Suzumiya Haruhi:Volume3 Lone Island Syndrome

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Lone Island Syndrome

The scene before me is so shocking that I have totally forgotten the pain in my shoulders.

Right now I'm lying on the floor, unable to even get up, as I'm too stunned by what I see. The reason I can't move is because something as heavy as an anchor is on my back, and I can't remove it, but that doesn't matter to me right now. Koizumi, who was above me as we burst the door open and is now lying on top of me, is probably just as stunned as I am. Get off me! I didn't even have the wits to tell him that. You can imagine how astonished I was.

How can this be possible? I can't believe this is actually happening. This is no laughing matter. What should we do?

A bright light flashed outside the window. A few seconds later, the sound of thunder roared through my stomach. A true thunderstorm. It's been covering this island since yesterday.

"......How can this be?"

I heard a groan. That would be Arakawa-san, who burst open the door alongside me and Koizumi, and fell to the ground together with us.

Koizumi finally got off my back. I rolled over and sat upright.

I look once again at the unbelievable scene before me.

On the carpet near the door lies a man who has fallen backwards just like I did. He is none other than the middle-aged owner of this mansion, who did not come down to the dining hall this morning. We recognized him by the suit he was wearing, it was the same suit he wore yesterday after bidding us good night. The only person to wear a suit unnecessarily in this midsummer island would be him. He is the employer of Arakawa-san, and the owner of this island and mansion:

Tamaru Keiichi-san.

Keiichi-san lay on the ground with a shocked expression, not moving a muscle. It is absolutely normal for him not to move, because it seems like he's already dead.

How did I know this? Well, the answer was obvious. The object on his chest looked very familiar. It was the handle of the fruit knife that was inside the fruit basket from the dining hall during dinner last night.

I can bet with you, that attached to that handle is a sharp metal blade, or it would have been impossible for it to stand upright on a person's chest. In other words, the knife is thrust into Keiichi-san's chest.

I don't suppose anyone can live if they've had a knife stabbed straight into their heart?

And right now that's the status of Keiichi-san.


From the broken door behind me came a small terrified scream. I turned and saw Asahina covering her mouth with her hands. Nagato stood behind Asahina, who was slowly retreating behind and clutching Nagato's shoulders. Nagato looked at me with her ever calm expression, and then lowered her head as though in deep thought.

Of course, wherever we go, she would be there.

"Kyon, that person......could he be......"

Haruhi seemed to be shocked as well, sticking her head from Asahina's side to see what was going on, and staring at Keiichi-san at eternal rest, with her dark cat-like eyes.


It's quite rare for her to speak so softly, and with a small tingle of anxiety. I turned and was about to say something, only to see Koizumi, his usual cheery smile replaced with a confused look. Mori-san the maid also stood in the corridor.

Only one person, who was in the mansion all day yesterday, was now missing.

A room that needs the door burst open in order to enter, a dead owner, and a missing person. What does this all mean?

"I say, Kyon......"

Haruhi spoke again, her face showing an unfamiliar look of discomfort. I even had the illusion that she was about to lean into my chest.

Another lightning flash, illuminating the whole room. The thunderstorm that raged from yesterday was beginning to calm down. The fierce waves smacked down upon the island shores, creating a terrifying sound effect along with the thunder.

The owner of a lone island, lying dead inside a sealed room with a knife stabbed through his chest, in the middle of a thunderstorm. This is the scene I was seeing.

I can't help but think.

Hey, Haruhi.

Did you create all this?

I recalled the journey leading the SOS Brigade to this scene.

Back to a few days before summer vacation began......




It was midsummer, in the middle of July. The sun was so hot that I wished it would take a vacation for once.

As usual, I was hanging out in our underground headquarters, formerly the Literature Club room, enjoying Asahina's tea. Though I had recovered from the results of the mid-term tests, once I started thinking about the impending revision classes, I could no longer relax. At that moment, the only choice I had was to escape from it all.

In the blink of an eye, I thought up various ways to convince myself that the reality I'm in is all a lie. As I pondered which one to use......

"Excuse me......are you alright?"

I awoke from the dream of myself being an alien paratrooper, parachuting from the back of the moon and storming the parliament building.

"You look so gloomy my tea not good enough?"

"Not at all."

I answered. Your tea is still as sweet as honey from the sky, even though it's brewed using discount tea leaves.

"That's wonderful."

Asahina, dressed in a summer maid costume, breathed a sigh of relief. She gave a gentle smile, so I answered her with a smile of my own. Your happiness is my happiness. Not even a sage traveling through the most remote mountains could find an Elixir as effective as Asahina's smile. My mind is now clearer than the surface of Lake Mashu in Hokkaido. I can even hear angels blowing their trumpets......

I felt like spreading my passion to everyone, as St. Francis of Assisi passionately did when preaching to his sister birds, but in the end I gave up. Not because I couldn't be bothered with the use of elegant phrases, but rather at this moment an annoying person came barging in with his melodious tones...

"Hey, everyone! How were your mid-term tests?"

Koizumi placed the Monopoly board he brought on the table while asking me this irrelevant question. Thanks to him, I've now returned to the dark side of the moon, hiding in the satellite orbit thinking how to make all these thoughts stop. Why can't you just play your Monopoly quietly? You ought to learn from Nagato, sitting peacefully in the corner reading her book.

Opening a hardback book as thick as an encyclopedia, Nagato sat on the foldable chair, in her summer sailor uniform. She had her eyes fixed on the book with that glass statue-like face of hers. From a certain perspective, she is a digitized existence, yet she seems to love absorbing physical data. I wonder if there's some specific reason for that?


Now I think about it, how can everyone in our club have so much free time on their hands?

School finished early today, classes having already ended in the morning. Yet why is everyone still gathered here? Myself included, but I have a justifiable reason to be here! If I didn't drink Asahina's tea at least once every day, I'd basically become a zombie. Thanks to that, I usually have to suffer withdrawal symptoms during the weekends.

Just joking. You think I'm serious? It's just that I've learned something since I came to high school - some people tend to take jokes very seriously. I say this from my experiences of the past few months, so I can't be wrong. One needs to draw a fine line between joking and being serious, or something terrible might happen.

Just like my situation right now.

I opened my bag and took out the ham sandwich I got from the Welfare Society as my snack.

As we count down to the beginning of summer vacation, there has to be a reason for us to gather here......or not. I say that because the SOS Brigade was created without any reason at all, in fact, it was created precisely for its lack of reason. It would be even more troublesome if it did have a reason. Instead of doing something really stupid, it's better that it remains in its present meaningless state, because that way I don't have to think much.

"I think I'll have a snack as well."

Asahina, so meticulous that she made her own tea, took out a cute looking lunchbox and sat down opposite me.

"Don't mind me, I've already eaten in the canteen."

Koizumi declined. No one asked you. While Nagato's hunger is more about reading books than about eating.

Asahina picked up the rice, which had a smiley face drawn with cream, with her chopsticks and said,

"Where's Suzumiya-san? She hasn't arrived yet."

Don't ask me. She's probably somewhere hunting for grasshoppers. It's summer after all.

Koizumi answered for me,

"I saw her in the school canteen. Her appetite sure is amazing. If all the food she consumed was converted into nutrition, I wonder how many ergs that'd be?"

I'm not going to calculate such things. If she intends to lock herself up in the canteen, then she can stay till evening.

"Don't think so. She said she has something important to announce today."

I just don't understand, how can you remain so cheerful? Whatever it is that she announces can't be anything beneficial to society, can it? Is your memory storage lower than a five inch floppy disk's?

"Besides, how do you know about that anyway?"

Koizumi said casually,

"Hmm, I wonder how? I could tell you, but Suzumiya-san would prefer to tell you herself. It would be a great problem if I spoiled her mood by telling you before she does. I'd best stay silent for now."

"I'm not interested anyway."

"Is that so?"

"Yup, because from your tone, it seems that idiot is up to something stupid again. I don't know how many more minutes my peace of mind will last, but I'm sure it's going to get less peaceful soon......"

As I was about to continue, I was interrupted by a slamming sound from the violent opening of the door.

"Great! Everyone's here!"

Haruhi's eyes shone as bright as a spectrometer.

"As today we're having an important meeting, I intend to have anyone arriving after me be treated as target practice for can throwing from now on as punishment. But it seems you've all begun to nurture that team spirit already. This is excellent!"

Needless to say, I never knew there was an important meeting for today.

"You sure have a lot of free time."

I was trying to humble her.

"You listen. The secret to eating in the school canteen is to go just before they close. By then the old ladies will scoop more for you. But the timing is very important, it'd be useless if you went when they were completely sold out. So today's a lucky day!"


For someone like me who rarely goes to the canteen for lunch, this new piece of information wasn't of that much use, no matter how generously it had been given.

Haruhi sat down on the commander's seat.

"Anyway, let's leave that aside."

"It was you who started that topic."

Haruhi ignored me and called out to Asahina, who was eating carefully with her chopsticks.

"Mikuru-chan, what do you think of when you mention summer?"


Asahina covered her mouth, munching and swallowing the food that she had cooked.

" O-Bon Festival?"

Haruhi blinked her eyes nonstop at such a nostalgically traditional answer.

"'O-Bon Festival'? What on earth's that? Have you got it wrong? I'm not asking you that, what I'm saying is, when it comes to summer, what's the first thing that comes to mind?"

What the hell are you talking about?

Haruhi said matter-of-factly,

"Summer vacation! Does that need thinking?"

This way of thinking is a bit too straightforward.

"Then what comes with summer vacation?"

Haruhi asked her second question, and then looked at her watch while mimicking the sound of the clock ticking, "Tick tock, tick tock."

Perhaps feeling pressurized by her, Asahina began to think frantically.

"Um, that is, ah......the sea!"

"That's right! Close enough. And what comes with the sea?"

What the hell's this? A guessing game?

Asahina tilted her head,

"Sea, sea......ah, pickled fish?"

"Wrong! Summer would be over by the time you guessed right. What I'm saying is, we need to go on a field trip for the summer holiday!"

I stared and got more and more pissed at Koizumi's smiling face. Was this the important announcement you were talking about?

"Field trip?"

I asked slowly, Haruhi nodded energetically,

"Yes, a field trip."

Maybe it's normal for school clubs to organize field trips or whatever, but is it really okay for us to have one as well? She can't be having us go deep into the mountains to search for Unidentified Mysterious Animals (UMAs) that will never be found, can she?

I looked at Asahina, Koizumi and Nagato in turn, and observed a stunned face, a smiling face, and a blank face from them respectively. I then said,

"A field trip, huh......field trip for what?"

"For the SOS Brigade."

"I meant, what will we be doing?"

"Having a field trip."


Going on a field trip solely for the purpose of experiencing a field trip.

Isn't that the same as saying "my headache hurts", "the tragic play is tragic", or "frying a fried fish"?

"What does it matter? In other words, the means and ends of this activity are the same. Besides, of course a headache hurts, who's heard of anyone enjoying a headache?"

I don't know whether there's something wrong with Haruhi's grammar, or if she's speaking in a different dialect. But the real problem lies with the field trip itself.

"Where do you intend to go?"

"I'm going to a lone island, and it has to be a lone island in the middle of the ocean."

I don't remember ever reading "Two Years' Vacation” as a summer vacation report. Just what on earth did she read to come up with such an idea?

"I've thought of a few locations."

Haruhi's excitement showed on her face.

"I was troubled by whether to go to the mountains or the sea. At first I thought it'd be more convenient to go to the mountains, but the only time to get ourselves isolated in a hillside mansion is during a blizzard in winter. Besides, that's way too hard."

Maybe you can try going to, the question is why must we do such a thing?

"You want to go to a hillside mansion just so you can get stuck there?"

"Well yeah! Or it wouldn't be fun. But let's forget about the mountains! We'll save that for the winter field trip. This summer we're going to the sea, no, a lone island!"

Don't be so obsessed with lone islands. I thought, but I could find no reason for opposition. It'd be useless for me to oppose her anyway, and for this time of year, the sea sounds more charming; besides, there should be seaside spas in these lone islands far away from the mainland, right?

"Of course there are! Right, Koizumi?"

"Hmm, I should hope so. Though it's a natural seaside spa without any lifeguards or food stalls."

I quickly looked at Koizumi, with my eyes full of suspicion. Why are you helping her recite all this?

"That's because......"

Koizumi's explanation got interrupted by Haruhi.

"Because the location for the field trip this time is being provided by none other than Koizumi!"

Haruhi stuck her hands inside the desk drawer, and took out a colored armband. She then used a felt-tip pen and wrote "Vice Commander" on it.

"As a result of this achievement, Koizumi-kun, you should feel honored. I hereby promote you to SOS Brigade Vice Commander!"

"I am grateful for this honor."

Koizumi gracefully accepted the armband. He glanced at me and gave me a wink. Let me set this straight, I am not the slightest bit jealous at all. Who'd want such a weird present?

"That's it. This is a four day three night luxury tour! Let's get ourselves mentally prepared!"

Haruhi gave a look saying "That's all folks!" Thinking we're all happy with this decision, which was of course, never the case.

"Just a moment."

I stepped forward and spoke on behalf of Asahina and Nagato.

"Where is this island? Provide? What the hell's this? Why is Koizumi providing all this for us?"

Koizumi, defined by Haruhi as a mysterious transfer student, is of course an unnatural person, and this 'Organization' that he belongs to is even more suspicious. Could they be taking us to some secret research lab of theirs, trying to perform live autopsies on Haruhi and Nagato?

"I have a very rich distant relative."

