Back to Shinji and Yutaka.
They're scoping out the school, having found the nearest safe border zone. So far, none of the other areas have been listed as forbidden.
Which reminded him of Sakamochi's announcement that Sho Tsukioka had gotten caught in a forbidden zone. He was an annoying, queer kid ("Shinji, let's go out on a date")
I hope this is the last of that.
Shinji managed to find a farm coop near the longitudinal road slightly south of the school. The building with slated roof and walls bore a sign that read "Northern Takamatsu Agricultural Cooperative Association, Okishima Island Branch."
Inside is just some farm equipment, like a threshing machine. I tend to think of farms as relatively large-scale things, but Japan has little arable land, so I guess there's more tiny plots.
Anyway, there's the supplies Shinji needs, except rope - there isn't very much and it's too thin to trust, but they find some better rope in a fishing gear building.
Shinji's spent the trip pondering why their collars didn't go off as soon as the first plan was found out.
It had to do with a rumor he'd heard that high-ranking government officials placed bets on this game. If that was true, then he was sure the star shooting guard of Shiroiwa Junior High, The Third Man, must have been the top seed. All the more reason why Sakamochi couldn't just finish him off. That was Shinji's hypothesis. Meanwhile Yoshitoki Kuninobu and Fumiyo Fujiyoshi were irrelevant players. Or, to be blunt, no one had placed any bets on them.
While this works to explain how the betting works with Sakamochi's ability to kill people, it's a clumsy solution. During the orientation, Yoshitoki was going to attack Sakamochi. If he hadn't been killed but just, say, restained by the soldiers, there's a good chance the other kids would have started fighting back. After all, they really had very little to lose. Fumiyo was more of a whim, but still one that followed logically - she was the first person to try to whisper and communication between students has to be discouraged.
But it might work if very few students have any bets on them. If you think of this like a horse race, there's always going to be someone betting on the longshots. But maybe they only allow betting on the main contenders. In that case, the majority of the class would be fair game for Sakamochi, and it's far easier to avoid the important kids.
It is nice that after hearing so much about how well organized this is, there's a flaw like this. Risking security over betting is the sort of screwup you'd expect from a crazed dictatorship.
Back to explaining the plan. Yutaka wants to know how they'll get the rope there.
Wire. I brought some. We'll reel out the wire down to the other side and tie it to the rope. Then we'll draw in the rope by pulling the wire right before we execute our plan.
Of course, that just moves the question to how they'll get the wire there. That they'll drag around the area until they're on the other side. And they'll use a balloon to float the wire over the trees, with the helium from a voice-changing party gag.
It's a bit complicated, but it makes sense.
Shinji thought an actual demonstration would get his point across quicker so he tore open the pack of garbage bags and pulled out a bag. He opened it up, inserted the canister valve (which was supposed to be sucked) into it, and taped it to the bag with the plastic tape. He sealed the edge of the bag with more tape. Then he pressed the valve button and the bag began to inflate. With his finger on the button, Shinji thought, this would be a lot more entertaining with condoms. But even if they had condoms they would have been a little too small. Huh?
Do I have some on me? Well, I mean, come on, this was supposed to be a study trip. Anything can happen, right? You tossed your clothes, but you're still holding onto these? Yeah, I dunno, I do still have them. Well, you never know when they might come in handy. Let's not go into details.
The tangents get really distracting.
Anyway, so they get the balloon on the wire and they're ready to go.
Then back to domestic times with the main gang. Noriko wants an extra cup of water because she's covered in sweat from her illness. Shogo immediately knows that's why and tells Shuya she wants to look pretty for him. But he's nice about providing the water. He then encourages Shuya to consider Noriko's feelings and not just Yoshitoki's.
Shogo continued to look at the window, smoking his cigarette. "It's not a bad thing to be loved."
So Shuya asks if he's got a girlfriend, and Shogo is silent a moment, then it seems he's about to answer when he suddenly goes on alert, dousing his cigarette and telling Shuya to stay quiet. Someone's outside.
