Metro Labyrinth Chapter 31: Sugamo

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A/N: 6/11 – Pricing for used jerseys changed. Price increased.



 Why is greeting the morning while in a futon for the first time in five years so refreshing?



 I woke up to the sound of birds. Lifting my head from the pillow and stretched toward the ceiling.


 Next to me is Tamiko, who is lying near my knees over the futon. And beyond her—a girl who has kicked off her futon and her back is fully exposed while sleeping. It’s Noa.


 With a thump, she turns over on her side of the bed. The breast of her yukata is exposed, and Tamiko wonders if she should look away or stare for a while longer.





“Good morning, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“I haven’t seen anything, I didn’t see it, good morning Tamiko!” (Shuu)



 The three of us are at an inn near the south gate of Sugamo City. It is said to be a long-established inn for hunters from what Obuchi said.


 We arrived at Sugamo City last night, exhausted and chewing dried meat. I found it to be a fortress city surrounded by a water-filled moat and high walls. The “Harajuku for Grannies” was fortified when it was not supposed to be.


 The drawbridge was up, and when Obuchi called out to the watchtower, he was able to get us inside. There were several military police armed with leather armor and spears, and behind them was Mr. Konno.


 When I talked about how to get rid of the band of bandits, the military police’s faces suddenly turned quite the color. It seems that Mr. Konno talked to them as promised, but he couldn’t get them to take action and get into the forest at night to subdue the bandits without knowing the specific location, and they only went and set up defensive measures.



 They were a bit skeptical about my strange attire, but Noa and Obuchi, who are hunters, gave them a good explanation, which somehow convinced them.


 After a detailed explanation, we were all too tired and wanted to sleep, so they decided to continue the story tomorrow. After receiving the luggage from Mr. Konno, which was still in his carriage, Obuchi made a suggestion and got us a room at this inn, and without even taking a bath, I just wiped myself with a wet hand towel and got under the covers. And here we are.



 I know it’s too late to say this, but couldn’t I have done something about sharing a room with a teenage girl?


 I didn’t want to disturb her because she said she didn’t mind, but I couldn’t help but notice how she was sleeping.



“Um… aah… oh, good morning.” (Noa)



 Noa, who finally woke up, stretches wide and fixes her yukata haphazardly. Good.


 Breakfast is brought to the room. A waitress dressed in simple kimono brings three trays.


 There is white rice, omelet, miso soup, and pickles. There was a small bowl of simmered what looked like chicken and tsukudani [A/N: food simmered in soy sauce].



“Abeshuu, what’s the matter, squeak?” (Tamiko)


“Well, it’s just… everything looks so amazing…” (Shuu)



 The rice is already an impressive improvement after a five-year absence from my diet. The miso soup and side dishes are all delicious. It is beyond the limit of my vocabulary.



“Does it suit your taste?” (Noa)


“I can eat three bowls of rice and with just a tear drop for taste.” (Shuu)


“Rice is so squeaking deli-delicious! This squeak sauce thing is yummy! My cheeks are squeaky and fluffy!” (Tamiko)


“This tsukudani is also very good! Is this locusts?” (Shuu)


“Those are Metro Cockroaches.” (Noa)


“I see.” (Shuu)



 Noa next to me is chomping down on them without a care in the world.


 After finishing our meal, I thought I heard a god saying that the morning bath is ready.



 At long last, the moment has arrived.



 The men’s and women’s baths are lined up close together at the back of the first floor. I parted with Noa and Tamiko before entering the men’s bath.


 The changing rooms and bathrooms are just like those of a good old-fashioned wooden bathhouse. According to the innkeeper, the hot spring water is drawn from the Metro. Apparently, the city’s water and sewage systems are also run by the metro system. The Metro is a place where anything is possible.



  I rubbed soap on a hand towel lent to me and washed my body. I scrubbed carefully and then used a stone scrub to rub off the grime. The more I scrubbed, the more dirt came off. I’ve bathed in the water a few times, but I still have five years’ worth of Metro grime that has accumulated.


