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Chapter 4 - Shout of Justice

Edwin pulled out one passenger after another. The once crowded market corner had devolved into bedlam. During the crash, the bus hit a truck carrying volatile, flammable materials. Bystanders fled the scene. The air was heavy with with a hot, thick smoke. Edwin coughed violently as his body was assaulted by the hostile atmosphere.

'I can't give up,' Edwin thought. 'There are still people left inside that need me!'

'Help me...'

'Grab my hand! It's narrow, but I can get you out! Everything is going to be all right!'

'I can't... I'm pregnant...'

'Wh-What?!' Edwin had shouted without thinking. He tried to get a hold of himself, but his thoughts were in shambles, 'I'm only 19. This is way out of my depth!'

While his mind raced, he frantically tried to calm the woman and told her to wait there. He stood and surveyed the area.

Several cars were caught up in the crash and now laid motionless in the street. Brandon and the news staff had come outside after Edwin to help the rescued passengers. Sirens faintly wailed in the distance. Help was finally on its way.

'Ed! You gotta get down from there!' yelled Brandon. 'That truck over there is loaded with gunpowder! It could blow at any second!'

'Like hell I will!'

Edwin had suddenly become enraged. 'Why did this accident happen? Why are there so few people helping?!' he yelled to himself. 'And Agnes, why did she run from me...?' He was almost sure she had seen him. Edwin knew he shouldn't be upset. It's only natural that someone would run away if a huge orbal bus came hurtling through the air at them, but that truth did little to assuage his rage. 'Agnes, why did you run away?!'

'You idiot. Who said anything about running?'

Cold water suddenly engulfed Edwin's body. Bewildered, he turned around, only to then meet Agnes' beautiful blue eyes. She stood there, panting, bucket in hand. Edwin was pretty sure the bucket must've belonged to a fishmonger, as he now reeked of fish.

'Nice work, kid! Leave the rest to us!'

'Everyone, this way. Hurry!'

A brigade of bucket-armed fishermen and fishmongers appeared from behind Agnes. Together they doused one fire after another.

'Oh, of course. We're next to the harbor,' thought Edwin.

Agnes' hair swayed to-and-fro before Edwin.

'You! Get over there! You! Go fetch a hatchet!' barked Agnes.

'This girl is something else,' mused Edwin.

'Ed! Get out of my way. That woman is pregnant, isn't she?'

The girl grasped the bus's frame and took hold of the woman's hand. Agnes then gently coaxed her out of the bus.

She faced Edwin. '...You know this would have been way easier if you hadn't come, right?'

'Huh?! What was that for?!' Edwin shouted.

The girl with the cream-blonde hair cracked a relieved smile. 'Don't worry about it. You really are dense, you know that, Ed?'


After sunset, the clattering of a cocktail shaker was the only thing disturbing the cafe's silence. Agnes' uncle liked to serve drinks in the cafe at night. The repetitive sound of the shaker was disrupted as the door flew open. Agnes didn't bother to look. She knew it must be Ed.

'So, how did it go...?' she asked, still facing away from him.

'Everyone is in stable condition!' Edwin recited the facts he learned from the police and hospital's reports. There were only minor burns and injuries. Excluding the bus driver, who had already died before impact. Considering the circumstances, people were saying that it was a miracle. One aided by a speedy rescue, of course.

Edwin continued, 'And the cause of the accident was--'

'The driver died at the wheel, and the bus went out of control. Right?' interrupted Agnes.

'H-How could you possibly know that?!'

She shrugged as she turned up the orbal radio. 'Say Ed, maybe you really aren't cut out to be a reporter. Personally, I think you'd be better suited to being an emergency rescuer.'

'Hmph.' Edwin rubbed his hands together and glared at her.

'Hey toots, get me a bourbon!'

'Quit trying to act tough, Ed. I know you don't drink. Here, let me get you an iced tea.'


As she prepared the drink, she wondered what the bus driver's cause of death may have been. The host on the orbal radio was now covering a different traffic accident. 'Haven't there been way more accidents than usual lately?' she wondered to herself.

