I took a deep breath. Surprisingly, I was calmer than I thought I would be. I couldn’t answer this question with a complete lie. If I fudged the details of Mamoru’s story and left out the tainted cats, maybe…
“What’s wrong? Answer the question!”
“Do you know what is happening in Kamisu 66 right now?” Masayo shouted. “An order to remain indoors has been enacted and the people tremble with fear. All because of the selfish actions of one student!”
Why was there such an overreaction to a missing student? At the time, I simply couldn’t understand it. Instead, an irrepressible anger boiled out of me.
How dare they call Mamoru selfish. The Board of Education was the one who had driven him nearly insane and even tried to kill him.
My silence seemed to arouse suspicion and the people at the table began to stir.
“What’s the matter? Why do you remain silent? Say something,” Masayo drummed on the table impatiently with her fingers.
“I believe Mamoru ran away because he didn’t want to die.”
I finally said it. There was no going back now.
“What…don’t say something so absurd.”
“I’m just answering your question.”
Was I really this brave? Even I was surprised by my response.
“I heard this directly from him. Recently, he had been approached by two copy…tainted cats. The first time, it appeared to only tail him.”
“Stop! Do you have any idea what you’re saying?”
“The second time was after school two days ago. The Sun Pr…Mr. Endou kept Mamoru after school and sent him to the inner courtyard in a deliberate attempt to isolate him,” I continued, ignoring her. “There, Mamoru was almost killed by a tainted cat. He saw it clearly. He even said that it had white fur. So he…”