The Cute Girl Sitting Next to Me is a Manipulator but I'm Smarter
The two of us sat silently for a little while.
"You probably want to continue reading Murder on the Orient Express, don't you?"
She walked over to her bag and grabbed the book.
"Let's read it together," she offered.
"Aren't we on different sections though?"
"I'll just continue reading from where you're at."
I thought about it for a little bit.
"How about we can read it from the point you're at, I'll just reread," I said. I could tell that she was trying to satisfy me as much as possible so I didn't want to be too greedy. It didn't really matter to me anyways, I didn't mind rereading some of the novel.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it'll be a bit weird if you skip the entire middle section."
She held the book out in a way so that both of us could read it. It didn't look like a very comfortable position for her arm so I stuck out my hand and grabbed the other side of the book—we were now holding one side of the book each.
I worried about the fact that we had different reading speeds, however, it seemed she had already thought of that and began reading the book out loud, "...but I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose his head and do the most absurd things..."
I listened as her soft voice articulated the words on the page.
We sat side-by-side reading Murder on the Orient Express for almost twenty minutes. Eventually, Fujiharu-san stood up and walked over to the door.
"I'm just going to check on them."
She opened the door and peeked outside.
"I think they're doing something else now."
"Ah, well, I'll leave now then."
"Are you sure? We can keep reading if you want."
"I have some things I want to do back at the boarding house."
"Aw, alright then."
She led me over to the door and I left after saying a short goodbye.
I sat on my bed and looked up at the roof.
My dorm room was very empty compared to other boarders. I generally liked to keep things relatively minimalistic, not for any stylistic purpose but mostly because I never bought things. I was on a pretty strict budget most of the time and I never really desired anything.
I had a few sets of clothing in my closet and some basic furniture and that was basically it. I spent most of my time reading on my bed anyways so it wasn't like I really needed anything anyways. I was getting pretty close to the end of my novel so I'd likely have to go to the library again.
The school library was open until 8 pm so I still had time to go and borrow another book. I decided to read through the final few pages of Murder on the Orient Express. I guess a genius is expected to provide, '...one or two fantastic suggestions.' After reading the last page, I closed the book and prepared to make my way down to the library again.
I changed out of my school uniform into something more casual. With that, I began making my way through the schoolyard, over to the library.
As I looked through the endless supply of books, there was something that caught my eye—it was something that was quite pronounced throughout the Ideal Human Project, something that even the founder, Tachibana Kohei, used to read. I picked up Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Satre and walked towards the counter.
As I looked down at the book, I thought about my childhood. For all intents and purposes, Tachibana Kohei—Tachibana Emi's father, was the closest thing I had to a father figure. He was a gentle, kind man, not the type of person you would believe to start an experimental facility for children. Then again, his treatment of us Outcomes was not all bad, in fact, our conditions were quite pleasant.
Aside from the slight isolation and overly extensive education, our lives were as normal as one of a normal child. He would always take in children who were either abandoned or had abusive parents, whether that was a choice or due to a lack of choice, I still don't know, but all I knew was that to me, he was a good person.
Only near the end of the project did I finally realise his reason for starting the entire thing in the first place. It was a reason which was selfish yet kind, a reason that was rational yet unpredictable and it was a reason which influenced me to choose the mission that I still follow to this day.
He was the most influential person to me, for good and for bad.
After scanning the book through, I began walking back to my dorm room. On top of my shelf, lay a single book. It was a book I had kept all the way from my days in the Ideal Human Project, it was Tachibana Kohei's most prized possession—well, second-most prized possession. It was a book detailing the plans for an optimal school system.
It was the details of a school system which bred competition, a school system where only the strongest survived and everyone else was slowly culled. It was his life's work, only several days before his death, was he finally able to finish it. From what I knew, there are only several copies of this book in existence. Some belonged to the most powerful education ministers in the country and one of them belonged to me. It was titled, The Tachibana System, written by Tachibana Kohei himself.
Who knows, maybe in the near future, a select few schools might try to implement the system. It guaranteed immense success for those who are capable of pushing through all the challenges, although in the process, many students will suffer and be thrown out.
There were very radical ideas in the book and only someone with great power and great influence would be able to truly implement them all into a school.
Someone—like the principal of National High School.
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