Someone is just Hiroki, asking who the three of them are. Here's where the jumping between characters is somewhat of a flaw - since we've seen Hiroki's actual thoughts, we know he isn't going to hurt them and how he knows there's three people inside. If this was a tight POV, there'd be a shared tension here - Shuya believes in his friend, but can he really be trusted? As it is, we know the answer is yeah, no problem.
Shogo attempts to complain about it being suspicious of Hiroki to know their number, but Shuya points out some options. It doesn't matter if those seem plausible or not to the reader because again, we know how he knows.
Shogo checks him for weapons and stuff because he's suspicious, but then calms down when Hiroki turns out to be unarmed and doesn't object. He also finds the collar-radar thing, answering his question.
"Shuya, Hiroki seems to want to ask whether it's all right for you guys to be with me."
Hiroki smiled slightly and looked over at Shogo, and said, "No…I just thought it was an odd combination." Still smiling, he continued, "Shuya would never be with you if you were hostile. Shuya can be pretty stupid when it comes to certain things, but he's not that stupid."
There's just no real tension to these chapters now. There's no worry about being betrayed here, because we know Hiroki's good, and there's no worry that they'll make a mistake about that, because Shuya trusts people. The only remaining bit is if Shogo is secretly evil, and the book really isn't doing anything to sell that.
I guess there's the question of if Shogo's plan will actually work, but without him doing anything to further the plan now, it seems like it's a relatively clear-cut thing, whatever it is.
Speaking of which, Shuya tells Hiroki they're going to escape, and Hiroki says that if they haven't seen Kayoko, he's got to keep looking.
Kayoko Kotohiki (Female Student No. 8)? The one who, in spite of being into tea ceremony, seemed more playful than elegant?
Nope, afraid they haven't, although Shuya thinks she must be still alive since they haven't heard her name.
unless she was killed after 6 p.m.
Once again he realized how he was letting most of his classmates die and felt awful.
Good for you, Shuya.
He also passes on the warning about Mitsuko and how she killed Takako.
Shuya says they'll go with him if he can't stay, and Hiroki points out that's insane, Noriko's hurt. Shuya doesn't know what to do, because how will he find them again to escape?
Shogo pulled out something small from his pocket with his open hand. He lifted it to his mouth and bit on its metal end, twisting it. It made the chirping sound of a bird. It was a loud, brilliant, and playful sound. Like a robin or chickadee.
Shogo released his hand from his mouth, and Shuya realized that it was Shogo's device—a bird call? Forget why he would have one in the first place…it was one of those things that mimicked the sound of birds chirping.
"Whether you meet Kayoko Kotohiki or not," Shogo said, "if you want to see us, make a fire somewhere and burn raw wood to get some smoke going. Make two fires. Of course, leave as soon as you make them because you'll only attract attention. And make sure you don't cause a fire. Once we see that we'll make this call every fifteen minutes, say, for fifteen seconds. Try to find us by following this sound." He pointed to the bird call.
Okay, I think we can say now that Hunger Games is absolutely based on this. Dear god, internet, a million pages saying that Battle Royale and Hunger Games share the childmurder premise, and none of you ever thought to check if anything else was shared before explaining that just sharing a premise doesn't mean they're related?
Before Hiroki goes, Shuya asks about if Mitsuko had a machine gun. He says he doesn't know, but Takako was shot a couple times.
Shuya and Shogo then brings him up to speed on the deaths they've seen.
Shogo was done marking Hiroki's map. He pointed at it and explained, "This is where Kaori Minami was killed. Shuya saw Hirono Shimizu escape. She might have done it in self-defense. But either way, you should be careful."
Hiroki nodded. Then unexpectedly he said, "I saw Kaori too," and pointed at the map. "Before noon. She fired at me, but I think she was in a panic."
This is nice, a middle group between characters knowing everything and characters knowing nothing but just guessing right anyway. I also like the machinegun mystery for similar reasons, they're actually trying to narrow things down to figure out who it is, and they're doing so in part to answer a secondary question of how many people are playing the game.
Shuya also offers one of their guns, since they have three, but Hiroki says they have to protect Noriko so he doesn't want to take any of their stuff. We can pretend he says this because she's injured, but it's because she's a girl. Also, Hiroki says, he wouldn't be able to use a gun anyway, so there's no point. And so he leaves again.