Saturday, 3 January 2015

Garuguru! -Dancing Beast Night- (Part 1): Chapter 3

(Download the updated version in PDF/epub format here.)

The last update for Garuguru! part 1 will be up sometime in the next few days. Then it's straight into Garuguru! part 2.


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Chapter 3-A: Howl & Low


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Aboveground, on the East-West boundary.


I’m standing between one ruined building and another.

The area is deserted, partly because it’s far from the underground business centers. The abandoned buildings and construction materials only worsen the unfriendly air, which is second only to the Pits.


Not a good place for a nice chat with Miss Nazuna, then.

But in that sense, there’s almost nowhere on this island with sweetness in the air. The casino, maybe, but if I went there again I would turn her into an enemy again.

Wait. Now’s not the time to be worrying about the atmosphere. First, I have to solve this misunderstanding.

What happens once we clear up the misunderstanding and we become close? It’d still be too soon to ask her out. But how to go from friend to boyfriend? …How long do people usually hang out together before they start dating?

…It’s not like I have zero dating experience.

Back in junior high a girl in my grade asked me out, and we dated for about two years.

But we ended up drifting apart, partly because we went to different high schools. I remember being a high school student and seeing her in town, arm-in-arm with her new boyfriend. It felt complicated.

But this time… well, I’m the one in love with the girl. And… I’ve never wanted to know someone so much before.

I hope things turn out well.

It’ll be okay. As long as I’m earnest about it, things will work out.


I had been repeating those thoughts in my head for about three hours when Miss Nazuna passed by the passage ahead. She probably didn’t notice me because I was standing in an alleyway.

When I hurried after her, she seemed to have heard my footsteps.

She stopped in her tracks and provoked me.

“…What, did you bring a gun this time?”

…?

What is she saying? Did she get me confused for someone else?

Oh. She looked at my face and froze. She must have been expecting someone else. But that tension in her eyes… I think she’s on edge. Which is understandable, but that doesn’t ease my sadness.

I decided to start with a friendly greeting to show that I am not hostile.

“Hey there.”

Good. Perfectly natural.

I think that was a very natural greeting.

But for some reason, Miss Nazuna seems tense. She’s clearly being cautious. But what does she know, really? Does she know that I helped her yesterday, instead of trying to kill her?

I don’t have any intention of gloating over that, but it still makes me sad to be treated as her enemy.

…No. It’s okay. I came to see her today so I could resolve this misunderstanding.

But anyway… yeah. I finally ran into her.

Forcing myself to interrogate those people yesterday paid off. The two foreigners supposedly run a detective agency from a hotel in the Western District. I didn’t know which hotel they were in, but I guessed that Miss Nazuna would return to the Eastern District along this passage once she came to.

…Wait a second.

Doesn’t that make me a stalker?

Not good. Should I tell her that this is a coincidence? But she’ll see through that instantly. And then she’d really think I was a stalker.

Right. For now, honesty is the best option.

Fighting to resolve myself, I begin the conversation.

I can’t freeze up now.

Relax, me. Relax. Freezing is an automatic fail.

Put on a relaxed smile and make friendly chatter. Smile, me. Smile.

I slowly release air from my lungs—

“Bwa hah hah hah… I’ve been waiting. I knew you’d be passing this way.”

“Oh? You sound pretty confident. Are you thinking of taking me hostage to take down the Guard Team? I’ll make you regret underestimating me.”

Bloodlust rises to her eyes. Something’s wrong. My plan is failing.

…This must be another misunderstanding. I think I might have picked the wrong laugh.

“W-wait wait wait! No! Stop. I… I don’t really want to fight you.”

“…Then what?”

What a relief. She’s willing to listen to me. But she’s got a knife in her right hand. Come to think of it, I saw her drawing it from her belt while I was talking. What a relief. I was worried she’d be caught unarmed by punks on the way. But with her skills, one knife should be enough to fight her way through.

But she still seems wary of me.

Calm down, me. Calm down.

What do I say this time? That’s the important part.

