Cat's Hour ~猫の時間~
Golden Week passed by in the blink of an eye. We returned to our regular business when the classes resumed.
After that farce between Mikejima-kun and Toujo-kun, the two of them became awkward around each other. There are no bad side and good side here, both of them are in the wrong.
The next morning after that, I found out that the two got a bruise on their forehead and it was their punishment for fighting with each other. It seems like Kurokawa-senpai flicked their foreheads with everything he got.
Somehow, my image of the weak Kurokawa-senpai is slowly crumbling. Is this what Irosaki-sensei meant when she said not to underestimate Kurokawa-senpai? I mean, I’m already convinced about it.
Now that I noticed, Kurokawa-senpai always apologizes with every little things, he was jumpy and anxious about a lot of things, but… he never once made a mistake with his work as a student council president. He’s quite amazing, I must say.
I continued living in the dorm with everyone. It’s not a public knowledge that the student council is living in a dorm in the middle of the woods so no one knows about this except us. The situation in the dorm is just normal.
Haibara-kun is the one in-charge of preparing food, considering his cooking skills, there’s no doubt that we always got to eat good food everyday. I’m also pitching in every once in a while to help him. He even considered me as his assistant, he really won’t let go of that.
Regarding my classes, I’m still attending everyday. And as expected, Mikejima-kun is still not showing his face in the class. I can’t ask anyone in my class about it because of the weird phenomenon that they can’t recognize the other student council members.
But still… his name is still mentioned in class.
I stared at the side of the board with names of students in charge of class duties for today: Hikari Terushima and Tsukasa Mikejima. It was the two of us.
I just heaved a sigh of disappointment. I’m sure I’m just going to do the class duties alone today. What should I expect to that guy? As if he will show up and help me after classes. In my dreams!
“Terushima-san, why the long face?”
“Did something happened?”
My classmates gathered around me when they noticed that I was out of it for a while.
Since I transferred here and continuously doing my job as the student council secretary, I gained some popularity as well. From first years to third years, everyone basically know me as Miss Secretary. Not that it matters, really.
“Ah, it’s nothing. I just noticed that I was assigned with class duties today.”
“Oh… of course, who wants to do it anyway? There were times like that, right? When you don’t feel like doing it.”
“Yeah, that’s right! It’s a pain in the neck!”
That’s not what I meant! Can’t they mention something about the other assigned person? Ahh, whatever, it was probably blurry for them because of that phenomenon.
I tried searching about it by asking the student council members. They said that they don’t have any idea about it. It was probably because this is the first time they know it, considering that it came from an outsider such as myself.
I thought that it might be a consequence of promise with god, but Kurokawa-senpai strictly denied it. He was really certain that it’s not an effect of that. They even said that they are still considered as students of the school and some might still know them.
Since I remember Haibara-kun and Mikejima-kun interacting with more students, considering that they are their respective year representatives, I tried asking people. It was strange that Haibara-kun is still recognized by some. Same goes for Mikejima-kun considering he is the swimming team’s ace, he’s not just that recognized to the class itself.
But for the others… they don’t know them.
Is this a phenomenon regarding popularity?
“By the way, Terushima-san, did you know about the story of Hanako-san?” one of my classmates mentioned.
“Hmm, isn’t that the legend about the girl on the toilet?”
“Yeah! Actually, Nekoji Academy also has a similar rumor. It was one of the school’s seven mysteries!”
What do you mean seven? There are a lot of weird things in this school! Seven is just an understatement.
Still, that Hanako-san might just be a rumor and nothing more. I mean, Hanako-san is a story that almost everyone are familiar already. Not to mention it was even depicted in different forms of media for entertainment.
“Terushima-san doesn’t look like she believes us, it’s true though!”
“Agree! Actually, it happened yesterday after dismissal. We’re on the third floor now, right? I want to go to the toilet before heading home but…”
“I didn’t get in! Just when I was standing in front of the door, it suddenly slammed shut!”
“Could it just be wind? You might be imagining things,” I said to them.
Lies. As someone who already met ghosts and spirits in the school, I should better know that they are real.
However, a part of me wants to believe that this is just a rumor and nothing more. If it ended up to be a case, we have to go through lots of trouble and deal with it. Haah.
“I also thought about that! But when I tried to open it, the door was locked!”
“Then, someone is inside.”
Come on! Don’t make this harder for everyone! I want to spend my time peacefully after this! I have to play with cats!
“Is there a point in locking it? There are stalls inside, they could just lock it from there!”
“Well… that’s true.”
Oi! Give me a break!
