「Omae Gotoki ga Maou ni Kateru to Omou na」 to Yuusha Party wo Tsuihou Sareta no de, Outo de Kimama ni Kurashitai Volume 3 extra
My friend's dead.
She was always so bright and cheerful, we had the same tastes in food, clothes, even music. It was fun just being with her. And now she's dead.
It wasn't some accident.
She wasn't bullied into suicide.
It was just another part of 'class'.
It happened to be her turn to jump to her death, so while everyone watched, jump to her death she did. She was smiling the whole time, but the second she hit the ground she dented her head in, her face twisting as her teeth shattered and scattered.
I'm pretty sure the ground must've been on the soft side, since she didn't die immediately. My classmates seemed to really enjoy watching her squirm and flail in agony in her last moments. The last thing she did, though, was look up at me with insanity (or maybe sanity) in her eyes, stretching her hand out towards the rooftop.
Her lips moved.
H-E-L-P-M-E, she seemed to be saying. I might be wrong, though. Maybe she said "It feels so good" or even "I'm so happy". At any rate, after she passed her message on to me she stopped breathing, just like that.
I stand there looking down at her for a long while, leaning out over the top of the fence, simply watching my friend's dead body. I don't really feel anything. At this point, it'd be weirder if I did feel squeamish.
For some reason, though, the simple truth that she was my friend stirs my heart weirdly.
Milkit frantically hugs me from behind. That's a pretty bold move, baby, I try to say with a joking smile, but I can't.
I was on the verge of falling myself, as if entranced by my friend's fate.
"Ahh… Thanks, Milkit," I manage to say blearily.
"Oh, no. To be honest, I don't know why I stopped you myself."
"Come to think of I, I don't know why I thanked you, either."
"Yes, it's a bit of a mystery, isn't it?"
"Yeah, a mystery."
The only thing that's clear is a sense of relief that we were both able to save what's important to us. I can't really put it into words, and if I try to figure out what it is it fades away before my eyes, but it's right there nonetheless.
If I had to guess, it might be proof that we're 'us'.
After that, our homeroom teacher sends us all home. As we walk out, I get a good look at my friend's corpse. The flies have already begun to swarm, and the crows have begun to gather in the nearby treetops in anticipation. The wild dogs and stray cats will probably come next.
The words sort of well out of me, coming from the bottom of my heart. It's not the words of this insanity or Origin but me myself, celebrating her graduation from this hell. It's not like I've had some grand awakening or anything, though. The words just kinda naturally spilled out of my mouth. After we walk away, I forget I even said anything in the first place.
Today's beautifully clear. On days like this you can really see the rain of light falling, noisily, invisibly. I don't know where it is, but I can feel it tickling my skin. Apparently only Milkit and I can feel it, and when I tried to tell someone else about it they said I was crazy and laughed.
Determined not to lose her, I gently squeeze her hand as we walk down to the station.
She returns my little squeeze right away.
Even something so simple, so natural as that fills me with a strange kinda happiness.
When we arrive back home, Mom is disassembling a corpse in the front foyer.
"Hahh… hahh… Welcome home, Flum… nn, hahh… fuu…"
Her forehead's glistening with sweat, the saw in her hand slick with blood. I can't say I envy her job. Milkit and I step around the reeking garbage bag beside her and head into the living room.
Dad's already home for no reason in particular, sitting in the dark and cackling at the live broadcast on TV. It looks like that really popular show's on right now, the one where they film that pretty newscaster's hanging corpse 24/7 so that you can see her rot bit by bit. I don't know much about it, though. It's one of those shows that's geared towards adults. I'll probably understand it when I'm Dad's age, but I really don't get what's so funny about it now.
I open the fridge and pull out two yellow bottles of cloudy liquid, handing one to Milkit.
Recently she's stopped questioning things and started just accepting stuff like this. It's a step in the right direction, I think. I hope she continues feeling right at home here.
I quench my thirst with the bottle's contents, a sports drink that's normal in every sense of the word. It flows down my throat, giving me a sorta chilly feeling right around my stomach. It's not just a temperature thing, though --- even if only a little, I can feel my brain cool down a little and start to really process stuff.
My eyes fly open.
The hanging newscaster on TV.
Dad's "AHAHAHAHAHAHA" as he watches her, his voice starting to grow hoarse as if he's been there laughing all day.
Mom slowly sawing apart and bagging corpses. Apparently she goes outside for a new body whenever she finishes one.
Hold on just a minute, everyone, what're you all---
Milkit nervously calls my name. That raw adorableness is enough to call me back to reality.
"I'm fine, no problems here!"
I wave my hand, laughing it all off.
Yeah, that's right. Everything's a lie. We probably know it, even.
We just don't want to accept the truth, that's all.
After that, we barely leave the house for the rest of summer vacation --- or actually, we barely leave our room. Not only is there the whole 'rain of light' issue, it's really starting to reek out there and the number of bugs crawling and buzzing around is honestly just gross. My parents don't really seem to care, though, carrying on as normal even without me. I guess they're just that absorbed in their own lives. Let alone me, they probably don't even have room in their heads left for each other.
I guess that means we're getting left behind. The rest of the world's flying ahead like a rocket --- whether that rocket's aimed at the stars or overseas, I sure don't know. I'm just stuck where my feet can take me, unable to even imagine anything beyond that. Even if the rocket's headed in a weird direction, it's got the 'everyday' I've lived in up until now, my 'friends', even my 'family'. I think it's only natural to want to follow it.
There's a big difference between my walking speed and a rocket, though. In only a second we're a world apart, and the further apart we get the more 'differences' I start to notice whether I want to or not, until eventually there's nothing I can do about it. It's like letting go of a helium balloon; once you've done it, all you can do is watch it fly away. The only real question, then, is where we're getting left behind, which I guess comes down to a matter of perspective.
