Disclaimer: The 'Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi' series is the creation of Nagaru Tanigawa. No disrespect is intended with the creation of this work. This is a substantial rewrite of an earlier story with the same name.
The Deconstruction of Haruhi Suzumiya
I have a throbbing headache.
That is the only thing that comes to mind right now. I've got a vague feeling that I'm supposed to have … thoughts, but none are willing to present themselves. Beyond the blunt pain my mind feels peculiarly vacant, as if I was a piece of driftwood floating listlessly across the ocean.
Speaking of which…. Do I even have a body? It stands to reason that you cannot have a headache without a head, but I don't seem to find mine right now. As far as I can see, there's absolutely nothing in here. If this is some philosophical conundrum, then I'm too tired to remember its name.
I wish I could sleep, but the headache doesn't let me. There's something in this thought that causes a vague idea light up like a solitary firefly lost in a dark cavern. Something related to sleep. The idea floats around aimlessly in this vacant space that should be my mind. It takes a while until I realize what it is.
Maybe I can't see anything because my eyes are closed?
I open my eyes. The harsh light adds sharp overtones of pain to the dull beat inside my head, making me squint. There's a moment of nauseating dizziness before the view comes to focus.
I see a dull and oddly geometric landscape. At first it doesn't resemble anything that I would recognize, but then small cues in the scenery cause a readjustment of my frame of reference. I realize that I'm lying on my back, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling above me. I have no idea what I am doing here — whatever place this is.
"Kyon! Are you okay?!"
This sudden exclamation startles me. Turning my head toward the source of the voice, this is what I can see.
I'm lying on a sort of hard bed or table in a small room with many cabinets on the walls. The word 'hospital' floats to my mind for some reason. There's a strikingly good-looking girl in a sailor suit sitting on a nearby chair. The uniform, combined with her apparent age, suggests that she's a high school student. This looks like an obvious conclusion, but there's nothing else that's obvious in the situation.
The shoulder-length dark hair of the girl is tied with a conspicuous yellow band. Her eyes glisten as if she had just been crying, but she's now looking at me with an expression that wavers somewhere between anxiousness and relief. The scene feels surreal, as if I had somehow woken up in the middle of a typical shoujo romance story. Or quite possibly a fanfic. At least the 'hurt' part is already taken care of, if you ask me.
I don't seem to be dreaming — the still very tangible headache should be proof enough for that.
The girl has stood up and grabbed the edge of the bed I'm lying on. She's still watching me keenly, waiting for my response. Did I already mention that she's got unusually brilliant eyes? I can't help thinking that attracting the attention of such a compassionate girl might feel rather nice, except for one small but important detail. Who is she? I don't have the slightest idea.
This is embarrassing. I should be saying something, but I'm totally at a loss of words — not to mention context. If this were an act, shouldn't there be cameras or at least some audience? Who is this girl, my sister? Anyway, I don't remember having a sister. Something in the scene or in her appearance gives me an odd idea. Before thinking better of it, I let this careless thought escape my lips.
"Are you my girlfriend?"
Ugh, wrong script. I can see it immediately from her stunned face. My bad. Quite evidently, I'm not good at improvising.
"What are you talking about, Kyon?! Have you gone totally bonkers?"
Right now that sounds like a pretty good guess. Either me or everything else, at any rate. Anyway, miss … why are you calling me 'Kyon'? That isn't even a real name.
"It can't be…!"
Her eyes widen even further as she suddenly grabs the front of my shirt and leans over me. Her face is really close to mine now. Hey, isn't this proceeding a bit too fast? And besides, I've got a headache.
"Don't play any stupid games with me! Who am I?!" The girl sounds angry, but her expression makes me suspect that she's just upset. Anyway, considering my current circumstances….
"Miss, I'd be very interested in learning the answer to that question, as well."
My answer makes her gasp and release me. "Stay here!" she barks and runs hastily out of the room.
This is really confusing, and I still don't know who she is. Now that I think about it, I don't seem to remember my own name, either. Whatever this is, it isn't good.
I'm feeling a bit wobbly as I examine the glass cabinet in front of me. Or more accurately, I'm examining the reflection on the cabinet door. A boy I don't recognize looks appraisingly back at me. He doesn't appear to be particularly bad looking. One could almost call him handsome in a solemn way. He wears a school uniform and what appears to be a hachimaki without any visible slogan on his head. A cram schooler perhaps?
On a closer inspection I realize that it isn't a hachimaki after all but a bandage rolled around his head. That reminds me of something, but what is it? Oh right, I have a throbbing headache. As I raise a hand to my head the boy in the reflection does the same in unison. Sure enough, there's a bandage around my head, as well. Fumbling with the bandage, I can feel a wound dressing pad at the back of my head. Pressing the pad makes burning nails of pain sink into my skull. The boy grimaces.
That boy in the mirror is me, without doubt. Why can't I remember ever having seen that face before?
There's some noise behind my back.
I turn around to witness a middle-aged woman wearing nurse's uniform being practically pushed into the room by an awfully agitated girl clad in a sailor suit. Well, that's as unexpected a sight as it's bizarre. Is there supposed to be a costume party today? Why am I here anyway, and what is this place? I seem to be lost. Then I realize that I have a headache, and that gives me an idea.
This must be a school infirmary, and I'm being treated for headache. Yes, that makes sense! I would congratulate myself for this display of deductive skill if only that single sense-making thing weren't as lacking in company as a mammoth that has just missed the latest ice age by ten thousand years.
"Well, let's see the patient, then, since he's awake," says the nurse, rummaging a drawer for instruments.
Instead of giving me something for the headache the nurse examines my eyes with a flashlight and checks my reflexes.
"Are you feeling nauseous or tired?"
No, I have a headache.
"Can you see and hear normally?"
I think so. Did I mention that I have a headache?