第4回 正義の叫び

エドウィンはまた1人、また1人と乗客を助け出していた。バスの車体が市場の一角につっこんだお陰で現場はパニックだった。その上ぶつけられた方のトラックが、何か燃えやすい物を運んでいたらしい。肌を焼く熱風と煙が押し寄せてきて、エドウィンは激しく咳き込んだ。だが、負けるものか。エドウィンはそう思う。ここにはまだ生きている人がいるんだ!!

「助けて……」

「大丈夫です、つかまってください!狭いけど引き上げますから!」

「だめ……私赤ちゃんがいるの……」な、なんですとっ!? エドウィンは思わず素っ頓狂な声を上げた。専門外だろそんなの! 19の俺にどうしろって言うんだ!!

心の中でそう叫んで、口ではちょっと待っててくださいと必死で宥めて、エドウィンは立ち上がって首をめぐらせた。

巻き添えを食って衝突した導力車が何台も停まっていた。救い出した乗客は、仕事を放り出してきたブランドンたちが介抱している。どこか遠くからはサイレンの音が聞こえ始めた。ようやく助けが来るのかもしれない……

「エド、一旦降りろ!」とブランドン。

「トラックの積荷は火薬だ、爆発するぞ!」

「降りねえよ!」そう返した途端、なぜか腹が立ってきた。なんでこんな事故が起きるんだ。なんでみんな、もっと手を貸してくれないんだ!!

「……だいたい何で逃げたんだよ、アニエス……」あの時アニエスは自分を見て、驚いて逃げ出した気がした。別に怒ってるわけじゃないんだ。自分に向かってバスが飛んできたら、普通やっぱり女の子は逃げ出すだろう。でもなんだか無性に腹が立つのだった。……なんで逃げたんだよ、アニエスっ!!

「誰が逃げたっていうのよ、馬鹿!」ばしゃりと冷たい水がエドウィンの全身に掛かった。アニエスだ。いつもの蒼い瞳を(かがや)かせたアニエスが、ポリバケツを持って軽く息を切らせている。……そしてきっと魚屋で借りてきたバケツに違いない。すごく生臭い。

「坊主、よお頑張ったな。あとは任せとけい!」

「みんな、こっちじゃこっち!」

アニエスの後ろからバケツを抱えた漁師やら魚屋らがやってきて、次々に水を掛けていく。そうか、港があったんだっけか……そんな事を思い出したエドウィンの前で、アニエスはくるくると髪の毛を躍らせて、次はあっち、次は斧を借りてきてと指示して回る。……ったく、本当にこいつは。

「エド……! そこをどいて!」その人妊婦さんでしょ? 車体の上によじ登ってきて、アニエスは女性の手を握って勇気付けた。「……エドが来なかったらもっと簡単だったかもしれないのに」「なんだよそれ!?」エドウィンがそう叫ぶと、そのクリーム色の髪の娘はようやく何だか安堵したように微笑んだ。なんでもないわ。……エドって、ほんと鈍いわね。


日が落ちた後の静かな店内に、カラカラとシェイカーの音が響いていた。叔父さんの趣味でこの喫茶店は夜はお酒も出している。バタン、とその静寂を乱暴に破って入ってきたのはエドウィンだろうと、そちらを見もしないでアニエスは思った。

「……で、どうだったの?」

「ああ、みんな命に別状は無いってさ!」

エドウィンは警察と病院の話をあわせ伝えて、既に死亡しているバスの運転手以外は軽い火傷とすり傷だけだった事を話した。大事故にも関わらず奇跡的に、そして迅速な救助のお陰で助かったのだという。

「それで事故の原因なんだが……」

「運転手の人が何かの原因で死んじゃって、バスが暴走したんでしょ?」

「な……なんでそれを知ってるっ!!」アニエスは肩をすくめて導力ラジオのボリュームを上げた。アナウンサーが今回の交通事故の概要と、その原因を報じていた。

「ねえエド、あなたやっぱり記者には向いてないんじゃないかな」素直に正義の味方になった方が向いてるわ、きっと。ふぅむと手を擦り合わせて唸ったエドウィンは、鋭い目線を投げつけてこう言った。「バーボンをくれ!」

はいはい、アイスティーね。お酒に弱いくせに格好つけるものじゃないわ、エド。


でも……そもそも運転手の人はどうして死んでしまったんだろう。ラジオのアナウンサーが今度は別の交通事故を伝えていた。最近事故が多い気がするなと思いながら、アニエスは新しいグラスを取った。


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