Koizumi gave a harmless smile.

"He's so rich that he can buy himself an uninhabited island and build a mansion on it. The fact is, he's already built the mansion. It just went through the opening ceremony a few days ago, but as no one was willing to travel that far to such a place, he's decided to invite some friends and relatives over. And this is where I came in."

Is the island that bizarre? I started to recall the story of "Robinson Crusoe" I read a long time ago.

"No, it was supposed to have been an uninhabited island. Summer vacation is approaching, and if the SOS Brigade is going on a trip, it would be more fun if we go there together. The owner of the mansion seems to welcome us coming as well."

"And that's how it is!" Said Haruhi.

She gave out a smile that would get us in trouble.

"A lone island! And a huge mansion! This is a rare situation! I can't wait to go there. This is the perfect stage for the SOS Brigade!"

"Why?" I asked, "What does a lone island and mansion have to do with your favorite mysterious events?"

Alas, Haruhi is already lost in her own world.

"A lone island in the middle of the sea! And a mansion! Koizumi, your relative is really understanding! Hmm, I think I'll get along well with him."

The only people who can get along well with Haruhi are mostly weirdos. The mansion owner must be a very weird person.

I couldn't tell if Nagato had heard what Haruhi had announced; it was easy with Asahina, who had stopped eating, with an astonished look on her face.

"Don't worry, Mikuru-chan. You can have all the pickled fish you want there! Am I right?"

"I'll try and arrange it." Said Koizumi.

"That's how it is."

Haruhi took another colored armband from the drawer of the commander's desk. I have no idea how many she's made.

"Towards the lone island! A lot of interesting things await us there. As for our mission there, I've already decided!"

She said while writing on the armband with the felt-tip pen. The letters looked scribbled, but it seemed to say "Master Detective".

"I'd like to hear what you're plotting."

"Nothing really."

Don't try to deny it without even flinching!

Haruhi left after being satisfied with her announcement, Asahina and Nagato also left the club room and headed home. Only Koizumi and I remained behind.

Koizumi flicked his hair parting and said,

"It's true. Even if I didn't suggest it, Suzumiya-san was bound to find somewhere to go anyway, am I right? Since summer vacation is quite long. Would you rather go searching for Tsuchinoko in the mountains instead of walking along the seaside?"

"A Tsuchinoko... ? ...Forget it, don't actually go and explain what it is. I know that much, at least."

"Three days ago, I happened to find Suzumiya-san in the bookstore in front of the station. I saw her staring hard at a map of Japan while looking through some sort of mysterious magazine that deals with Unidentified Mysterious Animals."

A field trip in search of UMAs, huh? This doesn't sound like a big deal, but the scary thing is that Haruhi would actually expect to find something mysterious.

"It seems Suzumiya-san intended to return home with something. I had a feeling she would start with Mt. Hiba first. That being the case, it would be better for us to have a sunbath by the seaside. Besides, I already had somewhere in mind."

How coincidental for you to have somewhere in mind. On the other hand, however, between watching the girls in swimsuits by the seaside; and climbing the hills in the bright sunlight, the difference is like heaven and hell.

"The key is that this is a privately owned uninhabited island, a so-called 'closed circle'."

This I had to ask about. Asking about what you do not understand is the best policy.

"What's a 'closed circle'?"

Koizumi's smile was not that annoying. If it was, then the problem lay with the other person's eyes. Even I knew that.

"Perhaps there's a similarity......" Koizumi smiled and paused for a while, "I guess it would be more appropriate to call it a 'Sealed Reality'?"

I didn't know how funny my expression was, but Koizumi was giggling.

"I was kidding. A 'Closed circle' is a mystery term. It means a situation in which all direct contact with the outside world has been lost."

Explain so that everyone can understand!

"This is a setting most commonly seen in classic detective novels. For example, if we were to go skiing before the harsh winter......"

Oh yeah, didn't Haruhi say she wanted to go to the snowy mountains?

"Going to the snowy mountains for a field trip is not too bad, but what if then, the largest blizzard ever on record were to arrive?"

If we were to go there, one would check the weather report first.

"That's the problem. We're surrounded by the blizzard and thick layers of snow and there's no way off the mountain, and there's no way for people to come up as well."

Then think of something!

"There's no other way out. That's why it's called a 'closed circle'. Under these circumstances, something usually happens. I guess, the most common event is that someone gets murdered. So the stage is set. There is no way out for the suspect and the other people, and no new characters can enter from the outside, let alone the police. It wouldn't be fun if we had to resort to scientific forensics to rat out the suspect."

As usual, what is this guy trying to say?

"Ah, sorry about that. In other words, Suzumiya-san's theme for this trip is to be involved in such a mysterious event."

That's why she chose a lone island?

"Yes, a lone island. I was thinking, she'd probably conjure a condition in which the island is somehow sealed off, and during this time when no one can escape, someone would get murdered. A hilltop mansion in the middle of a blizzard or a lone island in the middle of a tropical storm are the perfect ingredients for a 'closed circle', where there is no way for the authorities to get involved. The ultimate stage for a crime mystery."

"You seem to be enjoying this."

Haruhi doesn't just lose control during the summer, but you don't have to go encourage her further. And I'm not saying this out of jealousy of not getting the vice-commander armband.

"Because I like such a stage as well."

I didn't want to argue with him, but I had to say this, I don't like it at all.

Koizumi ignored my preference, and continued as though reading a thesis,

"Think about those 'Master Detectives'. Normally, those with normal lives rarely get involved in inexplicable murder cases."

"Makes sense."

"Yet why is it that these novel detectives happen to get involved in these puzzling cases one after another? Do you know the reason?"

"Because if they didn't, there would be no story to write."

"Exactly, your answer is absolutely correct. These things only happen in the fictional world of novels. Yet to say such realistic things would just take the fun out of it, since Suzumiya-san intends to be in the world of fiction."

Thinking hard, that was the reason why she founded the SOS Brigade.

"In order to encounter such surreal and mysterious events, one needs to go to a suitable location. Because that is how the detectives in these novels end up in these events. So, one must become a major player on the stage itself. If one desires to have these events come to their doorstep, they must either have a relative who's a brilliant detective, or they must be a police officer themselves, or wait till they publish a series of novels themselves."

That makes sense. I know Nagato loves science fiction novels, but I never knew she liked mystery novels as well. As for Haruhi, I guess she probably loves both.

"For an outsider to play the role of a detective, one needs to be dragged unexpectedly into these circumstances, and to solve them in the swiftest manner possible."

"They can't just have things incidentally happening to them all of a sudden."

Koizumi nodded,

"Yes, reality seldom develops like in novels. The chances of an intriguing sealed room murder in the school are very low. So, Suzumiya-san must be thinking of going to a place with more favorable circumstances."

The idiom "turning something on its head" came to mind suddenly.

"And that location is the stage for this field trip - the lone island. For some reason, most people would find this the most suitable stage for a murder mystery."

What do you mean by "most people"? Your "most" is probably a minority.

"Thus, strange events often happen where master detectives appear. This is not coincidental, but rather, these detectives possess the super natural power to summon events to themselves. It is not the events that draw the detectives, but rather it is the presence of these detectives that creates such events."

I looked at Koizumi with a look as though I had just stepped on a sea slug.

"Are you fully conscious?"

"I'm always suitably conscious. I didn't come up with the connections between detectives and closed circles, I'm just trying to convey Suzumiya-san's way of thinking. To put it simply, the whole reason for this trip is because she wants to become a detective."

What does she need to do to become a master detective? It might be possible if she were to script and direct the whole thing, playing both the suspect and the detective at the same time.

"At least this is better than having to go to the mountains to search for Tsuchinoko or Bigfoot. I only told Suzumiya-san that I know someone who's built a mansion on an island and is inviting guests. Of course, I don't expect anyone to get murdered."

Koizumi's relaxed smile and even the shrugging of his shoulders has got me worked up.

"I'm just trying to provide Suzumiya-san with a little entertainment. Otherwise, who knows what other ideas she might conjure out of her boredom? If that's the case, it would be easier for us to handle things by providing a stage beforehand."


"This has nothing to do with the 'Organization'. Though I did make a report just to be safe. I may be an esper, but I'm still a high school student. Furthermore, there's nothing wrong with a field trip. It's quite normal for high school students. Isn't going on a trip with your close friends something worth looking forward to?"

It would be fine if Haruhi was looking forward to having a normal trip. I wouldn't object if she'd chosen a normal hot spring or a beach near the mainland, but why pick a lone island? This is Haruhi we're talking about, she'd probably bring in two typhoons along the way.

......Forget it, no matter how far-fetched she is, she's not the sort of person who would wish for anyone to get killed, or there would be bodies piling up everywhere in North High already. There seemed to be other important things to consider, so I went into deep thought.

Four days and three nights by the seaside in summer. A white beach, and probably some relaxing sunshine. I think I can endure such a summer, bring it on, Mr Sunshine!

Ah yes, I'd better prepare myself for the mesmerizing sight of Asahina in her swimsuit.

The mansion owner was extremely generous in providing free lodging and food for us. We only needed to pay for the return trip from the island itself.

And so we met by the ferry pier at the harbor, awaiting our ferry's arrival.

Haruhi couldn't wait to get going already. We just had the end-of-term assembly yesterday, in other words, today is the first day of summer vacation. It seems that Koizumi's relatives didn't really mind when we chose to go, but to set off right on the first day of vacation is proof of Haruhi's anxiousness. Any hope of enjoying my summer vacation peacefully without ever having to see Haruhi's face has now been shattered. This is all because of the presence of Haruhi, and it is also the meaning of her existence.

"It's been a long time since I rode a ferry."

Haruhi slid her shades down and gazed at the grey sea in the distance by the pier. Her dark silky hair flew in the sea breeze as she stood by the edge of the boarding dock.

"Such a huge ship! It's so incredible, for such a large ship to float on water."

Asahina, carrying two suitcases with her hands, looked up in awe at the ferry. She wore a white one-piece summer dress and a straw hat on her head. This made her look very cute. Having the laces of a hat tied under her chin suits her. Her eyes glimmered like a child's, looking at the old ferry as though it were some ancient wooden boat dug up by archaeologists. Perhaps ships don't float on water in her age.


Nagato's face remained blank as usual, staring at the corporate logo printed on the hull of the ferry. For once, Nagato was not wearing her uniform, but a checkered sleeveless shirt. Carrying a yellowish-green umbrella, she gave the impression of a weak girl who just came out of the hospital. I wish I had an instant camera with me. If I took a picture of this, I could probably sell it for a high price to Taniguchi.

"The weather's excellent. This is great, you could say it's the perfect weather for sailing, though we'll be in second class today." Koizumi said.

"That suits us just fine."

It's not like the cabins are that big anyway. Even though this is going to be a long cruise, we're still ten years too early to have a private cabin to ourselves. This is, after all, a high school field trip.

Technically, this trip isn't a study trip or anything of the sort. A trip just for the sake of having one can't really be counted as meaningful. Usually there'd be a consulting teacher accompanying a club's field trip activities. There is none for the SOS Brigade. This is because we're still not recognized by the school as a formal club. It would be surprising if a teacher had come along. In North High, you can't even form an association if you don't have a consulting teacher. In my speculation, even if a teacher did agree to be consultant to the SOS Brigade, Haruhi would probably find that unnecessary. Because if she did, she would have abducted one already, just as she abducted us.

As I stretched my muscles, Asahina walked slowly to my side. Her round eyes became even rounder.

"How does that huge ship float?"

How does it float? Besides its buoyancy, I don't think there's any other way. Don't they teach physics in Asahina's age?

"Really?'re right. I see. So this is what they mean by 'one is usually unaware of their surroundings'..."

What are you talking about? Asahina nodded her head with a serious look on her face.

Let me try asking. Just one question wouldn't hurt.

"Ahem......Asahina-san, do ships in the future float using state-of-the-art technology?"

" think I can tell you?"

Having heard her put it that way, I shook my head. I didn't think so. I tried asking another question,

"There's got to be a sea?"

Asahina held the tip of her hat and tilted her head,

"Um, yeah, there's a sea."

"That's great to hear."

I don't know whether she comes from the near future or distant future, but it certainly is pleasing to hear that the earth didn't turn into a desert in the future, that is, if the sea is cleaner than it is now.

I had wanted to get more useful information from this time traveler.

"Kyon! Mikuru-chan! What're you doing? It's time!"

Haruhi shouted loudly, telling us it was time to board.

Speaking of which, I was late for the meeting today. As I was about to leave in the morning, I found my bag to be heavier than usual, so I unzipped it and had a look. Instead of my clothes and bathroom kit, my sister was inside. The night before, she kept shouting, "I wanna go too!", after I let it slip that I was going on a trip with Haruhi and the rest. I spent two whole hours trying to cheer her up, but I never thought she would sneak into my bag. I yanked my sister out of the bag and interrogated her on where she hid my stuff. It took some time trying to do a good cop, bad cop routine on her as she chose to remain silent. "If you don't tell me, then I'm not gonna buy any presents for you! I'll use all that money to buy lunchboxes for the SOS Brigade!"

The SOS Brigade gathered in the corner of the second class cabin, chatting while eating the lunchboxes I bought. Actually, Haruhi and Koizumi were the only ones talking the whole time.

"How much longer till we get there?"

"Judging from the speed of this ferry, I'd say about six hours. According to the plans, they'll be waiting for us at the harbor. Then we'll ride on their speedboat for about half an hour before arriving at the lone island with the mansion on top of it. I've never been there before, so I'm not sure what it's like there."

