A Simple Survey:Volume2 Intro
The End of a Major Assumption
As he let out a groan, Higashikawa Mamoru could not tell where he was. Like the morning after drinking enough alcohol to bathe in, his head pounded and he could not remember how he had gotten here or what had led him to come here.
But the more direct reason for his confusion was that he was surrounded in complete darkness. He could tell he was lying on a hard floor, but he could not find a desk, chair, or any other furniture when he stretched out his arm to feel around. He had no idea how far away the walls were. The area could be as large as a giant domed stadium or as small as an apartment bathroom.
Higashikawa wanted light.
With a look of realization, he reached into his pants pocket. But the cell phone that was usually there was missing. The wallet he kept in the other pocket was missing as well. This made him think someone had maliciously left him here.
As he had no memories, it was possible he had thrown them out himself, but it made more sense if someone else had taken them.
(Why do I have this dull headache?)
The last thing he could remember before the blank in his memories was working a part time job at an amusement park known as Attraction Land. It had been a temporary job that had him monitoring or debugging some future attractions by finding any imperfections or flaws in some image videos. He had found the job posted on a bulletin board listing authorized jobs at the university he attended.
He could not imagine how that had led to this darkness.
He did not know what his situation was, so it was possible the lights were simply off.
But that did not explain the headache.
Where had the other participants gone? Where was the woman working for Attraction Land that had overseen their work? Higashikawa wondered if the others would have just left him while he lay sprawled out in the room.
“What is going on?”
Pain shot out in every direction from the core of his head.
He would not feel like this if he had simply fallen asleep.
He could only think he had consumed alcohol or something with similar affects, but he did not remember drinking anything while watching the videos.
In that case, what had happened?
Unless some strange gas had been pumped into that room, he could not explain his current situation.
And if that was the case, why had it happened to him?
Before he could come up with an answer, something happened.
A loud electronic tone rang out repeatedly in the darkness.
The sound itself was common enough; it was the one use in department stores to preface a lost child notification. However, it was extraordinarily loud. It was loud enough to cause a noticeable vibration in the floor Higashikawa’s cheek was pressed up against. Needless to say, this did nothing to help with the dull pain throbbing in his head.
It grew louder and louder like an alarm clock.
Did that mean something had been done to him that required that much noise to bring him to his senses?
After the speaker’s volume was lowered, a female voice began speaking.
He could see nothing in the darkness, but the voice was staticky enough for Higashikawa Mamoru to realize the voice was coming in over a speaker.
“Okay, okay, okay. Now that the preparations are complete, it’s finally time to get to our real purpose here.”
It was the voice of the female Attraction Land worker.
But Higashikawa had no idea what she meant.
(Preparations? Our real purpose?)
“I suppose you wouldn’t know what I am talking about. Fortunately, I have set up this room to help you grasp the situation as quickly as possible. If you look over there, I think you will figure it out right away.”
Higashikawa Mamoru heard a clicking sound.
At the same moment, his vision was filled with pure white.
The room’s lights had come on.
It was an obvious truth, but the pain stabbing through Higashikawa’s eyeballs and into his head was too great for him to grasp it at first. His eyes having grown accustomed to the darkness was not enough to explain it. His inner ear stopped working properly, so he lost his balance despite lying flat on the floor. He felt like he was on a small boat.
He had no idea how he had been knocked unconscious, but the speed of his pupil dilation may have been thrown off.
After 30 seconds of pain and resisting the urge to vomit up the contents of his stomach, he finally began to see vague images through the pure white of his vision.
The images slowly came into focus and Higashikawa Mamoru was able to check on his situation.
He was in a square room about the size of a school classroom. It had no windows and its only exit was a door made of thick steel. It had no desks, chairs, or any other furniture. A speaker and a clock were hanging on the wall. It truly was nothing but a square space
But there was one thing Higashikawa did not grasp at first despite seeing it right before him.
His mind had put it off.
It was what he most had to focus on, yet he could tell he was consciously forcing it to the very edge of his vision.
But that was not too surprising.
In the center of the room was a mass of flesh.
When he looked more closely, he realized it was a woman’s corpse that was missing its head and hands.
He shouted something.