"Then there isn't anything else that I can do. It doesn't appear to be too serious. I would still recommend making an appointment with a doctor, especially if you start to feel ill."
But … what about my headache?
"But he didn't recognize me!" interjects the girl, who's been watching the examination impatiently.
I didn't? Well, I still don't, which is a pity since the girl looks very pretty. But wait— Didn't that mean that she actually wants me to recognize her? Huh, what's this? Am I this popular?
"It is most likely just temporary disorientation caused by the concussion. Call a doctor if he still feels confused after resting." Having said this, the nurse puts her instruments away as to indicate that she's done her part.
"Let's go then!"
The girl grabs my hand and pulls me out of the room. Hey, not so fast! I'm still the patient here. And I have a headache.
It looks like she's simply ignoring my weak objections. "Hurry up! I'm not going to let this just be!" she mutters more to herself than me.
Oh boy, how did I draw the attention of such a brash girl in the first place? Of all the possible alternatives, I would have preferred someone kind and sweet, who would treat an afflicted person with more consideration.
Anyway, where are we going? And who are you?
I'm still being ignored by that girl. A disturbing possibility comes to my mind.
You wouldn't happen to be … my girlfriend?
Finally acknowledging my presence, the girl gives me a sharp look. "What makes you think that?"
I don't know, how about because we're holding hands? Isn't that usually a rather obvious sign?
"I'm only holding your hand so that you don't get lost! Don't get any silly ideas!"
The girl looks annoyed but doesn't let go of my hand. Never mind me then, miss, let's see what everyone else thinks about it!
I believe that most people have had dreams where they inexplicably find themselves in an embarrassing situation, without any idea how they ended up that way or how to get out. It should be only natural to feel uncomfortable when that happens. Dreams are unreliable in this regard. I can't help thinking that it would be troublesome if such occurrences were common outside dreams, as well.
Unfortunately, something like that is happening to me right now.
I'm being pulled through a school building by a forceful girl. This is the only thing I know for certain. I don't recognize the girl who holds my hand in a surprisingly strong grip, leaving me no choice other than to follow. I don't have any idea why I'm complicit to such a scandalous scene, either.
Students are giving me odd looks as we walk by. I can hear how this one-girl stampede gathers whispers like gulls flocking to the wake of a fishing boat. Quite frankly, I would be happier without all this attention, especially since I have a headache.
I'm about to ask my goose-stepping captor whether I could sit down and rest for a moment, but then she storms through a door and stops. It looks like we have reached a meeting room of some sort. There's already a tall and handsome boy in the room, picking some rather peculiar items from a bag and putting them on a table.
"Welcome! I have just started with the accessories," says the boy when he sees us. Unfazed by our noisy entrance, he then continues his activities with an amiable smile on his face.
"Forget the event, this is an emergency situation! Kyon hit his head and is acting weird!" This is said by the girl who just dragged me in like a rabbit to tiger's den.
The boy coolly flips a lock of hair from his forehead and takes a closer look at me, still smiling inscrutably. What's so funny in this situation?
"Pardon me, I thought that the bandage was meant for the party. How weird are we talking about here?"
"He thinks that I'm— Uh, he's got bizarre delusions. We must get him to a doctor!" The girl seems to be just as agitated as the boy appears nonchalant. What am I doing here with these people?
"How do you feel?" The boy addresses this question to me, examining my appearance in a thoughtful manner.
I'm fine, except for a headache. What's all this commotion about?
"If I may say so, you don't sound too delusional to me."
Me, delusional? Isn't that like seeing things that don't exist? Like ghosts or tentacled monsters? I think I should remember if I had seen anything like that recently.
"But he said—" The girl snaps her mouth shut, eyeing me suspiciously. She wavers for a moment before picking up momentum again. "Anyway, the nurse said that you must rest, so we cannot have the party right now. But you must go to a doctor, too! Who knows what got shaken loose inside that thick skull of yours!"
"I happen to know a person who is working at a hospital," offers the boy almost too eagerly. "He might be able to give recommendations."
"Good, good, but I won't accept anything less than a brain specialist. You take care of that, then. Where's Mikuru-chan?"
"She hasn't arrived yet. I believe that she is on class duty today."
"Tell her about this when she comes here!" The girl barks orders like a drill sergeant. She seems to be a natural leader. "Yuki?"
Only now do I notice that there's yet another person present. A demure slip of a girl is sitting in the far corner of the room, reading some book. She's so quiet and motionless that she almost blends in with the furniture.
"Help Mikuru-chan take care of the provisions so that they don't go to waste. I'll make sure that Kyon goes home and gets some rest. Dismissed!"
The singularly assertive girl grabs my hand and heads out of the room. Oh boy, here we go again! If someone knows what's going on, it would be really nice if they told me as well!
This is very odd.
I'm walking down the street with a girl.
At the first glance, these two sentences wouldn't appear to have anything in common. However, they are currently circling each other inside my head like two Siamese fighting fishes. This is to say, I would be content to entertain either thought on their own but I'm not quite as comfortable with having to think both at the same time.
I'm a boy. There's a pretty girl walking by my side. We're wearing school uniforms and carrying bags. So, most likely we're going home after school. The girl steals an occasional sideways glance at me. There shouldn't be anything odd in such a perfectly normal occurrence. However….
This iconic scene of romantic fiction is tarnished by a small but conspicuous detail. I don't recognize the girl walking with me. How could that happen? I don't remember where we're coming from or going to. Come to think about it, I don't even know where we are right now. Oh boy!
Although I don't know how it's related to anything, I also have a headache.
I can't think of any explanation to my current situation, but I won't let it spoil the mood if she doesn't notice anything. So, I'll just keep putting my best foot forward and hope that everything goes well. That sounds like a reasonable course of action, right?
My makeshift plan immediately falls flat under the sharp scrutiny of my current companion. As soon as I try to appear unconcerned, she interjects, "You look awfully happy all of a sudden. Are you thinking about something bizarre again, or were those things you said just a retarded joke?"
