Monogatari Series:Bakemonogatari Volume1/Mayoi Snail 004
I suppose it’s about time I talked about spring break.
Over spring break, I was attacked by a vampire.
I say attacked, but really I stuck my head where it didn’t belong. In fact, I pretty much literally stuck my head out, revealing my neck for those sharp fangs. At any rate, in this age where science is seen as all powerful and people think no darkness cannot be illuminated by it, I, Araragi Koyomi, was attacked by a vampire in the back country suburbs of Japan.
I was attacked by a beautiful demon.
Hers was blood-chilling beauty.
My blood was squeezed from my body and I became a vampire.
It sounds like a joke, but wasn’t funny at all.
I gained a body that would burn up in the sun, loathed crosses, was vulnerable to garlic, and would melt from holy water. In exchange, I gained tremendous physical abilities. What awaited me afterwards was a hellish reality. I was saved from that hell by a middle aged man who happened to be passing by, Oshino Meme. Oshino Meme was a hopeless adult who went from trip to trip without a permanent residence. He brilliantly drove out the vampire and dealt with everything else too.
As a result, I returned to being human.
I retained a small fraction of the physical abilities (namely, a bit of heightened recovery speed and a heightened metabolism) and I was once more fine with the sun, crosses, garlic, and holy water.
Really, it wasn’t much.
It wasn’t even anything worth ending with “and I lived happily ever after”.
It had already been resolved, so there isn’t much to talk about. The only real remaining problem was having my blood drunk once a month and getting superhuman vision and such afterwards. However, those were all my own personal problems and I merely had to spend the rest of my life facing them.
In my case, I was lucky.
For me, it only lasted for the duration of spring break.
The hell was only about 2 weeks long.
It was different for Senjougahara.
For Senjougahara Hitagi, when she met that crab, she had to deal with the inconvenience to her body for over 2 years.
Most of her freedom had been taken by that inconvenience.
I had to wonder what it was like living that hell for over 2 years.
Given that, it may not have been all that surprising that she admirably felt more of an obligation toward me than was suitable for the little I had done. The physical inconvenience was one thing, but having the emotional inconvenience removed must have been more important to her than anything.
Yes, those types of problems left you with no one to discuss it with and no one who understood you. It may be that they chained you up much more heavily and drove wedges between you and others much more deeply than physical problems.
For instance, I may have recovered, but I continued to be afraid of the morning sunlight coming in through the gap between the curtains. In that case, she may have similar lingering effects.
I knew one other person who had been helped by Oshino like Senjougahara and I, Class Rep Hanekawa Tsubasa. However, for her, it had been even shorter than for me at only a few days and she had lost the memories from that time. In a way, she may have been the luckiest of us all. However, in about every other way, Hanekawa had not been saved at all.
“It was around here.”
“The house I used to live in was around here.”
I looked in the direction Senjougahara was pointing, but all I saw was…
“…That’s a road.”
“Indeed it is.”
It was a wonderful road. From the color of the asphalt, it was clearly newly paved. Which meant…
“So the land was developed?”
“Actually, it is known as rezoning.”
“Did you know?”
“Then you should look a little more surprised.”
“I do not show my emotions on my face.”
True enough, her expression had not changed in the slightest.
However, the way Senjougahara stood staring at the place could be interpreted as her feeling forlorn over having lost that destination.
“Everything really has completely changed. It’s hard to believe all this happened in less than a year.”
After coming all that way, that is what she said.
And she truly did sound bored.
That had been one of the major reasons she had decided to break in her new clothes in that area and now she was done with it.
She turned around.
Still hiding behind my legs, Hachikuji Mayoi peered out at Senjougahara. In her caution, she remained silent. Despite being a child – or perhaps due to being a child – she must have instinctually seen Senjougahara as the greater threat than me. For a while, she had been avoiding Senjougahara by using me as a barrier. It was obvious that the living human that I was made a poor barrier and it was also obvious that she was avoiding Senjougahara, so I felt really awkward as the third party. However, Senjougahara showed no sign of engaging Hachikuji (when she said “this way” or “down this road” it was always only to me), so they were even.