“There is also something weird that happened after that. I heard the sound of faucet turning on and flushing toilets, it was as if it was turned on at the same time… after that, all of a sudden, there is too much water flowing out from under the door! I ran away after that! It was definitely Hanako-san!”
No matter how you look at this, this is really a strange story. There is no doubt that this is caused by none other than a supernatural!
“Fine… I’ll ask someone to check it. It might just be some weird student trying to pull a prank.” I sighed in defeat.
I’ll just report this to the student council after the classes and try to ask the others about it.
“Hmm… hearing your story, it indeed sounds like Hanako-san,” Mashiro-senpai nodded after I told them about my intel.
“Come on, at least deny it!”
Haah. So there’s really a Hanako-san in the school.
I heard a lot of stories about Hanako-san of the Toilet before. All of them, if I must say, are definitely cruel. And if any of those stories are true, that will just mean that she is certainly carrying a huge grudge towards the school.
Dealing with her sounds dangerous. I don’t want to go.
“It was one of the seven mysteries, right? They might know anything about the mission from god,” Kurokawa-senpai added while pressing the mechanical pencil for several times.
“The possibility is high. That Ai also said something about a supernatural who stayed longer in school, she mentioned a girl. It could be Hanako-san.”
“You’re seriously admitting it?!”
I have a bad feeling about this. I’m sure that I’ll be playing an active role with this one again.
“Good guess, Terushima-san. You will be taking part here,” Irosaki-sensei said.
Haha. As I thought.
“Don’t be like that, Terushima-san. The others can’t get in touch with Hanako-san so we have no choice but to send you.”
“Whyyyy?” I whined like a child and slumped my face to the table.
AAAAA! This is the worst!
“Senpai-chan, did you forget where Hanako-san is haunting?”
“It was the ladies’ toilet on the third floor of the main building. Guys can’t go in there.”
W-well… they do have a point there.
“But! If we’re going during the night, there should be no problem!” I suggested proudly.
“Are you an idiot? The other students are not the problem here, that cursed spirit herself will not let us in her territory. Think, Terushima! Think!” Mikejima-kun turned down my suggestion harshly.
“You don’t have to say it that way! You damned Calico!”
“Hah? You picking a fight–“
“Ahem!” Kurokawa-senpai cleared his throat and glanced at Mikejima-kun’s direction.
He settled down silently after that. There! You got what you deserve!
“W-well… if Terushima-san is really against it, we can’t force her…” Kurokawa-senpai muttered under his breath and gave an awkward smile.
Everyone tensed up.
Something about what Kurokawa-senpai said made them stop for a moment. A deafening silence reigned inside the room.
“Kaichou, are you really–“ Mashiro-senpai was the first one to break the silence. He was cut off midsentence by Kurokawa-senpai.
“It’s fine, Tsuki-kun… there are definitely other ways.” Kurokawa-senpai smiled gently to him.
However, that smile did not comfort Mashiro-senpai in the least. To be honest, he looks the most frustrated about it among everyone.
“… we’re running out of time.”
I don’t know what they are talking about.
They never told me anything and I’m not in any position to ask.
I don’t like it.
It definitely has something to do with Kurokawa-senpai… and they are running out of time.
It’s not like I don’t want to do it. I want to help as well. But… I have a bad feeling about this.
“I’ll do it.”
I have to do something.
Everyone looked at me in shock. They might not be expecting that I’ll agree with it easily.
Well, that’s right. This comes with a price. The last one is also made with a deal so I won’t let this become just a free service.
“What do you want in exchange?” Irosaki-sensei asked, probably after reading my mind.
“Tell me more about the contract.”
“Terushima-senpai! That’s–“ Haibara-kun was about to say something when I cut him off.
“Don’t worry, Haibara-kun. I’m not asking about your wishes. Just give me the details about that contract, what are the consequences, what kind of god did you contracted with, those kind of information,” I said without any hesitation. “I don’t want to be left in the dark all the time.”
“Terushima-san, that’s private information, we can’t just give you the details.”
“That’s why I’m making a deal, Irosaki-sensei. I’ll help you not just on this one, but to the following cases as well. Mashiro-senpai said it, right? I can act as a bait.”
“Indeed, I said that. But I’m not saying that you’re going to put yourself out there alone. That’s just plain suicide.”
“Nope. Irosaki-sensei said that I won’t die,” I reasoned back.
“How naïve can you be?”
Hah? Mikejima-kun is still saying something even at this point? He should just shut up if he’s not going to say anything good.
“If you have something–“
“Why are you helping? You could just left it like that and pretend like nothing happened. You could just think about yourself and be selfish, are you just doing this to gain our favors?” He sent a glare to my direction.
I raised my palm to made him stop.