How should I answer? I don't even know what I've said.
"And you still insist that you don't know who I am? If that's a joke then it's the most stupid and demented one I've ever heard!"
Well, since you asked … I must admit that I don't. I can't think of any reason for making jokes like that, anyway.
The girl stares me angrily. "If you're lying to me about this, then I'm not sure how long it will take me to come up with a penalty big enough! But don't worry for a second there, I wouldn't dream of giving up until you've compensated such behavior in full!"
I'm not lying! I'm not even good at telling lies … I think. The girl keeps looking at me for a while, then snorts and turns her head away.
What do you know, looks like ignorance can indeed be bliss!
"There's no two questions about it! You will go to a doctor as soon as Koizumi-kun finds one!" she blusters, marching forward with fierce determination.
Huh, what does a doctor have to do with this? This is very odd indeed.
I wake up from a dreamless sleep and know immediately that something is wrong.
I look around and see a nearby alarm clock. It's half past two at night. There's enough light coming in through a window that I can examine my current whereabouts. Every item around me looks unfamiliar. The room itself looks unfamiliar, too. What am I doing here?
Whose room is this? How did I end up in this bed? My mind feels completely blank except for a nasty headache. Have I been drinking? Is this some sort of a prank? Where are all the answers when you need them the most?
Fortunately, I'm calm enough to realize that this isn't the time to panic. Instead, I should get out of here before I'm found inside someone's house in the middle of the night. There's no way I could simply wriggle out of such a situation when I don't even know the reason myself. This is quite uncomfortable!
I walk to the door without turning on the lights and open it as quietly as I can. Suddenly something brushes against my feet, almost making me shriek. Trying to calm my pounding heart, I see that it's just a cat taking advantage of the open door. Please go somewhere else, Mr. Cat! I think that I just learned what it must feel like to be a mouse.
Lights seem to be off in the entire house. Lucky me! If there are other people in here they must be sleeping already. I sneak across the hallway in the dim light coming through the windows and find something that looks like the front door. I open it carefully, half expecting an alarm to go off — but nothing happens. I slide out and close the door behind me.
Whew, that was close!
The street in front of me doesn't look any more familiar than the house. Where am I? All options being equally poor, I choose a direction at random and start walking.
It's odd that I can't remember what got me in such a bind in the first place. Oh boy! If my current situation is like a jigsaw puzzle, then a dog must've eaten all the corner pieces.
I'm walking through an empty street, but I don't know why I'm doing this. Am I supposed to be looking for something? Or someone? The only thing I know is that it's nighttime and I'm freezing. And I've got a headache.
I don't remember ever having seen this neighborhood so I must be lost. Any particular direction doesn't look more familiar than the others, so I just keep walking straight ahead, hoping to see something that I could recognize.
Oh boy! Whichever way one looks at it, my current predicament simply sucks. If you were sold a mystery story that starts like this, I don't think you could be blamed for wanting your money back.
After a while a car approaches and stops in front of me. Something in the car looks familiar…. Oh, it's a police car. So, this might be a mystery story after all, and someone just forgot to tell me.
An officer steps out and walks to me. It's hard to see his face against the light but I get the impression that he finds the situation somehow amusing.
"Hey, you! We got a call about a person walking around in his underwear. You seem to fit that description. Isn't that so?"
I look down. I'm standing in the headlights barefooted, wearing only pyjamas. Is this a nightmare?
"So, young man, have you been sleepwalking?"
I don't know. I've certainly been walking, at least.
After apparently concluding that I'm not about to do anything drastic the officer turns his attention to a communicator he has taken from a pocket. "So … what's your name and address?"
My name is … my name…. This is odd, I can't remember my name.
He gives me an incredulous glance. "And you can't remember your address either, I guess?"
I can't think of any address at all. Heck, I don't even know which city this is. At the moment I'd really prefer this to be a nightmare, but I don't think pinching my cheek would do any good here.
"You aren't drunk or on drugs, am I right? Well, would you happen to be at large from a hospital, then? With that bandage and all?" The officer looks at my forehead. I raise my hand instinctively and can indeed feel something wrapped around my head.
Oh right, my head hurts but I don't remember being at a hospital….
"I see, I see…." The officer taps his communicator thoughtfully a couple of times before putting it away. His conduct seems to soften a bit, as if he were a friendly uncle counseling a clueless child. "Well, boy, it looks like we should take you to the station until we can figure out where you came from. Don't you agree?"
Oddly enough, that sounds like a decent idea. At least I won't freeze to death.
I'm sitting on a bench at what looks like a police station. I'm barefooted, wearing pyjamas and there's a slightly worn overcoat that smells of tobacco on my shoulders. It looks like there should be an interesting, or possibly a rather disturbing story behind these circumstances, but for some reason I don't remember any of it. Really, this fact is disturbing enough all by itself!
A clock on the wall tells that it's half past three. There aren't any windows in the room, but based on my current outfit I assume that it's nighttime instead of afternoon. What am I doing here at this time of the day?
A handsome young man, or possibly still a boy, enters the room and greets me affably. Since he's not wearing a uniform he might be a detective. Despite his manners, he's also smiling like a wolf who's just invited a lamb for a dinner. I hope that he doesn't have any incriminating evidence related to my past misdeeds!
"I must say that you've done something quite unexpected. It was fortunate that we overheard the call and guessed correctly that it was about you. I was immediately dispatched to find out what was going on."
The boy keeps examining me with a curious expression on his face. Am I supposed to give a reply? What he says only raises new questions in my mind. In a situation like this, it might be best to remain silent and let him keep guessing.
He leans casually against the wall opposite my bench and crosses his arms. Since I'm still not saying anything he eventually breaks silence. "Say, is there something unusual going on I haven't heard about yet?"
How should I know? I don't even know what's going on in here. Anyway, aren't you a bit young for a plainclothes detective?