It was still hard to bear as the one caught between them, though.
Oddly enough, from the way Senjougahara was acting, it seemed like she would say “I don’t really know” instead of “I hate them” or “I dislike them” if I had asked her how she felt about children.
“The house had been sold, so I didn’t expect it to be exactly the same, but I certainly did not expect it to be a road now. That does leave me a little blue.”
“Yeah, I suppose it would.”
I had no choice but to agree.
I could certainly imagine what it would be like.
On the way here from the park, the old roads and the new roads had been all mixed together. Also, the guide map and the residential map on the sign at the park had seemed completely different from reality. It was enough to somehow wear down my motivation and I had no real attachment to the area.
Not that anything could be done about it.
The cityscape would change just as people would change.
Senjougahara let out a long sigh and said, “That was pointless and it ate up a lot of time. Let’s go, Araragi-kun.”
“Hm? You’re ready to go?”
“Oh, okay. Let’s go, Hachikuji.”
Hachikuji wordlessly nodded.
She may have thought saying something would reveal her location to Senjougahara.
Senjougahara started walking on head.
Hachikuji and I followed.
“How about you let go of my legs, Hachikuji? It’s hard to walk like this. Honestly, just quite clinging to me like Dakko-chan. You’re gonna make me trip.”
“Just say something already.”
At my coercion, Hachikuji said, “Araragi-san, I am not clinging to your giant leg because I want to.”
I then forcibly pried her from my leg.
As I did so, a nice ripping sound effect…was not actually made.
“How could you! I’m going to complain to the PTA!”
“Hehh. The PTA, you say?”
“The PTA is an amazing organization! A minor citizen with no influence like you stands no chance! They can toss you aside with just one finger!”
“Just one finger, huh? How scary. By the way Hachikuji, do you know what PTA stands for?”
As I had suspected, she did not, so she fell silent again.
Not that I knew.
At the very least, I managed to keep it from developing into an annoying argument.
“PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association,” answered Senjougahara from ahead of us. “It also stands for the medical term percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, but I doubt that is the answer you wanted, Araragi-kun, so Parent Teacher Association must be the correct answer.”
“Hehh. I had a vague idea that it was a gathering of parents, but I didn’t know it included the teachers too. You sure are knowledgeable, Senjougahara.”
“No, you are merely severely lacking in knowledge and incompetent, Araragi-kun.”
“I won’t complain about the lacking in knowledge part because it flowed from what I was saying, but incompetent was just plain unnecessary.”
“Was it? Then I will change it to pathetic.”
She did not even turn around.
She must really be in a bad mood…
A normal person may have been wondering what was different about that from her usual abuse, but after all the abuse she had sent my way, I could instinctually tell the difference. There was simply no edge to her words. If she had been in a good mood, Senjougahara would have showered me with much, much more abuse.
I wonder what the problem is.
Was it finding out her house is a road, or is it me?
Both seemed likely.
Whichever it was, even if you ignored my child abuse and all, our conversation had been cut short by Hachikuji’s trouble. Even if it that had been the natural flow of events, it was natural for Senjougahara to not be at peace in her heart.
In that case, I have to get this Hachikuji Mayoi to her destination as quickly as possible and then work to put Senjougahara back in a good mood. I can treat her to lunch, and go shopping with her. If there is still time after that, we can go somewhere else for fun. Yeah, that should work. Thanks to my sisters, I can’t just go home, so I can spend the day attending to Senjougahara. Luckily, I have plenty of money on me, so-…Wait, why am I so intent on doing things for her!?
I surprised myself.
“By the way, Hachikuji.”
“What is it, Araragi-san?”
“About this memo.”
I pulled the memo from my pocket.
I had not yet returned it to Hachikuji.
“What is at this address?”
And why are you headed there, I wanted to ask.
As the one guiding her, I wanted to know. Especially since she was an elementary school girl out on her own.
“Hah. I won’t tell. I’m going to make use of my right to remain silent.”
She really was an impertinent little girl.
Who was it that said children were pure and innocent?
“If you don’t tell me, I won’t take you there.”
“I never asked you to. I can go on my own.”
“But I thought you were lost?”
