Kamisama no Memochou:Volume 1 Chapter 6

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Chapter 6[edit]

A strong tinge of purple pervaded the streets of that Friday night, the buses that bore their maws towards the bus stop were expelling large amounts of purple spots that stuck onto people’s faces. During the red light, the purple spots gathered at the zebra crossing, flowing slowly. Why is it that the street isn’t destroyed because of the bruises? I stood before the road, breathing in the pungent odor of the exhaust gas while thinking.

‘…… Narumi, how do you feel?’

Alice’s voice came from the earphones stuck in my ears.

“I feel like puking.”

My voice had probably spread out through the microphone hidden in my muffler. The knitted cap on my head looked like a strangely shaped pot, and a camera was set up inside it; I’m starting to feel as if I’m not a person anymore. If I’m a robot, I would probably be able to get the repulsive feeling to disappear after pressing a button.

‘If the repulsive feeling disappears, you won’t be able to come back anymore. Listen, don’t think about negative things, even thinking of the ice cream that Master made would be okay, as you’ll be devoured by the drug.’

Alice’s advice is just useless to me. The dry, bitter taste of Angel Fix is still lingering in my mouth. Because it was too bitter, I bit my mouth to hide the taste with blood, but it became more terrible instead. After a few minutes, I realized that using the taste of blood to hide the taste of the drug is already an abnormal thought, and a chill came upon my back. At this moment, the sense of wanting to puke came upon me once again.

I’m being devoured by the drug.

“…… I just feel that my eyes are strange today, it’s like I’m looking at everything through an infrared camera. Why is everybody wearing masks? Is there a festival today?”

‘Narumi, calm down, nobody’s wearing masks.’

‘But…..”

The green light lit up, and someone was pushing against my back. The masked crowd flowed from two sides of the road to the dark, murky river of the asphalt road. I was drawn into the crowd, and took a step forward.

Tetsu-senpai and Hiro should be tailing me somewhere, and that’s my only consolation. If I couldn’t even remember that, I’ll probably just drown in the streets, not able to float ever again, right?

Hiro was in charge of tailing the drug dealer.

Tetsu-senpai, on the other hand, was in charge of— collecting my corpse.

Nobody knows if I will be able to find them, and I might just die in vain.

The horns of the cars are making my ears hurt. Going past the zebra crossing, in the crowd, the piercing music in the pharmacy is hurting my ears, and my head hurts too, the repulsive feeling is becoming stronger.

‘Walk onto the slope from the street center, and wander around the Hotel Street.’

“Alice, why are you gnashing your teeth? It’s so noisy, stop that.”

‘ What are you talking about? I’m not gnashing my teeth.’

I only noticed after Alice said that, the teeth gnashing sound was the footsteps of high heeled shoes of a college student beside me who looked like a woman. I knotted my brows, stopped walking and kept my distance with her. But it’s completely useless, footsteps came from all around me. I covered my ears, almost kneeling on the ground. Damn it! Why do women in the street always wear high heeled shoes, hurry up and change into flat ones!

‘What’s with you, Narumi? Am I talking too loudly?’

“It’s…… nothing.”

I used the back of my palm to wipe away the spit at the corner of my mouth and stood up again. The office ladies gave me a look and passed by me. Never mind, it’s just footsteps. I breathed in deeply, and held in the gastric acid that felt like it’s burning in my throat. How much time has passed since I took the medicine? Probably just twenty minutes? Or has two weeks already passed, and it’s just that I couldn’t remember? Angel? It’s just a repulsive feeling.

While moaning, I walked to the west of the street center. I felt terrible when I passed through the playground, the flood of noises made me feel that I was shot at from the side by a thousand air guns.

‘Vice Admiral Fujishima, please take note. Your blood pressure is rising rapidly.’

Major’s voice came from the earphones. I placed my hand on my left wrist. Not only did Major set up cameras, microphones and earphones, he even installed things to measure my pulse, blood pressure and body temperature. I feel like I’m a robot that’s controlled from afar.

‘Narumi, you’re probably going to cross the boundary between reality and hallucination soon, you must think of something happy!’

Something happy?

Three uniformed girls passed by my side while exiting a HMV Record Store. It’s our school uniform. Happy moments in my memory—

‘Don’t think of Ayaka!’

Alice sensed my thoughts with her acute intuition, and tried to stop me with her piercing voice. But she was too late. I was forced to relive the moments with Ayaka on the rooftop that day, the night skies were at the other side of the railing. Ayaka was at my side, and the watering can wettened my hand. Ayaka said: Just wait until spring comes…… and then it changed to spring. The night skies were chased away, and my body was surrounded by a gentle, gold radiance……

What is this?

I stood at the center of the crossroad, the road was surrounded by buildings full of colorful neon lights. Raising my head to look at the sky, I saw it.

“…… Angel?”

‘Narumi, what did you see? Whatever it is, just tell me, try to describe it, and don’t just sink in the feeling.’

I squinted, hugging the streetlight, because it seemed like I would be flushed away by the radiance if I didn’t do so.

“Alice, hey, have you ever looked at the surroundings from the centre of an explosion?”

‘Sorry, but I’m a hikikomori, so I’ve never seen an explosion before. But even if I have a chance to see it in the future, I’ll politely decline your recommendation of how to watch it.’

“Really? Because that’s what I’m feeling right now.”