"I bet it must be a weird mansion. Do you know the name of the architect?" Haruhi asked.

"I didn't ask that much, I do remember him saying he hired an architect to build it."

"I can't wait."

"It'd be great if it could match your expectations, but I'm not too sure myself as I've never seen it before. But for someone to build a private mansion on an uninhabited island, the mansion must be unique in some way. That would be perfect."

Said Koizumi, but I certainly wasn't hoping for that. If the blueprint design was as Haruhi had imagined it, then the architect who drew it must have been awake for three whole nights, suffering from alcohol poisoning, and nodding occasionally while drawing drowsily. I don't want to stay in such a house, a normal inn will do for me. Just a traditional Japanese breakfast for me, thank you very much. If the mansion had a name, Haruhi would probably become a serial killer just to trigger some events.

"An island! And a mansion! There's nothing better than this for an SOS Brigade trip. At this rate, we're headed for a perfect summer vacation."

As Haruhi got more animated, the rest of the brigade could only watch in silence.

Besides rocking along the waves on the ship's deck, there was nothing else to do, so we followed Koizumi's suggestion and played Go Fish. Koizumi, who lost from start to finish, had to buy drinks for the five of us. I collected my drink and drank silently.

I just couldn't help but have a bad feeling about this lone island awaiting us. Asahina seemed to feel the same as well.

Haruhi said after finishing her juice in two gulps,

"Mikuru-chan, you look terrible, are you seasick?"

"No......that......ah, maybe."

Asahina replied, Haruhi then said,

"That won't do, you'd better get some fresh air. It's great enjoying the sea breeze out on the deck. C'mon, let's go!"

She then grabbed Asahina's hand and smiled,

"Don't worry, I won't push you into the sea. Hmm......though that's not a bad idea. The sudden disappearance of a female passenger."


Haruhi slapped Asahina's stiffened shoulders.

"Just kidding! That wouldn't be fun at all. It'd be exciting if the ship were to hit an iceberg or get attacked by a giant squid. I'm not the sort that likes to get everyone in trouble just so I can have fun!"

I think I'd better check where the lifeboats are located. Of course, I don't suppose an iceberg would come that near to the seas of Japan in the middle of summer, but it's possible that unknown marine creatures might attack suddenly. I glared at Koizumi: If a monster attacks, we're counting on you! I don't know how he read my thoughts, but he replied with a smile, while Nagato just stared at the wall.

Haruhi continued endlessly,

"The best events are of course left for the island! Koizumi, will I be disappointed?"

"There's no exact definition of what constitutes an event."

Koizumi said smoothly,

"I, too, am hoping for an enjoyable trip."

Koizumi revealed an enigmatic smile. Though this was his usual expression, I stared hard at the esper, trying to figure out what was behind that smiling mask. I soon gave up. This guy's smile is like Nagato's blank expression - impossible to read anything from. Really, he ought to show more emotion as well. Of course, not as blatantly obvious as Haruhi.

Haruhi hummed a song she made up herself while dragging Asahina away from the cabin. Asahina turned around repeatedly, hoping that I would come along; perhaps I was thinking too much then, but I didn't want to ruin Haruhi's mood, so I let them go.

No matter how insane Haruhi is, just before Asahina fell into the sea, she would save her. I prayed and stared at the ceiling, then used my bag as a pillow and lay down. It's going to be an early morning tomorrow, so I'd better get some sleep.

I dreamed about myself doing something strange, but just as I was about to wonder what it was, I was woken up by the commanding airwaves of Haruhi,

"Stop sleeping, you idiot! Get up already! Are you really in the mood for this trip at all? If you're already sleeping on the trip, then what can we expect from you?"

It seems while I was asleep, the ferry had almost arrived at the interchange island. I felt as if I had just suffered an irretrievable loss.

"The first step is the most important! You lack the heart to enjoy things. Look at everyone else. Their expectations for this trip show in the glittering in their eyes!"

I followed the direction of Haruhi's finger towards the three servants preparing to carry their luggage off the ferry.

The smiling youth said,

"Give him a break, Suzumiya-san, he's trying to save up energy for the trip. Who knows, he's probably going to spend all night thinking of how to entertain us next!"

I listened to Koizumi's irrelevant explanation, while observing Nagato's puppet like face and Asahina's puppy dog eyes, trying to find the so called glitter within their eyes.

"We're there already?" I muttered.

On a long boat trip, with the SOS Brigade members around...No, let's leave the others aside. I had given in to my desire and taken a long nap. As a result I missed my chance to spend time with Asahina inside the elegant looking cabin.

Damn, this is so frustrating. How could I let my summer vacation be over like that? So far, my only memories of this vacation have been playing Go Fish. Shouldn't I have been doing something more interesting on the ferry? Like sharing each other's thoughts on the deck while the sea wind blew softly?

I really felt like kicking my past self in the chest for being so sleepy.

I clutched my half-drowsy head as I condemned myself endlessly.


A bright light made me go dizzy.

I turned my gaze towards the direction of the sound, only to see Asahina holding a camera, with an adorable smile on her angelic face,

"Hee hee! I've taken a picture of you waking up."

She had the face of a pre-school kid who just pulled off a prank.

"I've also taken photos of you sleeping. You must have slept soundly."

Suddenly, I felt revived. Why was Asahina secretly taking pictures of me? Could it be that she wanted my photos that badly? Does she intend to place my photo in a cute frame and put it by her pillow, so she can say 'good night' to me every night? Yes, that's not a bad thought at all.

Seriously, if you had wanted my photo, I would have gladly posed for you! Even if I had to give you my photo album which I misplaced somewhere, I wouldn't have minded at all.

However, as I was making such a suggestion, Asahina handed the instant camera to Haruhi.

"Kyon, what are you grinning at? You look like a moron. Best wipe that off your face."

Haruhi started looking as if she wanted to sell some exclusive pictures to a newspaper. She then stuffed the camera into her bag.

"I've had Mikuru-chan be the stand-in photographer for the SOS Brigade. These photos are not for play! What I want is a record of the SOS Brigade's activities for our descendants to revisit. This silly girl just felt like taking useless pictures, so she has to listen to my directions from now on."

Then, what informational value is there in taking pictures of me sleeping and waking up?

"Since you have no sense of urgency, I'm going to spread pictures of you sleeping like a moron all over as a cautionary tale! Listen! It's immoral and against the brigade rules for the subordinates to sleep soundly when the commander isn't sleeping!"

Haruhi stared at me with a face I wasn't sure was laughing or scowling. I knew it was useless asking her when she came up with such rules, it's not going to be written anyway. I might as well play along.

"Alright. What you mean is that if we don't want to have our faces drawn on, we aren't allowed to sleep before you, right? In that case, if I sleep after you, does that mean I can draw a mustache on your face?"

"What are you saying? Do you actually intend to do such childish acts? Let me put this straight, I can be very alert. I can retaliate even when asleep. Besides, you'll be risking the death penalty if you try to do anything foolish to the commander."

Hey, Haruhi, the number of advanced countries still carrying out capital punishment is actually in the minority. What do you think of that?

"Why should I comment on other countries' penalty systems? What matters is not some foreign country, but the island we're going to!"

I prayed that nothing would happen, while pulling my bag over.

The ship shook roughly. Maybe it's about to dock already. The other passengers were already headed to the exit in groups of two and three.

"A mysterious island, huh......?"

What kind of island awaits us? Just don't let it be some island that suddenly appeared on the sea, or one that drifted away suddenly.

"Don't worry."

Koizumi nodded as though he'd just read my mind,

"There's nothing special about the island, just that it's far from land. There're no monsters or mad scientists, that I can guarantee."

This guy's guarantees mean nothing to me. I silently looked at Nagato's pale face questioningly.


Nagato also silently replied to me. If there were monsters appearing, she would probably help us beat them off. I'm counting on you, alien.

The ship shook abruptly again.


Without even flinching, Nagato caught Asahina, who had lost her balance and nearly fallen over.

There awaiting our arrival were a butler and maid.

"Hi, Arakawa-san, it's been a while."

Koizumi said loudly, raising his arm to greet them.

"You too, Mori-san. Thanks for going to the trouble to pick us up."

Koizumi then turned and looked at us with, our jaws wide open, then shrugged his arms ridiculously like a stage actor trying to impress his audience, his grin four times wider than usual.

"Allow me to introduce them. Arakawa-san and Mori-san are the butler and maid of the new mansion, and will be in charge of taking care of us. Ah yes, you must've already guessed that by their attire."

It was easy to guess. I looked at the two figures who stood still after having bowed to us. I guess in this situation, the right word would be "captivating."

"It must have been a long trip for everyone. I am Arakawa the butler."

The old gentleman with white hair, mustache, and eyebrows, dressed in a tuxedo greeted us and bowed again.

"I'm the maid, Mori Sonou. It's a pleasure to meet you."

The lady standing beside him also bowed at the same angle, and then both raised their heads at the same time. One wonders if they've drilled this countless times.

Arakawa-san looked elderly, but it was difficult to tell his exact age; while Mori-san looked very young. She looked about our age, or was she just putting on make-up to make herself look younger? Or maybe she was born with such a youthful look?

"Butler and maid?"

Haruhi murmured in surprise; my reaction was the same as hers. I never knew these professions existed in Japan. I always thought they only had a conceptual existence, having already been fossilized.

I see. It seems the two people standing gracefully behind Koizumi are genuinely butler and maid. They look so much like it, at least after hearing their self-introductions, one would think, Ah......I see. They're the real thing. Especially the maid, Mori-san, if I remember correctly. No matter how you look, she's still a maid. Because she's dressed in proper maid attire. This comes from my many months of experience observing Asahina dressed in her maid costume every day in the club room, so I can guarantee this. And Arakawa-san and Mori-san don't look like they're dressed like that just to entertain Haruhi, but are really dressed for their profession.


Asahina gave a gasp and simply stared at them with awe - more specifically, she was staring at Mori-san. She was half awestruck and 30% troubled. What about the remaining 20%? I believe she was a bit envious. After being forced by Haruhi to wear that costume every day, she must have subconsciously begun to enjoy being a maid.

Nagato didn't give any expression at this moment, and her face remained the same. Yet her black obsidian eyes remained transfixed on those two professionals.

"Now then......"

Arakawa invited us with his opera tenor-like voice,

"The boat is prepared to take us to our master's island. The trip shall take about half an hour. As it's a lone island, I do apologize for any inconvenience caused."

Mori-san bowed as well. I felt itchy all over for some reason. I really wanted to tell them that we weren't really that important to deserve having them serve us so elegantly. Could Koizumi be the son of some billionaire? I had thought this guy was just an esper who could only use his powers irregularly. I wonder if he has people calling him "Young Master" every time he comes home?

"I don't really mind!"

Haruhi said in a cheerful voice, blowing off all my questions. As I looked carefully, Haruhi had the smile of someone who has just conned some ignorant sponsor to fund her movie. Hmm......

"That's more like it, a lone island! We wouldn't mind if it took a few hours, let alone half an hour! A lone island in the middle of the ocean is just where I wanted to go. Kyon, Mikuru-chan, you two should be happy. There's a mansion on the island, and a weird butler and maid as well! You probably wouldn't find a second island like this in the whole of Japan!"

There won't be a second island.

"Wah! T...this is great......I...I can't wait!"

Leaving Asahina, who was being forced by Haruhi to pretend to be excited, aside, for Haruhi to actually call someone "weird" in front of their faces is just plain rude. Yet those two just smiled. Maybe they were weird in some way.

Man, what's weird is this whole trip. And when it comes to weirdness, the SOS Brigade is leagues ahead of everyone, so I'm not qualified to criticize other people. Though I can't just let Haruhi get away with everything like that.

I looked at Koizumi, who was chatting away with Arakawa-san the butler, while Mori-san stood by silently with her hands clasped, staring quietly towards the sea ahead. The sea looked calm, and the skies were clear. Don't think a typhoon will be coming soon.

Will we ever return to the Japanese mainland in one piece?

Nagato's calm poker face just seems so reliable all the time. I felt so useless.

Arakawa-san and Mori-san led us to a small dock not far from the harbor. I had originally imagined seeing a small boat, but there ahead of us was parked a private speedboat, moving gently and idyllically on the waves. The speedboat looked so posh that I dared not ask how much it cost. I suddenly had the urge to go fishing on board that boat.

Thanks to my daydreaming, when I saw Koizumi escorting both Asahina, who was astounded by the sight of the speedboat, and Nagato, who just stared blankly at it - but not counting Haruhi, who had leaped on at once on board the boat - I felt a deep sense of regret that my time had passed, never to return. That was supposed to be my job!

We were led into the cabin, and before we could even begin to admire how a boat can have a western style kitchen, the speedboat had begun its departure from the port. It seems that butlers these days all have speedboat licenses, as Arakawa-san was the one driving it.

Mori-san sat opposite me with a gentle smile on her face, as though she were a decoration in the boat. The maid costume looked trendy and dangerous at the same time. I felt that her maid attire was thinner than the costume that Haruhi made Asahina wear in the club room every day, but as I'm not too familiar with the maid profession, I wasn't too sure about that.

I wasn't the only one looking uneasy. Asahina was the same as well. She had been staring at the maid's costume for some time now, looking very nervous. Does she intend to study how a maid really behaves so she can learn some new tricks to use back in the club room? She's the sort of person who is serious about the most unexpected things.

Nagato sat facing the front, not moving at all. Koizumi had a casual expression, and remained as smiling as ever.