…Wait, I have to give her something before that!

That was close. Almost forgot. I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled out her katana from the bag I had slung behind me.

Anyone would recognized this blue scabbard on sight. The blade is slender for its length, lightweight enough for women to wield with ease.

I handed her the sword, holding it by the scabbard. Surprised, she took a step toward me.

“Oh! …That’s my sword!”

“I’m sorry. I… I was holding on to it. Yesterday, umm… when you were knocked out in the explosion, I picked it up because I thought it was important to you. But I ended up running away with it.”

I lied.

Actually I didn’t forget to give the katana to the detectives.

I just wanted an excuse to meet Miss Nazuna.

I’m just confirming my own suspicions now, but I began to feel even more like a piece of trash. I want to tell the truth, but I don’t want her to hate me because of this.

As I wallowed in my own guilt, she slightly lowered her guard and took another step toward me.

“Then… you’re the one who left me to the detectives after all.”

“…Yeah.”

I answered without thinking, but a part of me was overjoyed.

What a relief!

It looks like the foreign detectives told her about me.

Did Miss Nazuna understand now that I meant her no harm?

But little by little, I stopped caring about that.

We’re talking to each other.

Why does having a conversation with her make me feel so happy?

“…Why? Why did you rescue me? And not just me—you never kill anyone from the Guard Team, even though we’re enemies.”

“Well… like I said to Zhang yesterday, I don’t want to end up powering up the Guard Team by killing one of you.”

“Then why did you rescue me from the explosion? Mr. Gen was the idiot who threw the grenade; you could have just avoided it alone.”

Because I like you.

If only I could answer her honestly. But even I’m not that optimistic.

“You see… I…”


The answer I tried to muster in my embarrassment was erased by a sudden noise and Miss Nazuna’s scream.


As red blood through the air, I saw Miss Nazuna’s face contort in pain.

I had no choice but to see.

“Ah… Gyaah!”

“Miss Nazuna?!”

The noise was a gunshot.

As soon as I understood, blood squirted from Miss Nazuna’s shoulder and splattered in alien patterns on my face and clothes.

For a moment I was wracked by fear, but I forced my confusion aside and focused my attention on her.

Blood spilled from her upper left shoulder, but she had not been hit on the torso or a critical weak point.

The logical me restrained the emotional me from running to her.

No. I have to take care of the gunman first.

Miss Nazuna is safe.

But if I don’t find the enemy now, we’re both done for.’

The emotional me was already screaming, but the logical me calmly took over my body and my vision.

The next moment, a vulgar roar echoed across the deserted area.

“…Bitch… I’ll kill you… I’ll slaughter you!”

When I turned, I saw a thug like any other on the island. Likely a hopeless creature who made trouble on the mainland and came to the island believing he could do anything here, cast out even from the mafia or the yakuza.

And for some reason, blood is dripping from a fresh cut on his forehead. He looked almost like a pro wrestler fighting to draw blood. But he didn’t look nearly as distinctive, and he certainly didn’t act like one.

They say to never judge a book by its cover, but considering his actions and the shotgun in his hands… what choice do I have?

For a moment, I thought he was the one who shot Miss Nazuna.

‘Kill him. Kill him. Kill him.’

The emotional me cried for blood. But the logical me demanded more time to understand the situation.

I thought about killing him on the spot, but his shotgun was not smoking.

He has friends.

The moment I came to that conclusion, I turned back to Miss Nazuna.

Then I spotted two more figured approaching behind her.

One held a small handgun trained on her.

The other was holding a knife, cautiously glaring from afar.

“You little slut… It’s payback time!”

“…You bastards again…”

Nazuna addressed the thugs as she stood pressing her hand to her shoulder. What a relief. It looks like it wasn’t a critical injury.

“We’re not letting our guard down this time, you little bitch. We’ll chop off your hands and feet before we have our fun. And mommy ain’t gonna come running to help you.”

Miss Nazuna didn’t even seem to hear him. She glanced at me and put on a wry smile.

