Suzumiya Haruhi:Volume5 Endless Eight

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Endless Eight

It felt rather odd.

I had a bizarre feeling several days after the conclusion of the O-bon Festival.

At the time, I was sitting in my own living room, tuning in and out of the middle school baseball games, which I had little interest in. It was kind of my own fault, being wide awake by afternoon and having nothing to do. Even when bored to death, I lacked the strength to face that hill of a pile of summer homework, so I continued to kill time by watching T.V. like a slouch.

What was being broadcast would be the district tourney, which I was neither fated nor qualified to take part in, but empathy towards the underdog made me cheer for the side that was losing with a score of 0 to 7. Out of the blue, I had a premonition, a feeling that Haruhi was on the move.

I had not seen Haruhi in ages, given that I took my little ol' sister to the countryside (where my mom’s family estate is) to spend the summer and to pay respect to the ancestors, and had only triumphantly returned the day before. This is a must-go trip every year in our household. Besides, during summer vacation, the members of the SOS Brigade had few opportunities to meet each other, which meant that not seeing Haruhi was only to be expected. In addition, on day one of summer vacation, we had fervently followed Her Excellency to that bizarre lone island, and had closed the curtain on that odd and rushed Summer Co-ed event long ago. Even if Haruhi were up to something, there wouldn't be a second "overnight trip." Having that one memory for the summer of this year should've been enough for her to savor.

“But then again…”

As I spoke to myself, for some unknown reason, an event occurred with my silent cell phone suddenly - very suddenly - at the exact moment that my finger hooked onto the phone strap and pulled it towards my body, which made me suspect that someone might have installed candid cameras in my home.

Just at that moment, right on the dot, the incoming call ringtone began to buzz. Perhaps I have the power to predict the future! This thought flashed across my brain, and was immediately terminated with my head shaking in denial – too idiotic.

“What does she want?”

The number that showed on the call display was the cell number of Suzumiya Haruhi.

After letting my phone ring three times, I pressed the "talk" button with elegance. As I had an idea of what Haruhi might say, I was actually rather surprised at myself.

“You free today?”

This was the first sentence that came out of Haruhi.

"At exactly 2 o'clock, have everybody meet in front of the train station, you definitely must come."

She cut the call off right afterwards. There was no seasonal chitchat nor household greetings, not even a confirmation of whether or not it was I at the receiving end. Most importantly, how did she know that I had nothing to do today? Despite how it all looks, I still… oh, never mind, I really don’t have much to do today.

The phone rang again.


“I forgot to mention what you need to bring along.”

She then quickly went through the list like a machine gun.

“Also, remember to come with a bike and to bring enough money, over~!”

The phone hung up.

I tossed the cell aside and entertained some deep thoughts. Just what is going on? Why is it that I have this strange sensation as if all of this is a dream being dragged on?

A clean whistling blow came from the television. Right as I looked, the enemy team's score - the enemy team at least in my mind - was in double digits. The sound of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball proclaimed this fact to me with no reservation.

Summer was coming to an end.

The chorus of the cicada spilled through the walls of the house, which was sealed shut with the AC turned on.

“She’s impossible.”

Haruhi. That woman... was making that co-ed trip to that freakish lone island as soon as summer started not enough? This summer is hot as hell… just what does she want? I absolutely did not want to leave the air-conditioned room.

Sulk as much as I may, I still meekly headed toward my closet and removed the items she requested.

“Kyon, you’re really slow! Would you please put more effort into it?”

Suzumiya Haruhi tossed a plastic bag about as she pointed at me with her index finger in displeasure. This woman was still in her old form.

“Mikuru, Yuki, and Koizumi all arrived before I did. You, however, would let the chief wait on you… what does that mean? You deserve punishment! Punishment!

I was the last person to show up at our meeting place. I was also fifteen minutes early from the meeting time. It seems that everyone knew in advance that Haruhi would call us out, which made the gathering lightning fast. Thanks to these gurus, I always have to treat everyone. I've gotten used to it and have long since given up. The fact is, I am but an ordinary layman, and arriving ahead of these three individuals with unique backgrounds is an impossible mission.

I paid no attention to Haruhi, and turned to greet the other members unfazed.

“So sorry for making you all wait.”

My greeting to two of the lot mattered little, but this other individual I cannot ignore any detail. Beneath an elegant hat with ribbons, Asahina Mikuru-san released her warm smile and nodded at me.

“Don’t worry, I just got here myself.”

Asahina-san’s hands were grabbing onto a basket. The inside of the basket seemed to be filled with things that arouse anticipation, which made me start to feel eager for them. I had really hoped to be immersed in this pleasant atmosphere forever, but a demon had to come and soil it all.

“Long time no see. Have you been traveling since our last meeting?”

Koizumi Itsuki revealed those glistening white teeth and raised his thumb at me. Even with summer vacation mostly gone, his smiling face still made it seem as if he were secretly scheming something. Why couldn’t you go on a tour? Why head to Haruhi in a hurry as soon as she calls forth? That, and coming so very early only makes you more suspicious the more I think about it… would saying no to that woman kill you?!

My vision traveled past that bright pretender’s façade and panned horizontally. Standing over there was the non-organic visage of the emotionless Nagato, who was rather like Koizumi’s shadow. That presence, wearing the summer uniform and not a drop of sweat, standing squarely upright, was one that I could not become any more familiar with. I was beginning to suspect that she may not have sweat glands.


Nagato lifted her head and looked at me as if she were looking at a motionless toy mouse, and nodded slightly. Perhaps it was a salutation to me.

“Everyone is here, let’s go!"

I asked out of a sense of duty to Haruhi’s decree:

“Where to?”

“Where else but the city swimming pool?”

I took a look at what I was holding in my right hand: a sport backpack that had a towel and my swimwear in it. Oh well, I'd kind of guessed that we’d be going to the pool.

“Summer should be like summer, and we should be doing summer activities. Only a penguin or swan would hit the water in the middle of winter.”

With those examples, it was to become a matter of habit and not of recreational purposes. I am not one of those people that you can appease with a few inappropriate examples of what animals do.

“Time is fleeting, so we must act the moment we have thought of something! This is the once-in-a-lifetime North High freshman year’s summer vacation!”

As usual, Haruhi seemed to have no plan to listen to others' suggestions. Truth be told, other than myself, the members didn't even bother to give any suggestions to Haruhi, so the only ideas that would go in one of her ears and out the other were mine. Rationally speaking, Haruhi was a tad unreasonable... but I sealed my own fate as the only one in the brigade that had any common sense. What an accursed fate this is...

As I analyzed the differences between fate and destiny –

“Now, let’s head to the pool on bike!”

Haruhi’s royal decree was proclaimed. Even with no approval, the act would be forcefully enforced.

After I asked, I found out that even Koizumi was instructed to take a bike along. The trio of ladies came on foot. It is worth mentioning that there were only two bicycles and five of us. Just what did this woman have in mind?

Haruhi explained rather happily.

“Just put two people on one bike and three on the other and voila, problem solved. Koizumi-kun, you carry Mikuru-chan. Kyon shall carry Yuki and me.”

And so, I stepped on my pedals as if I would die. I could still stand the scorching heat that had me sweating like a pig, but that racket which was like the adjustment noise coming from a broken loudspeaker that loops endlessly from the back of my head was driving me nuts.

“Kyon! See that? You’ve been overtaken by Koizumi-kun! Pedal faster and catch up to him!”

My sweat blurred my vision. I could only faintly make out Asahina-san sitting on the side at the backseat of Koizumi’s bicycle as he coyly waved at me. Why is it that Koizumi carries the beauty and I the beast? I almost want to conclude that “unfair” is a word that originates from my current situation!

Both of my legs and my bicycle were struggling to tolerate this crippling overweight. Nagato sat at the rear seat, while the one who was standing on the rear pedestals and holding onto my shoulders would be Haruhi. It rather looked like a three-person riding trick. Is the SOS brigade preparing to become a circus as well?

Oh yes, before we hit the roads, Haruhi mentioned this:

“Yuki is diminutive, her weight is featherweight.”

That sentence had its merit. I have no idea if Nagato set her weight to zero or if she was using anti-gravity, but I can say that it felt as if I were only carrying Suzumiya Haruhi. Sigh, I wouldn’t be shocked if Nagato can adjust gravity. I would rather like to find out what she is incapable of.

Although if she could do something about Haruhi’s weight it would be great, since my back and my shoulders could clearly feel the crushing force from that woman.

Koizumi, peering back by looking around Asahina-san’s head, revealed that hated Mona Lisa smile of his, which made me appreciate the unfairness of this world, making me start to crack jokes at myself as Balzac did. Dammit! On the return trip, I will definitely fight for a chance to carry Asahina-san and enjoy the taste of biking with two! I think undoubtedly that this ladies’ bicycle of mine shared the same view.

The municipal swimming pool’s compliments were very crude. It would be more fitting if the name were changed to "The Ghetto Swimming Pool." The reason would be that this facility only had a fifty-meter-wide pool and a watering hole the depth of fifteen centimeters for toddlers.

The only high school students that would come to such a pool are those bored out of their mind, such as us. Otherwise, only little kids and their parents – mothers mostly – would be there. I lost interest the moment I saw that only brats in their swim rings were in the pool. Looks like the only stimulant left for my optic nerves would be Asahina-san...

