CHAPTER 2: INTRODUCTION
The competitors make their move.
Lately, I wake up in the morning always way earlier than I thought I would. Tonight, the heat and the humidity made me turn over in my sleep countless times. So, before I even realised it, I was awake already. I felt my back warm and I remembered that in my tent we kept the lamp alight all night. Moreover, I was feeling already sweaty. The subject of how to use the tent, was still a complicated matter, so we kept it unchanged. The night air that was coming in the tent was a blessing, but as soon as the dawn breaks then the temperature is slowly rising. Without wanting to wake up anyone else, I sneaked out of the tent, as quietly as possible. Outside it was like being enclosed by mountains, because a lot of packages were stuffed close to our tent. My classmates, boys and girls alike prefer to keep their things, supplies and bags out of their tents. Because we wanted to do the best out of the use of the tent, we did not bring any of the packages inside.
First, I checked that no one was close around and then, I started looking for a certain thing of a certain color. Yesterday, we found a girl from another class, Ibuki and it is her bag that I am looking for. Because her bag has a different color from those we use in my class, it will be easy to find it.
As soon as I see it, I stretch my hands to take it. While I am opening the zipper slowly, I am thinking that if I get caught by someone this very moment, then I am sure I will be stuck with the stigma of being a pervert. Inside there is a towel, a change of clothes, underwear. Just the fundamentals that everyone would carry in their bags. But, wait, what is this?…..
“A digital camera?!…”
So, I was right… I knew I heard a dull sound yesterday when Yamauchi tried to help get the bag and it fell close to a nearby tree. This is not an item fitting to have on a deserted island . At the bottom of the camera there is the sticker seal that proves it has been lent. Why Ibuki has such a thing? I have to think of the reasons why. If I were in Ibuki’s shoes… What would I use this for? As soon as I bring the image in my head, a lot of possibilities are rising into the surface. Well, now that I retrieved a digital camera the first thing that I have to do is to find a source of electricity and try to check what kind of images it has saved in its memory card. There are no traces that proves it has been used, no data that have been uploaded. After I found out what I was looking for, I returned the bag to its place and returned to my tent.
“Good morning, Ayanokouji, where are you going, to the toilet?”
Hirata was not sleeping anymore, instead he was being awake and turning his head towards me, he was speaking to me, already. How come? I was so taken aback that I feel that he even noticed my hands getting wet from sweating.
“Oh! Did I wake you up, maybe?”
“No, not really. It is not like it’s easy to sleep well in this environment. It’s just… my lower back hurts. Well, when we do not have anything to use as a proper mattress below us to sleep, then it is only natural.”
Certainly, here we have no mattresses and no pillows, plus, we are really crowded in the tents, so sleeping in these conditions is not comfortable, however, with the exception of us, now, I could hear nothing other than the sound of our classmates sleeping. I bet they are tired of moving around doing various tasks, all day long.
“The points that we used yesterday and also the fact that Kouenji retired, combined, cost us around 100 points. I talked to everyone about the worst possible scenario, to be left with only 120 points. However, in reality we cannot know exactly how many points we are going to have in the end… As I was thinking about all these, I woke up”
Hirata took out the manual as if wanting to confirm the situation. Kouenji’s retirement, no doubt, was a hard blow.
“It will be all right. We came to this conclusion for the benefit of our class”
It is not that simple though and I do not want to bear the burden on my shoulders all alone. From my side of things I have to look into the manual. We have to adjust the place that we keep the manual so that it is not hard to look into. But, such a detailed attentiveness is welcome.
“I am only doing this because, I like it. In addition, I will do what I can for the comfort of our class. That is my only satisfaction, I get from this, but, I have to admit this is unexpectedly difficult. How many points remain in this special examination from now on will affect deeply our school life. In other words, I think it is wrong to force a wrong feeling”
So the class does well and we can live in comfort eh? Well, if there is a chance to succeed then this conversation is nothing more than a dream. To be honest, this is nearly impossible. Because the point system of this school is simply legendary.
“Do we aim to be like the students of A class? Or do we try to catch up to them by being ourselves as the students of D class? So, what should we do?”
Hearing myself asking this question, I understood that it had no meaning, I ended up making an ill-tempered question. Hirata is a lump of good mannered intentions. He thought that I just wanted to hear his opinion on the matter, so he spoke.
“It’s a difficult question. To aim on catching up to the classes above us, even if we work all together with all our might… I’m sorry. I can not give you a proper answer, right away.”
How many times does he have to think of that matter? Hirata offered a reply like an apology while smiling back at me faintly.
“Ayanokouji, do you aim to reach A class? Or are you a person that thinks school life should be just for fun?
“How should I say it? It is a priority in my school life. But ascending to A class is not something to think as something realistic.”