I stretched out my hand towards a light particle. The sweet flow of electricity passed through my fingers, my head.

“Ahhhh…….”

I let out my hot breath. From god knows when, the repulsive feeling and my headache vanished. The sensation that took their place filled my skull, the power that melted the snow accumulated through the winter, the power that pulled the sun out from the surface of the sea during a new day. I knew what that power was called, everyone knew it, it’s just that the people who couldn’t see angels have forgotten about it.

I thought, Toshi probably saw the same scene, huh? If that is so, then I’ll forgive him. I’ll forgive Ayaka who jumped off the school building without saying a word, because she just went to see the angels. You see, if you just stretch out your hands, angels are around us. Forgive those faceless, purple patients who are just swept through the night, they just don’t know the existence and the name of this light.

“Alice, do you know what this is called?”

Even my own mutterings turned into brilliant light particles, intercrossing with my white breathing and spreading out.

‘I know, it’s love. Love makes the world go round.’

The sweet voice of the young girl was quoting the lyrics from Bob Dylan’s songs, yes, it’s love. Before Dylan gave it to us, he might not have known about its name, too. But we know, its name is love, so I am definitely not letting go.

‘Narumi, but you’re looking for another song, remember? It’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.’

Hearing Alice’s words, I remembered. That’s right, I’ve forgotten. I have to search for heaven’s door.

I need to meet Ayaka.

I stepped on the surface of the night river, every step turned into a ripple and spread to the whole world. The whole world is beckoning to me, saying that they exist because of me, and that we are one and the same. I raised my fist to the sky that was raining feathers of the angels, and felt that I had to sing. I was born for this moment, to accept the guidance of the rays of love, walk up the slope, and open the doors to heaven. Listen, there’s a faint sound of the plucking of a guitar. The hostels arranged side by side are palaces of gold, the sounds of footsteps, noises, the sounds of the engines of cars further away, the sounds of thousands of the outer unit of air conditioners, the sound of wet breathing due to lust, all of them combined into a chorus of holy music, getting close to Dylan’s husky voice.

‘ Knockin’ on heaven’s door…….’

I heard it. I could really hear it. In the tens of thousands of music that were gently caressing me, I could differentiate Dylan’s music. I found Dylan’s singing voice.

“…… I found it.”

At the instant when I was murmuring to myself, joy that was close to melancholy gushed out from my mouth and my ears, then splattered onto my skin.

The man was leaning against the steel door that looked sticky and filthy because of spray paint, and gradually squatted down. His head was lowered, and he tapped his knees to the tempo of the holy music with earphones on his ears.

‘Narumi, you found him? Really?’

Don’t you know? Can’t you see it? Shining wings are clearly drawn on both of the man’s cheeks, it’s so dazzling, too.

‘Narumi, answer me if you’ve found him, and don’t get any closer!’

The voice of the young girl resounded in my ears. With my hands on the wall of the hostel, I slowly walked towards the angel. It felt just like stepping on clouds. Very soon I’m going to reach him, very soon.

‘Tetsu, catch hold of Narumi, and don’t get caught! Hiro, you know it, right? He’s the one who’s wearing a leather jacket and squatting down with earphones on. You can’t get caught by him! And don’t let him run away! Narumi! Narumi! Get a hold of yourself!’

I pulled off the noisy earphone. The song of the angel flowed directly into my mind. This is the music of the song Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. I’ll get there soon. Soon I’ll be able to see Ayaka again. Just as I was about to stretch out my hand, someone fiercely caught hold of my shoulders.

Let go! Let go of me!

I struggled until my wrist almost broke off. He’s flying away, the angel is flying away. The door that was opening soon is closing. I clutched the asphalt road with my fingers, not noticing that I was lying on the ground. That’s why the ray of light is above me, until darkness and the long, dark clouds gradually covered up my eyelids. I repeatedly knocked on heaven’s door, again and again, again and again, knocked and knocked……

*

I think everyone has thought at least once when they were little, why do humans continue to live, because there isn’t a simple and clear answer written in the textbooks of this country (An answer existed in the past, but was burned down during the Second World War and the collapse of the economy).

Some people made a simple conclusion, that is to obtain happiness, and then stopped thinking about it; while the people who couldn’t stop thinking about it realized that this answer is just another way of phrasing the question, and in the end they sank deeper into the swamp of questions.

Some people were already satisfied with the answer on the P.E textbook during high school, the three main requirements of humans, a meaningless answer; And some people even answered it in a cycle— living is to search for the meaning of our existence; there were also some people who started to read philosophical books just so that they could have a cool answer if they were asked, but in the end stopped after they read the first paragraph of the forth page, and completely forgot about the question.

I am not any of those people.

Before I became an awkward high school student, I was a not so awkward middle school student. Those days, I skipped school before, and pondered about the question while sitting beside the riverbank.

Because we don’t want to die— that was the only possible answer I could think of. Though this answered the question ‘Why do humans want to live’, it still couldn’t answer the question ‘What do humans live for’. At least I still knew that when I was in middle school.

Apart from that, I had a strong suspicion for the definition that to live means that you haven’t died yet. That’s because I knew that another type of incomprehensible people who exists in this world— those who aren’t dead, but aren’t really living either, for instance my father. From the day when my mom passed away because of an accident, it was like a part of my father was brought to a different world. This is one of the rare things that I agree with my sister. After that, father was almost never at home, and just mailed us money for our daily expenses.

