Case of the Autumn-Exclusive Kuri Kinton Chapter 5: Midsummer Night (Full Text)

Chapter 4 | Contents | Chapter 6

Table of Contents


The Funado High School building was generally open during the summer break, mainly for the sake of club activities. Some people came to study, but they were few in number, because the school had no air conditioning. The library was a lot cooler, if you could secure a seat.

It was the 8th of August, and some Newspaper Club members were gathered in the hot school grounds. For first-year students, there were Ichihata, Haraguchi and Etou. Also, there were two new members, Etou and Tanada, who had been impressed by the Newspaper Club’s strenuous efforts.

For second-year students, it was just me and Itsukaichi. Additionally, we’d gathered some reinforcements by using our circles of friends, and there were seven of them. Together we made up fourteen people, the full strength of the Newspaper Club on that day. All of us were male.

As usual, the Printing Preparation Room was cramped and cluttered. It would be too stifling to have more than ten people packed inside, so we formed a circle in the corridor outside.

I kept silent as Ichihata delivered a speech to the crowd.

“Eh, today will be our decisive battle. In May and July, the Newspaper Club found the arson crime scenes as quickly as possible, but the culprit managed to escape. We’ll look like fools if we allow that to happen a third time. Today, we will catch the culprit and put an end to this. Let’s do our best.”

His manner of speech was gentle, but his voice was filled with passion. Upon hearing his speech, the other members tensed up as well. I could easily tell that morale was high. The freshmen, who had been useless when they first joined in April, were gradually becoming more reliable.

After that, Itsukaichi went into the administrative details.

“Well, as much as we want to catch him, make sure you don’t overdo it. Apprehending the culprit is of utmost importance, but we have to consider that he could be holding a deadly weapon. It could be too dangerous, so simply taking a video of him is fine. All of you have a camera, right?”

He was met with scattered nods. However, the only Newspaper Club members with a digital camera were Haraguchi and myself. All other members would be using the camera function on their mobile phones as a substitute. It was possible that some of the reinforcements hadn’t even brought a phone. The incident would occur late at night, so a camera without the flash function would be useless. A disposable camera could still be useful…

But I didn’t say those thoughts aloud. Itsukaichi distributed a map, then instructed each person on their stakeout positions. All I did was watch as he carried out his actions.

“Also, the police patrols have been strengthened. We may be acting to resolve this case, but that reason might not pass. One of us was given a warning in May, and another first-year student Honda was stopped and severely reprimanded just last month. This isn’t somebody else’s business. They were lucky, but the police may not give us a second chance this time.”

Honda had quit the club. I didn’t do anything in particular to convince him to stay.

Itsukaichi’s explanation properly conveyed the dangers of this operation. But all the members wouldn’t be afraid at this point in time. All the people who had remained in the club would do it even knowing how dangerous it could be.

I could now rely on them a little. That was what I thought as I continued being silent.

There was a reason for my silence.

For one, I’d started to think that a club president should not be casually giving instructions. I’d been the one to come up with the personnel distribution chart, but it was fine for someone else to distribute them and do the explanations.

I hadn’t thought like that from the beginning, but just a while ago, Itsukaichi suggested to me, “I’ll handle the trivial work, so you can focus on the article.” I was just about to assign to the first-year students administrative tasks like using the photocopy machine, procuring paper and distributing Funado Monthly to each class. Of course, it was to make them learn our work, but perhaps Itsukaichi misunderstood and thought that I wanted to cut corners with the administrative work. Well, I was certainly grateful that he was now willing to take on so many tasks.

However, there was another, bigger reason for my silence.

It was because I was deep in thought. Today, the 8th of August, was not only the day of our decisive battle. I’d been thinking about this for quite a long time already… that was what I’d been mainly doing for the last month.

July was a busy month for the Newspaper Club.

On the 1st of July, we published the July issue of Funado Monthly, as per usual. Next, we had to take the first trimester’s examinations as high school students. In the short period of time between that and summer break, we’d produced the August issue of Funado Monthly and distributed it at the closing ceremony in July. It was a tight schedule, but I’d spent most of that period deep in thought as well. As a result, my exam results were horrendous.

Who is Fireman?

I had never actually tried to proactively answer this question. When I was still a freshman, I had my hands full putting up articles of the next target on Funado Monthly. I had to consider how to convince President Doujima, how to handle Monchi, and how to forestall the Student Counseling Department, so I had no time to think about Fireman’s identity itself.

When I became a second-year student, I became the club president, and my biggest goal became taking a video of Fireman at the crime scene and if possible, capturing him. Since I knew where he would appear, all that was left was to actually catch him… With that being the plan, it was meaningless trying to proactively deduce what kind of person Fireman could be.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t have at least a faint idea.

The principle behind Fireman’s target selection was in Kira City’s Disaster Prevention Plan. Information of those precinct names in the same order as the crime locations could only be found there. Thanks to that, we could narrow it down to someone closely related to the Disaster Prevention Plan, either a firefighter or a city hall staff member involved with the plan. That was why I’d named the culprit “Fireman”, as in “Firefighter”.

Fireman also acted only late at night, and in a wide range. I could remember discussing this with Doujima-senpai. I’d suggested that the culprit had an automobile for him to easily get around. But Doujima-senpai had shaken his head in response, saying that a bicycle was enough to cover the distance.

Putting them together, I imagined Fireman to be a person unsatisfied with Kira City’s firefighting system, and wanted to challenge it, someone with too much passion, unable to bear with the status quo, even going as far as setting fires to point out the holes in the system. That was the criminal profile I’d come up with.

However, I lacked the evidence to make such a declaration. I should get rid of this baseless image and think again. What kind of person is Fireman… and who?

I continued thinking.

I felt a light poke on my arm. With a start, I looked up to see Itsukaichi talking to me in a small voice.


Thirteen able men were looking at me. To be able to finally capture Fireman today, they were waiting for my orders.

If I said the word, our plan would be put into motion. We would regroup at 11pm in Harimi Town, Kira City. We would then standby at the determined locations on the map, do some patrols and wait for the arsonist. I should have just said, “Dismissed.”

Up till now, I hadn’t thought about what to say, but after observing such enthusiasm to the decisive battle with my very eyes… the words naturally came out.

“The first fire at Hamae occurred last year in October. It has been close to a year already, and we’ve had 9 cases of arson in 10 months. Neither us nor the police and fire department were able to stop the arsonist, and he was only stopped once thanks to the rain. That’s pathetic.

“But this time, it’s different. We, the Newspaper Club members have gained much experience, and are now fully prepared. So many of you have also come to help. All of you are probably confident that we’ll catch the criminal today. Of course, so am I.”

I took a short breath.

“At the beginning, there was some backlash when we were deciding whether to work on this case of serial arson. The club president and seniors at the time were heavily opposed to the idea, saying that this had no place in Funado Monthly. Even so, thanks to some coincidence and good luck, I was allowed to write the article.

“When I became club president, I decided to directly pursue the culprit. I might look confident in front of you, but I’ve also questioned if something like that is even possible. As I doubted myself, I still pushed forward. And now here we are today.”

But, I was about to say.

But I’m still doubtful even now. Was it really a good thing to be involved with this incident? If I’d listened to my seniors and written articles exactly the same as the previous year’s, I wouldn’t be feeling this way now, right?

However, I swallowed those words down. The time to talk about personal sentiments had passed. Now I should act as the Newspaper Club president and lead these people.

I sharply raised my head.

“We’ll end it this month. There won’t be a next month. After all, I know who the arsonist is.”

A stir swept through the group as they heard my sudden declaration. Some of them were taken aback, while others looked at me with faces that said, “Who is it?”

“We have two options. We could either end it tonight by capturing the culprit, or we could end it tomorrow by paying them a visit. And that is why I’m confident in the Newspaper Club’s victory. That’s all I have to say. Everyone, dismissed.”

Without responding to a single question, I left the school.

There was somewhere I had to go, and they would soon understand anyway.


I couldn’t really say that it was a pleasant night.

In the past, I’d exposed others’ secrets and extracted the truth from complicated situations. Drunk on how good that felt, I’d always hurled the truth out into the open while everyone else was wandering around, not knowing what was going on. To me, that was like tossing a bomb into a crowd , and greatly satisfied my desire for mischief and self-esteem.

I’d done so many things in the past, and even encountered some scenes that most of my peers would have never seen or thought of.

But perhaps due to fate, I’d never experienced something like this before… a stakeout in the hours of darkness.

As the weather forecast had predicted, it was a night of tropical weather1. I’d been worried about the weather since the arsonist wouldn’t show up in the case of rain, but my concern was unfounded. Even though I was wearing a cool polo T-shirt, I could feel that I was dripping with sweat.

I was confident that tonight would be the final confrontation. Even though I should have stopped showing off my wisdom, here I was again.

I really couldn’t say that it was a pleasant night.

A phone call came from Kengo.

“Good evening, Kengo. Have you secured a good covering position?”

I adopted a burlesque style of speech, but Kengo didn’t play along, instead replying with his usual sulky voice.

I’m doing what you told me to. All of it.”

Kengo and I were waiting at different locations. I was in the parking area of a CD shop, leaning against the shop wall, while Kengo was already in Harimi Town.

Tonight, the entirety of Funado High School Newspaper Club and their support should be fielded in Harimi Town. According to our inside source, Itsukaichi-kun, there were fourteen of them in total. However, Harimi Town was positioned quite a distance away from the Kira City center, and encompassed a wide area. With the new highway, a small amount of development had been done, but it was still basically an endless expanse of fields that provided a clear view. I was even surprised by its size when I looked at the Kira City map again. Almost the entire northeast region of the city was covered by the name “Harimi Town”. It would be quite difficult to totally cover the area with only fourteen people.

Even so, the Newspaper Club was certainly wandering around. If Kengo were to be spotted, it would cause some unnecessary chaos, so he should be staying hidden.

“So, did you need something? I think it’s still early, though.”

The previous arson attacks all occurred at around midnight, so it should still be early… but I didn’t know exactly what time it was.

“What time is it?”

It was a little troubling that I couldn’t see the clock display on my phone while I was on the call.

It’s 9:30.”

Kengo was probably wearing a wristwatch. He sure was well-prepared for everything.

It’s still early. That’s why I called you.”

“I see. Are there any inadequacies in our preparation?”

No, not really.”

Well, since we’d reached tonight without any problems, it shouldn’t be that difficult from here on out. I also had the one-man unit Doujima Kengo. The plan was already working.

“That’s good to hear. But just be careful. They might have some kind of bladed weapon, after all.”

In return, Kengo replied in a voice that made it seem like he was putting on a wry smile, which was rare.

It sure always turns into a dangerous situation whenever I work with you. I’ll be careful. I don’t want to get cut again.”

Come to think of it, Kengo did get slashed by a knife once before. That was last year in summer… which would mean an entire year had already passed since then. The two of us snuck into that abandoned gymnasium and had a scuffle with a gang of delinquents. Kengo used his fists, but his opponent had a knife, so he got slashed and received an injury. While it was a shallow wound that took only three days to heal, he lost quite a lot of blood.

“Sorry for dragging you into that mess back then.”

Unexpectedly, he responded in a low, collected voice.

It’s fine. Once that ended, it turned out to be quite interesting.”

“I suppose it was. We were really desperate at the time, though.”

Yeah, we were always out of breath.”

His words trailed off. If our preparations for tonight’s strategy was fine, what was he calling for?

Hey, Jougorou, tonight will be the last, right?”

“That’s what I hope.”

While the strategy was going smoothly, I didn’t know what else could happen. If that case, I would probably have to rely on Kengo’s abilities.

But Kengo wasn’t talking about that.

No, I’m not talking about the arsonist… We’re both in our third year. We’ll have to start studying for entrance examinations soon.”

“I’ve started a while ago already. You taking it easy, Kengo?”

It’s not like I haven’t been doing anything.”

Once again, he replied in a light tone. He was no longer a person worth teasing.