 After that, I soak in the bathtub. I feel so comfortable that I let out a cry of pleasure. I shouted out. “Ahhh!” I was soaking in the bathtub.


 The water is slightly yellowish and the smell of the wood in the bathtub is soothing.



 I slept on a soft, clean futon, ate a breakfast of fried eggs, and now I am in a hot spring bath.


 It is as if I am dreaming. I’m so happy that my five years of toiling have paid off.



“–Warm water, squeaky good!” (Tamiko)



 The walls are thin, but I can hear Tamiko’s voice. I let go of my criticism that there is a problem with the structure of the room and let the hot water do the work.



“Noa’s thing is soft and squeakable. More pliable than a slime, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“TMI (whisper).” (Shuu)


“Your nipples are also beautiful and pink, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“TMI (whisper).” (Shuu)


“Squeaking different from Abeshuu’s ugly ass black mold nipples. He has nipple mold, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Leave me out of this (whisper).” (Shuu)


“All human girls are like this. I’m a little… big, and I have problems, but…” (Noa)


“It’s squeaky and comfy. It squeaks good when I’m between them.” (Tamiko)


“Are you f*cking serious (whisper)?” (Shuu)


“Fufu, thank you, Ms. Tamiko. Thanks for letting me know.” (Noa)



 I met the three of them met up back in the room. With all the envy I built up, I rubbed Tamiko’s face. [T/N: You perverted squirrel!]


 Noa said she and Obuchi are going to the office of the hunter’s guild. It’s about yesterday’s bandit attack.



“Don’t worry about it, Mr. Abe. I’ll go and talk to you about it later. In the meantime, you two can go look around the city.” (Noa)


“Thank you. Oh, by the way… I want to buy some clothes…” (Shuu)


“Then, please buy something using this.” (Noa)



 Noa pulls out a few folded banknotes, three of them, to be exact, from something that looks similar to a wallet, and hands them to me. Written on it is “Tokyo Government Banknote 1,000 yen”. It has a similar pattern to a paper bill, there’s the portrait of a young man, and a crude watermark in the middle.



“Is this money?” (Shuu)


“Yes, each one is 10,000 yen. This is 30,000 yen.” (Noa)


“Who is this, by the way?” (Shuu)


“The first chief of the Shibuya Tribe.” (Noa)


“Huh.” (Shuu)



 The paper is surprisingly firm. The watermark in the center of the paper is neat, but the printing or ink seems a little crude.



“I don’t have much on hand right now… You may not be able to buy something of high quality, but there is a second-hand clothing store for hunters around here, so I think you’ll find some shirts, pants, and even underwear there.” (Noa)


“Thank you. I will pay you back later.” (Shuu)



 Come to think of it, Obuchi also paid for our lodging.



“Fufu, it’s okay. I owe you so much more than that.” (Obuchi)



 I’m really glad that Noa was the first person I met. I think of this when I see her playful smiling face.





 I know the secondhand clothing store immediately because I asked the proprietress where it is located. Judging from the pictures of clothes and shoes on the wooden hanging sign, it is certainly a clothing store.


 Behind the door appears to be a treasure trove of things. Folded clothing is displayed on shelves. Fantastic items such as cloaks and leather armor are also placed in the back. I think this may be the first time in my life that I have been so impressed by a clothing store.



“Welcome.” (Shopkeeper)



 A middle-aged man who looked like the owner of the store came in and was surprised to see me in my wolf outfit.



“What’s the outfit, brother? You look like one of the wild men of Nakano.” (Shopkeeper)



 Is modern-day Nakano a town of wild people? I believe the forest where Tamiko’s tribe lives is near there.



“Um… clothes, underwear, and socks. Can I get a complete set for less than 30,000 yen?” (Shuu)


“Thirty thousand yen, got it. I’ll give you some ideas, so if you find something you like, just let me know. But you’re on a budget, so you can’t be picky.” (Shopkeeper)


“Oh, yes. That’s fine.” (Shuu)



 The shopkeeper picked up a jersey similar to the one Noa was wearing. The truth is that this is the mainstream outfit for hunters.



