No Life King Lives
By the next day, rumors about Mr.Taninaka and Saeko had spread all over
Kuromiyama Elementary.  During each recess not only the kids in the next
classroom,  but even the upper and lower graders no one knew came to peek
into their classroom.  From the morning on, Saeko cried straight through.
 While kids in the class were united in trying to protect Saeko, only
Mochizuki was in a rambunctious mood,  standing by the door and showing each
visitor where Saeko was sitting.  Mochizuki also chased Tomoko Kamei. He had
already heard the rumors about the Kamesei Sushi shop.
 Mochizuki was very busy.  In between running here and there, he elbowed
Kat-chan and pushed away those classmates who protested, shouting; "The fifth
grade second section is the worst class in Kuromiyama Elementary."  "The
virus was collected here in the second section." 
 Mochizuki's voice had become completely hoarse by the time the fourth class
period began.  His excitement, however, didn't last very long, because the
attention of the entire school switched to another class after the noon
recess.  There,  a "D-type AIDS girl patient" in the first section of the
fifth grade surfaced.  The arrival of the girl was so shocking that even
Mochizuki went over to see her--though he had nothing to do with this
 "She had a strange mark under her eye.  They say she won't survive more than
a month."  Mochizuki's hoarse voice no longer had much power in it.  Most of
the children in the second section had already seen her.  Although they were
all making a commotion about the girl, inside their thoughts turned to
themselves.  They never knew  when they themselves might be on display.
 Makoto tried not to be isolated in the class, but he could not go out to the
schoolyard to play.  He picked as large group as possible to join, talking
with them.
 All the kids in the second section seemed to have the same idea, and they
all talked loud and were all full of tension.  Even Saeko and Tomoko Kamei
were walking around in the classroom.  But it was Mochizuki who was the most
scared by the atomosphere in the second section.  He well anticipated that
the day would come soon when he could no longer hide his sense of isolation
behind violence.
 Leaving Cafe Shamburi and going toward the station, Makoto kept thinking
about Mizuta.  If the situation at the school continued like this, it was
quite dangerous for Mizuta to write about it in some magazine or in his book.
 Being conspicuous meant being a target.  Makoto felt very heavy around his
chest, as if it were filled with something like lead.
 On entering the Asunaro Juku classroom, however, this lead-like feeling
abated.  Asunaro Juku was bustling like a marketplace full of small rumors
but had a secure feeling, like being in a safety zone.
 "Professor Hayashi killed his wife and used her as a specimen."
 "A take-out-deli shop put human flesh in its meatballs."
 "Fumio Ohno, an emissary of the god of death, has been absent from school
for more than a week."
 "A senior student was descovered to be a vampire when he was changing into
his gym suit."
 It was a real rumor market, where they could talk freely without becoming
the target of each other's bad rumors.  The children sold their small rumors
and bought a lot in return.  They all looked like well-known merchants.
 The noisy merchants kept on with their dealings until Pentagon came into the
room.  Pentagon, a thin tie neatly around his neck,  looked like a stiff tax
man.  The merchants gathered from exotic countries hurried off, leaving the
classroom in a hushed silence. 

By the time the first lesson began, Makoto had already worked on his message
to Yohta.  Pentagon said "Review"  and Yohta appeared on the screen much
sooner than usual. 
 "THERE ARE CURSES EVERYWHERE."    Reading his message, Makoto tapped
forcefully on the keys.
should know.   He should know how many dreadful incidents occured one after
another and how excellent a merchant Makoto was.  Makoto kept watching the
screen exultantly.  Yohta, however, did not try to send a message in the
remaining time at all.
 Five seconds.
 Ten seconds.
 Fifteen seconds.
Makoto held his breath as he waited for Yohta's response.  The sound of the
steam heater letting out hot air gradually became louder.
 Twenty seconds.
 Thirty seconds.
What's wrong? thought  Makoto.  Finally, some characters appeared.  
 "NO..."  Makoto's eyes stopped blinking.
 "LIFE KING..."  Makoto kept his gaze on the screen.
 "LIVES."  Goose pimples sprung from his back to the top of his head.
 "NO LIFE KING LIVES."  Makoto began to feel high.


Copyright (C) SEIKO ITO , EMPIRE SNAKE BLD,INC. All rights reserved.