Haikasoru

 

Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science.
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THE STORIES OF IBIS — YAMAMOTO

by Haikasoru

That was how the story had unfolded three days ago. And then Xevale came up with his plot proposal—one in which the Celestial received a distress signal from the mining base the moment it came out of warp and entered the planetary system—only today. And how the away team took the shuttlecraft Dart to the base only to find that the workers had all been killed by some mysterious force.

“This story better have a resolution,” I said to myself, dubious about the whole turn of events. Knowing Xevale, he probably didn’t have an explanation for the workers’ deaths. He only liked to create these kinds of mysterious incidents.

I could just ignore Xevale’s plot submission. But then simply destroying the planet and the DS as planned didn’t provide much of a catharsis. The story could use one more twist before the end. After thinking about it long and hard, I pasted the text written by Xevale onto a new web page, created a link from the contents page, and clicked PUBLISH.
Just as I opened a new tab on the browser to verify the changes on the website, there was a knock at the door.

“Coming!”

I left the computer running and went to answer the door. I couldn’t remember ordering anything by mail order. The only people that came knocking on the door on a late Saturday afternoon were either newspaper solicitors or some lady from a local religious group. I’ll just get rid of them.

Standing on the other side of the peephole were a young policeman and a balding middle-aged man.

I cautiously opened the door just a crack, and the middle-aged man asked, “Are you Nanami Shiihara?” He pulled out his ID from his gray coat and held it up in front of my face. Although I’d seen plenty of police IDs being flashed on TV, this was my first exposure to the real thing.

“My name is Iioka. I’ve been asked by the Niigata Prefectural Police to investigate an incident. Do you know a young man by the name of Yuichiro Tanizaki?”

Yuichiro Tanizaki—several seconds went by before I could retrieve that name from my memory. It was the name of Shawn Mornane in Maintenance.

“Yes, I know him,” I replied.

“Is he a member of your club?” the detective asked.

“Yes, what about him?”

“He killed someone.”

In that instant my mind stopped functioning. I felt nothing, not even shock. This story was so unrealistic that I couldn’t process it.

I could believe any other story. A sentient warship destroying four Federation battleships, a hyperdimensional vortex swallowing up planets, the vicious shape-shifting mechanoid reaper, the existence of the great Sower who scattered the seeds of intelligent life throughout the galaxy—for all that I could suspend my disbelief. But Shawn killing someone…

I recalled Shawn’s face from that one time we met at last year’s year-end club gathering. Contrary to the impression I had of him from the forums as a chatterbox, he was a quiet, reserved-looking kid. I had a hard time connecting the phrase “killed someone” with the image I had of Shawn.

“Can I talk to you for a bit?”

Before I knew it, I had answered “yes” and was undoing the chain on the door. The policeman said “I’ll be on my way” with a bow and left. The detective took off his shoes and came inside.

Before sitting down on the cushion I put out for him, the detective took a slow turn around the center of the room, eyeing various things with a penetrating look. “Hmm…” he murmured. It was probably a habit that came with the job, but I couldn’t help shrinking in embarrassment. The bookshelves stuffed with science fiction novels, the piles of manga stacked on the floor, the model of the Enterprise hanging from the ceiling, the computer taking up most of the small table, a half-finished drawing, and the toy figures arranged along the top of the monitor were hardly the kinds of things found in a single woman’s room.

“Did you want to keep that running?” the detective asked, pointing to the computer screen.

“Oh, that’s not a problem,” I replied.

“But you’re on the Internet, aren’t you? Doesn’t that cost money?”

“No, I always keep the computer connected with ADSL.”

The detective gave me a blank look. Apparently he didn’t know much about the Internet.

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One Response to “THE STORIES OF IBIS — YAMAMOTO”

  1. Daniel H. says:

    Interesting teaser. I picked up the Japanese edition of this book recently, and other than the fact that Haikasoru deemed it good enough to translate and publish in English there were two things that sold me:

    1) I’d read a couple of Hiroshi Yamamoto’s short stories recently, and thought that he was an interesting writer. His story “Seven Percent Are ‘Tenmu'”, which appeared in a ‘year’s best SF’ anthology for 2007, began with a rather horrifying premise, and ended in a way that left me feeling I’d learned something.

    2) On the paperback’s obi was a glowing endorsement from Mamoru Hosoda (director of “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Summer Wars”).


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