"You don't know who I am?" The boy looks surprised enough to drop his smile. Well, it was starting to get on my nerves in any case.
Sorry, I don't think I know you. Have we met before?
"You don't remember seeing me yesterday?"
Was I here yesterday as well? Am I some serial offender?
The boy opens his arms in an almost theatrical gesture. "Do you remember anything about what happened after Suzumiya-san took you home?"
Who did what? I don't remember anything like that.
"You don't remember Suzumiya-san, either?" For some reason he looks genuinely shocked to learn the extent of my ignorance.
No, should I? Who's he, your 'bad cop' buddy?
The boy taps his chin in contemplation. Who's this Suzumiya-san, anyway, and what's so important about remembering him?
"This is rather unsettling, if I may say so. Completely exceptional, even. It looks like we are sailing on uncharted waters here. I wonder how this will play out, but we might indeed have some interesting times ahead."
Having given this meaningless speech, the boy shrugs and regains his composure. I don't see what's worth smiling in this situation.
"Meanwhile, I have taken the liberty to inform your parents about your current whereabouts. Your father will arrive shortly to take you home. If you don't mind, I would also like to come along and see if I can be of any help."
You're not a detective, then?
The boy chuckles before answering, "No, at least not of the kind you seem to be thinking."
What's that supposed to mean?
"Nothing at all. That was just my poor attempt at a joke. Please don't let it bother you. Shall we go?"
The boy gestures towards the door. Oh boy, I'm tempted to say that this is one of those days, but I don't really have any idea what kind of a day this is.
I'm in some room with a boy, whose name is supposed to be Koizumi-kun. I think that he told this irrelevant fact a while ago, but I have a hard time trying to remember how we got here … whichever place this is.
"So, this room doesn't look familiar to you?" he asks while watching me with an enigmatic smile on his lips.
No, is it yours?
"I see. That explains a lot."
Maybe to you, but I'd like to be told the joke as well.
The boy takes a serious tone for a while. "Please listen carefully. I don't know the exact details yet, but you seem to be having some sort of amnesia. This is your room, but a while ago you were found walking around the city in your pyjamas."
What? That's quite embarrassing!
"I have come up with a theory on the events leading to that. It seems to be that your parents didn't notice the issue with your memory when Suzumiya-san brought you home. This shouldn't be too surprising, as you managed to fool me, as well. Please accept my apologies for being this inobservant." The boy spreads his arms in a placating manner.
"So, you were sent to bed as recommended, and your parents thought that a good night's sleep would probably take care of the headache. But then, you woke up and didn't recognize your room — just like it happened right now. In such a situation it should be only natural to want to get out, and you apparently managed to do so without waking up anyone else. This might be a recurring condition. The problem we are facing is how to prevent that from happening again."
Well, I suppose I could just be tied to the bed.
Koizumi-kun makes a 'huhuhu' sound and leans closer. A bit too close if you ask me, and what's that wink supposed to mean? "I'm glad that you haven't lost your sense of humor! That might indeed be one solution but I had something less drastic in mind. Of course, now that it is known that you are having this condition, there should be someone looking after you at all times. In addition to that—"
He produces a small book from his pocket. "I have written your name and address on this notepad, along with some other names and phone numbers. This way, you can always call for help if you are lost. If you keep the notepad with you for now you should be able to get along."
I've already spotted a weakness in the plan. If I have trouble remembering things, will I not forget the notepad as well?
"I've tied it to a string. If you put it around your neck you shouldn't lose it, unless you remove it yourself. Please accept my apologies for any temporary discomfort. It isn't a particularly elegant solution, but hopefully better than nothing."
The boy gives the notepad to me and looks around. "Then, we'll need just one more thing."
He takes a marker pen and a sheet of paper from the table and writes something on it. Having done that, he then attaches the paper to the door with adhesive tape.
The boy examines the results of his work with satisfaction before turning to face me. "Coincidentally, I managed to reserve an appointment with a neurologist at ten o'clock this morning. I hope that these measures will do until then. Your parents have already been informed about this arrangement, so you don't have to worry about remembering it."
He suppresses a yawn before concluding, "I'll be there as well, but until then it might be a good idea to get some sleep. Good night, or should I say good morning already?"
After giving me a courteous nod the boy leaves. I read the sign on the door.
All is well. Read the notepad.
Maybe all is well for someone, but right now that person doesn't seem to be me.
There's something fishy going on here.
An elderly man in a white coat is giving me a bizarre pop quiz. For some reason I seem to be the only participant in this game. As if that weren't suspicious enough, all the questions seem to be either patently obvious or impossible to answer, but I can't find any pattern in what the man is looking for.
The man has a small wooden box in his hand. "Can you tell me what is inside this box?"
How could I know that? Am I supposed to guess?
The man opens the box and shows that it contains a red ball. "Have you seen this before?"
It's just an ordinary looking red ball, seemingly made out of plastic. However, I don't remember having seen that particular ball before. What's so special about it, anyway?
The man looks satisfied and closes the box before putting it away. He makes some notes before continuing the quiz.
"Can you tell which day of the week is it?"
It's…. Um, I can't remember right now. They all look alike, anyway.
Unconcerned by my inability to answer, the man immediately moves on to the next question. "Can you list the days of the week?"
Of course I can. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—
He raises a hand to sign that the answer is good enough, then makes another mark on his papers. He seems to be really interested in his notes. I assure you that the feeling is completely one-sided.
"What is the capital of Japan?"
Tokyo. I think that even a preschooler should know that!
"Very good, very good," crows the man and picks a small wooden box from the table.
"Can you tell me what is inside this box?"
How could I do that? I don't have X-ray vision.
The man opens the box and pulls out a red ball, gesturing like a magician who just conjured a rabbit out of his hat. "Does this look familiar to you?"
No, it doesn't. It's just an ordinary red ball. I can't see anything that would make it memorable.
