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Tribulations: Interview 1

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KUGISAKI NOBARA: INTERVIEW 1

Note: For this transcript and others in the SHIBUYA INCIDENT AND ONWARDS investigation case folder, the use of “P” indicates Participant, and “I” indicates Interviewer.  

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Audio Recorded: 17 December 2018, 11:30AM

Transcribed: 18 December 2018 

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[00:00]

 

I: State your name, please.

P: That’s stupid, you know my name. 

 

I: It’s a part of the process. 

P: What process? Ugh, fine. My name is Kugisaki Nobara, 16. 

 

I: Thank you. 

P: Yeah, whatever. Can we start already? 

 

I: Yes, of course. Can you tell us what happened to you on the night of the Shibuya Incident? I believe the time was 23:16/11:30 PM? 

P: I can. 

 

She let her guard down. It happens. She knows that; she had let her guard down countless times during training sessions with both Maki and Panda. Panda teased her about it, would say that her hair was going to get caught by his claws and it wouldn’t be his fault if it made her haircut uneven. Maki, on the other hand, chastised her. Nobara would hiss through her teeth as she rubbed at the sore spot on her head she knew would form a bruise-bump combo after the whack she received from her staff. She’d look up, see the sunlight blow out behind Maki’s head into a glowing ring, the glare reflected by her glasses hurting her eyes. 

“Don’t let your guard down like that,” Maki said. Your center of balance was totally off. ” 

She huffed. 

“We’re already past the time you said we’d stop. I’m hungry, of course, it’s off.”

“Don’t make excuses! You think a curse is going to care if you’re hungry?”

Maki come on, aren’t you hungry too? I think I heard your stomach growl.” 

You did not—

Maki would be furious about this. She had known the patchwork cursed spirit was dangerous, knew that he had to be devious if both Nanami and Itadori had a difficult time exorcising him. 

It’s almost embarrassing. 

A burning sensation starts to sear the side of her face, and Nobara refuses the impulse to touch it. It’ll be fast, she can tell. She almost forgets that she isn’t alone, but then Itadori’s sneaker squeaks by her. 

Now that she thinking about it, she’s never really seen him look afraid. 

She needs to say something. 

“Itadori—”

Would apologizing be enough? It wasn’t her fault she was about to die, she shouldn’t be sorry. Nah. She should say something else. Saori would say something better.

“Tell everyone it wasn’t—”

[PAGE 1 OF 3]



[01:20]

 

I: What was that? 

P: What was what? 

 

I: What did you tell Itadori Yuji? 

P: Nothing important. [pause] Is this about him?

 

I: No, this is about you.

P: I mean, I was in a coma for most of it. You’ll have a better chance interviewing him or Fushiguro. 

 

I: You were in a coma for 31 days. 

P: I’m aware. 

 

I: Do you feel guilty about that? 

P: Huh? 

 

I: Do you feel guilty that you were not present for the following events—

P: Stop, stop. I don’t need you to list them. 

 

I: Alright. Do you prefer we move on from that question? 

P: Sure.

 

I: Would you like some more water?

P: I’m fine. 

 

I: Can you tell me what happened when you woke up?

P: Sure, I can. I woke up. 

 

I: Could you expand on that? Who did you see? What were you told?

P: This feels stupid, how will this help anything? 

 

I: It’s a part of the process. 

P: Of course. The process. 

 

I: If you would be so kind. 

P: [sigh] When I woke up the first person I saw was Shoko. I think she was talking to Gojo—

 

I: That would be Gojo Satoru?

P: Who else? Anyway. He noticed that I woke up. I think he was carrying something. But he saw me, must have let Shoko know because then she came to me, and he left.

 

I: He walked out?

P: [laughs] No, he like, just vanished. I guess he teleported? 

 

I: Do you know what he was carrying?

P: Not really. [pause] It sort of looked like a body. 

 

The air is sterile when Nobara forces the metal door open. She knows that this is stupid, that the bodies of sorcerers were always cremated, if possible on the spot, not held in a morgue to wait for an available plot of ground. 

But still. 

The morgue is cold, and she pulls on the end of her sleeves, digging her nails into the fabric, pinning it to her palms. She has to see. She has to make sure that her friends aren’t lifeless on slanted, aluminum slabs. The fluorescent white light above her flickers as she walks further into the room, passing row after row. It’s surprisingly empty, and Nobara sighs. 

“You should be resting,” a voice behind her says, and Nobara turns to see Shoko. Her lab coat is absent, instead replaced by a cardamom-hued sweater. 

“Couldn’t sleep,” Nobara replies. 