"This is a good boat, perhaps fishing wouldn't be a bad idea?" Who is he suggesting that to anyway?

As for Haruhi......

"Hey, do you know what the mansion is called?"

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

"Is it called something like The House of the Black Death, the Lilas Manor, Koketsu Castle, or the sort?"

"Nothing of the sort."

"Have there been any frightening stories like the mansion having a lot of hidden traps, or the architect being murdered, or a room where none may leave alive?"

"I haven't heard of any."

"Then, are there stories of the owner wearing a mask, or having three weird sisters living within his mind, and then vanishing without a trace?"

"No." The butler added, "Not yet, anyway."

"Then, does that mean it's possible these things might happen some day?"


Is this butler trying to please her?

As the boat sped off, Haruhi had crawled onto the deck and had the above conversation with Arakawa-san. From the contents of the dialogue I could hear over the sounds of the engine and waves, Haruhi seemed to have excessive expectations about the island's mansion. Speaking of which, why does she want so many strange specifications like an island far away from land? Isn't it enough to just swim, walk around, get to know each other better, and then return happily? I was hoping for that.

Perhaps it's too late already.

I never thought there would be a butler and a maid. This is more unexpected than being attacked by a shark in a public swimming pool. So I probably won't be surprised if the owner of the mansion wears a mask or has other weird looking guests. What other surprises does Koizumi have in store for us?

"Ah! I see it! Is that the villa?"

"It's the mansion."

Haruhi's scream boomed like thunder and pierced through my heart.

The mansion looked quite ordinary from the outside.

The sun slowly tilted towards the west, but it was still some time before dusk. The mansion basked in the light of the setting sun. It seemed to shine with splendor; I'd always believed I'd never set foot in such a place.

The building at the top of the steep hill looked just like something a rich person would build as a summer getaway. There was nothing suspicious about its architecture. It didn't look like any medieval European castle, it didn't have red thorny roses surrounding its outer walls, and there were no strange looking towers attached to it - and of course, no ghosts.

As expected, Haruhi made a face as though realizing she'd just swallowed an onion thinking it was roast beef as she gazed bleakly at that mansion (Haruhi called it a villa).

"This isn't what I imagined. The looks are an important factor, did the architect even refer to previous experience when building this?"

I stood beside Haruhi on the deck, looking at the view of the island. I was forcefully dragged out there by her, by the way.

"Kyon, what do you think? It's a lone island, yet the building looks so ordinary. Don't you think it's a pity?"

I was actually thinking, they didn't need to build a mansion so far away. It'd take more than an hour by private speedboat to get to the nearest convenience store and return. What would you eat if you were to get hungry in the middle of the night? There don't seem to be any vending machines for drinks either.

"I'm talking about the atmosphere! I always thought it'd be one of those eerie villas, but from the looks of it, this is just a vacation mansion! Our objective isn't to come to some rich friend's place to have fun."

I brushed away Haruhi's hair, which was being blown by the wind and was stinging my face.

"That's what they call a field trip. What were you expecting? Going out on an adventure? Or did you want to simulate being stranded on a deserted island?"

"Hmm, that's not a bad idea. I'll include exploring the island as part of the itinerary. Who knows, we may be the first to discover a new species."

Oh no, I've just increased the glitter in Haruhi's eyes. Oh, island, I beg you, please don't come up with anything funny.

As I was praying to the green island......

"The islands around here were apparently formed by ancient volcanic activity."

Koizumi said as he walked out slowly.

"Besides new species, we might even pick up some ancient artifacts. There were artifacts left behind by the ancient Japanese on other islands. It's quite dramatic, isn't it?"

I don't see any connection between the works of the ancients and this new mansion, but I'm not that interested in searching for Tsuchinoko or digging for treasures. Why don't we split up? Haruhi and Koizumi can go explore the island, while I'll stay behind with Asahina and Nagato and have a stroll by the beach. Now that's a nice idea.

"Huh? There's someone over there!"

Haruhi pointed to a newly built pier. It seemed to be built specifically for this speedboat, since there were no other boats parked. A person stood at the edge of the pier waving at us. Seems like it's a man.

Haruhi instinctively waved back.

"Koizumi, is he the owner of the villa? He looks quite young."

Koizumi waved and said,

"No, he's another guest who was invited besides us. I believe he's the owner's brother. I've only seen him once before."

"Koizumi," I interrupted, "You should've told us this earlier! I didn't hear anything before about any other visitors besides us."

"I only just found out now as well."

Koizumi shrugged it off calmly.

"There's no need to worry! He's a nice person. And of course, the owner Tamaru Keiichi-san is also a nice person."

This Tamaru Keiichi-san is quite an imaginative person. He built a mansion in such a remote area just so he could live in it during the summer. He's a distant relative of Koizumi's, something like his mother's cousin on her father's side or something like that. I'm not too sure of the details, but I hear he's been quite successful in the field of biotechnology, and is now reaping the rewards of his success. His wealth must be so enormous that he doesn't know how to spend it all, otherwise he wouldn't have built such a mansion.

The speedboat gradually slowed down as it approached the pier, until we could see the person's face. He was dressed in youthful attire, probably in his twenties. He's probably Tamaru Keiichi's brother.

The butler is Arakawa-san, the maid is Mori Sonou-san.

That leaves the owner of the mansion, Tamaru Keiichi-san.

Is that the entire cast for this trip?

We spent a few hours being rocked on the boat, so thanks to that, by the time we got onto land, we still felt as though the ground was moving.

The young man had a pleasant smile, and ran towards the speedboat to greet us.

"Ah, Itsuki, it's been a while."

"You too, Yutaka-san. Thanks for coming over."

Koizumi replied, then he began to introduce us one by one.

"These are the friends that have been taking good care of me in school."

I don't remember ever taking good care of you, but Koizumi pointed at us, lined up in a row.

"The cheery girl here is Suzumiya Haruhi-san. She's an incredible friend. She's pretty easy going and very energetic. I ought to learn some of her assertiveness."

What kind of introduction is this? A cold sweat dropped from my back. And Haruhi, you too. Why are you wearing that fake courteous looking mask? Have your brain cells been damaged from being rocked too much on the boat?

"I'm Suzumiya. Koizumi here is an irreplaceable member of my brig......I mean association. He was the one who invited us to this island. He's a very reliable vice-command......I mean deputy-chairman. Hee hee."

Koizumi ignored the cold steam being emitted by me and went on to introduce the other members, such as:

"This is Asahina Mikuru-san. As you may see, she's the cute and beautiful idol of our school. Her smile is enough to bring peace to our world."


"This is Nagato Yuki-san. Her grades are so good she's seen as an encyclopedia never seen before in this world. She doesn't talk much, but that's her charm."

He went on and on with his exaggerated introductions of all the members, as though he'd read them from some blind date agency client file. Of course I was included in his cheesy introduction, but I'd prefer to gloss over it here.

With a smile befitting of Koizumi's relative, Yutaka-san said,

"Welcome everyone, I'm Tamaru Yutaka, right now I'm just an employee helping out at my brother's company. Itsuki always talks to me a lot about you. I was very worried for him when he suddenly had to transfer schools. It's great that he's made so many great friends."

"Well, then."

Arakawa-san's cheerful voice boomed from behind.

Turning around, I saw the butler and Mori Sonou-san carrying our luggage and getting off the boat.

"The sun's a bit bright here. May I suggest we move to the mansion?"

Yutaka-san nodded and said,

"You're right, brother's waiting for everyone. Let's bring the luggage in as well, I'll help."

"We're fine. Could Yutaka-san go help Arakawa-san and Mori-san instead? They bought a lot of groceries from the main island."

Koizumi smiled and said. Yutaka-san also replied with a smile.

"I'll be looking forward to the meal!"

After the niceties, we followed Koizumi's lead and headed for the mansion at the top of the cliff.

Thinking back, things were already beginning to get strange then.

Of course, this is all spoken in hindsight.

At the end of the staircase, as steep as Mt. Fuji, lies the mansion. This probably sounded bad to Haruhi, for the mansion ahead looked absolutely normal, not the sort of villa or Japanese-style inn she had expected.

The three-story building gave the impression of flatness. Perhaps because it looked a bit wide? I even wanted to count how many rooms there were. I guess this mansion could hold up to two football teams with room to spare. The mansion seems to have been built after leveling out the dense woods on the hill, but how did they ship all those building materials? A lot of logistics were probably needed. I'm really perplexed at how the rich operate.

"This way please."

Koizumi led us to outside the entrance hall like a butler. We stood in a row. The moment had come for us to meet the owner face to face.

Save Haruhi, who stepped forward like a horse not following its herd, rearing its head out suddenly. I understood how eager she was for this moment, she even stuck her tongue out on her lips and placed it back in many times. Asahina cutely combed her hair, trying to give a good first impression. While Nagato stood still, as usual, like one of those lucky cats by store entrances.

Koizumi turned and looked at us, a small smile growing on his face, as he very casually pushed the button on the intercom near the door.

Someone replied, and Koizumi went through a lot of niceties again.

Ten seconds later, the door opened slowly.

Needless to say, the person welcoming us wasn't wearing an iron mask, nor some funny hat with shades, neither did he suddenly attack us, or say some very puzzling remarks. Just a normal middle-aged man.


I don't know if Tamaru Keiichi-san became wealthy suddenly or gradually, but right now this middle-aged man was dressed in just a golf shirt and working trousers, stretching out one of his hands, beckoning us to come in.

"Itsuki, and everyone else, I've been waiting for you for a long time now. Frankly, this place is really boring, you'll get frustrated after staying for three days. The only other person to accept my invitation besides Itsuki was Yutaka. Oh my!"

Keiichi-san's vision moved to my face, then towards Asahina, Haruhi and Nagato.

"Itsuki, you have such cute friends! I heard from Itsuki, but you are prettier than I thought. You've certainly injected some life into this lonely little island. You're most welcome."

Haruhi smiled heartily, Asahina bowed her head politely, while Nagato remained motionless. Three people with three different reactions, yet they all had the eyes of someone seeing a music teacher appear during history class, looking at Keiichi-san, who was welcoming us from the bottom of his heart. After a while, Haruhi stepped forward and said,

"We're very grateful you could invite us here. It's an honor to be able to stay in such a luxurious mansion. On behalf on everyone, I'd like to express my gratitude."

She spoke in a higher pitch than usual, as though reciting a speech. Does she intend to put on that appearance for the whole trip? I suggest before she sheds her sheepskin and reveals her wolf fangs, she ought to take off that invisible mask on her face.

Perhaps Tamaru Keiichi-san was thinking something like that as well?

"So you're Suzumiya-san? Hmm, you're different from what I heard. Itsuki told me you're a should I say this, Itsuki?"

The ball got bounced into Koizumi's court. Without flinching, he said with ease,

"A frank person? I do remember saying that."

"That's it! He said you were quite a frank girl."

"Ah, really?"

Haruhi promptly took off her mask, and put on a smile that she rarely showed outside the club room.

"Nice to meet you, mansion owner! Allow me to ask frankly, have any strange events happened in this mansion before? Or maybe some frightening rumors from the locals about this island being haunted? These sort of things interest me the most."

Don't go around declaring your interests to someone you just met for the first time. To be precise, don't say stupid stuff about what happened in the past to the owner. What would we do if we were driven away?

However, Tamaru Keiichi-san was simply such a nice person that he only smiled and said,

"I've got similar interests to yours, though I've not heard of anything bad lately. Besides, this island used to be uninhabited."

He kindly pointed his hand towards the back,

"Well, don't just stand there, come in! This is a western style mansion, so you don't need to take off your shoes. I think I'll show you to your rooms. I wanted Arakawa-san to show you around, but it seems he's attending to the luggage, so I guess I'll be your guide for now."

Keiichi said and led us into the mansion.

I wish I could provide everyone with a blueprint of the mansion to show where the rooms are located, but I've known I had no talent for drawing ever since I was in first grade, so I won't bother. To put it simply, our quarters are all on the second floor, Tamaru Keiichi-san's bedroom and the guest room for Yutaka-san are on the third. Maybe this represents their family ties. The butler Arakawa-san and the maid Mori-san each have a room on the first floor......

That's about how it is.

"Does this mansion have a name?"

Haruhi asked; Keiichi-san smiled wryly and answered,

"Right now we haven't come up with one, but if you have any suggestions for the name, I'm all ears."

"Ah yes, why not call it the House of Fear or the House of Horrors? What do you think? And we could name every room as well, like the Bloodsucking Room, or the Cursed Room?"

"Hmm, that's a great idea! I'll come up with some room names the next time I invite someone."

I have no intentions of sleeping in a room with a name that gives me nightmares.

We crossed the hall and climbed the high-class wooden stairway up to the second floor. The interior was designed like an inn, with a row of doors lined up next to each other.

"The rooms are all about the same size, they're divided into single and double bedrooms. Pick any you like."

What should I do? I wouldn't mind sharing with anybody, but there's five of us. If we had to share, there'd be an odd one out, and no matter how hard I tried, I could only think of Nagato being the one left out. If I loudly announced my roommate priority, I'm sure Nagato wouldn't mind, but I'd probably be killed by Haruhi's instant backfist.

"Hmm, I think one person per room isn't too bad."

Koizumi concluded.

"Since we're only in our rooms while sleeping anyway. We can just walk between the rooms as we please. I'd like to ask, can the doors be locked?"

"They sure can."

Tamaru Keiichi-san smiled and nodded.

"The keys are placed on the cabinet by the bed. The doors won't lock automatically, so you don't have to worry about being locked outside your rooms by accident. But take good care of the keys and don't lose them."