The man looks satisfied as if he had just performed a magic trick. "Just as I thought, there is room for three conceptual clusters until spontaneous relapse occurs. Looks like we are done here." He seems to say this more to himself than to me, which is just as well since it sounds like complete gibberish to me.
He adjusts his glasses and stands up to indicate that the quiz is over.
Did I win anything?
I feel a bit disoriented.
I'm sitting in a small room with some people I don't recognize, but I can't remember how I ended up in this place. How did that happen?
There's an elderly man in a white coat giving a presentation. I take a glance around the room. The furniture and the lingering smell of disinfectant make me think of hospitals. The topic of the presentation seems to belong to the same general category. This is odd … I don't remember enlisting to a medical school.
"The patient shows symptoms of severe anterograde amnesia affecting his episodic but not semantic memory functions. The blocking of the episodic memory appears to be so complete that it can be diagnosed as a case of retrograde or global amnesia as well."
I hope that this won't come up in term exams. What he just said makes about as much sense as if he had been reciting random entries from a phone book.
A smiling boy who sits next to me raises his hand, as if wanting to ask a question. Oh well, there's always at least one overachiever in every class.
"Pardon me for interrupting, but if I understood correctly, his common sense is intact and it's just specific knowledge that is missing. So, as an example, if he is hungry he will know that there should be food in the fridge, but he can't remember where that fridge is?" The boy punctuates his question with a theatrical handwave. "And even if he is told, he will soon forget it again?"
The lecturer nods emphatically, as if wanting to praise a particularly bright student. "Yes, that is exactly so. I would assume that he can also remember that, in general, fridges can be found in kitchens, but if he isn't in a kitchen at that moment, he can't find one other than by accident. All episodic memories related to a particular topic are forgotten as soon as the patient concentrates on something else."
Checking his papers, the man continues, "Anyway, while the ailment is highly disabling, I remain hopeful with the prognosis. MRI indicates that the head trauma is constrained to external tissue. There aren't any visible functional anomalies in the hippocampal area or the medial temporal lobe. Therefore, it is likely that psychosomatic factors are the primary cause for the amnesia. This would suggest that a full recovery is possible."
I feel tired for even having to listen to such long-winded talk. However, the boy next to me seems to be genuinely enthralled by the topic.
"Is there anything that can be done to speed up the recovery?" he asks, then turns to give me an encouraging smile. You are wasting your effort, buddy. No matter how much you try to cheer me up, there just isn't a way to make me interested in all this jargon.
"You might want to consult a psychiatrist," the lecturer says while collecting his notes. "But if I am allowed to speculate…. There could be some stressful fact that he is unable to process, thus causing a mental deadlock. However, finding out what it is may be hard, given the current situation.
"Making him relive past events might help, as well — especially those with a strong emotional investment, since that part of his limbic system seems to be working normally.
"Furthermore, the patient appears to have a remarkably dispassionate temperament. While this is favorable in the sense that he is not easily disturbed by his condition, it can also mean that it will be hard to find events of sufficient emotional intensity to trigger a recollection."
"I see. Thank you so much for this information." The boy looks satisfied, but then again, he's the only one to do so. The entire discussion sounds completely nonsensical to me. Whom are they talking about, and why am I here in the first place?
The lecture seems to be over. People stand up and start moving towards the exit. A worried man, who looks quite a bit too old to be a student, gives me a pat on the shoulder. "Chin up, son. We'll manage this, somehow," he says on the way out.
Huh, who's that?
I have a vague feeling that I should be bored right now. It's a feeling one usually gets after repeating some simple action too many times. The problem is, I can't think of anything I would have been repeating like that. Speaking of which, I can't think of anything I've been doing until now.
This is quite odd.
I'm sitting on a bed, fully clothed. There's a calico cat stretching lazily on my lap, bumping his head against my hand for more scratching. According to the alarm clock it seems to be late afternoon. I should probably be somewhere else, but I can't think of any particular place that would require my presence. I don't even know where I am at the moment. This looks like a normal room for a high school student, but none of the items appears familiar to me.
Am I waiting for someone? I can't remember, and for some reason I can't even bother thinking about it too much. Anyway, I don't feel like I'm in a hurry. So, I can just relax and keep scratching the cat.
A doorbell rings somewhere in the building, and I wonder for a moment whether I should go and check who it is. However, it would seem to be too much trouble to do so, since I don't even remember where the front door is supposed to be. After a while I can hear a door open and someone talking in the distance. Looks like the issue took care of itself, so I don't have to worry about it. That suits my apathetic mood just well.
I have a vague feeling that I should be bored. Like, when you repeat—
My thoughts get interrupted when the door is suddenly kicked open. The cat has better reflexes than me and disappears under the bed in a blur, leaving skid marks on my thighs. That hurts!
"Time to wake up, Kyon!" Along with this shout, a disturbingly energetic girl bursts into the room, grinning like a baseball player who just hit a home run.
Who, me? I'm awake already. Anyway, what's going on here? And wouldn't it be polite to knock before entering?
"Why should I knock when I knew that you are here?"
I can't see how that answers my questions.
The girl glowers at me and creases her mouth in a most unimpressed manner. "Stop sweating irrelevant details and grab your jacket already! I've got a taxi waiting outside. Any extra charges will be on you!"
What's this? Where are we going? Also, I wouldn't mind knowing who's pushing me around like this.
Growing impatient, she grabs my collar and pulls me up from the bed. Uh oh, she's much stronger than one could guess from the outward appearance.
"I'm your Brigade leader and you are going to school right now! Did I make myself perfectly clear?!"
Uh … how about no?
Ignoring my objections, this singularly brash girl propels me through the door like a luchador knocking her hapless opponent out of the ring. The match isn't even a close call since she seems to have as much determination as I'm lacking of the same.