As long as you are living, you can’t evade death. Some people could only reach this conclusion after a whole life of ignorance, so I, who understood this just by observing my relatives, am actually quite lucky.

If there is no meaning to life, then why do we live? I, who was still thirteen at that time, was wearing my uniform with wet pants as the grassy land beside the river was wet with dew. After that day, I didn’t take any step forward.

But there is one thing that I can be sure of.

There wouldn’t be any answer no matter how I thought. Even if there’s a formula for solving problems, there are too many unknowns. But if I understood, it would probably a split second understanding, just like being struck by lightning.

But what would I become after that?

Would I still be myself?

*

When I woke up, I felt an extended, severe pain.

When I tried to open my eyes, there was an uncomfortable resistance like I was trying to pick away a scab.

It’s so bright. The piercing lights hurt my eyes.

There seemed to be a shadow in front of me. What is is?

I didn’t realize after quite some time that the shadow was the upside down face of a young girl.

“Narumi, welcome back.”

The young girl was smiling, her black hair sliding from her shoulders onto my neck.

I tried to sit, and felt the pain of my stiff back tightening. I frowned.

I was sleeping on the bed in Alice’s room, surrounded by the black machines on the wall, the sound of the fan turning and the cold artificial air.

It was obviously extremely cold, but there wasn’t even a small reaction from my body.

I looked at my palms, feeling that this isn’t my body. I have obviously seen my skin and the wrinkles on it for thousands of times, but if you just lifted the thin layer of skin, it would feel like it is filled with an unknown liquid. That is what I felt at that moment.

Then, where did my body go?

`My soul— where did it vanish to?

I thought of the moment I saw the angel, the moment that it fused with the stunningly radiant world. Even so, all of that have vanished.

No.

They did not vanish.

“How do you feel….. What a stupid question!”

Alice murmured behind me.

Asking me how I feel? Do you even need to ask?

Terrible.

My head didn’t hurt, and I didn’t feel repulsive, even the pain in my teeth vanished, and I couldn’t even feel the cold. But, but—

I understood.

I didn’t even have to think about it. What have Toshi said to me at that moment? I think it’s something like the reason that we continue to live is to stimulate our nerves. But why did Toshi, the person who was directly stimulated by the angels, and I feel so terrible? That quite clear, it’s because Toshi’s answer isn’t the answer. Stimulating our nerves for the sense of comfort is only a part of living, the pleasure is our goal and not just a trick, it’s one of the reasons of the error in the formula of its design. The one who I am right now— the one who had been guided by the angel have seen that formula. The variable of the red pills giving pleasure, it’s just a simple calculation, everyone knows the answer for that, everyone knows.

The answer is zero.

There is absolutely no meaning to life.

Even breathing and heartbeats could make people feel painful, I tightly held the blanket, my shoulders shaking, trying to contain the pain. No, why am I containing it? It’ll be okay if I just stop, stop breathing, stop the flow of blood, stop thinking about everything. If the statement that people continue to live because they don’t want to die is true, then the opposite must be correct as well.

If only I would stop.

“— Your request has already been completed, right?”

It was Alice’s voice. I turned my head over.

The darkness that lacked luster wrapped her whole body, even her gloves were black. She wore a bonnet, and a thin veil covered her entire face.

I finally realized that Alice was not wearing pajamas, but a black dress. The darkness that lacked luster wrapped her whole body, even her gloves were black. She wore a bonnet, and a thin veil covered her entire face.

They were clothes for people in mourning.

“…… Request?”

“You gave me a request, right? It’s because you wanted to know the true reason for Ayaka’s suicide. You already know now, so the request has been completed, isn’t that right?

“Wha……”

Looking at the back of Alice’s shoulder, a switched off computer screen reflected my face— a raised, crooked face. There wasn’t even a hint of anger on it. The face looked like it belonged to a dead person, reddish black markings surfaced below the eyes, as if it was drawn onto the face with charcoal.

“…… ah, AAHHH!”

I remember this face, I’ve remembered. On that freezing dawn, blood spread in the garden, Ayaka who stared at the skies with black eyes, there were those same markings on that face.

The reason for Ayaka’s suicide.

I’ve understood.

Alice have said before this, there is absolutely no mystery concerning Ayaka’s suicide, so I don’t need to think why she wanted to die. As Alice have said, I don’t need to think at all. The thoughts and emptiness in my heart are the answer.

Because Ayaka knew it too.

Living is meaningless.

“To explain in a scientific way……”

Alice said. The fuzzy face of the young girl gradually became clearer.

“Bruises like that appearing is a sign of being allergic to the contents of Angel Fix. There are some people who are not suited to taking the drug. Both you and Ayaka are this type of people, it’s that simple. The signs of allergy would cause a strong sense of emptiness after the hallucinations fade, do you understand? What you are feeling right now is only a horrendous hallucination caused by the drug, that might be the facts but not the truth.”

So…… So what?

Alice shifted her gaze away from me, as if she was pained.

“Another way of saying that would be, it is not the truth…… but the facts. I know that this explanation is utterly meaningless. The despair and happiness that you felt, all of them are chemical reactions that are released by your nervous system due to the drug.”

Is that so……. Utterly meaningless. So all of our emotions: anger, sadness, happiness and emptiness, all of them are chemical reactions.