Shoko stares at her for a moment but then sighs and tilts her head towards the door. 

“Well, I left some coffee brewing. Come on.” 

The coffee is bitter. Nobara scrunches her nose when she sips from the mug Shoko poured her in the infirmary and Shoko motions towards the meager set up by her desk. 

“You can look for sugar but I doubt I have any.”

Nobara lowers the mug onto her lap, feeling the warmth against her thighs. 

“It’s fine,” she says. “It’ll work better this way.”

Shoko doesn’t respond. In fact, it’s almost as if she completely disengages. She turns to face her desk, selects a stack of documents stapled together, and starts to read over each, turning to sip on her coffee whenever she flips a couple of pages. 

It isn’t that Nobara is uncomfortable, it’s far from that. She likes Shoko, she likes that she’s honest and she appreciates the company, but something is just off. She starts to look around the infirmary, taking in the faint, bitter aroma of the coffee wafting up. The bleak, light blue privacy curtains hide the patients in the last two cubicles, but the other five are empty. 

Nobara stares at the nearest cubicle, the one that was hers. 

The thin fitted sheet of the bed is rumpled, the blanket on top half folded over itself and onto the pillow. She still has to sleep there, in case anything happens. She’s honestly not even sure she’d prefer her dorm.

Itadori refuses to come back to school. She doesn’t blame him. Though his execution has yet again been postponed, apparently from threats voiced by both Gojo and Fushiguro, he doesn’t want to be near anyone. 

Fushiguro’s also not around often, not that Nobara blames him. If her sister had just woken up from a coma to be inserted into some murder game she still didn’t truly understand, she’d spend as much time with her, too. 

So, the dorms are quiet. Still. Nobara had stopped by to pick up some of her stuff for her extended hospital stay, and it had been fine until she stepped out into the hallway, hospital bag in hand. Not that it wasn’t fine, but it was something. The dorms were empty, a dishonest sense of tranquility plastered onto the walls, smudging the windows and blocking the doors. She passed by Fushiguro’s dorm, which unsurprisingly was closed, but then she passed by Itadori’s, and then Maki’s. 

Their doors were unlocked, and when Nobara peered in, the remainders of a lifetime passed were scattered everywhere in such a mundane way that Nobara felt her chest tighten. Their beds were unmade, their trash was left uncollected, junk food wrappers and energy drinks peeking out over the brim of the trash can. Itadori’s stupid posters of models and celebrities were still up, the corner of one starting to curl from the humidity, and Maki’s laptop was still charging, connected to the wall.

Nobara stared at the fading ring of green light of the charger’s cable until she remembered how to breathe again.  

At least here there was noise in the infirmary. The uniform, dispassionate beeps of the mystery patients’ monitors kept her company, occasionally accompanied by the scribbling of Shoko’s pen, or the quiet clanks of glass when she poured herself a glass of alcohol. 

But something was bothering her today, more than usual. Maybe if the morgue had bodies she wouldn’t be as unnerved. 

“Shoko?”

“Hm?”

“Where did Gojo go? I thought he’d be here too, getting looked over by you or something.” 

Shoko’s routine doesn’t skip a beat. She finishes looking over the page she’s currently on, flips it, and drinks from her mug. When she places it down, she shrugs.

“Gone, maybe. Who knows. Not the first time he’s been selfish.”

Nobara stares down at her coffee, at the ripples that form on its placid, black surface when she taps her fingers against it. She should have unplugged the charger from Maki’s laptop. 

“Everything is so different,” she murmurs. 

“Is it?” Shoko replies, leaning back against her rolling chair. “It sort of feels the same.”

 

[PAGE 2 OF 3]



[08:29]

 

I: Are you close with Shoko Ieiri?

P: I wouldn’t say that. She’s just, I don’t know. Cool. 

 

I: Were you close to any of your mentors or peers? 

P: I am close to them. 

 

I: When was the last time you spoke with [shuffling of papers] Itadori Yuji, Fushiguro Megumi, Zenin Maki, or Gojo Satoru? 

P: Everyone has stuff going on, it’s complicated right now. 

 

I: Would you like to skip to the next question? 

P: Sure. Whatever. 

 

I: Do you believe you’re traumatized? 

P: Hah, don’t be dramatic. 

 

I: Do you believe it?

P: No. I don’t know. Next question. 

 

I: You mentioned Itadori and Zenin—

P: Maki. Call her Maki.

I: Sure. You mentioned Itadori and Maki. When was the last time you spoke to either of them?

P: Itadori and Maki were both gone when I woke up. 