“Hmm, the smell of this disinfectant really stinks.”

Under the sunlight, Haruhi, dressed in a deep red Tankini, had her nose sniffing nonstop with her eyes closed. She walked out of the changing room while holding Asahina-san’s hand. Asahina-san, holding a basket with the other hand, was in an overall with frills similar to children’s swimwear, and Nagato was in a plain no-frills competition swimsuit. Both suits seemed to be hand-picked by Haruhi, who paid little attention to her attire but was meticulous to the fashion of others (especially Asahina-san).

“Jump into the water as soon as you find a place to put down our stuff. We’re gonna compete! Compete! To see who is the fastest at swimming to the other end of the pool.”

I lifted my shoulders and (after exchanging a quick glance with Asahina-san) headed off to the shade to lay the beach towel and drop the bags.

The brats in the pool loitered across the surface like abnormal water striders, making it impossible to swim across in a straight line. The outcome of this fifty-meter brigade-member freestyle in this brutal environment would be an unsurprising win for Nagato.

This girl, who never seemed to take a breath, dove into the pool right away and advanced steadily. She let the water droplets fall freely from her short hair that was sticking to her cheeks as she waited patiently over at the other end for our arrival. As expected, Asahina-san was dead last. She had to stand to take a breath, and tossed the beach ball that had drifted near her back, which led to her taking ten times as long as Nagato to reach the other side. By the time she got there, she could barely catch her breath.

“It’s an outright lie to say that sport relieves stress! Body is body, brain is brain. Body can move without thinking while brain cannot work without thinking.”

Haruhi revealed a look as if she were on the right side and continued, saying:

“Therefore, let’s do it again. Yuki, this time I am not going to lose to you!”

Has anyone ever taught you that you can't use "therefore," a conjunction, in this usage? Just what is this absurdity? You’re just being a sore loser who's trying to win at least once in overtime.

Therefore, I anticipated anxiously that Nagato would detect this tense atmosphere and get out of the pool. I’ll let you all duke it out amongst yourselves while I stand on the side as a spectator. I bet on Nagato, who wants to bet on Haruhi?

Haruhi and Nagato made five trips across the pool and back. Then afterwards, the situation turned into the SOS brigade female trio playing ball with the band of elementary school children. Koizumi and I, unable to cut in, decided that we might as well sit by the sides and watch them play, as there wasn't much else to look at.

“They’re playing their hearts out.”

Koizumi looked at them.

“Feels like Eden, all’s right with the world. Don’t you also think that Suzumiya-san has learned to enjoy some of the more conventional pastimes?”

It sounds as if he’s talking to me, so I'd better answer him.

“She gives a call out of the blue and hangs up as soon she spilled out everything at once; just what part of this form of invitation is normal?”

“Isn’t there a saying that it’s better to act now than later?”

“The problem though is why is it that the ‘now’ that woman chooses has never been the best of times?”

The baseball tournament and that ridiculously large cricket appeared in my head.

Koizumi continued with a smile:

“That is true, but I would think that this is rather peaceful. Seeing Suzumiya-san laughing so heartily, one would say that world-altering events would not be triggered.”

I wish that would be so.

I drew a long breath purposefully and add a cold sigh in the end…

Just then, Koizumi showed a peculiar look. It was a look that I was familiar with. That is to say, apart from a grin.


Koizumi’s eyebrows suddenly locked up.

“What is it?” I asked.


The normally punctual Koizumi seemed to have had his tongue tied and looked as if he had something to say… but his smile returned to his face rather quickly.

“It’s likely that I am worrying too much. We faced waves upon waves of events since spring, making me slightly schizophrenic. Ah! They’ve come up.”

I looked toward where Koizumi was pointing. Haruhi approached as she strode about like an Emperor Penguin heading off to feed its children, with a smile plastered all over her face. Asahina-san and Nagato caught up as if they were following the runaway princess.

“It’s about time to eat. The menu today is Asahina-san’s hand-made sandwiches. Street price-wise, these will run no lower than five thousand yen. If auctioned online, fetching five hundred thousand yen would not be surprising. You should thank me earnestly for letting you eat this kind of great stuff.”

“Thank you very much.”

I said it with all my heart, although toward Asahina-san.

Koizumi followed suit after me.

“We’ve been very blessed.”

“No no, it’s nothing.”

Asahina-san ducked her head as she fidgeted her fingers about.

“I don’t know how they turned out… Don’t be too surprised if they taste bad.”

It would be impossible for these to taste bad. Any food that is carefully prepared by Asahina-san’s golden touch, regardless of when and where it was made and what the materials were, is a delicacy of the mortal realm. After all, it boils down to ‘Whodunit’ of the 5W1H (what, who, when, why, where, how) at that point.

As such, I was touched beyond words at being able to enjoy Asahina-san’s hand-made club sandwiches, such that I couldn't distinguish whether they tasted bad or not. Basically, anything she makes is great. For that matter, even the warm Japanese Tea that she poured forth from her thermos, although not a good match for the sandwich, was truly heavenly. Even the sweet drops of dew from her body made me feel refreshed.

Haruhi swept through her share in a moment, as if she were desperate to dissipate the body heat she had accumulated.

“I am going to swim for a bit. Come to swim when you’re all done.”

After this order, she jumped right back into the pool.

That woman was remarkable, moving about as if nobody were there when in fact obstacles were about in every corner. From the looks of it, it seemed that the theory of human evolution undersea was not without merit. I believe that even if Haruhi’s ancestors were tossed onto the surface of the moon with nothing but their garments they would somehow survive.

Later on, save for Nagato who was dining in a pristine manner, we remaining three drifted toward Haruhi as if we were sea dogs hungry for mates. This time around, Haruhi and the group of elementary schoolgirls were playing water volleyball together.

“Mikuru-chan! Hurry up and come here!”


Seconds after nodding her head, Asahina-san was hit by the speeding volleyball of steel from Haruhi and sank into the water.

Koizumi and I emerged from the pool only after an hour had passed as we lay around the shores of the pool, crushed by the energetic screeching of toddlers.

No matter how I look at it, we simply don’t fit in here. Just what is Haruhi thinking, picking of all places this municipal pool that barely has any amenities? I'm not asking for water slides, but there should be more suitable facilities for us to go to.

I know that the skin will quickly accumulate melanin under blazing sunlight; as soon as I thought of whether or not Nagato was scouting about in order to find a place to sun tan, I saw that small, silent girl with short hair sitting perfectly still by the shade where our stuff was, gazing at the sky with those sharp eyes of hers.

It was an image that always seemed to be the same: the vision of Nagato sitting still as a doll, constant regardless of her whereabouts.


A slight sense of perplexity overtook my heart and vanishes in an instant. The bizarre sensation had returned. Just for a brief instant, I felt as if Nagato were bored, and I had a sense of déjà vu. Moreover, I seemed to have some familiarity with what was to come after this. Oh yeah, Haruhi will say something along the lines of-

“These two are members of my brigade. If I say east they dare not say west. Come to them if anything comes up.”

I looked back toward the pool to discover that Haruhi had appeared before us with a horde of little girls.

Asahina-san lay her chin on the surface of the water and shut her eyes, perhaps exhausted from playing with the hyperactive elementary school kids. The brimming Haruhi, even more carefree than those elementary kids, stared at the glimmering stars and said this to Koizumi and me:

“Join the fun! We’re gonna play water polo and we need two guys as goalkeepers.”

Just as I think of asking what the game's like and what the rules are, my sense of familiarity vanishes.


I gave a half-assed reply and stood up. Koizumi joined in with the children with a smile on his face.

That sense of familiarity had totally disappeared.

Umm, never mind. This sort of thing happens. I often feel as if I’ve seen certain scenes from some dreams normally, plus I'd been to this pool when I was a kid. It might've been that my memories back then were overlapping with the present. Otherwise, it would seem that my brain’s data transmission program had developed a minor glitch.

I pushed aside a dolphin shaped swim ring as I hurried after the beach ball that flew away from a head-on impact.

We left the municipal pool only after we were dead tired. Even on the trip back, I still had to repeat that three-rider trick as Koizumi kept up his Gemini tale of youth. This undoubtedly makes one’s heart tremble with no end.

Asahina-san sat at the back of the seat with the elegance of a lady, with her white skin amplifying those flushes on her face. My fledgling heart rumbled all the more when one of her hands wrapped around the waist of the rider. If I were to stick my ears to them, I just might have heard the howls of the wind that brushes through the barren ground and slices across the sky.

Following Haruhi’s directions, I turned left and right on my bicycle and ended up at the station where we met.

Ahh, I see. I have to treat everyone out of my own pocket.

As soon as we found our seats at the café, I placed a small cold towel atop my head and collapsed on the chair. Meanwhile-

“I have decided on a plan for our next activities, so let's take a look.”

Haruhi put a sheet of paper down cautiously and pointed at it with her index finger for us. This was a sheet of A4 torn from a notebook.

“What is this for?”

Haruhi replied slightly proudly.

“This is a plan on how to spend the few remaining days of summer.”

“Whose plan?”