So, all of them are true facts.

“The drug would amplify all your emotions, no matter how tiny your regret is, or even the guilt because of the sin of planting the flowers. Even if it isn’t deliberate, there is no room for negotiation in front of the drug. In front of the facts, the truth could only stay silent. So……”

The dark eyes gazed at me.

“I wouldn’t say anything to stop you.”

I gazed at the small, pale pink mouth.

“If you plan to change into that, I have no power to stop you. However……”

The folded paper that was held in Alice’s hands, is the will that Alice forced me to write the day that I decided to take the Angel Fix. At that moment, I was completely clueless to the reason that Alice asked me to write it, so the contents in it were only hastily scribbled things.

The one who wrote the will is not the person that I am now.

“But, I will definitely tell people about you. Telling people that you did indeed exist, telling them you were brave, telling them you finished the thing that you should do.”

The thing I should do.

The thing I should do?

The sound of an opening door came from behind me.

“Hey! Alice! Why did you tell Yondaime!”

It was Tetsu-senpai’s furious voice. I turned around and met his gaze, and senpai who was about to walk into the room was taken aback, his whole body stiff.

“Narumi, so you’re awake? Are you okay?”

I weakly nodded.

“Has Hiro brought his car? We can’t let Yondaime wait for so long, he’ll become anxious. Let’s go!”

“Alice, you’re going too?”

“Don’t you understand after seeing my clothes? Yondaime can’t be stopped if I don’t go.”

“Ah…… Oi! Why did you tell Yondaime? The people from Hirasaka-gumi already surrounded their hideout, and would probably slaughter everyone inside.”

Ah, Toshi and the others were found?

That’s right, I ate the Angel Fix because of this I’ve already forgotten about it. Now that I think about it, it felt like it happened a lifetime ago.

Finished the thing that I should do.

So what?

Alice crawled to my side and walked down from the bed.

“There is a business contract between Yondaime and I. As a detective, I am responsible for providing all information about Fix. Furthermore, there’s at least seven to eight people at their side, right? Anyhow, we must borrow the strength of Hirasaka-gumi.

“But……”

“That is why I gave them a condition, they can’t take action before I appear. I assure you, I have a plan, and wouldn’t let them do anything to Toshi.”

Unsatisfied, Tetsu-senpai sank into a silence and walked out of the room.

Alice turned around.

Half of my face was buried in the pillow, but I felt her gaze through the black veil.

“All of this is because of your contribution. To me, the things that happen after that are just gifts for our satisfaction, but to you….. There’s probably no difference, right?”

No difference.

“…… I’m going out. You can just continue to sleep here if you want to, and if you want to jump off a building, please walk further to your right, move the rack and then you can open the windows to jump out of it. But it’s just the third floor here, so it’s not guaranteed that your attempt would be successful.”

“…… Are you going?”

“I’ve said so already, didn’t I? I want to know why Ayaka wanted to jump from the school rooftop. Toshi and Hakamizaka should know something. For this reason, and only for this reason, I’m doing things to this extent, even though it’s meaningless even after I know it.”

“…… Are you just leaving me here?”

I slowly got up, my voice like the buzzing of a mosquito. Alice tilted her head at me slightly.

“Do you want to go with me? Why? You really don’t need to go along with my self-satisfaction.”

I shook my head. I don’t really want to follow her, and actually don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. But……

“Then—“

“……. Go yourself!”

Alice’s eyes widened.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m telling you not to leave me alone and go yourself!”

A hoarse shout came out from my throat.

“Always looking like you know everything, triumphantly saying all those devious things, but couldn’t you understand such a simple thing if I didn’t say so?”

I didn’t know why I was so angry, but was only venting my emotions, which felt like pieces of hot, scorching irons, on the fuzzy shadow in front of me.

“Just order me around as usual! Can’t you see that I can’t recover by my own? I feel all empty inside, and can’t go anywhere! Just give me any order! If not, I- I- I……”

I tightly held the side of the bed, and coughed violently like I was squeezing out all the air inside of my body, and my bones felt as if they were all shattering. But, my body is already useless anyways. These hands, these feet, all of them are useless, and can’t help anyone anymore. So no matter what, even if they become rotten, just pretend that they don’t exist from the start. If even these people forgot about me—

A cold hand was placed on my neck.

My body had a spasm, it was like the cold hand was absorbing heat, suppressing my trembling lungs, shoulders and heart.

“— That’s true, your request has already been completed….. But you haven’t given me my payment yet.”

I bore the pain that felt as if my skin was being torn off, and raised my head. The first thing that I saw was Alice’s smile that was framed with her black hair that was flowing like a river.

“Then just work till you drop, because you’re my assistant! Your hands, your legs, your eyes, your ears, your throat, your nails, your teeth, your tongue, and even your last drop of blood……”

The diminutive queen pointed at my forehead lightly with her index finger.

“— all of them are now my property.”

*

Gazing at the skies from the back seat of the car, I could see the crimson sun setting.

Hiro sat on the driver’s seat and said: “You slept for about fifteen hours already.” Tetsu-senpai sat on the front leat, while Alice was stuck in the middle of Major and I. Alice tightly hugged her baby bear plushie that was somewhat smaller than her mocha bear, and was called Lyril. The blue foreign car set out with its back to the road beside the river, bringing an eccentric group of five and a bear, only the translucent, white moon was chasing us.