 

I: Have you been made aware of the situation with the Zenin clan?

P: I have. 

 

I: By who?

P: Fushiguro. 

 

I: Could you share your thoughts on the events?

P: I don’t think my thoughts matter about it. It’s not my business. 

 

I: Well, do you believe Maki should be held accountable?

P: [laughs] That’s all people like you care about, even before the shitshow at Shibuya. Accountability, guilty or innocent, executions. Why don’t you hold her family accountable for how they treated her? [pause] Then again, I guess they have been tried now, huh? 

 

I: There are methods of enacting justice and accountability that are not murder. 

P: I actually heard it was self-defense. 

 

I: Did you hear that from Maki? 

P: No. 

 

I: You tried to find her, correct? 

P: Well, yeah. No one else tried, apparently. I thought they would. Megumi found Itadori, afteall. I didn’t get why they wouldn’t do the same for her. 

 

I: Is that why you tried?

P: I guess. 

 

Fushiguro had told her not to do it, but he hadn’t stopped her. 

“Go home, Nobara.”

Maybe he should have.

Maki looked like hell. Rough skin interwoven and scorched onto itself lay claim to her arms and face, and cracked, dry blood that looks brown and indigo is caked onto her black clothes enough for Nobara to tell. 

But the sword she holds is immaculate, the hazy sunlight that persists through the clouds passing above reflecting off the blade. 

The recollection of Fushiguro’s summary of what had taken place during her time unconscious sounds more like a ringing in her ears than actual words. 

She can’t stop staring at the sword. If Maki notices, she doesn’t comment.

“Go home,” she repeats. There is no hostility, no animosity, there is only the nauseating awareness that this encounter will only be but a moment. Maki is no different from a stranger stopping to indulge Nobara in a conversation on the street, or in a store. 

“I don’t understand,” Nobara blurts, and Maki doesn’t move. Nobara had ventured out into the sectors that hadn’t had a chance to be evacuated before the incident, fighting her way through wandering cursed spirits until she started to find only their blood and butchered bodies to find her trail. 

“What is there to understand?”

“What the hell do you mean?” Nobara replies, taking a step towards Maki. “Nothing makes sense. People are gone and it feels like they were there a day ago. I’m alive. I’m alive, Maki.”

“Do you wish you had died?”

Nobara blinks. No, she can’t say she particularly wants to be dead. When the patchwork cursed spirit had touched her face, she wasn’t relieved or overjoyed. She had felt cheated. But death, in its complete, inarguable sincerity, was far easier to understand than life now. 

“Don’t say something dumb,” she responds. “Of course I don’t.”

“Then go back.” 

She opens her mouth, ready to complain, but closes it. 

Maki sighs, “I’m okay, Nobara. Go. I’ll be okay.” 

Nobara’s chest hurts. It’s not uncommon nowadays, but today, in front of Maki—who she had searched for, who she had tried to imagine over and over again slaughtering the names she didn’t recognize except for Zenin in a report Shoko provided, who proclaimed she lived for herself—she realizes that she’s tired.

She’s exhausted. 

Her shoulders drop and she has to remind herself to keep the grip on her hammer steady for it not to plummet to the ground. 

“What happened?” she asks, a bit breathless, a faint smile starting to possess the corner of her lips, on the side under her eye mask.

Maki frowns, “They didn’t tell you?”

Nobara shakes her head, “They did.”

“There’s nothing else to say, then.”

“Don’t say that,” Nobara says, the words ushered in by a laugh. “There is. There has to be. How, why—”

“Nobara,” Maki interrupts. “There is nothing to say. You didn’t know me.” 

“But you told me,” she persists. “You told me about—”

“Mai’s dead.”

Nobara shuts up. Maki glances towards the sword, turns it over in her hand. “My family. Becoming the clan head. Everything I told you, it was for Mai.”

“What about you?”

Maki looks over at her, “What about me?”

And it’s an inquiry left unanswered. What about Maki? What about her made her feel so distinctly different than the rest of Nobara’s classmates? She wants to ask for more time to think about it, to formulate an answer that would make sense, that would take into consideration the abrasive alterations to their life, but there is none.

Maki turns her head over her shoulder, and Nobara swears that the clouds above are still. The earth does not move, and the breeze that ruffled her skirt on her way here is a stagnant, stale thing that hangs in the air around them. 

“Stop looking for me,” Maki says, before turning to face forward again. “Go home.”

 

[PAGE 3 OF 3]

 

[18:49]

 

I: Was your search attempt successful?

P: What do you consider successful? 

 

I: Did you find her?

P: No, I didn’t.