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Dream... or Not

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Chapter 28.

The police arrived and the Inspector Yokomizo Juugo examined the body, telling exactly the same deduction aloud than Conan had done earlier. When the kids told him that, the police cornered the chibi detective for being a smartass and asked if he had known the victim’s there beforehand.

“That’s impossible! When I came, I just thought someone might be here…” Conan replied with a nervous smile.

“Hm? Why would you think so?” Yokomizo frowned.

“Because of the fin wedged in the rocks…” Subaru stated getting the inspector’s attention. “There’s a fin wedged in the rocks opposite here… That kid must have thought so after he saw that. Firstly, no one would bring an extra fin here just to play a prank so it’s natural to think it’s a message left by the owner saying she’s still here…”

“Then let’s pull out the fin and see what’s written on it…”

“No need for that.” Tsukiko interrupted. “We already pulled the fin out and it’s pair that we found stuck in the rocks elsewhere. There was nothing written on them.”

“Speaking of which, wasn’t there something carved on the rock next to the fin?” Mitsuhiko recalled suddenly.

“Yeah! Fish names!” Ayumi nodded.

“There are four types!” Genta added.

“Fisn names?” Yokomizo repeated in slight confusion. Tsukiko could practically hear doubt in his voice.

“Ah, yes! I remember…” Mitsuhiko stated. “Mackrel.”

“Carp.”

“Sea bream.”

“And flounder.” The kids(+Haibara) told the police officer.

“What are those? Maybe someone carved the names of the fishes they caught as a prank?”

“That’s impossible, Juugo.” Iwao had arrived to the scene. “Let’s not talk about mackerel, sea bream and flounder… There’s no way you could catch a carp at sea.”

“Oh… Isn’t it Ida. You brought them here, right?”

“That’s right!”

“You know each other?” Ayumi asked.

“Yeah, We’ve been friends since we were kids. At that time, we wanted to swim better so we came here by my father’s boat.” Iwao answered with a smile. “He was really scared, always hiding behind me! How annoying… Say, your brother who came with us… How’s he now? At the end, he was so scared he didn’t even get off the boat.”

“Yeah, my elder brother Sango still can’t swim…” Yokomizo admitted a bit reluctantly before focusing back to the case. “But what does sea bream, flounder and so on mean… It’s not like the legend of the Dragon Palace.”

“Could it be a dying message?” Conan asked.

“Eh?”

“Yeah, in the victim’s left hand is a line made by the sun. It’s shape indicates that she was wearing a wrist watch of some sort.” Tsukiko told him. “When Edogawa-kun and I searched around this Ikkaku Rock, we found a matching diving watch.” She lifted up the watch in question with a handkerchief, giving it to the inspector. “The width of the side – which is quite heavily scratched as you can see – matches also with the scrapes on the stone.”

“So that’s why you two think that’s her dying message…” Haibara stated, although a bit wary about the blonde girl.

“Yeah…” Conan nodded.

“But the culprit came back, didn’t they?” Mitsuhiko pointed out. “What if they carved those words so frame someone else?

“If that were the case, don’t you think they would have left the watch in an obvious spot for us to find? Instead, the watch was hidden on purpose, so that the culprit wouldn’t know she left those words as her dying message.” The bespectacled kid replied. “Even though boats don’t usually come near this rock, there’s still a chance he might be seen by someone… She knew the culprit won’t stay here for long, so she hid the watch and left the message for the police who’ll spend time investigating after her body was found! See, here are the initials engraved on the back of the watch, so even if it were found much later, we can still know who it belonged to.”

“Which leads us to the second point…” Tsukiko mused. “The message was in katakana that’s easier to carve on the stone than kanji and obviously has some hidden meaning so it’s safe to assume that it’s actually the murderer’s name in it. Because even if the murderer saw the message while changing the mouthpiece, he would dismiss it as a prank because it doesn’t say his name straight away. If it were kanji or even the name written in hiragana or katakana, the culprit would scratch it over. Hmm… This sounds a bit like the airplane case, right niisan?” She looked over her shoulder at Okiya who nodded.

“Yes… Now we need a clue to solve the message and the watch could be our best bet at the moment…” The man stated but Yokomizo was bugging Conan about the victim’s identity, since he was being so smart, and missed completely the points the ‘siblings’ had found. Tsukiko facepalmed behind the officer’s back.