I'm sitting in a taxi with a girl I don't recognize. You can undoubtedly agree that there's something seriously wrong in this picture. However, I don't know whether it's me, her, or the fact that I don't even remember how I ended up here in the first place. Oh boy!
I try to observe my current companion discreetly. She's wearing a sailor uniform and looks about the right age for a high school student. I believe that most boys wouldn't hesitate to call her pretty as well. Also, she appears to be in a good mood, humming some upbeat tune as if eagerly anticipating something. I wonder where I might fit in those plans — and whether I should be worried or happy to find out.
Unfortunately, the girl seems to have sharp senses. She notices my glances and confronts me in a tone that doesn't bode well for my future prospects. "What are you looking at?"
I'm sorry, miss….
I leave the sentence hanging in the remote hope that she would complete it on her own accord. However, her reply isn't what I expected.
"It pisses me off that I must introduce myself every time I speak with you! Really, I could just as well be hanging tanzaku on a wax tree!"
The girl pouts and turns her head away. She speaks reluctantly to her own reflection in the window. "My name is Suzumiya Haruhi — that's what you wanted to ask, right?" Suddenly turning back to me, she then adds, "Now write it down so that I don't have to say it again!"
Write it down where, and why?
She pokes something on my chest. Why am I carrying a notepad on a string? I open the book to examine its contents. The first page seems to be already full of names and phone numbers. I turn the next page—
What?! This explains my situation, but I can't say that I'm too happy to learn about it. Why am I having an amnesia?
I take out the pencil that is attached to the notepad and look at the girl again. Uh oh, I've already forgotten her name….
She observes my hesitation with an air of impatience, but then I get an idea. "Sorry, how do you write your name?" That is a valid question, isn't it?
"The usual way. 'Suzu' as in cool air, 'miya' as in royal palace," she says while grimacing like a duck.
Lucky save! I write down:
The girl with a yellow headband is Suzumiya-san.
I must congratulate myself for the quick thinking. This should be a good sign, right?
After a long upward slope the taxi stops in front of a building that looks like a school. Come to think about it, we seem to be wearing school uniforms. So, it looks like we're going to school … but why are we using a taxi? Why does it look like it's late afternoon already? Have I been skipping classes?
"Yes, but it doesn't matter. We're not here because of that, anyway. Just follow me and do as I say."
Suzumiya-san pays the taxi and heads into the school building.
As we get inside I'm faced with a problem. Even if this is our school, I don't know which locker is mine, if any. Turning to my companion for help … doesn't.
"How should I know which locker is yours? Anyway, we don't have time to start looking for it. Just open some and take the first pair of indoor shoes that fits. Most students are already gone so it shouldn't matter." This girl doesn't seem to have a concept for personal property.
I have too much integrity left to become a shoe thief. Thus, I end up walking in my socks behind the girl who marches forward without any signs of hesitation. Fortunately, the corridors are indeed empty.
After some walking we eventually stop in front of a door. The room on the other side appears to be lit, so perhaps there are people waiting for us inside? The sign over the door is covered with a piece of paper with the handwritten words 'SOS Brigade'. What is this place?
My escort slams the door open, grinning like a Cheshire cat, and pushes me in. "Ta-da, here we are!"
I look around and this is what I see.
It's a small, slightly shabby room with windows on the far side. There's a well-groomed boy sitting by a table. He looks suspiciously happy to see us. On the other side of the table there's a remarkably cute girl clad in a maid costume. Why would anyone wear a maid costume at school? Anyway, as we walk in she quickly stands up and greets us affably. Then, there's yet another girl sitting in the far corner, reading a book. She doesn't even turn her head despite our noisy entrance. Is she perhaps deaf?
In addition to these three people there are a couple of bookshelves and an assortment of odd things. This doesn't look like a classroom at all.
"Of course this isn't a classroom — it's the SOS Brigade headquarters!" exclaims my companion confidently, her chest swelling with pride. "Mikuru-chan, bring us some tea!"
"Right away!" The maid gets busy with a tea set, as if she had been just waiting for the opportunity to do so.
The girl who brought me here pushes me to the table and on the seat vacated by the maid. As I sit down, I get an odd feeling that I'm joining a well rehearsed play where I am the only one who hasn't been given his lines.
"This is intriguing."
The casually made comment draws my attention to a smiling boy who sits on the other side of the table. Although I cannot see any reason for it, he seems to have discovered something immensely interesting. He puts one finger on his temple and speaks like a Greek philosopher who's just invented a new theorem. "It is an undeniable conclusion. As long as you aren't distracted by any external factors, you can play Othello just as well as usual."
I notice that I have a round piece of plastic in my hand. One side of it is black and the other white, but it doesn't remind me of anything. On the table between us there's a board with several such pieces in a seemingly random order. Is this game 'Othello'? Since when have we been playing it?
"Of course, the downside is that once you do become distracted, we must go through the rules again before continuing." The boy gives me an apologetic shrug. "It is fortunate that the rules for Othello are so simple. I am afraid that we couldn't possibly finish a game of shogi in time."
What is this person trying to say? There's something odd in the situation but I have a hard time trying to find the proper context. Why am I here listening to some random person talking about games, anyway? Just as I'm about to ask him about it—
"Enough of games already! Let's look at some photos, photos!"
As I look around I can see that in addition to us two there are two … no, three girls in the room. Why didn't I notice them earlier? Anyway, the one who interrupted my thoughts looks particularly upbeat, waving a stack of photos above her head as if they were the winning tickets of a national lottery. She jumps up and pushes the stack into my hands.
I don't know what's so interesting about these photos, but the others gather around me to have a look at them, as well. Well, at least three of them do, since the girl in the corner keeps reading her book without batting an eyelash. Maybe she's too shy to join us?
I browse through the photos. There are people in school uniforms and in casual wear, people in all kinds of odd costumes and some in swimsuits. Why do they want me to look at these photos?