Don’t make fun of someone when they’re speaking seriously.”

“Sorry about that. So, you were saying?”

Kengo spoke in a sullen voice.

I was just thinking that this is the last time I’m sticking my head into a troublesome matter with you.”

“…In the end this is about entrance examinations, isn’t it?”

I’ve been thinking. We haven’t exactly been on friendly terms. That’s because I, er, disliked your behavior. I’ve got a few good friends in class. And in the Newspaper Club, I’ve met some good seniors. And juniors, too.”

A group of high school students passed in front of my eyes. They entered the CD shop while discussing some trivial matter.

But what I’ll never forget in these three years is that I somehow got involved with you. Although I’ve only talked with you a few times each year… why did that happen?”

That wasn’t an easy question to answer.

It’s not like I want you to clean up your act. I don’t have the right to decide that for you. But I’ve thoroughly thought about this. From tomorrow onwards, we probably won’t talk to each other again. If we take our entrance examinations and graduate like this, an entire year might pass without us talking at all. So if I don’t say this tonight, I feel like it’ll become a burden on my mind.

Hey, Jougorou, I’ve been thinking, but when it’s all said and done you’re not really a little citizen, are you?”



Why are you saying this only now?

Wasn’t this why I could never decisively cut my ties with Doujima Kengo, no matter how many times he hits the mark, no matter how many times I get assaulted with that feeling of emptiness during those instances? Even if I forget everyone’s names, even if my mobile phone’s memory gets emptied, the first name to come up would be Doujima Kengo, wouldn’t it?

That too late, way too late. He wasn’t a brontosaurus, so it was way too slow for his brain to reach that conclusion.

While leaning on the wall, I crossed my legs, then switched the phone to my other hand.

“You know, I think a lot of things will happen tonight.”


“You should take care of your phone’s battery. If the battery goes dead at a critical time, it might make for an interesting situation, but it would be simply foolish.”


“I’ll take it easy until it’s time. There’s a CD I want to get, anyway. Bye.”

I started to pull my phone away

But Kengo’s yell still reached my ears.

Jougorou, it’s a fire! I see a fire! They’ve done it!”


I couldn’t deny that I was taken by surprise. The last ten attacks had occurred at around midnight, so I’d assumed that there would be some time left tonight. However, thinking about it now, it wasn’t strange for them to commit the crime early, just for the month of August.

I pulled myself together, then headed to the parking area of the CD shop at a trot. I kept my mobile phone on my ear.

“Kengo, what about the culprit?”

I’m looking. They’re there.”

How well would he be able to see in the dark?

I’ll chase them.”

“I’m counting on you. I’ll also get there soon.”

Yeah. But that’s… damn, he got away!”

With that tense line, the call was dropped. Perhaps the culprit had noticed Kengo, or had decided to flee anyway. In any case, that was bad. Letting them escape this late in the game was not funny. Though it probably wasn’t so bad if Kengo could see them… Stuffing my mobile phone into a pocket, I hopped onto my bicycle.

I understood that the arson attack occurred in the 1st District of Harimi Town, near Harimi Children’s Park 1. The route was already in my head. It was the fastest route, in which I wouldn’t have to wait for a traffic light. I raced towards the pavement of the City Inner Ring Line2, on which bicycles could travel. I turned at the only junction on the route, sliding on the back wheel of my bicycle. An orange hue could certainly be seen at the edge of my vision.

If only I had a scooter license at a time like this. It would probably be unbearable to experience “a time like this” multiple times, but this was probably only my third time since entering high school. I reached the crime scene only three minutes after the call with Kengo ended.


The arsonist had been gradually escalating the scale of their crimes. Setting abandoned bicycles or a bus stop bench on fire was not a significant matter, but going by the law of escalation, the arson target would eventually have to reach this level.

The fire was coming from a private residence.

Let’s calm down and take a better look, I told myself.

The house itself was not on fire. On the side of the house was a garage, and next to that, a small shed. There was a lot of farmland in this area, so that shed was probably used for temporarily storing farming tools. The building set on fire was that storage shed. To make things worse, it was made of wood. The object actually on fire was a pile of old newspapers under the eaves.

However, it was still hot. The fire was intense. It wasn’t the dry season, yet the fire was spreading fast, and probably couldn’t be handled at this point. While it hadn’t moved to the walls yet, that was just a matter of time.

If the shed caught on fire, it would spread to the garage. It left untouched, the main house would be on fire as well. Was there no one at home? I noticed that there was no car in the garage. That meant that the owners were probably out.

I looked around at the surroundings.

I felt bad for the residents of that house, but I couldn’t help thinking that it was a good thing that this arson attack was occurring in Harimi Town. The house was surrounded on all sides by farmland, and was at least 50 meters away from the next house. Even in the worst case scenario, the fire wouldn’t spread from house to house.

At this point, no one from a nearby house had shown their face. Had no one else noticed this fire? Perhaps they thought it was just a bonfire. In an open area like this, some residents would burn their rubbish, after all.

Kengo wasn’t around. He was chasing the culprit. Would he make it? It should be fine, he is Doujima Kengo, after all.

On the other hand, there was nothing for me, the first one on the scene, to do.

No, there was. Kengo probably hadn’t had the time, and if no one was in the house, and none of the neighbors had noticed, that meant a report hadn’t been done yet. I retrieved my mobile phone and pondered for a while.

The fire department’s hotline is 117, right?

No, that would be the clock.

It’s easy to mistake it for the weather forecast. Why did they use such similar numbers, anyway? Even a number like 112 would be less likely to be mistaken for something else3.

I finally realized that the number I wanted was 119, the hotline for the fire department and emergency services. That wasn’t good. I was making such a basic error with a fire before my eyes. I needed to calm down. With a couple of deep breaths, I got a hold of myself and made the phone call.

This is the 119 hotline. Is there a fire, or is there another emergency?”

“A fire.”

What is the location of the fire?”

“Harimi Town, 1st District, near Harimi Children’s Park 1. A storage shed next to a private residence is on fire.”

As I explained, I wandered around the shed.

Do you know if there is anyone trapped in the shed?”

“I don’t know.”

Could we have your name, please?”

I hung up.

It wasn’t that I was averse to giving my name, but I found something interesting at that moment and was a little rattled, causing me to accidentally press the hold button.

It was the back of the shed which could not be seen from the road. There was another small hut attached to the shed.

The hut was larger than a doghouse, but smaller than the rabbit hutch my elementary school had. The roof was made of corrugated tin, and the walls made of planks. It was about as tall as my waist, and had a wire mesh door. The problem was the contents of that hut.

Three jerrycans lined up next to each other.


I expressed my surprise in an American style, allowing me to calm down a little. It was then that I noticed a piece of paper stuck on one of the walls. In messy children’s handwriting were the words, “No open flames! Please do not smoke here.” Was the father or grandfather a smoker? In any case, it was understood that open flames were not allowed there. Perhaps there was some fuel inside? It couldn’t be gasoline, right? What would it be doing there?

That wasn’t good. The main house was next to the garage, which was in turn next to the storage shed, or the source of the fire, so I could be underestimating the chance of it catching on fire. Would the fire department arrive on time? On top of that, there was some fuel or gasoline, or something else that caused open flames to be prohibited. What would happen if that caught on fire as well and accelerated the fire’s spread? I wasn’t a firefighter, so I couldn’t tell how bad the situation was. In any case, I would rather not have an explosion on my hands.

All I had to do was to get the jerrycans away. Out of the small hut and far from the fire, which had already spread to the wall. I only now noticed that the area near my fingertips was bright. Attached to the wire mesh door was a padlock.

“Locked, huh…”

Wondering if the owners had forgotten, I tried pulling on the padlock.

The occupants of this house apparently took great care in crime prevention. It was locked.

The padlock looked sturdy, and the wire mesh that the padlock was fixed to did not seem like cheap material.

Meaning I probably couldn’t kick it down.

But I still had to try. With all my might, I unleashed a mid-level roundhouse kick, and hit my target, the door.

Clang! Pain shot through my body. That was hard. After thinking it over, I muttered a couple of sentences.

“It’s no good. I need some tools.”

There might be something good in the storage shed. But if the small hut was properly locked, would I be able to unlock the storage shed? With only a faint hope, I turned around.

The flames were licking the walls and quickly scorching the eaves. How would the fire spread? If it continued going up like this, the hut containing the jerrycans would probably be fine, at least until the roof of the storage shed collapsed. If it spread horizontally, it wouldn’t be strange for the jerrycans to start getting roasted even now… I couldn’t hear any firetruck sirens. I’d informed them already, right? Did I properly tell them the location? I think it should have been fine, though.

I checked my surroundings again. No neighbors had appeared yet. Perhaps I should shout to get their attention? No, but…

My bicycle was parked at the front-facing side of the storage shed. I hadn’t brought any tools. If I knew how to ride a motorcycle, I could have charged in yelling, “Hey ho!”, making a cool entrance. I checked the door of the shed, but it was no use. It was made of aluminum, and was securely locked.

Was there no other way? Could the key to the padlock be lying around somewhere? While running my gaze around, I did a lap around the shed. A large rake was leaning on the opposite side of the wall that was burning. I wasn’t asking for a sledgehammer, but I would have been fine with a hoe. Alas, there was nothing. Would I make it in time?

After that lap, I returned to the back of the shed.

A dark silhouette was standing in the reflected light of the flames.

It was a school uniform. Since it was in the middle of summer, the uniform was short-sleeved, but it was also navy blue. That blue was in a particular deep shade, and looked almost black. A red ribbon was tied to the chest area of the uniform. Basically, it was a short-sleeved sailor uniform.

It wasn’t the Funado High School uniform, since the shirt in the summer uniform is white. Which school did it belong to, then? I wasn’t familiar with school uniforms. Was there a school in this town that used a navy blue uniform?

No matter which school the uniform belonged or didn’t belong to, the student wearing it was from Funado High School. She looked like a middle school student. Even she wouldn’t look like an elementary school student while wearing a uniform.

It was Osanai Yuki, a third-year high school student from Funado High School.

The fire’s intensity wasn’t waning. The wind was starting to blow sparks up into the air.

Osanai-san and I faced each other at a distance where we couldn’t reach each other even if we extended our hands. None of us said anything, probably because we were both surprised. Or perhaps it was because we had nothing to say to each other. I was safe where I was, but Osanai-san’s area should be awash with hot air.

A hammer was in one of her small hands. It was a large hammer that looked like it could even drive stakes into the ground and was painted red on its metallic parts. With no claw, both sides of the metal head formed a flat shape, causing it to look even more crude. This tool that gave hints of direct violence looked awfully out of place in Osanai-san’s hand.

Our eyes met for a moment that spanned only a few seconds.

The first one to move was Osanai-san. As if having spotted something she wasn’t used to, she tilted her head, a bewildered expression on her face.

She straightened her grip on the hammer.

Then, she looked away.

With a twist of her petite body, she lifted the hammer and took a small step with her left foot. Next, she forcefully brought the hammer down from her shoulder.

The flames rose in the shed, and some pop sounds came from the fire. Within that, a low, dull sound rang out.

The hammer landed a hit on the wall to the hut with the jerrycans. Neither the padlock nor the wire mesh would break no matter how many times they were hit, so Osanai-san was using the hammer to strike the wooden wall.

But once wasn’t enough. She raised the hammer again. Twisting her body, she struck the wall from a diagonal upward angle. She repeated this again and again.

Osanai-san kept swinging the hammer.

Perhaps a hole had finally appeared in the wall, for Osanai-san changed her hammer swings. She stepped forward further with her left foot, and her hammer trajectory got lower. She swung the hammer as if she was hitting a gong. The fire was already making my cheeks feel hot.

The hut with the jerrycans was gradually being destroyed, and sharp cracking sounds could be heard coming from it.


Osanai-san inadvertently let out a laugh. It seemed like she was somehow having fun. Noticing her laugh, she tightened her lips, but it was too late. She was unable to hide her smile. I could understand how she was feeling. I was probably smiling too.