“I’ve contacted Narumi’s family. They weren’t worried at all. By the way, do remember to introduce your sister to me after this.”

Almost at the same time, Tetsu-senapi pulled Hiro’s hair while Major aimed a kick at the driver’s seat. But I didn’t laugh. After Hiro said that, I remembered fuzzily, so I have family. I just feel that the last time I went home, it was already three years ago.

During our journey, Alice didn’t say even one word. Hugging her plushie until even her fingernails turned deathly white, Alice was even sweating cold sweat.

Well, this girl is a hikikomori, after all. Why must she go out even so? It was obvious that she could just hand it to Yondaime and Tetsu-senpai, and the matter would end.

While looking at the moon, I thought, this problem is going to end soon.

Meeting Ayaka— when was that again? It was on November. January is going to end soon, so we’ve known each other for about three months now. If I would describe this with old-fashioned terms, I would say that it was like I had a long dream.

Everything had a sense of emptiness before I closed my eyes, so would it be even emptier after waking up?

It’s going to end soon.

The car swayed with force and stopped.

The commercial street without much business going on— there were a noodle shop, a photo shop, a bicycle shop and a pet store. It’s just five in the evening, and they’ve already closed. It was just a five minute trip from the station, but it was so deserted that you couldn’t imagine that they’re in the same district.

At the parking lot that was so big that it doesn’t match with the desolate commercial street, there gathered young men who were wearing black T-shirts with a swallowtail butterfly emblem printed on it. Hiro parked the car at the side of the parking lot.

“Ane-san, thanks for your hard work!”

“Thanks for your hard work.”

Tens of vicious-looking yakuza shonens bowed to the young girl who walked down of the car with a plushie in her hands, and the scene was dyed orange by the setting sun. At this instant, I saw a supernatural scene that isn’t strange even if the world ended.

“Aniki, thanks for your hard work too.”

“I’ve heard, aniki gambled with his life to find this place.”

“As expected of aniki.”

Rocky and Pole surrounded me. I shifted my gaze and shook my head. I didn’t do anything, and can’t do anything as well.

The wolf donning a crimson jacket separated the members of Hirasaka-gumi and came closer to us.

“Is it okay for you to go out……”

Yondaime looked at Alice with his head lowered, saying with a worried look on his face.

“Of course it’s not okay, can’t you see after seeing this?”

Using the plushie to cover over half of her face, Alice was still determined to say those annoying words even though her hands were trembling slightly.

“Why are you deliberately coming out? It’s the same with that last incident, you always come out when things are coming to an end.”

“That’s because I’m a NEET detective. No matter how arrogantly I leaned on an armchair, telling you my assumptions, I still have to fill my hands full of blood in the end. If I didn’t do so, I would only come into contact with the world of the dead forever.”

Alice said with a pained voice, her lips turning purple. I didn’t understand what she was saying. Yondaime placed his hand on his forehead and shaked his head.

“We’ve surrounded them, but not even one person came out. However, it was so quiet in there since an hour ago that it makes people feel uncomfortable.”

Yondaime used his chin to point at the four-storey building beside the parking lot.

“Have you entered it?”

“Didn’t you say that I can’t enter? We’ve confirmed that there’s at least six people in there. Hey! So we can attack right now, right? You should remember that we’ve waited for a few hours already.”

“No, Toshi is our partner.”

“Do you think I would specially forgive anyone?”

“I don’t think so, so……” Alice hid behind Tetsu-senpai. “So Tetsu will accept Judgment in place of Toshi.”

A shocked expression appeared on Tetsu-senpai’s face. He heaved a sigh after his body stiffened for awhile.

“Saying something like ‘I’ve got a plan’…… So that’s how it is.”

Like they’ve confirmed with each other in advance, Yondaime sighed too.

The said Judgment of Hirasaka-gumi is really just a fight.

“Oioioioi! Sou-san and Tetsu-san are having a fight to the finish!”

“How’s the results right?”

“Forty three wins, forty nine losses, and three draws.”

“Then isn’t the result clear already?”

“Okay, I’ll bet five thousand on Sou-san.”

“I’ll bet ten thousand on Tetsu-san!” “You traitor!” “There’s no choice, how could the bet continue if I don’t do that?” “If that’s the case, toughen up a bit, Tetsu-san.”

The black shirted men suddenly started a bet.

“Oi! You guys—” Yondaime hurriedly tried to stop them, but it was too late. They’ve already decided on the dealer, and started to bet. Yondaime’s followers formed a human wall, forming a temporary boxing ring at the center of the parking lot. Alice sneakily walked away from Tetsu-senpai’s back, and only senpai and Yondaime were left in the centre to face each other.

“Oh, forget it. This type of idiotic end is just our style.”

Senpai laughed wryly while tying bandages on his fists.

With a bitter face, Yondaime bit back the words that he was going to say, took of his jacket and threw it behind him.

“Sou-san, please use your secret technique!” “Tetsu-san, I’m leaving my ten thousand to you!”

The lackey’s rough cheering interlaced together. I was dumbfounded for a moment because of the idiotic end. Alice pulled the hem of my jacket.

“Narumi, we’re going in, so don’t space out. Major, hurry up and open the lock.”

“Ehhh? But Tetsu-senpai is stil……”

“Do you even have to ask? That’s just a diversion. If you really wait until Yondaime goes in, he won’t hear anyone’s words.”

