made her announcement.
“If that’s the case, then we should create the school’s Seven Wonders with our own hands, right? For our future juniors! Wonders that will bring out the richness of our normal high school life!”
I highly doubt if paranormal tales contain any sort of richness, but I suppose they are, in a way, rich with gloom.
I held a hand out to interrupt Haruhi, who seemed like she was about to continue her speech.
“Before we listen to what you have to say, there’s something you need to see.”
“What is it?”
It seemed that Haruhi only now realized that the atmosphere in the room was different from usual.
Nagato was frozen in that posture after hitting the Enter key, while Asahina-san was on tenterhooks, holding onto her tray as if it was a shield. Koizumi had made a mistake in his choice of expression, and was wearing a weird, nondescript look on his face.
I calmly picked up printout placed on top of the clutter on the long table.
“I was wondering if you would bring up that topic.”
I handed over that document that everyone here excluding Haruhi had discussed about.
After scanning through the printout, Haruhi’s expression instantly changed. The document was easy to understand, after all. She made a face that looked like she was pondering about how a fried bitter bug would taste like3, then she responded.
“I see. The Mystery Society, right?”
Having discerned the situation, that one line was naturally all she could speak.
After taking a glance at the copy of Kokon Chomonjū and the file of printouts, Haruhi’s eyes became like that of a nauseous spectacled caiman.
“It was a mistake for me to ask that girl.”
You couldn’t have surmised that she would have so much drive, so if we ignore the result, there aren’t any problems with the process, right? Only Sherlock Holmes in his heyday could predict that the girl would actually bring over a large quantity of materials, including some stuff written by the Mystery Society, with such promptness, and on the same day.
“I might have underestimated the Mystery Society a bit.”
After her words of reflection, Haruhi looked over all of us in turn with a gaze devoid of sweetness.
“Even so, that was surprisingly quick work! It makes me so proud! As the brigade chief, seeing you members grow is my greatest joy!”
You don’t look very joyful, though.
“Anyway, you came in so late that you might as well be an executive. So where were you goofing off?”
“I thought that the principal would know some old stories.”
Haruhi continued with a disappointed countenance.
“I went to the principal’s office to listen to some stories, but for some reason I was made to play shogi. I was chasing his king using my king, when I noticed that I was already on the other end of the board.”
Entering king4, huh. Well then, I suppose it’s understandable that you took so much time.
I stole a sideward glance at Koizumi, and noticed a smile of feigned ignorance plastered over his face. So that’s a collaborator other than the Student Council President.
“If I had known, I would have quickly finished the tea and rice crackers, and just come to the club room. Seriously.”
It seemed that Haruhi’s anger was not directed anywhere, and instead she was displaying a complex emotion she rarely felt. Her mouth moved nervously, a sign that she was stopping her lips from releasing the words that should be said.
What’s the matter? Don’t you know that keeping silent about whatever you want to say is like poisoning your body?
I think she would have stamped her feet in frustration if no one else was around.
“Everyone was doing such an interesting activity!”
Haruhi raised both her hands.
“I wanted to think about it with everyone, too!”
It felt refreshing to finally hear her true feelings.
Savoring this fresh feeling I haven’t had in a while, I replied.
“So, can we use these ideas for the Seven Wonders? You can rest assured that your humble brigade members made us of wisdom equal to that of Manjushri5 plus one, as well as imagination required of insurmountable leaps in logic to create this work for our exalted Brigade Chief.”
“Seems like I have no choice.”
Visibly reluctant, Haruhi let out a sigh from her pouting lips.
Come to think of it, isn’t this the first case where we’ve jumped the gun on her?
Usually, Haruhi would say something, and we end up having to follow that order. As a result, we also have to deal with the incidents and phenomena that are caused by her. This is a rare event where we managed to circumvent the pattern by anticipating the problem and preventing it before it happens.
We could probably use this approach in the future. If we can think of and predict in advance what Haruhi is planning to do next, we can make the perfect preparations beforehand. It’s an arrangement such that Haruhi will be called offside before the kick-off whistle is blown. Something that might be considerably troublesome for us is to prepare multiple counter-measures, which is a foundation of the art of tactics, although it probably wouldn’t change much.