I won't be needing a key. Even before sleeping, I might just leave the door ajar. Maybe Asahina will come sneaking in for some reason after everyone's fallen asleep. Besides, I didn't bring any valuables worth stealing, I don't think anyone would dare steal when the suspect list is so narrow. Even if there was, the goddamn thief would definitely be Haruhi.

"Then I'll go see how Arakawa-san is doing. You can take your time walking around. Please don't forget where the emergency exits are located. I'll see you later."

Keiichi-san then went down the stairs.

This is how Haruhi described her impression of Keiichi san,

"It's because there's nothing strange that makes him even more suspicious."

"Then if he did look suspicious, how would you explain that?"

"Just from how he looked, he'd have to be a strange person!"

According to this girl's subjective logic, there is nothing in this world that is not strange. Her standards would shock even the ISO. Maybe you could work for JARO. I bet you could work hard feeling fulfilled every day there.

After leaving our luggage in our rooms, we met in the double bedroom Haruhi had chosen as her room. It's so like Haruhi to occupy a double bedroom all by herself. The words courteous and modest do not exist in her vocabulary.

The three girls sat on the bed, I sat on the make-up table, while Koizumi leaned against the wall and crossed his arms looking relaxed.

"I know!"

Haruhi shouted suddenly, and as usual, I instinctively asked,

"Know what?"

"The suspect."

Haruhi said promptly. Her face now had the aura of a Great Detective, for some reason.

I hesitantly spoke for the other three,

"What suspect? There isn't even a case yet, we only just arrived!"

"From my instincts, the suspect is the owner of this place. I think his first target will be Mikuru-chan."


Asahina seemed to be really scared. She trembled like a rabbit at the sound of an eagle's wings flapping, clutching onto Nagato's skirt. Nagato said nothing.


Only fixing her gaze towards some spot in mid-air.

"I'm asking you, what suspect?" I asked again, "Or more like, what kind of criminal are you trying to mold Tamaru Keiichi-san into?"

"How should I know? From his eyes, he seems to have something planned. My instincts are usually correct. By then, we'll be involved in some shocking event."

It would be fine if it was just a normal surprise party, but Haruhi was expecting something way beyond that, not some messy party where she would only play a bit role.

Think about it. The image of Keiichi-san removing his nice guy appearance, his eyes flashing with insanity, and carrying a sharp butcher knife trying to cut all the guests' stomachs open. Just because he accidentally stumbled upon some ancient grave deep within the island forest, and got possessed by a murderous ghost.

"Can something that dumb really happen?"

I waved my hand horizontally in mid air, making a "don't get yourself into trouble" gesture.

No matter how hard you think about it, it's impossible that someone Koizumi knows would turn into something like that. That "Organization" group is not completely stupid, they probably did a lot of background checks beforehand. Koizumi had his usual harmless smile, and Arakawa-san the butler, Mori-san the maid, as well as Tamaru Yutaka-san all looked very far from the image of a scary person. By the way, Haruhi is hoping for a mystery, not some interference from the magnetic field, right?

If things were to happen, it would just be one to two murders at most, right? Besides, I don't think such things would happen just because she wished it so. The weather's great outside, and the sea's calm. This island is no closed circle.

Moreover, no matter how insane Haruhi is, she wouldn't actually wish for someone to die. If Haruhi were like that, I would have been killed by her impatience already, considering I've tagged along with her all this time.

Haruhi didn't seem to sense my worries, and said innocently,

"Let's go swimming first! What else is there to do besides swimming when we're by the sea? Everyone, swim to your heart's content! We'll have a race and see who gets swept away by the waves first!"

That's not a bad idea, provided the coast guard is available and on standby.

But we've only just arrived, do we have to go so soon? Don't you even want to take a break after all the exhaustion from that long boat trip? Speaking of which, even if Haruhi has never felt tired before, she should still be considerate of other people instead of trying to do things by her own standards!

"What on earth are you mumbling about? The sun won't stop rising and setting even if you offered sacrifices to Apollo's temple! It would be a waste of time if we don't go before the sun sets."

Haruhi stretched both her arms and wrapped them round Asahina and Nagato's necks.

"KYAA~!" Asahina closed her eyes and screamed. "......" While Nagato didn't even have a reaction.

"Swimsuits! Swimsuits! Everyone get dressed in your swimsuits and meet in the hall! Hee hee, I've helped choose these two cuties' swimsuits! You must be looking forward to them, right Kyon?"

Haruhi revealed an expression of "I know what you've been thinking already" and smiled evilly, revealing her white teeth.

"You're damn right."

I was reinvigorated and stood upright. This was indeed part of my reason for coming here. I will not allow any objections.

"Koizumi, is the private beach here completely booked for us?"

"Yes it is. People usually go to the beach to collect shells anyway. Few people ever come here anyway, but the waves can be strong here, so try not to swim too far. If you were serious about wanting to have a race......"

"Don't be ridiculous. I was only joking! Mikuru-chan's bound to get swept away by a black tide to get fed to the fish. Everyone listen up, don't get too carried away and swim too far! Remain in my field of vision."

Is it appropriate for Haruhi to be in charge of everyone's safety? I guess I'll have to help. At least I need to be careful not to let Asahina out of my sight for more than two seconds.

"Hey, Kyon!"

Haruhi's finger pointed towards the tip of my nose.

"I don't like that stupid smile on your face, so cut it out! You're better off frowning. And I'm not handing you the camera either!"

Remaining passionate from beginning to end, the Haruhi Orient Express sped on, ignoring any obstacles, smiling and giving out orders,

"Then, let's go!"

So, as such, we came to the beach.

The sun was already setting, but the rays and heat were pretty much up to summer standards. The waves washed upon the sand, the clouds floated above in the sky like marshmallows. Our hair was blown by the sea breeze, carrying the scent of the waves.

While it's called a private beach, there really wasn't any need to set up any special booking, as no one ever comes to this uninhabited island anyway. I guess the only people who would come here to enjoy a beach spa are probably some foreign tourists conned by those rubbish travel magazines. Besides the five of us, there was no doubt that the beach was pretty much empty. There weren't even any seabirds.

So, besides me and Koizumi, the only other living beings able to enjoy the sight of Haruhi and the girls in their swimsuits were the barnacles attached on the shore rocks.

I laid the straw mat under the umbrella, and squinted my eyes, enjoying Asahina's every move, looking shyly, while Haruhi came from behind and grabbed her.

"Mikuru-chan, the best way to enjoy the seaside is to swim! C'mon, let's go! It's bad for your health not to enjoy the sunshine!"

"Ah, I'm not really fond of standing in the sunshine."

Haruhi ignored the cowering protests of Asahina, and pushed the small and pale skinned senpai into the water.

"Wah! Salty!"

Asahina was actually surprised at something so trivially obvious, flapping her arms on the water surface.

Asahina was actually surprised at something so trivially obvious, flapping her arms on the water surface.
Asahina was actually surprised at something so trivially obvious, flapping her arms on the water surface.

At this moment, Nagato......


......sat on her beach chair in her swimsuit and quietly read her thick novel.

"Different people sure have different ways to have fun."

Koizumi, who was playing beach ball, opened his mouth to show me his smile.

"One should spend their free time doing what they like most, otherwise it wouldn't be called free time. Don't you intend to enjoy this carefree trip for the next four days and three nights?"

Isn't Haruhi the only one doing as she pleases? I never once thought Asahina, being forced to play along by Haruhi, would understand the true meaning of being relaxed.

"Hey, Kyon! Koizumi-kun! You guys come over as well!"

Haruhi yelled at us like a siren warning. I warily got up. To be honest, I didn't mind that much. Not counting Haruhi, just being able to stand next to Asahina is exactly what I've wished for. Taking the blown beach ball from Koizumi's hand, I began walking on the sizzling beach.

Once we sensed our muscles starting to fatigue, we returned to the mansion, took a bath and had a rest in our rooms. The sky is now littered with stars. Mori-san then led us to the dining room.

During dinner time:

The dinner for that night was quite flamboyant. I don't think they were meaning to grant Asahina's wish, but there was pickled fish on every one of our plates. Being used to poverty, I had to sit upright in respect after seeing all this. I get to eat all of this for free? Is that really okay?

"Be my guests."

Keiichi-san smiled and showed his generosity.

"Think of it as a reward for having come this far, because it's just too boring for me alone here. Actually I'm quite picky in choosing my guests, but of course since you're Itsuki's friends, you're most welcome."

For some reason, Keiichi-san was now dressed very formally compared to when we last saw him. He wore a black tuxedo with a bowtie on his neck. The dishes were a mix of Japanese and western cuisine. There was lamb, French roast fish, and some steamed stuff, all sorts of things. The only one using a fork and knife was Keiichi-san, since we had asked for chopsticks at the beginning.

"This is great! Who made these?"

Haruhi asked while revealing her amazing appetite worthy of nomination for a speed eating contest.

"The butler Arakawa is also the chef here, his cooking's not bad, huh?"

"I must thank him, please call him out later."

Haruhi said as though she were a gourmand who had just tasted a high class dinner.

I looked at Asahina, who widened her eyes further every time she took a bite; then at Nagato, who doesn't seem to eat much, yet she never stopped picking up food with her chopsticks; and at Koizumi, who chatted happily with Yutaka-san.

"Would you like something to drink?"

Mori-san asked, dressed in her maid costume and playing the role of waitress the whole time. She carried a small, long wine bottle and smiled. Probably wine, I guess. While it's questionable to offer alcohol to minors, I still decided to ask for one glass. I've never tasted wine before, but one ought to be more daring. And after seeing Mori-san's charming smile, I found it hard to refuse.

"Ah, what's Kyon drinking? I want one too."

Due to Haruhi's request, glasses filled with wine had now been passed into everyone's hands.

I felt this was the beginning of the nightmare.

That day, I discovered Asahina is completely wine intolerant, while Nagato is a formidable bottomless pit; as for Haruhi, she's just a hopeless drunkard.

Due to the circumstances, I drank quite a lot and so my memory was quite blurred, but I do remember Haruhi grabbing onto the wine bottle and drinking nonstop while knocking on Keiichi-san's head.

"Ah......You're so great! To thank you for inviting us, I'll offer you Mikuru-chan! Train her well so she can become a better maid! Because this girl is completely hopeless!"

I remotely remember her yelling with a heightened pitch.

The real maid Mori-san placed the wine bottle back on the table like a bowling pin, and quietly sliced the apples and pears from the fruits basket, handing them out as dessert. While the only make-believe maid in the club room, Asahina was already lying on the table with her face all red.

Nagato finished the glass of wine Mori-san poured for her. I don't know how the alcohol in her body gets dissipated. Her face remained the same while she emptied glass after glass like a whale drinking seawater.

Yutaka-san asked curiously,

"Is she really okay?"

He looked really worried, I still remembered that scene.

That night, it seems that Koizumi carried an unconscious me back to my room. That's what Koizumi told me afterwards. He said I reeked of booze just as much as Haruhi, but since I don't remember anything, I pretended not to hear that, and refused to remember that such a thing happened. I'll treat it as one of Koizumi's jokes.

Because something happened on the second day that pushed our hangovers to the back of our minds.

A storm brewed suddenly on the morning of the second day.

The rain water splattered diagonally on the window surface, the strong wind had an ominous sound. The forest around the mansion rustled as though demons were living in it.

"Such bad luck, of all the times to have a typhoon."

Haruhi said dejectedly while looking outside the window. We were gathered in Haruhi's room, discussing how we should spend the day today.

This was after we had our breakfast. Keiichi-san was absent from the table. Arakawa-san said Keiichi-san always felt terrible in the morning after waking up, so for him to wake up before noon was very rare.

Haruhi turned towards us,

"This has now really become a lone island. This is the situation of a lifetime, maybe something will happen!"

Asahina gasped and moved her eyes around, while Koizumi and Nagato's facial expressions remained business-like as usual.

The waves were still and calm yesterday. Now they've reached tsunami alert status, impossible for any ship to sail in. If this goes on until the day after tomorrow, we'll really be stranded on a lone island against our wishes, just as Haruhi had wished for. A closed circle, right?

Koizumi gave a smile, trying to calm everyone down,

"This typhoon seems to be moving quite fast, I think it'll get better the day after tomorrow. As they say, things come and go quickly."

According to the weather report, this would be correct. But there were no reports of a typhoon coming in yesterday's report! Just whose mind conjured this storm!?

"It's coincidental."

Koizumi said with ease.

"This is a normal natural phenomenon, it comes with the summer weather package, I guess? There's always one big typhoon every year."

"We were supposed to explore around the island, but it seems we have to cancel that." Haruhi said bitterly, "Ah well, let's find some games that we can play indoors!"

Haruhi seemed to have completely forgotten the original purpose of this field trip, as the emphasis now moved into having fun. Now this was something worth cheering for, because I didn't want to walk to the other end of the island to find some unidentified creature's carcass being washed ashore and stuck between the boulders.

Koizumi made his suggestion,

"I seem to remember there's a game room here, I'll go ask Keiichi-san to open it for us. Which do you like? Mah-jong or pool? If we asked, we could even get a snooker table set up."

Haruhi agreed,

"Then let's have a table tennis match! We'll decide the winner of the first SOS Brigade Table Tennis Tournament in a round-robin format! Sorry for those who want to play pool, I'll treat them to drinks on the boat trip back. Don't hold back now!"

The game room was located in the basement. In the wide hall was placed a Mah-jong table and a pool table. They even had a roulette and Baccarat table. Do Koizumi's relatives secretly run a casino here?