“Ours, it’s the special SOS Brigade summer activities version!”

Haruhi finished her cold drink in one gulp and continued after requesting a refill:

“I suddenly realized that there’s only two weeks left before summer is over, which shocks me. This is terrible! There are still so many things that should’ve been done, and we’ve got so little time now. As such, we have to make up for it right this instant.

The following lines of text were present on Haruhi’s hand-written proposal.

○ Must-do Events of Summer Vacation

▪ Summer Co-ed.

▪ Pool.

▪ O-bon.

▪ Fireworks Show.

▪ Part-time Job.

▪ Stargazing.

▪ Shooting Practice.

▪ Bug Catching.

▪ Test of Courage.

▪ Other.

Summer fever.

Most likely, some kind of tropical disease was spreading from some unknown jungle and had started to infect humans through media such as mosquitoes. I felt rather sad for the "medium" that had bitten Haruhi. Perhaps it died of food poisoning.

The "Summer Co-ed" and "Pool" had already been crossed off the list, probably because they had long been done.

Of course, that also meant that Suzumiya Haruhi would have every single one of these activities done within two weeks. Then there was the "Other" field. I wonder if it means that Haruhi still has things planned?

“I can only think of this much. I will add to this when it comes to me. Mikuru-chan, anything you want to do?”


I looked at Asahina-san, who was deep in thought, trying to hint a "PASS." Oh, please, don’t come up with something extreme.

“I would like to catch goldfish.”


Haruhi took out her pen and appended that to the list.

Afterwards, she asked both Koizumi and Nagato for input. Nagato shook her head a little, while Koizumi refused with a smile. They have done the right thing.

“Sorry, may I take a look at this?”

Koizumi finished his iced coffee au lait in a hurry, and gave the list a thorough read-through. He seemed to be thinking of something, but was slightly lost in it… wonder what he’s thinking about.

Nagato was sipping her cola through her straw for some time –

“Thank you.”

Koizumi put the so-called plan back onto the table and kept his thoughts going. Just what is he up to?

“We’ll start tomorrow. Let's meet in front of the station! Anyone know a place nearby where an O-bon festival is going to take place? A fireworks festival is fine as well.”

Couldn’t you at least do your research before proceeding?

“I will look into it.”

Just like Koizumi to clean up after her.

“I will contact Suzumiya-san as soon as I have obtained the information. We are after O-bon and fireworks festival locations for now, right?”

“Don’t forget about goldfish catching, Koizumi-kun. This is Mikuru-chan’s only request.”

“Then I will do what I can to find a location where O-bon and the Summer Festival are held together.”

“Umm, please do. I’ll leave this to you then, Koizumi-kun.”

Haruhi finished off her ice cream that was floating about in her cup of ice coffee, and folded up her note carefully as if it were some kind of treasure map.

Just as I was paying for the bill, Haruhi rushed out of the store like a marathon runner just before the competition. Maybe she was just storing energy and waiting until tomorrow to spend it. I hoped that she would burn it through at once and not make it last, which would save us all the trouble of cleaning up afterwards.

The four members dismissed themselves, and as everyone started to part ways, I called for the shadow-like one of them.


The organic intelligent android, dressed in summer sailor outfit, turned around to answer my call.


She looked at me emotionlessly. You couldn't tell if she was denying or affirming from those widened, inorganic pupils of hers on her white face.

There was something odd about it. Although Nagato had always been emotionless, I still felt that there was something odd about Nagato today, but I couldn’t quite put a finger on exactly what.


It was rather awkward to call her, and then realize that I didn't have much to say to her.

“It’s nothing. How are you lately? Is everything all right?”

I really couldn't think of a thing to say, so I was left with chitchat to break the ice.

Nagato’s eyes blinked, and slightly, so slightly that you'd have to use a protractor to the measure the angle, she nodded.

“I am fine.”

“That’s good.”


Her face, which seemed to be more or less set with little motion, was somehow more concrete… No, on the contrary, it seemed to have softened… Why would I have such contradictory thoughts? I don’t get it. Maybe human perception is just that bad? It's best to just let it slip.

In the end, since I couldn’t think of anything to say, I came up with some parting words on the spot and left as if I were running away from Nagato.

I felt that it was probably for the best for some reason. I rode my bicycle home, hit the showers as soon as I finished my dinner, turned on the T.V. when I got out of the bath, and fell asleep while watching T.V.

Haruhi’s call woke me from my lazy sleep once more the next morning.

The O-bon festival location had been found. It was to take place that night, and it was at the civic stadium in the city… according to her.

How could it all work out so well? Just as I was feeling amazed at how everything fit together, Haruhi continued, saying:

“We’re going to buy yukata together.”

Sounds like it’s time for morning exercise class to start.

“Originally I wanted everyone to wear it at Tanabata but I forgot about it. I really don’t know what was wrong with me. Luckily, I am saved thanks to the fact that Japan has the tradition of wearing yukata for two months.”

Who’s saved?

Just to add, it was morning then. I was just thinking that meeting by dusk would be fine, but Haruhi had me up so early just for this matter. So, just as it was the day before, the majestic Haruhi, the pitiful Asahina-san, the silent Nagato, and the merry Koizumi all headed to the old meeting place by the train station.

“Both Mikuru-chan and Yuki have no yukata while I forgot mine. I saw a place when I walked past the shopping district where they were selling the set complete with slippers, so we’ll just go there later and get them.”

I looked to Asahina-san and Nagato, wondering how they might look in yukata.

Sigh, it's summer.

Koizumi and I would do with just casuals. We're guys; merely wearing yukata while in a hotel for the heck of it is enough. Besides, men aren't that attractive in them anyway.

"Yea, Koizumi-kun in a yukata would be a great fit, but as for you..."

Haruhi looked at me from head to toe with a grimace.

"All right, off we go."

She then bossed us around with her self-prepared brigade fan.

"Destination: yukata shop!"

Haruhi dashed headlong into the volume store, single-mindedly picked out the patterns for Asahina-san and Nagato, and then rushed into the dressing room.

The ladies (save Nagato) had no idea how to put on the yukata, so they asked the saleswomen for help, which ate up a lot of time. Koizumi and I idled about outside the display filled with women's fashion for a long time before the trio finally showed up in front of the dressing mirror.

Haruhi's yukata pattern was made up of delicate Fuso (Hibiscus), Asahina-san's had goldfish of all colors, while Nagato's had run-of-the-mill geometric patterns. I didn't know which to look at first, as each of the three dazzled differently.

The clerks glanced at Koizumi and me, perhaps guessing at "who's the boyfriend to which of the three ladies?" A pity, for it's neither. Leaving Koizumi aside for the time being, I was just a tag-along. Perhaps I should've felt some regret at the moment over this.

Never mind that. So long as I see the yukata version of Asahina-san, I have no more regrets for my lifetime. Haruhi and Nagato each fit their attire and had their flair, but I won't be able to do them justice if I try to describe their look.

"Mikuru-chan, you..."

Haruhi's exhilaration after seeing the yukata version of Asahina-san was no less than mine.

"You look sooo cute! I am impressed with myself, having an eye for fashion! You in a yukata can swoon 95% of all men!"

What's with the 5%?

"Cause a real GAY will not be swayed no matter how cute a girl is. Please remember this: out of a hundred men, five are GAY."

I don't see a point of keeping that in my mind.

Asahina-san didn't seem to deny her own cuteness as she kept turning about in front of the mirror, judging her own attire.

"So this is the traditional wardrobe of this country. Although a bit tight in the chest, it does look pretty good..."

This would be the most formal and fitting garment out of all the costumes that Haruhi had forced onto Asahina-san. It was not nearly as revealing as the bunny-suit, nor was it as provoking as the maid uniform, for this was a normal outfit for the season, a symbol of summer, which nobody would leer at. This set matched her perfectly. It felt as if I were looking at my sister in yukata, aside from the overly voluptuous bust. However, it's all right as long as it's cute. Asahina-san radiated a divine glow that seemed able to purify the sins of this world. I would stand up for her even if she was the mastermind behind a bank robbery, whereas if it were Haruhi then I'm not too sure...

Thanks to Haruhi calling us out early (the woman had no time management skill), there was still a ton of time left before the festival started. As such, we ended up killing time by standing around at the park outside the station. Haruhi "helped" to tie Nagato's and Asahina-san's hair. The ever-changing hairstyles on the two girls sitting as still as marionettes were so awe-inspiring that I would like to have taken sequential shots with a camera in commemoration. It wasn't until sundown that we lined up at the stadium.

The O-bon festival ground, already busy before dusk, was suddenly flocked with people coming in waves from out of nowhere. It's unbelievable how such a crowd can be gathered.


Asahina-san exclaimed without reservation.


Nagato remained emotionless regardless of the event.

The feeling crept back at me, but I hadn't seen such live events often. Why is it that I think I've seen this before... this is the O-bon dance of all things!


It hit me again; this déjà vu came to me like a headache. I kept thinking that I'd been there recently, even though I was telling myself that I had not been in there for the longest time. It's all so familiar... the platform in the center of the stadium, the outlying festival stands littered about...

But just as I was about to catch the tattered strands of the spider web dangling in the air, the feeling vanished.

I heard Haruhi's voice.

