An ominous rainy day

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[This chapter takes place six months after 'The Meeting' chapter]

I quickened my pace as the clouds began to gather in the sky. The sky had been lit up by the full moon's light up until now, but it had suddenly turned pitch black. It looks like it'll start raining any minute now.

It's going to be another rainy night huh.

I rushed to the small convenience store on the way to my flat since I needed to buy some groceries. Since it was a small convenience store with mostly food products, there weren't many people in the store, but in the end that didn't matter because a light shower of rain began before I left the convenience store.

The owner of the convenience store, an elderly lady, invited me to stay inside the store until the rain stopped. But I respectfully declined the offer and walked out of the store with the items I needed. My flat is only 20 minutes away, so if I don't waste any time here, I'll be able to get there without getting soaked.

However, the light shower quickly turned into a heavy downpour. If I go now, there's no way I can reach my apartment without getting drenched in the rain.

While waiting for the rain to stop, I took cover under the roof in front of the convenience store. The world in front of me was entirely blurred by the rain. The rain was so heavy that I couldn't see anything more than two blocks away. The only things I can make out from here are a black car at the end of the street and the tops of umbrellas here and there.

I saw some people with umbrellas passing in front of me but as soon as they took few steps away from me they vanished from my sight. It's like they're walking in to a void and disappearing right in front of my eyes.

Just like how he disappeared from my world after crossing the school gate on that day.

Just this single thought of him made me think about the events of the previous six months. It's been six months since I met Horikita and others on that day. Just like today, the past six months had been pretty unfruitful.

When Horikita told us she had a lead on Kiyotaka, everyone thought we'd finally found him. The car's license plate that Tachibana-senpai spotted was not that bad of a clue either. Normally, a car's licence plate would suffice to locate someone, but anything related to Kiyotaka is not normal at all.

Though not easily, we've managed to obtain the details of the car owner based on the license plate number. I'm sure the others assumed Kiyotaka would be the car's owner and finding Kiyotaka is simply a matter of obtaining the car's owner's details. But I knew it wouldn't be that simple.

It turned out that the car belonged to a car rental company, which has a strict policy of not disclosing client information to third parties. No matter how we tried, the company's manager refused to provide us the details of the person who rented the car. In the end Ryuen somehow managed to get the details from that manager.

The manager even let us inspect the car up close, the car's features matched Tachibana-senpai's description perfectly.

If Kiyotaka is a normal guy, he or someone close to him would be the one who rented out the car. But unfortunately Kiyotaka is not a normal person. The person who rented the car on that day was a man in his early fifties. According to this man, he rented out the car but he never attended a meeting on that day and he had never heard of a man named Ayanokouji Kiyotaka.

This man explained that he rented the car to travel to the outskirts of Tokyo to see his son's grave, who had reportedly committed suicide. Based on the way he spoke, that man didn't appear to be lying about the car and about his son. I trusted his words, but Ryuen and Horikita didn't, and they've gone so far as to inquire about the grave's location and check it for themselves to see if he's speaking the truth.

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