"What do you think?" Koizumi replied with a foolish smile, pulling out the folded snooker table from the side.

By the way, after an intense battle with me, Haruhi won the table tennis tournament. She then held the Mah-jong contest, but besides Koizumi, no one in the SOS Brigade knew how to play Mah-jong, so we had to learn as we played along. During the game, the Tamaru brothers also joined in, making it a lively Mah-jong contest. Haruhi distorted the rules and created yaku to suit herself, racking up win after win with puzzling combinations like "Nishoku Zetsu Ichimon," "Chantamodoki," "Iishanten Paralysis" and so on. Well, it made me laugh, so I let it pass. And we weren't playing for money, anyway.

"Ron! That's about ten thousand points!"

"Suzumiya-san, that's yakuman."

I secretly sighed, perhaps it was better to look on the bright side and enjoy the fun the trip brought. As things stand, it seems unlikely a huge sea creature will appear, or natives coming out from the forest. After all, this is a lone island far way from the mainland. There won't be strange things coming in from outside so easily.

I decided to think like that and relax myself. Tamaru Keiichi-san and Yutaka-san, Arakawa-san, Mori-san are all acquainted with Koizumi, they all look normal. We're still short of characters necessary to trigger a strange event.

I hope everything goes well. I prayed in my heart.

Yet the gods just never seem to answer my prayers.

It happened on the morning of the third day.

We spent the whole second day playing and eating, and as the weather worsened by nightfall, the same dining hall scene repeated itself again. On the third day, I struggled to wake up with a splitting headache from the hangover, if Koizumi hadn't carried us back to our rooms, I guess I would still be sleeping in the dining hall with Haruhi and Asahina.

I opened the curtains on the morning of the third day. The storm continued.

"I wonder if we can return tomorrow?"

I washed off the dizzyness from my face with some cold water, trying hard to walk in a straight line. I walked down the stairs with caution, not wanting to trip and tumble over.

There gathered in the dining hall were Haruhi and Asahina with the same miserable face as mine, and Koizumi and Nagato with their usual expressions.

The Tamaru brothers haven't come down yet, maybe they've reached their limits after drinking for two consecutive nights? I remembered Haruhi pouring wine over their glasses. Haruhi was already reckless when sober, with alcohol she became worse, and just thinking of her antics last night simply worsened my headache. I decided never to force myself to drink endlessly.

"I don't want to drink wine anymore."

Haruhi frowned and said as if she had learnt her lesson.

"I don't know why, but all my memories after dinner seem to have disappeared. Isn't that a pity? I felt as we've wasted a lot of time. Argh, I don't want to get drunk again. Tonight is 'alcohol free night'."

Normally, high school students are not supposed to get drunk. Perhaps I ought to compliment Haruhi for actually saying something responsible for once? Yet, Asahina's dreamy expression when she was drunk looked just so seductive, I must admit I wouldn't mind drinking so much.

"Then it's decided!"

Koizumi nodded and agreed right away, he then said to Mori-san who just came in pushing a cart with our breakfast on it,

"We won't be needing any wine for tonight. Please just prepare some juice instead."


Mori-san bowed politely and started handing out the bacon and eggs plates on to the table.

Yutaka-san had still not appeared after we had finished our breakfast. As Keiichi-san normally feels ill during morning, his absence was expected, but not Yutaka-san's. At this moment......

"Excuse me."

Arakawa-san and Mori-san appeared before us. I noticed a troubled expression within his usually calm butler face. I have a bad feeling about this.

"What happened?" Koizumi asked, "Is there a problem?"

"Yes." Arakawa-san said, "I believe it is sort of a problem. I had asked Mori-san to go check Yutaka-sama's room."

Mori-san nodded her head, Arakawa-san continued,

"As the door wasn't locked, I opened it to find Yutaka-sama's not inside."

With a voice as clear as a bell, Mori-san said glancing at the table cloth,

"The room was empty, and the bed doesn't seem to be slept on at all."

"I tried to contact the master's room using an internal phone line, but there was no response."

Haruhi released the glass of orange juice she was holding after hearing Arakawa-san said that.

"What does that mean? Yutaka-san is missing while Keiichi-san doesn't answer the phone?"

"To put it bluntly, that's how it is." Arakawa-san replied.

"Couldn't you enter Keiichi-san's room? Do you have a backup key?"

"I have the backup keys to all the rooms save the master's bedroom. As his room has a lot of work-related documents, only he has access to the backup keys, just to be safe."

The bad feeling has begun to hover as a dark cloud, shrouding two-thirds of my heart. The mansion owner who hasn't woken up, and his brother who was missing.

Arakawa-san bowed slightly.

"I would like to visit the master's bedroom in a moment. If you do not mind, would you please accompany me? I hope I'm wrong, but I have a bad feeling about this."

Haruhi quickly gestured something to me with her eyes. What's she trying to say?

"Maybe we should come along."

Koizumi stood up without hesitation.

"Maybe he's so ill he couldn't get up. We may have to break the door down."

Haruhi swiftly jumped up from her chair,

"Kyon, let's go! I'm getting all uneasy. Yuki and Mikuru-chan, you two come along as well!"

In this moment, Haruhi revealed a hitherto unseen serious expression on her face.

Allow me to briefly go through what happened afterwards.

Keiichi-san's room was located on the third floor, there was no response no matter how many times we knocked. Koizumi tried turning the doorknob, but the door still won't open. The wooden door now stood like a wall, blocking our access.

Before going there, we also went to Tamaru Yutaka-san's room. As Mori-san had described, the bedsheets were tidy, as though no one has slept on it. Just where did he go? Could both brothers be hiding in Keiichi-san's room?

"The room is locked from the inside, that means there's someone inside."

Koizumi held his chin and gave a look of thinking deeply. He said in an unprecedented intense tone,

"Looks like we no longer have a choice. We'll have to break down the door. Things are getting serious that lives may be at stake here."

So we lined up together and rammed ourselves towards the door like a bunch of rugby players. The line-up included me, Koizumi and Arakawa-san. I trust Nagato would be able to push the door down easily with just her finger, but she decided her magic wouldn't be appropriate here with everyone looking. Under the watchful eyes of the three SOS Brigade girls and Mori-san, the three of us bravely rammed the door many times, just as the bones in my shoulders were beginning to yell out in pain......

The door finally burst open like a spring.

Losing our balance, I, Koizumi and Arakawa-san all fell in towards the room with our momentum. And then......

Yes, we have now returned to the scene at the beginning. It took a long time to catch up. Now, back to the present.




After a lengthy flashback, I slowly moved my eyes away from Keiichi-san, whose chest has been stabbed with a knife, towards the door which has been burst open. This is a newly built mansion, even the doors looked shiny......I shouldn't be thinking of totally irrelevant stuff now.

Arakawa-san bent his body and knelt down by his master's side, touching his neck with the tip of his finger, then slowly lifted his head to face us.

"He has passed away."

Perhaps it's due to his profession, he sounded very sullen.


Asahina knelt on the ground looking worn out, this is understandable, because right now I felt like doing that as well. I even found Nagato's wooden expression to be a salvation.

"Things have become serious."

Koizumi went towards Keiichi-san and knelt by him opposite Arakawa-san, carefully handling Keiichi-san's suit and examining his shirt.

The white shirt has now been dyed with some dark-reddish liquid, forming an irregular pattern.


He made an exclamation. I looked at his hand and saw a notebook placed inside the chest pocket of Keiichi-san's shirt. The blade seemed to pierce through the notebook and into the heart. The suspect must have possessed some formidable strength in order to do that. I don't think it would be the girls here, though for Haruhi, it just might be possible with her incredible power.

Koizumi's voice carried a tint of sadness,

"Right now our priority is to preserve the crime scene. Let us leave this place."

"Mikuru-chan, are you alright?"

It's not surprising for Haruhi to be so worried, since Asahina was close to fainting. She knelt wearily on the floor besides Nagato's thin legs and closing her eyes tightly.

"Yuki, let's carry Mikuru-chan to my room! You grab her other arm."

Haruhi actually said something with common sense, maybe this means she is disturbed inside. With her arms grabbed by Nagato and Haruhi, Asahina was slowly dragged and carried away off the corridor.

After making sure they had left, I observed the surroundings.

Arakawa-san put his hands together and paid his respects to his master now lying on the floor, while Mori-san lowered her head with a sad face. Up till now Yutaka-san still remained missing while the storm outside continued.

"Now..." Koizumi said to me, "It seems we need to think about what has transpired."

"What do you mean?" I asked. Koizumi's normal smile suddenly returned to his mouth.

"Haven't you realized? This is now a genuine closed cirle."

I already knew that long before.

"This looks like a murder."

Well it doesn't look like suicide.

"Besides, this room is totally sealed off."

I turned and noticed all the windows were locked from the inside.

"How does the suspect commit his act and leave safely in a room that can't be accessed at all?"

Why don't you ask the suspect himself!?

"You're right," Koizumi agreed with me, "We'd better ask Yutaka-san about this."

Koizumi asked Arakawa-san to call the police, then turned and said to me,

"Please wait at Suzumiya-san's room first, I'll be coming over as well later."

That seemed like a good idea, since there wasn't much I could do.

I knocked on the door.

"Who is it?"

"It's me."

The door opened slightly, Haruhi peeked from inside. She then let me in with a perplexed look on her face.

"Where's Koizumi-kun?"

"He'll be here soon."

Asahina was left to sleep on one of the double beds. Her sleeping face was enough to compel any passing-by prince to come and kiss her. But from her pained expression, she should be in a state of coma; it's such a pity.

Beside her sat Nagato as though watching over a coffin. Keep up the good work! Don't ever leave Asahina's side.

"Hey, what do you think?"

Haruhi seemed to be asking me.

"Think of what?"

"I mean Keiichi-san's death. This is a murder incident, right?"

Objectively speaking, the answer's pretty obvious, isn't it? I tried to deduce. We burst open the locked door to find the owner of the mansion lying on the floor, with a knife stabbed on his chest. A murder happening inside a sealed room in an island trapped in the middle of a storm. This is just too elaborate.

"It seems like that's the case."

Time stopped for a few seconds, Haruhi then sighed deeply and sort of replied,


Haruhi placed her hand on her temple and sat on her bed.

"How can this be? I never expected things to develop this way."

She quietly murmured. I should be asking you that. Weren't you the one who was anticipating that something would happen?

"But, I never thought it would come true!"

Haruhi scowled, then changed her expression. She seemed to be troubled by what expression she should put on. I was kind of relieved that she didn't seem happy about this, because I have no intention of playing the role of the second victim.

I looked at Asahina, who was sleeping with an angel face.

"She should be fine, I guess. She just fainted. Such a direct reaction, I'm envious of her. This is so like how Mikuru-chan would react. It's better than going hysterical."

Haruhi said thoughtlessly.

A sealed room murder incident on a lone island within a storm. What are the chances of that occurring in a trip? Then again, we are the SOS Brigade, not some Occult Study Group, or Mystery Novels Association. Searching for mysterious events is exactly the reason Haruhi founded the SOS Brigade, so in truth, encountering this kind of incident perhaps embodies the founding principles of the SOS Brigade. Of course, it's a whole different story when we're actually experiencing it.

Has this happened since Haruhi had been expecting it?

"Man, this is so frustrating......"

Haruhi leaped off her bed and paced around the room.

For me, she looked like a kid who wanted to pull a small prank on April Fool's Day, but found out the prank went too far and was feeling troubled. She seemed to be taken completely by surprise, and this troubled me as well.

What should we do?

If possible, I'd like to lie down and sleep beside Asahina, but it's useless trying to escape reality now. There's got to be a way to deal with this. What does Koizumi intend to do?

"Hmm, after all, we can't just stay here doing nothing."

After all? Haruhi said that matter-of-factly and stood before my face. She looked at me seriously with her challenging eyes.

"I need to confirm something. Kyon, come with me."

I really don't want to just leave Asahina alone here.

"Yuki's here as well, so don't worry! Yuki, have the door locked, and don't let anybody in, you understand?"

Nagato carried her calm demeanor and looked at me and Haruhi.


She replied without even changing the tone of her voice.

Instantaneously, the pair of light filtering eyes made contact with my eyes. At this moment, Nagato nodded slightly in a way only I could notice, that's what I think anyway.

I don't think anything dangerous would happen to me and Haruhi, right? If something funny were to happen, it's unlikely for Nagato not to intervene. I convinced myself, remembering what happened at the studio apartment of the Computer Study Group's president.

"Let's go, Kyon."

Haruhi grabbed my wrist and stepped out towards the corridor.

"Just where're we going?"

"To Keiichi-san's room, of course! I didn't observe it closely just now, so I need to check again."

At the image of Keiichi-san lying on the floor with a knife stabbed on his chest, and the blood soaked on his white shirt, I hesitated. That was not a view worth appreciating.

Haruhi walked and said,

"Then, we need to find out where Yutaka-san is. He may be still in the building, besides......"

For something this serious, if Yutaka-san had nothing to do with this, then it doesn't make sense for him to disappear. There could only be two possibilities from his absence.

I was dragged by Haruhi, who climbed the stairs and said,

"Either Yutaka-san is the killer and has escaped the scene; or Yutaka-san is also a victim......right?"

"Yeah, but if Yutaka-san isn't the killer, then it'll become troublesome."

"No matter who did it, it's all annoying for me......"