It's been two weeks since that 'first day of school', and already I can't even hold a conversation with Mom and Dad. It's not just a matter of not seeing eye-to-eye, it's like we're speaking totally different languages. When I say "G'morning" they reply with "ᢼdբճᙏeᘅᐍaՉ", and when I say "G'night", a "dᑢ֏ᛩᐵᓀj֏ᐍᚢᑰ" comes back. See? It's nonsense. I just don't get it.
[I GET IT]
No, I don't get it. Look, I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you can't just force that kinda thing on me. You're clearly trying to make me like everyone else, but I've got… Natural resistance? Logic? Whatever I have, it's keeping me right where I am and it's going to stay that way.
[ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE NOT]
Nope, sorry. You can't twist me like that anymore.
Anyhow, at times like that I get the feeling that Mom and Dad look at me with these really disappointed faces. I also start to feel a little lonely, to be fair, but there's this sense of relief that Milkit's right at my side, going through the same stuff I am.
Not only that, but I get the feeling that this site I found called SANE is also helping to keep me from going over to the other side. I couldn't believe at first that there's still an independant site like that in this day and age, but when I saw the contents I realized there's a reason it has to be like that.
[The world's gone mad. The only way to survive is for us survivors to stand together.]
Those are the words the administrator wrote at the very top of the webpage. Down in the message board section, I found all sorts of messages from people just like us.
[I don't want to die yet. My family's never coming back, but I want to survive even if it means being alone.]
[This is all Origin's damn fault.]
[I don't care whose fault it is, someone come save me. I don't want to stay here anymore.]
Milkit and I read those messages hand in hand, every last one. It was a weird feeling, a lot like suddenly waking up after a long, long dream. Maybe that's what finally broke our curse, finally freeing us from that subconscious urge to follow the rest of the world. I guess that's no proof that we're sane, though. Maybe we're the strange ones after all? But at any rate, with that we finally found people who were the same as us. The need to 'catch up' disappeared.
After we joined the SANE community, though, we learned just what's been happening to Japan --- or I guess you could say we had our worst fears affirmed. A new energy system that was being tried out up in the northeast, 'Origin', turned out to have a few unexpected features that had nothing to do with infinite renewable energy. It supposedly even sparked the nuclear war overseas in such a way that only Japan would survive. After it finished with the rest of the world, it started driving people insane here at home. Okinawa, the south bit of Kyushu, and Hokkaido have all been completely wiped out, and even Honshu's rapidly emptying itself. It was just as we'd feared, but the more we heard, the more images that were posted, the deeper the despair grew. Even with how sudden and absurd it all seems, there's enough proof that the world is ending that we couldn't just laugh it off.
Every once in a while, I think back to my last words to my friend and realize she really did get off lucky.
Anyhow… Right, that's why we don't leave the house whenever possible for the rest of summer vacation. Instead, we spend more and more time on SANE.
We still have to leave the house every once in a while, though, the biggest reason being to get food. I wouldn't call what my parents put on the table edible by any stretch of the imagination. The supermarket's hardly any better; the shelves are lined with locally sourced grass, mud, and bugs while the butcher's section is, of course, sourced from the locals --- though to be honest, I'm a little shocked I can look at that kinda thing and still joke about it. That's why we rarely buy anything except canned goods from before the world went mad.
We sit side-by-side in my room together to eat, and in order to spice things up a little we've gotten into the practice of feeding each other. Milkit's started to look forward to our meals since then. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. If only we could find something to eat other than yuzukoshō fried chicken and other drinking snacks!
On top of that, certain circumstances have made it impossible for us to use the washing machine and bath at our house, so we've been resorting to making trips to Milkit's old place. Her scumbag parents still haven't come back once, probably having died some pitiful death somewhere out there. Serves them right. Since her old apartment's now empty most of the time, though, it's always really clean and the washing machine and shower are in great shape.
The shower room's a lot more cramped than the bath back home, but that just means we have to squeeze in a little to use it. Actually, I'd say that's a good thing. I still have a habit of giving her boobs a bit of a grope in the shower, but surprisingly enough it almost feels as though they've gotten even plumper and fuller than before.
Maybe it's just my imagination?
No, I have my hands on those puppies every day. If they say she's gotten bigger it must be true!
"Nh, fuu, ahh, fuaaah…!"
She's also started reacting a bit more recently, though. That's… a good thing, right?
Whelp, there you have it. If she says so herself, I guess I don't have a choice.
As an aside, I once asked her if she could give me half and she couldn't keep herself from laughing. That was a bit of a shock, to be honest.
Anyhow, we handle all the cleaning stuff at Milkit's old place. The obvious question, then, is why we don't just live there, to which there's an obvious answer.
Mom and Dad are still around. I might have a… father complex? Mother complex? Sure, call it whatever. The important thing is, my home's with them.
If only while I'm still a kid.
If only while they're both still alive.
I mean, they're my family. Even if they've gone nuts, they're the only blood relations I've got.
Summer vacation is over. We wake up, head downstairs, and go see Mom in the front foyer.
She doesn't even look up at us. I don't even know if that was a response, but I decide that it is. Evidently she's been cutting and bagging bodies all night long, and maybe because of the exhaustion her movements are a little sluggish. I don't even think of stopping her, though.
I wonder why?
Ahh, right, of course I know the answer. Anyone would be afraid of their home becoming not their home.
Next, we go say hi to Dad.
"Akyakya! Uhiheeeeeeeeeeee, ehe! Kehe, kuho, okya, okikyakyakyakya!"
