The Summer UFOs in Iriya’s Sky – Volume 1 Epilogue – All Because of That
It wasn’t even 10 minutes after unpacking that the newspaper salesman arrived, and although the door was chained he stuck his safety shoes into the gap and began rattling on and on about useless shit. Have some detergent. Have a beer coupon. Just a month subscription is okay and that month will be free anyway. Our office needs 50 contracts to get a bonus so we’ll specially pay it off for you since you’re specially number 50. So, you get it free, and we get our bonus and our results up. Everybody happy day! Oh please… I beg of you please…
And I wish for you to get lost.
Metal bat back in the umbrella stand. Returning to the six-tatami large new room smell. Anger dissipating.
All newspaper salesmen are the same everywhere, with that kind of this and that and I’ll add this so just accept my annoying service already – kind of insistent tone. In the first place, marketing 101 is, at the very least, all about building on a product’s good points, and those guys throw out all these things like detergent and beer coupons without even bothering to say one bit about what makes this newspaper such a wonderful newspaper in the first place. A disturbing lack of sales talk. And it’s obvious that the salesman also thinks that his own product is ‘just a newspaper’ since his spiel sounds like he’s trying to sell something that he himself finds completely useless, and that just leaves a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. In addition, they have no courtesy, are bloody tenacious, and sometimes they’ll think that females are easy targets so they’ll keep coming back. The newspapers of Japan are written by intellectuals and sold by thugs, or so the quote went.
Looking around at the cardboard boxes in the room, Shiina Mayumi breathed a sigh.
“Well, who cares.”
She just needed a place to sleep. Let’s stop here for the time being.
Let’s leave the unpacking to tomorrow.
She grabbed an almost forgotten convenience store bag that was thrown at the corner. Three bottles of beer. Water had already leaked through the plastic. One can out. The rest went into the currently empty fridge. Some distant speaker in the neighbourhood was playing the melody to “The Sun Sets In the Far Hills” (Goin’ Home), and the monotone voice of a girl reading some kind of composition returned with repeated echoes. It’s 7 o’clock. Watch out for the cars while going back. When you reach home, do your homework then help out with chores then bathe then brush your teeth then hurry up and sleep.
Too much of that around here.
Sliding the glass door with no curtain. Barefoot, on the veranda.
When did the days become so long… she thought. Fukuhara Apartment 202 veranda. You could see the deep evening sky, rows of houses that stank of the past, and a small park that couldn’t even provide much shelter. You could see all that. Wind blew. Her white tank-top clung to her body.
The click of the beer tab.
Spontaneous bitter smile. Moving to a six-tatami room with unpacked boxes all over the place, and standing on the veranda, and looking out at the summer evening. It was like a Hanafuda illustration. Or some kind of situation seen in lame beer commercials.
A new shift of post to Sonohara Middle School, as a nurse – that was the last day of June. In other words, 3 days ago.
She should have entered the ‘scene’ earlier, but due to some half-baked meddling from the American top brass or the self-defense force, these plans were seriously delayed. A move always required time to gather information, but it was already the summer vacation, so there was no time. When summer ended, ‘Codename Alice’ would enter the scene, and then she would change into a back-up function.
One more gulp. And she remembered.
She hadn’t called back the base yet.
She didn’t tell them she had entered the safe house.
Another mouthful of beer. Then, sliding the glass, and returning.
Cross-legged on the mat. Phone pulled over.
Exactly then. Phone ringing.
Shit. They were probably worried about the situation. This would probably turn into a lecture. She hurriedly picked up the phone.
“Hello” – actually she had no time to say that.
“Yo, turn the TV on. STAT.”
“What the hell? Hey, are you over there with Sakisaka?”
“I’ll answer after you turn on the TV. Just do it already! There’s some seriously funny shit up there!”
When Shiina Mayumi moved over, the first things she plugged in were the fridge, telephone, and television. A 17-inch television resting on a cardboard box, but the remote was somewhere in the luggage.
Reaching forward. Pressing the button on the set.
Enomoto roared a “26!” and suddenly burst into a loud AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA.
What kind of comedy show was going on right now?
Pressing the channel-change button a couple dozen times.
And, when the top-right corner read 26, an excited bearded man with a shaven head was up there giving some kind of excited speech.
“It’s all because of that! It’s all because of THAT! It’s all because of THAT, that you haven’t seen anything yet! The glasses of common sense shall cloud the eyes of the heart! You hear me? There are witnesses aren’t there?! And those witnesses are school kids and monks, and even policemen! How could you ever think that such children could lie to all those scientists and journalists?? And why would all those policemen and monks damage their own societal reputation with bald-faced lies! There can only be one answer! They’ve all told the TRUTH!”
