Tl Note: No, you’re not lost. If you came from 03-19 part 3, then you’re in the right chapter. Also, to all those who were 7asking how long it would take us to reach this part, it turns out I was wrong. Ha ha. You see I skipped this part because I wanted to see what happens next in the 03-XX timeline, so it completely went over me that we get to this part fairly quickly.
2 years and 8 years
“I give up.”
That was his honest impression of his current predicament.
If someone were to go missing for 2 years and then suddenly come back, it was only natural that something like this would happen. He understood that.
But still… Because everything happened so quickly, he had no idea how to deal with the situation.
After returning from Falandia, people dressed in clothes like those of the special-defense force suddenly surrounded him. And before he knew it, he was suddenly thrown into a room about 10 tatami mats big with no window.
—What in tarnation is going on!?
“…Look, kid. Don’t you think it’s about time you started talking?”
At the center of the room was the boy sitting before a simple desk. On the other side of the desk was a 30-year-old man.
This was the fifth time the man asked the boy this question, but he still said nothing.
The middle-aged man was well built and wore a ranked uniform.
From that it could be inferred that he was probably from the self-defense force, but he did not name himself.
He had a grim countenance, but he was not scary. That was because he did not speak crudely.
“Umm, I know Captain Kayama looks scary, but he’s not a bad person, so don’t worry, ok?”
The woman beside the man – who was apparently named Kayama – spoke gently to the young boy.
She had a young face and short hair – just long enough to reach her shoulders – but she did not seem as young as her features suggested.
She was probably in the latter half of her twenties.
And while her petite stature did not seem to fit her line of work, there was a vigilant spirit hidden behind her gentle facade that made the boy feel she was not as weak as she appeared. She was probably a skilled individual similar to the man called Kayama.
Still… no matter how skilled she was, that was only on the level that would make it difficult for the boy to suppress her unarmed without hurting her.
Are you insinuating the only reason this kid won’t talk is because my face is scary!?”
“W-Well… I mean if someone was meeting you for the first time with that face of yours—
Just how long are you going to keep calling me by my maiden name?
It’s been years since I got married, you know.”
“Tch, well excuse me my face is scary!
And it’s a pain having to change the way I call you, so just deal with it.”
The exchange between the two was not wholly harmonious, but despite that they seemed to greatly trust each other.
It seemed they weren’t bad people.
If anything, they felt like the sort to poke their nose into other people’s business. After all, they were talking like this despite being in an interrogation room in front of the very person they were supposed to interrogate.
Of course, that could also simply be a ploy to lower the boy’s guard.
Regardless, all that was nothing more than baseless conjecture.
If this were Falandia, perhaps he would have acted differently, but this was Earth. He was not about to trust such baseless conjectures when he could not risk giving them any information.
As a result, despite having returned to his hometown, he continued to wear that face he picked up from there.
It was sad that he ended up with such an expressionless face, but with it, his expression wouldn’t change even if these people were to use violence.
It was originally a kind of technique that concealed one’s presence, but it could also be used to seal one’s lips during interrogation.
“Ahaha, didn’t work, huh.
…Can’t you tell us why you’re keeping quiet?” The woman called Sasamori asked.
Although she was standing, her gaze met the sitting boy’s.
Her troubled face made the boy feel like he was doing something wrong.
It was the sort of face that made one feel everything would turn out all right so long as he cooperated.
But that would be the same thing as saying that he ‘knew nothing about this world.’
When he first got here, that man, Kayama, said this.
“Huh? You’re Japanese, aren’t you? Good. This’ll make things quick then. Where did you come from?”
The man was acting as if his affiliation and the reason the boy was caught was common sense.
The fact they didn’t bother to introduce themselves only made that suspicion stronger.
But if it was truly common sense, then it would be problematic if the boy admitted that he didn’t understand.
He did not wish to bring unwanted trouble to Falandia.
And as far as troubles went, there were few people more sensitive to it than this boy.
Which is why he would go so far to keep his silence despite this troubling predicament.
Just what happened to the world in the 2 years he was gone?
It was precisely because he wanted to investigate that first that he teleported to a place away from people.
Unfortunately, there were no options in the settings about teleporting in the middle of a city, – perhaps because the coordinates couldn’t be grasped accurately from Falandia – so instead he had to make do with concepts such as ‘unpopular place’ ‘forests’ and ‘away from others’.
Fortunately, it worked. But then the question begged itself: was this truly a world he should return to?
His investigations would help him answer that, so he went ahead and hid any otherworld products that might pose a problem when brought to human civilization, then he set off.