“But I have a number of problems with this. What’s this about the Ninomiya Kinjirō statue? We don’t have one in North High, right?”
Wow, you actually said something logical for once. I’m unconsciously moved.
“Huh? Are you stupid?”
Although she had given her approval once, Haruhi wasn’t graceful enough to remain silent about the parts she was bothered by. She used her fingertip to flip the pages on which the privately published Seven Wonders was printed on, and started expressing her opinions.
“About the Four minutes, thirty-three seconds that the ghost plays…… since it’s the same room that the Wind Ensemble uses, it should contain some wind instruments. Make it an orchestra version with the piano and all available instruments in the room. It’ll be more lively and the ghosts will have much more fun!”
I tried imagining all members of the wind ensemble performing that soundless piece together, with all of them dressed as ghosts. That version certainly bears no relation to the word ‘desolate’. With Haruhi in the picture, all supernatural stories with a bleak atmosphere will be ruined.
Haruhi continued her speed reading of the report and stopped at the third Wonder.
“What’s with the air conditioners in classrooms? Isn’t that just a personal request?”
Can’t we make that work?
“I don’t know. Well, perhaps I’ll bring it up to the principal next time.”
Is that some light I see at the end of this road?
“I also have some problems with the mirror.”
Haruhi went on about the strange mirror that Nagato suggested.
“The body won’t be able to absorb proteins if all amino acids are changed to D-form, right? But this is convenient for dieting, so we can get a long line of people worried about overeating. We can earn big money even if we charge only 100 yen per person! But we can’t have the dieting effect go on for so long, so we’ll do them a big service and make it last for 48 hours.”
I thought that Haruhi would be pleased with the Wonder that had to do with adventuring in a fantasy world, but she had some complaints with it.
“What do you mean, ‘possible continuation’? If you don’t write under the conviction that the battle will end in one volume, you won’t be able to continue with a sequel. Also, the setting is too opportunistic. The outline is fine as it is, but revise the story, starting from the plot.”
“That is what we will do.”
Koizumi’s facial muscles were on the verge of locking in place for being used too often in his wry smiles. If only there was a phrase to describe it, like ‘bitter anger’ or ‘bitter joy’!
She moved on to the sixth Wonder,
“The culprit is the Mystery Society!”
After her direct assertion, she continued.
“That’s how it would go on a meta level, but following the story, I’ll think that the real culprit is the secret society known as the ‘Friends of the Dummies’. The dummy terror incidents will also carry on uninterrupted, because the secret society—”
For some reason, I had the feeling that further investigation in this direction would be dangerous in every sense of the word, so I decided to ignore her with all my might.
Haruhi placed the report on her desk, then crossed her arms and turned to look at me.
Did she ignore the seventh Wonder?
Noticing that her face was once again decorated with another huge grin, I had a generally unpleasant premonition. But before I could find the source of my apprehension, Haruhi announced the answer.
“I’ll be thinking about the eighth Wonder, after all!”
I reflexively voiced out.
“Oi, did you read it properly? No one knows about the seventh Wonder. Having an eighth Wonder doesn’t fit with consistency.”
“The seventh isn’t known yet, so it has to be out there somewhere. But it doesn’t matter, since nobody knows.”
“You understand, Kyon? Being unknown is completely different from not existing at all. No one knows the 9,999 trillionth digit of pi6 after the decimal point, but it definitely has to be a digit from 0 to 9.”
“I regard the Seven Wonders of North High as a completed product. I can see some hints of hard work from the report.”
Well, thank you for the kind statement.
“But the fact that we’re going to create an eighth Wonder is not up for negotiation.”
But then it’ll cease to be the Seven Wonders.
“Isn’t it common for the Four Heavenly Kings to have a fifth person7?”
What world are you talking about? Jikoku-ten and the rest will feel hurt by that statement.
“Aren’t there five kings in the original Four Heavenly Kings8?”
Haruhi counted off with her fingers.
“Jikoku-ten, Zōjō-ten, Kōmoku-ten, Tamon-ten, Bishamon-ten. See, there’s five of them!”
