Delta In The Darkness - Scene 3
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Translator: Mr. Steak
Kaguyama Murasakiko took off her shoes at the door to Avarice Heights, and then, as she climbed the staircase and walked to the end of the second floor hallway, she hid the sound of her footsteps like a burglar the entire time. The stairs and hallway were both wood-paneled, so they were quite proficient at the task of amplifying human footsteps. It was so bad that if only they had been designed that way intentionally, they’d probably be called “nightingale” floors. Coming home late into the night, for example, she was always having to walk these halls with silent footsteps. And because habit is a terrifying thing, Murasakiko’s body had completely adapted to that style of walking.
For some reason or another, Avarice Heights was segregated by gender, with women on the first floor and men on the second. Kaguyama Murasakiko, who lived in an innermost room on the second floor, was the sole exception. This division wasn’t due to anyone’s conscious decision, but rather was the result of a natural selection that had occurred over the years, according to the widely-accepted theory of the residents. When she had first moved in, Kaguyama Murasakiko had been bothered by this arrangement. Even back then, she had been the only exception to the rule. However, at the very least, the other residents had all responded with a blunt “I don’t care.” Apparently, the issue of whether or not, if given the choice, having the men on the first floor and women on the second might be better from a safety standpoint had been raised repeatedly, but probably because of the complications involved with moving every resident, such a systematic organizational change had not been actualized in the slightest.
Kaguyama Murasakiko was so tired that if she had a Color Timer in her chest, it would definitely be flashing and making noise, but before entering her own room, she first knocked lightly on the door diagonally facing it, which belonged to Horokusa Junpei.
“Come in…. It’s open.” Upon hearing that, Murasakiko opened the door and stuck her head inside.
“Oh, Shiko-chan.” Horokusa emerged and came to the doorway.
Horokusa was wearing a bland outfit of a wrinkled shirt with faded jeans, and his hair was disheveled to match. His thin-framed glasses always looked like they were about to slip off of his nose. He looked young, but he was already twenty-eight years old. Among the residents of this apartment complex, Horokusa was the oldest, and he was also the one who had lived there the longest.
Horokusa was, as indicated by the cheap-looking plate on the hallway-facing side of his door, a detective. However, nothing about him gave off the impression of a detective, and he wasn’t performing any detective work either. At first glance, you’d guess he was a university student who had to repeat a year, or some hippie selling accessories on the street corner. The work he actually did was closer to that of a handyman or a temp employee. In truth, Kaguyama Murasakiko, along with their neighbor Takanashi Nerina, had on numerous occasions been granted small jobs by Horokusa in the past. Actually, it may be more accurate to say that most of the students living in Avarice Heights were Horokusa’s stock of personnel.
Nelson appeared from further in the room, then sat at Horokusa’s feet. He looked up at Murasakiko with drowsy eyes, but he didn’t seem to be asking for anything in particular.
Murasakiko waited silently for Horokusa to ask the question. Bringing it up herself would have felt awkward. Horokusa smiled weirdly in embarrassment and scratched his head.
“Did you talk about it?” he said with great difficulty.
“Yeah,” Murasakiko confirmed.
“So… What did she say?” Horokusa’s expression was transparently anxious.
“No good,” Murasakiko answered decisively, shaking her head. She had enough situational awareness to realize that was an insensitive way to answer, but the realization came too late. She felt sort of bad for him in that moment. Still, there was nothing she could do besides faithfully convey the truth, she told herself. That’s not to say there wasn’t any other modicum of emotion welling up in her. Just that it wasn’t exactly overflowing. On top of that, she was tired, so she decided to ignore her desire to pry deeper into the matter.
“Is it…… inconvenient for her?” Horokusa’s expression had become indignant.
“No. That’s not the impression I got at all. Erm…… She just didn’t seem interested.”
“Did you really talk to her about it?” Horokusa asked, fidgeting. “I mean, you’re the one who told me Beniko likes classical music in the first place. It makes no sense that you’d suddenly turn around and say she doesn’t seem interested. Right?”
“Yeah…… I mean, you’re definitely not wrong.” Murasakiko pressed her lips together and looked down meekly.
“So you’re saying, she just doesn’t want to go with me?”