As the fire burnt on, she brought down the hammer. While pulling back her arms and twisting her body around, she gave a faint smile and fluttered her hair.

It was like a dream.

Osanai-san brought the hammer above her head for one last strike. Bringing her body low, almost touching her knees, she drove it in and cleanly smashed the wall. The hole was now large enough. While holding the hammer as if it was stuck to her palm, she stuck her other arm into the hut with the jerrycans.

The jerrycans were apparently filled to the brim. Osanai-san tried to lightly pull one out, but was met with unexpected resistance, causing her arm to get caught and causing her to stumble.

In her half-kneeling position, she looked at me.

“It’s heavy.”

She said.

I smiled wryly.

“I’ll do it. Let me take your place.”


Still holding the hammer, Osanai-san gave up her place to me. I tried grabbing the handle of a jerrycan, and it was indeed unexpectedly heavy. Also, since I was sticking my arm in a small hole, my posture was bad, causing me to be unable to exert my full strength. Furthermore, the ground at my feet was soft, which stopped me from getting a good foothold. Still, it was just a jerrycan. With a forceful jerk, I yanked it out and threw it onto a weed-strewn patch of ground.

Osanai-san immediately dashed over, grabbed the jerrycan with both hands, then carried it unsteadily to where the fire wouldn’t reach. We did the same for the next one.

The last jerrycan was far from the hole. Kneeling on the ground, I stuck my shoulder into the hole. After some struggling, I finally reached it and somehow managed to drag it out. Although Osanai-san was holding her hands out, waiting for the next jerrycan, I carried it myself since it was the last one, and dumped it far from the fire.

All finished. While the fire would still continue to spread, we’d done all that we could for now.

With half my body lit up by the blaze, I turned to face Osanai-san.

Bang! At that moment, an explosive sound permeated the air. Perhaps there was something flammable in the house? I reflexively ducked, while Osanai-san leapt back with amazing reaction speed.

The sound was loud, but nothing came flying out. As the tension let up, I took another look at Osanai-san and found that she was in a half-stooping, half-bracing stance, which I found to be quite amusing, though I was probably taking on a weird posture as well. Our eyes met, upon which we jointly laughed.

There were many things I wanted to say, like “Long time no see” or “What a coincidence”. I even wanted to ask questions like “Where is that uniform from?” and “Was the hammer heavy?” But before I had the chance to open my mouth, Osanai-san spoke.

“I had a feeling I would meet you again tonight.”

Now that she mentioned it, I realized that I’d harbored the same feeling as well.

“Yeah, although I didn’t think it would be tonight.”

“Are you here because of Doujima-kun?”


Kengo was certainly deeply involved in this case of serial arson, but I was not here tonight because of him.

“By the way, have you seen Kengo?”

“Yup. He ran off.”

“That guy really can run. I wonder what happened to his bicycle.”

Osanai-san casually picked up the hammer, which had fallen to the ground. It looked huge earlier, but now that I was seeing it up close, I learned that it was the type with a short handle.

“That’s quite a handy thing you’ve got there. Did you find it lying on the ground?”


Shaking her head, Osanai-san hid the hammer behind her back. What was the point of doing that now?

“I brought it along because I thought something like this would happen.”

“Well, it turned out to be really useful.”

Her only response to that was a small nod.

The fire reached the roof of the small hut. There was now nothing that could be done. Since Osanai-san was glancing at the fire, I told her just in case.

“I’ve already made a report.”

“Really? Let’s get away, then.”

As Osanai-san immediately turned away, I asked her a question that I’d just thought of.

“Ah, there’s one thing I want to ask you.”

“…What is it?”

I stared fixedly at Osanai-san, who turned her head back to face me.

Even after last summer’s case ended, I’d seen her in school from time to time. I’d seen her laughing away with classmates, and running to the gates because she was almost late for school. But I still felt that it had been a long time since I really saw her.

There was something I’d noticed because of the long gap in time since we last met.

“Did you…”


“Did you get taller?”

Osanai-san blinked a few times in succession.

She then put on a smile that seemed to be spilling out of her face.

“Yup, I reached my goal.”

“Congratulations. Did you drink milk?”

“I did.”

Something in the hut must have collapsed, for the sound of a heavy object falling down could be heard. This time, I wasn’t surprised.

“I see. So, why did you do something like this?”

As expected, she didn’t get fooled.

“Kobato-san, you said you had one question, so my answer is ‘I drank milk.’”

At that moment, I noticed sirens ringing. They’ve finally arrived, I thought, although not even five minutes had passed. There was no point in staying any longer.

“See you then.”

I said, and Osanai-san nodded. That concluded our dialogue on this midsummer night, or at least that was what I thought.

I hadn’t noticed, and neither had Osanai-san, until it was too late.

One more person had entered the scene at some point of time. He was wearing a shirt with English letters on it and sneakers. It was a good outfit to move around in. His breathing was ragged, probably because he’d run over. He was a boy who looked to be my age, and although I had never seen him before, I somehow felt like I knew his name.

Osanai-san seemed to know that I would be here, so she might have expected his arrival as well. I shifted my gaze at him and flashed a grin.

“Good evening, Urino-kun. You shouldn’t be walking about so late at night when you’re not yet eighteen.”

Urino Takahiko, the Newspaper Club president after Kengo, and a second-year student with a deep interest in the Kira City serial arson case. I had quite a lot of data on him, but this was the first time meeting him in person. Since he was going out with Osanai-san, my image of him was someone with a childlike appearance, but that wasn’t the case.

Oh? He was glaring at me with an extremely severe look on his face. Feigning ignorance, I looked away and wondered what Urino-kun thought of my presence. But after that singular glance at me, he turned to Osanai-san and spoke.

“I kind of knew it, although I didn’t want to believe it.”

Osanai-san was smiling silently. I never thought I would see that smile of hers so soon when this was the first time we’d met in a long time.

The sirens had gotten a lot closer. Everyone living close by would come running over soon. In fact, it was quite miraculous that none of them had arrived yet.

Urino-kun took a short breath, then muttered mournfully.

“It was you, wasn’t it?”


Osanai’s feet were surprisingly quick when she ran off.

A firetruck had already arrived, so someone must have called for it. I could hear continued shouts of “Fire!” Residents from the surrounding area were gathering around.

The police would probably arrive soon as well. It was looking to be a busy night. The phone in my pocket was vibrating incessantly. A Newspaper Club member or helper who had arrived on the scene early was trying to contact me. The guy who had been caught by the police before might be here right now, but I had no time to pay attention to everyone.

Osanai was wearing a dark navy blue uniform, so it became difficult to spot her once she faded into the night. Perhaps she’d been aiming for that when she put on that outfit. I thought I would lose sight of her, but I did barely witness her escaping into the park. It was surrounded by shrubberies and an iron fence, and with a cursory glance I noticed that it had only one way in or out. As I steadied my breath, the words “Harimi Children’s Park 1” carved onto a plate came into view.

I swallowed my saliva and took a look at the park. It was not yet 10pm. At this time, it wouldn’t be strange for delinquents in the neighborhood to be loitering around, but thankfully, no such people were present.

An empty bench, a slide, a jungle gym. A tree spreading its branches far and wide, a sandpit. There was no lighting, probably because it was not expected for people to be in the park at night. However, the sky was clear with the moon being out, and light from the street lamps outside could also get in. There wouldn’t be any problems with being unable to see. Yet I still couldn’t spot Osanai… then again, I was absolutely certain that she’d come into this park.

My phone was still vibrating. Clicking my tongue, I turned it off.

With a deep breath, I entered the park and looked around. There were no signs of movement anywhere. Steeling my resolve, I called out.

“Osanai, you’re here, right?”

I focused my attention on the park entrance so that she wouldn’t be able to slip past me.

“It’s over. There’s no point running away now.”

Osanai wouldn’t come out even if I called out at her, so I would have to search each hiding spot. That was what I thought, but she readily appeared from the shadow of a tree. A smile was on her face, and her hands were behind her back.

“What’s wrong, Urino-kun? Why are you saying something as dreary as ‘It’s over’?”

She asked, teasing me with her words. I desperately resisted the urge to flip out. She should know that it was impossible for her to escape at this stage, and was just putting on a front.

With steady steps, I closed the distance between us. My back facing the exit, I stopped at a point where I wouldn’t be too close to her.

“I’ve seen it. It’s over.”

“It’s a misunderstanding. I only met that boy just now when he was passing by.”

“That’s not what I’m saying!”

I snapped, my voice turning coarse. I ground my back teeth.

“That’s not what I’m saying. You should know what I’m talking about.”

But Osanai maintained her attitude.

“What? What is it?”

So she wanted me to say it. Then I had no choice.

“You were the one who set the fires.”

Biting my lip, I continued.

“You were the one responsible for the case of serial arson that has been going on since November.”

“…Why do you think that way?”

The quality of her voice had changed. It was now lower. But that wasn’t all. It also now included a vibrancy that made my blood curdle. Was I really going to be pressured by her like that? There was no way Osanai could escape now. I glared piercingly at her.

“Why were you there, then? What were you doing?”

“I was taking a walk when I saw a fire. Anyone else would have approached it as well. Just like a fly would.”

“A walk? Your house is in Hinoki Town. You taking me for a fool?”

“You knew? Perhaps I told you. Yeah, I probably did.”

Hinoki Town is at the southern tip of Kira City. To get here, the northeast, you would have to cut through the Kira City center, a journey that would take dozens of minutes, even on a bicycle. “Taking a walk” didn’t hold up as an excuse at all.

“My house is way, way over there. Yes, I suppose it’s a bit far for a walk. But you haven’t actually seen it, have you?”

“No, I…”

“All you saw was me standing next to the fire. Isn’t that right, Urino-kun?”

Indeed, I hadn’t directly seen her start the fire. That was a failure on my part. However, I’d witnessed a more decisive scene.

I tried to speak, but Osanai beat me to it.

“When I saw the fire, I ran towards it and tried to extinguish the fire with another boy who happened to be there. I endured the heat, and worked really hard. Only for you to accuse me of arson…”

It was dark so I couldn’t really tell, but I felt that she was pouting.

“I’m disappointed.”

A feeling of guilt instantaneously welled up within me, and I had to bite my lip to stifle it. Did she think that she could talk her way out of this situation with that lie?

“Are you also saying that you just happened to see the fire? I haven’t asked you about your reason for being in Harimi Town. On top of that, aren’t you wearing a really weird outfit?”

“You’re right.”

Osanai tilted her head, clearly in a state of deep thought.

“…My uncle’s house is nearby. I went over to play since it’s summer break. I borrowed this uniform from my older cousin, Aki-neechan. What do you think?”

“What do you mean! Isn’t that something you just thought up on the fly?”

Another siren raced past the road in front of the park. It was apparently a reserve firetruck, meaning that the fire had not been extinguished yet.

Since my voice was cut off by the siren, our conversation was interrupted. When the noise settled in the distance, Osanai swung her hands behind her back and shrugged.

“Don’t be so mad. You’re scaring me.”

With that, she crossed her legs.

“So, let me ask you a question. Why do you have such a scary thought of me being the arsonist?”

So she was telling me to explain my thinking right from the start, huh.

It was not that deep into the night yet. I had a lot to say, and there was more than enough time. Moreover, this was probably the last time I would speak to her.

“Alright, I’ll say it, then.”

When did I start suspecting Osanai? I could clearly remember the exact moment when I felt something was off.

“…You were also there on the scene of that arson attack in May, weren’t you?”

“May? That’s quite a long time ago. I can’t remember.”

That couldn’t be true.

“That night, I was conducting a stakeout at Ueno Town with the Newspaper Club. When the incident was about to occur, you gave me a phone call. You said you were worried that I would catch a cold. I was happy about getting that phone call. It was certainly cold that day, and I was bored and getting a little sick of continuously patrolling the same path.

“You do remember, don’t you? At that time, I was walking along the bypass, so I couldn’t hear anything when a truck went pass. And I could also hear a loud sound from your side.”