I was about to nod in agreement, but something was off.
“One of those names was another name for one of the kings, if I recall correctly.”
“Tamon-ten is also known as Bishamon-ten. But that was a trick to deceive the humans of future generations. Yes, Tamon-ten and Bishamon-ten were basically twin brothers. Either that, or they were split personalities. Or they were two people acting out one role. Why not? It’s so much more dramatic this way.”
I don’t know what kind of drama it is, but it seems to be a story that makes me worried about Buddha’s punishment. Or in this case, I suppose it would be heavenly punishment. In any case, I don’t understand why it was necessary for Taishaku-ten’s9 close associates to prepare a trick for future generations of people to misrecognize them.
“You need to have a futuristic thought process with flexible ideas, instead of being tied down by rigid beliefs. Stopping for the flow of time won’t help you with anything. From now on, we shall be in the age of the Eight Wonders!”
Eight Wonders Age. Yeah, I have absolutely no clue as to what that means at all.
Hoping for reinforcements to support my dissenting opinion, I looked around my surroundings, and the only person to look me in the eye was Koizumi, but both his palms were facing upward, signalling that he had already unconditionally surrendered.
Asahina-san had started preparing to make tea, as if trying to evade the tentacles of words extending from Haruhi’s mouth, while Nagato had opened the latest book in the children’s horror series.
Aren’t you three being unfair here?
It seemed that it would now be my sole, hard struggle to make the eighth out of the Seven Wonders a reasonable one.
From here on, if the Seven Wonders passed down in schools across Japan became the Eight Wonders, it would be Haruhi’s responsibility.
The person in question leapt into her seat.
“Give me something extra bitter.”
“Would a double umekobucha10 do?”
Seemingly ecstatic, Asahina-san quickly got to work.
Meanwhile, Haruhi carefully scrutinized the materials brought over by the Mystery Society as well as the SOS Brigade’s report that was typed out by the swift key-puncher Nagato, comparing the two sets of documents, sometimes groaning, grinning, or furrowing her eyebrows in the process. She looked busy and it would be bad to disturb her.
As I returned to my folding chair, Koizumi, who was sitting next to me, drew close to my ear. Just what secrets are you planning to tell me?
“I’m also fine with talking in a loud voice, but I’m not sure about you.”
“By the way, there is one Wonder that isn’t part of the Seven Wonders, or rather, a mystery.”
Koizumi muttered in a thought-provoking tone.
“About the reason why you don’t want to call that girl from the Mystery Society by her nickname.”
There isn’t any in particular.
“Is that so?”
What are you trying to say?
“Suzumiya-san started calling you by your nickname quite a while ago. Basically, that makes up one part of your feelings.”
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
“That girl calls Suzumiya-san as Haru, without using honorifics. Could it be that you also—”
Alright, I get it, you don’t have to say it all.
I would like to know how to make Koizumi shut up. Right now.
“Addressing someone without an honorific is in itself a form of deep affection, but it is still not the same as calling someone by their nickname. Weren’t you thinking that since you don’t address Suzumiya-san by a nickname, you shouldn’t call another girl by her nickname? If you were not aware of this, then it was an unconscious decision; if you were indeed aware— then of course, it was a conscious decision.”
Seeing that I was at a loss for words, Koizumi continued.
“Well, between calling someone by their name alone and calling that person by their nickname, I’m not sure which one is more friendly, or how different the two actions are as an indication of the closeness between two people.”
You don’t have to say it even if you knew.
“Since Suzumiya-san started out by calling you by your nickname, I think there’s nothing wrong in addressing her as ‘Haru’. Try to imagine yourself doing just that.”
I actually complied. It was a blunder on my part to be thoughtlessly led on by the power of Koizumi’s words. Before I could regain my sense of reason, my imagination depicted the aforementioned situation in the back of my mind, and even simulated Haruhi’s reaction and emotions. The result was that— she didn’t take it badly.
Probably unable to let my countenance pass unnoticed, Koizumi let out what I can only describe as a chuckle, then delivered an affected smile.