“What about it?”
“Hachikuji, for future reference, there’s nothing wrong with asking others for directions.”
“Maybe for people like you who have no confidence. You can rely on others all you want, but I don’t need to do that. For me, this kind of thing is no harder than using an everyday vending machine!”
“Hehh…So it’s sold at a set price?” was my odd response.
Well, from Hachikuji’s point of view, I was probably meddling. When I was in elementary school, I believed I could do anything on my own. I believed I did not need anyone’s help for anything and that I would never need someone else to rescue me.
And yet there was of course no way that I could truly do everything.
“Understood, young lady. Please, would you kindly tell me what is at this address?”
“Your words have no sincerity behind them.”
She was quite stubborn.
Both my middle school-aged sisters would have certainly fallen for that, but Hachikuji had a clever-looking face, so I decided she would not be dealt with as easily as some dumb kid.
Honestly, the trouble I go to.
A brilliant idea came to me.
I pulled my wallet out of my back pocket.
I had plenty of money on me.
“Young lady, would you like some money?”
“Yahoo! I’ll tell you anything!”
What a dumb kid.
I mean, that is just really stupid.
I had a feeling that no child had ever been kidnapped using that method, but Hachikuji seemed to have the makings of being the first.
“Someone named Tsunade-san lives there.”
“Tsunade? Is that a family name?”
“It is an excellent family name!” shouted back Hachikuji, seeming to have taken offense.
I understand that it wouldn’t feel good to have someone you knew’s name referred to in that way, but it was nothing to get mad about. It made her seem emotionally unstable.
“Hmm, so how do you know this person?”
“Tsunade-san is a relative of mine.”
“A relative, huh?”
I concluded that she must have been using that Sunday to head to her relative’s house. I did not know whether she had fairly laissez faire parents or if she had snuck out on her own, but it seemed that elementary school girl’s weekend adventure had failed.
“Is Tsunade-san a cousin you get along well with? From the look of that backpack, I’m guessing you’ve come a fair ways. Honestly, you should have done this over Golden Week instead. Or is there some reason that it had to be today?”
“Something like that.”
“You should at least spend Mother’s Day with your parents.”
That was not really something I should have been saying.
–Onii-chan, it’s because you’re like this.
What’s wrong with being like this?
“I don’t want to hear that from you, Araragi-san.”
“What do you know!?”
“I can just tell.”
It seemed that she had no real reason. She simply physiologically did not like having me lecture her.
“And what were you doing, Araragi-san? I don’t think any decent person would be sitting blankly on a park bench on a Sunday morning.”
“I wasn’t really doing anything. I was just-…”
I almost said, “killing time”, but I stopped myself at the last second.
That’s right. A guy who says he is killing time when asked what he is doing is worthless. That was close.
“I was just doing some touring.”
“Oh, some touring? How cool.”
She praised me.
I expected some horrible words to soon follow, but none came.
I see. So Hachikuji is capable of praising me…
“It was only on my bicycle, though.”
“I see. Well, a bike is standard for touring. It is a bit disappointing though. Do you not have a license, Araragi-san?”
“Unfortunately, my school’s rules prohibit getting a license. But a bike really is more dangerous, so I’d prefer a car.”
“I see. But then it would be fouring, wouldn’t it?”
Wow, now that’s a funny mistake. She thinks touring is spelled “two”-ring. Should I correct or her let it slide? I’m not sure which one is the kinder option.
By the way, Senjougahara gave no response to this as she walked on ahead.
She made no attempt at all to enter the conversation.
I wondered if she was simply unable to hear such a low intelligence conversation.
Incidentally, that was when I saw Hachikuji Mayoi’s carefree smile for the first time. It was quite charming and it seemed to open my heart. The usual way of describing that type of smile was to say it was like a blooming sunflower, but it was also the type of smile that most people stopped making after getting much older than her.
“Sigh. Oh, god.”
That was a close one. If I was a lolicon, I would fallen for her there. I really am glad I’m not a lolicon.
“The roads around here really are a tangled mess. What kind of structure is this? How did you think you could navigate through all this on your own?”
“This isn’t my first time doing this.”