Having a corpse in front of him was bad enough, but he felt an extreme sense of revulsion upon realizing he had unknowingly been in the same room with it and breathing the air around it.
Higashikawa did not know at what rate human bodies changed after death, but he doubted the one in the center of this room was only two or three days old. The body wrapped in a kimono had grown both blue and black. The area around the “wounds” was the worst. Small white bugs were wriggling around inside.
The body had been decapitated.
That brought a single image to Higashikawa’s mind.
“A guillotine…” he muttered. And then he grew convinced. “She was in one of those attractions. One of the victims was a woman wearing a kimono!!”
“Well done. So do you understand now that we are real?” said the female voice coming from the speaker on the wall.
Technically, it was possible the videos of the attraction had been fake and someone had later created a new corpse to match.
But that made little difference
Either way, these were people willing to kill someone for whatever they were after.
“I’m sure you have figured it out by now, but our purpose here was not to have you monitor those attractions. We can always score an attraction carried out in the past ourselves. That was just preparation. It was like bringing out the ingredients needed before cooking. Those were the ingredients needed for you to participate in the final attraction. If you do not understand, that is fine. Our objective always lies ahead! We are always moving forward!” The female voice spoke very cheerfully. “And that means our real purpose begins here!! We will be making new additions to the attraction archive and we would like your help!!”
New additions to the attraction archive.
Even though he knew what that meant, Higashikawa felt an intense refusal to come to that conclusion.
But he could think of no other explanation.
Higashikawa Mamoru himself would become part of those videos.
He had been called here to be a performer in a new video for their archive.
In other words…
A life-or-death attraction similar to the ones he had seen would soon begin.
“One quick note,” said the female voice. “You are not allowed to call for a temporary timeout or to give up partway through. In fact, the attraction began the moment you woke up.”
“Wait a second. Wait a second!! What are the rules of this attraction!? I wasn’t told anything!!”
Higashikawa Mamoru of course had no intention of taking part in such a ridiculous attraction.
But he still needed to know the rules so he did not step on a landmine in his search for a way out.
After all, these were games with human lives on the line.
The ugly corpse in the center of the room told him all too well that the organizers really did have the ability to take his life.
“Oh, the rules? Yes, the rules. This is a proper attraction, so it of course has strictly defined rules,” said the woman halfheartedly. “But I have no obligation to explain them to you.”
Higashikawa Mamoru felt his mind freeze for an instant.
To survive, he had to build up an understanding of all the small details of the situation, but the very bottom of the pyramid had just been pulled out from underneath him.
But the organizer woman merely said, “After all, we are the ones running the attraction. As long as we understand the rules, the attraction can continue. You don’t need to know them. If you achieve victory according to those rules, we will of course let you leave. So do your best!”
Higashikawa did not understand.
He was in a situation so severe the slightest misstep could get him decapitated, but he was being told to grope around blindly without any knowledge of what qualified as a “misstep”.
There was no way he could do anything in that situation.
He did not even know if he had to leave the room before a time limit ran out or if he would fail if he carelessly left the room. He was simply being asked to choose.
Higashikawa’s entire body began trembling ominously.
This was not due to the mental shock of external factors such as being locked in a dark room or being shown that shocking corpse.
This came from within.
Fear was flowing out from the very core of his heart.
Other than the corpse, the square room was completely normal. Yet in Higashikawa’s mental image, it was covered with countless landmines. He was afraid that taking a single step or even breathing too deeply would activate one of those landmines.
He felt completely bound.
While Higashikawa sat motionless and unable to move a single fingertip, the woman spoke once more through the speaker.
“Just so you know, the countdown has already begun.”
“What? What countdown!?”
“Here’s a freebie.”
His answer came immediately afterwards.
He heard a slight clunking noise. The cheap wall clock located just under the speaker had fallen to the ground. The clock face was pointed down, so Higashikawa could now see the reverse side.
Something was attached to it.
That cylindrical something had colorful wires and a small circuit board attached, making it very, very obvious what it was. A clear liquid filled the transparent cylindrical container, but it was obviously not water.
It was a bomb.
Higashikawa felt like the ticking of the clock had suddenly grown much faster.
An unpleasant sweat poured from his body as he heard the female voice over the speaker once more.
“The attraction has already begun. The method is up to you. Someone please do something about your situation.”
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