With Osanai-san being uncontactable and the kidnappers asking for a ransom by phone, her mother’s response to that situation was exceptionally appropriate. First, she contacted her husband and explained about their daughter’s kidnapping, then called the police. It was the first time I had ever seen 110 being dialled. I had called the police in the past, but at that time, I dialled the phone number of the police station instead of the emergency hotline.
“I got a phone call from some people saying that they had caught my daughter after she caused trouble for them, and they wanted me to prepare 5 million yen. Yes, I tried, but I could not contact my daughter.”
Next, she expelled me from the house. She didn’t have to do that, though. Why would I want to linger near a family whose daughter had just been kidnapped?
Come to think of it, the term kidnap means to use deceitful words to lure someone in and snatch them. It was difficult to imagine Osanai-san being taken in by words. Thus, it probably involved violence… an abduction.
But that was just a matter of semantics that didn’t matter at all.
Osanai-san getting kidnapped? Why?
The first thought that entered my head was one of doubt. Is it even real? By putting together some suitable lies, they could be trying to swindle and extort money out of the Osanai family. If that was the case, then it would turn out to be a poorly thought out scheme as soon as it was reported to the police. However, as long as we couldn’t confirm whether Osanai-san had indeed been captured, we should always be holding this doubt… Of course, I personally didn’t want the kidnapping to be real.
On the other hand, assuming that the kidnapping did occur, I keep worrying about whether Osanai-san is safe. Everyone knows that kidnappings for the sake of money can lead to tragedy. No, now is no time for bad omens!
But what overpowered those thoughts and dominated my heart was the surreal, ominous sensation of fear.
I took the elevator from the third floor of the apartment building and pinched my knee. I could certainly feel the pain, but perhaps due to the falling sensation of the elevator, I couldn’t feel my legs.
Osanai-san and I had been in contact with all sorts of trouble. Since the petit bourgeois that we aspire to become will shy away from trouble, all those bits of trouble we have gotten into were due to us getting caught up in them. Also, they were almost always accompanied by imminent danger and a sense of lightheadedness.
While we got close to such troublesome matters due to the personalities we were born with, we managed to escape the real dangers by exercising due caution, and perhaps utilising the self-defence mechanisms we’d learnt during our period in middle school, when we’d been made to drink from the bitter cup of humiliation. And thus our first year in high school was generally peaceful.
However, this incident was not befitting of petit bourgeois. A kidnapping is not peaceful. This was no leisurely matter which had no impact whether it was solved or not, like the “half” memo that Kengo had left behind, and neither was it a game, like the battle of wits we’d had surrounding the Charlotte. Ironically, the reality of this situation took away from my sense of reality, and instead a nondescript fear.
…And that was not all. Unfortunately, that was not all I, Kobato Jougorou, felt when I heard that Osanai Yuki had been kidnapped.
Resting a hand on the control panel in the elevator, I burst out.
“Seriously, just how much am I…”
Doubt, unease, a sense of surreality. I was certainly feeling those things. That was only natural. But I could also feel an unscrupulous impulse beneath all those emotions, and I had to recognize that.
Feeling shameful for having such an impulse, I muttered in the private room.
“This is not a test of wisdom… Osanai-san has really been abducted!”
I was actually feeling exhilarated.
These opportunities are few and far between. To someone who boasts about being an intelligent person and claims to be able to reach the truth faster than anyone, there is no material more attractive than this. Exquisite skill can only stand out in the presence of a worthy adversary. I’ve not been blessed with such an opportunity for a long time, but having such a case would more than quell the boredom I’ve endured up till now. Long live kidnappings!
Basically, that was how I thought. With this way of thinking, I’d hurt so many people, offended them, and taken the blame for that myself. That was why we advocated for the way of the petit bourgeois and decided to cover our faces and shut our eyes whenever we ran into such problematic situations.
…Even so, I was still having these thoughts of wanting to solve the problem and showing off my wisdom.
The elevator doors opened. I exited the apartment building, only to be greeted by a heavily clouded sky and surrounded by annoying hot air.
It might be extremely minor compared to the danger Osanai-san was in, but at least one good thing for me was that there was no way to meddle in this situation. I may be skilled in finding small clues from my memory and drawing meaning from them, but since there were no clues, there was no need for me to be involved.
Well, to be honest, there may have been two or three points which I felt were a little off, but pursuing those clues would not save Osanai-san. The police were already on the move. There was no need to criticize my dedication to being a little citizen, for there was nothing I could do.
Having reached that conclusion, I was finally able to pray for Osanai-san’s safety from my heart. Osanai-san, a second-year student in high school who didn’t look that part; Osanai Yuki, an irreplaceable friend. I don’t know why, or even whether she was kidnapped, but please, let her be safe. Although I can’t do anything…
Right, I’ll at least buy those candied apples you were so looking forward to. I’ll give them to you when you return.
With that prayer, I was about to straddle my bicycle, when my mobile phone vibrated. I’d just received an email, and the sender was… Osanai-san!
I immediately snatched my phone and flipped it open. With quick button presses, I opened the email.
My eyes opened wide as I read the text on the screen.
This was how Osanai-san’s email went:
“Sorry, please buy me four candied apples and one Canelé.1 Sorry.
– Osanai Yuki was abducted in a normal passenger car belonging to the father of Hōjō Tomoko, a member of the group. Hōjō did not own a driving license, but had always continued illegally driving her father’s car. Additionally, her father is believed to be aware of that, but implicitly condoned it.
There were five people in the car, with Hōjō behind the wheel, and three people at the back. Osanai-san was made to sit in the center, and constantly received prods and threats from the left and right.
Osanai’s outfit that day was a navy blue flared skirt and a white button-down shirt. She was carrying no items like a bag in her hands.
The kidnapping group had shown strong hostility towards Osanai, but did not do anything violent while they were on the move. Isawa kept threatening Osanai with murder, but that was just typical abrasive language. It was probably unthinkable for her to have murderous intent over something like this.
Osanai did not openly resist, and only looked firmly down. Whenever Isawa directed sharp words at her, she would give short replies like “That’s wrong” or “Sorry”, but would never start a topic on her own.
Also, Isawa showed considerable dissatisfaction towards Kawamata Sanae, who did not participate in this operation.
The car ride took twenty minutes.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, _Maki
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!