"Here's the goldfish stand that you've been so excited about. Just keep scooping. You get two hundred extra points if you can get the one with black exposed eyes."

Haruhi dragged Asahina-san's hand toward the goldfish tank over the stand after making up bogus rules on the spot.

"Let's join in. Let's see who scoops up more!"

I vetoed Koizumi, the game addict's proposal. Even if I were to bring the goldfish home, I had no tank to keep it in. I had more interest in the finger-licking food stands with their tempting aroma that surrounded us.

"Nagato, want to grab a bite?"

Her expressionless eyes focused on me for the longest time, and gradually shifted their focus. The mask stand was in her direct line of vision. It's hard to understand what the girl likes.

"Never mind, let's just take a look around."

The loudspeaker played the easy-listening type of festival music like it was chanting. Lured by the music, I led Nagato to the mask stand as I felt the slightly overbearing "glow" of Koizumi.

"Although it's a great haul I don't need this many, just taking one is ok. Mikuru-chan didn't get any so this is hers."

A plastic bag dangling by a string was held in Asahina-san's hand. Within the bag was an orange standard-fare goldfish, swimming about in a carefree fashion. Every move of Asahina-san, like grabbing on the plastic rope, was absolutely adorable. When I saw her other hand clutching a caramel apple stick, I decided to get one for my little'ol sister. Making her giddy once in a while can't hurt.

Haruhi, on the other hand, kept playing around with a water ball with her left hand, and talked to us while her right was holding on a plate full of Takoyaki.

"One each only."

Showing this kind of generosity to us... in this fashion. Just as I was enjoying the Takoyaki dipped in sauce -

"Eh? Yuki, how'd you get the mask?"

"It was purchased."

Nagato muttered as she stared at the toothpick with the Takoyaki on it. On a side of her head was the mask of silver Ultraman from the Kingdom of Light. What generation is beyond me, but I figure the wavelength must overlap somewhat for this alien, since this of all masks is what made her bring out her frog-mouth style coffer from her sleeve.

The ever-changing hairstyles on the two girls sitting as still as marionettes were so awe-inspiring that I would like to have taken sequential shots with a camera in commemoration.
The ever-changing hairstyles on the two girls sitting as still as marionettes were so awe-inspiring that I would like to have taken sequential shots with a camera in commemoration.

With everything Nagato's done for me, I felt that I should at least buy such a trinket for her, but Nagato refused and paid out of her own pocket. Hmm... What is her source of income?

The four corners of the platform were surrounded by women and children dancing to the tune of Tanko-bushi. It looked as if they were members of the women and children society, as the typical laymen coming here for the show won't really do it and, of course, we wouldn't as well.

Asahina-san's eyes were transfixed upon the group of dancers. She looked as if she were witnessing aborigines welcoming her into an unknown part of the new world.


She exclaimed softly. Is the tradition of o-bon dance lost in the future?

Under the leadership of Haruhi, our motley crew toured the festival together. She made us her peons, saying, “Let’s eat that,” then, “Let’s try this.” Haruhi was enjoying herself, and so it seemed was Asahina-san, which made me happy. I couldn't tell if Nagato was having a good time, and I don’t give a damn about Koizumi’s experiences.

Koizumi, from time to time, would fall into this peculiar silence and display his smile without warning… No doubt that his emotions were anything but stable as of late. Perhaps this is the fate that all members of the SOS Brigade must face.

When it comes to summer vacation, it's gotta be a grand holiday.

I would’ve gotten my ticket’s worth just seeing the yukata-clad trio.

That's why, the moment Haruhi suggested:

"Let's go shoot up some fireworks, fireworks! It's rare for us to come out in yukata like this so we might as well get all of this done today!"

This motion received unanimous approval from the SOS Brigade. We purchased those crude fireworks that you give to kids, and headed to the riverbank under a night sky so murky that you could only make out the moon and Mars. We followed Haruhi, who grabbed herself a cheap lighter and a Polaroid camera en-route. Haruhi seemed to be in higher spirits than usual. For some reason, the phrase "you are what you wear" flashed through my mind.

One would pay no heed to Haruhi's terrible broad stepping postures upon seeing her swiveling hair tied up behind her head. Evidently, being headstrong is Haruhi's strength.

An hour later, I had taken countless photos. There was Asahina-san holding the angel stick with her marble eyes wide open, Haruhi crouching about with both her hands holding the dragon cannon, and Nagato transfixed upon the swerving snake. The SOS Brigade's summer activity came to an end with this finale.

Koizumi picked up some shrapnel that had fallen into the stream and put it in a convenience store plastic bag. Haruhi gave him a look and put a finger to her lips-

“Then tomorrow will be bug-catching.”

She was determined to exhaust every last item on that itinerary of events.

“Haruhi, I'm not against it, but did you finish your summer assignments?”

I really had no right to say this, since I hadn't even picked up my pen yet. Haruhi suddenly looked dumbfounded.

“What the hell are you talking about? I only need three days tops to get those done, piece of cake. I had them done by July, actually. Get rid of the tedious stuff so you can really enjoy yourself, that’s the way to really enjoy summer!”

When Haruhi gets serious, that little mound of work is nothing. Why did God give her such a brilliant brain? This shows that God isn't fair.

Haruhi handed her order out to us with a relentless glare:

“Hear this? Tomorrow, everyone’s gotta bring along a bug catching net and a cage. Oh yeah, let’s see who’s gonna catch the most. Whoever wins gets to be the leader for a day.”

I didn’t care for that title. Wait. Is it ok as long as it’s bugs?

“Hmm… cicadas only! That’s right. This is the SOS Brigade Cicada Hunt Competition. As for rules… No type restriction, one is one and wins by the numbers.”

Haruhi, who only needed her own approval, started to fool around with the Brigade fan as if it were a net. Net and cages… I should still have a set in the storage room somewhere in my home.

With that, when I finally returned home, I realized that I'd forgotten to get myself an apple stick.

For some reason, although I'd nailed a Teru teru bozu just to make sure it would be pouring, it had to be totally clear in the down the day after. No doubt the cicadas would be jittery over the highest temperature in the summer.

"Cicadas are edible right? It might taste real good if we fry them into tempura. Ahh, this suddenly occurs to me, tempura's great because of the flour coating maybe? If it is, then cicada tempura must be tasty."

You try that yourself!

The scene of five high school students of uneven height heading off together with a net and a cage each to go after bugs can only be described as somewhat bizarre.

We gathered ourselves before noon. In order to search for greens, we found ourselves at North High, since the school is on top of a hill that has trees but not much else. This makes it a good place for bugs, as they operate in forests or woods. From the looks of it, even if I live in a fairly busy city, it's not so dismal that cicadas won't cry.

Trunk after trunk was packed with the screeching bugs as if there were an infestation of cicadas. It was grab-as-you-go there. Asahina-san found a harvest with just a couple of furious swipes with her net. This shows that cicadas there did not realize that humans are the animal to watch for most of all. Fine, then, today is shock therapy time.

I bent to look at the still cicadas within the cage after filling it in no time. I have no idea how many years they'd stayed underground, but no doubt they did not toil to maturity just to be fried by Haruhi. I felt a sense of melancholy from the weakening cries of the summer bugs, and the sin of deceit crept in on me. I apologize for destroying your homes with paved cement roads. I hope you can somewhat forgive mankind's insolence.

I knew that it was impossible for Haruhi to hear my mental soliloquy, but that woman said the following:

"The spirit of catch-and-release is still much needed. Let's spare 'em. Maybe in the future they'll return the favor."

I felt weak the moment I imagine man-sized cicadas knocking at our doors. If there were insects that would return the favor after witnessing us capturing their brethren and setting them free later on, they would be as idiotic as insects. If they came for revenge, I think they would actually be smarter.

Haruhi opened the cage and shook it left and right.

"Go! Go back to the mountains!"

Jijiji- the cicadas crowded and pushed inside the cage as they scrambled to fly out. Asahina let out a cute cry as she knelt down. The swarm twirled around her for quite some time and swept past the still head of Nagato, following a spiral pattern or in a line as they disappeared into a sky dyed red from the setting sun.

I opened the cage like Haruhi did. I felt as if I were Pandora, who opened that box delivered by Hermes accidentally. The thought of keeping at least one cicada hit me only after all the cicadas had vanished into thin air.

The event for the following day was part-time work.

Haruhi somehow managed to find work, and made sure that we all had a share. That one-day employment was -

"W... Welcome!"

Asahina-san seemed to squeeze out the greeting.

"C'mon, everybody line up! Ahhahh... Don't push!"

The job that Haruhi stuffed down our throats was to attract customers for an annual sale at a local supermarket.

We met without a clue as to what we were in for and suited up in the uniforms that Haruhi handed to us. After that, we had been carrying out promotion activities since ten in the morning.

By the way, all of us were stuffed into costumes.

Why is this happening... Why must I be embarrassed like this? Asahina-san's duty is to cheer people up with hundreds of getups... Koizumi, Nagato, what is with you two? Would it kill you to raise even the slightest of objections? Why would you simply bear that woman's whims?

"Plese line upu~ Thank juu for your cooperation!"

Hearing Asahina-san's thick tongued voice beneath a green uniform that covered her body only made me sweat like a pig.