“Heh… Looks like I let myself get too distracted by you.”

No.

Does that mean she wouldn’t have been hurt if I wasn’t here?

Damn it. This is my fault. I was so caught up talking to Miss Nazuna that I didn’t even notice these people coming. If only I’d been shot instead.

But before the expression on my face could even change, she denied her own words.

“…Sorry. I didn’t mean to use you as an excuse.”

Oh.

The moment the words registered, something seemed to run through my body.

No. My body? My heart? My brain? Or maybe my soul? Anyway, it felt like a current had run all the way through me.

They say love begins from the simplest of gestures, but this is worrying. I don’t know what in those words had the power to affect me like this. It felt kind of like… like cogs suddenly snapping together.

Damn it… I can’t let this happen now. Where’s the romantic atmosphere?

I knew it. Everything I’d felt for her so far—it wasn’t love. It was just a mistake based on the feelings of affection that grew in me as I watched her.

I understood that painfully well. Because…

Because, at this very moment, I truly fell in love with her.


Interrupting that monumental moment, the man with the shotgun looked at me.

“You her boyfriend? Heh heh… You’re not half-bad, either. Looks like we can dress you up a bit before we give you both the treatment.”

A sick pervert.

Just my luck. Why a sick pervert now, of all times?!

Oh no. Oh no. If Miss Nazuna thinks I’m gay, I’ll never be able to convey my feelings to her. I think it’s all right for all kinds of sexualities to exist in the world. At least, I don’t want to discriminate. But forcing your sexuality on someone makes you a sick pervert, nothing more. In fact, the ‘force’ part is a crime in and of itself, sexuality notwithstanding.

This is bad.

And they’ve even got guns.

They might have killed a man or two on the mainland.

…Ah, okay. Let’s just say they did.

I tightened my grip on Miss Nazuna’s sword and moved in toward the shotgun man.

“Freeze!”

He yelled something, but that doesn’t matter. I just scattered his vision so stray bullets wouldn’t hit Miss Nazuna.

And at the end of that action,

The emotional me and the logical me came to an agreement.


It’s decided.

I’m going to kill him.


At that moment, I focused my every nerve on the act of taking his life.

My waking world distorted as the man became clear in my sights.

Then, time became heavy around my world.

“One more move—

“and” Oh, how to kill him. If I want to take out all my anger on him

“I’ll” I can’t let him die quickly. But there’s no time. Cool my emotions.

“blow” If I spend too much time here, Miss Nazuna is going to get shot.

“out” The world feels like it’s slowed, but my movements haven’t accelerated.

“your” If only I had the power to stop time, like in those manga.

“fucking” After all, even my body becomes slow and unwieldy just like the rest of the world.

“brains” But that’s more than enough to kill a lowlife like this one.

“you son of a biiiiiiiiiii…?! Rgh… AAAAAAAAARGH!”

The man howled like an animal and rolled to the ground.

Blood spouted like a fountain from the back of his head. It was clear he’d died instantly. I thought he’d fire off at least one shot from the impact, but I was relieved to see his fingers had let go quickly.

It was simple.

I had drawn Miss Nazuna’s sword and thrust it through his neck, then pulled it back out.

I had taken advantage of his confusion and moved as little as possible.

With my mind still focused on the world, I turned to the thugs closer to Miss Nazuna.

My mind is already there, but my body won’t follow. I’m getting impatient.

By the time my eyes caught up, the man with the handgun was pointing it at me.

There was nothing to deduce.

He was the one.

The one who shot Miss Nazuna.

Noting that the gun was not aimed at her, I let my emotions lake over.

“What the—

“fuck”        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill

“did”        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die

“you”        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill

“pull”        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die

“you”        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill

“piece”        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die        die

“of”        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill        kill

“shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii…? Agh…? Gah… Ah… Hah…!”

The katana I threw as I turned hit its mark, driving itself into his body. I’d never thrown a katana before, but I adjusted my movements bit by bit in the sluggish time, referencing the sensation of throwing a knife.