“Ruri?!” And cue the arrival of the suspects.


Yokomizo questioned the three men who were the victim’s – Akamine Ruri’s – diving mates. Tsukiko didn’t pay any particular attention since she already knew their story and alibis.

“Say, oniisan…” Ayumi began. “What kind of fish do you like?” Oh, the innocence in her voice. Tsukiko almost cooed at that. She felt like scooping the girl up and hugging her tightly like a teddy bear.

“Can you tell us one at a time?” Mitsuhiko asked with a suspicioning frown on his face.

“Come on, tell us!” Genta demanded. “My favorite fish is eel!”

“Really? I like Salmon and Zander.” Tsukiko smiled, unknowingly attracting Conan’s attention. At that Yokomizo started chastising them for interrupting the investigation with unnecessary questions. When pointed out that the fish names could be the names of the culprit’s favorite fish, he stated it being unlikely, while sweatdropping.

“Not necessarily, it’s a good idea.” Subaru thought aloud. “A naïve and innocent imagination, unrestrained by common knowledge can sometimes successfully untangle the problem and find the key to the truth… Weren’t there a number of cases that were solved as a result of some hint from these children?”

“Uh, sure… though there weren’t that many…” But in any case the question was repeated.


“Eh? Niisan, your diving watches are the same as Miss Ruri’s!” Conan noted.

“Ah, yeah… Miss Ruri had these specially made for us.” The guy with an eye patch explained.

“She said that since we were a scuba diving group, we should all wear some kind of symbolic thing.” The guy with a mask continued.

“It’s even engraved with ‘Akamine Angelfish club’.” The last guy – aka the culprit – added unknowingly giving Conan the hint to solve the carving on the stone.

“That’s right, I got it! The fish names!” Mitsuhiko exclaimed. “If you add a kana character to every name, it can make a full sentence!”

“Add kana character…” Ayumi repeated a bit uncertainly as she couldn’t follow the train of thought of the boy with freckles.

“What’re you talking about?” Genta frowned.

“If you add ‘-ku’ to mackerel(saba), you get ‘desert’(sabaku)! Seabream(tai) becomes ‘want to meet’(aitai) if you add ‘-ai’!” The other boy started explaining enthusiastically. “So the dying message actually means, ‘If you want to meet, come to the desert’!”

“What about the flounder?” Ayumi asked then.

“If you do this, the hidden meaning of the name will be ‘appear’.”

“But… Who would wait for someone in the desert?” Genta asked in turn.

“Isn’t that oneesan dead already?” Ayumi reminded.

“Th-That’s true…” Mitsuhiko had to admit, albeit a bit reluctantly.

“Furthermore, even if it were such a coincidence, it wouldn’t do much to help this situation, would it?” Haibara pointed out. “It doesn’t matter if you add or take something away… You probably can’t find the hidden meaning in the end.”

“But we already have all the clues we need to find the truth behind this case.” Tsukiko smiled from her spot on the rock again. “Right, Subaru-nii, Tantei-chan?” She tilted her head once again in a closed eyed smile. Her smile just widened when they two reached the conclusion.

“You guys are great!” Conan praised the Shonen Tantei-dan.

“It’s true that you really can’t underestimate the power of innocent thoughts.” Subaru nodded thoughtfully while leaning his chin into his left hand.

“Does that mean you already…”

“Know who the culprit is?” Mitsuhiko and Ayumi questioned.

“Yes… All thanks to you guys.” Subaru smiled.

“What happened?” Haibara asked Conan with a low voice.

“That guy was saying it all along!” The young detective smirked confidently. “‘The one who left Miss Ruri here at Ikkaku Rock and murdered her… It was me!’”


The suspect started complaining about the late time. After all it had started to darken considerably already. But just when Inspector Yokomizo was about to yield, Conan, Subaru and Tsukiko interrupted him.

“Wait a second!” The trio said simultaneously, making Conan and Subaru glance and each other and Tsukiko chuckle at their faces.

“What’s up with you two?” Yokomizo asked the males seeing as Tsukiko was sitting a bit away from them.

“No… I thought this kid had something to say…” Okiya began.