“I don’t know, she didn’t say,” Murasakiko said, sizing up Horokusa’s reaction.
“Geez, this was a flop I guess,” Horokusa said with a big sigh. “I already got the tickets, so that’s just salt in the wound.”
“What if I go in her place?”
“Huh? You want to buy them off me?” Horokusa’s expression got the slightest bit brighter.
“For my own, sure.”
“But there’s two of them.”
“Yeah, I’m saying me and you can go together.”
“Oh…… That’s what you meant?” Horokusa’s brow wrinkled in a frown. “You don’t have any friends you think you could sell it to?”
“Ugh, you’re so cheap!” Murasakiko said that, then slammed the door in his face.
Horokusa did not open it again.
She crossed the hallway diagonally, unlocked her door, and went into her own room. She took off the hat she was wearing and flopped down on the bed. After letting out a single explosively-charged sigh, she removed her contact lenses and washed her face with a cloth.
“The heck was that? Ahh, geez…” Murasakiko absentmindedly murmured to herself in her frustration with Horokusa. “He’s so stupid…. Who would pay money to see that with him!?”
She considered screaming out in a louder voice, but reminded herself that she’s a graceful person, and decided against it.
She’d been entrusted by Horokusa Junpei to deliver a message to Sezaimaru Beniko on his behalf, and this had been the result. Horokusa had obtained tickets for a classical music concert the following month, and had thought to invite Beniko. Even though asking her himself would obviously be preferable, Horokusa had been surprisingly meek about it. Last night, when she’d come for mahjong, had been the first time Sezaimaru Beniko had visited Avarice Heights. That alone had apparently been enough to put Horokusa in a jolly mood. They’d been sitting across from each other for hours on end, and yet Beniko never spoke a word to him directly. As a result, he’d pulled Murasakiko aside when everyone was leaving and brought up the matter of asking Beniko about the concert.
Murasakiko closed her eyes, still sprawled on her bed.
Last night, she’d made a promise to visit Sezaimaru Beniko’s house one more time. Apparently, Beniko wanted to treat her to dinner. Well, more accurately, the one doing the treating wouldn’t be Beniko, but rather that strange middle-aged man. Yes, the unsettling old man with the ninja-sounding name of Negoro was also there. He appeared to do all of the cooking in the house. The same house where he lived with Beniko. It often caused Murasakiko to suspect the nature their relationship. Mister Negoro was also apparently the manager of a dojo that Takanashi Nerina across the hall attended. In any case, Beniko and Negoro were both equally strange people. How to phrase this… it was like the area around Sezaimaru Beniko was some lawless zone where bizarre things were allowed to run rampant. Though that was hardly the only strange thing about her….
Murasakiko figured she may as well sleep until evening.
Translator and Editor Notes:
Apologies for the relatively short section. This is just about the shortest they’ll ever be. I would have done two in one, except the next one is particularly long.
Again, nothing happens, but that was to be expected from the chapter title lol. I mean, I do have a sneaking suspicion that details from this chapter might become pivotal clues toward the end of the novel, but it’s also equally likely that it’s just a chapter for establishing the setting and characters.
The layout of Avarice Heights will surely come into play eventually, based on how many details we’ve been getting about it. Like, I doubt Mori would have dedicated so much space just to explaining it, if it wasn’t important. “Law of conservation of details” and all that.
Also, this section is a great example of why I love Mori’s dialogue writing so much. I like this short conversation between Murasakiko and Horokusa a lot, because it conveys a strong sense of their relationship in a really small package. I’m pretty sure Murasakiko has a crush on him, but maybe doesn’t even realize it herself yet. If I’m right, then that means we’ve got ourselves a big ol’ love triangle in the mix here. I’m hoping that doesn’t get in the way of what’s important (ie solving a mystery), but it was still set up nicely.
Random thing that made my ears perk up: the mention of “natural selection” when Darwin was also mentioned in that one intro quote. Hmmm.
Best analogy of the section: “so tired that if she had a Color Timer in her chest, it would definitely be flashing and making noise.” I had to look this one up, but it’s an Ultraman reference lol. Horokusa looking like a trash hippie is a close second though.
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