It was dark and hard to see, but there were artificial lights some distance away. When he turned to it, he saw the road.
Surely, if he followed that, he would eventually get somewhere. Under that reasoning, he followed the road, but it not long later, he was suddenly attacked.
When he thought back to it, it was truly a blunder. So much so – in fact – that had that been an exam, his paper would have been returned covered in red crosses.
The nostalgic sight of the self-defense force, Japanese people, and the Japanese language touched his heart so much, he was unable to make heads or tails of the situation. In the end, he was so confused he offered no resistance as the men took him.
Next thing he knew, he was thrown into this facility in who-knows-where. And now he was currently being interrogated.
—What a disaster.
“…Why won’t you say anything?
I know you have the right to keep silent, but this isn’t going to do you any good.
Stop being stubborn and talk, kid. Did something bad happen?” Kayama said.
“Hey, can’t you at least tell us why you’re keeping quiet?
If there’s anything bothering or worrying you, if you tell us, I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to help.
We have the authority, so… ok?” Sasamori said.
The both of them showed so much concern that the boy felt like he was about to cry.
How long has it been since he was last treated like the child he was? It’s been two years, no?
But despite that, he still couldn’t shake off the problematic nature of their questions, as well as the reason that they caught him in the first place.
“Where did you come from?”
“How did you come here?”
“Why did you undergo otherworld travel illegally?”
Those were the three things they wished to know.
The first two were fine, but that last one was downright suspicious.
The Earth he knew did not have the technology to travel worlds. Such technology should’ve only existed in dreams.
No matter how fast technology developed, a mere two years shouldn’t have been enough to make such technology so common that laws and organizations would have been established to moderate it to the point that it’s common sense to the public.
“I’m getting hungry, kid. Talk already. You’re a Japanese no matter which way you look at it.
You understand what we’re saying without a translator too.
The only way you could’ve gone there is through the official route, so you should’ve just come back the same way.
Why go through all the trouble returning using an illegal route?
Sorry, but as it stands, I can’t help but think you’re running from something.”
“Captain, you can’t talk to him like that!”
The female officer covered for him, but the captain was actually correct.
After all, he was currently on the run after attacking the demon king and stealing their treasure.
But the real issue was that these people were treating otherworld travel like it was common sense.
It was enough to make him feel like he ended up in a ‘world that only looked like his own’.
It was an unlikely story considering how dimensional travel worked, but that just went to show how queer this situation was.
Unfortunately, he did not have any means to ascertain this was the right world.
He could escape from here easily, but if it turned out that this was in fact his home world, well… They already know his face.
If he used violent means, he would cause much trouble for his family.
That being said, he couldn’t keep his silence forever. Continuing to be stubborn would only cause more problems.
He felt like he could trust these two people, but at the same time, he didn’t want to trust them.
There was no telling whether their affiliation and coworkers could be trusted, after all.
But if that’s all, he figured it was worth the gamble to try and get information out of them. The last resort of a mouse that has been driven to a corner.
“…Can I ask a question?”
When he finally opened his mouth, what came out was an extremely calm voice without any hints of agitation.
It was the kind of voice he used whenever he was questioned there.
He hadn’t intended to use it actually, but it was already a habit. And just when he thought, he’d blundered again, the man replied.
“And when you finally talk, it’s a question, huh? You haven’t answered a single one of our questions, you realize?”
“Captain! S-So, what is it that you want to know?”
Apparently, they didn’t think his voice strange.
The boy glanced at the shrugging male officer while inwardly relieved at the female officer’s reaction.
They didn’t know his original voice, so it was only natural they wouldn’t react poorly to it.
The boy who was so troubled that he didn’t realize even that asked another safe question.
“What year, what month, and what day is it?”
What did that question mean? Well, it didn’t actually mean anything.
At most, he figured there might’ve been some discrepancy in the 2 years he spent in Falandia.
It was right before Golden Week when he was swept away to another world, so it should only be year 2016 today.
He asked it mostly because he couldn’t dive into the issue right away.
With this, he’ll be able to correct the slight time discrepancy, and at the same time, he should be able to get the conversation rolling.
Information at this level shouldn’t be a problem, after all.
Unfortunately, for the boy, the response that came left his mind blank.
“It’s April 2, 2022 today.”
After a long period of silence, the young boy suddenly yelled as he stood up and slammed the desk.
2022 isn’t that far for us, though. It’s almost 2020 too. Still no light sabers or flying cars.