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17 Trouble After Rainfall



Trouble came sudden as soon as the rain cleared up. The sound of a curt knock on Hinata's door was the first signs. He opened to see the village's mayor, school teacher and police officer on his door step.

"Gentlemen." Hinata acknowledged their presence with a puzzled frown.

His mind began to panic on whether he was meant to send the kids off to school today.

"The kids are not to start school yet, are they? I was under the impression they had one more week."

Akihiko sighed. "I've been informed that something has happened to one of the towns along the East Coast. What has occurred, we don't know. I've been instructed by the Government to seize any and all rations from households towards an emergency aid."

"Excuse me? Are you saying all rations are to be surrendered?" Hinata gasped. "What about the children?"

Akihiko sighed again and faced Tanaka. Tanaka stepped forward with a motion to apprehend Hinata by force.

"What is the meaning of this?!"

"If you do not surrender your food willingly, we have authority to take it by will and incarcerate you for insubordination and obstruction of justice." Akihiko soberly warned Hinata. "You will lose all rights to the children in your care."

Hinata stared at Watanabe-sensei with pleading eyes and frowned at the man's downcast expression.

"Hina-tan!" Shouta came up to Hinata and stepped before him, showing the men a brave face.

"Don't bully Hina-tan!"

"Shouta-kun! You mind your manners." Hinata reprimanded the boy.

Shouta mumbled his apologizes, but didn't relent on his protection over Hinata and glare towards the men.

"You entrusted these children and Aiyama-san to my care." Hinata tried to reason with the men one last time.

"You have five minutes." Akihiko soberly ordered.

Hinata sighed and faced all the children and Aiyama-san who had been watching the exchange from the genkan and hallway.

"We'll round up the food." Aiyama-san declared.

She hurried the kids back into the cottage to help her gather up their food. Five minutes later, they returned with a large cloth bundle of food items and rice bags.

"Hope it goes to the right people," she said when he handed over the kitchen's pantry, not hiding her seething and curt tone to her voice.

Watanabe-sensei and Tanaka seized the bags. Akihiko tipped his fedora hat. The men went on their way. Hinata closed the door with a troubled sigh.

War's ugliness had turned up on his door step. If it was food they would be lacking, he'd find away to give them more. At least they had each other and the house.

"I'll see if Akira has anything stored at the shop." He chewed his nail on.

"We'll eat bugs! Stag beetles roast up crunchy. Taste like tatos. No worry Hina-tan. I get food, cook for you." Shouta patted Hinata's hand with an innocent smile.


Hinata chuckled, thinking it was a nice thing to be a child. He patted the boy's head and glanced to the other kids who also didn't look deterred by the lack of food. Of course, they were already experienced on time of going without.
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"Well let's round up some juicy ones shall we!" Hinata smiled.

He began a juicy bug round-up game with the kids in the meadows, relishing the coolness from the tall sunflower stems, leaves and wild grass. The kids were having lots of fun catching big bugs that would be their dinner.

Aiyama-san laughed merrily, her heart calmed at the strong resilience from the kids. They were truly angels of these hard times. Miki, Mei-chan and herself left the hunt early to gather up vegetables to go with roasted beetles.

Everybody returned before the day's pink, orange dusky sky settled into the blackness of night. Hinata and Aiyama-san had all the kids in the kitchen poking the beetles in the pot over the irori pit, making sure they were frying up good. A starchy, potato and a hearty winter vegetables' aroma wafted about the kitchen as a delicious dinner come into reality.

The bowls were set on the low table, chopsticks evenly placed before a spot someone would fill. An instant banging on the front door shutter made everyone pause when they were about to take their place before the table.

"Go ahead and eat." Hinata gestured towards the others.

He made his way to the front door, unlatching and sliding back the shutter. Akira crossed the threshold into the genkan. Hinata closed up the front door again, expressing the concerns at the man's flushed face and disheveled image of shirt and waistcoat plastered to his skin. His suit pants and brown loafers were caked in mud, like he had been sprinting through fields to reach his door.

"Hinata. Gather the kids, we have to leave now." Akira panted with desperation to his voice.

He barged into the house with his shoes on to gather up things in the rooms. He surprised the kids and Aiyama-san when he pleaded for them to gather their belongs they cared about for a long journey.

"AKIRA! STOP IT!" Hinata angrily shouted that made the man turn his way. "What is the meaning of barging into my home and bringing your dirty feet inside!"

Akira surprised him when he raced up to him and pulled him into a desperate hug before the kids and Aiyama-san. "Tanaka said the Kenpei are after you."

Hinata's heart froze with fear. Did Akira just say Kenpei? Why?

"We have no time." Akira's voice quivered with genuine fear.

"Aiyama-san, kids, quickly. Take only what we need to survive." Hinata hastily ordered everyone.

They went about the task, within minutes everyone had reassembled within the main room ready to take flight.

Hinata scooped up a grumbling Tama-chan and placed the cat in a rucksack with all the dry goods he had gathered. He made sure the cat could poke its head out, but not able to escape from the pack. He carefully placed the rucksack on his back, doing his best to ignore the cats swipes to the nape of its neck.

"Calm down Tama-chan." Rei coolly tempered the cat with light pats until it felt sleepy.

"Thank you." Hinata thanked the boy, especially when Tama-chan seemed to accepted its new bed and settle down to sleep.

Sounds of a storm approach could be heard from the road.

"We have to go!" Akira lead everyone towards the backdoor that opened out into the meadows barely lit with moonlight.

They followed his path through the cover of sunflowers, towards the Tengu Mountains in the distance. Running away from the calamitous screech, shuffles and banging towards the front entrance of the cottage door.

"Make haste!" Akira whispered.

He bent down to scoop up Miki and carried her in his arms as he increased his sprints. Hinata did the same with Mei, and Aiyama-san with Miwa when the disturbance behind their backs had barged into the cottage.

Curse shouting, brutal commands and ordering for no-mercy-capturing disturbed the air. Making their sprints harder, so their legs burned with aches.

They chased Akira's path into the dense canopy of pine trees and elms running up the mountain side.