From the receiver, Enomoto went “It’s all because of that! It’s all because of THAT!” and started laughing loudly again.
It was a familiar face.
It’s all because of that! – that was a familiar line.
She couldn’t remember the name. Something like Aoi. Or not. Anyway, it was the kind of name that some kind of excessively self-conscious middle school kid would write as a pen-name when submitting a poem to a contest. A researcher of all supernatural phenomena. He was one of the top guys you saw in media.
Screen angle change. A counter by some old woman.
“Don’t you know, that kind of talk is just rude to students. Young kids aren’t idiots. But…kids out there, they keep getting tricked by idiot grown-ups… that’s right. And a man like you just has to be one of them, doing all those kinds of things like teaching kids that the Earth is still flat. That’s how all those famous lies are spread. And monks and policemen are the same too. But a kind of stupidly sincere chap like you would be hurt if I said that right? Is that right? Can I say it? Those people want to get famous by spouting their lies all over and doing stupid things all over the place. It’s sad. It’s very sad. They’ll even kill themselves for the sake of proof. Those very sad very sad people.”
A hairstyle like a roman helmet, with a mole on her chin as large as a chocolate chip. This was also a familiar face. As expected, she couldn’t remember the name, but this was someone that always appeared on such shows. Title: Science Journalist. Wrote a lot of serial reports for a lot of difficult magazines.
The receiver burst out in delight – “The hair is killing me! The hair!”
At a U-shaped table, the two camps of debaters (three people each) sat down, and the background had a gaudy Pachinko Parlour like set, with an Adamski type UFO made out of Papier-Mache spewing a waterfall worth of smoke.
In other words, a UFO specialty show.
Slight disappointment. The show that Enomoto was all hyped up about – she expected it to be a comedy show or some other amusing thing. A UFO show wasn’t special, and she wasn’t even interested enough in the content to watch it.
“Well, it looks like the battles are heating up all right. But here’s a new development! Let’s focus our talk on the Sonohara Military Base! Mr. Ooitabashi, could you tell us anything about the supposed experiments happening there?”
The screen changed. The reflected scenery was one that Shiina Mayumi could immediately recognize. Sonohara Base Apron 2. As expected, they couldn’t get into the grounds. An unstable camera shifted the view – as though someone had smacked it extremely hard – focusing onto an environment full of civilian onlookers.
“Okay. This is Ooitabashi at Sonohara Base, and now the time is 7.16pm… that’s just 10 minutes past the start of the telepathic UFO summoning ceremony. Looking at the sky now, there doesn’t seem to be any large change, but just look here at all the people gathered! So this is why they call Sonohara a UFO town, or even ‘Area Sonohara’. The citizens here are all very concerned!”
She was unable to keep silent.
“Is this live?!”
“Of course. I was wondering what all the fuss was about since the guards were running all over the place. Turns out it was something like this. I wanted to flash them a peace sign but that bastard Kimura stopped me. That idiot.”
“You’re the idiot!! You better not make a single move okay?! This is a national-level broadcast isn’t it?! If they catch your face on some record, it’ll be an instant court-martialing!! Don’t you care?!”
“Come on, stop it with the loud voice. It was just a joke. Oh, look who’s here! It’s that whatever his name telepathic UFO guy! Hot damn! Does he look like that no matter where he is?!”
On the camera. A man that, for his whole life, must have consumed nothing but mineral water, vegetables, and marijuana. A creepy looking tall guy. Eyes closed, facing the sky, both arms in a loose and open pose, standing still. Surely, he was some sort of ‘channeler’, often appearing on television with some kind of ESP or divination performance. He had some medal from some Interstellar Brother, and he also had a long name that you couldn’t remember no matter how hard you tried.
“Err… according to Mr. Kannalinaflekimam Flucolt Shee-Ah, if a UFO summoning should be successful, it should take 30 to 40 minutes for it to appear, and the direction will be 30 degrees North-North-East. So I’m told.”
A voice from the receiver: “Bulleyes at 30 degrees hmm? Not exactly off.”
“Okay, if there’s anything happening in this sky, we’ll be sure to notify you immediately. Anyway, let’s head back to the studio.”
Clouds filled the evening sky. There was no lightning installed yet, so half the room was bathed in darkness.
Absentminded stare into the television light. Shiina Mayumi threw the receiver on the floor, then took a full swig of the beer at her side, finishing it dry. Body toppled down, right hand stretched out, rummaging through a whole bag of stuff to find a single rarely used lighter. A red flame in the halfway dark.