Haruhi looked at me diagonally,

"Kyon, in this mansion, besides the Tamaru brothers, there's only Arakawa-san and Mori-san left, and the five of us. Could the suspect be one of them? I don't want to suspect my own brigade, and I don't want to hand them over to the police."

She sounded very calm saying that.

I see, so you were worried about one of us being a murderer, huh? I never contemplated such a possibility. Asahina was out of the question, while Nagato would have done it in a more efficient manner; as for Koizumi......that's right, Koizumi was the one closest to Tamaru-san. He said Tamaru-san was his distant relative, compared to total strangers like us, he certainly seemed much closer than us......


I knocked my head softly.

Koizumi's no idiot. He wouldn't deliberately do such a thing under these circumstances. I do not believe that he would kill someone just to satisfy the conditions for a closed circle. He's not that stupid.

We don't need anyone else to have such a thinking pattern. We already have Haruhi.

Outside of Keiichi-san's room on the third floor stood Arakawa-san with his legs apart.

"I've called the police, and they've instructed me not to let anyone in."

He lowered his head. The door remained as it was when we burst it open, I could barely see Keiichi-san's finger just behind Arakawa-san's shoulder.

"When are the police coming?"

Haruhi asked questioningly, Arakawa-san replied politely,

"Once this storm subsides. According to the weather report, the weather would improve by tomorrow afternoon, so I guess they'll arrive by then."


Haruhi occasionally glanced into the room.

"I have something to ask you."

"What is it?"

"Did Keiichi-san and Yutaka-san get along well with each other?"

Arakawa-san's usual butler expression changed slightly.

"To be honest, I'm not sure myself. Because I've only started working here a week ago."

"A week!?" Both Haruhi and I exclaimed.

Arakawa-san nodded without wincing.

"Yes, I am indeed a butler, but I've been hired as a stand-in contractual butler. My contract stipulates that I would serve this mansion for two weeks during summer."

"So does that mean you only work in this mansion and have not been by Keiichi-san's side before?"


So Arakawa-san is a stand-in butler hired by Keiichi-san. If that's the case, maybe......

Haruhi asked the same question I was about to ask,

"Is Mori-san also the same? Is she also a stand-in maid?"

"You're absolutely correct. She has also been hired for these two weeks."

Such a lavish way for Keiichi-san to hire a butler and maid just for two weeks during the summer. I felt he may be a bit casual with how he spends his money, but to hire a butler and maid like that......

As I nearly revealed my thoughts, I immediately held them back again. I cautiously examined Arakawa-san's face. He looked like an old gentleman wearing a clean armour. He does seem like that sort of person, but......

I didn't say anything, and had that little thought buried deep within my heart. I'll ask him later when I see him.

"I see, so there are permanent and contractual servants, I've really learnt something new today."

How is that knowledge new? Haruhi nodded as though fully understanding something.

"Since we can't enter the room, there's nothing we can do here. Kyon, let's go to the next place."

She pulled my arm and strode forward.

"Now where're we going?"

"Outside, to see if the boat's gone."

I really didn't want to wander purposelessly with Haruhi under this stormy day.

"I only believe what I see with my eyes. Information that gets passed around usually gets mixed up with unnecessary noise. Listen, Kyon, the most important observations are first-hand ones. Second-hand information from the eyes or hands of other people is not to be believed.

Well, from a certain point, she was right. But does that mean besides those that enter our field of vision, we can't believe anything else?

As I pondered about the effectiveness of the information medium, Haruhi had brought me to the first floor, where Mori-san was standing by the base of the stairs.

"Are you two going outside?"

Mori-san asked me and Haruhi, Haruhi replied,

"Yeah, I want to see if the boat's still here."

"I don't think it's here anymore."

"Why's that?"

Mori-san replied with a smile,

"I saw Yutaka-sama last night, he seemed to be in a hurry as he left the entrance hall."

I exchanged glances with Haruhi.

"You mean Yutaka-san had stolen the boat and left the island?"

Mori-san smiled softly and slowly moved her lips,

"I only passed by Yutaka-sama in the corridor, I didn't actually see him go out. But that was the last I saw of Yutaka-sama."

"What time was it?" Haruhi asked.

"I guess around one in the morning."

That was when we were getting drunk and sleeping very soundly.

Does that mean Keiichi-san fell on the floor during this time as well?

Once the door was opened, the raindrops fell onto our bodies. We spent quite some time just trying to open the door, which had become very heavy due to the strong winds. In a few seconds, Haruhi and I were soaked wet from head to toe. If I had known, I would've prepared a swimsuit.

The dark grey clouds extended towards the horizon, this reminded me of the Sealed Dimension we were trapped in before. I don't think I'll ever like seeing such a monotonous world.

"Let's go!"

Though her hair and T-shirt had been soaked so wet that they stuck to her body, Haruhi still bravely walked forward in the rain. I had no choice but to follow her, as she was still tightly grabbing my wrist.

Though her hair and T-shirt have been soaked so wet that they stuck to her body, Haruhi still bravely walked forward in the rain. I had no choice but to follow her, as she was still tightly grabbing my wrist.
Though her hair and T-shirt have been soaked so wet that they stuck to her body, Haruhi still bravely walked forward in the rain. I had no choice but to follow her, as she was still tightly grabbing my wrist.

The wind was so strong that if we had wings, we would be blown off easily. Braving the heavy rain, we finally managed to come to a spot where we can see the pier. If we were not careful, we could fall off the cliff. No matter how brave I got, I started to feel that things were getting bad. I think I would turn in my grave if it was only me that fell off, so I grabbed Haruhi's hand in return. I felt my chances of survival would be higher if I fell with her.

We finally came to the top of the stairway.

"You see it, Kyon?"

Haruhi's voice scattered across the wind, I faced her and nodded,


The pier was nearly covered in water, the only activity by the seaside were the large waves splashing upon them on the shores.

"There's no boat. If it wasn't carried off by the waves, then it was driven off."

That was our only means of leaving this island. Looking far, we could see no sign of that luxurious speedboat within the vast sea.

And so, we've been isolated on this lone island.

We returned to the mansion at a turtle's pace, by the time we made it inside, we were both soaked wet.

"Please use these."

Expecting our return, Mori-san had been waiting for us and handed us towels she had prepared. She asked with concern,

"What did you find?"

"It seems you are right."

Haruhi wiped her hair with the towel, looking dissatisfied.

"The boat's gone, but we don't know when."

I don't know if she was born like that, but Mori-san's face continued to smile softly like the light of a firefly. Though Tamaru Keiichi-san's murder had shaken her a bit, yet her calm demeanor reflects her professionalism. Perhaps this reaction was quite normal for a for-hire maid.

I apologized with Haruhi for wetting the entrance corridor, then we decided to return to our rooms to get changed.

"Come to my room later."

Haruhi said as she walked up the stairs.

"At this moment, it's better to stick together. I just can't relax if I can't see everyone safe. If something were to happen......"

Haruhi stopped midway. I could understand what she was trying to say, so I didn't make any witty comments this time.

We arrived on the second floor and found Koizumi standing at the corridor.

"Welcome back."

Koizumi carried his usual smile and gestured to us with his eyes. He was standing just outside Haruhi's room.

"What are you doing?"

Haruhi asked, and Koizumi's smile became that of an embarassed one, he shrugged his shoulder and said,

"I had wanted to come to Suzumiya-san's room to discuss what we should do next, but Nagato-san wouldn't let me in."



Haruhi knocked on the door.

"Yuki, it's me, open the door!"

After a brief pause, Nagato's voice came from behind the door.

"I was instructed not to open the door for anyone."

Asahina still seems to be sleeping. Haruhi played with the towel on her head with her fingers.

"It's alright now, Yuki. So open the door."

"That would be a violation of my order not to open the door for anyone."

Haruhi looked at me with a startled look, then turned back to face the door.

"Yuki, what I meant by anyone is people besides us! Myself, Kyon and Koizumi-kun are different. We're all companions in the SOS Brigade, right?"

"No one said anything about that. What I heard was not to let anyone in; that is my interpretation."

Nagato's calm voice sounded like a female priest spreading the messages of the gods.

"Hey, Nagato!"

I decided to cut in,

"Haruhi has cancelled that order. If you don't believe it, I'll recite that order for her. So open the door! Please."

Nagato seemed to consider that for a few seconds behind the door. The sound of the door unlocking can be heard and the door slowly opened.


Nagato's eyes swept through our heads, and silently backed up inside.

"Really! Yuki, you ought to be more flexible! You've got to understand the meaning properly!"

Haruhi asked Koizumi to wait a bit while she changed and entered the room. I wanted to change into something dry as well, so I made my exit.

"See you later then, Koizumi."

I walked and thought about something.

Was that all just a prank by Nagato? Yet it's a very hard to comprehend prank that could cause misunderstandings.

Nagato, please. Nobody's going to think of it as a joke if you always carry that face with you. You should at least make a smile when you're pulling a prank. Or you could just smile meaninglessly like Koizumi, you'd look better like that.

Though now's not the right time to pull any pranks.

I removed my wet clothes and changed into a new set of clothes along with my underwear, then returned to the corridor. Koizumi is no longer there. I knocked on Haruhi's door.

"It's me."

Koizumi opened the door for me. As I stepped inside and closed the door,

"I heard the boat's missing."

Koizumi said leaning by the wall.

Haruhi squatted on the bed. Even Haruhi, who was normally brash, didn't feel this was worth being glad over. She lifted her head looking troubled,

"It's gone, right, Kyon?"

"Yeah." I said.

Koizumi said,

"Someone must have driven it off. No, it's already meaningless to say 'someone.' There's no doubt the one who ran way is Yutaka-san."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Because there's no one else."

Koizumi answered coolly.

"Besides us, there was no one else who was invited to this island. The only invited guest that has disappeared from the mansion is Yutaka-san. No matter how you put it, he has to be the suspect who has escaped by boat."

Koizumi continued with his smooth speech,

"In other words, he is the killer. He must've escaped during the night."

This matches with Yutaka-san's unslept bedsheets, and Mori-san's testimony.

Haruhi told Koizumi about our previous conversation with Mori-san.

"As expected from Suzumiya-san, so you've heard about it."

I purposelessly made a "Hmph~." sound at Koizumi's blatant bootlicking.

"Yutaka-san seemed to have left in a hurry as if he was afraid of something, this matches with the testimony by the last witness to have seen him. I've also confirmed this with Arakawa-san."

But isn't it suicide to drive a speedboat at night into the middle of a storm?

"Then it must be very bad for him not to leave the island, like trying to leave the scene of crime."

"Can Yutaka-san drive the speedboat?"

"We haven't been able to confirm that, but we should be able to deduce that from the results. Since the boat's now missing."


Haruhi raised her hand and won her right to speak.

"What about Keiichi-san's door? Who locked it? Did Yutaka-san do that as well?

"Doesn't seem like it."

Koizumi gently made a denial gesture.

"According to Arakawa-san, both the master key and the backup key for that room are kept by Keiichi-san. After some searching, we found both keys inside the room."

"Maybe someone made another duplicate key."

I raised the question that came out of my mind, Koizumi shook his head.

"This is the first time Yutaka-san has come to this mansion, I don't think he would enough time to prepare a duplicate."

Koizumi waved his hands in a surrendering gesture.

The room fell silent, the unharmonious sound of the heavy wind and rain shook the air, becoming an insignificant distant memory.

Haruhi and I were both speechless and remained quiet. Koizumi broke off this depressing silence,

"But it would be strange if Yutaka-san were to have committed this crime last night."

"What do you mean?" Haruhi asked.

"When I touched Keiichi-san, he was still warm, as if he was still alive recently."

Koizumi gave a smile, then turned and faced the silent fairy sitting patiently like a maid by Asahina's side.

"Nagato-san, what was Keiichi-san's body temperature when we found him lying on the ground?"

"36.3 degrees Celsius."

Wait a moment, Nagato, how do you even know Keiichi-san's body temperature without even touching him? And the way she answered the question so swiftly was as though she was expecting it...... I didn't express my doubts loudly.

The only person with doubts would be Haruhi, but she seemed to be thinking of other stuff, as her head didn't turn towards this way.

"Isn't that near the normal body temperature? When was the crime committed?"

"When a person stops all living activity, the body temperature would drop by one degree Celsius per hour. From this we can estimate the time of death for Keiichi-san to be within one hour before he was found."

"Wait, Koizumi."

Time for me to cut in.

"Didn't Yutaka-san escape during the night?"

"Yes, that's right."

"But you said the time of death was within one hour?"

"That's correct."

I pressed hard on my temple.

"So does this mean Yutaka-san left the mansion at night and hid somewhere, then returned in the morning to kill Keiichi-san, and then escaped by boat?"

"No, that's not the case."

Koizumi casually rejected my theory.

"Assuming a small margin of error for the time of death, it should be around one hour before we discovered him. But we were already gathered in the dining hall then. Not only did we see Yutaka-san, we didn't even hear any strange noise. Even in this storm, it would be too unnatural not to hear anything."

"Just what's going on here?"

Haruhi said frustratingly. She crossed her arms and glared at me and Koizumi. It's useless glaring at me! If you have any questions, ask the smiling hunk over there!

Koizumi spoke softly again as though it were a normal conversation,

"This isn't some mystery, just a tragedy."

I sure didn't see anything tragic from the looks of your eyes.

"I believe it is a fact that Yutaka-san has killed Keiichi-san, or there would be no reason for him to escape."

Well, yeah?

"I don't know what argument they had or what the motive is, the thing is Yutaka-san has attacked Keiichi-san with a knife. He must've hidden the knife behind his back, then suddenly revealed it and stabbed with all his force. Keiichi-san must've been almost defenceless as he was taken by surprise."