It was not the sound of a moving vehicle. It was more rhythmical than that.

“Of course, I knew as soon as I heard it. It was the sound of the railway. You were next to the railway line. When a train went pass, it made an extremely loud noise and rendering it impossible to talk, so you hung up. Also, the crime scene in May was an empty space, not below an elevated road, but below the elevated railway.”

“I see.”

There was a gap in our height, making me feel that I was being looked up at even when we were having a normal conversation.

“I remember now. I was at Kokura station. The Shinkansen was probably noisy.”

Osanai was still fooling around.

“I suppose it’s impossible to tell whether you were below the elevated railway just because you were near the tracks. The line is long, and I’m not that simple. The point which made me really suspicious was when you said the incident in May occurred on a Friday.”

It was the day in June when the typhoon arrived. I could remember that it was Friday the 13th because Osanai had mentioned it on that day. She’d also pointed out a mistake in Funado Monthly while being considerate of my feelings. My memory being a little hazy, I’d said nothing at the time. However…

“The local page of the newspaper reported the arson attack as occurring on Saturday. The article was written based on the time the fire was reported, not the time the fire was started. It was also written in Funado Monthly that the attack happened on Saturday, because the date had already changed when Honda told me about the fire.”

Before the fire, and even before the phone call from Osanai, I’d sent an email with my mobile phone, and the time of transmission was past midnight. There was no doubt that the arson attack in May occurred on Saturday.

“It was certainly an iffy time. It was just after midnight, but not yet 12:30. However, it was definitely after 12, which was why I wrote that the incident happened on Saturday. Nobody else told me that I was mistaken. Only you said, ‘but it was actually Friday’.”

Osanai lost her composure for the first time. That was what it looked like, anyway.

I continued pressing her.

“The arson attacks always took place late at night on the second Friday of each month. Even considering the date change to Saturday, some members of the Newspaper Club were saying that it would be convenient to treat it as Friday. So it would be understandable if a Newspaper Club member accidentally got it wrong. But that’s not the case for you.

“I was wondering if I told you at some point in time, but something was off. It was as if you were completely certain that the fire in May occurred on Friday. Of course, that was a mistake. But why did you make that mistake?”

Some onlookers had apparently gathered as the firefighting continued. I could the clamor a distance away. Osanai put on a light smile, then muttered something in self-derision that I couldn’t hear.

“There is one reason for that mistake. It was because of the clock. You don’t wear a wristwatch, and you usually check the time by looking at your phone. It’s usually convenient, but you couldn’t use it that night. Right before that, you were in a phone call with me, and it ran out of battery.”

Our conversation had been interrupted due to the sound of the train, but when we could hear each other again, Osanai had said, “My battery’s out”.

“Even when the battery warning comes up, it’s not like you’ll be immediately unable to use your phone. But on that day, right after you hung up, you turned off your phone, correct?”

“That’s right.”

Osanai readily admitted, although she had been so evasive up until now.

“Because it ran out of power, I turned it off. I knew the battery was in bad condition, so I should have fixed it earlier.”

“So you admit it, then?”

“I admit that I turned off my phone. Continue, Urino-kun. It’s gotten quite fun, after all.”

She didn’t look to be putting on a front, but her words were the very definition of acting tough.

Osanai had temporary lost her mobile phone, as well as a method of telling the time. I also knew what followed.

“At that time, you looked around. You can find clocks everywhere on streets. And on that night, you did actually find one.

“There’s a bypass near the elevated railway above the crime scene, and at the intersection that’s arranged to look like a park, there’s a white pole. A clock is attached to that pole, and that was the one you saw.”

“Was that clock late?”


I put more energy into my voice.

“That clock was broken. The needles don’t move, so the time is stuck at 11:47. If it hasn’t been fixed yet, it should still show the time as 11:47… When the attack occurred, there was only about a twenty minute difference between the actual time and the time displayed on that clock, so it’s understandable that you failed to notice in all the chaos.”

“The clock at Kokura station was also broken.”

“Even if you saw a broken clock somewhere else, you wouldn’t be mistaken regarding the time of the arson attack. You thought it took place on Friday, only because you saw that particular clock at that particular time. You were there at the scene of the crime.”

Osanai glared at me, and I glared back, but that lasted for just a short moment.

“…That’s amazing, Urino-kun, to be able to notice something like that. But that’s not all, right? Go on.”

Of course, that wasn’t all. It was merely the trigger that caused me to start being suspicious of her.

If I had known I would be confronting Osanai here, I would have brought along my file, which contained all information and evidence regarding this case of serial arson.

“Due to the continuous arson attacks, patrols were being conducted here and there, yet the culprit was never caught. Luck may have played a part in it, but that wasn’t all. Naturally, the culprit would have done some meticulous reconnaissance of the area. They must have gone to their next location, selected a target, and determined how to move and escape, at the very minimum. Basically, anyone loitering around the next location for no reason can be suspected of being the culprit.”

“Even if they were just taking a walk?”

“In June, there was supposed to be an arson attack in Kitaura on the 13th or 14th. However, nothing happened thanks to the heavy rain, which started a few days ago.

“If someone went out in that heavy rain, especially right before the supposed date of the crime, going from the southern to northern ends of the street… no one would believe they were just taking a walk.”

As if showing off her composure, Osanai let out a small yawn.

“Are you saying I did something like that?”

She was probably thinking that I had no evidence. But that would be underestimating me.

“Yes, you did. You went all the way to Kitaura, even in the rain. You were there until midnight, at the very least. You also stopped by a book store and bought a book, probably on the way back.”

“What kind of book?”

“I don’t care. All I know is that it cost 609 yen, including tax.”

She let out a chuckle.

“That’s really amazing. It’s like you were there.”

“I don’t need to be there to know, as long as I have the receipt.”


For the first time, some uneasiness was mixed into Osanai’s voice. Yes, the receipt. I’d properly kept it, made a copy and memorized its contents.

“It’s a receipt that showed you bought a book costing 609 yen including tax, from Sankaidou Bookstore in Kitaura on Thursday, 12th June, at 23:51. Where do you think I found it?”

“I can’t remember that far back.”

She replied, but she seemed to be zoning out, with her eyes staring at the ground. I instinctively knew what was going on, and instantly made a decision.

“You’re lying.”

“That’s mean.”

“Because of what happened the next day. Friday, 13th June. The rain was too heavy, so the Newspaper Club’s stakeout was canceled. After school, I found someone in the club room, and that person turned out to be you. Osanai, you left your book there on that day, and the receipt was in between the pages of that book.”

I could clearly see even in the dark that Osanai bit her lip, though it was for just a brief moment.

I was pressing her to make a confession. The freshness of this situation gave me a weird sensation. Since I’d started going out with Osanai, I’d been the one to take the lead almost all of the time. Except for affairs related to cakes, she never insisted on anything.

However, I was always unable to shake off the feeling that I would never have a handle on her, that she would be obedient until the last moment, when she would shake free of my grasp. That sense of frustration was constant and everywhere.

But now, I’d caught up to her. Naturally, I felt a rush of euphoria after that thought.

“That receipt shows that you went to the next arson attack location on Thursday, even in the middle of a typhoon. You said that you came to a relative’s house tonight, right? What excuse do you have for June, then? Were you just taking a walk?”

Osanai said in a slightly trembling voice.


“I’m asking you a question.”

“I’ll sum up everything I have to say later, so just continue.”

Her eyes were still on the ground and her small shoulders were shaking, but I didn’t feel like going soft on her… was this because of my rage at Osanai, who had deceived me for close to a year?

“Fine, I’ll continue. Knowing that you were present at the crime scene in May and were doing reconnaissance at the supposed next crime scene in June, I reconsidered what I really knew about you. In the time that passed since we started going out last year in September, did anything suspicious happen? At first, I thought that you got close to me to gain information. By being close to me, you could know the movements of the Newspaper Club. But to my delight, I found that to be impossible.”

I’d been the one to ask Osanai out, after all. It was a day in September that I spotted Osanai alone in the library and talked to her for the first time. She then brought me to a cafe on that same day, and it was there that I asked her to go out with me. It all felt like a distant memory to me now.

It was January when I started covering the case of serial arson. With Itsukaichi’s article about a charity bazaar kicking things off, it became possible to write about events happening outside school in Funado Monthly. When I got the opportunity to do so, Osanai was certainly happy about that.

Moreover, the arson attacks started in October.

“I remember the first time I wrote an article about the serial arson attacks. I was confident about it, and thought it would shock everyone in school. However, the response to it was weak. In particular, you were dismissive towards it.

“The article only started causing a buzz in March. It was clear that getting the location of the next crime twice in a row was not just a coincidence. Everyone in class got quite excited about it, but the Student Counseling Department stepped in. I thought we were done for at that time. If Doujima-senpai hadn’t spoken so well, the Newspaper Club we have now would probably not exist.”

There was that teacher from the Student Counseling Department whose name I couldn’t remember. With his personal life going poorly, he was emotionally unstable, and squarely rejected my article. I was mentally prepared to never write another word regarding that case, but Hiya encouraged me to carry on. And…

“I remember now. You were the one who told me that that teacher got transferred. You even showed me the article about teacher postings. Don’t you remember? It was at that Japanese-style store.”

“Sakura-an, right? No matter what you say, I recommend the ice cream combination.”

As usual, Osanai was cheerful when talking about desserts.

Even in such a situation tonight, Osanai’s voice was lively when talking about ice cream. However, I also felt some sadness in her voice.

“Is that so? But I’m more interested in what you said to me that day. I wondered about what you were trying to say to me, and even thought about it in bed. That’s why I can remember. You must have forgotten. What you said to me was this: ‘Not doing anything is the best.’”

As I recalled that moment, those words echoed in my ears. Childish pranks are no good. I think not doing anything is the best.” Which part of me was “childish”? And why did Osanai think that not doing anything was the best?

At that time, I couldn’t think of an answer. All I had was the faint idea that she did not think well of me for pursuing the case of serial arson. But why was that?

“That conversation continued in April. In the editorial meeting, Doujima-senpai retired from the club. As the new president, I set the direction to spend all our efforts investigating the arson attacks. That day…”

It was my turn to hesitate with my words. My attempt to hug Osanai that day definitely could not be described as gentlemanly.

But more importantly, she’d also conveyed her disapproval of me investigating the case.

“That day, you said again that I shouldn’t do anything, and I asked for the reason. To that, you replied with some nonsense. It was completely incomprehensible.”

Osanai had said this: I’m a little citizen, and I like other little citizens”.

That was definitely a lie!

“Thinking about that exchange, I realized that your motives for opposing my covering of the case were completely unknown to me. However, I also understood that continuing my investigation would be inconvenient for you. After that, you made those suspicious movements in May and June. At that point, all my doubts were cleared.”

I focused my spirit before continuing.

“You assumed I didn’t know anything, so you said whatever you wanted, like ‘taking a walk’ and ‘visiting relatives’. But tonight, I’ve caught up to you!”

The Newspaper Club members and our supporters were to keep watch in Harimi Town as a thirteen man unit.

I’d decided to take a different course of action. Making full use of what I’d heard as well as the phone directory, I’d tracked down Osanai’s apartment and staked it out. That would make me a stalker, if I was only thinking about Osanai while doing it. But my intention was to lie in wait for the arsonist, so I felt no guilt.

In the evening, there was some movement at an unexpectedly early time, and Osanai walked out of the apartment. She headed off towards the city on a bicycle with large sports bag in its front cage.

At that moment, I knew that I’d hit the mark. Osanai was wearing a sailor uniform that belonged to another school, and not to Funado High. With that outfit, it was clear that her outing was not a normal one.

Moving out of Hinoki Town, she went further and further north. Passing through the shopping street in front of the station, Osanai’s bicycle meandered onto the City Inner Ring Line. On the other hand, I was chasing after her at a distance where I could barely see her. Some of my thoughts at the time were actually more like prayers. Please don’t go there, please let me be wrong. But Osanai’s bicycle entered Harimi Town… and in a moment of hesitation, I lost sight of her.

