Main Story 43

When I came to, I was in a hospital bed.

My body had been cleansed of the mud clinging all throughout it, but my left arm and left ankle are in casts.
And there are gauzes wrapped around multiple body parts of mine.

For now, it seems that I have been saved.

“You’re awake?”

Beside me were Comrade Yoshio and Mossad Tanaka-san.
From what they said, it seems that the two of them were the ones who had saved me.

And they had moved me to the hospital with Comrade Yoshio’s private helicopter.

“Um, and the landlady?”

“She has serious injuries but she’s alive.
She’s currently admitted in a different hospital.
But they said that that lover of hers is unconscious due to heavy injuries.”

“Comrade Yoshio.
Were you already aware that that lover of hers is my father?”

Comrade Yoshio looks at me with astonishment.

“You knew?”

“I found out about it the day the landslide happened.”

Mossad Tanaka-san seems to be ill at ease.

“Did Tanaka-san perhaps already know about it? That that trash is my father.”

Mossad Tanaka-san, while seeming to be in great discomfort, answers in the affirmative.

“I was about to be killed by my father.
I made to take the landlady’s hand and run away, but my hand was brushed aside by my father.
He escaped together with the landlady.
I was left behind and was almost squashed under the collapsed house.
But the piano fell sideways and made a space, where I luckily had been saved from being pinned under.”

After speaking this far, my head started to feel light.

For now, your recovery should be of utmost priority.”

“Um, for how long was I asleep?”

“5 days has passed since the landslide.
On top of these injuries, you also already had a high fever, didn’t you? It was pneumonia.
You repeatedly had nightmares and woke up, don’t you remember?”

I have no such recollections.
Pneumonia? What a surprise![1] So the doctor was a quack.
He diagnosed it as merely a simple cold.
If it had been Black Jack, he would not have diagnosed it as such.
Still, that episode in Black Jack where a girl became a bird was splendid.
One wonders why she had to be turned into a bird.
A life of survival is one that is hard.
I wonder if she’s okay after that?[2]

Ah, now is not the time for this.
More time had passed since the landslide than I thought.

“Comrade Yoshio, Tanaka-san, thank you for saving me.”

I feel that my fever has gone down significantly.
An IV needle was inserted in my arm, and when I traced the tube back up to its source, I found written on the pouch “Soldem 3A transfusion”.
A label saying “Cefotiam” was on it.

Let’s look it up on the cell phone later.

Speaking of, I wonder what became of the cell phone.

While thinking of such matters, I once again fell asleep.

When I next came to, I felt marginally better, and I was even hungry.
My body feels much lighter.

Comrade Yoshio was still in the room.

“Comrade Yoshio.
Did you stay here all this time?”

“No, we’re on rotation.
We, as in, me and the Hongou family members.
Takaoka-shi[3], for example.
As for Tanaka, we don’t let him in if I’m not here so rest assured.”

Just how far is he going with being wary of Mossad Tanaka-san?

Just then, a knock came at the door and a doctor came in to perform some examinations, bringing a nurse with them.
It seems that the nurses here had performed vital checks on me whilst I was asleep, and the doctor was now checking those notes in the tablet.
They then looked at me and said that both my fever and breathing seems to be fine.
They also told me my blood test results, and that the inflammation has gone down.

Still, both my body and hair are sticky and I feel disgusting.
When I told them this, they gave me the okay to take a shower.
Also that the nurse will be assisting me in it.
They left the room and two nurses came, as if to replace the ones from before.
They told me that they will be helping me with the shower.

We had Comrade Yoshio leave and started preparing for the shower.
They took the compress off my bruises and placed a transparent, seal-like roll of dressing with the label Tegaderm on the wounds.
It’s so thin yet it manages to stick so well.
I wonder what kinds of materials it was made out of.
A lot of things here are novel to me.
There are plenty among them I would like to study about.
I want a cell phone with me.

When I once again looked at my body, I found my skin riddled with blemishes.
Blue, purple, reddish-black, yellowish-black.
I think to myself that it looks like body paint.
Speaking of body paint on a naked body, one thinks of art.
… I recall my mother.
Souju-sama had once said that my brain adopts the workings of a word associate game.
I find it ironic now how it really was so.

I wonder what was on my mother’s mind as she shed her clothes off.

I was transferred to the bathroom in a wheelchair by the two nurses, whereupon they sat me down on a chair and start bathing me.
It’s my first shower in a while.
How nice it feels.

They then put a new set of pajamas on me.
Dry my hair.
Up until now, I have no memories of having others do things for me.
I remember changing my own clothes when I was 2.

Comrade Yoshio returned to the room again.
I immediately start upon the topic I had been most occupied with during the shower.

“How should I pay for the treatment fees here?”

Thinking about it now, this room is bigger than my own house.
It’s an extravagant private room.
It has a leather sofa, a table, and all the furniture here is from MORISHIGE.

Comrade Yoshio smiled.

“No need to worry about it.
I’m paying.
I may look like this but I’m quite rich.”

“Even though you’re living like you’re in a guerrilla operation?”

“In a guerrilla operation, you say.
That’s Tanaka, isn’t it? It’s him who leads a strange way of life.
I’m just living with nature by myself.
It’s what they call a slow life.”

Slow life.
Is the way he’s living really what’s called a slow life? If you enter into the depths of the little house he’s supposedly living in, you will find a camouflaged a room of reinforced concrete located halfway underground, inside which there lay numerous monitors and communications equipment.
And he also has a helicopter! This helicopter is one he normally stores in a hangar which he disguises to look like the surrounding mountain.
And beside it, he has a climbing kiln to bake pottery in, so the disguised hangar does not look out of place.
It simply looks like a work shed.