We were all dressed up as frogs. To be more precise, frogs that give out balloons to children. This supermarket does this kind of thing every year for its anniversary -- handing out free balloons to the infants that accompany the customers.

Kids are kids. They squirm in excitement after receiving this kind of petty gift which is designed to fool them. Hey, dumb kid over there, take a balloon. It's a red balloon, just take it.

Asahina-san the tree frog proved the most popular. As an aside, Koizumi was a golden frog and I was a toad (What else would I be?). Nagato the amazon hornfrog operated the pump that filled up the balloons, which the three of us handed out. Haruhi, however, sat in the shade in casual attire. If we were all to be paid on the same wage, I would be lashing out right about now.

It appeared that the owner of the store was an acquaintance of Haruhi. The fellow greeted her with a smile whenever she called out "uncle~" oh-so-sweetly.

The balloons were all handed out within two hours. Save Haruhi, all of us shed our exoskeletons to vent the heat inside the rest area that looked like a storage room. At that moment, I understood the feelings of snakes that shed their skin. It is a rarity for me to experience that sigh of relief.

Nagato took off the frog suit quickly, while Asahina-san and Koizumi were totally dampened and literally shook off their suits. They remained silent for a long while.


I didn't even have the energy to enjoy Asahina-san wearing a thin sport vest and a short skirt as she sat down.

"Good job!-"

I had a sudden urge to bury Haruhi from head to toe in a scorching desert when she appeared licking an ice cream.

Evidently, our wages had been pledged to the treefrog suit. I realized that Haruhi had the suit in her mind all along when she calmly announced this news. I should have seen it as she squeezed the empty suit under her armpit with an expression like that of a knight awarded with thousands of gold bullion. The wages never existed.

"What's so bad about this? I've really wanted it. Now this dream has come true. Uncle says that he'll hand this to me on the account of Mikuru-chan. Mikuru-chan, I will hand you a self-made badge. You'll have to wait though since I haven't made it yet."

Thus, one more piece of garbage could be added to Asahina-san's possessions. I imagined that junk must be a cuff that has "badge" written on it.

Thus, one more piece of garbage could be added to Asahina-san's possessions.  I imagined that junk must be a cuff that has "badge" written on it.
Thus, one more piece of garbage could be added to Asahina-san's possessions. I imagined that junk must be a cuff that has "badge" written on it.


"This frog is going to be a keepsake in the Brigade classroom. Mikuru-chan, you can wear this whenever you like. I grant you this privilege!"

I couldn't show my anger because I was just so suffused with rage from Haruhi's expressions at that moment.

I was bushed. Nonstop activities, first with swimming, then bug catching, and finally the sauna bath in costumes, would drive the healthiest of high school males to the ground.

This is why I asked for nothing more than sound sleep for the night. I could still feel the peace from Arcadia when the mobile phone rang.

There is nothing more infuriating than a pointless midnight call that disturbs your sleep. Whoever makes calls during the heat of the night must lack common sense, and out of everyone I know, only Haruhi lacks common sense. I really wanted to scream at that woman for waking me from my dazed sleep. To my surprise, when I pressed the talk button, the voice that came through belonged to -

"...Uuu(cry)... Uuu(soft cry)..."

The cry of a woman gave me goosebumps. My senses returned to me suddenly. Shoot, wrong number.

Just as I was about to toss my phone -


Although the throat was choked up, I could still identity the voice of Asahina-san.

Goosebumps broke out once more, but it had a different meaning this time.

"Hello, is that Asahina-san?"

Was she bidding me farewell with this call? Kaguya-hime needed to return to the Lunar palace? I was well aware that "here" was but a temporary dwelling for Asahina-san and that she must return to the future someday. Would the time be now? I would not agree with simply uttering a farewell before leaving.

Although the woman on the other end of the line was -

"It's me... Uwaaa, it's horrible... Uuu... Ugu... If this keeps up... I... Uwaaa..."

I couldn't understand a word that was coming from her. She was slurring like an elementary schoolchild, and she mixed her sniffings in between, so I couldn't decipher anything. Just as I was at a loss for words -

"Hello, this is Koizumi."

The crisp voice replaced the cries of Asahina-san.

What? Those two are together at this time of the day? Why am I not there? Koizumi, you have exactly five seconds to keep your head glued to your neck in which you can give me a satisfying and comprehensible answer to all of this.

"Something has occurred. This is rather troublesome, so Asahina-san contacted me in advance out of urgency."

Contacting you instead of me? This rather left a bitter taste in my mouth.

"This is due to your inability to resolve the issue even if you are approached first... No, I apologize. In reality, I can do nothing since the situation is quite perilous."

I scratched my head.

"Did Haruhi trigger Armageddon?"

"Strictly speaking, no; rather, it could be said as a complete negation of that. We have been thrust into a situation in which Armageddon will never come."

Huh? Am I dreaming, or not? Just what are you trying to say?

Koizumi continued, despite my confusion.

"I have just contacted Nagato-san. As I have predicted, she seems to be well aware of the situation. You will understand the details if you ask Nagato-san. That sums up the situation. Could you come and meet us right now? Of course, I will not notify Suzumiya-san."

Of course I could. Whoever would leave a weeping Asahina-san behind should see worse than being burnt to the stake sevenfold.

Koizumi informed me of the location, which was right in front of the station. It seemed that the area was the SOS-reserved meeting spot.

As such, by the time I'd changed, stumbled out to the courtyard, jumped onto my bicycle, and then dashed to the meeting spot, three shadows were already awaiting my arrival. The streets were not totally deserted, as I still spotted a few pedestrians who seemed to be students. Thanks to them, we could mix in with this crowd and head to some rave party. It's just that I was getting tired.

Asahina-san was in a squatting position when I got to the station. Flanking her were Koizumi, donned in simple attire, and Nagato, in sailor uniform. Asahina-san's top and bottom simply did not match; perhaps she wore whatever she grabbed. No doubt she either was too panicked to have noticed, or the situation was so grievous that her wardrobe was the last thing on her mind.

The taller of the wingmen noticed my arrival and raised a hand to greet me.

"Just what has happened?"

The soft streetlights illuminated the mild façade of Koizumi.

"I apologize for asking you to appear at this hour. However, the situation has left Asahina-san in her current state."

Asahina-san, who had curled into a ball, cried like a melting snowman. The damp face with a flattened mouth lifted up to look at me, and those beautiful wet cheeks were clearly visible. That seductive look would leave me doing anything for her.

"Uuu... Kyon-kun, I..."

Asahina-san sniffled and muttered to herself:

"I cannot return to the future anymore..."

"To lay it all on the table, what has transpired is just this: We have found ourselves in an endless recursion of time."

Koizumi seemed to have too small a table with too few items. Does he really understand what he says?

"I understand. There is no clearer explanation for this matter. I have discussed the topic with Asahina-san..."

Couldn't you wait until I arrived before engaging in discussion?

"We found that the flow of time in the world as of late is erratic. This is to the credit of Asahina-san; if not for her, I could not be certain of this fact."

Certain of what?

"We will keep experiencing the events that have occurred in the same timeframe."

You've said this before.

"To be precise, from August the seventeenth to the thirty-first."

Koizumi's words sounded rather bizarre to me.

"In other words, we are forever trapped in a never-ending summer vacation."

"It is very much summer vacation right now."

"It is an ENDLESS SUMMER that will not terminate itself. Within this world, let alone fall, not even September will come. In other words, this world has no future beyond August. Asahina cannot return to the future for this reason, and it is logically sound. One cannot contact the future if the future does not exist, which can be taken as self-evident."

It is senseless in physics to think of NO FUTURE. Time should flow on its own even if you ignore it. I said the following as I looked at Asahina's head:

"Who would believe such a thing?"

"At least you must, since none of this can be mentioned to Suzumiya-san at all."

Koizumi looked over at Asahina-san as well.

Later on, Asahina-san basically explained this issue to me. Of course, sniffles were intertwined with the explanation.

"Uuu... Lemme think... I have continued to use classified information to contact the future or to do classified information... Urr. I only feel something is wrong when I have had no contact from classified information for a week. And then classified information... Makes me very worried, so I tried to use classified information and the answer was classified information... Uuu... Waa! Whatever should I do..."

What to do? I have no clue. Is classified information some highly sensitive words that must be censored?

"Are we by any chance trapped in one of those bizarre worlds created by Haruhi? Like a physical version of closed space or something similar?"

Koizumi hugged his chest as he leaned on the vending machine, slowly contradicting my argument.

"This time, Suzumiya-san did not recreate the world, but instead severed time, from August seventeenth through the thirty-first. As such, this world right now only has a lifespan of two weeks. There is no time before the seventeenth, nor is there any from the first of September on. In other words, this is a world where September will never arrive."

He took a long sigh, as if whistling defeat.

"Time will reset when it reaches twenty-four o'clock on the thirty-first of August, returning to the seventeenth. I don't know the details, but it appears that there is a SAVE POINT at the dawn of the seventeenth."

Then what of our... No, the memory of all of humanity?

"They will all be readjusted. The collective memory of all humans throughout the two weeks will be zeroed and restarted from the beginning."

This world really enjoys turning time about back and forth. This can't be helped, though, with a time traveller in our midst.

