Part 59: DreamPart 59 - Dream
The reason I didn't return to my base right away was because I was still attached to the idea of maybe being able to meet Rimi.
So, after classes ended and everyone had gone home, I snuck back into the empty classroom.
Rimi would be waiting there alone, and she'd smile when she saw me, and
This was where Rimi had told me, "I'll be there for you."
But now no one was there.
Only the purple flowers blooming in the flowerbed swayed forlornly, blown by the autumn wind.
I took the vermilion handkerchief out of my bag. I had received it from Rimi back then.
I experimentally sniffed it, but because I'd washed it, the floral scent had vanished.
I had the handkerchief, but not its scent. I had memories of her, but Rimi wasn't here.
There I was, wanting to see the girl I'd made up in my head,
Haunting the school building after classes,
"How far beyond salvation can I get...."
Pressing a feminine handkerchief to my lips.
Nothing seemed to matter anymore.
My anxiety about the possibility of being attacked by "Shogun" and Yua had drifted off somewhere as well.
On the contrary, I hoped they would be kind enough to kill me painlessly.
My mind had gone into utter depression mode.
Something in the air made it seem as if it wouldn't be strange if the people passing me started fighting with me at any moment.
Simply walking along like this, I spotted a number of stores with closed shutters, though they would normally have been boisterous with customers.
And I had a vague sense that the number of cars on the road had decreased as well.
The jumbotron that always noisily blared out sound was now silent.
In exchange came incessant, far-off police sirens, cars honking their horns, and squealing.
Though it hadn't yet vanished from people's memories, perhaps I was already gone from the city's memory, chased beyond the far side of forgetfulness.
It would've been nice if I could forget every one of my memories as well.
Knowing nothing. Being ignorant. Remaining a fool.
People aren't--I'm not--all that strong. We're always seeking someone else's salvation.
I couldn't do anything on my own. Nor did I want to.
Knowing only part of the truth, as I did now, was the most burdensome of all possible situations.
"Shogun" and Di-Swords for instance. I hadn't wanted to know about them, but I'd found out. That said if someone asked me, "So what are they really," I wouldn't be able to come up with an answer.
I didn't know the answer.
If I died, perhaps my memories would be reset, and it would be possible to replay everything.
Your role-playing utterly failed this time around. You were wrong in how you cultivated your character.
You should've gone with a cooler, more heroic character. It had to be someone sociable and kind to girls, one who would challenge the strong and aid the weak, one with a fiery sense of justice.
You can't defeat the last boss with me. You can't use me to clear your game.
Don't expect anything of me. Reset me.
SFX: For a few seconds nothing happens. Then someone barges into Takumi's shoulder.
Instead came the impact of someone banging into my shoulder.
DQN A: "Hey, you're in the way."
I thought I was hallucinating.
I'd heard the female version in the morning, so this time it must be the male version. Not that I'd asked for one. I'd rather have a more moe-voiced hallucination, one I could fap to.
But if they whispered sexy lines by my ear, I'd have a boner right in the middle of town, hehehe.
DQN A: "Dude, don't ignore me."
DQN B: "Hey, you, aren't you Nishijou?"
DQN A: "How's it feel to be the fake psychic boy?"
DQN B: "You were on TV a little while ago. Had a big audience, didn't you?"
DQN C: "Lend us a moment, ESPer-kun."
Three guys stood there, surrounding me.
They wore baggy clothes and had yellow, silver and red hair. Two had piercings in their ears or their nose. One had a piercing in just his ear. One was the type of ganguro man who're so rare nowadays, they're practically an protected species.
Ahh.... here's my death flag, I thought. Was this another "unhappiness trap"? Really, they came one after the other....
I'm telling you, I don't care anymore-- Hurry up and kill me. Because then I'll get reset and become reborn.
Do you have a knife or two ready with you? Stab me properly, so I die right away.
My knees began to shake from fear.
I yelled on instinct. It was close to a scream. But I couldn't pay attention to appearances.
I was lying about not caring!
Even in such desperate circumstances, I don't want to die!
DQN A: "Shut the fuck up."
They covered my mouth. I couldn't say anything. They grabbed my arms on either side.
DQN A: "Make a fuss, and you're dead."
That was when I stopped resisting.
"Fo, forgive me...."
Apologizing in a quavering voice, I prostrated myself.
"If it's money you want, I'll give you all of mine, so...."
"So please le, le, let me go...."
I held my wallet out to them. The delinquents snatched it.
DQN C: "Heh, you're loaded. There's what I'd expect from a boy psychic."
DQN B: "Gyahaha!"
DQN A: "Gyahaha!"
DQN C: "Aren't you a nice guy. I like ya."
DQN C: "I'll let you be one of my buds. There's a million-yen fee for joining up with us. And it ain't optional. I oughta have you pay up straight off the bat, but I'll give you until tonight."
DQN C: "Well, I'll cut it down by half if you show us your superpowers at work or something."
