Chapter 2.Winter: Gifts
There was chaos in Takafu-cho. It had been three hours since the Kishigami family rushed to the city office to notify authorities that their baby and car were missing. If they did not find Ta-kun and Takashi by day's end, their lives would be in danger.
Mrs. Kishigami would normally have removed the child seat in order to get Ta-kun out from the car. However, he was sleeping soundly, and Takashi had said he wanted to stay in the car. She had decided to leave her son in the warm car rather than expose him to the cold. She took only Yuri to the hospital. Ordinarily she would never leave her son in the car, but she did so because Takashi would be with him.
"What has happened to them? Has somebody taken them away? Did anybody see a stranger in town?" The Kishigami family used RUICA to plead for information.
Their worries grew when Yukio came to the office and told them that Takashi had sometimes driven Yukio's car without permission. Yukio got down on his knees to apologize profusely to the Kishigami family. He was so disheartened that he did not know what to do with himself. Mr. and Mrs. Kishigami found it difficult to respond to him and just continued to pray for their son's safety. Blaming Yukio would not bring their son back. Keigo and Kanalu embraced Yukio, who broke down and cried.
"Let's search for them. We do not have time for crying," Kanalu said firmly. An emergency meeting was held in front of the electronic bulletin board of the city town's integrated geographical information system (GIS). The situation was reported through RUICA to all residents, who were requested to gather and transmit information. The town's assembly was expedited and general cooperation on a search-and-rescue operation was adopted in a mere instant using RUICA's consensus function. People decided to dedicate themselves to sharing information with the local fire department, police, schools and other concerned institutions.
"Isn't the GPS in your car working, Mr. Kishigami?" Kanalu tried to speak calmly because he did not want to make Mr. Kishigami angry. Kishigami's car usually transmitted position information, but this time it did not. "Well, I do not know, but maybe..."
"What is it? Please tell me whatever you can think of." Kanalu spoke carefully; he did not want to sound as if he was conducting an interrogation. Outside, a snowstorm raged.
"I wired the switch of the GPS to the car radio, and I suspect Takashi may have turned off the radio."
People on RUICA sighed over the conversation. GPS was designed in such a way that a car owner could control the setting to protect privacy. According to personal preference, it could be set it up to interlock with any function of the car - the radiator, odometer, or any other part not controlled by the driver, so it could not be easily disabled by a thief, or inadvertently disconnected. Mr. Kishigami connected his car radio and the GPS together, since he and his wife turned on the radio whenever they drove.
"So if Takashi-kun drove the car without turning on the radio, there would be no further location data beyond the parking lot," Kanalu said. "Where has he gone?" Mrs. Kishigami asked in tears. She had been crying since Ta-kun had gone missing. "Considering Takashi-kun's lack of experience, I think he has not gotten far," said Kanalu. "He probably wouldn't have driven along the freeway because he knew that the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) monitors license plates and he would be stopped at a checkpoint. I suspect he took a path into the mountains." "Oh, Ta-kun, my Ta-kun, he has no milk or diapers!" Mrs. Kishigami again broke down crying. Yuri held her mother's hand tightly, as if to comfort her.