One left.

My bare hands are enough against a knife.

I loosened my focus slightly and shifted the speed from the frame advance function to slow motion. This is the best metaphor I can think of to describe the sensation, although my perception is what changes, not the world.

The last one must have been confused by his friends dying so suddenly. Though I was unarmed, he ran off screaming with the knife in hand.

I considered chasing him down, but because I was worried about Miss Nazuna’s wound I watched him disappear into the alley and stopped, loosening the world from my focus.

The world quickly returned to normal speed, and the reality of Miss Nazuna before me flooded my body.

“Oh… A-are you okay?”

It was only then that I remembered the body fallen by her and the katana stuck in it.

“Um… I, uh… I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to just use your sword like that…”

“Don’t worry. It’s supposed to get bloody all the time.” Miss Nazuna smiled, pulling the katana out of the corpse. “I thought I was used to seeing your skill, but you’re really something else. I guess… I guess I should thank you, first.”

“No… it was nothing.”

Even if I wasn’t here, she would have made it out with ease.

She couldn’t call herself a member of the Guard Team otherwise.

But when Miss Nazuna looked down at the handgun with the corpse beside her, and the shotgun by the other corpse, she became grim.

“Where in the world did they get these guns? …Damn it. I hope we don’t get a repeat of what happened this summer.”

She was mumbling to herself. Her shoulder was still bleeding, so I thought it might be best to stop the blood and disinfect the wound.

She must have noticed my gaze on her shoulder; Miss Nazuna slowly stood.

“Don’t worry. It didn’t hit any major arteries, and my bones and muscles are fine. It’s just a scratch. Really.”

“Yeah. You should see a doctor. …Let me take you.” I said honestly, but she lightly shook her head.

“The nearest doctor would be the one at our office. But you’ll make scene if you come, whether you like it or not.”

With that, she gave me a smile.

My eyes might have made a mistake.

I might have been seeing things.

Thoughts like that occurred to me then, but my brain—focused entirely on her and her alone—assured me that her smile was real.

Oh. My heart. It’s beating.

My pulse is all I can hear. It’s like it’s beating through my veins and straight into my brain.

“I’ll ask you about the details some other time. …See you.”

She turned her gaze toward the Eastern District.

I’m floored by her strength, leaving two dead bodies behind as though nothing had happened. Although I have no right to say that, being the one who killed them.


At that moment, the emotion I had locked up inside suddenly escaped.

If she’s not scared of me, even after seeing these corpses… is what I might have thought. Or maybe I just wanted her to acknowledge me. Even I don’t know which.

I think it might have been a mix of both emotions that I came to ask the forbidden question.

“S-say…”

Stop.

Don’t call out to her.

No. That wasn’t it, Miss Nazuna. Please don’t look back at me.


“…Do you think I’m abnormal? Do you… think I’m strange?”


There. I said it. What did I just say?

I don’t want to hear her answer. I don’t want to.

But by the time I thought to cover my ears, she had already given me a nonchalant answer.

An immediate reply.

“What, you didn’t already know?”


        …

                …

I’m such an idiot.

That’s why I tried to stop me.

I just had to acknowledge myself in my own heart.

I could have lost myself in the fantasy that maybe she would understand.

I know already. I know that any normal person would have answered that way.

I kept telling myself that I was normal because I knew that. Even knowing the fact that I was the only one I could convince that way.

But I started to dream.

That maybe she would be different.

That maybe someone who was filled to the brim with this island’s air—someone like her, so calm in the face of death—might understand.

And my dream was shattered to bits.

And in only a minute since I truly fell in love with her.

I guess this is what it feels like when a man confesses to someone he’s never met before and gets rejected.

So… maybe we’re from different worlds after all.

Am I different from this world itself? Is that why I can see this world’s time differently?

No…

If we’re from different worlds…

If our souls can never truly come together…

If she can’t be mine…

Then I’d rather—


Once more, I focused.


◁ ▶︎


Yes. I’m normal.