"No, this does not involve Asahina-san. It is not as simplistic as you have speculated."

How would you know?

"Only Suzumiya-san possesses the qualities to undertake such an endeavor. Who might you have in mind of other than her?"

Those who would think about who is responsible for such things when they're bored are either absent-minded or daydream all the time.

"Just cut to the chase and tell me what to do about this."

"That would be much easier if I had a solution for this problem."

For some reason, I thought Koizumi looked rather gleeful, with no sign of concern. Why is that?

"Because I have finally resolved this feeling of incoherence which has puzzled me for some time."

Which would mean that only you are out of the woods.

"You as well, I assume? Have you not experienced a powerful sense of déjà vu, from the day we visited the city pool up till now? In retrospect, those flashbacks are remnants of the previous incarnation - as there is no other explanation. Now, all of this has been addressed. The anomalies that we experience are the remaining segments from the reset."

Wouldn't all human beings have felt this?

"Supposedly, no. You and I are special exceptions. It appears that only those who are near Suzumiya-san are likely to experience the changes to the world."

"What of Haruhi? Does that woman have no sense whatsoever?"

"It seems not. If she did, this matter would be far more complicated..."

Koizumi glanced in the direction of Nagato, asking for the alien's input.

Nagato answered with a calm expression.

"This would be the fifteen-thousand four hundred ninety-eighth time."

A spell of dizziness set in.

Fifteen-thousand four hundred ninety-eight. That takes up thirty-seven letters. Arabic numeral notation is 15,498, which feels like a lot less. The Arabic numeral is brilliant. Whoever thought of this deserves my profuse thanks. You are incredible for developing this convenient, nonessential, and completely illogical notation.

"The same two weeks have repeated for more than ten thousand times. Assuming any layperson could feel that they were trapped in this loop and memory accumulated, they would break down. As for the memories of Suzumiya-san, I suspect that they must have been wiped much more thoroughly than ours."

One must consult the oracle in such moments. I asked for Nagato's confirmation:

"Is this so?"


Nagato nodded.

"So we have already done whatever it is we will be doing tomorrow? Would the O-bon and the goldfish be like that as well?"

"Not necessarily."

Nagato conveyed not a shred of emotion.

"There are discrepancies with Suzumiya Haruhi's activities within the last fifteen-thousand four hundred ninety-seven cycles."

She looked toward me slightly and continued.

"In the last fifteen-thousand four hundred ninety-seven cycles, O-bon has been omitted twice. O-bon sans goldfish catching occurred a total of four hundred thirty-seven times. The city pool has been visited without fail as of this cycle. Part-time work has been conducted a total of nine-thousand twenty-five times with six variations in the nature of the work. Other than distributing balloons, there has also been stock loading, cash register, flyer distributions, call answering, as well as a model fashion show. There have been six-thousand eleven balloon distributions, with three hundred sixty overlaps in two or more variations. Repeated iterations sorted by order of combination are-"

"That's enough, you don't have to continue."

I started to think to myself after the alien-made artificial human quieted down.

The last two weeks of August have been repeated for fifteen thousand and... how many hundred again? Argh... annoying. 15,498 times, there we go. The cycle begins anew after the thirty-first of August and returns to the seventeenth. That, and I have no recollection of this, and Nagato remembers this to the last detail- why is that?

"Nagato-san, or more precisely the Data Integration Entity, exists outside the boundaries of space and time."

The rather proud smile of Koizumi seemed a bit stiff, maybe because of the lighting.

Never mind, that's not important, just leave it for now. I knew Nagato's cranium could withstand such a thing, but that wasn't my concern. What I was concerned with was...

"Nagato, you have experienced the events of these two weeks for 15,498 times as well?"


Nagato nodded as if it didn't matter. Can't you reveal more than just a simple yes? Although I couldn't think of what she might say other than that word. But -


Wait. 15,498 x two weeks. The total would be 216,972 days. Eh- roughly 594 years worth of days. This girl had carried on through the passing of every single one of those days, every single cycle, and had witnessed everything that had occurred nonchalantly. Even the most patient of humans would be drained of patience after that. If you don't believe me, try and take 15,498 dips in the city pool.


I hushed myself the moment I let out that word. Nagato cocked her head like a bird as she stared into me.

A vibe that emanated from Nagato by the swimming pool reawakened. She looked rather bored at that moment, which I suppose wasn't my fault. Even for Nagato, having to relive such a moment so many times would no doubt be toiling. Although on the surface she hasn't uttered a word of complaint, she might be cursing in the dark... This thought flashed through my head. I finally had a grasp on what was going on, but the underlying reasons hadn't been verified.

"Why would Haruhi do such a thing?"

"I have a personal hunch."

With his typical opener, Koizumi continued:

"Suzumiya-san perhaps has no wish for summer vacation to end. Because she thinks that way inside her mind, summer vacation has become an endless recursion."

Isn't that like the reason brats refuse to go to school?

Koizumi subconsciously touched the rim of his can of coffee.

"I suspect that she might be half-heartedly preparing for the new semester, since she did not finish all the things that she wanted to do during the last two weeks of summer. In other words, there are many regrets in her. As such, she faces the evening of the thirty-first with an unfulfilled heart..."

And as soon as she wakes up, there are two weeks worth of summer vacation waiting for her, right? How should I put this... I suppose melancholy more than defeat described my current mentality. I know she is one who is able to do just about anything to get what she wants, but never had I imagined that her thickheadedness could reach such heights.

"If so, what must be done before the woman will be satisfied?"

"I do not know. Nagato-san, do you know?"


The answer came in a crisp fashion. Out of all of us, you are the most dependable! I couldn't refrain from projecting my thoughts.

"Why is it that you have said nothing? We've ended up dancing a two-week waltz thousands of times."

After a spell of silence, Nagato said, lightly:

"My duty is to observe."

"...I see."

This gave me some closure. Nagato had not been actively involved in any of our events up till now, but her existence was pivotal to virtually every single event. I daresay that the only time this girl had engaged others actively would be that time when she led me to her home. With that being the only exception, Nagato had participated with us by manning a vital position without a sound.

I hadn't forgotten that Nagato Yuki is a humanoid interface made by the Data Integration Entity to communicate, as well as a biological android created to observe Suzumiya Haruhi. I wondered if a safety on her emotional displays might be in her specifications perchance.

"Nevermind, that doesn't matter."

Before all of that, Nagato Yuki to me is an avid reader, one of little words, built with a small frame, but a completely dependable partner.

Of all the SOS Brigade members, Nagato possesses the broadest knowledge as well as the most active mind. With those in mind, I decided to ask the know-it-all further.

"How many times have we discovered this?"

My sudden question seemed anticipated by Nagato, as she calmly answered:

"Eight-thousand seven-hundred sixty-nine times. Frequency of detection increases with each iteration."

"That is because of the sense of incoherence and familiarity, perhaps."

Koizumi said this matter-of-factly.

"But even in those repeating cycles, even if we discovered our situation, we still failed to remedy the situation and restore time?"

"Correct," Nagato replied.

No wonder Asahina-san broke down. She cries like this because she knows this fact. The moment she realizes once more that she has lost two weeks' worth of body growth and memories due to the reset... And then to be devastated again after discovering that she is trapped in this rut.

I have already thought of this an uncountable number of times. Ever since I first met Haruhi in the spring, I find myself thinking like this whenever some crisis occurs because of her, whether that be now or in the past.

That's not good.

No doubt this is the 8,769th time that I have thought of this within these two weeks.

This is too much...

Yet another fairytale.

The day after that was stargazing.

The locale was the roof of Nagato's apartment building. The clumsy and bulky telescope came courtesy of Koizumi. He had it mounted on a tripod. We started at eight o'clock in the night.

The night sky looked quite bleak, as did Asahina-san's face. Her facial expression was either dumbstruck or in disarray. My feelings were also a mess, so it really wasn't the time to stare at the stars.

Koizumi extended the smile on his face as he set up the telescope.

"This was my hobby back when I was a kid. I was so touched when I first saw the moons of Jupiter."

Nagato, as usual, stood still on the rooftop as a sentry.

I shifted my view to the night sky, but I could only see two or three stars. The air was too polluted in the city to see much. To say that "there is no sky" at this point would've been quite fitting. Come winter, when the atmosphere clears up, Orion would show itself.

The head of the telescope took aim at Earth's neighbour. Haruhi, with her head poking about, said:


"No what?"

"No Martian?"

I don't hope for Martians to exist. Just think, a couple of octopus-looking monsters wriggling about as they discuss their Earth invasion plan. No matter how sweet their mouths are, I can't use the term "interesting" to describe them.

"Why is that? They might be very friendly. Look, there's nobody on the surface, so they must be the type to hide underground. This is the best proof that they're afraid of startling us humans because they're nice."

Haruhi seemed to have underground dwellers in mind for her imaginary Martian. Please, at least tell me what kind. Would it be Pellucidar? Or those from Mars Attacks? If it is a combination of the two, things could get ugly. Think simple; the simpler the better.

"They might be doing prep work inside so that when the first Mars lander finally lands, they could come out and welcome humans in surprise! They might even say, 'Welcome to Mars, neighbors! We welcome you!'"

