Delta In The Darkness - Prologue: Something Finished
Delta In The Darkness
(“The Black Cat’s Triangle”)
Author: Hiroshi Mori
Translator: Mr. Steak
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When the ship carrying Charles Darwin first made its appearance in the waterways of the islands near Cape Horn, the native people did not show any sign of reaction for quite some time. Based on the description from Darwin’s travel journal, the Fuego islanders could literally not see the HMS Beagle. Because the ship was so unimaginably huge to them, they couldn’t see it. After a time, several islanders were invited onto the ship, and were able to experience the feel of the hull on their hands, and the wooden deck on their bare feet. Then, having applied information from a different axis of sensation for the first time, the ship became something real to them, it became an existence they could see and feel.
-Lyall Watson, “Neophilia”
Prologue: Something Finished
“Needless to say, an end comes to all things in this world. The question is whether that end comes slightly before people think it has ended, or slightly after it has been forgotten…”
The incident occurred on June 6th, between 8:00 and 9:00 in the afternoon. That was the day after Horokusa Junpei, Takanashi Nerina, Kaguyama Murasakiko, and Sezaimaru Beniko had spent the night playing mahjong at Horokusa’s apartment in Avarice Heights.
The victim was strangled in her room. The room’s sole door was locked from the inside. The door was on the mansion’s second floor, in a position easily visible from the large banquet hall below. On the night in question, many people happened to be present in that hall (Kaguyama Murasakiko and Sezaimaru Beniko being among those). Despite this fact, not a single one of them witnessed anyone other than the victim enter or exit that door.
On the opposite side of the room was a large window, but it had also been locked from the inside. Horokusa, the detective, had been keeping watch over that window for the entire time the incident is thought to have taken place, and furthermore, his part-time assistant Takanashi Nerina had also been positioned such that he could see the window easily. They could both confidently assert that they’d seen nobody enter or exit through the window. Even so, behind the window in question, a figure other than the victim was witnessed by Takanashi Nerina. Therefore, there is practically no doubt that an unknown person was in the room, and that naturally, such a person is extremely likely to be the assailant.
However, at a glance, this incident was unmistakably unrealistic. Despite having no entrance they should have been able to use, someone had entered the room and killed the victim, plus every possible way they could have left was locked from the inside.
That alone would be enough to classify this a bizarre murder case.
But in a further surprising development, the method of killing was precisely the same as the deaths of three other women in the past three years. Once per year, following a certain strict rule, they had continued to commit these crimes.
Now then, this text is a narrative account of that very incident, from its occurrence to its settlement. There are bound to be sections written based on rumors or guesswork, but you can safely think of this as being mostly in accordance with reality. However, besides that obligatory tidbit of nuance to get general audiences intrigued (like for example, how one mustn’t write a travel log without describing the changing autumn leaves), there will be no further illumination as to who is writing this account, as that person (in other words, me) shall be treated as a separate figure, and written about in the third person. Though naturally, it isn’t hard to imagine me as one of the main four involved in the case……
The incident was settled after one month, however.
This is an account written after practically all of the facts about the case have been explained. In other words, that makes this a fortunate case where the conclusion is more or less prepared in advance. Being able to promise from the start the existence of a realistic conclusion (or at least, a conclusion that the vast majority of readers can be comfortable with), is the greatest factor preventing this plot from proceeding in a truly realistic fashion. That makes this an arrangement in which the reader is protected by that shield of fiction, so you can be fully at peace, selecting only the mysteries that most fascinate you, and enjoying yourself however you please. I don’t know who thought up this system, but it sure is convenient.
Several days after the culprit who’d caused so much tragedy had been arrested, right on cue, Takanashi Nerina, Kaguyama Murasakiko, and Sezaimaru Beniko barged into Horokusa Junpei’s room at Avarice Heights. Of course, this was for their monthly mahjong meet. By the way, Horokusa’s room contained an obedient dog named Nelson. That dog was always sleeping. He had a habit of going for walks with Horokusa in the morning and evening, but other than that, he never left the room at all. A lazy bum who barely gets any exercise.
“Aah, poor thing.” Having finished lining up her tiles, Sezaimaru Beniko reached a hand towards her feet and patted the sleeping Nelson’s head. “Horokusa, you said you’re not coming back for two weeks starting tomorrow, right? Then it’d be way better if you let me take him. Compared to here, my place is way bigger, and I’ve even got a lawn.”
“Heck yeah, she’s right, Nelson,” Kaguyama Murasakiko said while lighting a cigarette. She stretched out a leg to touch Nelson’s back. “Going with Beniko would be way more fun. Hey you, don’t you think he’ll be happier with her?”
“No objections!” Takanashi Nerina went right along with the joke, downing a beer. “This apartment’s no good for a dog.”
At that time, Nelson’s owner stood up and went straight to the bathroom. After washing his hands, he absent-mindedly gazed out the window at the nighttime street.
The sneeze felt relatively good. He felt a certain assurance, like “Hey, it’s finally over.”
He had just yawned earlier and felt nothing, so why did this sneeze spur such thoughts, he wondered.
This had no relation to the incident.
He stretched his back, then went back to his room.
Three people’s laughter filled the air.
“What’s this all about?”
“Nelson, keep it a secret,” Kaguyama Murasakiko said, looking downwards.
Translator and Editor Notes:
Welcome! This will probably be a significant departure from everything else we do on the site. For one thing, it’s not a web or light novel. It was published as a complete novel (in 1999), and I’m fairly sure the target audience is adults. So it is written in a very different style, and is MUCH more difficult to translate than web novels. Not really tooting my own horn here, just preemptively justifying the probably slow update schedule.
Another thing is that it’s not fantasy genre in any way whatsoever. It’s a straight-up murder mystery. I’ve only read about 1/3 of the book, so I don’t know the solution, but the writing is amazing and it’s a really fun mystery. I think it’ll be fun to try solving it along with commenters, if people get invested. Of course, that means if you learn spoilers through any means (of this OR an adaptation of the same story), you may not comment. I’m serious. Don’t ruin the fun for everybody else.
Some actual notes on the translation:
This novel is separated into chapters, which are further split into numbered parts. Since the complete chapters are way the fuck too long to post all at once, I’ll be posting based on those numbered parts. I think of them as being generally analogous to “scenes” within the “acts” of a play or movie. They’re satisfying chunks, trust me.
The reason I’ve written two different titles for the novel, is because Mori loves to give his books English names as well as Japanese names, which sometimes (as is the case here) mean entirely different things. The main title is the English one, and the “subtitle” is a translation of the Japanese title.
Comments on the prologue:
Strange tone for an intro, right? It’s not uncommon for Japanese mysteries of this type (honkaku) to directly address the reader and pretty much either challenge us to solve the case, or actively encourage us to have fun reading, but even among those it’s pretty strange. Most of it reads more like a back-cover blurb (and in fact I used an edited version as the NU synopsis).
About the two epigraphs, I’m sure they’re supposed to relate thematically to the novel, but they are both so cerebral and philosophical that I can’t wrap my head around them. The first one (meant presumably as an intro quote for the entire novel) might be a “don’t miss the forest for the trees” sort of thing? My main takeaway from that is the concept of something being so big that you don’t even notice it’s there. The prologue’s quote about endings is honestly just pseudo-philosophical nonsense to me lol. But since this one, as well as future chapter-quotes, don’t include attributions at all, it’s safe to assume they’re original quotes written by Mori himself, so I should probably give them a little more thought. In this one, the focus is on the difference between two types of endings. Most interesting to me, is that in both of the scenarios mentioned, the ending goes unnoticed.
Please proceed now to Chapter 1, where the real story begins.
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