“Ah, but if you want to say something Subaru-san, then go ahead.” Conan stammered.

“I said that we’ll take our time in listening to you after we go to the station.” Yokomizo stated angrily at their face.

“But if you do that…”

“If we do that, the culprit will manage to destroy vital evidence.” Tsukiko said calmly, her humor completely gone now. “Right, tantei-chan?” Her voice wasn’t even teasing this time when she used the nick-name.

“Yes, pretty much.”

“Evidence? What evidence?” Yokomizo asked which lead the kids to point out to him that it was about evidence that proved the culprit had left the victim on Ikkaku Rock. “Hey, destroying evidence? Could you mean that…?”

“Yes, I guess that means the murderer is one of these guys.” Iwao realized, meaning the three men with them on the rock.

“How can you say that?” The facemask guy shouted.

“It’s true that she went missing while she was diving with us three days ago, but…” The eye patch guy began.

“It could be that some bad guy picked her up in his ship, and left her here!” The real culprit concluded the thought his friend had started.

“No, I don’t think so.” Okiya stated. “You said that this lady sent a message saying ‘Please take care of the rest’ after disappearing, right? That proves the culprit is one of you. I’m afraid that the culprit sent that mail after leaving her here, so that you wouldn’t start searching for her immediately. To do that, he would have to stop diving, go back to the ship before anybody else, search for her cell phone and send that mail.”

“Yea, unlike phone calls, mails have addresses so if you didn’t use her cell phone, it would be suspicious.” Tsukiko added.

“I see! That mail couldn’t have been from her because she can’t dive while carrying the cell phone with her.” Yokomizo started to get the idea of the situation. “From that, the only one who could’ve written that message is one of those who know about these circumstances. Which could only be you guys!”

“But… Where’s her cell phone?” The facemask-hothead asked.

“Well, if it was me, I’d throw it somewhere in this vast ocean after sending the mail.” Okiya smiled.

“Then you don’t have any evidence.”

“No… Not just evidence. This lady has left us the name of the culprit!” Conan told dramatically. “Isn’t that right? Aosato Shuuhei-san?”

Dun dun dunn. Time for the real thing. The real game of puzzles.

“I’m saying that this lady had engraved the name of the culprit on this Ikkaku Rock. The full name at that, Aosato Shuuhei.” The boy continued when the suspects protested the accusation.

“Haa? Where did she write that?” The murderer asked, obviously worried and thinking how he could’ve missed something like that.

“She engraved a coded message for us to find with her divers watch. Thus leaving us a clue who to look for. With this I mean the fish names on the stone. Saba, koi, tai, hirame.” Tsukiko grinned and crossed her legs. ‘But how’ was written on almost everyone’s faces there.

“At first glance they’re just fish names but if you consider the letters that were scratched behind the divers watch, perhaps you’ll be able to understand what we mean.” Conan picked up where the blonde girl left the explanation.

“The letters that were scratched?” Mitsuhiko repeated.

“Yes, I mean the letters between ‘Akamine Angel’ and ‘Club’.”

“That which was scratched from ‘Angel Fish Club’ was ‘Fish’. “Haibara answered. “In the other words, she says ‘delete the fish’.”

“He-Hey, wait a minute! By ‘fish’ you mean ‘sakana’, right?”

“But mackerel, carp, sea bream and flounder are all fish, aren’t they?”

“If we have to delete the fish names, all will go!” The kids butted in but Iwao came to the rescue.

“I see… It’s the kanji!”


When Conan explained what the code was about, Tsukiko got on her feet quietly. Her face was dead serious, not that anyone else but Okiya paid any attention on her. The blonde rubbed her wrist slightly before securing the brace and dropping her shoulder bag on the stony floor of the Ikkaku Rock right next to the small rock she had been sitting on.

“Did you actually see me coming here!?” The culprit demanded. “If you didn’t see me, stop this nonsense.”

“I didn’t see you, but I know you had another reason for coming here today.” Conan announced. “You came to switch the regulator! I believe you nicked the pipe of her regulator with an edged tool while she was diving three days ago and made it seem like there was an air-leaking problem. So you brought her to this Ikkaku Rock, left her like this and lied saying you’d come to picke her later, right?”