It was a lot earlier than we’d expected. As the Newspaper Club president, I should have warned the members. I should have told them something like, “The culprit has entered Harimi Town, so the attack could happen earlier than expected. Be on your toes.”

But I hadn’t done that, because I was in a state of panic after losing sight of Osanai.

It also might have been because I’d thought that only the two of us should put an end to the case.

Osanai was still keeping her hands behind her back.

“Fireman, the culprit for this case, walks around with a hammer. It might even be the same hammer stolen from the crime scene in October last year. Using that, the culprit always left a mark at every crime scene, like a smashed wall or signboard. That’s the trump card that only I possess. I didn’t write it in articles so as to prevent copycat criminals. So, what was in that sports bag? What were you holding while you were next to the burning shed?”

That was the finishing blow. Probably for the first time in my life, I pointed at someone else.

“Osanai, show me what you have in your hands!”

Unexpectedly, she simply obeyed. She must have understood that there was no point hiding it, given that I’d seen it already.

Of course, she was holding a red hammer in the right hand.

With the fire still being extinguished in the distance, the commotion coming from the street did not quieten down.

People who seemed to be onlookers came and went, but not one of them spotted our confrontation under a tree in the park.

Even though I’d won. Even though the culprit of the serial arson case I’d pursued all this time had finally been stopped and caught by my hand, as I’d desired. A sigh escaped from my mouth.

Osanai was looking down, her shoulders shaking. She really looked tiny in that pose. Why was I having this strange feeling that I should hold back against this small girl? Before it came to that, wasn’t there something else I could do? …But it was all too late. That string of arson attacks resulted in no casualties. All I could do was pray for a light punishment.

Thud, a heavy sound could be heard. Osanai had thrown aside the hammer that she’d been carrying the whole time. It was a hammer that was used exclusively for pounding, with its head being flat on both ends. What was her reason for walking around with that heavy-looking hammer? But before that, in the first place… there were many questions I wanted to ask her, but for now, I waited for her to stop trembling.

Osanai placed one of her now empty hands on her mouth and stuck the other in a pocket. Her voice was also quavering and so small that it was difficult to understand what she was saying.

“Sorry Urino-kun, give me a moment. I’ll calm down soon.”

She retrieved a small box from her pocket.

I could see exactly what it was in the moonlight.

It was a box of chocolates.

Ignoring my vacant stare, Osanai put one fragment of chocolate into her mouth. Eventually, she looked up and smiled bashfully.

“As you know, I left my house in the evening, so I haven’t had anything to eat yet. The sweet taste is filling me up.”

She seemed to be refreshed and somewhat relaxed. Now that her crime had been exposed, she was actually feeling relieved, or at least that was the only way I could see it.

…Was that really it?


Osanai let out a small breath, and put her hands on her hips.

“Hmm… I don’t hate boys who are direct. Where should I begin, then?”

First, I wanted to ask her this.

“Why did you do this? Please explain your reasons.”

But Osanai responded by shaking her head.

“That’s a secret.”

“Even to the police?”

“Hmm, perhaps I could talk about the paperback.”

Not even taking heed of my words, she gave a small nod to herself. A dubious feeling spread in my chest.

“There’s a book that I really enjoyed. It was a paperback, and I found it to be really interesting. The previous volume ended at a good point, and I wanted to read what happens next as soon as I could, but… since you clearly said you weren’t interested, I won’t tell you about its contents. But you should be interested in its release date, right? It was the 13th of June.”

I see. I now knew what was giving me that strange feeling.

Even at this stage, Osanai was still unapologetic. Jeez.

While peeking at my countenance, she continued.

“The stock usually arrives the day before release date or the day before that, so I was waiting. But then there was that rain, right? I can’t recommend going to a bookstore in the rain, especially if you’re on a bicycle. Even if you go anyway, the stock might not have arrived yet, and even if it has, the book that you’ve been looking forward to would get soaked, which is just terrible. Then again, I’m also quite reluctant to bother them with a phone call just so I can get confirmation.

“That’s why I asked a friend. She’s working part-time at the book store while hiding it from the school. I asked her to buy it for me if it was in stock. The books arrived on Thursday, and I received it from her on Friday. Of course, I reimbursed her for the book’s cost. As expected of a part-timer at a bookstore, she brought it to me in a plastic bag so it wouldn’t get wet. That girl’s also conscientious. She even went out of her way to include a receipt.”

Osanai didn’t have a triumphant air about her. She was simply speaking in a matter-of-fact manner.

“That’s why I didn’t go to Kitaura Town on that day in June.”

What a ridiculous story.

“…Who would believe that? You just thought it up, didn’t you?”

“Sorry. Saying that I came from my uncle’s place was a lie. You don’t trust me just because I told that lie earlier?”

Osanai tilted her head and looked at me with upturned eyes.

“That’s why I decided to come clean about it. I thought you’d believe me. If you want, I can even give that girl a phone call and you can ask her as many questions as you want. I could also show you the email I sent to her. It even contains the date, so perhaps that’s better.”

She spoke as she retrieved her mobile phone from a pocket.

…Was her story actually real?

“No. Even if that’s not what happened in June, my theory still stands.”

“Sure you don’t want to check?”

Osanai looked at me doubtfully. However, I didn’t want to waste time with something that could be easily verified.

“It’s still a fact that you were at the crime scene in May. Also, you have that hammer.”

“Alright, I’ll give an explanation for that, then.”

Poking the hammer at her feet with her toes, she continued.

“This is not the hammer that was stolen from Funado High’s Gardening Club in October last year. I bought it last month at Panorama Island.”

I was shocked by her words, in two ways.

The first was, of course, that she’d recently bought that hammer. The second was that she knew about the Gardening Club’s stolen hammer.

Wasn’t that just a roundabout confession?

“The person who stole the Gardening Club’s hammer was…”

“I think it was the arsonist, but I’m not sure. Everything I know is from hearsay.”

“Hearsay? Who did you hear it from? That’s something only I should know.”

Osanai’s eyes quickly narrowed.

“Urino-kun, you’ve been quite careless since just now. Why did you say that only you know? The culprit and victims know about it as well.”

“That’s different. Also, you would know since you’re the culprit.”

“You can’t really exclude them… But fine. It wasn’t actually just hearsay. Even if you count out the culprit and victims, there should be others who know.”

The first name to pop up in my head was Hiya Yuuto. But he shouldn’t be connected to Osanai. Could it be the Gardening Club’s Satomura?

A short sigh reached my ears.

“You worked hard in your investigation, Urino-kun. And you stored everything you found in your file, right? So anyone who reads the file carefully will naturally know the same things you do. Why do you look down on the other members’ ability to understand to such an extent? Didn’t you ever consider that they’re also thinking and advancing the investigation in their own way?”

Was it Itsukaichi, then? Or was it one of the first-years who always only did as they were told?

“Those guys didn’t say anything about it.”

“That’s because you’re the club president, Urino-kun. They won’t say everything they think in front of you. How easy do you think if would be if they could?

“I also know about that hammer because I read the file. There were copies carelessly left in the Printing Preparation Room. I could easily borrow a key from the staff room and read a copy. It wasn’t explicitly written that ‘the culprit is using a hammer in the crime scene’, but just by looking at how the testimony and photographs were grouped, I could easily learn that the Newspaper Club, or at least you, were thinking that way.”

I recalled that day in June with the heavy rain. For some reason, Osanai was already in the Printing Preparation Room.

Once again, Osanai lightly kicked the hammer.

“One more thing. If you truly understood the information you’d put together, you would have instantly felt something was amiss when we met at the burning shed earlier. I’m not holding the stolen hammer. If the hammer used to leave a mark at all the crime scenes is one and the same, it is not one like this.

“But Urino-kun, you accused me based on the fact that I was holding this hammer. I was wondering what I should do.”

“Yeah, I did think that was strange.”

I blurted out, but it was already too late for regret. I was simply putting on a front with that line, and Osanai had probably noticed that. However, all she did was give a gentle smile.

“Yes, exactly. It was quite a frenzy just now, so you must have missed the details. But you should understand by now, right? This hammer has no claw.”

Indeed, the hammer being nudged by Osanai’s feet had no claw.

What did the Gardening Club say about their hammer’s shape? It should be part of the testimony I’d filed. But that was more than a year ago… I’d forgotten.

“The Gardening Club brought a hammer for the sake of dealing with a signboard. It was written in the file that they broke it to bits and piled the pieces up. They wouldn’t have destroyed it just by randomly bashing it with the hammer. Of course, they pulled out the nails, took the signboard down, then broke it into pieces. In the first place, Satomura-san from the Gardening Club never mentioned a hammer. If the file is correct, she said that the item stolen was a kanazuchi, right? The one who reworded it as a hammer was you, Urino-kun. Why? Because it was cooler that way4

“On top of that, the arson attacks didn’t always occur in places where the culprit could bang away on the hammer in the quiet night. In residential areas or places where people would gather if too much noise is made, the traces left at those crime scene contained some scratches that require a hammer with a claw to be wielded as an edged tool.”

I could remember all those traces. There was the tree by the roadside with its bark scratched off, the torn bike sheets, as well as the no entry sign with diagonal slash marks.

They were certainly not traces that could be left by a blunt weapon.

“Of course, the culprit could be walking around with another weapon besides the hammer. In fact, I think that’s more plausible. Thinking that the culprit always carried around the spoils from their very first attack is a little, umm, steeped in romanticism. In any case, please don’t call me suspicious just because I have this hammer.”


Sure, it might be different from the Gardening Club’s hammer. But it was still a fact that Osanai came to Harimi Town tonight with a hammer. That alone was abnormal.

“Why did you bring that here, then? If you say you’re not the arsonist, why are you here?”

Osanai’s smile wouldn’t disappear. It was almost as if…

Almost as if she was trying to get a troublesome child to smile as well.

“Ah, Urino-kun. Think about it a little more! I was at the crime scene in May. You were right about that. As you can see, I was also at the crime scene in August. What kind of person is that? I know people who did exactly that, and so should you.”

People who were at the crime scenes in May and August?

Of course I would know.

“That would be me, and the Newspaper Club.”

I ran around the streets to catch the criminal and write an article about it. For Osanai to do the same thing…

Why would she do something like this? There was no way she…

“…You were also chasing the arsonist?”

“You worked hard, Urino-kun.”

Osanai spoke in the gentlest of tones.

“That’s the correct answer.”

A cool gust of wind drifted past.

“What a nice breeze we have tonight.”

Osanai said as she brushed away some hair that caught onto her ear. She looked at the direction the wind was coming from.

I caught sight of that action under the moonlight, her finger movements lithe as she cast a provocative glance with her narrowed eyes. While she was in that sailor uniform I didn’t recognize with a shade close to navy blue, a red hammer by her feet.

The situation was completely different, but that was how I saw Osanai the first time, when she was a coquettish girl whispering into Doujima-senpai’s ear in the Printing Preparation Room, numerous months ago. Interested in the imbalance in her figure, countenance and actions, I asked her to go out with me.

Since then, while impossible to grasp, she acted as a normal girl, which was why I’d forgotten. I only thought differently on the day I became the president of the Newspaper Club. When I’d unreasonably tried to hug her, she’d smoothly escaped and smiled. At that time, Osanai had immediately gone home.

But tonight, she didn’t leave.

Her gaze turned back to me. Afraid that she would say something about me, I unintentionally ran my mouth.

“That shouldn’t be possible. If so, you wouldn’t have needed to hide… You would have told me something.”

Osanai’s face clouded over upon hearing those words.

“Don’t say something so sad.”


“Urino-kun, what did you choose? Did you not choose to uncover secrets based solely on facts, rather than people’s words and good faith? Yet you say things like, ‘That shouldn’t be possible’ and ‘you would have told me something’ in face of the conclusion you’ve deduced. That’s just ridiculous. You can easily think up dozens of viable reasons why I wouldn’t tell you, right?”