I'm not sure what's so fascinating about that hanging show, but Dad's enjoying it enough that his head's bobbing uncontrollably back and forth as he laughs. Just like Mom, he's apparently been there all night, his chair sopping wet with drool and other more fragrant things.
"Really, Dad. It's okay to get absorbed in stuff, but you've got to sleep at least."
"Ka, kaha, hyuuuuuuuueeh, he, hehe!"
"...And he's not even listening. What do you wanna do about breakfast?"
Just then, an earsplitting KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE fills the air. The rain of light falls right through the roof above our heads, causing my eyes to get all twitchy. I can feel it trying to rip something right out of my head. I can't become like them, though.
Milkit's there beside me, pressing her hands over her ears as she screws up her face. I pull her closer to me, rubbing her back. She doesn't resist, simply burying her face in my chest.
"Who're you calling flat-chested?"
"I didn't say anything…"
I just felt like saying that. If I don't say anything I'm afraid I'll want to stick my fingers through my ears and rip out my own brains, after all. This warmth, this dependency protects our common sense from the waves. I gently stroke her pretty white hair, and Milkit narrows her eyes contentedly.
She's just too cute.
I can feel my chest grow tight. How many times has this feeling protected us already, I wonder? How long is this feeling going to keep supporting my stupid fixation on staying with my parents?
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
Even if I apologize to her, I know she's still only going to thank me. That's exactly why I need to repeat myself.
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.
I know we should get out of here as soon as possible and flee somewhere far away. I know I'm weighing her and my family and choosing my family. I know I'm dragging her into my problems. Just how much of a self-centered bastard am I? ...Okay, I'm not a bastard, but that kinda thing. What I'm doing isn't any different from what her parents did. Ah, but I guess I'm just beating myself up, aren't I? In the end it's Milkit who decides whether I'm any different from them, and she's chosen to stay with me. I can't just decide without her.
That's why I'm going to let her spoil me. I'm honestly disgusting myself by doing this, but that's what I'll do for now, at least. I don't know how long we'll stay like this, but I'll make sure to draw the line if it means putting either of us in danger.
...I hope. I won't hesitate when the time comes, will I?
No, maybe I'll be fine. Definitely probably.
As if trying to forget everything I don't feel like thinking about, I bury my face in her hair. A sweet scent tickles my nose. It's the smell of my shampoo.
The same as me.
We're one and the same. That kinda fe eling seeps into me, filling me --- and as it does it causes my heart to start beating out of control, my temperature rising. My head's spinning with all the Vitamin Milkit I'm taking in.
I show a little restraint and separate my head from hers, but she looks up at me with big, lonely, moist eyes.
I-Isn't that look kinda dangerous? Forget man-eaters and lady-killers, doesn't this level of cuteness make her a human-eater-killer!?
Before I realize what I'm doing, my face is naturally drawn into hers. She nears her lips to mine, her eyes narrowing---
Mom's voice suddenly brings us back to our senses, and we quickly separate our bodies. Both our faces are beet-red, and for some reason I can't bring myself to look her in the eye.
Mom mutters something as she walks right past us, headed for the fridge. At some point Dad had stood up and he's now standing in the kitchen, too. Mrgh… I can't believe I was so absorbed by Milkit I didn't even notice…!
"S-Sorry… I didn't mean to suddenly do something weird like that…"
"...What a pity."
Whoa there! What's that supposed to mean!?
While I'm trying to figure Milkit out, my parents start getting their breakfast together with a clatter and a splatter. If I had to guess, that 'siren' a little while ago was the lunch bell, reminding the people who're too absorbed in their work that they need to eat if they wanna live. That being said, I really can't call the stuff that they're putting out on the living room table 'food'.
For some reason, though, they prepare enough for four.
My parents sit down, then don't make another move. They might be waiting for us to sit down.
"Sorry, we're planning on eating out."
For some reason, those nonsensical 'words' of theirs sound a little lonely. They then clumsily put their hands together, then jam their faces into the food in front of them.
I turn away, grab Milkit by the hand and lead her away from them.
As if reading my heart, she gives my hand a tender squeeze. Her kindness and gentleness seep through.
Keep this up and I'll really fall for you, dammit.
There's no helping it, though. The only food here that we can eat is up in our room.
Since summer vacation's technically over, we decide to check out how our school's doing.
"Inferno Earth returns!"
"Fufufu, yes, it really has."
Since it's still hot despite being September already, we do our usual thing.
The road to the station, the train to school, even the station on the other side are completely and utterly abandoned. I guess that just goes to show how many people didn't make it through the summer. I notice that Kubitsurizaka Station still had some bodies hanging there, but it's obvious that nobody's been there to tend to them in a long time.
We arrive at school, and our first stop is my friend, the one who'd jumped. She's still there, of course, and in this heat her body has already rotted brown and is visibly juicy. Judging from the fact that she's not alone, I'd imagine the other classes also had roof-jumping on the curriculum. I guess you could call them life's winners, in a sense.
Milkit wordlessly strengthens her grip. I smile at her.
I stroke her hair with my free hand. We're used to things being not okay, so it's okay.
We climb the stairs into the school and head for our classroom. The school's full of the stench of death, not people. Outside we spot a few people from the soccer club practicing their passes, but they seem to have mistaken the club advisor's head for a soccer ball. We happen to pass by the science prep room, and inside we spot a few more anatomical models than were there when last we checked. The new ones are all rotting, though, so I don't think they'd be very useful for class.
Finally, we enter our classroom for the first time in about a month.
"Hey, how's it going, everyone?"