Propping herself back up on one knee, re-seating and picking up the receiver.
“Hey. Will this really be okay?”
“Probably. We’re in contact with the aircraft carrier. Also, the main reason those guys are aiming for the 2nd Apron is thanks to the information warfare by Section 3.”
A sigh and a puff of smoke together, with the ash falling into the can. On the screen the bearded guy was pointing to some panel speaking fervently. On the panel was a sketch of one of the rumoured ‘Foo-fighters’ that had been seen around the area, probably drawn from imagination. Laughter from receiver.
“Nope. That thing doesn’t exist. That’s just a UFO. 20/100.”
Cynical laugh. To Shiina Mayumi, this model of Foo-Fighter had the somewhat Western stink of an Adamski type UFO. The bearded baldie continued.
“This semi-circular portion, must surely house that which is called the Dean Drive. This device falls within the same category as an anti-gravity field, and no matter where the world you catch sight of one of these, it is most likely what’s causing that UFO to run in the first place.”
Receiver: “Bingo on the name. 25/100.”
“It’s obvious they’d get that. The name was picked up from them after all.”
Choco-chip Mole shook her head as if to say ‘this is hopeless’ – and continued: “Anti-gravity? An-ti gravitee? Huh? Did you seriously say an-ti gra-vi-tee? As in, opposing gravitational force?”. The bearded baldie replied: “I did say that. So what?”. Choco-chip Mole took a swig of water: “Would you explain to me the principles of this an-ti gra-vi-tee field?”. Bearded baldie: “Sorry. You’ll have to ask the aliens”. The receiver: “Sorry. You’ll have to ask those guys at the skunks about that”. “Since you have no clue what you’re saying, how dare you shamelessly bring up some fantasy about ‘being equipped with anti-gravity drives’?” “Then explain to me how those UFOs can make such a smooth trajectory while hovering in the sky!” “As I said, this is all some perceptual distortion or fantasy or straight-out lie, and I’ve told all of you this from the very start again and again and again and again!” “Lies? Wrong! It’s all because of that! It’s all because of THAT!” Things started flying here and there.
“What’s this weirdo’s name?”
“Mr. It’s All Because of That.”
“Aoi Seien. I’ve spoken to him twice.”
A momentary pause.
“Don’t worry about it. Both times, I was with Section 3. He was loitering around the perimeter, so they said that maybe they should put a mark on him. I also met him in the waiting room of the recording studio.”
“So is he really all that?”
“Absolutely not. At most, he’s a ‘pro’. At worst, he’s a sly old fox.”
“What does that mean?”
“I tried to test him. Like, so I got this photo from a friend of a friend. What do you think professor? And he saw through it immediately. Like, oh I’m terribly sorry, but this is just a normal ‘Glasswork’.”
“What’s a Glasswork?”
“Fake UFO photo. Cut some round shape of paper and stick it to glass. Using some far off focal point, that kind of thing’s the normal method.”
“And that kinda thing works?”
“And it was a fucking surprise that he could spot it, but I just went oh I see with some fake concern, and he went, I’m sorry can I borrow this for the show? And it was some kind of debate show like today’s. So this bastard waved around my photograph going “this anonymous photo is definite proof of Alien Existence” and other shit like that. When the other guy tried to question him on that, he did the usual – It’s all because of THAT. It’s all because of THAT!”
A long trail of smoke in the halfway darkness.
“It’s not just him. That old lady, Mishima Satoko, Science Journalist – may be a real title, but they’re all definitely attached to the production team some way or another. On that day, she was there as well, with the baldie, and when the cameras stopped rolling, two of them were talking about their pets of all things. Both seem to keep Somalis or something, and they were talking about what kind of cat-food and what kind of pet hotel was best.”
“A stupidly sincere chap huh?”
That was the attack that Choco-Chip sent to Baldie.
“That’s probably referring to us, don’t you think?”
In that darkness, the only thing illuminating her was the screen.
“And now we’ll move on to today’s special selections. I hope everyone properly remembers the phone number… because we’ll be accepting audience faxes!”
“Hey. Although it’s bad if your face gets taken…”
Illuminated by the screen. Light laugh, on Shiina Mayumi’s face.
“Go strike a pose please. Double-peace.”
“No bloody way.”
“Sonohara City’s Mr. Kawaguchi. Occupation: teacher. I have watched the program, and all this UFO phenomena is all a big delusion created by humankind, and yet there are still so many people who believe in such nonsense… so, for the future sake of their brains, it would be wise to start a program to teach those idiots rationality.”