I had no recollection of choosing anything. All I wanted was to catch the arsonist. But even so… was it really like that?

“I had no intention of saying anything at all. But since tonight is the last time, I’ll tell you. I’ve been helping you out behind the scenes.”

“You’ve been helping me?”

“For example, I’ve asked all sorts of favors from Doujima-kun. Also, there was a student worrying about advertising a charity bazaar, and I pointed them towards Itsukaichi-kun. He then went on to advertise the bazaar using the schoolwide newspaper, didn’t he?”

I remembered that when Itsukaichi-kun suggested creating a column during the editorial meeting, it had been easily accepted, to the point that it felt anti-climatic… I did think something was strange at that time.


“It’s like a receiving a windfall, isn’t it? I really had no intention of telling you. I didn’t want to hurt your pride.”

Osanai replied without hesitation.

“Because you wanted to write the article of your own free will, I supported you behind the scenes. But when you became the club president, you said that you wanted to catch the arsonist on your own. I tried to warn you against doing that, right?… But you didn’t listen.”

I would probably never forget the events of that day. At the time, I’d truly believed I could do it. That was a mere four months ago.

“On top of that, you didn’t know how much danger you were in. After all, you write that the fire will occur at a particular location, and it does happen. It wouldn’t even be strange for a policeman to come and say, ‘I’m taking you to the station’. You’ve been fine thus far, but don’t you think that it’s because the policemen weren’t taking the investigation of this case seriously enough? Or perhaps they did, and were just waiting for you to make a mistake and expose yourself?”

Osanai slowly pointed at the tree next to her.

“In fact, I wouldn’t find it weird for a scary person to be hiding behind this tree, lying in wait.”

I couldn’t see the tree she was referring to, probably because I knew she wasn’t mistaken.5

“Even so, I investigated for your sake, trying to find more I could do to help. Only for you to be so impressively mistaken, and for you to accuse me.

“You remember why I told you to stop, right? I said that I liked little citizens. But that’s not quite accurate. If you were trying to catch the culprit on your own, I thought it would end up in a way that would make you realize that you’re just an ordinary, little citizen.”

“Me? A little citizen?”

I parroted in response, and Osanai tilted her head.

“Exactly. You’re a little lacking in sagacity, as well as cunning. I also thought you could be better in using people. On top of that, you need slightly more skepticism. When I told you that story about getting a friend to buy a book for me on that rainy day, you didn’t confirm that it was true. In these situations, even if you think there’s no room for doubt, I think it’s still good to check.

“Your level of initiative gets a passing grade, I suppose. Even if it’s a long shot, it’s important to look at a crime scene in the right way. As for your efficiency, you could work harder on that. In ten months, you weren’t able to narrow down a million suspects to a suitable number.

“I do think you had some amazing moments. For the sake of being able to catch the arsonist by your own hand, you were willing to let more damage be done, to let someone else’s property be set on fire. This self-indulgent manner is befitting of someone trying to expose a secret. But about your total score, hmm…”

The night wind sent chills down my spine.

“I won’t say that I was disappointed.”

It was only now that I noticed that Osanai was smiling.

“That’s how I thought it would end up, after all.”

I’d been hoping for so long that she would smile like this, and here she was with a radiant smile, as if there was a cake in front of her.

Osanai didn’t say anything more.

I could understand why. I’d disappointed her at the bottom of her heart, and tonight’s confrontation was over. Also, as I’d thought at the beginning, tonight would be the last.

My feet were heavy, as if they were clinging to the ground. That one step towards the park entrance felt unbelievably heavy. I thought I would at least walk out in a dignified manner, but in reality I was probably dragging my body out. My head felt unsteady.

What would happen now?

At any rate, I had to tell the club members that tonight’s search was over. But was it really over? I realized that wasn’t exactly the case, though there was only a subtle difference. It would certainly be over if we’d managed to point out the arsonist. But all I’d done was talk to Osanai.

I turned my head around to search for Osanai, but she was nowhere to be found. Unable to turn my body as well, I asked her a question with my body facing the opposite direction.

“So, what kind of person is the arsonist?”

She readily answered from outside my field of vision.

“From what I saw, it was a boy who’s about the same age as us.”

A giggle then reached my ears.

“He should have been caught by now. The fox has been circling around, after all.”

I had no idea what she was talking about.

Was I unable to understand that because I was a little citizen?


A scary person lying in wait? What a thing to say!

I’d been awkwardly standing still until Urino-kun left, leaning on a tree with my arms and legs crossed as the two of them had their conversation on the other side. Though they were only a few meters away, I was surprisingly unnoticed, probably because I kept silent the entire time. In the middle of that, I received an email which caused my phone to make a sound, but I was still unnoticed. Naturally, I panicked a little when Osanai-san mentioned the possibility of a person being behind the tree, but perhaps thanks to the power of assumption, I was not spotted.

In my heart, I kept repeating the question, “Can I come out now?” At any rate, the conversation had taken on a dangerous direction. I brazenly peeked out from my hiding spot, only to see that Osanai-san and Urino-kun were still looking away whenever their gazes met. I couldn’t exactly reveal myself and say something like, “Well, I’ll just leave it to you young ‘uns, then.”6

After asking that question numerous times in my heart, I finally got a reply.

“Kobato-kun, you can come out now.”

Even so, I cautiously got out of my hiding spot behind the tree. Urino-kun was no longer around. Osanai-san looked really small from behind. I spoke even though her back was still facing me.

“It’s unfair to talk about ‘the fox’. Urino-kun won’t understand what it means. To be honest, I didn’t immediately realize that you were referring to me, either.”

“He doesn’t need to understand.”

Osanai-san still had her back turned towards me.

“So, what happened?”

“It’s over. Kengo did it.”

That earlier email was from Kengo, and it read, “The culprit has been arrested. A passerby called the police.” I’d been worried that Kengo would take pity on the arsonist and let them go if he had caught them alone, and perhaps that would have been fine as well, but… well, in the end, the culprit was unlucky.

“The police siren was mixed in with the firetruck siren just now. Did you notice?”

“No. It was a difficult conversation, after all.”

Ah, of course.

“With that, I think the arsonist should have been taken away.”

“I see… Was that by your deduction, Kobato-kun?”

In my first year of high school, I would have said no, because as someone who aspired to become a petite bourgeois, I’d sworn to never reveal any secrets.

In my second year of high school, I would have said yes, because I couldn’t deny that my aspirations had slackened and I had become negligent in my behavior.

But today, I said this:

“I helped a little, but it’s thanks to everyone’s strength!”

Osanai-san slowly turned around and laughed. It was dry, as if she was just forcing herself to laugh along at a corny joke.

I looked up at the sky to see that the color of flames had disappeared. The sirens had also stopped, and the calm of a typical summer night had returned before I knew it.

Osanai-san asked a question.

“So, who was the arsonist?”

Her tone was like that of someone asking a friend, “How was the concert yesterday?” out of social obligation. Her lack of interest was on full display. I smiled wryly.

“It’s still too early to say who exactly the culprit is. Kengo was probably in a hurry, so his email was incomplete. I do have an idea, though.”

“You’ve narrowed down the possible suspects?”

“Down to about forty. I managed to narrow that down further, but it was mainly thanks to the information broker, I suppose.”

“Tell me, Kobato-kun. What did you do?”

I glanced at her.

I’d been thinking that I would eventually reveal the full circumstances surrounding this case. I didn’t feel like keeping it a secret, and there was no need to. However, I’d imagined it to be a leisurely conversation about past events, held in school after class or some other suitable location, and probably with a cheerful classmate or two.

I’d never expected to talk about it here, tonight, with Osanai-san. We hadn’t had a proper talk in a year, and now here we were talking about an arsonist. She probably wasn’t that keen to know, either. I scratched my cheek.

“Well, perhaps some other time. It’s hard to talk while we’re both standing, so much has happened tonight, and we should get back home soon.”

“Tell me.”

Her words were unexpectedly forceful.

“Please. I want to get this over with tonight.”

…I see. If she was pleading with me to do it, then I had no choice.

I would have liked to at least sit on a bench, but the benches in this park were shaped like dachshunds. Their tongues drooped loosely from their mouths, making me ever so reluctant to sit on them. Thus, I decided to talk while standing.

Now, where should I begin?

“Right. How much do you know?”

“Nothing at all.”

That was probably untrue, but I was fine with that. If she wanted to know from the beginning, it was obvious where to start.

“I’ll be brief, then. In February this year, there was an arson attack near my house. A cream-colored light van was set on fire and abandoned by the embankment. When I went over to have a look, I felt that I’d seen it somewhere before. I made an inquiry to Kengo, and it turned out that the burnt vehicle belonged to Hojo-san… You remember her, right? She was part of the group that abducted you in summer last year.”


Osanai-san let out an interjection, as if she had been caught off guard.

“You’re starting from there?”

“Ah, so you knew about that already.”

I never had much interest in the case of serial arson. Last year, Osanai-san characterized me as a moth who would be easily attracted towards the flames of any mystery I see, but she was apparently mistaken. I certainly didn’t find everything in this world to be interesting. Even when the arson attacks continued, all I did was frown and bemoan the danger and tumult they would cause.

If that van hadn’t belonged to Hojo-san, this case would have passed without my involvement.

However, after doing some investigation afterwards, it turned out that Hojo-san was not involved at all, and many other factors started appearing. Thus I immediately discarded my theory that this serial arson case was related to last year’s abduction. Not checking if it was really a coincidence was out of the question, but always clinging to a possible cause for the coincidence would be even more foolish.

“Basically, it was targeted because it was abandoned, and had nothing to do with its owner.”

Osanai-san nodded.

“I was shocked at the time as well, but only a little. I thought that these things do happen.”

There was actually a reason as to why that particular vehicle was chosen.

Hojo-san was 16 or 17 years old at the time, so she was probably taking her parent’s car out for a spin without their permission. It had probably been left there since the incident last year, and with prolonged exposure to the elements, it became a decrepit mess. The dilapidated atmosphere it gave off then attracted some shady individual.

“So, I talked about that with Kengo since I was a little interested, and I found out that you were meddling with the Newspaper Club.”


“Well, putting aside that word choice, I received materials and information from Kengo. I asked if Urino was the Newspaper Club member investigating the series of arson attacks, and if he thought the Disaster Prevention Plan was related to it. I thought it to be a little strange. It seemed quite far-fetched that the arsonist would be cognizant of the Fire Department’s areas of jurisdiction, yet that was how it appeared in reality. I felt suspicious just by listening to that, so I checked at the library… and I laughed.”

Thinking back to that moment, I put on a wry smile.

“The Koyubi precinct didn’t exist seven years ago. Also, starting from five years ago, the areas of jurisdiction were no longer written in the Disaster Prevention Plan. Going by Urino’s theory, the arsonist was limited to using the Disaster Prevention Plan from six years ago as a reference.

“It was already quite an impossible-sounding process, yet another limit was added. At that point, the Disaster Prevention Plan theory should have been abandoned. Of course, I considered if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

I probably didn’t have to add anything else given that I was talking to Osanai-san, but I rephrased my words anyway.

“Basically, that the culprit was deciding on their next location by reading the article in Funado Monthly.”

I peeked at her countenance, but Osanai-san was simply listening silently. Was it as she’d expected? In any case, she didn’t seem very impacted by the revelation.

I continued.

“However, the self-fulfilling prophecy theory also had its problems. The first arson attack was in October, and it was only in February that the incidents were recorded in Funado Monthly for the first time. The article was released on the 1st of February, and the arson attack occurred ten days later as the article had predicted… so how could the first four attacks from October to January be explained? Here, the information I heard from Kengo played a really big part.”

I couldn’t remember precisely what he said, but I could remember Urino-kun’s strenuous efforts. He’d apparently worked hard to gather information regarding the four incidents from October to January, trying to find a common point between them. Then, he noticed the keyword “precincts’ areas of jurisdiction”, and it fit exactly with the Fire Department’s list of precincts. Kengo must have mentioned things like telephone books, hazard maps and the Citizen’s Living Guide7, for they were materials that later became supportive evidence for my theory.

