“Okay,” said Shun without hesitation.
“You too Satoru, got it?”
“You don’t have to tell me. But what if it gets out somehow?”
“It doesn’t seem like anyone saw us. As long as no one says anything, it’ll be fine,” Maria replied. “Mamoru?”
“What do you mean, what…”
“Nothing happened today. I didn’t see anything. I had nothing to do with the queerats or anything.”
“But what do we do about this?” Satoru wrinkled his nose at the queerat.
“It’s not going to talk to anyone.”
“Can queerats talk?” Shun looked curious.
I approached the queerat who was still lying on the ground. I wondered if it was injured somewhere. When the other queerat saw me, it also fell prostrate to the floor.
They were obviously afraid of humans.
“Hey, I saved your life, got it?” I tried to speak gently.
“You shouldn’t talk to queerats!” Mamoru shouted in a strangled voice from somewhere behind me.
“Hey, can you hear me?”
The soaked queerat nodded silently. Looking a lot more comfortable now that it was back on all fours, it crawled over to me and made a movement like it was kissing my shoes.
They both bowed. Somehow, that simple action was full of meaning. Suddenly, I really wanted to know what their faces looked like.
“Hey, look this way,” I clapped my hands lightly.
“Saki, stop it already,” Maria sounded slightly stunned.
“Seriously, you can’t…the queerats,” Mamoru sounded even farther away now.
“Do you understand what I’m saying? Lift your head up.”
The queerats lifted their heads nervously.
Somehow, I had been expecting a cute face like a field mouse’s, so I was shocked.
Under the hood was a face uglier than any I had ever seen on a living thing. It had a flat snout, more like a pig’s that a rat’s, loose pale skin that hung in folds and was covered in brown, downy hairs, and shiny, beady eyes.
“Th★k yu Thakyu. Kikikikiki. Kakakakaga★…ds. Gods.”