“I’m not that kind of person,” I said in a straightforward manner. “I definitely have my selfish desires like touching everyone’s cat ears and the likes. Don’t misunderstood, I’m not doing this to win you over. It’s not out of self-satisfaction either. It was just my way of returning the favor for taking care of me.”
“It was creepy how you can say that with a straight face, Senpai-chan,” Toujo-kun deadpanned at me.
“If you’re returning the favor, why ask something in return?” Irosaki-sensei also added.
“Hehe. Just humor me.”
“Ano… Terushima-san… are you really fine with it? I’m sorry… we’re imposing too much on you…” Kurokawa-senpai bowed profusely.
“It’s fine! Besides, I haven’t done anything yet.”
“W-well… if it will make Terushima-san feel better… I… I’ll let you touch my cat ears…” Kurokawa-senpai timidly said.
Uwaaah! For real?!!
“Kaichou! What are you saying?!” Mashiro-senpai blurted out.
“I mean… Terushima-san said that she wants to touch them…”
“Please think about it!”
Hehe. Mashiro-senpai really has a protective side for Kurokawa-senpai, huh.
“I won’t mind having Senpai-chan touch mine!” Toujo-kun raised his hand energetically.
Yay! Even Toujo-kun is aboard! Now I’m motivated! I just want to touch them at least once… those cat ears.
“I’m also fine with it.”
“B-but… that’s…” Mashiro-senpai has a contemplating look on his face.
I smiled at him mischievously as if expecting to hear his answer.
I’m not getting my hopes up with this but maybe, just a little push will do.
“Okay. I’ll allow it.” Mashiro-senpai finally resigned himself to it.
“Really?! Yayy!!” I exclaimed in delight.
“Don’t celebrate just yet. It was only if you managed to get some information from Hanako-san.”
“Bring it on!” I puffed my chest confidently.
“Tch. I won’t let her touch me. As long as that girl will prove herself useful, then whatever.” Mikejima-kun stood up and walked away. He left all of us in the room without a word.
Just you watch, Mikejima-kun.
I’ll have you take back that you called me ‘useless’. I’ll get back to you tenfold. Mark my words!
I stood firmly in front of the toilet door. I have a flashlight with me and brought Rushia as well. Haibara-kun said that bringing cats in a situation like this can give me some kind of protection. It’s not like I want to treat the cats as a tool, I’m just personally having them to calm me with my anxiety.
Now that I remember, Irosaki-sensei also made me bring Yami back on the Ai Case. It must be like that as well.
Alright! Let’s enter!
Ah, it’s not locked!
I wonder if Hanako-san will show up.
The toilet doesn’t seem haunted at all. The lights are bright and the floor is even spotless. The white walls also seem like it was sparkly. Yes, not haunted at all.
I mean, ghosts normally show up in nasty-looking places, right? They prefer dimmer and eerie atmosphere, that’s what I noticed from the horror media that I normally see.
Haah. My intel might be wrong. That’s just a rumor from high school students, there is a high chance that they are exaggerating things.
“What do you think, Rushia?” I put her down on the floor for a while to wash my hands in the sink.
“Nyaa…” she just purred normally.
Nothing out of ordinary, huh.
“Anyway, this toilet really looks like it was taken care off very well.” I scanned my eyes around the white walls of the toilet. “This school is really fancy even for their toilet. Where else could you see a school toilet that can be on par with those in the hotels?”
I also washed my face on the sink to keep myself awake. I’m really bad at staying up late at night so washing my face might wake me up.
I lift my glance and saw my reflection on the mirror.
There’s someone standing behind me…
I washed my face again. I might be seeing things!
Don’t turn around… don’t turn around…
When I look at the mirror again, there’s no one behind me anymore.
“Eh? What was that…? Rushia–“
I called out to Rushia and noticed her hissing at me. She raised her tail in hostility and showed her fangs at me. W-wait… am I hated now?
I was about to stretch my hand to her when she waved her claws at me. I swiftly retracted it in the last second. What’s wrong with you?
“Ne… this is a nice place, don’t you think? How about staying here with me?” someone whispered to my ears.
I froze in an instant and felt my heart beating like crazy. It was the same pressure. Hanako-san came and she was latching behind me. Rushia might’ve felt it too.
Crap… I’m scared. I can’t move a muscle.
I swallowed a lump in my throat. This is not the first time that I faced a spirit. Be strong, Hikari!
“A-are you Hanako-san…?” I stuttered.
“Eh? You can talk to me?” she sounded surprised by it.
Is it really a big deal that we can talk to them? Ai-san, Sakura-chan and even Hanako-san reacted the same way.
“Wait! I know you!” she exclaimed at me.
“I… I think you got the w-wrong person.”