I give a little wave as I walk in, but there's nobody alive there. Apparently they'd kept up classes while we were away, so everyone's dead. There's a few dozen hooks hanging from the ceiling, and from them hang ropes tied into nooses, and from the nooses hang… well, it looks like they put on a class play about hangings. Their faces are all black and blue, and their eyes are bulging so much it's hard to believe they didn't pop out. All manner of fluids are leaking from all manner of orifices, and the herd of desks they'd evidently used are drenched. From their joyous expressions, I'd guess they'd all kicked off their desks at once. It was clearly pretty fun.
Everybody complains about all the work they have to put into the culture festival and the sports festival and stuff, but in the end it leaves nothing but good memories. I'm sure this was the same kinda thing. If they lived, they'd probably look back fondly and share memories about the 'hanging class' during the graduation ceremony.
...No, wait, I guess they only do that kind of thing up until middle school, huh?
"It's a bit of a shock."
"Yeah… Even though it's clearly insane and we can finally tell that much, it's weird to see all these people we know dead and feel all this… nothing."
Our hearts have grown stale to this crazy world, but maybe that's exactly why we crave that special kind of heart-racing that only held hands and tight embraces can give us.
"I can't hear anyone here besides us."
"Yeah, but I'm sure this place isn't anything special."
Just in case we're wrong, though, we check out the other classrooms. It's almost impressive how many different ways they found to die. One class stabbed each other to death with whatever they could find that was sharp, and the next was determined to settle everything with their bare hands. One class even decided to each die by cramming their arm down another's throat, all linked together in a circle of death around the classroom, almost like some obscure piece of modern art.
In the end, though, I guess it doesn't matter how they all died --- it doesn't change how utterly devoid the place is of life. Even if there's a survivor or two mixed in, they're on the verge of death at the bottom of some corpse pile or they only laugh blankly at the sky, unable to react to anything.
We give up and go outside. Apparently one of the members of the soccer club was strangled to death as an offside penalty. We didn't notice when we came in, but from what we can see of the open gym it's also in a grisly state.
"Y'know, I really hated studying, but seeing everything like this I think I actually liked this place."
"Ahaha, you don't feel a thing, huh?"
"I think that might be for the best. The more attachments you have, the harder it is to let go, after all."
"Ah… Maybe you're right, ahaha…"
Her words strike a little too close to home, but I try to laugh them off anyways.
With that, we pass back through the gate and leave the school, probably for the last time.
After that, we spend more and more time as shut-ins. The time we spend on SANE also increases.
[Our school's been wiped out.]
[Don't worry, there's probably more survivors somewhere.]
[They're probably just laying low.]
Even just being able to talk with other normal people helps to put me at ease.
[How're we supposed to survive this?]
[We have to destroy Origin.]
[How? I heard that place's filled with crazies and defense robots.]
[Hokkaido's empty and there's like nobody alive to the northeast. Doesn't that mean Origin's influence is stronger closer to the source?]
There's no way we're going to arrive at any sort of answer like this, but we at least get the feeling we're making some kinda progress this way.
[What if we all got together in person?]
[Oh yeah? Where would we meet?]
[I heard there's a shelter beneath Tokyo filled with food.]
[That's only a rumour, just like that Noah's Ark thing.]
[It's not a rumour! It was on the city website and everything.]
[Anyone here live close to there?]
[What about you, Flum-chan?]
[I live in the south so it's a little far, and I don't even know where this shelter thing is.]
[I'm afraid I don't know, either.]
[Ah, sorry, I thought you lived near there for some reason. It's not like you can go there if you don't know where it is, and given how many people lived in Tokyo you'd probably going to run into a lot of 'them' there.]
I heard there are some packs of lunatics who run around attacking everyone they see, but fortunately we don't have anything like that around here. Even if we did know where the shelter is, there's no way the two of us are going to a place with those gangs alone.
[I live in Tokyo, so why don't I go check it out with my girlfriend? I know the area and we've gone as far as Shinjuku before.]
A brave soul volunteers. After that we gather all the information on the shelter we can, and after hashing out a general route he heads out.
It's the end of September now. He hasn't come back to SANE yet.
It's not like he's headed that far afield, and he can't just camp out in a dangerous place like that for too long. He said he'd only be gone a little while. Another full week of silence passes before---
[We never shouldn't let him go.]
Somebody says what everybody's thinking.
[We're all gonna die at this rate if we don't do something, dammit! Anything's better than nothing!]
Somebody responds in anger.
[We never shouldn't let him go, we never shouldn't let him go, we never shouldn't let him go]
Those letters fill the message board.
[wenaever shotuld've let hims go, we nevera shoudlfv'e letaw hungo, wersdfdfn;oihgdsg, welkrnverasdfshouvlsdvae't eoslethe]
The poster's words quickly become nonsense. The admin wordlessly bans him from the board.
It probably had nothing to do with Origin. They probably just couldn't stand it anymore.
Maybe because of that last little incident, a lot less people are posting on SANE now.
[Anyone alive out there?]
About halfway through the month, a nervous someone calls out.
[I'm right here.]
[For now, at least.]
The messages pop up one after the other, but there's a lot fewer people compared to when we first found SANE.
Silence once more.
There's a high chance that everyone who didn't respond is dead. That first person must've asked because he felt lonely, but in the end it had the opposite effect. The loneliness helped save off that feeling of 'death', but now it's come crawling right back.
It's the same with me and Milkit. We might be sane, but insanity isn't the biggest threat. It's luck, really. If we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be all over. if we get sick or hurt, we could easily die just because we can't go to a hospital or anything. Even just a bad scratch could be all it'd take---
[This is our punishment.]
Somebody posts that.
[This is God's punishment for science going too far! We never should've tried to make infinite clean energy in the first place!]