“Oh, I see. But then why are you lost?”
“…Because it’s been a while,” said Hachikuji, sounding ashamed.
Yes, what you think you can do and what you can do are two different things. What you think is nothing more than thoughts. That is true for elementary schoolers, high schoolers, and people of every other age.
“By the way, Arararagi-san.”
“You added an extra ‘ra’!”
“Sorry, I bit my tongue.”
“Don’t bite your tongue in such an unpleasant way…”
“It can’t be helped. Everyone says things wrong sometimes. Or have you said everything perfectly from the moment you were born, Araragi-san?”
“I can’t say I’ve done that, but I know I don’t say people’s names wrong.”
“Then say Basu Gasu Bakuhatsu three times fast.”
“That is not someone’s name.”
“Yes, it is. I know three people named that, so it must be a fairly common name.”
She was brimming with confidence.
I was shocked at just how obvious children’s lies were.
“Basu gasu bakuhatsu, basu gasu bakuhatsu, basu gasu bakuhatsu.”
I ended up saying it.
“What animal devours dreams?” asked Hachikuji as soon as I was done.
When did this become the ten-times quiz?
“Nope. Wrong,” said Hachikuji with a triumphant expression. “The animal that devours dreams is…” She put on a fearless smile. “…the human.”
“This is no time to be clever!”
I shouted louder than I meant to because I subconsciously really did think it was clever.
Anyway, the residential area was very quiet.
As we walked along, we did not pass by anyone else. The area seemed to be one of those where the people who had to leave left in the mornings and those who did not need to leave stayed in all day. Well, the area I lived in was pretty much the same. The main difference was that the houses here were much larger. It must have been an area populated by mostly rich people. I recalled that Senjougahara’s father was a big shot in a foreign investment company, so I surmised that that was the type of people that lived there.
Foreign investments, hm?
It was not a term that really seemed to fit that back country area.
“Hey, Araragi-kun,” said Senjougahara, speaking up for the first time in a while. “Could you tell me the address again?”
“Hm? Sure. Are we close?”
“Perhaps, or maybe…” she said vaguely.
Not understanding what she meant, I read off the memo once more.
Senjougara nodded and said, “It seems we overshot it.”
“Eh? We did?”
“It seems that way,” she said calmly. “If you wish to rebuke me, do so as much as you like.”
“Um, I’m not going to rebuke you over something like that.”
Why does she get so serious like that?
She was so honorable that it seemed more like she did not know when to give up.
With a composed face that showed no impatience, Senjougahara turned around to face the path she had just come down. To avoid her, Hachikuji made the exact opposite movements in order to keep me in the center between them.
“Why are you so afraid of Senjougahara? She hasn’t done anything to you. In fact, while it may be hard to tell at first glance, she is the one guiding you, not me.”
I was merely following her.
I really was in no position to say anything self important.
Even if she disliked Senjougahara due to some child’s intuition, she was going too far. Not even Senjougahara was made of steel. Even she would be hurt if Hachikuji continued to avoid her like that. And even if I set aside my concern for Senjougahara, Hachikuji’s attitude toward her was wrong from a moral standpoint.
“I am at a loss as to what to say in response to that,” said Hachikuji with surprising modesty and despondency.
She then lowered her voice to a whisper and said, “But can’t you feel it, Araragi-san?”
“The fierce animosity emanating from her.”
It seemed to be something more than intuition.
The worst part was that I could not say she was wrong.
“She seems to hate me. I can feel her will strongly telling me to disappear because I am in the way.”
“I doubt she’s actually thinking that, but…Hmm.”
I was afraid, but I decided to ask.
The answer was obvious to me, but it still seemed that I had to ask.
As usual, she did not turn around.
It might have been me that she thought was in the way and wanted to disappear.
We both thought of the other as a friend, so it was strange how we were simply unable to get along.
“Do you…hate children?”
“Yes. I absolutely loathe them. I wish every last one of them would die.”
She showed no restraint.
Hachikuji let out a short cry of terror and shrank down behind me.
“I have no idea how to approach them. A while back – I think it was in middle school – I bumped into a child of about 7 while shopping in a department store.”