I closed my eyes tightly. I don’t want to see her. What if she looks like those horrible ghosts?! I said that I’ll be fine with it as long as there are no jump scares!
“What’s that reaction? Are you scared?” she teasingly said.
“Of course I am! Hanako-san just showed up and latched onto me, who wouldn’t be scared?!” I blurted at her with my eyes still closed.
“Pfft. You haven’t changed at all,” she chuckled lightly. “Calm down, I’m not going to do anything bad.”
Eh… what does that mean?
W-well, if she won’t do anything bad… I guess it’s fine.
I slowly opened my eyes and saw the ghost floating in front of me. Red skirt, bob cut hair, and a cute face of a girl. She just looked like how they described her in the net except that she’s not scary at all.
“Hmm, let’s see… you sure looked different from when I last saw you…” she leaned her face closer too mine and stared at me intently. I noticed that she also has red eyes that is now observing me carefully.
“A-ano… what do you mean by that?” I hesitantly asked. “This is the first time I met you…”
“Hmm? I still remember you though. You’re Hime, right?”
“A princess? There’s n-no way I’m like that!” I frantically declined.
“Nope. You’re Hime, so I’ll call you that.”
“Listen when people are talking to you!”
“It’s troublesome to call you different names so I’m going to call you Hime.”
“Geez! What’s with that Hime?!” I whined to her.
I put my hand on my forehead unconsciously. What’s with this stubborn spirit? She’s calling me names that I don’t know!
“Haah, how many times have we done this already? Aren’t you tired already? You shouldn’t have come in contact with those cats again,” she sighed.
“Hanako-san, what do you mean by that?!” I blurted out.
“You came here to know about the contract of those cats, right? The mission that they have to fulfill…”
“Yes! That’s what I came for! Please tell me about it, even a little information will help!” I gathered my courage and pleaded to her.
I can’t let this chance pass. I made a deal with everyone… also, they are running out of time about something. After knowing at least that, I can’t just stand and turn a blind eye to it.
“You’re still as stubborn as before, aren’t you? Sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.” She glared at me which made me flinch.
I looked away quickly out of reflex. She’s still scary even with that cute face!
But… I wonder what she meant by that.
“Ne, Hanako-san… you have been speaking to me as if we know each other. Are you seeing another person in me?” I asked curiously.
She stopped for a moment and entered the third stall.
“Who knows…” she responded. “Now, let’s get down to business. You’re the caretaker of those cats, right?”
By ‘cats’, I’m pretty sure she meant the student council.
I deadpanned. “It's not like that. I’m working with them in the student council.”
“I see, using the student council as a cover, huh. Nice strategy.”
“Strategy?” I tilted my head in confusion.
“Wait, you don’t know? Those cats are supernatural entities.”
“I know that, but that’s just half true because of the contract, right? They are still human to me.”
Hanako-san fell silent to my reasoning. Why is she not saying anything? Is there something that I don’t know?
No, I definitely don’t know about a lot of things.
“Believe what you want. Those guys, are still supernatural entities. The fact that they are in between living and spirits made it more dangerous for them.”
They didn’t mention anything about that.
“You want to help them find that mission, right? Then, how about it? I’ll answer any of your questions in exchange for a favor. Not bad of a deal right?”
She is outright suspicious. This deal is really fishy.
“You don’t look convinced, huh. I’ll give you a bonus.”
“You might’ve noticed the other students not being able to recognize the student council, right?”
“How did you know that?!”
“I can hear the students coming here talking about it. They are all uncertain about the existence of student council. For supernatural entities, notoriety is the proof of our existence. It doesn’t matter if it was rumors or popularity, the more people that know us, the more our existence is recognized. It doesn’t matter if they are just under the contract or not. In this school, those cats are considered supernatural.”
I don't know if I could trust her but... it all makes sense. She doesn't seem like lying as well.
“They are not aware of it. Now that I told you about it, what do you think about making a deal with me?”
“Let me think about it…” I said while looking away.
I don't want to just make a random deal here. Moreover, I don't know what she wants from me.
“Sure. Take your time. I’m just here in the third stall if you want to accept. By the way, I suggest you watch carefully the black cat…”
Black cat… is it Kurokawa-senpai?
“That one… he’s the one you have to watch out the most. He’s slowly drifting away and as soon as his contract ends, it will be over for him,” Hanako-san seriously said to me.
“Wait! What do you mean?!”
“Heh. Who knows…” she let out a small chuckle before the door of the third stall slammed shut in front of my face.
I raised my hand to knock on door… only to drop the idea halfway.
What does that mean… Kurokawa-senpai is drifting away?
Knowing nothing is really frustrating.