Author: Inaida Sou
Translator: Kei of ChocoCats
○ 257 DAYS AGO (Part 1)
In the morning in the kitchen, the sizzling sound of an egg being cooked can be heard. When I was rolling the omelette, a man on the TV, wearing winter clothes and trembling while pointing to famous places in the city, said “It looks like it will be cold this week”.
Time has passed since Nojima-sensei’s case, it’s already mid-November. As if the heat in summer was just an illusion, the temperature dropped to the point I can’t go to school without a cardigan or coat anymore. It’s so cold I could die.
And if I can’t keep my brother’s interest a little bit more, I will die for real on July 28th.
I was planning to continue to provide surprises after my brother fell asleep, but I have a golden rule that I will not disturb my brother’s sleep time. Human tends to fall into an unstable state when they don’t have enough sleep. Even though he already has an abnormal hobby, it will be dangerous if the hobby becomes even distorted because of his unstable mind.
[“Next is, the showcase of cute children’s photos sent by our viewers!”]
The TV screen changed from weather charts into a show that presented cute animals owned by viewers. On the kitchen counter opposite, my brother was relaxing on the living room’s sofa while saying, “how cute” to my mother calmly. But I know my brother and mother have a different meaning of cuteness.
When my brother says ‘cute’, it matched his own value of ‘cuteness’. It must be different from how the girls in class say something is cute.
I was worried if he will kill the dog, or if he will train the dog to kill people, when he said, “How cute, I want to keep a dog too…”. I put the freshly cooked rolled omelette on the plate while staring at his back.
It’s about eight months before my brother holds the death game, so I came up with a bento lunch operation.
Food, clothing, and shelter are the three major desires humans required. So, I asked my mother’s help to make an astonishing bento that exceeds my brother’s expectations.
Of course, the bento was made to give a spectacular surprise. However, it doesn’t mean the taste will be extremely bad or it contains weird objects. I took good care of hygiene, making sure it was delicious, and well-balanced bento so that my brother will not get food poisoning even if I made a mistake.
So, what’s the deal?
The food inside.
“Onii-chan, your bento is done!”
I cut the chilled omelette into cute pieces, pack it in a lunch box, and wrap it tightly in a rubber band before calling my brother. My brother received the bento with a business smile.
“Thank you, Mai.”
“Today’s bento is a masterpiece work.”
“Don’t you always say that?”
“Real artisan won’t slack off even for a day.”
The key point of the bento lunch is its appearance. To surprise my brother, I made bento lunches that imitate masterpieces or sculptures, not characters.
The detailed geometric pattern is reproduced with seaweed, so my brother can eat all parts of the lunch safely just like eating a whole cake with its decoration. In short, everything is edible.
I made sure to make the bento surprisingly artistic, but not too overwhelming because it will lose its purpose (as a bento lunch) if my brother doesn’t want to eat it. So, I keep aiming for that delicate line.
And, while aiming for my brother to think, “Isn’t it just flashy?”, I put the surprise inside. The appearance is like a normal hamburger steak, but when divided in two, grilled ginger will come out. It’s a camouflaged hamburger with a hidden gimmick. It will make my brother always stay alert.
Today, yesterday, and the day before yesterday, was a bento that emphasized surprise in appearance, in short, it’s just a normal character bento.
However, there are a lot of gimmicks, it provides double or triple surprises.
[“Now, what’s today’s fortune…?”]
Before I know it, the program that my mother was watching started the fortune-telling corner. It will be bad if I don’t leave the house soon. As I rush upstairs to get ready, I heard my brother’s voice from the first floor.
“Mai, are you ready?”
I hurry down the stairs. After cheerfully telling my parents, “I’m going!”, I headed to the front door. My brother has already opened the door, and I hurriedly run.
“I’ll wait for you even if you’re not in a hurry.”