People can go mad over jealousy and love.

Anyone can.

But they suppress it all with the mask of logic.

On this island, I wear the mask of Yakumo Amagiri. I look at the world through this mask, separate from logic.

So am I really normal, now that I’ve expressed everything but logical thought?


People who kill for logical reasons, fully intending to murder.

People who let their emotions take over, winding up taking lives.


Which one is truly insane?

And am I really normal for constantly debating this?

Of course I am.

I want to be acknowledged. Not by myself.

By even just one other person.

Someone. I want someone to acknowledge me.


Someone please answer me.

Am I… am I normal?


What… did I just do?

Was I… normal?


Someone…

Someone, please…


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Chapter 3-B: And Then Who was Gone?


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Underground, the Western District. The business district.


The underground business district was occupied by all sorts of shops, from jewelers to butchers.

Not even the previous day’s explosion or the death of the executive could rein back the people’s energy.

The pirate radio broadcast still blared from the speakers, the news about the Western District executive’s death finally replaced by a drama CD.


“I hope he’s a phantom thief.”

“Huh?”

Melding into the lively crowds, Charlotte blurted out a non-sequitur.

“Then I could be the ace detective on his heels. Through our rivalry, our hearts connect… wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“Charlotte… don’t tell me you’re talking about—”

“It’s so very much like a phantom thief to descend from a pile of rubble with a lady in his arms, don’t you agree?”

“…And there goes my sister past the point of no return…” Sherlock mumbled, cradling his head. He breathed a jealous sigh as he looked at the photograph from earlier.


When the siblings handed Yua a photocopy of the picture and asked for her help, she had replied, “I’ll ask my friends”. Afterwards, they had wandered aimlessly and questioned people in the area.

At Sherlock’s suggestion they spoke to the volunteer police about the previous day’s incident, but each and every member refused to discuss the case. They provided no useful information.

As the siblings reached out to others for questioning, they happened to encounter a witness from the previous day and managed to get a decent account of the incident.

The group that had descended the rubble after the man in white was supposedly the Eastern District’s Guard Team, and they had gotten into a fight with the volunteer police before knocking out several of them. It was finally clear why the volunteer police weren’t keen to talk about the case.

“Charlotte. If the crazy gang back then was the Guard Team…”

“…Had Nazuna waited, she could have been treated on the spot by her teammates.” Charlotte finished, though not quite in the way Sherlock wanted to take the conversation. But he did not cut her off.

“…Yeah, since she’s a Guard Team member. Which means—”

“—that Nazuna is a very kind person!”

“Huh?”

“If not for our meddling, she would have been quickly found by her friends. But she wasn’t at all angry with us this morning. She was being considerate of us. Therefore, Nazuna is very kind! Heh heh heh… the right guesses in the right places can easily lead us to a deduction, Sherlock Liverpool. Remember this well.”

…That wasn’t even a deduction.’ Thought Sherlock, but his sister’s innocent smile robbed him of his desire to retort.

“Anyway, judging from the circumstances, I think the Guard Team might have been after this character.” He said, violently shaking the photograph. “But Nazuna Yukimura didn’t say anything about him. Why do you think that it?”

“Perhaps she didn’t wish to worry us?”

“…I’m almost jealous of you for answering that way without even thinking. Charlotte, when we go back to the mainland, don’t ever listen to stories about Nigerian princes.”

Imagining his sister obliviously beaming about being repaid by royalty, Sherlock found himself blushing.

No. No! No no no no no no! Don’t go there, Sherlock! She’s your own sister!

Slapping himself, Sherlock quickly returned to the topic at hand.

“Anyway, the Guard Team is chasing down the guy in this picture!”

“So he is a phantom thief!”

“How did you reach that conclusion? What I’m trying to say is, why did he save Nazuna Yukimura of the Guard Team when she’s part of the group hunting him down?”

“Hmm… Maybe he’s in love with her.”

Charlotte’s deduction was actually right on the mark, but Sherlock ignored her and sighed.