Oh, I see. All these photos are about the people in this room. This is the long-haired girl dressed up as a waitress instead of a maid, and here's that shy girl in some kind of a witch costume. In this photo they are all having fun on a beach. Wait a moment, who's this boy, then? I can't see him here.
"Can't you remember, Kyon? That's you!" The girl with a headband gives me a stare intense enough to cause a headache. It's slightly scary that she's looking at me like that.
Anyway, why should she say something so weird? It can't be me. I don't know the boy in the photos. I don't remember ever having been on a beach with these people, either.
This is too confusing. As I look around, my attention is drawn to the windows of the room. It is dark on the outside, so I can see clearly the reflections of the five persons in this room. The smiling boy, the maid, the energetic girl, the shy girl and … the mystery boy I've never seen before! I have a really bad feeling about this.
Am I mentally challenged or something?
The maid starts to sob. I can sense that this very sweet girl is feeling sympathy for my plight, and that is the only ray of light in this otherwise gloomy situation.
The dark-haired girl just pouts. "Time for plan nine! Take Kyon out while we change!"
I'm standing in a corridor with some boy. There are disturbing noises coming through the door next to us. Is there a girl being molested on the other side? What's this?!
The boy smiles nonchalantly and spreads his arms in an apologetic manner. "Please don't worry about it too much. I believe that the girls are just putting up an act for us."
What does that mean? This doesn't sound like an act at all! There's clearly a distressed girl on the other side with who knows what being done to her at this very moment! Why are we just standing here?
Just as I think that I can't any longer keep myself from breaking through the door, it is opened from the other side. Do I even dare to look in?
Whatever it was that I was expecting to see was not … bunny girls? There are two very real and cute bunny girls greeting us by the door. One of them looks embarrassed, hugging her body with both arms and eyes fixed to the floor.
The other bunny girl, however, is grinning menacingly and beckons us forward. "Welcome to the very special private screening of the highly acclaimed first movie of the SOS Brigade, The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru! Come in, come in!"
Uh, exactly what kind of a movie are we talking about here?
"There is no need to worry. Since we are special guests, let's go inside." The boy smiles encouragingly and guides me into the room.
Besides the two bunnies, there's yet another girl in a sailor uniform, sitting by a table. There's also a machine that looks like a video projector on the table, and a movable screen at the far end. It looks like we're indeed going to see a movie.
The upbeat bunny girl pushes me to a vacant seat and then, with all the drama of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, she presses a button on the projector. "Ta-da!"
The smiling boy gives me a meaningful wink before turning off the lights. The movie starts. I'm not quite sure whether I should be fearing for the worst or looking forward to it….
Oh, it's just a home video. I feel relieved that it isn't anything weird.
Eh … there's that shy bunny girl again. Is 'Asahina Mikuru' her role name or her real name? Maybe the names got mixed up? Whoever made this video cannot be an orderly person.
I have a really hard time trying to follow the plot of the movie. At first it seems to be about people with some mystic powers. Suddenly, the same characters are advertising an electronics store. Then, is it a … romantic drama with a side order of zombies? If there's any logic to the things happening on the screen, it's too well hidden for me to find out.
For some reason, the narrator's voice sounds oddly familiar. Maybe I should ask about that after the movie?
Huh, did that cat just talk?
I feel totally confused when the end credits roll. What was it that I just saw?
Someone turns on the lights. I'm sitting in a small room with four other people, two of them clad in bunny suits. They all seem to be watching me. Did I just step into the movie myself?
"So, what do you think, Kyon?"
One of the bunny girls is standing in front of me with her arms crossed. She examines me vigilantly as if expecting me to make some startling announcement.
Uh, hard to say. Maybe a bit modern to my tastes?
My answer doesn't seem to satisfy the girl. "It didn't remind you of anything?"
To be honest, I don't think that I've ever seen anything quite like it before.
The girl grimaces like a crocodile. What was she expecting, a page-length review with glowing recommendations?
"Looks like we must roll out plan number ten," she blurts and huffs discontently so that her bangs swing in the air.
"Wahhhh! B-but, we can't…!" The other bunny girl starts to tremble like a leaf in the wind. Her gaze darts around the place as if she were trying to find an escape route.
The gloomy bunny girl, however, radiates an aura of frightening determination. "I didn't want it to come to this either, but I can't think of anything else. Clearly, these memories weren't intense enough." She grabs the panicking bunny girl and drags her towards a rack of costumes. "You can do it if you want, Mikuru-chan, it's all for Kyon's sake. Yuki, your turn to take Kyon out!"
I'm standing in a corridor with an unfamiliar girl. The girl is quietly reading a book in front of a closed door. Why am I here and who is this girl? Are we waiting for something? Are we here together or is this just a coincidence?
This is quite awkward. I'd rather go somewhere else, but I don't even know where I am right now. I will probably have to ask.
"Excuse me, miss…."
The girl slowly raises her head and looks at me with eyes like clear crystals of ice. She seems to hesitate for a moment before answering in a strange monotone.
"Pleased to meet you, Nagato-san. My name is…." Uh, for some reason I don't seem to remember my name. This is really odd.
The girl keeps looking at me without moving at all. She doesn't even blink. Is she waiting for me to say something? I can't think of anything to say. Oh boy, this is a great way to embarrass myself….
After plainly stating those simple words the girl turns her attention back to the book and continues reading as if nothing had happened. Well … what was it that did happen?
I'm still feeling uneasy when the door opens.
"Great, our cameraman has finally arrived!"
Wait, what? There's an elated girl in a sailor uniform standing by the door, wearing a red armband with the words 'ultra director'.
"We're shooting a movie, and our regular cameraman took a sick leave. It's good that you could jump in on such a short notice!"
I'm a cameraman? You must mistake me for someone else, miss. I don't know anything about making movies!
"Don't worry about it, just follow my orders! Hurry up, it is out of question to fall behind the schedule!"
