Then if nothing else, we shall be the audience.
We will watch them dance to the very end.
We are going to watch the island dance.
Whether or not it becomes the island’s very last show—
Even if it ends with us all sinking to the depths.
After all, that is the fate of those who surpass reality and become legend.
Interlude 4(Part 1): The Dark Night’s Return
I wanted to be forgiven.
At least… I thought I did.
But I realized that that was a mistake.
So in my dreams, I let myself want forgiveness.
Even knowing it was futile, I sought what I wanted by escaping.
The young man was dreaming.
It was an uninteresting dream that recounted his past.
A dream, for that very reason, he could never escape.
Once upon a time, the boy had committed a sin.
With that sin still upon him, the boy became a man, and committed yet more sins to escape the first.
All the while, he saw his crimes in his dreams.
Dreams of the childhood friend he killed as she cast the blame on him.
Dreams of escaping her voice by shooting her to death, again and again.
The dreams were more real than reality as they tightened around his heart.
After a certain incident, the young man had resolved to accept his past and left the artificial island to return to his hometown. He wanted to be punished for his crimes. He wanted to find even a hint of salvation.
But the young man was never punished, and came to see the reality of the island he had inhabited.
He came to see how the events on the island were treated by the rest of the world.
When he turned himself in to the police, the police’s question was simple.
“Where’s your proof?”
The young man who confessed to murdering his childhood friend, among many other things, got nothing but the label of ‘delusional’ in exchange.
As though everything that happened on the island had been a fantasy.
As though the artificial island did not even exist.
The real world had denied everything about the young man—even his sins.
Shattered to bits, the young man began wandering in search of his friend’s family.
Supposedly they moved away the very year he went to the island—so the young man went from place to place, running after their trail.
As though that would be enough to redeem him of his sins.
Finally, he arrived at the family’s home.
He pressed the newly-installed doorbell and waited. And waited.
To beg forgiveness.
Or to die. To be punished.
The true nightmare was waiting for him inside.
And because he knew that, the young man waited… and waited… for the door to open.
To move on from his past.
Or to accept his past.
But what awaited inside was—
Then, he opened his eyes.
Though he only just awoke, the young man with shadows cast around him understood that he was in reality.
To be specific, he knew that his dreams had just come to an end.
They were lucid dreams—but the young man chose rather to let the dreams unfold the way they did in his memories.
Perhaps he saw no point in resisting the past. Or perhaps he wanted to overcome it.
But he opened his eyes just before the critical moment.
Perhaps his waking at that point was a coincidence—but the young man did not think so.
‘I ran away. I couldn’t even stand my own dreams… and escaped into reality.’
He remembered clearly what was beyond that door—what awaited him inside.
Though he despised himself, the young man did not even have the strength to chastise himself.
The lethargic air around him was interrupted then, by an energetic voice.
“We’re just about there, son.”
The voice belonged to a man in early middle-age. The young man slowly rose.
When the waves shook his foundations, the young man remembered that he was on a boat.
The stars were already twinkling in the sky; the winter constellations shone ominously into his heart.
The older man, who seemed to be a fisherman, chuckled in an attempt to dispel the darkness.
“I done used this route how many times now? …Anyway, the missus runs a restaurant over yonder Westside, if you’re fixin’ to get some food in there. Ain’t no one who don’t know Iizuka’s restaurant.”
“I see… I’ll have to drop by sometime.”
With that, the young man climbed down to the lower level of the island’s outer wall.
He said goodbye to the fisherman once more and silently began to climb the long ladder upwards.
With each step, he remembered the many things that waited above.
Most were memories he wanted to forget, but could not bring himself to.
Memories of people. Things. And his own crimes. They all tightened like chains around him.
But each time his memories threatened to suffocate him, he found himself relieved.
Finally, the young man returned to the island.
To the island he never needed to come back to.
To the island he never should have come back to.
How long had he been staring out at the sea?
Behind him stood all the buildings from before, just as he remembered them.
Remnants of his dreams—symbols of the world he had once inhabited.
Lacking the courage to face them, he stood for hours at the wall with his eyes on the water.
Or perhaps he was recalling the events that took place just before he left the island.
He scrutinized the waves for several more minutes, but he still did not find the courage to turn.
If only something—anything—would give him a push.
And the moment that weakness surfaced, the cell phone in his pocket vibrated and dragged him out of the past, back to reality.
Kugi stared at the screen—‘Caller Unknown’—and slowly brought it to his ear.
As though he was afraid.
Or as though he was expecting something.
First was the voice.
A nostalgic voice that shook his very soul.
<It’s been a while… Seiichi Kugi.>
“<That piracy offer’s still on the table if you’re interested.>”
The voice through the phone and the voice in reality overlapped.
Having experienced this before, the young man slowly turned to the voice with his phone pressed to his ear.
A gust passed over the island, and as though carried on that wind—
The rainbow-haired man appeared.
There was a moment of silence.
Another gust of wind passed them by.
And at that moment, a deafening noise shook the island and one of the buildings near the center of the island began to spew flames and smoke.
Even from a distance it lit up the faces of the two men, casting mirrored shadows on their faces.
And though the island of memories was on fire, the dogs Seiichi Kugi and Hayato Inui did not break their gaze.
Only the seabound wind passed through, as though nothing had ever happened.
As though proving that there was no mirror between the dogs.
The dogs who came to the island on the same day,
And left on the same day.
They were back.
On the same day, to the same place.
Did their instincts lead them back to the island?
Or were they led back to one another like fate?
The island burned brightly like a torch.
As though mocking the returning dogs.
Or blessing their return.
The flames billowed, punctuated by small explosions.
Like the growling of a wounded beast.
Resounding far, far into the air.
They, and the island,
could only know their own existence by howling.
And as the dogs dance madly,
What do the girl and the ghoul cry out?