“…Oh… The moment we became friends, we also became rivals in love. What do I do, Sherlock Liverpool?!”

“Cool your head.”

Though Sherlock looked nothing but tired, inside he was burning with jealousy toward the man in the photograph.

Until recently, Charlotte’s declarations of love were reserved for celebrities, protagonists of hardboiled mystery fiction, or Little Grey(the protagonist of the Double Beretta movie series). Sherlock had never had the chance to feel this way before.

Though her supposed love was, again, toward a man she barely knew, the problem this time was that he was within an arm’s reach.

With the surge of jealousy, Sherlock also found himself thinking harder about what it was he really felt for Charlotte.

And whether she knew it or not, Charlotte put in more effort than ever toward solving this case.

Finally, about three hours since their investigation began, they found an answer of sorts.


It was in front of Iizuka’s restaurant, when they were questioning people while waiting for Yua, that they encountered a man.

“Hm? …I see. Same line of business here.”

“Pardon?”

The shady man snorted when he saw the photo Sherlock held out.

“Looks like the poor client was on the end of his rope, asking kids like you for help.”

“Oh? Are you a detective as well?”

“An investigator. Private office.”

He was clearly looking down on them.

Sherlock acknowledged the jab, knowing that he and Charlotte barely qualified as detectives. And as for Charlotte, she seemed to be wholly ignorant of the man’s condescension.

But the laughter suddenly drained from the man’s face as he asked a strange question.

“Come to think of it… didn’t you get the warning?”

“Warning?”

“What do you mean?”

The man looked back and forth between the confused siblings. Then something seemed to occur to him.

“Wait… or was that your doing? The voice definitely didn’t sound Japanese… You’re planning to take the reward for yourself, aren’t you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Enough playing dumb! I know who you are. You’re that lunatic, Spring-heeled Joplin!”

Sherlock sighed and shook his head at the name. As for Charlotte, she smiled and said exactly what came to mind.

“Hah hah! Please don’t tease us. Spring-heeled Joplin is just an urban legend.”

“Don’t mess with me!” The self-proclaimed investigator cried, nostrils flaring, and grabbed Sherlock by the collar.

“I don’t know where you’re from, but there’s no police around on this island. So lemme tell you what happens when you mess with—”

“Grown-ups?”

“Wha…? Agh!”

Behind the large investigator appeared an even larger figure that grabbed him by the collar and raised him into the air.

“Gah… Urgh…”

The investigator grimaced as the collar of his shirt pressed painfully against his neck. And when the massive newcomer acted the second time, the investigator—who seemed to weigh at least 80 kilograms himself—was thrown backwards like a balloon.

There was a heavy thud against a wall, and the investigator’s moaning stopped.

Sōji Kuzuhara?’ Sherlock wondered at the size of the newcomer, but—

“Talk about a hassle.”

It was not Kuzuhara there cracking his neck, but a large man with his hair parted two-thirds of the way.

“All right, then.” Said the man, turning from the investigator to the siblings. “So you’re Charlotte and Sherlock, eh?”

“I don’t know who you’re—”

“Yes, we are.” Charlotte said, cutting off her brother.

“Good. Sorry to bust this on you, but we need you to come with us.”

“Oh…”

They had come out of the frying pan and into the fire. The siblings looked around.

It was then they noticed an unusual girl standing behind the man.

Her eyes were veiled beneath her bangs, and there were what looked to be a pair of baseball bat cases slung behind her.

“We’re very sorry. W-we just wanted to ask you a few questions. …W-would you mind coming to the theme park in the Eastern District with us?”

The siblings tensed.

“Ch-Charlotte.”

“…Don’t worry, Sherlock Liverpool.” Charlotte said encouragingly.

Before they knew it, the siblings were surrounded by a dozen men and women who seemed intent on taking them along.

“…What business do you have with us?” Charlotte said, sounding more grave than usual. The girl with hidden eyes gave an apologetic bow.

“We’re very sorry. …Umm… You know Nazuna Yukimura, yes?”