Major was already taking out the tools for opening the lock. Yondaime’s voice echoed over. So we’ve still been noticed huh?

“Oi! Alice! You let me wait for so long, and then you’re going in by yourself?”

Alice slowly turned over and pointed at Yondaime.

“Oh? You’re not giving up on the God’s Judgment that has already started, are you?”

“But……”

Tetsu-senpai, who had already prepared his battle stance, smiled wryly while shortening his distance with Yondaime. Yondaime could only unwillingly raise his fists.

“Oi! You guys go too!” Yondaime ordered his followers beside him while keeping his eyes on Tetsu-senpai.

“……. Eh? No no no, this match really can’t be missed.”

“We’ll regret it forever if we missed it.”

“My ten thousand.”

“Shut up! You idiots hurry up and go! If only they went in, what if something happens?”

At the instant when the steel door was pried open, a strange smell rushed over and stimulated our senses— it was the smell of a type of plant, the choking, bitter and fresh smell of a plant. It was a familiar smell to me. Among the ten other people who went into the building, only I was familiar with the smell, as though it was still lingering in my mouth. As soon as we entered, we saw a cramped, dusty hall, and quite a few ragged sofas piled at a corner, as if it was an abandoned hospital.

“Alice, why don’t you just wait in the car?”

Hiro said in a low murmur. Alice pressed her bear forcefully onto my back, and shook her head while holding on to me. I turned my head over, and I could see that she looked even more terrible than just now.

“Do you want me to continue living completely without coming in contact with this world? Don’t joke with me.”

The black shirted men passed by us an ran to the stairs.

“Four of you search the first floor.

“Can be just beat them up if we see anyone?”

“You’re being too aggressive!”

Footsteps echoed in the building.

I looked at my palm again. The feeling of being cut open both physically and mentally is still lingering in my body. The feeling will never disappear now. Do I have to continue to live, being imprisoned in a body that is not mine? Being unable to use my own hand to touch any object.

The basement was a large, cubical space. There were facilities for factories used for manufacturing set up in the whole of the building. Walking down the stairs, the appearance of the factory could be seen from the handrail. The machines arranged side by side with its back to the walls were like large fridges, sandbags were carelessly piled up at a corner, the table was full of test tubes, and the flashing fluorescent light lit up the room uncomfortably. Water kept dripping into the sink from the open tap. The air of the basement was filled with a familiar smell. Hiro, Major and the black shirted men frowned, used their sleeves to cover their noses, and walked down the stairs.

Black sofas that had their legs cut off were arranged in a line as a replacement for a beds, and quite a few men were stacked together on it.

It was like an elephant had a rampage in the room, as quite a few racks were lying down on the floor. A man used his white robe as a blanket, sitting on a slanted rack, tiredly leaning his back against the bare cement wall, while fragments of glass were scattered around his feet.

“Heh……”

The man slowly raised his head, looked at me— no, Alice, who was behind me, and showed us a disgusting smile. He was very much different from my memory of his appearance, and also the photos that Alice found. His hair so long that it touched his collar, his face was sunken, while his widened eyes behind his glasses looked like they almost dropped out.

But I immediately knew that he was Hakamizaka Shirou.

“What a delicate angel. Are you Alice?”

Hakamizaka laughed piercingly at the faraway ceiling.

“I’ve heard about you from Shinozaki…… You’re really a child. I’ve never thought that you would find us so quickly, it’s so delightful.”

Hiro pushed me away and went closer to Hakamizaka to ask: “Hey! Where’s Toshi?”

“Probably somewhere over there! He took quite a lot too, I’m not sure if he’s alive or dead. Hmph, of course, we, ourselves, should enjoy our last stocks.”

A chill came over my back.

This guy is hopeless.

All of the things in this room has already died.

Hiro and two back shirted men walked past the fallen racks and tables, and walked towards the room. Moans came from a sandbag nearby.

“Toshi! Hey! Toshi! Get a hold of yourself! Can you puke them out? Hurry up and throw up!”

Hiro said in a pained voice.

“Oi! Get some water here.”

It was the flustered footsteps of the black shirted men. Hakamizaka looked at the small commotion and laughed through his nose.

Alice tightly held my arms.

“Hakamizaka Shirou, do you think that your experiment has succeeded?”

Facing Alice’s questions, Hakamizaka raised his eyebrow.

“Of course it’s a success, doesn’t it seem like a success to you? Haven’t everyone seen the real world? An in reality, some people had been taken away by the angels too. Angel Fix used its own power to form a spreading system cycle, could other medicine do this? Only I did it! Thus, my experiment is a success! I’ve succeeded!”

The uncomfortable laughter that was like the sounds of someone scratching his back came again. I don’t want to hear him talk, and don’t want to even hear his voice anyone. Anyone, just hurry up and take him away.

But Alice asked again.

“…… Do you think Ayaka is a successful case too?”

“Ayaka?”

“Toshi’s sister.”

Hakamizaka’s eyes lost its focus.

“Ahhh…… That couldn’t be helped. She realized the truth of the flowers, and said that she was going to call the police, so I could only force her to take the pills. Now…… She fell into a coma…… right?”

“You’ve forced her to take it?” Major jumped onto the rack, grabbing Hakamizaka’s collar.