“You expected she couldn’t escape because nobody comes to this Ikkaku Rock, and she can’t swim.” Tsukiko told.

“So he came to switch his regulator with that nicked regulator, so if the nick was found later, it would appear to be an accident from when he was diving.” Yokomizo agreed. “He can just put vinyl tape on the nick and use it to return.”

“Did you actually see such a thing?” The murderer demanded. Culprits, demanding proof… So predictable…

“The bandage under your mouth…” Subaru noted. “You said you were browsing the web in an internet café while resting your chin on your hand and so your pimple was smashed, right? In internet cafés, there are no mice for left-handed people. That means you rested your chin on your left hand. The smashed pimple should be located under the left side of your lips, but considering the location of this bandage, I see that it is not on the left hand side, is it?”

And the final evidence, smear of lipstick was found. There was conversation about the victim’s diving habits and about the motive of the murder which Tsukiko had to admit was better than before(the sushi case) but anyways murder was always a murder.

And then… he seized Ayumi as a hostage.

“I’ll let you guy experience the same!” He announced.

“Ayumi-chan!?” The rest of the kids shouted.

“Shuuhei! Don’t do something so stupid!” The facemask guy shouted to his ‘friend’. So the culprit explained his escape plan(made demands and orders).

“Psycho.”

“Eh?” The murderer risked a look at the source of the voice, Tsukiko, who had her hand casually clasped together behind her back.

“Only psychos would risk the lives of ten people to ensure their escape while holding a hostage after killing the one person they intended to.” The girl said a cold smile on her face. “You realize the same thing might happen to us than to this Akamine Ruri. You are willing to risk even the lives of your friends who surely would have done the same than you did three days ago if they were as knowledgeable as you about previous events.”

“Shut up!” The guy yelled, not removing the knife from Ayumi. Tsukiko did shut her mouth but her gaze didn’t leave him. She just tilted her head and opened her eyes a bit more behind her glasses, regarding the man coldly. Slowly her smile turned into a smirk…

“0.12 percent…” Okiya said. “That would be the probability that criminal will succeed in escaping. That’s about 1 in every 1000 people. However… Some of those under evil’s influence get tired of living while hiding their identity and always having to look over their shoulder… If we eliminate those who voluntary surrender and those who commit suicide… Those who successfully escape are next to nothing. Will you really be able to endure the feeling of loneliness and pressure?”

“S-Shut up!” The knife was away from Ayumi. With a swift movement of hand, Okiya knocked the sharp object in the air and seized the little girl from the murderer’s arms.

“Interesting and completely free tid bit of an information! I hate people who take children as a hostage!” Tsukiko punched the bad guy in the face before driving her left knee into his stomach. The murderer fell on his knees groaning when the girl took a step away from him. “That’s the third thing that makes me really pissed.” She said darkly.


 

Inspector Yokomizo took Aosato Shuuhei to the police boat (and decided he didn’t see Tsukiko assaulting the guy). Meanwhile the kids were busy praising Subaru.

“But was it true? The story of 0.12%...” Conan asked.

“It was just a random remark of course.” The man answered with a smile. “I thought I had to provoke him so that he’d move the knife away from that girl.”

“You’re really great!” Mitsuhiko gushed. Meanwhile Haibara stayed behind Conan, keeping her gaze firmly on the ‘siblings’, one discussing with the children and the other nursing her wrist.


 

“Ow, ow, ow…” Tsukiko complained that night while rubbing her wrist. The brace was laid on the table in front of her.

“’Don’t strain it’ was it?” Okiya asked when offering her a fresh cup of tea.

“Yeah… But that guy really pissed me off… Taking Ayumi…” The girl muttered behind the cup and took a sip.

“You are lucky you weren’t also arrested in the process.” The man continued.

“Yes, yes…”

“By the way… Zander is a Eurasian fish.”

“It is?” The blonde girl looked up in surprise. “Damn, I really like it. I bet Tantei-chan is even more suspicious of me now.”

“Hmm-m…” Subaru took a seat next to her on the sofa. “You can stay here for the night since it’s so late already.”

“Okay, I’ll just text to Jodie then.”

A short silence fell.

“Ne, Bakai…” Tsukiko grinned. ”Who do you think will kill me first because of my wrist? Araide-sensei or Jodie-san?”