“…”

“When we asked about a foreign man and woman… they all said it had to be you. …We visited your office, but you were out. So… we were looking for you. You helped Nazuna Yukimura yesterday… right?”

Charlotte threw away all pretenses as the girl spoke nervously.

“Has something happened to her? Hasn’t she gotten back to the Eastern District yet?”

The girl with bangs hung her head and uttered something cruel—for both parties.

“We… we found her not long ago aboveground. …And she was very badly hurt. I… I’m afraid that she’s… she’s currently comatose… and in critical condition.”


As though pitying the siblings tossed along the wheel of fate—or mocking them—

A cat with a radio strapped on its back watched the scene from the shadows of a trash can.

The moment it mewled and began to leave, something like a whispered laugh escaped the radio.

Again, as though pitying—or mocking—the Liverpool siblings.


-----


Once upon a time, there was an awkward boy and a naive girl.

The murderer boy tried to acknowledge himself,

And the detective girl tried to acknowledge others.

And with their own goals, they begin to dance.

With their feet firmly on this decrepit island stage, nary an audience member in sight.


But there was a director.

He made others dance for his amusement, and when they failed him he denied all their efforts.

That very director was about to raise the curtains.


◁ ▶︎


“…”

In the deep darkness, where only the light from a monitor shone.

As there was no heating to speak of, the chill of the winter sea sharpened the shadows in the room.

The man gazed upon the monitor’s futile struggle against the darkness and mumbled, disappointed.

“Ah… I warned rainbow-head, but it looks like he’s come back after all.”


“If only he stayed out of this… he wouldn’t end up becoming my plaything on this island.”

Yet the man’s sympathy ran only skin deep.

A vicious smirk encroached upon his face and even his tone took a turn for the erratic, as though he had cast off a mask.

“Heh heh… Ahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahaha! Yes… I knew he’d come back. I was actually looking forward to it. Hah hah… excellent. It’s almost turning out too well.”

He produced an unusual gun from his pocket.

It seemed to be a normal revolver at first glance, but the barrel was blocked with iron—it would explode if someone tried to fire a bullet.

“I should declare war now. Give them a little warning. …Or is it a little late for that?”

Humming to himself, the man twirled the gun in his hand and stared at the man on the monitor.

The screen displayed an image from somewhere on the island. To center left stood a man with seven-colored hair.

So striking was his appearance that he was clearly visible even in the tiny resolution.

Noting the rainbow-haired figure’s presence, the man turned his back to the monitor and began to speak to the darkness.

“My revenge started so long ago.”

He was speaking to no one but himself; a recital to remind himself of everything.

He had to remind himself that the things he’d done and the things he’d do were all completely justified.

But it was different from the way a certain Killer Ghoul talked to himself. This man was leading himself deeper into madness.

“For months and months… or years. Interesting. Heh heh heh heh heh heh… Very interesting! Hahahahahahahahaha! Outrageous! Of course it’s interesting; I’m the one who shaped this play! Heh heh heh heh! Ahahahahahahahahahahaha… hah… hah… hah…”

Keeling over in laughter, the man in the dark raised his right hand high, gun and all, and promptly pulled the trigger as though signaling a marathon.

“Game start… or is it game over?”


At that moment,


“It’s a new game for me…”


There was the distant sound of sparks, followed by tremors.


“And it’s endgame for you, Sōji Kuzuhara!”


The curtains finally rose.

The curtains over the whole island had been opened toward the audience-less sea.

Those of the island were all on the stage.

Those outside had no interest in the island.

And even if they did, the only way for them to observe the stage was by climbing onto it themselves. So the show began without a single audience member, only a twisted director who sat back and let the dominoes fall.


…Yes. There was no audience.

Everyone danced, like it or not, and showcased their true selves. That was all.


1 comment:

  1. “and” Oh, how to kill him. If I want to take out all my anger on him
    I think there's a point missing here.

    you skill -> your skill?

    Thanks for the translation!

    ReplyDelete