That would be even scarier. If there's a mishap, it would turn from a surprise to a fright. I have no idea who might be the first to land on Martian soil, but it might be best to give him an advance notice so he is emotionally prepared. Is it fine to send mail to NASA?

We took turns looking at the outlines of Mars and the Lunar craters as time went by. Just when I started wondering why we lost a man, I found Asahina-san with her eyes shut, head tilted as she hugged her knees, and leaned over the fence that prevents one from falling to an untimely death from the rooftop. She must have had a sleepless night yesterday, so I'll just let her be.

Haruhi, apparently tired of staring at the unchanging night sky, remarked:

"Let's hunt for UFOs! They must be aiming at Earth, who knows if there's advanced scouts over the low orbits right as we speak."

Haruhi happily turned the telescope about, but got tired of that quickly. She sat down next to Asahina-san, and fell into slumber while leaning on her narrow shoulder.

Koizumi whispered:


"Kind of hard to imagine that she would be even more exhausted than us."

Haruhi was in deep sleep. This gave me the urge to doodle all over her face. However, her sleepy visage wasn't one I wanted to deface. That woman is quite a looker if she doesn't say a word. It would be better if she and Nagato swapped minds. A totally expressionless Haruhi is already hard to comprehend, while a jittery and expressive Nagato is just beyond me.

With the night breeze gushing about, I looked at Asahina-san and Haruhi, sleeping next to each other. Those two made for decent competition as they were right now. Maybe some people might find Haruhi more outstanding. Hmm... Definitely.

"Just what does she want to do?"

I let this out with the air of a sigh.

With the night breeze gushing about, I looked at Asahina-san and Haruhi, sleeping next to each other.  Those two made for decent competition as they were right now.
With the night breeze gushing about, I looked at Asahina-san and Haruhi, sleeping next to each other. Those two made for decent competition as they were right now.

"Could it be to have fun with some friends and have a great time?"

"Perhaps. Speaking of Suzumiya-san's friends, we would be them."

Koizumi gazed at the other end of the cosmos.

"If so, the most important thing is to find out just what will satisfy her. Should we fail, this cycle of time will never end. We can only accompany her until she finds her very wants that go unfulfilled and makes them happen. Fortunately and thankfully, memory adjustment exists, or we would suffer a nervous breakdown from this eventually."

Repeated for fifteen-thousand four-hundred ninety-eight times.

Is this for real? Could Nagato merely be scaring us? To put it plainly, this was beyond belief just from hearing it, but if the originator was Haruhi, it couldn't be denied. The unknown mysterious power of that woman always put us in deep water subconsciously. No matter if it were from her reckless nature or deep within her psyche, the same brand of troubles would always befall us. She was just that kind of person, the kind that will give you trouble no matter what.

I thought before that we who always accommodated the thoughtless Haruhi might be qualified to be nominated as goodwill ambassadors. Each member of the SOS Brigade has a better temper than the last. And to think that I happened to be a pivotal figure in deciding the fate of the world. This makes me suspect that the world was abnormal from the start.

To further iterate this point, the naïve notion that the world which we safeguard must be righteous is simply bullshit that is made and mass produced by humans under the guidance of ideologies and doctrines. There are plenty of bigots that blindly advertise this self-centered slander and force it upon others. I say to them that they should at least think of what the generations millennia later might have to conclude about them.

Just as I was knee deep in thought on such trivial matters, Koizumi opened his mouth without warning:

"Although we might not know Suzumiya-san's inner desires, should we pry into her mind? For example, hug her from behind out of the blue or whisper 'I LOVE YOU,' or something along those lines."

"Who would want to go on that suicide mission?"

"There is no more suitable individual than you."

"I exercise veto power. PASS!"

"In that case, I shall attempt this."

I obviously missed the expression that my face might have shown. I didn't have a mirror on me at the moment. Although Koizumi seemed to have read my mind:

"I am joking. I lack the caliber to do so. If I really step up to the plate, it will only put Suzumiya-san into an unnecessary state of confusion."

The shrieking laughter that came forth from his throat ended his words.

I fell into silence once more, staring at the bright moon that shone unabated from the melancholic night sky of summer.

The milky way that decorates the dark canvas blinked under the sun's reflection, seemingly inviting me to play. To where? God knows.

I thought of all of this while staring at the shadow of a petrified Nagato, who faced the night sky.

Summer was not yet over, but summer vacation was coming to an end- although don't be so sure, since I don't know if summer break will really end or not. Please spare me. Honest.

We might very well return to August seventeenth. Just what to do in order to make Haruhi figure out just what this "thing that has not yet been done" is?

What could she have left out? I had a mountain of summer assignments that hadn't been touched since I brought it home. That couldn't be her concern, as she had it done way in advance.

Whatever should we do next?

"Let's head to the practice grounds."

Haruhi unveiled an aluminium bat, the very battered one that was taken from some baseball club one day. I never would've thought that she would keep the battered bat, which was better for bludgeoning than hitting balls.

The chief tossed her hair as she waved her bat at us with a beaming smile, and led us to the batting center down the way. I bet that high school league sent some strange vibes to her.

The specter of melancholy changed hands. It was now time for the blue, minute face of the SOS Brigade's Asahina-san to sink deeper into the blues. Honestly, this was slightly regrettable, for she must have been longing for her own world.

Back to the casually-paced Koizumi and Nagato, who were the spitting images of a smiley face and a stoic. Would you all get serious and not act so carefree?!


I let a breath of air out of me, and my view became occupied by the bouncing black hair of Haruhi.

I have no idea who decided that protecting Haruhi would be my job, which started on the day of SOS's initiation. I will control my urge to vent my frustrations, since I can't pinpoint who the culprit is. That said, I shall make a declaration:

Do not praise me too highly for this job. I am but a layperson.

Although such a monologue only exposes my inner void.

Asahina-san was stymied. Koizumi had only smiled, while Nagato observed the surroundings silently.

I definitely must make Haruhi do something, somehow.

However, make her do what?

The answer lay in Haruhi, but not even Haruhi herself had any idea as to what the source of the problem was.

"Mikuru-chan doesn't need to swing the bat! You just practice bunting since you couldn't even get a hit no matter how hard you swing. Knock the ball down to get a ground ball. Ahh- don't hit it upward!"

The battlefield of the last baseball tournament still smelled of gunpowder. Does she intend to compete next year?

Haruhi hogged the 130km/h batting practice net. Bang! Bang! And there went the whistle. I felt a lot better seeing her so happy. That person is definitely a prodigy. Who knows, maybe she was born with more mitochondria than anyone else; how else could she have gotten all that energy? It would've been great if she had spared some for charity work...

We kept going, since no one could press the "stop" button on Haruhi's caloric exhaustion plan.

We even headed to the local fireworks show. The fireworks were Shaku-dama shells launched from the shore. The three donned their yukata once more, but only Haruhi was really enjoying the rockets that went "boom, boom!" as they shot up in the air and "boom boom!" as they spread across the sky. Well, only she could be laughing on her belly as she pointed at the poor caricature impressions made by the fireworks. Haruhi just loves the excess of splendor. We can only see her genuine, untainted, and very childish smile at times like these, although I took my eyes away from her rather quickly, because if I kept staring at her, who knows what I would be thinking about. As for what I might think of, I am not sure of it myself. All of this, however, gives me a lesson: one must dress for the occasion.

A couple of days later, on a sudden whim, we joined in on the municipal Japanese Gobioid fishing competition and came back empty-handed. Our lures kept baiting some little fish that we'd never even seen, so we couldn't even submit their measurements - although Haruhi was absorbed in the joy of luring and reeling, not in catching. This was more of a reassuring and most moving blessing than having mistakenly fetch a Coelacanth out of nowhere, since I could enjoy the hand-made bento of the now-green Asahina-san, who ran at the sight of the sandworm bait.

This time around, Haruhi and I were baked black, creating a sharp contrast with the other two, who came with UV protection. Nagato seems to be an exception, as she just doesn't get a tan no matter what. Great! Since a crispy brown Nagato is something that would be totally out of this world.

That said, I knew very well that it was really no time to be enjoying myself.

Time went by like a speeding train on a track.

Haruhi was still filled with energy as I continued my loathing. The blue Asahina-san was now a shade of dark green, while Koizumi was beaming with his smile as if he were beyond the issue at hand. Only Nagato showed negligible difference.

In retrospect, these two weeks have been filled with thrills.

The deadline, however, is up. Today is the thirtieth of August, leaving only one day left for summer break. It will be over if we don't think of something within the next two days, but I have absolutely no clue as to what to try. The summer light, the cries of higurashi... All the ingredients of summer are sources of anxiety. The high school baseball league has produced a champion, too. Why oh why can't this last longer!?

At least, until Haruhi is totally satisfied.

Haruhi crossed out every single item on the list.

Yesterday night, we marched right into a graveyard during the heat of the night as we brought the activities of summer to a close with the "test of courage." There was no ghost fire, nor were there any phantoms. The only thing worth paying attention to was the terrified look of Asahina-san.

"With that, everything is done."

It was just past noon on the thirtieth of August, and we were in the all-too-familiar coffee shop right now.

