Sunday, 29 November 2015

Chapter three (segment nine), 2016, October, Noriko

Insane. He has to be insane! Barely lunch hours and over four thousand guests crowded the school.

Noriko staggered when a huge man almost bowled her over. Maybe she should have stayed in their room, but she refused to spend the entire festival indoors.

She had earned her break, but at the moment she regretted coming here. The streets were almost impassable, but soon the first major event in the gym hall should remove some of the pressure on the stalls.

Loud laughing voices and the smell of fast food sold around her belied the frightened faces she saw in some of the stalls. Most of the students manning them simply didn't understand how crowded the school had become.

She hoped they could stay ignorant for a while longer, because with understanding came fear.

Irishima high had arrived in force. She recognised a lot of their faces, and from conversations she overheard she guessed the rest. What was worse was the large number of Red Rose uniforms she saw. Almost all of them from the middle school, but a few from the high school as well.

What's going on? We never spoke of Himekaizen during my years there. That had come later, and only as a suggestion from her parents. Why are you in uniform? It's Sunday.

Noriko waved to a freshman from 4:1 in one stall and was let inside.

“Sorry, but I have to make a call,” she said to the baffled student in a yukata.

“Want a bite?” the girl offered. “Just don't tell anyone.”

Noriko thought for a few seconds. “Thank you. I'd love to,” she said. She wouldn't be able to have lunch later anyway.

Sitting on the ground she wolfed down takoyaki, and from time to time she looked up and gave the girl a tankful look. “You're a lifesaver,” she said after she swallowed the last ball. “Good! You make really good takoyaki.”

“Thanks! Dad runs a small restaurant and I help out some.”

“Send him my regards.”

It was time to make that call. She switched off her radio and dug in her pockets for her cell phone. This wasn't a topic for the open channel.

“Ryu,” she said after her brother answered, “there's an awful lot of Red Rose students here.”

“I know,” he answered. “I've told Urufu, and he's visiting Principal Nakagawa right now.”

Noriko pushed herself tighter under the counter to be as much out of the way as possible. From where she sat on the ground she saw the three students manning the stall frantically trying to serve an ever increasing number of orders.

“Good, then I'll leave it to him.” She crawled out from her corner and rose. “Ryu we're in trouble down here. The main street stalls can't handle this much longer.” During the time she spent eating even more people had arrived.

“What do you want me to do?”

“We can't allow any more people inside until we can fill the gym hall or Kuri's outdoor show is running.

“I'll cancel the patrols and send them to the gates then. It's not like they're much use with the school crammed anyway.”

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