My brother chuckled at me. I felt uneasy because, in the last two months, his smile is getting closer to Kurobe-kun in the manga. Soon, my brother will witness a white cat being run over by a car. He will start from “I want to kill creatures” to “I want to mess up human’s body”, and the upgraded D-day when the madness stage has been set will come.
In terms of time, the event where the cat is run over is just around the corner. The scene was described in detail in Kurobe-kun’s monologue as a recollection, of when he was in the third grade of junior high school, wearing a black muffler on his neck, untied.
The construction site of the station building drawn in the manga background was a three-story building. A building that looks exactly like it was built on the main street, is now on the first-floor construction. According to the construction uncle, it is a six-story building, and it seems that the construction of the third floor will start two weeks from now, and the fourth floor will start two weeks later. In short, I have to be careful in the meantime so that my brother doesn’t witness the cat incident.
Therefore, this winter, I will stay with my brother while the third floor of the station building is being constructed.
“By the way, Nojima-sensei has been discharged from the hospital.”
As the traffic light turned red, I stopped, and my brother suddenly turned to me.
“I was told by a friend in the class whose mom work at the hospital.”
“But isn’t it just about a month since she regained consciousness…?”
“Yeah. It seems there is no problem with her body, so she was released quickly. But she made quite a fuss at the hospital ward because she was told to return to her parent’s home.”
Nojima-sensei stayed in the intensive care unit for about two weeks, and it took her a month to regain consciousness. My brother looked worried about her… or not.
“Good thing that the criminal has been caught, even though it’s still scary.”
My brother hasn’t got his hands dirty.
Even though he happened at the scene when Nojima-sensei’s incident occurs, it wasn’t like he just watched her dying and didn’t call an ambulance. He just projected a video of Nojima-sensei at the gymnasium.
Then it’s almost like a bet whether sensei will be punished and sent home immediately or after school. If sensei meets the criminal, my brother may see the moment of her being stabbed, and if he didn’t get to see it, because it’s unexpected, so he will still feel happy. In the end, my brother will get both, as he got half and half results.
“But it’s surprising to see her being attacked right after the reading session.”
It seems that Nojima-sensei was attacked on her way to the expected place after my brother confirms the time of the crime. But seems that he couldn’t see the scene.
My brother arrived after he heard an office worker scream to call an ambulance and took life-saving measures.
Someone was shooting the scene with a smartphone, and I saw the whole footage posted on the net. The figure of my brother running up to the office worker who nursed Nojima-sensei was clearly reflected there.
If the incident happened as expected, it’s unthinkable to not report it. But even if he reports to the police, believing everything a junior high school student had said might be dangerous too. Objectively speaking, even if they claim that ‘he just watched a person being stabbed’, it won’t apply to him.
My brother doesn’t sympathize with the fact that he should help if a person is falling.
Because his fundamental is different, even if people said, ‘he just watched a person being stabbed’, he won’t think about it.
However, even if he can’t have empathy or emotions, I still can make him think that holding a death game is a hassle or change the flow a little by little so that he is not interested in the game. I will do it playfully so that he won’t realize that I’m already aware of my brother’s true nature.
“Someday, I will make you more surprised, Onii-chan.”
“…What are you competing with, Mai? Nojima-sensei was stabbed for real, you know?”
My brother looked at me in disbelief. His sad face makes me feel unbelievable. My brother pats my head while saying, “but I know that you hate Nojima-sensei.” And before I knew it, we started crossing the green traffic light.
In the front row of the classroom, I call out to Yukari-chan, who is playing around with a colourful fantasy pouch. Because I had confirmed she didn’t carry anything dangerous, I thought she might have noticed it, but she still shook her shoulders in surprise.
“Ahhh, I was surprised. Good morning, Mai-chan.”
“Yup, as expected, that’s the best reaction when surprised.”
I always surprise my brother but, his reaction is just, “wow, I’m surprised,” while acting surprised. Seeing Yukari-chan’s reaction, I feel touched.