[It's too late to say stuff like that now.]
[It doesn't matter whose fault this is. We just have to focus on staying alive now.]
[But what could we do against God's wrath…?]
['God' has nothing to do with it. We're going to make it through this on our own strength. We didn't survive this long because of some accident, it proves that we've got what it takes.]
The pessimist is cheered up by someone else's positive thinking.
The end of October.
The heat has finally eased up enough that I can't make that Inferno Earth joke anymore. That pessimist suddenly stops posting, too.
A few days later, a single image pops up on SANE. The title is [〇〇さん], the name of the brave explorer. It was apparently taken by the woman who was with him. She also has a few words for the rest of us.
[I killed him. I couldn't find any reason to keep on living, but he was determined to keep living anyhow. I couldn't stand it any longer so I killed him.]
Nobody responds, but I get the feeling that everyone's just looking on in silence just like Milkit and I.
[I'm going to die now, too. Goodbye.]
With that, her messages stopped.
I get a faint feeling that we should just leave SANE completely and never look back, that I'd regret it later if I don't. The rest of the world's so bad, though, that I decide to stay there, clinging to the faint hope that it'll get better.
The beginning of November, just as the air starts growing chill around us.
[This must be God's punishment after all. We tried to dabble in His domain and now He's mad at us.]
[Maybe you're right… How can we make God forgive us?]
[We have to believe. We all have to offer prayers to Him.]
[I'll pray! What do I have to do?]
The pessimist returns, this time with a following.
The middle of November.
[Don't defy God any longer! Only we, the chosen few sane humans, can calm God's wrath!]
They start preaching in the message boards. Milkit and I just sit by and watch expressionlessly, but it's clear that more people are getting swept in by the day.
The beginning of December.
It's started to get really cold out, but thankfully the stench of rot's getting a lot more tolerable. We're starting to get sick of all this canned food, but we can't really complain. Whether it's because of the cold or us getting closer I don't know, Milkit and I spend almost all our time so close together we're practically sewn together. I haven't even tried to talk to my parents in a while.
[Atone! Atone! Humanity must atone for their sins!]
[All of this is our own fault!]
[What is this shit!? Stop making everything God's fault! This is all Origin's fault, we're the victims here!]
[It's because of heretics like you that our punishment won't end!]
[The hell are you saying!? You guys are batshit crazy!]
[I agree. Administrator, please ban them.]
SANE's only getting worse. The 'Survivor Alive NEtwork' was supposed to keep all us survivors together, but that part of it's already dead.
The admin doesn't respond. There's a fair chance that they've joined the 'believers' as well.
SANE continues to rage, but finally there's a response from the admin.
[Here's the information on the non-believers.]
They post all the information they have on the 'non-believers', making their access information and locations readily available to the 'fanatics'. It doesn't take long for their 'holy war' to start.
Before long, one of the fanatics posts a picture of someone nailed to a wall in a cross-shape. Written in blood beside them are the words NON-BELIEVERS ARE NON-HUMAN.
[Finally the asshole atoned.]
[Offer more sacrifices. God won't save us without sacrifices.]
The board fills with approval. Fortunately, Milkit and I haven't posted any messages in so long that they probably think we're dead already.
I guess you could say that's the moment SANE went inSANE. The fanatics even go so far as starting to root out other virtual and real-life meeting places for the survivors, crushing them one by one.
Unable to stand it any longer, we leave SANE altogether. We've lost our only means of contacting over survivors, but maybe this is for the best. There's nothing we can do about Origin, after all.
Milkit and I lie together on the bed, looking up at the ceiling with our arms wrapped around each other.
"Christmas' pretty close. Is there anything you'd like?"
"As long as you're with me, Flum-san, that's all I need."
"I'm happy to hear that, but I'd kinda like to actually give you something, y'know?"
"...I think I'd like to have some cake, then."
"Ahh, cake… If we start now, we might be able to get our hands on the ingredients, at least."
It's a great idea, honestly. Our family always has a nice big cake for Christmas, but these days anything 'normal' is rare.
After that, we start looking around any supermarkets we can find for ingredients that are still edible. Fruit proves to be the only real challenge, but we manage to get enough from a nearby farmer's orchard. Maybe because we're out in the country, it's not as dangerous walking out and about as it is somewhere like Tokyo… no, I guess there are some tracks from wild dogs here and there, but that's a different kind of dangerous. This is clearly no place for humans, though.
...No, that's not it.
It's no place for us.
Mom and Dad are still just as happy as always, after all.
At the end of December, Milkit and I have finally gathered all we need for the cake. We decide to have a little party at Milkit's old house to commemorate the occasion. The main dish is, of course, canned food, but in turns out that even stuff like that can look pretty good with the right presentation. We puts some wreaths and stuff that we'd found in the general store on the walls, and we even make some snowflakes and stuff with some coloured paper we found. Along with our santa cosplay, it's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
In the middle of the table is our cake, topped with whatever candles we could find.
"It's a little too much for just the two of us, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but the way we made it too big is too textbook a mistake to pass up on, y'know?"
"Fufu, I suppose you're right. Since we went through all this trouble, however, I'd like to finish it if we can."
"Uh… if there's any left over, can I give it to Mom and Dad?"
"...Of course. You don't even have to ask."
"Well, we did make it together, after all."
I don't think there's any meaning behind it, really.
With that, our own little private party starts.
Dawn. We ended up fooling around a lot and really pulling out all the stops, and maybe because of the little bit of alcohol we snuck in we ended up falling asleep at Milkit's old apartment. I lightly shake Milkit awake, and after taking a quick shower we head back to our house, cake in hand.