“I see. Me, too, I feel that it is not that simple. For example, even if all of us together in unison, to aim at A class, the failure of our first month in school that we carried on our shoulders is big”
Even though Hirata was not a big mouth, he included a lot of other students in this plan. If we are talking about the top rank, we cannot omit class A. Even with great effort it is not easy to shorten the difference. We have to fill up a difference close to a 1000 points. For real this is an enormous thing to do. We have to keep in mind that the utility factor of this examination, is to try and win points by our everyday life here. So, if we look about the situation of class D this means that we have to gain about 100 to 150 points. However, even if we want to surpass class C, which is the immediate class above us in ranking, it is a dream that still remains just a dream, at the moment.
“I think that we do not have to be impatient. First of all, now, D class has to pass this test as a whole. In order to do this, we have to look at our next goal with ease.”
Hirata is free to choose the way that we will do this. Moreover, the large part of our classmates will approve his decision, for sure. It is a necessary need for all of us to understand that we have to give a great effort into earning our daily necessities, here, so that we earn the points for our class. It is not a bad idea to close our eyes and ignore the huge difference in points between us and the other classes, at least for now.
As I was getting into Hirata’s naïve resolution, he got up quietly, without waking up anyone, went out of the tent and headed towards the toilet. Hirata’s absence made the tent quieter, so I threw myself into the open space and stretched my body. Somehow we should check out the situation of A class, if not, then we should find out the spots of C class and B class.
We have an advantage because we control the river, however, it is hard to say that it gives us a level of superiority. Once again, I check and make sure that all the members in our tents are sleeping. Looking into the manual book I found around 5 blank pages. One of them is beautifully cut. I borrowed his ballpoint pen. After simply replicating a map of an island, I folded it into a small piece and put it in the pocket. Shortly thereafter Hirata, who came back from the toilet, peeked inside from the entrance.
“Would you like to go have a face wash with me?”
I accepted. The temperature inside the tent was steadily rising with the sunrise.
We decided to go to a nearby river so we took out the towels from our luggage which were wrapped in vinyl. Hirata took the opportunity to put the manual in his bag so it took us some time. Plastic accessories that were attached to Hirata’s bag made a rubbing sound.
“Are those gifts from Karuizawa, perhaps?”
“You’ve figured it out well. How did you know?”
It was easy to guess looking at the accessory that had a heart mark.
When we headed for the river, we unexpectedly noticed someone was there.
“What are you doing here?”
Kanzaki from B class was watching this way examining D class’ process. With him were unknown boys, probably B class students, who were watching somewhat further away. He was slightly surprised, as if he hadn’t suspect us coming so early from our tent, but soon regained his calmness.
“One day has passed so I was wondering what had happened. I came to check your situation. You’ve seized a good place.”
He was honestly interested looking at the base camp from a riverside. It didn’t seem he had an especially ulterior motive.
“Indeed, you are… B class Kanzaki, right?”
Hirata seemed to recognize Kanzaki since he remembered his name.
“Have I surprised you? Sorry, it wasn’t in ill intention.”
Apologizing, Kanzaki turned his back on us and started walking.
“Kanzaki, where does B class have their base camp?”
I didn’t know if he was going to tell us, but I tried asking. Kanzaki then turned back and replied without reluctance.
“There are large crooked trees on the way back to the beach when going along the road from here. There is a camping ground where B class stays when heading into the forest southwest from there. You won’t get lost when you enter into large trees. Tell her I won’t mind if she comes in need.“
He left saying this. Hirata exchanged curious look with me.
“They were friends. But what does he mean by telling her?”
“Hmm, what could that mean…”
Kanzaki, Ichinose and Horikita were once cooperating due to the previous false accusation. Perhaps he thinks they’re still in good terms.
“Did you come spying D class to see how we used our points?”
There was no doubt that was one of the purposes after seeing a discomfort look on his face. He could check with certainty regarding our points consumption by only seeing the number of toilets, showers and tents. However, that isn’t only the only thing they wanted to know. They probably wanted to know who’s the leader of the class. The right of owning a spot expires every 8 hours, which means it was possible they calculated backwards and aimed for time update. But of course, we predicted that too. For that reason, by purposely postponing the second update yesterday the ownership right was adjusted to expire after 8 o’clock. By doing this after the roll-call, it is possible to update the occupancy rights by using crowds as a camouflage.
Hirata washed his face in the river as if he absolutely didn’t mind being spied. If anything, it seemed that he was more uneasy. He wiped in the towel and muttered:
“Isn’t our strategy wrong… Even if we don’t win over other classes, I’d like to team up and complete the trial at least. That’s why I don’t want my leader identity to be noticed.”
His hair wet from water was shining. A breathtakingly handsome man doesn’t have to care about anything.
“Don’t worry so much. You should be more carefree.”
“Thank you. Saying this makes me honestly happy.”
After washing my face, I scooped river water with my hand and put it into my mouth. Even in extremely hot forest, the river water was cold and tasty. Since groundwater flows into the river as spring water, the river water warms up and cools down hardly and since it flows from the upstream its temperature hardly rises. It was quite of luck that we seized this place as a base.
“First of all, I think that we need to adjust our bed properly. Since the ground is hard here, it’s going to be a tough week without a substitute for cushion like a mat. Get into action by gathering opinions when everyone wakes up. We have to cooperate and do our best.”
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