` “So what? Not taking it is a sin.”

Hakamizaka’s answer started to become garbled.

“Alice, can I try the interrogation methods of the People’s Liberation Army on him?”

“Major, stop that. Don’t dirty your knife with his flesh and blood.”

I subconsciously held Alice’s hand tightly.

It’s a simple thing, there’s no mystery.

Ayaka was just unable to take the hallucinations brought by the drug anymore, so she jumped off the building.

It’s that simple.

The Fix amplified her guilt for planting the flowers that were used as the raw material that were used for manufacturing the drug, causing Ayaka to be engulfed by her own guilt.

Hakamizaka’s voice echoed in my empty mind.

“I feel sorry for her too, as I didn’t mean to kill her at first.”

“And you’re saying you didn’t mean to kill here?” Major interrupted with a livid voice. Even so, Hakamizaka continued to mutter.

“Shinozaki was a good girl. She thought that I’m a specialist of poppy flowers, and chatted happily with me about gardening. I’ve planned to give her money as payment, but she only said that it’s okay if I gave her flowers……”

“Flowers?”

Alice took half a step out from my back.

“Ayaka said that she wanted flowers?”

“That’s right. She said that she needed a lot of the same flower, so from the time she started to plant, she’ve probably planted about a thousand or so?”

“What flower is it?”

“It’s a weed called long-headed poppy, quite a nice flower! She had the same interest as me. It’s a pity that she went to hell. Occasionally, there would be people who mistake the angel as a reaper, those people are not qualified to pass through the radiant door.”

Hakamizaka’s glared at me.

“…… You’re the same……. You took the pills, right? Haha, it’s as I’ve said. It’s such a pity, but unlike you, I’ll be taken to the heavens!”

His words chilled me to the marrows.

As Hakamizaka have said, I felt regret.

I couldn’t reach the light, and couldn’t catch the angel’s hand. I have already lost it, and I will never have the chance ever again. What took its place is an emptiness that was like a dry darkness sticking to my hands.

“You…… What do you want to do?”

I really don’t need to ask, but my mouth acted without permission. Hakamizaka’s eyebrows twitched like a mutated organism.

“Having seen it with your own eyes, shouldn’t you already understand? Get it? There’s a door at the other side of the dazzling whirlwind, it’s a heavy door made of mahogany, and is always open for about two centimeters, and you could see the other side from there.”

Hakamizaka’s screeching voice became even more high-pitched.

“It’s nighttime, an eternal night. It is like Greece from four thousand and five hundred years ago. The time forms a cycle, and flows eternally. The moon shines on the bricks that were corroded and mottled because of the sea breeze, and everyone are singing side by side on the pure white beach. I’ve tried to put my fingers onto the door, but I was dragged back here every time. I couldn’t reach it, as it couldn’t be reached without a pile of corpses below me. I’ll definitely be able to this time, this, time, definitely……”

I wanted to retort, but a fluffy thing was stuffed into my hands, interrupting my words. After handing the plushie to me, Alice walked out from my back. She walked to the gap between the fallen racks, reached the place where Hakamizaka was at and stared at his face.

“Can you see me? Who do I look like?”

“…… Angel……”

“That’s right, I’ve seen God’s Notepad. I saw the namelist that consists of a hundred and forty thousand and four thousand people, but I didn’t see your name on in.”

“…… Liar!”

“God did not summon you to his country, and didn’t even record your name. Just pass your last moments in this warm darkness! That is the eternal punishment that you deserve.”

“LIAR! LI- AR!”

Hakamizaka’s head sagged to the other side, his starkly pale Adam’s apple was visible in the darkness.

In the silence that was mixed with noise, Alice turned her head over. Her black dress fused with the darkness, and only her white face was faintly visible behind her veil.

“…… What did you say to him?” Major said with a tiny voice that was almost like the sound of him breathing.

“I didn’t say anything, because he made me angry, so I just said some empty words to upset the drug addict. How could we let these people off the hook?”

Alice returned to my side, and snatched away her doll from me, who was at a loss. She returned to my back again, and tightly held the sleeve of my shirt.

“Let’s go! Narumi, things have ended now.”

A low murmur came from behind me.

“All the clues have lined up in a straight line, there’s nothing left to see here. Just let Hirasaka-gumi handle the rest. My work is done, and there’s no room for a detective right now.”

*

At the center of the parking lot that was dyed purple due to the setting sun, Yondaime and Tetsu-senpai sat face to face with their foreheads and fists close together. I really have no idea what they’re doing. The two probably had a huge fight, huh? A few red scratches could be seen on their face, and their clothes were filthy. The bodyguards Rocky and Pole went closer to look, as if they were worried. When we had a closer look, we finally realized that they were finger wrestling.

“You guys are still at it…….”

Alice said with a surprised tone.

“You’re the one who told us to fight!”

“I will not give up so easily! You hit me about three punches more!”

Sounds of footsteps entered the parking lot, interrupting Yondaime and Tetsu-senpai’s extended match. Yondaime showed us a ferocious expression, patted away the sand on his knees and stood up.

Rocky asked: “So- Sou-san isn’t going to continue, what about the bet?” and was immediately beaten up by Yondaime! “Shut up!”

Almost all the members of Hirasaka-gumi who went into the building had came back. Major and Hiro were there, and even Toshi, who was leaning on Hiro’s elbow, was present.