DQN B: "How's about sayin' something, ah?"
DQN A: "I'm tellin' ya to show us your superpowers."
DQN C: "Can't do it?"
DQN B: "I'm askin' you if you can't do it!"
DQN B proceeds to kick Takumi in the side of his chest.
I thought I might've broken a rib.
I couldn't breathe. I began to feel faint. I had vertigo.
I wondered what had happened.
I thought I'd felt enough pain in my face to make me pass out, but it might've been my imagination.
DQN B: "What, already gone limp?"
DQN C: "What'll we do? Leave it at this?"
DQN A: "Shouldn't we make 'im hurt a little more?"
DQN B: "Yeah, he said to mess him up real bad."
DQN A: "He must really hate him to pay us money just for fucking him up."
DQN C: "And so, it's time for the sequel."
The DQN trio proceed to start working Takumi over with their feet.
SFX: The sound of a Di-Sword materializing is heard. The one with the Di-Sword proceeds to clear house.
DQN A: "Gueeh!"
DQN B: "Gyaa!"
DQN C: "H, hey, what're you fucking around for.... you're kidding me...."
DQN C: "Hii.... wh, what's that.... hey, sto.... quit it...."
DQN C: "St, stop it.... no...."
The Di-Sword wielder doesn't seem to be listening. They also don't seem satisfied with hitting them just the once.
DQN A/B/C: "Gobah! Gugah! Ah, gobohh.... uuh, uuu...."
The twilight-colored light sharply divided the middle of the room into that which was bright and that which was dark.
What it made visible was--
Snow-white sheets covering a bed. A handheld game system laid beside the pillow.
A number of scholarly books lined up along the shelves. The pale purple petals of the cosmos flowers arranged in a vase.
It was an orderly room. Nothing moved. A space where time seemed to have stopped.
His back facing the window, he remained motionless. His breaths were so gentle and came so far apart as to make one think he might be dead.
His skin was covered in wrinkles. His cheeks were gaunt. His eyes were sunken. Not a single hair grew on his head.
An appearance that evoked uncertainty about whether to call him a boy or an old man.
There, for the first time, the world moved. The door gradually opened, and someone came from the dark hallway toward the sunlight.
The sunset illuminated her tormented expression.
"Let's stop already.... okay?"
"It's unfortunate, but...."
"Shogun" didn't budge an inch at her words.
"Because he's dangerous."
Grief infused Rimi's voice as she answered. Her eyes, too, appeared faintly damp.
Ultimately, even Rimi couldn't discern whether he moved his mouth when he spoke.
"There's something I need him to do for me."
Rimi's hair fell forward as she hung her head, and she quietly pushed it back with her fingers.
"....For instance, do you remember your dreams?"
"I soon forget them."
"Some people can remember, and some can't."
"The people who can must be romantics."
"I often have a very long, long dream."
"It seems as though years are passing as I dream it."
"I used to be the same."
"I feel like I used to be the same."
"But that's an illusion."
"Dreams actually take place in only two or three seconds as you sleep."
"Evanescent bubbles of the heart.... perhaps."
"So.... wake up quickly."
"If not, someday--"
"Even if he did, I wouldn't mind."
"I mustn't waken from my dream."
"I have to see it through to its conclusion."
It was very constrained, and moreover, their hand left my shoulder after shaking me only once.
I sensed someone.... peering into my face.
My consciousness was awakening little by little.
The ache in my body revived together with it.
My upper lip stung. The inside of my mouth tasted like I'd licked a piece of iron.
I slowly opened my eyes.
I lay face-down on the asphalt, and right before my eyes was a tiny brownish puddle, akin to something you might see leaking out of raw garbage.
Grimacing at the stench, I roused myself.
I hurt all over.
My face was in particular pain. It burned and stung as though someone were bringing a lighter closer and closer to me.
A familiar girl knelt close beside me and watched me with a teary-seeming face.
The.... transfer student. The girl who'd joined my class.
I wondered why she was here.
The transfer student held something out to me.
My wallet. Why did she have it....
Wh, wha, what was this? Someone had totally worked them over. Their faces bore no resemblance to how they'd originally been shaped.
We, were they dead? They didn't stir.
It couldn't be.... the seventh New-Gen incident....!?
Who would do such a thing....?
Was it.... me....? Had I....?
The transfer student stood up and, still pale, beckoned me with her hand.
Tears in the corners of her eyes, she looked back and forth between me in my confusion and the fallen trio.
And she abruptly seized my hand and tottered off into a run.
Both of us had fallen silent.
Maybe the transfer student was just as bad at talking as me.
No, that sort of thing didn't matter. More importantly, I had trouble understanding the situation.
Those three thugs had picked a fight with me and battered me.
A, again....! I heard it again!
I figured someone I knew was nearby, talking to me, but I didn't spy anyone likely.
Dammit. Why did I have to start hearing aural hallucinations today?
Positive, Negative or Neutral?