Prologue Part 1
Prologue – K… Karashi? … Are You… Making Mustard Paste?
Prologue Part 1
The second semester had started, and autumn arrived.
The annoying cicadas stopped chirping, and the sound of the wind and rustling dry leaves gently caressed my ears. This was what people would call the “voice of autumn,” wasn’t it?
I stared out the window, sunk deep in thought.
Everyone had things in their past they would like to erase.
Why did I do that back then? What could I have done to avoid that? There were times when people thought about things like that.
And I was no exception. Even zombies had times when they wanted to erase past failures.
They said that you couldn’t become an adult without making mistakes, but was that really true?
Those things that you couldn’t take back anymore… didn’t they just hold you back from growing up?
Ahh, I really wanted to erase that incident…
Geez… why did I… why did I do… sigh.
It was a season that was good for sighing.
Summer vacation had ended, so I thought that everyone in the class would be in a lazy daze, but… right now there were quite a few voices being thrown around the room.
The second semester starting also marked the opening of various events. For now, we had to prepare for the school festival in October.
The school festival was a time when the students could do whatever they wanted, and was a really, really fun annual occasion.
And every time the school festival came up, each and every class always fought over what exhibit they planned to make for it.
Even if they didn’t really have any concrete ideas in mind.
… And naturally, my own class was no different.
All the candidates for possible exhibits were listed on the board, and all the students were staring at that board together.
The teacher in charge, nicknamed “No Personality,” had abandoned his duties and was just looking blankly out the window.
And the person in control the class was not the teacher, or the class representative, but…
“I really still think we should build a swat team training grounds!”
A girl who looked like a young middle schooler stood on the teacher’s platform and smacked the word “SWAT” that had been written on the board.
An ahoge stretched out from the top of her head of shoulder-length chestnut hair and blipped from side to side.
She had the mouth of a brat who spent all his time playing in the mud, and eyes that overflowed with an almost annoying amount of curiosity. Her chest seemed like it had almost given up on growing any further, and her butt was on the small side.
She was a student at Matelis Magical Academy, an almost made-up sounding school from the magical world Virie, and she was in this world to earn credits from her school for exterminating monsters.
She was the masou shoujo Haruna.
Ever since she filled in for the teaching instructor once, Haruna had begun hanging around the classroom just as if she was one of my classmates.
Although, it’s not like she actually came for class; whenever there was some event she would just show up like a hyena, do whatever she wanted, and then disappear. That’s the kind of “classmate” she was.
“Haruna-sensei, can we really pull off a swat team?”
“I definitely can! I’ll be using a real Kalashnikov! Even if it’s loaded with paintballs only!”
“K… Karashi? … are you… making mustard paste?” (1)
Hiramatsu Taeko, the honors student with ponytails who sat right in front of the teacher’s platform, didn’t seem to understand what Haruna was saying and cocked her neck to the side.
I couldn’t help but suddenly imagine the swat team grinding mustard seeds.
I wonder how many people in the class actually knew what a Kalashnikov was. It was originally a person’s name, but it was famously the name of a type of automatic rifle. Also, I didn’t think the swat team actually used Kalashnikovs.
Naturally, Haruna’s “swat team performance” idea was rejected. When it came to class exhibits like this, it was a much safer and likely option to do a haunted house or a maid café.
So, for these type of event discussions, there were really two kinds of people.
That is, there were the ones who were really assertive about their opinions, and the ones who just went with the flow.
For example, the spiky-haired Orito who was standing up and singing the praises of maid cafés belonged to the former category, while you could say that the pretty ponytailed girl Hiramatsu was in the latter.
As for me…
“If we’re going to do something, we should do a cosplay café of some kind.”
I was in the former.
At my sudden proactive statement, everyone in the class looked at me with expressions of astonishment.
Certainly, a semester ago, I wasn’t the kind of person who people would expect to make a statement like that.
“A swat team café, huh?!”
Haruna thrust a piece of chalk at me and spoke.
“No that’s not it at-“ “Shut up! Be quiet!”
