21-us in the cold sky...

The autumn leaves are becoming more beautiful with each passing day. It's the season when the leaves start to fall, and for someone like me who doesn't like the cold, going to school in the morning is a hellish march.
The reason why I say "march" is because the rest of us do it too. I step on the cold concrete with other working people who walk like the dead. It feels as if the glorious sunlight is eagerly trying to melt us. What a hell.
I look at the passing buses, crammed with people who are lying face down on the bus, holding on to the strap. They look like prisoners. As if they are carrying in their hearts the mass of fear and deep regret of the prison that awaits them.

I want to go home......

That's all I have to say.
Probably between 0700 and 0830 in the morning, people in Japan have said it a total of 30 million times in their hearts. I alone have already contributed 100 times.


Worst," the soprano echoed, in a tone that seemed to describe my state of mind. I look up from my zombie-like downward slump.

I'm dying to see you in the morning. You should be dancing on the freeway.
'Oh, Alina.

It's amazing that you already have the power to make jokes like that. I have a hard time even walking. I hate mornings. By the way, my sister Ugin does not hate mornings. Rather, she leaves the house with a bright smile and light steps. Like the opening scene of a girl's anime.
I, on the other hand, am a zombie who wanders around eating people.

'Don't mention me.
'I know.'

She knows exactly who she is. That she is not the person who gave her the last name Arina Hiba. That she is not the real thing. She pretends to be Arina Hibane.
She was aware of this long before we met in the library. I wonder what she thought when she saw the man who declared that he would rehabilitate her, or rather, erase her.
I can't say she's been honest, but she's been with me on my project. It's like an active death. What the hell is she thinking?

Alina and I walked side by side until we entered the school building.

'Alina, what are you thinking?
'How can I send you to Antarctica?
'You'll get along with the penguins, won't you?'
No, it's not. We're going to be penguin food.

One minute you're feeding pigs, the next you're feeding penguins.
Stop your smugness. There's nothing to be proud of.

See you in the rose garden.

Dinner with Makoto after the lunchtime war.
I was so excited to eat the bread I had miraculously won from the concession stand.

You look like you're eating really well.
'Of course. There are not enough of them for the high demand. Athletes are my enemy.
'You've got too much in your eyes about athletes. ...... I'm in the badminton club too.'
'Oh, well, did you end up ending the rivalry between the badminton and tennis clubs after all? Talks are about to begin! I only heard up to the end, so I don't know how it ends.
Oh, yeah, that's happened before. The incident of Nippa's intrusion.
'So, what happened?'
'It's okay. We talked it over and decided to maintain the status quo. We made peace.'
'Oh. That's good. I hope Alina won't feel too bad. I'll tell you what.
'Hey, can I ask you something?
What are Hinoha and Comet doing sneaking around?
'It's a non-profit.
'Volunteer, sort of?'
Yes. A bunch of freaks, brought together by the teacher.

I'll say something like that. There may be some differences in interpretation, but it should be about right.

'Now there are rumors that Comet and Hinoha are up to something nefarious.
What the hell is that? I'm not going to start a terrorist attack.
'Please don't do that. It could be Nippa.
'He could sink at least one of the prefectures into the sea.

After we finished discussing Alina's meta-human theory, I went back to work on the mission the newspaper club had asked me to carry out.
I went around asking my classmates about their dream jobs and what was popular on campus. Of course, I asked them to answer as much as they were comfortable with. They probably thought I was suspicious of their insistence, but if they had felt uncomfortable with such questions, they would never have been counted. Seeing the newspaper club members working so hard, I thought that they were desperate too. Since I was asked to do this, I have to take responsibility.
I thought they were like the media, but they must be more fearless in asking questions under their busy schedule. This makes me think that the information we see is obtained with a great deal of effort. However, the shit content is still shit.

What the hell?

Grumpily, indeed grumpily, Alina said, putting a sting in her words.
Alina was not in the classroom, so I went to the rose garden, and sure enough, she was reading as usual. There were probably more flowers, although I didn't know anymore. Is he going to turn this place into a garden?

Have you had any results since then?
'Did you ask anyone?'
No one.
'Oh, come on, the newspaper department will cry.'

'It's not okay.'

This is wrong.
It would seem logical that Alina would not help, since she did not take the initiative in applying for the newspaper club's assistance, but that would be a pity for the club that believed in her, and I feel sorry for them. Besides, she did not refuse. Even a kindergartener can keep silent when she has not clearly expressed her intention.

'Alina, that's irresponsible.
'Oh. This is for your own good too, and the newspaper club trusts us. I would never want to betray them.
'Hey, Alina, are you listening to me?'

Alina's attitude was so outrageous that I lost my temper and said something nasty.

What do you want with Alina?

She had been reading the paper until now, but her eyes opened wide and she looked directly at me as if she had been struck by lightning.
After I said it, I regretted it so much. I blamed myself so hard for what I had said.
What I had just said was disgusting.

The man in front of me looked at me like I was an enemy and denied my existence.

That's what they must have thought.
But she quickly cast down her eyes and began to follow the print again. As if nothing had happened.
I couldn't say anything, and a few seconds of silence fell over the rose garden. The rose garden is always quiet, but this silence was very heavy, textured, and painful.
Then she started to go through her bag and took out a binder with many papers in it.

'Do you have scissors?

I took a pair of scissors from a shelf that would have been used by a staff member and handed them to him.
Alina cut an A4 sheet of paper in the binder horizontally and cut it in half. She placed it near me.

Hand them out. I'll leave it to you.

The paper was handed to me and contained the information the newspaper department was looking for, written in a questionnaire format. It was funny that the paper was divided into two parts, A4 size, to save paper, which was not unlike Alina.
It was not handwritten but written in a word processor, and it was a very cute text, so there was a big gap between the two.

What are you laughing at? I'm going to kill you.
'No, it was kind of funny.
'That's it. You got it.'
'Oh. Sorry, Alina.

I looked closely at the form Alina had made. It was really good.
Holding the survey form in my hand, I gave her a thumbs up for GOOD. Alina responded by giving me a middle finger instead of a thumb. Well, that's good. That's the Alina Hiwa I know.
I'll buy her something when I'm done handing out the surveys. I'll eat her to make up for it. But I don't know what Alina likes to eat. Something sweet?

'Alina, what's your favorite food?'
Is that a questionnaire?
'It's a personal question.
'So. Marshmallows.
'You like marshmallows? Well, that's kind of unusual, I guess. I'll go hand them out.

Leaving the rose garden, I casually flipped through dozens of sheets of paper, only one of which was already filled out.
As I walked away, I read it. There is no space for names or classes, so I don't know who wrote it.

My dream job: Novelist

School Buzz: I don't give a shit, a**h*le.

I almost burst out laughing. What do you mean, "Don't be an a**h*le"? The newspaper club will be shocked if they see this.
Let's pretend we don't know who the unnamed respondent is. Dreams are not for talking.
I've decided to secretly support that dream.