“Oh, did you make the kid cry?”
“No, it wasn’t that. It was what I said to the 7 year old child. I said, ‘Are you okay? Are you hurt? I’m sorry. I really am.’”
“I had no idea what to say to a child, so I lost my cool. That led me to give such a horrible response. It was such a shock that, ever since, I have endeavored to turn my hatred toward the things known as children whether they are human or not.”
It was something like an outburst of anger.
I understood her reasoning, but I could not understand how she felt.
“By the way, Araragi-kun.”
“It seems we overshot it again.”
Overshot what…? Oh, the address.
Eh…? Really? Twice?
With an unfamiliar area, it was not uncommon for the address to not quite match up with the actual layout of things, but this was the area Senjougahara had lived in until recently.
“If you are able to rebuke me for this, then do so as much as you like.”
“I’m not going to rebuke you over something like-…wait. Senjougahara, did your line change slightly from before?”
“Oh, did it? I didn’t notice.”
“What’s going on? Oh, right. You mentioned rezoning before, didn’t you? Come to think of it, if your house is now a road, it isn’t too surprising that things have changed so much from what you remember.”
“No, it isn’t that.” Senjougahara checked her surroundings. “The number of roads has increased, old houses have disappeared, and new ones have been built, but none of the old roads are completely gone. I should not be getting lost like this.”
But the fact was, she actually was getting lost. It was possible she simply did not want to admit her own careless mistake. She could be fairly obstinate in her own way.
“What?” asked Senjougahara. “From your expression, you seem to have some kind of complaint. Araragi-kun, if you have something to say, then be a man and say it. If you like, I will strip naked and prostrate myself before you right here and now.”
“Are you trying to make everyone think I’m the world’s worst man?”
How could I let her do that in a residential area like that?
Also, that wasn’t the kind of thing I was into.
“If it would show the world that Araragi Koyomi is the world’s worst man, then nude prostration is a cheap price to pay.”
“What’s cheap is your pride.”
I couldn’t figure out whether she had too much or too little pride.
“But I will keep on my socks.”
“Even if you end this with a lame joke, I don’t have any strange fetishes like that.”
“When I said socks, I meant fishnet stockings.”
“Going farther toward crazy isn’t going to help.”
Actually, even if my tastes don’t lie there, I wouldn’t mind seeing her in fishnet stockings. She doesn’t even have to be nude otherwise. Hm, if she was wearing stockings like that…
“I can tell from your face that you are thinking indecent thoughts, Araragi-kun.”
“Of course not. Does a person who endeavors to hold up the principles of purity such as myself seem like he would be the owner of such a vulgar personality? I am truly shocked that you would think that, Senjougahara.”
“Oh? Whether there is any basis or not, I try to always say such things to you, Araragi-kun. The fact that this time you simply denied it without any kind of retort seems suspicious.”
“Well, if nude prostration is not enough for you, I suppose you must be intending to use a permanent marker to write lewd words on every inch of my flesh.”
“My thoughts didn’t go that far!”
“Then how far did they go?”
“More importantly, umm, Hachikuji.”
I forcibly changed the subject.
I had learned how to do that by watching Senjougahara.
“Sorry, but this looks like it’s going to take longer than I thought. But if you recognize this area…”
“I do not.”
Hachikuji’s tone was surprisingly calm. In fact, it was an emotionless and mechanical tone that sounded like she was reciting a formula she had memorized.
“It is probably impossible.”
“If probably isn’t enough for you, then it is definitely impossible.”
It wasn’t that probably wasn’t enough for me.
Nor was it that definitely was enough.
Even so, I was unable to say anything.
It was that tone of voice.
“No matter how many times I try, I will never get there.”
“I will never get there.”
Hachikuji repeated herself.
“I will never get to my mother’s place.”
She was like a broken record.
She was like an unbroken record.
“After all, that is what happens with the lost snail.”
 Translator's Notes
- Means "Bus Gas Explosion".
- A Japanese game in which someone is asked to say a word repeatedly and is then asked a simple question that they will often get wrong due to a close-but-not-quite-right answer being very similar to the word repeated.
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