“Urino-kun was looking for a common point between the arson attacks. And he found it, unfortunately for him. At that time, I didn’t know about Urino-kun, but I did think that the underclassman who wrote the article probably hadn’t noticed the trap of pointing out those commonalities.”

He’d put in much effort in his search, and was rewarded with materials that matched his prediction. At that moment, he probably stopped doubting if his theory was correct.

Osanai nodded slightly. She knew what Urino-kun’s personality was like, after all.

I continued.

“If the sample size is small, it becomes easy to find commonalities. For example, you can say that the common point between peaches, kabosu8 and pineapples is that they grow from trees.”

“Pineapples don’t grow from trees, though…”

That was beside the point.

“To put it bluntly, you could have forced a pattern in any way. The four arson attacks at Hamae, Nishimori, Koyubi and Akanebe actually had no intended common point in the first place. He was the one who accidentally created it. That’s the thing with finding a common point, but Urino-kun never had the doubt that he was simply forcing a pattern to fit his theory.

“Well, he might have, but when he wrote articles based on that theory, the incidents occurred as predicted. Urino-kun probably felt that his theory was backed by reality.”

I could defend Urino-kun.

If Funado Monthly had predicted the arson attacks from the very beginning, even he would have to question if the culprit was following those predictions. Also, if there were more attacks in succession, if the commonality was drawn from ten or so incidents, it would be more fine, and he would probably have considered the possibility that he was forcing a pattern.

Instead, Urino-kun had found the common point relatively easily, and reality had confirmed his theory as soon as he came up with it. He didn’t notice the double-layered psychological trap he’d fallen into.

Although I could, I decided not to defend him. He was a stranger to me, after all.

“I was a little troubled when I realized that the Newspaper Club was the problem. According to Kengo, the column in Funado Monthly could be stopped. But would that stop the crimes?

“Starting from February, the arsonist committed their crimes by following Funado Monthly. But they were already setting fires from October last year. Even if the column is shut down, the attacks would probably still continue. If so…”

It would be better to keep them at large and reel them in when they make a move.

“So we made some necessary arrangements, and brought a club member to our side. I think you should know Itsukaichi-kun. We worked together with him. As expected, Kengo is well-liked by his juniors. That really helped in convincing Itsukaichi-kun.”

“I see.”

She murmured.

“Monchi-kun acted as my information source until April. To think that you also had a spy… I never noticed.”

For some reason, she seemed a little frustrated. Also, calling Itsukaichi-kun a spy is disreputable. He was merely an internal collaborator.

“We asked Itsukaichi-kun about the atmosphere within the Newspaper Club, especially regarding what kind of work Urino-kun was doing. Apparently, he was completely devoted to the case, and stopped doing all sorts of basic tasks, like deciding on the layouts for articles, scanning for mistakes, printing, distributing newspapers early in the morning…”

When I heard that, I instantly thought that Urino-kun probably wasn’t a match for Kengo in terms of popularity. Then again, as someone who also avoids menial tasks, I didn’t have the right to speak ill of him.

“Thus, I formulated a plan. A plan to smoke the culprit out. We switched out copies of Funado Monthly and secretly added some words to the column. In the June issue, at the end of the exaggerated sentence predicting the next location, we pointed to more detailed locations. We made a few variations of that.”

I only realized while talking about it, but Itsukaichi-kun had had an immense amount of work to do for this plan. Well, since the entire process had gone swimmingly, Kengo must have secretly helped him.

“The contents of the June issue were different depending on the class that received it. For example, the newspaper would say that the arson would occur near some intersection for class 2A, near some historic site for class 2B and near some park for class 2C. We set it up such that if there was an arson attack, we would be able to identify the culprit’s class. Of course, we didn’t pull such a trick for the first years’ newspapers, because the culprit should have been a student of Funa High last year.”

My voice turned dark.

“…Actually, I wanted to find the culprit in one go. I was thinking of writing that the next location would be at some cafe, and we could lie in wait there. That way, we would be able to resolve the situation once and for all. However, there are a thousand students in Funa High. Even if you exclude the first-years, there are still about six hundred people. I felt that it wouldn’t be a good idea to set up an ambush with the list of suspects not being narrowed down yet. I wanted some information to show that only the culprit would definitely fall for the trap.”

With the June issue, we would identify the culprit’s class, and with the July issue, we would lure them in and deal the finishing blow. That was the plan. Basically, we had to let the arson attack in June happen, causing me a great deal of displeasure.

I should have already accepted it long ago, but did it show on my face? Osanai-san spoke in a small voice.

“I don’t think you had a choice, Kobato-kun. Preventing fires and crimes is not your job, so don’t feel responsible for it.”

It wasn’t about responsibility. I was probably dissatisfied because I couldn’t put together a more perfect strategy… Even so, I replied.

“Thank you.”

Osanai-san nodded. She wasn’t smiling.

In reality, no damage was done in June. No arson attack occurred thanks to the heavy rain, but that didn’t change anything. All it did was set the plan back by a month. Because Urino-kun wrote that “the arsonist will still target Kitaura Town”, that was exactly what the culprit did.

“So, the culprit fell into the trap. In July, the arson attack happened near Taishido9 at Kitaura Town. That was written in the newspaper distributed to class 2G, so we knew that the culprit had to be someone from that class.”

“So that’s how you narrowed it down to forty.”

To be precise, someone outside of school could have gotten that information from one of the forty students. For example, if a student brought a copy of Funado Monthly back home, their family could read it as well.

However, with Urino-kun’s efforts seemingly in vain, copies of Funado Monthly continued to fill the trashcans each month. Even if there were students who brought every issue back home, including the February issue which was distributed before the serial arson case became a hot topic, there would be way too few of them, making them just a minute consideration that could be safely ignored.

“After that, we wondered if there was anyone particularly close to Urino-kun in class 2G. There’s someone who’s well-versed in the relationships between people in school, and we had them check for that.”

Osanai-san gently pointed out an omission I’d made.

“Someone close to Urino-kun? Why?”


I scratched my cheek.

“It’s simple. Urino-kun based the Disaster Prevention Plan theory on the four incidents from October to January, and announced it in the February issue of Funado Monthly. The arson attack in February, which occurred right after the article, followed Urino-kun’s theory.

“Not many people would have paid attention to Funado Monthly in February. The trashcans were always filled with copies of the newspaper on distribution day every month, after all. Yet the culprit consulted Funado Monthly so quickly.

“I did think that it could be just a coincidence, but the most likely explanation is that the arsonist already knew about Urino-kun’s theory in January. If so, the arsonist would be someone who could listen to Urino-kun’s thoughts in private.”

“Now I understand.”

Osanai-san’s words were devoid of emotion.

“I understand why you tried to skip over that point.”

Did she really understand? Perhaps that was to be expected.

It was because of that one point that I couldn’t quite eliminate the possibility of Osanai-san being the arsonist, until much later. It made me unable to forget the fact that Hojo’s vehicle was targeted in February, and caused me to be misled by quite a bit. I knew that fire was not one of Osanai-san’s methods, and yet…

Actually, the strategy of distributing a different article to each class would have been a lot more certain if we’d gotten Urino-kun’s help. But we didn’t, so Itsukaichi-kun had to secretly make those different variations of Funado Monthly without Urino-kun noticing. While it may have been inconvenient, that was a necessary safety precaution, since we suspected the culprit to have a personal connection to Urino-kun.

Not to mention that Osanai-san could be the culprit as well, so we had to be even more careful. Keeping all this quiet from Urino-kun had no meaning beyond the safety precaution, so if he found out about it midway and got angry, Kengo would go over and explain it to him. That might damage their relationship, but the plan would not be hindered.

…But he never noticed, even at the end of it all. He might have noticed if he’d helped with the distribution of newspapers, though.

I didn’t think that suspecting Osanai-san was wrong. It was unavoidable at that point of time, when I didn’t have enough information. In fact, I’d even considered the possibility of Doujima Kengo or that teacher from the Student Counseling Department being the arsonist.

However, I just didn’t think that it was worth speaking about a suspicion that had already been cleared. After clearing my throat, I continued.

“Anyway, the investigation showed that there was indeed a friend of Urino-kun in class 2G. They were also in the same class in their first year. With that student as our main suspect, we set another trap in the copies of Funado Monthly distributed to class 2G. We wrote that the area near Children Park 1 in Harimi Town would be targeted in August, and in this very park…”

I spread my hands out. Some insect chirps could be heard from the park. With its tall fence and shrubbery, visibility was poor. I would be hard pressed to say that it was the best location for observation, but it was perfect for an ambush.

“I had Kengo lie in wait.”

Osanai-san shot me a meaningful glance.

I knew what she wanted to say. Why didn’t I lie in wait here myself?

Because this place seemed like it would be rife with mosquitoes.

…Well, I’d planned to hide somewhere else later in the night, but I couldn’t make it due to the crime occurring earlier than expected. That was the excuse I’d told myself.

Whether she knew my inner conflict or not, Osanai-san asked about a different matter.

“Now, there isn’t much meaning in asking this, but what’s the name of the suspect?”

“Right, there isn’t much meaning in answering, but it’s Hiya Yuuto-kun.”

It seemed that she didn’t know him. After hearing the name of the person who was probably the culprit of ten consecutive arson attacks, her only response was, “Hmm.”

The night wind stroked my cheeks.

I could hear a buzzing noise that was grating on the ears. A winged insect flew up between the two of us. Raising both my hands, I aimed at the insect and clapped. I thought I’d killed it, but the buzzing continued. Now it looked like I was just reaching out and clapping my hands in prayer.

Osanai-san’s gaze started moving. With her face still directed at me, her eyes followed the insect. She bent her arm in an instant, lunged forward and grabbed the air. After exerting a great deal of strength in her fist, she opened her hand.

Bzzz, the noise continued. Osanai-san’s eyes shifted around.

“It escaped.”

“Let it live.”

Perhaps Buddha would extend a thread from Heaven when we go to Hell, for that act of kindness.

Osanai-san, who had been staring at her hand, eventually put it down in resignation, and spoke.

“That was brilliant, Kobato-kun.”

The insect had flown off somewhere.

“I couldn’t get rid of it, though.”

“Yup, and me neither. But that wasn’t what I was referring to.”

…Of course.

“When we met at the fire just now, I somehow had a hunch that you’d pretty much caught the arsonist already. I knew that you aren’t good at cases like these, which have many hundreds or thousands of suspects. Yet I presumed that you’d already caught the culprit. Why is that?”

“Well, can’t say I know why.”

“Did I have that much trust in you, Kobato-kun?”

I replied in a small voice.

“The plan took quite a lot of time, and caused some damage as well. I shouldn’t be in the position to receive compliments.”

“Did you know? This case was quite the talk of the town. Neighborhood watch groups were created at locations where a fire would lead to disaster, like the train station and the old residential area. The police also stepped up their patrols, and it was written in the newspapers that some towns were holding training sessions for disaster prevention. And you solved such a case, Kobato-kun. Even though you’re just a high school student.”

Hearing those words, a scary thought crossed my mind.

I’d reached the conclusion early on that the culprit was basing his actions on Funado Monthly. That was why I had a strong image of this series of arson attacks being just an incident within Funado High School.

Of course, that was wrong. The case occurred in Kira City, and arson is a felony.

“Good deduction, and good execution.”

I frowned a little in response.

To me, that phrase was another way to say that I was meddling in others’ affairs. While I certainly hadn’t been enthusiastic from the beginning, I’d started enjoying this around the time we roped Itsukaichi-kun in. Gathering information may have been troublesome, but it didn’t bother me that much if I thought of it as rewarding. Also, when the culprit fell for our trap hook, line, and sinker, exposing his identity, I was smirking so much that I couldn’t sleep.