Yondaime asked: “…… So?”

“There’s eight people in total. There weren’t anyone above the second floor, but almost all of them lost consciousness because of the drug. The only person who could talk is this guy.” One of the black shirted men pointed at Toshi with his chin.

“Have you called the ambulance yet?”

“Understood!”

Yondaime nodded. I thought, surprised: So he really will save people?

One of the lackeys said quietly to me: “It’s useless to hit the drug addicts who lost consciousness. We’ll have to wait till they’re out of the hospital to beat them up.” What a polite yakuza shonen.

“Then what about Toshi? Stop your meaningless fight.”

Yondaime shouted angrily at Hiro. Hiro shut his mouth, and slowly placed Toshi’s body onto the asphalt road.

Toshi was crying.

His eyes seemed that they’re conscious. His glasses were crooked, face swollen, saliva and tears flowing to his chin, and he was muttering to himself.

Do you have any right to cry? It was as though a viscous, cold magma-like liquid flowed into my empty body.

“Why…… Why did you save me? Just leave me alone……”

I could hear Toshi’s mutterings. Didn’t you ask us to save you yourself? Are you joking?

Yondaime glared at Alice, who was behind me.

“ ‘Your fists do not exist just to punch these pitiful people’, don’t try to tell me meaningless stuff like this.”

“I won’t say them. I don’t hate decay as much as I hate ignorance, but I still hate it. But Yondaime, is revenge really that important to you? Would your world collapse if you don’t take an eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth?”

“Of course.” Yondaime immediately answered: “Don’t ask questions that you already know the answer for, there’s nothing more important in my world than revenge.”

“That’s right! This is really a dumb question.”

Alice looked as if she was smiling.

“But Yondaime, even so, revenge is not your mission this time. Do you get what I mean?”

A shocked expression suddenly appeared on Yondaime’s face, which turned into anger. In the end, he heaved a sigh and calmed down, scratching his head while saying:

“Ah— Oh— So that’s how it is. Damn it, you really are a troublesome person. I get it, I get it! I’ll just get back.”

Finally, the wolf gazed at me.

Putting on his jacket again, Yondaime turned his back to us.

“Gardening Club kid, there’s no time to ask anymore. Settle things before the ambulance is here.”

His words were like a signal, Tetsu-senpai and the black shirted men, everyone kept their distance from me. Me? Why me?

“Narumi!”

Alice, who stuck to my back, muttered.

“Just ask if you have anything to ask him, and just say if you have something to say. This is your request, so you should end things.”

And then the temperature of her body left my side.

The only people in the center of the circle were me, and the squatting Toshi.l

Something I want to ask?

Ayaka….. Did she have any last words?

Do I really want to know these kind of things? Don’t I already know the answer? She was blinded by the drug, so it’s impossible for her to think of me. If she have thought, if she had thought about me—

She shouldn’t just leave without saying anything.

“Oi, Narumi…… Give me the pills. There should be some there…… right? I’ve just puked them all out…… Blast……”

Toshi’s unpleasant mutterings were like bubbles that popped out from the bottom of mud, jumping on the surface of my consciousness, causing me to become nauseous.

“I can’t go on any more anyways……Just let me die. Trash like me- like me- is- is already…..”

I don’t have anything to ask, or anything I want to know. Even so, even so……

“…… stand up!”

My voice was garbled. It’s just a simple sentence, but it made pain course through my windpipe. Toshi looked at me as if he was about to melt.

“I’m telling you to stand up.”

Toshi was lying down unmoving on the asphalt road. I grabbed the back of his collar, and forcefully made him stand up. His body was so light that it’s scary.

“Narumi, do you need the bandages?”

Tetsu-senpai said behind me. I turned over and shook my head.

After that, I faced Toshi again, took half a step back, twisted my hips and punched.

At the instant when the punch landed on Toshi’s face, the bones of my fingers and my wrist lamented in agony, the numbing pain echoed in my skull. Toshi spitted out saliva that was mixed with blood and collapsed, lying down at the foot of the members of Hirasaka-gumi, who had formed a boxing ring. When you hit someone, you would feel pain yourself. I must use my own body and my bare fists, to confirm this simple fact again.

“Don’t sleep! Stand up!”

I caught hold of Toshi’s wrists, and stepped on his foot, making him stand up. My left fist punched at his abdomen, and his body curved in an arc after being punched. He flew backwards, and I landed a right punch on his chin. Severe pain spread through my whole body. Not only my fingers were dirty because of Toshi’s blood, my own bones might have fractured too. Because of my heartbeat, and even my eardrums were throbbing in pain. That is a real pain that belongs to my real world.

Someone placed his hand on my shoulder. I only realized that the unpleasant sound, was the sound of my shoulders heaving because of my ragged breathing. Toshi was lying down on the asphalt road, weeping while trembling.

“Narumi, that’s enough.”

Hiro’s gentle voice clearly rang on my back.

Tetsu-senpai and Major squatted down and carried Toshi.

Just like that, my sixteen year old winter came to an end like a long dream.

After waking up, my soul felt empty, even hitting other people couldn’t fill it up.

The siren of an ambulance could be heard in a distance. I looked downwards, unfeeling, my hands were full of blood, and my fingers could only open halfway. Those are my hands, my pain, my body, they’re finally back. It’s something that I have to continue to drag on and continue to go forward— myself.




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