The girl ushers me into the room. Some kind of a stage has indeed been built inside. There's a video camera on a tripod. I'm probably supposed to operate it. The back end of the room is sequestered away with a movable screen. The floor in front of the screen is covered with tatami. There's a single futon on the mats.
Uh, what kind of a movie is this supposed to be?
"What does it matter? Just record when I say. If you absolutely must know — it's a romantic scene where the two leads meet each other for the first time."
In a bed? I'm not sure whether I'm ready for this….
The girl ignores me and sits on a foldable chair, taking a yellow loudspeaker in her hand.
"Ready … action!"
Oh boy, I don't seem to have any choice but to start shooting. The director looks like a person who won't take a 'no' for an answer.
On cue, a boy enters the stage, carrying an apparently unconscious girl on his arms. My blood pressure rises when I see that the girl isn't wearing anything else than a large T-shirt! As if that wasn't scandalous enough, her sleeping face also looks extremely cute and vulnerable. I must admit that I feel a pang of jealousy. Of course, the male lead just has to look like a celebrity poster boy, too.
Oh well, I shouldn't be thinking too much about it. I'm here just to shoot the movie, anyway.
The boy lays the unconscious girl on the bed and covers her with a blanket. After that he sits down next to the bed and watches the sleeping girl intently. With that suspicious smile of yours, aren't you like the Big Bad Wolf eyeing up an innocent victim?!
"Perfect! Mikuru-chan, you should wake up now!"
Does the director really need that loudspeaker? You know, this is a really small room.
The sleeping girl slowly opens her eyes. "Um … where am I?"
"This is my home," the boy says smugly. Keep dreaming, pal! I don't care how handsome he is, this guy looks way too satisfied with himself. It's starting to piss me off.
"You saved me! Thank … thank you!" The girl raises herself unsteadily to a sitting position. She doesn't seem to feel too well.
The director waves her hands in a way that is probably meant to be encouraging. I can't help thinking that if she gets any more excited than that, she's going to knock herself over. "That's it! Koizumi-kun, kiss her now!"
Wait, what? Weren't they supposed to have just met? That's too early. Like, a thousand years too early for you, pal!
Regardless of my silent objections, the boy puts his hands on the shoulders of the barely-clad girl and leans closer. No way, are they really going to do it?! However, the girl looks really wobbly now, almost falling on her back.
"Uwaaaa! I can't do this. My head spins! You made me drink too much sake!"
What did she just say?! Why would they do something like that? They are still minors, aren't they?
The boy seems to stop acting and gives the director an apologetic shrug. In response, she jumps up from her chair and enters the stage. Well, she didn't ask me to cut. Should I keep recording or not?
"Perk up, Mikuru-chan! That was just one glass to help you act!"
The director knocks the girl's head with a loudspeaker. This is really bizarre!
"Huh, that's not the proper reaction. When I hit you on the head you straighten up and concentrate. Let's try again!"
The director hits the poor girl on the head again, and again. On every hit the girl flinches and lets out a whimper. Even the director looks markedly uncomfortable, but nevertheless keeps hitting the defenseless girl. Why am I here with these weird people? The scene in front of me is so harrowing that it makes my head hurt. I must turn my gaze away before the headache gets worse.
To my great surprise, there's another girl standing next to me. How long has she been here? Most likely she's just so quiet that I didn't noticed her arrival in the middle of all this commotion. Even more disconcertingly, she's observing me in a completely detached, emotionless fashion. For some reason I feel like a specimen of Escherichia coli that is scanned by an electron microscope. Who's this girl and why is she staring at me like that? I'm lost in these strange thoughts when—
"Hey, stupid Kyon! Eh— Cameraman! Keep your eyes on the stage!"
I look in the direction of this angry voice. There's an agitated girl hitting another, very scantily dressed and sad girl on the head with a loudspeaker. What madness is this? There's also a boy sitting next to them, spreading his arms in resignation and giving me a rueful smile.
"Suzumiya-san? If I may suggest, it might be better to stop for now. It doesn't seem to be working."
The girl holding the loudspeaker looks like she's just accidentally seasoned her sushi with toothpaste instead of wasabi. The sad girl bursts in tears. Well, no wonder. You shouldn't hit people on the head — it hurts.
There's something weird going on.
I cannot just casually shake off this uncanny feeling. Instead, it sticks to my mind like flypaper. If you want to know why this is so, I must describe my current circumstances to the best of my ability.
It's evening. I'm walking down the street with a girl — and not just any ordinary girl but a very pretty one, too!
There shouldn't be anything weird in this. But still—
There are two dark clouds looming on my otherwise serene sky. The first is that I don't know who she is. I can't figure out how I could end up in such a situation. Still, we're definitely walking together. Even someone like me can see that there must be something to this.
The other worrisome thing is that the girl doesn't look too happy. Scratch that — right now her face looks like that of the Goblin of Adachi-ga-hara. I can feel a dark aura of discontent radiating from her as we walk side by side.
What could it be? Did we have a blind date that went from bad to worse?
The girl scowls. "Does this look like a date to you?"
I don't know what this looks like. Why don't you tell me?
The girl keeps walking silently for a while. When I steal a glance in her direction she snorts and shakes her head. "What were those if not intense memories? Is it really all the same to you?"
Uh … what?
Her mouth contorts into an inverted triangle as she continues, "Listen, Kyon! You don't have any idea how much worry this has caused to m— I mean, to the whole Brigade, do you? Should I ever find out that you've been making fun at our expense, there will be big enough a punishment to make you wish that you'd never even known me! Is that totally clear?!"
Kyon? Brigade? Punishment? What on earth is she talking about?
For a moment I'm tempted to tell her that I already don't know her. However, I come to my senses quickly enough. There's no point in pushing my luck. Whatever it was, it must have been even worse than I could imagine.
I wonder why I can't remember any of it. Oh boy!