I never thought about playing a part to increase the public’s well-being. I was simply enjoying myself. Osanai-san should have known this, yet she chose a slightly mean-spirited way of expression.

At that moment, something occurred to me.

“So, how much did you actually know, Osanai-san?”


“When I found out that you were involved in this case, the first thought in my mind was who exactly you were seeking revenge on. I was convinced that if the arson attacks were by your hand, they had to be retaliation for something.”

Osanai-san pouted, probably on purpose.

“That’s mean.”


“…It’s as I said earlier. I didn’t know anything. I can’t put it in words as clearly as you can, but I was thinking that the culprit knew about the Newspaper Club’s plans, and used that knowledge to outwit them. That was why I stood guard at areas that the Newspaper Club didn’t cover. Last month, I spotted someone who seemed to be the arsonist, but they were too far away for me to catch. That’s all I could do.”

I kept silent. Osanai-san was a girl of many lies. I couldn’t imagine that simple story to be the truth.

Having noticed my suspicion, she changed the subject in a forced bright voice.

“So, Kobato-kun, what happened with your girlfriend?”

Taken aback by the sudden question, I was momentarily unable to process it.

“I’m talking about Nakamaru-san.”

With her prompt, I finally remembered. We had so many fun memories. I laughed.

“We broke up. Or to be precise, I was dumped, and it was quite a one-sided affair. Nakamaru-san had a main boyfriend, and she somehow got mad at me, as if I was a failure of a human being, for continuing as per normal even though I found out about it.”

“Yeah, that does sound like what a failure of a human being would do.”


With her hands behind her back, Osanai-san lightly kicked the ground.

“I wonder if I’ll end up breaking up after tonight.”

“No doubt.”

Anyone who had all that said about him and still considered calmly carrying on with the relationship would have to be a masochist, and Urino-kun did not seem to be that type of person. Of course, that was only if nothing awakened within him as a result of tonight’s events.

In fact, didn’t his words sound like a farewell declaration? Kicking the soil once again, Osanai-san put on a troubled face.

“I don’t think you’ll believe me, but I really tried to be helpful to Urino-kun.”

My reaction must have been obvious, for I was instantly met with an ice-cold stare.

“It’s true.”

“Yeah, sure.”

A small sigh escaped from Osanai-san’s lips.

“It’s really true. I was happy when he confessed to me. Urino-kun is quite cool and self-confident, you know? I immediately decided to go out with him, because I wanted to know. I wanted to know what love is.”


“Wanting to try out love, I gave my all for Urino-kun’s sake. I thought that was what a lover would do, nurturing feelings by actions. I think I did reasonably well.

“But as for how Urino-kun saw my actions… it’s as you’ve witnessed just now. My wishes were in vain. I haven’t changed at all, you know.”

So that was why Osanai-san was flickering in the shadows of the Newspaper Club, huh.


I would like to believe that Osanai-san gave her all for the sake of a boy, but not if she did things like secretly pulling the strings to secure space for an article and secretly standing guard at weak spots of the encirclement to catch the arsonist. No matter how you thought about it, those were not for the sake of love.

…Ah, did I understand so well because it was about someone else?

Well, I was confident that I’d been properly controlling myself in that aspect.

“I was also happy when Nakamaru-san asked me out. The last time I dated a girl was in middle school, as you know. Nakamaru-san’s actually an impeccable girl. In fact, she’s wasted on a guy like me.”

She was lively, able to discuss the latest topics, and most importantly, full of emotion. While she was usually smiling, she would sometimes sulk, and that was somewhat endearing. She also had a mischievous side, like when she said to my face that she liked weird boys. However…

“We talked about all sorts of things. And the troubling thing is, I could always tell where the stories were going. She brought up “mysterious incidents”, but I couldn’t see them as particularly mysterious. I kept holding myself back from saying that aloud, because I thought she would hate me if I did.”

“So, you became unable to hold back any longer?”

As I mentioned, even if you read ahead of the conversation, you’re not supposed to say it aloud like that.

“I made some remarks that were quite witty, if I may say so myself, but fortunately she didn’t hate me for that… No matter how much I showed off my wisdom, to my joy, she never seemed to notice.”

I could summarize the fun days I spent with Nakamaru-san with an idiom.

“How did that feel?”

Thankfully Osanai-san asked the question, and I was able to smoothly respond.

“Like nailing bran to a wall11, I suppose.”

While predicting the truth of the matter ahead of others was fun, it was also intrusive and could invite backlash. Afraid of the unexpected strength of such backlash, I’d decided to keep my head down. To me, Nakamaru-san should have been an easygoing person to be with.

I was happy to be praised and sad to be hated, but…

What about not being noticed at all? I always had the impulse to say to Nakamaru-san, “Wait a moment. I just solved a mystery, so what do you think of that?” In the end, I never said that to her, but that sense of frustration piled up with time.

Even so, I might have gotten used to that if nothing happened. No matter how hard I had to rack my brains to reveal a secret, if I could get used to hearing a simple “Ah, I see” in response, my vanity could possibly tire and wear away, and eventually disappear.

That could have been a good conclusion.

However, the case of serial arson occurred right before my very eyes. On the other hand, Nakamaru-san being Nakamaru-san, she was getting dissatisfied with me. If I was illuminated by her outlook on life, I would have gone mad with jealousy. It was all impossible.

But perhaps it did indeed give a slight hint of failing as a human being.

Osanai-san spoke.

“Like nailing bran to a wall? I probably felt the same way when I was dating Urino-kun.”

She put on a stiff grin.

“I always thought that boy to be foolish.”


I don’t think even I thought that badly of Nakamaru-san.

“Kobato-chan, do you remember? Last year, we decided to go our separate ways.”

“Of course. We didn’t say that we would never see each other again, though.”

“Yes… but I wasn’t talking about that. You remember why we separated, right?”

I nodded. There was no way I could forget that.

Calling ourselves petit bourgeois was inherently a thing of excessive self-consciousness. It would hit too close to home when alone, but with Osanai-san, the pain would be lightened. My impudence would be forgiven by her, as hers would be forgiven by me. However, that lack of self-reliance, or the symbiotic relationship as we called it, came into conflict with our supposed aim of becoming petit bourgeois, and we could no longer be together.

“What I said at that time wasn’t a lie, and wasn’t just something I said on a whim. But after a year, I’ve started to think a little differently.”

I could hear the sound of Osanai-san’s shoes scraping the dirt. She was moving slightly closer.

“We’re not very wise. If we were actually wise, we would have made way fewer mistakes. We would have been able to effectively control ourselves. And most importantly, no one would have been hurt.”

“You’re right. I think so too.”


“But even so, we’re not completely incapable, either. Even if we weren’t as wise as we thought… it would definitely be a lie to say that we’re people who can’t achieve anything.

“When I witnessed Urino-kun’s indecisive actions, I thought to myself that Kobato-kun would have been able to handle it a little more effectively. And you showed tonight that I wasn’t overestimating you.”

“Dating Nakamaru-san was fun. Girl’s shopping is actually quite strategic. It was also really fun choosing movies and choosing topics to talk about. But what I really like is this. Conversations, or denouements like what we had tonight, are multiple times more exciting. Thank you for letting me talk. As I thought, things like this…”

I took a moment to choose my words.

“Warm my soul.”

The moon was dazzling.

It seemed that the conclusion I’d vaguely reached and the conclusion that Osanai-san was trying to put into words were similar, despite us spending a year apart from each other.

“Petit bourgeois” was just a slogan to compromise with our surroundings, a public stance to avoid being isolated again, a white flag saying, “We won’t become useful, so please just leave us alone.”

After carrying that slogan for three years, I finally understood. If I really wanted to compromise, I didn’t need such a thing to suppress my ego at the last minute. The longer I waved that white flag, the more I hated the deviation between my actions and my inner thoughts. The feeling of treating others as idiots just kept piling up in my heart, and ended up rotting.

That wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t need a “petit bourgeois” costume.

All I needed was someone by my side who could understand me.

“It took a year for us to finally come full circle.”

Osanai-san mused.

“Even though I was waiting for someone to crush my self-consciousness to bits, for someone to look down at me and say, ‘Don’t get carried away.’ But it’s over now. I’ve been waiting for so long, but I’m out of time.”

I raised my head. While it looked natural, Osanai-san’s face seemed to have turned stiff.

“I don’t think you’re the best, Kobato-kun. In the future, I’ll surely have the chance to meet someone wiser, yet kinder. I believe that day will come.

“But while I’m still in this town, while I’m still in Funa High, before that prince on a white horse appears before me… I think you’re the next best option. That’s why…”

Even as a failure of a human being, having the girl do all the talking would be absolutely spineless. Playing it cool while clearly showing a slight lack of composure, I opened my palms and interrupted Osanai-san.

“Hold on a moment.”


She was now looking at me.

“I have the same opinion. It would be perfect if you feel the same way about me and we could be a pair again, but even if you don’t, for now…”


“You are necessary to me.”

Then, silence.

It was really hot tonight. In fact, it felt hotter than it was earlier.

Bzzz, the annoying insect flew up again.

Osanai-san covered her mouth.

And a stifled chuckle reached my ears.

Laughter also welled up within me. Once it started, it wouldn’t stop, and the park at night was filled by the sound of our mirth.

Still laughing, Osanai-san wiped the corner of her eye.

“How many words did we have to pile up to say what Urino-kun managed with one line, ‘Please go out with me’? In the end, are we people who can do nothing but think?”

While I was still laughing and nodding, I couldn’t entirely agree with that opinion.

If we were deciding to be a pair simply for the sake of thinking and finding out via trial and error how we could complement our deficiencies and supply each others’ demands…

“Yes, Kobato-kun, let’s get together again, though it’ll probably be just for a short time.”

…If that was all, I probably wouldn’t have felt this way now.

Something was apparently happening in the distance, for I could hear a siren carried by the wind. It would be eleven o’clock soon.

Should I say that we should go home since it was getting late, or should I let Osanai-san bring me to a shop selling delicious cake that was still open at this hour?

Now was the time to think. Seriously, what a difficult question.

Chapter 4 | Contents | Chapter 6

Patreon Supporters

Assistants (Tier 1) : Rolando Sanchez

Thank you very much for all your support!

  1. Meaning a night on which the temperature does not fall below 25 degrees outdoors.
  2. In this case I believe this refers to a train line that goes in a loop. I imagine that there are stops all over Kira City spread out in a somewhat circular pattern.
  3. Incidentally, 112 redirects to the police (110).
  4. I would ignore the bit about the kanazuchi. In modern times, the term kanazuchi is pretty much interchangeable with hammer (just that a kanazuchi needs to have a metal head), and even if we’re going by the old definition, a kanazuchi was meant for striking and thus contained no claw for removing nails. I assume this is a mistake by the author, but the only thing that matters is whether the Gardening Club’s hammer contains a hammer, and not if it is a kanazuchi or a hammer, so in my opinion this little aside about kanazuchi can be marked as irrelevant and safely ignored.
  5. Quite a weird line in this context, and since it’s written in quite simple terms I don’t think its a mistranslation. I think Urino meant to say something along the lines of, “I couldn’t see if there was anyone behind the tree, but I knew she had a point.” Do let me know if you have an interpretation that makes more sense!
  6. What a traditional matchmaker would say before leaving a couple alone in a room.
  7. A book distributed in Japanese cities that provide information about laws, taxes, facilities, etc. specific to that city.
  8. A citrus fruit closely related to yuzu that is rich in sourness and usually harvested when still green. Looks a lot like a lime.
  9. Probably a shrine or temple for Prince Shotoku, renowned for modernizing the government administration and promoting Buddhism in Japan during the Asuka period (592-710).
  10. Osanai’s last line is similar to Voi che sapete che cosa è amor, meaning “You ladies who know what love is, is it what I’m suffering from?”, which is a song in The Marriage of Figaro, an opera by Mozart.
  11. Meaning “a waste of effort”. A similar saying in English is “water off a duck’s back”.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.