Mom's cutting up bodies in the front foyer.
Dad's laughing at the hanged woman on TV.
To be honest, their skin's turned a little brownish and is all speckled, and their stomachs are starting to bulge weirdly. There's nothing I can do about it, though.
I put the two pieces of cake on the table, say "Feel free to have some", and then we head up to my room. Milkit and I spend the rest of the day snuggling, just like we always do.
The next morning I peer into the living room, curious as to the fate of the cake. Unsurprisingly, instead of being eaten it was thrown to the floor and stomped on, currently lying there in a horrible state. I scoop up the remains of the cake with the fallen plate. Milkit puts the other slice away.
After I throw away what used to be the cake, I realize I'm crying.
Having survived Christmas, the end of the year is just around the corner. For some reason, though, I don't think it'll be a happy new year. It's kinda weird, really. Last year, I was convinced that everything would be the same as it's always been --- or actually, I didn't even put any thought into it, it was so obvious to me at the time.
How'd things get so bad?
Why'd I have to go and realize the truth?
If only I didn't know anything, if only I wasn't sane, this year would've been the same as last year. Even if it's not the truth, it's all a matter of perspective, y'know? I wouldn't be able to tell, so I'd be perfectly happy.
A few days after the Christmas party, Milkit and I leave the house. The sky's covered in clouds.
"It looks like it might snow, huh?"
The weather forecast's working as well now as it ever did. If it's still working despite being left alone for so long, I guess they must've really built it to last. Just like the trains, just like Origin, science has killed off only us humans, leaving only the machines alive. I guess you could say humanity lost the war for survival, huh?
...Or something like that. Jeez, all this time to think's gone and made me smart, hasn't it?
"I hope it snows."
Milkit leaves a little pause before answering me. I guess if I had to say one way or the other I'd agree with her. The sky doesn't change, after all, even though humans do. I hope the rare sight of snow might help me feel a bit better.
The entire reason we've come out of our hidey-hole, by the way, is a little feel-better magic of the same kind. Before we head off to Milkit's old place, we stop by the supermarket. After finally finding some usable scissors in the stationary bit of the store, we step back over the piles of corpses and head out.
Looking at these scissors, though, I can't help but think of that classmate who lopped her own fingers off with a pair. Those deep scars, all that endlessly flowing blood… I don't think I saw her body hanging with everyone else's in the classroom, so I guess she must've died of blood loss after all. Not that it matters to me, of course.
Scissors in hand, we head to Milkit's apartment. The decorations and stuff from the Christmas party are still up, but we aren't there to clean up. We head right past them and into the bathroom.
We cut holes in the bottom of garbage bags, just big enough to pass our heads through. Putting them on, we become ultra-fashionable garbage bag girls. I'm kidding, of course. They look really bad, so bad that just looking at myself in the mirror prompts a giggle. I'm not going to be picky, though. As long as my hair gets cut, that's all I want.
"Right then, do your worst!"
"Are you really sure about this?"
It's been so long since I've gotten a haircut that it's getting a bit too long and unruly. Thinking about what things'll be like for us from here on out, it's better to cut it now while we have the chance.
"Yep, just lop it all off. If it gets any longer I'll start to look like some homeless."
"I don't think that's the case at all, Flum-san. I think you still look wonderful."
"Jeez, there you go sweet-talking me again…"
"I'm not sweet-talking. I'm simply telling you the truth."
"Nah, you totally are. You literally have 'milk' in your name, so you're clearly a sweet pro."
"Fufu, what's that have to do with anything? ...You're really sure you want to do this?"
"Yep. Go ahead."
I close my eyes, leaving everything to her. Even if she makes a mistake, we can laugh about it together later. She's the only one who's around to see my haircut, after all, so hell if I care how it looks.
...Normal's better, though. Yeah, normal would be nice.
As I worry, though, she nimbly cuts away.
"You ever done this before, Milkit?"
"Yes. I've never had the money to have it cut professionally, after all."
"Eh, you mean you always cut it yourself!?"
"Is it really that surprising?"
"Well yeah, it is. I thought a pro cut it for sure."
"You flatter me far too much, Flum-san. It's only a matter of cutting off what you don't want and putting the loose ends in order."
"And all I'm saying is most people can't do that, especially for your own hair. I never thought you had that kinda talent… This's a happy surprise, though. I guess I'll have you keep on cutting my hair from now on."
"That's quite the responsibility. In that case, can I ask you to cut my hair?"
"Eh? Wouldn't it be better to just do it yourself?"
"I'd much prefer you do it for me. Doesn't having someone else cut your hair fill you with a special sort of feeling?"
Come to think of it, having Milkit touch my hair this much makes me feel a little uneasy, but not in a bad way. I guess I can understand where she's coming from.
"Lemme warn you, I'm gonna be terrible at it."
"Fufu, the stranger it is the more 'Flum' it'll feel. That's not a bad thing, I don't think."
"Yes. I can just see myself smirking every time I look in a mirror."
Just seeing her smile like that is making me start to smirk…
Hmm. Y'know, she's really pretty to begin with, but she's almost unbelievably cute when she smiles. I must be hogging all of Japan's luck if I get to spend all my time snuggling with her and feeling up her chest literally on a daily basis. I'm like, a booblionaire.
"You're awfully cute when you smile, Flum-san."
While I'm thinking about stuff like that, she launches a surprise attack. I can feel my face go red, but I'm pretty much defenseless as long as she's cutting my hair. This isn't fair~!
"I also think it's rather adorable how you clam up whenever you get embarrassed like this."
"J-Just you wait, I'll have my revenge!"
"Fufufu, I'm looking forward to it already."