 The color is all subdued and dark, and the patterns and stitching are simple, but at least there are no holes or frayed edges to show. The smell of insect repellent lingered in the air, but there was nothing I could do about it. 



 The fabric is surprisingly thick and firm to the touch, and it feels quite dense. It is not a simple garment but seems to have some kind of strong fibrous material woven into it. When I tried it on, I found that it fit me surprisingly well, and the soft material at the joints made it easy to move around.



“Abeshuu, it fits, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Right.” (Shuu)


“You look cooler than an Ogre, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“So, I’m less than an Ogre without the clothes?” (Shuu)


“I’d like to try something too, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“My bad, but this store is for humans.” (Shopkeeper)


“Squeak that so…” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko was disappointed.



“But there is a store that sells clothes for magic beasts, so you can try there.” (Shopkeeper)


“Squeak yeah!” (Tamiko)



 Long-sleeved, long-leg jersey tops and bottoms (dull black), a rope as a belt. Socks, boxer shorts, and a light shirt. The shoes are made of leather with a metal plate underneath.


 I didn’t realize how secure I could feel just by being wrapped in a plain cloth like this. I feel like I have finally returned to civilization from the primitive man. What is this feeling of invincibility?


 After I put on my set of clothes, the shopkeeper sets down a mirror.



“…It’s me…” (Shuu)



 The man in the mirror is unmistakably Shuu Abe. I had seen that figure in the changing room at the inn, but for the first time in five years, I could recognize myself through the mirror more clearly than on the surface of the water in a Metro’s oasis.


 I would like to say that I look more fearless than I used to, but I don’t see much change. Even if I’m five years older than I used to be.


 As for my physical appearance, I am clearly tougher than I used to be. I have longed to be lean and muscled, but I am not particularly happy about it, as it is a body shape that I am forced to achieve for practical purposes.



“What is the matter? Do you not like it?” (Shopkeeper)


“Oh no, not at all… this is just right.” (Shuu)


“Don’t worry about it. That kind of youthful face is less alarming to women.” (Shopkeeper)


“Please don’t read my mind.” (Shuu)



 Do you know the agony of always ending up with “You seem nice”?



“Well, how much is it, and…” (Shuu)



 The shopkeeper flicked through the abacus.



“That’s 27,850 yen in total.” (Shopkeeper)



 When I asked him about the breakdown, he told me that a used jersey top and bottom cost 20,000 yen, which is a very reasonable price even 100 years ago. It might have been a reasonable price for something worn by professionals who risked their lives.



“Would you like to buy something else? Oil or soap for cleaning?” (Shopkeeper)


“No, umm… I’m okay for the time being.”



 I received the change. There were five gray jagged coins and one smaller copper-colored coin. That’s 150 yen. There were also two 1,000 yen bills with a different face with a Tategami [T/N: A long hairstyle popular during the Genroku Era (1688-1704)].


 Looking at them again, they are very different from the coins of my time. It is a little different from metal. It is hard but light, but not like plastic or stone. It feels strange to the touch. Both types of coins have the words “TOKYO-TOCHO” [TN: Not certain since the author used the English Alphabet. It would probably mean “tochou” or “都庁” or “Tokyo Government Office”. Yes, it is very redundant like “ATM machine”.] on the front, and numbers are engraved on the front side of both types, and the back side is pure white similar to bone.


 According to Noa, in New Tokyo, one yen, ten yen, and one hundred yen are coins, and five hundred yen, one thousand yen, and ten thousand yen are banknotes.


 Naturally, the value of a thousand yen in the old days would be different from that of a thousand yen today. I guess I will have to acquire a better sense of money through practical experience.


 With the owner’s greeting “thank you, come again.” I leave the store. Now that I have caught up with modern civilization in terms of fashion, I decide to look around town without worrying. A child catches me outside doing a “Jojo Stand”.



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