At that moment, the arm of the assistant director thrust a certain fax into the female announcer’s hands.
“Erm. Okay. Another fax from Sonohara City! Title: “Classified Information”. No. 194. Sonohara Base Second South Gate. One large trailer escorted by armed vehicles. Cargo…”
A bewildered gaze appeared on the female caster, and she looked to someone off-screen for help.
“Cargo: Frozen Alien Remains. Er… that’s all. And, the Fax name… Sonohara Radio Wave Newspaper.”
The bearded baldie was celebrating and calling out to a team to get it live. The studio was in tense chaos, and directions were being given out through the mike. The host was looking to the sub-monitor, asking… can we get in touch with Ooitabashi for a report at the base?.
“What did I tell that idiot Kimura?! I told him to do it by air!”
“Wait a moment… you mean…”
Real alien remains, in the cargo.
“How the heck would he know?! It’s an instigation plot to rouse up the studio!! How the hell would Suizenji know what’s in the cargo?! He’s probably there to hijack their findings! Sakisaka!!”
“Hey, who’s this Suizenji. Wait!”
Enomoto didn’t answer. There were many frantic cries coming from the receiver.
“Sorry. I’m cutting off. Too much stuff going on.”
Receiver slam. Line cut off.
What the hell was going on even?
The program cut to a commercial.
Shiina Mayumi didn’t have anything else she could do, so she just leaned forward and watched. But, the commercials went on for more than 15 minutes, and she got so pissed that she wanted to shake the television screen left and right. And then,
“This is Ooitabashi! We are… now at the Sonohara Base Second South Gate – cargo area! As you can see, the information was correct! A trailer escorted by armoured vehicles has indeed stopped! They’ll probably unload it onto those other trucks soon, that’s what I think, and the trucks have different types of number plates! Look over there! The soldiers are shifting over some metal containers! Let’s go, camera!”
A chaotic scene.
The camera shook like an earthquake, and the staff ran around the gate along with all those civilian rubberneckers, and there was a huge uproar. Ooitabashi ran in front of the camera. It trailed him behind. The huge military trailer and the cargo-transportation trucks stopped in their tracks. The guards tried to control those rubberneckers and the staff, but they were overwhelmingly outnumbered. The channeler with the fucked-up name was nowhere in sight. They’d probably left him behind at the 2nd Apron.
“Excuse me. The people have to know! What’s in the cargo?!”
Shaking off the troops, Ooitabashi clung to the container. The unloading soldiers shouted with the threatening air of wanting to hit someone:
“What the hell are you doing?! It’s fucking dangerous! Get the hell off!”
“Danger you say! What kind of ‘danger’ are you trying to keep away from the public gaze!”
“The cargo will break you fuck! Get the fuck off! You mother fucker!”
It was close to an insurrection. The rubberneckers climbed onto the container, and the truck lost its suspension, and shook back and forth, and finally the load tumbled from the back. The lock broke from the shock, and whatever was inside the container spilled out onto the asphalt due to the incline, and several human-shaped objects scattered about.
Contents: What you would normally call. Dutch Wives.
The Situation: National Live Broadcast.
The camera lens were blocked out by someone’s hand. Screen cut.
“We apologize for technical difficulties.”
In the six-tatami room, the phone rang.
Eyes still nailed to the set, Shiina Mayumi grabbed it with her left hand.
“Can I, just say one thing?”
“Did you make it in time? Or was it too late?”
After a period of silence. Scornful laugh.
“What do you think?”
Well, I guess soldiers have it hard… huh.
I guess so… and they have to go to all sorts of places…
The program ended, with a draw between both sides.
The six-tatami room was submerged in darkness. Playing on the television – a sunscreen commercial. The colors of the sea spilled out onto the cardboard box.
“A school infirmary… huh?”
Shiina Mayumi muttered.
Cross-legged on the veranda. Right hand – second can of beer. Left arm entangled with the metal bat, resting on her shoulder. A soft wind blew, and she slowly sipped, and stared out into the first summer night. Venus was in the sky. From ages past, people still mistook it for UFOs. An enchanting star.
Left hand gripping the bat. Tighter.
She had moved here and there. It was all for various postings.
The newspaper salesmen were the same. They would swoop upon you whether you were unpacking your luggage or not. And that metal bat had been her sole weapon for the sake of victory. She had never lost, yet, and placing her metal bat at the entrance while she was unpacking had become ingrained into habit.
“Sonohara Radio Wave Newspaper…it seems.”
Holding that metal bat straight. Staring at the clouds of a summer night. Shiina Mayumi had that a thought.
Now this, would be a difficult newspaper to handle.