I put on a strong front, but when it finally gets to be my turn I realize just how bad I am with scissors. Man, this sucks… oh, and by the way, I decided to give her totally flat bangs. I didn't screw up, though. Definitely not! And damn, she's cute even with a bad haircut!
After we finish sweeping up our hair and take a light shower, we head back to our house. Once safely back in our room, I pull out two big-ish backpacks and start filling them. Seeing me like that, Milkit seems almost a little sad.
"We really are leaving, aren't we?"
Apparently, she figured me out back when I suddenly said I wanted a haircut.
"Let me help."
Silently, we fill our bags with only the necessities. Towels, plastic bags, flashlights, food, water bottles --- after my bag's started to bulge a little, I stop.
"It's like the day before a big camping trip, huh…"
"I believe that sort of feeling is for the best. Have you decided where we're headed yet?"
"North, at least."
"Don't tell me we're headed for Tokyo…?"
"Yeah, I think so. I don't trust that Ark rumour, but the shelter should really exist, for one."
There's a ton of rumours on the internet: A hidden paradise where the rain of light doesn't fall, the research facility of a secret anti-Origin organization, the emergency shelter beneath Tokyo, and the most outrageous of them all --- Noah's Ark, a secret escape plan the government was supposedly working on in secret. Everything except the shelter seems to be only urban legends, and even though we don't even have any proof of that, we'll need something to aim for if we're going to survive.
"Should you just leave your parents like this?"
Milkit's expression is grave. I silently shake my head.
"There's no point staying. They don't even recognize me anymore. They can't even talk. They seem like they're sick, but there's nothing I can do about it."
I offer all sorts of evidence, but they're not the clincher.
When they trampled the cake Milkit and I worked so hard to make together, I realized that those things really aren't my parents anymore.
"...There's still a lot of stuff we're missing, huh?"
"Yes. Unless we take the time to gather supplies first, I can't imagine we'll last long."
"A first aid kit, maybe some medicine… A nice, warm blanket would be nice."
We decide to end the day's preparations there, planning supply trips for the next few days.
We finally finish gathering all our supplies on New Year's Eve, which means that we depart New Year's Day after a good night's sleep. Milkit and I double-check our packs before leaving our room.
Mom's stabbing at a corpse in the front foyer with a kitchen knife. She can't properly saw with those spindly arms of hers anymore. Dad's laugh sounds hoarse and powerless.
I walk into the living room, touch Dad's shoulders and lean in to whisper into his ear.
"Thanks for everything… Goodbye."
There are so many things I wish I could tell him, but nothing that I could convey with words. I put the most emotion I can into the fewest words possible. Milkit bites her lip and clutches her fist to her chest as she watches me, as if she were mourning in my place. I give her a soft smile and gently stroke her hair. With that, we turn to leave the room.
Mom's standing in the hallway, knife in hand.
Maybe it's time for them to eat. I head back into the living room, giving her enough room to pass. Mom then heads to the table Dad's at… or a least, she normally would. Instead, she heads right for me with trembling footsteps.
By the time Milkit cries out, it's already too late. Mom raises her thin arm with unbelievable speed, pointing her knife right at me. I grab her hand in an attempt to stop her.
"N-No… Stop it! Please, Mom, don't do this!"
My voice can't reach her now. Her eyes are half rolled back in her head, not even looking at me. Bubbles of saliva moisten her lips as she lets out a strangled moan.
"Please stop it! Let Flum-san go!"
Milkit grabs onto her from behind in a bear hug, but she's unnaturally strong. Even two against one we can't budge her. Mom's free hand latches onto my wrist.
"Gh… agh, uuu…!"
Her grip strength is insane, but it can't last for long. Her thumb's bent almost too far around my arm, to the point where it looks like it could break at any moment. Any normal person would stop before that point, let alone be able to grip so strongly.
No matter how I look at it, she's being controlled by something. I guess I should end her before she ends me, but I hate even the thought of having to do that.
"Fէ, ᑤ, ᐂ"
I still can't understand a word she's saying, but from the way her mouth's moving it's almost like she's trying to call my name. Maybe she can tell I'm trying to leave and she's so lonely she's trying to stop me? I guess, then, I should---
Milkit suddenly screams. I whip around to face her, and there I see Dad attacking her. Ice pick in hand, he's going for her temples.
My mind goes white.
One or the other.
My insane parents or Milkit, who even now is almost too fond of me.
My body moves as if by reflex. I guess that means this is what I really want deep down, then.
I kick out at Mom's legs, sending her sprawling to the ground. The impact of striking the floor makes her lessen her grip. Quickly breaking free, I snatch the knife out of her hands---
---and I plunge it into her neck.
I can feel her skin splitting and parting through the blade. The knife hits something hard buried deep in her flesh. Even as blood sprays out of her neck, Mom reaches out to me with her spindly fingers, fine flecks of rotting flesh still stuck beneath her nails.
"Uuu, kh, igh, uuuuuuuuuuuuu!"
I grit my teeth hard, desperately choking back tears and bile as I put my weight into the blade. The knife shudders deeper, her wound widening. Maybe cutting another big vein or something, the blood flowing out of her wound becomes a river as the sharp scent of iron fills the air.
"Uu, agh… nnn…"
Mom's lips tremble as she tries to form words. Unlike before, she's staring right at me now.
Responding to my voice, she seems to smile just a little.
"fl, u, m…"
With a thin, feeble voice, she calls my name. The nostalgia, the kindness, the warmth, it all breaks over me like a wave. A fleeting moment later, she seems to lose all her strength as her extended arm falls to the ground, never to move again. Eyes wide, looking right at me, mouth half open, Mom dies.
I killed her.