Haruna drowned out my objection and I shrugged.
“Ugh… fine, whatever. Let’s do that then.”
“Well, the guests will be the swat team and we’ll be the terrorists then!”
“Wouldn’t that be a terrorist café?!”
A few of the male students voiced that objection. I see, so the Kalashnikovs were used by the terrorists.
“Alright, then let’s try it out! You over there! The one who looks like a tissue box lid!”
Haruna said something that could have been taken right out of the opening of an old comedy skit, and Orito obeyed, leaving the room. He sure picked up pretty quick that Haruna was referring to him. Although, if you took that tissue box lid off it would be a bit prickly.
“It’s me! Send the list to the portable device! It’s our only clue!”
I heard Orito acting out a desperate-sounding scene from the hallway. Wait, didn’t he sound more like a counterterrorism unit than a swat unit?
Clack clack clack clack clack clack clack…
Orito rushed back into the room which had fallen into quiet shock, pretending like he was holding a gun. Haruna twisted his arms up and brought him to his knees.
“Sit there with your hands on your head!”
So it really seemed that the café side was the swat team.
Orito’s glasses sparkled.
“OoooOOoooo…” Haruna looked puzzled, almost as if she was about to start explaining Kenbutou (2). It seemed that things had turned out differently from what she had been planning.
Orito also twisted his own neck firmly.
“Ugh. This is terrible.”
“… Hm. You’re right.”
Orito returned to his own seat and Haruna to the front of the class.
Everyone ignored that spectacle. Rather than a past event people wanted to erase, it was one they just didn’t want to see in the first place.
“W-What happened to the mustard?”
Only Hiramatsu seemed to have been waiting for them to make mustard paste, but even Haruna seemed to want to pretend like that little skit had never happened.
In the end, we decided that a swat café was impossible.
Someone suggested we do a yakisoba shop. Someone else wanted to do a pancake stand. Others proposed similar ideas. If this went on… it looked like we were going to end up doing some kind of café.
“All of those are just so unoriginal…”
Wrapped up in a curtain by the window, the teacher in charge, nicknamed “Contentless,” muttered to himself.
Suddenly, everyone turned towards him. “So what are you telling us to do then?” they seemed to want to say.
“School festivals are pretty unoriginal events in the first place, aren’t they?”
Orito fiddled with his spiky hair as he said that.
Certainly that was true. Every single year everyone just did the same old thing. Or rather, they couldn’t do anything else.
We racked our brains to see if we could come up with something a bit different.
Every class ended up doing something similar.
They would have a food stand, or put on a play, or make some kind of display.
Wasn’t that enough?
At least I thought it was. I wasn’t really interested by any of this, but at the same time that just made me want to walk around and see all the unoriginal displays in all the places.
The haunted houses, the plays, the musical performances, the arts and crafts displays, the food stands…… the food stands……
Food stands I wouldn’t be able to do anything about. I was a dead person, a zombie, so I would faint if I stood out under the sun. It would be great if everything happened in the school building, but if there were food stands outside, then my hopes of going around and visiting every exhibit would have come to nothing.
“I wish we could just do everything at night…”
I felt looks of shock concentrate on me at my grumblings, just like they had before.
What are you all looking at?
“That’s it, Aikawa!”
Orito’s eyes were sparkling from within his glasses.
“Yea! We should make it a night festival!”
Haruna’s eyes were also sparkling.
“… That…… might be fun.”
Even the usually gloomy-looking Hiramatsu seemed to be a bit excited.
“At night… huh? Hm, I’ll talk to the vice principal about it for now and see.”
The homeroom teacher didn’t try to calm the students down as they were getting worked up over the idea of a night festival, but just gave out a yawn and muttered slowly.
Wait wait wait wait…
“It’s not like just one class’s opinion would be able to change-“
And it did.
The idea of the night festival I had accidentally suggested swept through the school and was judged as a great idea.
(1) Mustard is “karashi,” hence setting up this pun.
(2) Some swordsmanship style that uses unsharpened swords.