It's as though you've witnessed the whole thing.

"But the edge of the blade probably hasn't reached the heart. It probably didn't even scratched his skin. The knife merely penetrated the notebook on Keiichi-san's chest pocket."

"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"

Haruhi frowned and asked,

"Then why did Keiichi-san die? Did someone else kill him?"

"No one killed him. There is no murderer in this case, Keiichi-san's death was a pure accident."

"Then what about Yutaka-san? Why did he run?"

"Because he thought he had killed someone."

Koizumi replied casually and lifted his forefinger. Which super sleuth does he intend to turn into?

"Let me tell you what I think what has happened. Last night, Yutaka-san went to Keiichi-san with the intent of killing him. He stabbed Keiichi-san with his knife, but the knife was stuck in the notebook, so no fatal wound was made."

I really had no idea what he was trying to say, I decided to just let him continue.

"But the trouble begins here. Keiichi-san truly believed he has been stabbed. Though the knife only penetrated the notebook, he could still feel the impact of the knife thrusting in. He must've been shocked after seeing the edge of the knife standing on his chest."

I think I'm beginning to get where Koizumi was going. Hey, could it be......

"Being fooled by this illusion, Keiichi-san fainted. In this situation, a person would either fall sideways or backwards."

Koizumi continued,

"Seeing all this, Yutaka-san also believed he has killed him. The rest is simple, he can only escape. This murder probably isn't premediated, but rather a killing motive that is borne of passion. That's why he has to escape by speedboat in the middle of a heavy storm."

"Huh? But if that's the case......"

Koizumi interrupted Haruhi before she could continue,

"Please let me continue. The key is the actions Keiichi-san took after he fainted. He stayed unconscious till dawn, all the way till we came to knock on his door when we were wondering why he hasn't got up."

He was still alive then?

"Keiichi-san was startled by the knock and got up and walked near the door. But as he would usually feel ill after waking up, he must've felt drowsy then. As he walked towards the door under this state, he suddenly remembered."

"Remembered what?" Haruhi asked. Koizumi replied to her with a smile,

"He remembered that he was killed by his brother. In a flash, the image of Yutaka-san wielding a knife reappeared in his mind, and Keiichi-san frantically locked the door."

I couldn't stand this any longer, so I cut in,

"Are you saying that's the whole truth behind this sealed room?"

"Unfortunately, that's what I believe. Keiichi-san had lost all sense of time after fainting, he probably thought Yutaka-san had returned to finish him off. I think it was only a few seconds from him locking the door to us holding the door knob."

"If the killer had wanted to return to give him the finishing blow, why would he knock on the door intentionally?"

"Keiichi-san's mind was very blurry then, so this was the swift conclusion he made with his half-conscious mind."

"After locking the door, Keiichi-san tried to back off from the door, thinking what a dire situation he was in. That was when the tragedy happened."

Koizumi shook his head, as if telling a sad story.

"Keiichi-san tripped and tumbled over like this."

Koizumi bent his body and made a pose of tumbling forwards.

"As a result, the knife which had only penetrated into the notebook in his chest pocket was now thrust into his chest with the force of the floor, leaving only the hilt outside. The knife had gone straight into Keiichi-san's heart, thereby killing him......"

Koizumi looked at me and Haruhi, whose jaws were opened like idiots, and said firmly,

"That is the truth."

What did you say?

Keiichi-san died in such a ridiculous way? Is it really that simple? It was already strange enough for the knife to land right on top of the notebook, and it's also puzzling for Yutaka-san to not know he actually didn't kill anyone.

I tried to organize my thoughts, preparing to argue.


Haruhi suddenly shouted, that gave me a fright. Why'd you shout all of a sudden like that?

"But, Koizumi-kun......"

Haruhi said half way then stiffened up. Her face seems shocked, what was it that made her shout so loud? Was it something Koizumi said that she couldn't accept?

Haruhi looked at me. Once our eyes met, she looked away and was about to look at Koizumi, but then changed her mind and decided to look at the ceiling for some reason.

"Um......nothing. That's got to be the case. Hmm, how should I put it?"

She muttered incomprehensibly, then fell silent.

Asahina remained sleeping, while Nagato looked at Koizumi with a blank stare.

The meeting was adjourned for now. We decided to return to our rooms. According to Koizumi, once the storm's subsided, the police would come over at once. So we began to pack up and prepared to leave before the police arrived.

After spending some time in the room, I carried a lot of questions and went inside one of the rooms.


Koizumi lifted his head as he was folding his clothes and smiled at me.

"We need to talk."

There was only one reason I visited Koizumi.

"I cannot understand."

That was natural, as some of Koizumi's deductions were full of holes that couldn't explain itself.

"Based on your deductions, the body should be lying face down, but Keiichi-san was found lying face up. How do you explain that?"

Koizumi stood up and faced me smiling.

This smiling idiot answered as a matter-of-factly,

"That's simple, that's because the deduction I told everyone wasn't the truth."

I wasn't surprised by that.

"I guess you're right. The only one who would believe your deduction would be the unconscious Asahina. If I had asked Nagato, she would probably tell me the whole truth, but that's cheating and I don't like doing things that way. So why don't you tell me your real thoughts on this?"

The smile which has distorted Koizumi's face now made a low and irritating laughter.

"Then let me tell you! The truth that I told everyone was correct up to the middle, only the last part was wrong."

I kept quiet.

"It was correct up to when Keiichi-san walked towards the door with the knife on his chest. He then instinctively locked the door. I then made up the rest."

Koizumi gestured me to sit down, I ignored that request.

"Looks like you've noticed, I must've underestimated you."

"Cut the crap and continue."

Koizumi shrugged his shoulders,

"We rammed the door with our bodies and burst it open. To be precise, that would have been me, you and Arakawa-san. Then when the door burst opened, we fell hard inwards."

I remained silent and urged him to go on.

"You must've realized what that would result in. Keiichi-san, who was standing in front of the door, was hit face on by the door, and the knife as well."

I tried to visualize such a scene.

"From this collision, the knife then killed Keiichi-san."

Koizumi sat on the bed again and looked at me as though challenging me.

"In other words, the killers would be......"

Koizumi smiled and said as though talking to himself,

"Me, you and Arakawa-san."

I looked down at Koizumi. If there was a mirror, I bet I could see myself with cold eyes. Koizumi ignored my reaction and went on,

"Just as you have discovered, Suzumiya-san came to the same conclusions, that's why she didn't say what she wanted to say. She didn't want to report us, or maybe she wanted to protect her companions."

Koizumi said without doubt. I still couldn't accept this. My cerebral neocortex hasn't aged to such an extent to be fooled by this second fake deduction.


I mumbled and stared at Koizumi.

"I'm sorry, but I don't believe you."

"What do you mean?"

"I think, after coming up with a flawed deduction, you've created a second theory to try and deceive everyone, but I won't be fooled by such rhetoric."

Don't I look cool right now? Then allow me to continue.

"Think about where the whole problem is! Let's start with the murder itself. How can such a case happen under such perfect conditions?"

This time it was Koizumi's turn to remain silent, urging me to go on.

"The typhoon may be random or created by Haruhi, but that's not important. The key is that what's happened has created a body."

I paused and licked my lips.

"You may think that this is exactly what Haruhi wished for. But no matter how much bullshit that girl comes up with, Haruhi wouldn't really wish for anyone to die. You can tell just by looking at her. This means the one who created this incident isn't Haruhi. Besides, our arrival at the scene of crime wasn't coincidental either."

"Huh?" Koizumi said, "And why is that?"

"The one who started this incident......or to be exact, this summer field trip for the SOS Brigade, is none other than you, am I right?"

As if being caught red handed, Koizumi's smiling face stiffened for a few seconds, but......

Koizumi began to giggle.

"I surrender. How did you find out?"

Koizumi looked at me, his eyes were the same as I saw them when in the Literary Club room.

My cerebral grey matter isn't just there for looks, you know. I felt relaxed for a bit then said,

"At that time, you asked Nagato for the body temperature."

"And what's wrong with that?"

"You deduced the time of death based on that."

"Yes, I did."

"Nagato is a very useful person. As you well know, she can tell us almost anything. Instead of asking her for the body temperature, you should've asked Nagato for the approximate time of death. No, I think she would even tell us the exact time rounding off to the nearest second."

"That makes sense."

"If you had asked for the time of death, Nagato would simply reply that the person isn't dead. Moreover, never once did you refer to Keiichi-san in that state as a 'body'."

"That was a fair way to do it then."

"And I may not look like it, but I do pay attention to things that matter, especially the interior of Keiichi-san's room door. From your deduction, the door should have landed on the hilt of the knife with a great impact, great enough to thrust the knife into a person's body. If that were true, there should be at least a dent on the door. Yet the door surface looked brand new."

"Such amazing skills of observation."

"One more thing, there's something strange with Arakawa-san and Mori-san. They both claim to only work here for less than a week. They were hired a week ago and came to this island, is that right?"

"Yes, is something wrong with that?"

"Of course there is, because your attitude was too suspicious. On the day when we first arrived, do you remember what you said to Arakawa-san and Mori-san who were waiting for us as we got off the ferry?"

"What did I say?"

"You said 'It's been a while.' Don't you find that strange? How can it be possible for you to say this to them? You've also said this is the first time you've been to this island, so it should be the first time you have met them. So how can you go and chat with them as though you've known them for some time?"

Koizumi only giggled.

This meant he had no intention of arguing with me. I understood everything as I began to feel exhausted. Koizumi then opened his mouth,

"Yes, this was all previously arranged. A ridiculously short play. I just didn't expect you to find out."

"Don't underestimate me."

"I do apologize. Though I admit I'm surprised. I had wanted to find a time to eventually confess, I never thought the truth would be revealed so soon."

"Does that mean Tamaru-san, Mori-san and the rest are all your accomplices? Your comrades in that 'Organization' of yours?"

"That's correct. For a bunch of amateurs, don't you think their acting's superb?"

The knife on the chest actually had a retractable blade; the blood is actually some red dye; Keiichi-san was of course faking his death; while Yutaka-san was merely hiding on the other side of the island with the speedboat.

Koizumi cheerily revealed the truth.

"Why did you do all this for?"

"To cure Suzumiya-san's boredom, as well as reducing the burden on our shoulders."

"What do you mean?"

"Maybe I should tell you. To put it simply, to prevent Suzumiya-san from coming up with any funny ideas, we had prepared some entertainment for her. Right now isn't Suzumiya-san thinking about this the whole time?"

Haruhi seemed to believe that we were the killers, was it necessary to go this far?

Afterwards, Haruhi was unusually gentle. I really felt uncomfortable with that.

"Then we ought to move our plans forward." Koizumi said, "According to our original plans, as we returned by ferry to Honshu island, Tamaru Keiichi-san, Yutaka-san, Mori-san and Arakawa-san would be greeting us cheerfully at the harbour there. Of course, they would conceal everything about the 'Organization'. As of right now, they're still my distant relatives."

What a surprise party.

I sighed deeply. This sort of prank only works on Haruhi. If Haruhi got pissed as a result, then you're responsible for dousing the flames, because I'll be running for my life.

Koizumi winked and smiled,

"Oh dear. I think I'd better apologize to her. I'll go and confess to her right away with Tamaru-san and the rest. It must be tiring for him to play a dead body for so long."

I silently looked out of the window.

What would Haruhi do? Would she be furious at being deceived? Or would she appreciate the joke and laugh out loud? No matter what the result, her inconsistent mental state sure is easy to predict today. Koizumi smiled wryly,

"We even prepared people playing detectives and forensic experts, but it seems our hard work will go to waste. I never thought it would end in such a whimper. Our plan was to include a thorough search of the mansion and crime scene, such a pity."

That would be because you didn't plan far enough.

I looked at the gloomy sky and thought, how fine will the weather become in the next few hours?

In the end, Koizumi didn't lose his vice-commander badge. After the typhoon left, on the ferry trip home under the clear blue skies, Haruhi was in a good mood all the way until we parted at the station. It's good that Haruhi has a simple mind of treating a joke as such.

Of course, Koizumi had to end up buying boxed lunches and juice cans for everyone. For things to end so smoothly, I felt he had gotten off lightly.

Nagato probably knew the truth from the beginning, and maintained her reactionless attitude. While Asahina yelled, "How can you do this?" after waking up and protested cutely. But when Koizumi, the Tamaru brothers and the two servants both lowered their heads and apologized, she quickly apologized back, "Ah,'s alright, don't let it bother you."

By the way, after taking a photo on the deck on the ferry trip back to Honshu island, Haruhi made her booking,

"We're counting on you for the winter field trip, Koizumi-kun. Next time come up with a more shocking script! We're going to the mountain villa next time, and it has to be in a blizzard. If you don't come up with a haunted mansion that suits my expectations, I'll really be mad. Hmm, I'm so looking forward to it!"

"Erm......what should I do?"

Like a rookie Nazi officer being told by the Führer to lead just a single Panzer division to capture the Allied commander on the western front at the end of the Second World War, Koizumi smiled awkwardly and turned to beg me for help.

I looked at Koizumi, who was like a defender trying to stop what seemed like a great goal near the end of a soccer match when the scores are even after overtime, and said without hesitation,

"Well, I'm also looking forward to it, Koizumi."

I look forward that it will be a game that I could at least solve and not end up in a mess.

At the same time, this is also the best way to stop Haruhi from getting too bored and coming up with any funny ideas.

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