"Nooooo! Let go of me, let me gooo!!"
Just as grief begins to immobilize me, her voice reminds me of what I have to do.
It's not over.
My lungs tremble as they struggle for air, my hands groping for the knife embedded in Mom. Feeling the hilt again, I pull it out --- and from behind, I plunge it into Dad's neck.
He lets out a beastlike howl, but maybe because of all the slick blood covering the knife already it the blade slips across his skin without piercing it. Noticing me, he forgets about Milkit and turns to point his ice pick at me. His movements are sluggish.
Determined to not miss this time. I plunge it into his chest. I can feel it clack against bone as it slides into his body, but he doesn't stop moving. I don't know where exactly his heart is, so maybe I missed it. He raises his own weapon.
I don't have enough time to pull out the knife, let alone stab him again. Just as I'm about to give up and put a bit of distance between us---
Milkit grabs his arm, clutching onto it with both of hers.
I quickly pull the blade out of his chest and stab again.
He doesn't die.
Stab. Stab. Again. Again.
Finally, his eyes seem to grow empty, and --- ahh, not this again --- just like Mom, he gives me a warm smile… then slumps to the floor.
I collapse to my knees as if following him.
"I killed them…"
I murmur to my hands.
"There wasn't anything else you could've done."
Milkit takes my hands in her own and tries to comfort me, but that doesn't change the truth.
"I… I killed them…"
She embraces me. That warmth fills the fresh holes in my heart, and I lean into her. I don't even have the energy to stand now.
"Mom and Dad were normal at the very end… maybe there was a way… kh, maybe I could've saved them…!"
"No, I'm sure they were happy! You were there for them, caring for them until the very end!"
"But even so…! I… I didn't want to… I don't care how necessary… I never wanted to… Not this…!"
I know there's no point, but I can't keep my emotions from boiling over. If I don't let them out they'll eat me from the inside out, I can feel it.
"Uu, uuuuuuuuuuuu, uaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!"
Screaming out my anger and my sorrow, I bury my face in Milkit's warmth and cry, for hours and hours, until finally I fall asleep. Until the very end, she stays there, wrapping me in her loving embrace.
We go and 'borrow' a shovel from the nearby department store. Come to think of it, it'll also be necessary for our journey. Before we go, though, there's a part it has to play at home.
Milkit and I together dig a hole in the middle of the garden. It wasn't a very large garden to begin with, so we end up ruining the whole thing. It's not like it matters, though. There haven't been any flowers here for a long time, and soon there'll be nobody left to plant new ones.
We wrap my parents' bodies in a blue sheet, lower them into the bottom of the hole, and bury them together. After driving a wooden plank into the ground there as a marker, the grave is complete. It's a little crude, but it's about all we can manage.
Milkit and I put our hands together in front of them.
"We're going now."
Raising our faces, we grab the backpacks we left in the front foyer and head out, taking the first steps on our endless little journey.
Wait, is this on? Okay, then, I'll put the camera down here, aaaand… there we go!
Hey, Flum Watermoon here. Today's January 1st, 2198, and this's about the time we'd be celebrating the happy new year and stuff… nah, this isn't right, it sounds like I'm already dead or something. I guess that's not wrong, though. Uhh, I thought that a journal or something like that wasn't quite my style, but I still wanted to leave something behind, so I thought I'd make a video diary like this instead. I hope someone'll see this someday… I guess… know what, yeah, let's call that a good thing.
School's been weird for a while and the town's full of a buncha weirdos, but for some reason we didn't realize for a long time. I guess that's Origin's fault, too. I thought it was just a power plant, so yeah, that was a surprise. It looks like Milkit and I are the only ones left who know, though. Origin's got this weird power to mess with people's heads, see, so it's pretty bad. It also erases any sort of suspicions you might have, so that's why everyone thinks that all this crazy is totally normal. Worse, they seem to think it's some kinda god. I'd love to go and do something about it, but hey, what can two high school girls do? I heard it's got a buncha killer robots and insane people all around it, so we probably couldn't even get close. I'm pretty powerless, really.
Well… maybe I'm not totally powerless, but I almost kinda wish I were.
...Just earlier today, I killed my own parents. I had to… had to kill Mom and Dad with my own hands. It was just a little while ago, so… I can still kinda feel what it was like, y'know, through the knife… Just remembering it's kinda…. uu… agh… whyy… why'd I have to…!? They were really, really nice to me… I really loved them…! H-How did things… ugh, hahh… uuu… uwaaaaaaaahh…! A… hah.. M-Mom suddenly tried to kill me… I had to take her knife… a-and I stabbed her… Dad was trying to hurt Milkit… he was grabbing her with this crazy strength… I had to kill him, too… I didn't have any choice…!
As you can see, Milkit's okay now. It's just us. We'll make it somehow. I couldn't make it alone, but… with her, maybe I'll be okay.
A-Ah, right! Milkit's my best friend! Back when she was just my classmate we barely talked to each other, but then one day… well, a lot happened, but… uhh, she kinda didn't have anywhere else to go, so I took her in. My parents said it was okay, of course. She's a little weird and her boobs are friggin' huge, but it's a lot of fun just being with her. ...Eh? Your boobs have nothing to do with it? Nah, trust me, they're great. A-And important. Anyhow! We decided to run away together. We haven't decided where yet, but somewhere Origin can't reach us, that's for sure.
...We're going to survive this, I swear. Rest easy, Mom, Dad… I promise we'll be okay.
Anyhow, I think that's about good for today. If I manage to survive, let's meet again someday --- whoever you are, way in the future.
- Yuzukoshō is a condiment made from chili peppers and yuzu rind(yuzu is a bitter-sour japanese citrus).