Haruhi stared at the torn spot of the note as if she knew the whereabouts of the lost treasures of Tokugawa, with a deadpan expression that was like the pen strokes etched onto a page. She was both somewhat satisfied and unwilling to let go. I would be in her shoes, actually. There was only one more day of summer left.

Would summer actually end? At this point I was very skeptical about that; maybe I'm too much of a skeptic. Then again, you would become schizophrenic if you had spent a couple of months in this retarded organization lead by an overemotional chief. I sincerely hoped that she would become milder, preferably like when only Asahina-san is present with me, since that would make life... Nonono, I must stop this, since we might end up going in circles from that (all puns intended).

"Hmm- is that all-?"

Haruhi kept stabbing at the vanilla ice cream adrift on her cola. She was not being very decisive.

Nagato was silent and was quietly observing the floating lemon slice in her iced tea. Asahina-san's hands were clutching each other tightly on her knees; she was totally defeated, like a little puppy getting scolded. Koizumi was sipping his Vienna coffee as carefree as ever.

As for me, I had nothing to say as I hugged my chest, trying to figure out what to do.

"Never mind. We've done enough this summer. We've been to all sorts of places, worn yukata, and caught a good share of cicadas."

I happen to think that Haruhi was just patting herself on the back. It's really not like that! As-is, we've done enough. I felt from the bottom of my heart that Haruhi was not ready to slam the books on summer. No matter how she covered it, she was merely lying to herself. Inside Haruhi, in the deepest part of Haruhi, she yearned for more.

"As for today."

Haruhi handed the bill to me-

"It ends now. Leave tomorrow free; it doesn't matter if you want to stay at home and rest. Let us meet in the clubroom in two days."

I felt very jittery when I saw Haruhi get off the chair and leave the table in style.

We couldn't let Haruhi go home like this. There had to be a conclusion for once. If not, then the two week span discovered by Koizumi and guaranteed by Nagato would get to its fifteen thousand four hundred and ninety-nineth round.

But, what to do?

Haruhi's form receded from me in slow motion.

Just now! It was too sudden, out of the blue, just unexpectedly-

It came.

This garbled feeling of "where have I seen this?" returned. This wave today came with spells of dizziness that were of an unimaginable magnitude compared to the last few times. It was a sense of déjà vu unlike any other. I knew what this was because I had lived through it thousands of times. August the thirtieth. One day left.

There must be something in Haruhi's words that kicked me subconsciously. Just what is it, what is it, what is it~

"Are you all right?"

Somebody was saying something. Koizumi's words should offer hints, as well. Something that keeps getting delayed and has me worrying about...

Haruhi was off her seat and ready to dash home like a hurricane. She couldn't leave, or there would be no change to our situation. Have I done anything in the past to twist the scenario? Scene after scene ran past me like a slideshow. Everything we had done within the last two weeks...

And- things we had not done.

There was no time to think. I had to say something. How trivial matters not, just say it!

"My problems aren't over!"

I must clarify: that's not shouting. Looking at it with a cool head later, that would be an instant burnt in and erased from the hippocampus. The surrounding customers and staff, as well as Haruhi, who was at the automatic door, turned their heads around and looked at me.

Words came pouring out of my mouth straight from my head.

"That's right, it's homework!"

Everyone in the shop was shocked once more with my loud declaration.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Haruhi stepped toward me as if looking at a maniac.

"Your issue? Homework?"

"I haven't done a thing for the summer assignment that we were given. If that doesn't get done, I can't let summer end."

"Are you nuts?"

She showed a look of utter distaste for idiots. Who cares, who cares?!

"Oy! Koizumi!"

"Yes, what is it?"

Koizumi seemed to have gotten a fright.

"How about you?"

"Not at all, since we have been running about through this summer. I have about half left."

"Let's do this together, then. Nagato as well, you wouldn't have it done!"

Before Nagato could answer, I extended my hand to Asahina-san, whose mouth was as wide open as a marionette doll in a puppet show.

"Asahina-san, why don't you tag along as well? Let's get the summer assignment behind us once and for all."


Asahina-san was a sophomore, so her work was different from ours, although that had no importance right now.

"But... But... Whe... Where to?"

"Come to my place. Bring your notes and your books and we can talk amongst ourselves while doing it. Nagato, Koizumi, let me copy whatever you two got done."

Koizumi nods.

"Nagato, you in?"


The half-beat kappa head nodded and stared at me.

"All right! See you all tomorrow! Let's get started in the morning. We should be able to rush through it all in a day."

Just as I held my fist high with an ego to match-

"Hold it right there!"

Haruhi, full of pride and with her hands stuck to her waist, came back to the side of the table.

"Don't you decide this on your own! I am the chief! You better ask me if it is OK to do something! Kyon, any member making decisions on his own accord commits a serious offense of the brigade rules!"

With that out of her lungs, Haruhi glares at me and shrieked:

"Count me in!"

It was now the morning after.

I think I have it right. As I got up from my bed, I knew that we were out of the woods.

I knew this because I remembered that I had come back from the countryside when O-bon was over, and I could also recall memories of August from the pool and cicada hunts and so forth. Of all those memories to boot, the best of them would be yesterday's date, clearly in my mind right now.

Yesterday was the thirty-first of August, and today was the first of September.

My freshest memories revealed to me that, on the last day of summer, I hosted the SOS Brigade crunch fest in this room. I recall that feeling of dazed fatigue well. It was exhausting enough having to copy down all the notes, so I can only dread the magnitude of the work had I been left to my own devices. When I hit the bunks yesterday night, my brain was sure of one thing, that being that my HP, MP, and LIMIT bars were so low that just one swing would be enough to knock me out cold in my bed.

Yesterday, Haruhi took her pile of summer assignments to my room and shot a cold look at me, knee deep in work with my automatic pencil. Koizumi, Nagato, and Asahina-san then played with my little sister.

"Don't just plagiarize."

Haruhi continued as she was pressing the buttons on the controller and gaming with my sister:

"Paraphrase a bit, make sure you take extra steps with the equations as well. The teachers aren't all idiots. Math teacher Yoshizaki in particular likes to go after the gritty details. That said, Yoshizaki's solutions aren't exactly strokes of genius."

Having five people plus my sister in my room was cramped enough as it was, but adding my mom, who kept delivering lunches, desserts, and juice, only added fuel to my fire. Unlike most of us, who were close to getting carpal tunnel from all the wrist movements, Haruhi was having a great time. Just look at her! The higher-ups must look upon peons with that same smile on their face. Who knows if she's in over her head. Haruhi actually decided to offer input on Asahina-san's short essay. If Asahina-san comes home with a "C," we can blame it squarely on Haruhi...

As the trip down memory lane came to an end, I crawled my way out of bed.

Today was a brand new beginning in a brand new term, I guess.

This was the first time in my life that I had looked forward to the coming of the new term.

Class had ended. The principal's lecture was over, as was the short class meeting. Today was the first of September. I asked while in class, "What day is it?" with Taniguchi and Kunosaki giving me a look of pity. I guess it really is the first of September.

Because the cafeteria and the convenience store had yet to open, Haruhi headed off to the restaurant outside the schoolyard for her dining needs. The clubroom was occupied by me and Koizumi.

"Suzumiya-san is a maestro of the Renaissance. No doubt that she was remarkable from her infancy, so this summer assignment is not a burden of any sort to her. Such a remarkable personality would not fathom having to share the work with her friends, as it is pointless given her ability to single-handedly complete the tasks at hand."

Having heard Koizumi's explanation, I pulled the collapsible chair over to the windowpane. We were in the clubroom of the literature club. Today was orientation day, so we could've packed our bags and left, but I just felt like taking a detour in the clubroom, only to find Koizumi tagging along. The scariest and the most important thing is that Nagato was not with us. Although she didn't show it, the summer break must have been incredibly weary for her.

There was a change at hand over the cicada's territorial control. Higurashi were taking over the brown cicadas. Summer was over, that I was sure of. However-

"It's like a dream! We've been through the end of August for fifteen thousand somewhat odd times."

"It would not be baseless to think as such."

Koizumi started to shuffle the deck with his beaming smile.

"There is no common memory between us that existed within those fifteen thousand four hundred and ninety seven fortnights. They don't exist on the same time axis. Only we who have advanced in the fifteen thousand four hundred and ninety eight iterations have returned to the time stream."

That might be so, but I have received definite hints, those being the sense of familiarity that struck me so many times, especially that last wave that hit me. Maybe the gifts from "us" of the previous loops stuck in the moment. Would it be odd to say that's in the past? Whether it'd be before or in the beginning, time is just like tigerskin melted down to butter as it twirls round and round.

Well, it is thanks to the me in the thousands of repeats that the me of today can be back on track. If I don't think this way, then thousands upon thousands of summer days, courtesy of Haruhi, would've seemingly been wasted.

Not to mention the eight thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine mes who felt this "reset."

"Want to play poker?"

Koizumi started to hand out the cards like an amateur magician. It wouldn't hurt to entertain him.

"Fine, what will it be? Forget it if it's a money game."

"Then no money."

I only win big when winning doesn't matter. Royal flush! That's a first.

I swore in the back of my mind that if this day were to be repeated, I would be betting bucks for sure.

(Endless Eight end)

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