“Well, take it easy.”
I can’t tell if he meant it as a piece of advice, a warning, or just a statement to show his sympathy. Leaving behind those words, Koizumi picked up the printout that had taken the place of the original notebook, then started polishing the fifth of the Seven Wonders, or the parallel world fantasy. I wonder how many revisions it would take for him to escape from Haruhi’s series of rejections.
Now, a request from me.
Someone, please give Haruhi a more interesting nickname. If I like it, I won’t even be reluctant to say it in front of her. Send your responses to ‘North Prefectural High School, Literary Club, c/o SOS Brigade’. The winner will be revealed in a speech made by yours truly.
Bored from having lost a person to talk to, I turned over a Hyakunin Isshu card from the pile we’d used to play Old Priest.
Premature name as one in love stood out in the way of love to be won.
What fun is there in having it known to anyone else than you I’ve held so secretly dear?
I thought that I’d leave it to the cards to tell my fortune, and that a card expressing my current state would appear, but this one’s somewhat off. Let’s take a look at the next one.
I wished the world never changed the way it is now,
Gently waving as the net drawn by a fisher’s humble boat.
I reached out to take a third card— but I stopped myself.
It felt as unproductive as drawing fortunes until a ‘Great Blessing’ appears, and since the cards didn’t come with their modern interpretations, I have no idea what they exactly mean.
I’ll have to instruct Koizumi to limit the analog games he brings in to those that are playable even for us uneducated people. I was wondering if there were any such foreign-produced games, when I remembered something.
Ah, that’s right. It would be bad if I don’t tell her about Miss Mystery Society’s request for Nagato to submit a composition. At first glance, since the subject was the Literary Club President Nagato, we didn’t seem to have any relation to this, but the leader for our club journal was Haruhi, so I had to tell her about it.
“What is it, Kyon?”
Tilting her teacup filled with double umekobucha, Haruhi looked straight at me, with the corners of her eyes flashing.
I don’t know when she’d moved, but Nagato was once again seated in the corner of the club room, zealously engaged in reading. She had apparently finished reading the horror story series for children, for the thick encyclopedia was back on her lap.
Asahina-san was heating up the kettle with the portable stove, while raising and lowering the tea caddies in both hands, seemingly in a dilemma about which tea leaves to brew next.
Koizumi tapped his temple with a mechanical pencil as he muttered about the fantasy setting he was going to write, which was a rare appearance that I hardly got to see. That being the case, it felt really weird to look at him while he was in that state.
With Haruhi installed in her home position, the room’s effective temperature assiduously increased, as if the atmosphere had suddenly remembered where it had left the warmth it should have brought in.
“The Mystery Club’s President apparently had a request for Nagato.”
“Oh? What kind?”
Spring would soon fade into the distance, and with the end of this season of fresh verdure, a climate overflowing with sunlight would be sure to come in the blink of an eye, along with anticyclones11 from the Pacific. On such a day, the SOS Brigade was now truly operating as per normal.
- Mikuru goes ビビクン again here, meaning that she convulsed as though bounded by chains, but I didn’t want to use such an unwieldy phrase again.
- I’m not sure why Mikuru and Haruhi say “Good morning” when it’s clearly afternoon. Perhaps some people say “Good morning” when they wake up from a nap.
- A play on the phrase 苦虫を噛みつぶしたよう, meaning to have a sour expression, as if having consumed a bitter bug.
- This is a state of the game where an opponent’s king has entered a player’s own territory, making it hard to go for checkmate due to the forward attacking nature of most shogi pieces.
- A bodhisattva associated with prajna (insight).
- As a matter of fact, about 22.5 trillion digits are currently known.
- In Pokémon games, The Elite Four (Four Heavenly Kings in Japanese) has five trainers, for instance.
- Four Buddhist gods, each of whom watches over one cardinal direction of the world.
- Ruler of the Trāyastriṃśa heaven in Buddhist cosmology.
- Tea made of powdered kelp and pickled plum.
- Effects of surface-based anticyclones include clearing skies as well as cooler, drier air. Fog can also form overnight within a region of higher pressure.