Comrade Yoshio invited me to this hideout of his so enormous in scale once I became privy to his situation.
It was just the other day that I went.
The mountain, too, belongs to Comrade Yoshio.

Comrade Yoshio told me that he does not want to keep any secrets from me.
In response, I accepted the Comrade Yoshio who was not a member of the KGB and thanked him for looking after me until then.
As we were engaged in such discussions in the hideout, a siren went off.
Comrade Yoshio took a quick glance at the monitors, promptly grabbed a rifle, and went out.
When I also looked at the monitors, I found that there was a stranger – a man – loitering around the vicinity of my house.
I followed after Comrade Yoshio.
When I found him, he was posed, pointing his rifle from a spot where you could see my house from above! But Mossad Tanaka-san was already driving the man away, threatening him with a shotgun.

Comrade Yoshio’s rifle seemed to be real.
From what I’ve seen, it’s probably an MK11.
There were other rifles in the hideout.
The handgun carelessly strewn on the table is probably a P220 .45 ACP.
Comrade Yoshio insists that they’re all replicas, so I make myself think so too.
They must be replicas.
That’s right, they’re replicas.

The facilities he has are astounding.
His assets are too.
He claims that it was all gained through investing in the stock market.
He’s like Warren Buffett! Speaking of, he also said that he profited from cryptocurrency too.
Comrade Yoshio is not one to be looked down upon!

“Comrade Yoshio, please take a rest.
Your complexion doesn’t look so good.
You see I have grown well.

Comrade Yoshio gently brushed his hand against my cheek.

“I’m glad you’re alive.”

He said this and embraced me tightly.

“You’re not like Ruriko.
You are you.
I have been watching you as you grow.
I treasure you.
You’re my daughter.”

When I was stuck under the fallen crumbling house, I had lamented that I had nobody who loved me.

But I was wrong.
Comrade Yoshio loved me as one would a daughter.

My heart filled with emotions, knowing that someone treasures me.
I cried in Comrade Yoshio’s arms.

After I had cried for a while, Comrade Yoshio returned to a hotel nearby.
He says that he’s making arrangements to make himself my guardian.
It seems that Hongou Takeru-sama had also volunteered to be my guardian, but Comrade Yoshio has already shown himself capable of protecting me for years now.

I abruptly remembered Katsuragi-sama’s words.

――Rei-chan, cosplaying as the heroine of a tragedy is not a good look.

It is just as he had said.
I was only thinking of myself, my own suffering.
But I was being treasured by Comrade Yoshio.
It does not matter how it came to be, for the truth that I was being treasured does not change.
To think that I was even envying Barefoot Gen.
Just how deep was I in my victim cosplay?

As if they were changing shifts, Hongou Takeru-sama and Youko-sama, and Takaoka-sama came.
Sara-sama and Souju-sama wanted to come too, but they were afraid it would burden me instead and opted to wait for the next day.

“Rei-chan, it must have been hard.
It’s okay now.
You don’t have to worry about anything.”

Said Hongou Takeru-sama kindly, while Youko-sama looked at me and cried.
For some reason, Takaoka-sama offered me an apology.

“I thought I had been protecting you.
I’m sorry.
It must have been hard for you.”

“I do not understand why you are saying such a thing.
As you can see, I am alive.”

I had been speaking with them while sitting up, but I became unsteady and Takaoka-sama caught me, guiding me to a laying position.

Seeing this, they went home in order to let me rest.

I turned the television on while still lying on my side.

I flipped through various channels but ended up watching the news.
As I was spacing out, there appeared on the screen the place where my house had once been.

On the upper right corner, it was written that it had been 5 days since the landslide.

My house, so filled with memories, is now gone.
And the landlady’s house is also gone.

Fortunately, the landslide seemed to have only affected mine and the landlady’s houses, and there were no deaths.
The screen moved on to the next news item.

But the earlier scene stuck to my eyes, refusing to leave.

I have no house to return to.

I have nowhere to return to.

Confronted with the reality that I have nowhere to return to, for the first time since I’ve regained consciousness, I became riddled with anxiety.

I looked at the cast on my left arm.
I want to know how dire its condition is as soon as possible.
I have to.

Don’t take the piano away from me too.

I pressed the nurse call button without much thought, and the nurse who came told me that the doctor in charge was not in the office.
I asked that I might receive an explanation the next day.

However I, in my anxiety, could not fall asleep and spent the night wide awake.

Translator’s Notes:

[1] Reiko here said it in a peculiar way, adopting the style of Pinoko, a character from Black Jack.
The original text says アッチョンブリケ, which is what Pinoko would utter when in anger, out of surprise, or when she is moved.
She utters this line with both hands squishing her cheeks.

[2] Black Jack was a manga about its titular character, the doctor Black Jack.
It was episodic and one of the stories was about a girl being turned into a bird.
She couldn’t walk, and Black Jack performed a surgery on her to turn her arms into functional wings.
But the people saw her flying, and she was hit by a gunshot for looking inhuman.
Black Jack wanted to perform another surgery to return her to her previous form, but disillusioned, the girl told him that she wants to be turned into a bird instead.
Black Jack then turned her into a bird.

[3] -shi is an honorific formal in nature, typically used when the person referred to is not someone the speaker is familiar with.

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