I jumped when a voice suddenly came down from above my head. When I look back, Iwai’s face looked displeased. I sighed and hit him on the shoulder.
“You surprise me. I thought it was a ghost noise.”
“It’s still human voice, you know.”
“Well, your voice has been much lower since last month. Did anyone start living around your throat?”
“It’s voice change, don’t say weird things. By the way, I saw your brother.”
“What kind of reply is that.”
Iwai seems to be dissatisfied with my reply. When I couldn’t understand it, he pointed out, “Didn’t you say I must tell you everything if I saw your brother?” I suddenly remembered that I had asked him hundreds of times when I was in elementary school about it. It was when I still thought of my brother as an innocent and kind brother.
“I’m really sorry… So, what was my brother doing?”
“He was warning the first-year, but it feels strange.”
“Hmm, he didn’t look angry at all, or rather, I wonder if he ever gets angry?”
“Certainly… Mai-chan’s older brother seems like he doesn’t have the image of getting angry…”
Yukari-chan agrees with Iwai’s words. When I think about it, I’ve never seen my brother really angry. Even though he calls his sister ‘that thing’ inside his head, maybe he can’t let out his anger because he only sees humans as living beings that can move or as beings to be killed.
It’s a mindset that he will ignore the gravel on the side of the road even if it can complain.
“By the way, why is Iwai in this class again?”
“I came to ask you about the student council election. Will you be the student council president next year?”
Iwai opened his eyes wide to my reply. It’s late November, so people who want to join the next student organization will run this week and an election will be held next month. Until then, it will be a campaigning period, but as long as there are candidates, the rest of the job is just election administration. And after the candidates take over their work position safely, it ends.
“Everyone thinks you will be the student council president.”
“I don’t know. Anyone who wants should do it. I haven’t said that I’ll be the president next year.”
“You… don’t be selfish.”
Listening to my words, Yukari-chan said, “But people will naturally think like that… Because Mai-chan’s brother will graduate soon.”
That’s right. My brother will graduate from junior high school and enter high school in three months. So, I don’t have time to join the student organization. I used all of my time to provide surprises to my brother.
“It’s already time for elections, huh. It was a year ago that I gave a speech next to Mai-chan.”
“Yeah. When the election is over, it’s winter vacation, and then the end of the year…”
‘Winter vacation’, I took a breath. Yes, it’s winter vacation. My brother will witness a cat being run over during the winter vacation.
I look at the calendar next to the blackboard and align it to the construction site schedule. Then, X-week, which seems to correspond to my brother’s D-day, was half of the morning class day and half of the winter vacation. If it’s on winter vacation, I can make him stay at home all day, but if it’s the school day, it will be hard. Should I forcibly lock him at home…? It’s a crime, but it’s definitely better than dozens of people dying.
“Does Mai-chan have a plan to go somewhere during the winter vacation?”
“I usually go to my grandpa’s house every year. But this year and next year, my brother and I are taking the exam, so I don’t think we can go.”
“I see… You aim for your brother’s, Sakaemine High School, isn’t it?”
My brother is studying for an exam now, but sadly, he wanted a high school with the highest deviation value in the prefecture, excellent security, and the latest equipment to hold a death game.
In a roundabout way, ‘Isn’t he just aiming for a place with a higher deviation value?’ I recommended a high school with an old building that has a high deviation and rich historical value, cannot be hacked and is safe, but it’s all rejected with, “It’s close to home.”
The surprises I’ve made weren’t very useful, also I couldn’t bother him while my brother is studying for the exam. I think my brother would definitely pass the exam in high school, and it makes me feel that the future isn’t good.
“Should I use this month’s long weekend…?”
Just this month, there will be three days of consecutive holiday. Somehow, I have a bad feeling as I silently stare at the calendar.
T/N: Sorry for not updating last week. Last week was a busy and hard week for me, I’ve been preparing for my resignation too. So I didn’t have enough time to translate. I will try to do more next week.
See you in the next chapter!