Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (15/291)

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Translation Notes:
[5] Also written throughout the book in the margins as “A Dream of Unpleasant Rain”
[14] “John’s Staircase” – The real world equivalent is “St. Joseph’s Staircase”.

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

[5]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

[7]

Chapter 1: A Dream of Unpleasant Rain

[9]

―May a theatric death befall us all.

A white cylindrical building stood in a corner of West Kyoto University’s campus.

In front of that building stood Maribel Hearn.

“Why is it that paper books still exist as a medium, so many years since the start of the scientific age?” Merry wondered to herself absentmindedly.

According to her friend Usami Renko, it had something to do with the discrimination in the value of different types of information. Merry walked through the entrance of the building as its curved glass doors slid into the walls on either side, and stepped onto the light green carpeting inside the building.

To prevent the degradation that information on paper faces over the years, that information can be digitized and thus made nearly permanent, easily passed on for generations to come. The value of information considered for digitization is weighed against the costs involved in the process and if the information is not deemed valuable enough then it is left to degrade in its current form, knowing that information will someday be lost. At least that’s what Merry’s friend asserted.

“If that’s the case…”

Merry walked across the communal space in the center of the building and over to a reception desk alongside the far wall.

[10]

Beside the reception desk was a small gate, like the automatic gates you pass through at a train station on your way to the platform. Beyond it was a cramped spiral stairwell which led to the restricted library section in the basement.

There were not any bookshelves in the communal space, but ten or twenty terminals. From those terminals, using the number on a student ID as well as vein identification (When people turn twelve years old, a microchip is embedded in their wrist with their biological information. Paper based identification, along with signatures were largely abandoned due to problems they presented in the past. With the digitization of such information, information for personal identification could be accessed from a database, which in turn could be accessed from any terminal device using their microchip. It is in this way that an individuals were identified, their souls ruled by numbers.), any digitized information could be readily accessed and downloaded into your personal terminal. Like in fairy tales, there was no borrowing limit, and the information did not have to be returned.

Because of this, the communal space was mostly empty. The only people there were people who wanted a desk to work on, and those who wanted a quiet place to sleep in between classes. There was no one else.

If you exclude the first floor communal area and the restricted section in the basement, this building was nothing but a box for servers which held all of the digitized data. That’s why the building was in the shape of a cylinder. It was the most effective way, at least so Merry had heard at some point or another, despite not really understanding why it was supposed to be an effective shape.

At the reception desk a single librarian idled about, clearly bored.

[11]

“Excuse me. I would like permission to enter the restricted section.”

Without answering, it wasn’t clear whether the librarian had actually listened to what Merry said, but he put a square box about twenty centimeters on each side in front of her. Merry put her wrist over the box, and a soft electric hum could be heard. The gate to the side quietly opened.

With a slight nod, Merry walked through the gate on her way to the restricted section.

The near and far side of the gate. A single thin barrier. It did not even reach to the ceiling and yet Merry felt as if the air about her had changed. Of course, it wasn’t as if there really was a difference in the condition of the air from one side to the other. It was nothing more than a sensory illusion, but Merry liked this sort of feeling. The feeling of a boundary.

It was nothing but a small gate, which separated the present and relics of the past already thrown away. Merry thought about the words of her friend.

This was information whose value was not seen as worth saving for future generations. Still, these were the words of people who were already dead, that they had left behind.

“Surely, what I’m walking into is a coffin,” Merry thought vaguely to herself.

Words wanted by no one.

[12]

The people that wrote them might have spent their whole lives doing so. Invisible words not heard by anyone. Everything which was denied passage to the next generation. Among them might be poetry, senseless theories, works on subjects of study already lost. Even so, Merry could not help but feel uncomfortable cutting all of that away as unnecessary.

Uncomfortable. She couldn’t really put what she felt into words. Discomfort? No, that wasn’t it either.

It was probably the same feeling that someone gets when they look at abandoned ruins, buildings that have lost their use, buildings that were built for someone, buildings not loved by anyone, everything. Perhaps it was due to monetary reasons, structural reasons, but it wasn’t the reason behind it that mattered, only the reality that they were no longer loved by anyone. That was…

Sad.

Surely Merry was being consumed by her heart, by the sadness she felt.

[13]

The stairwell was just large enough for a single person to walk down. With each step Merry watched out of the corner of her eye herself descend into the boundary between floors. From below she could smell the rust-like smell of paper. The sort of materials necessary for a student’s thesis were all digitized and could be downloaded from a terminal. Archeology and paleontology, hunting down the kind of folklore left only in the minds of the elderly, fossils on the brink of collapse were all unnecessary. All of that information was digitized, it was placed inside the living box.

“So why am I descending into the restricted section?” Merry wondered. “It must be because I feel sad.”

The conclusion she had just made felt as if it were caught in her throat. Her brain whispered that trying to reason about it anymore was unnecessary.

“A communal graveyard filled with the words of several people now dead,” she thought, as her leather boot clicked on the iron steps as she walked, filling the silence.

No one had any interest in what lie under the library. Never did Merry feel the presence of another down here, and that hadn’t changed today. Still, something felt different, but she could not put her finger on it.

Despite the fact that nothing should have changed, Merry felt some disparity between her memories and the present, sticking to the steps. She put her hands on the railing, and the cheap ring on her left hand glinted faintly, but beyond that ring…

[14]

Merry then realized the center pillar that was always there before was gone.

Due to the structure of a spiral staircase, if there is no center pillar, the staircase will be unable to support itself and collapse. In her memories, the pillar was there, but not now, not on this staircase. A phrase slowly came to mind.

“John’s Staircase”

It was a spiral staircase built in a church somewhere. After the church had been built, someone realized that there was no set of stairs connecting the first and second floors. They were no remaining funds to build a proper extension to the building, but while everyone wondered what to do, a man arrived at the church. With only a ruler, a saw, and a small toolbox, it is said that he built a staircase in a single night, the staircase now known as John’s Staircase. The staircase had no supporting pillar, and it was said that a hymnal choir could stand on its steps and it would not collapse.

Merry gripped the railing a little more tightly than she normally would. When was it that they changed the stairs? No, no that wasn’t it. That’s not it.

Merry felt her vision lurch along with her brain. The left side of her face was convulsing. The area of her cheek under her eye twitched like an electrocuted frog’s leg, and she felt something in her throat. Her pulse had quickened.

The stairs.

[15]

Like cracks in window glass the space below her had cracked. She could see the boundary lines. Beneath her, the words she liked, the words that had been laughed off and scorned as worthless, it was if they were screaming.

Merry took one step down. Subconsciously she felt herself trying to descend. Somewhere inside her her sense of reason was wailing. But still her body would not listen. It must be that somewhere inside her was the desire to witness it. She wanted to know the screams that echoed forth from the books proclaimed worthless.

It was like exposing the boundaries… but no. No, it wasn’t right to compare the two, and so she…

To the left of the stairs, along the railing which was not attached to any pillar, there was a single thin pipe which stuck out, and fused to it was a plate.

“1 1/17th Floor”

The stairs continued down into the basement, but Merry could not venture any further.

Over wooden tiles lay a red velvet carpeting, placed in an irregular fashion, and it was upon this floor that Merry stepped. Nothing had changed. The violent array of cracks in space did not fill this floor, but still somehow she knew. This floor itself was a crack in space. The boundary lay right in front of her eyes.

[16]

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  1. Reblogged this on Amen and commented:
    Long time followers might remember when I translated セルフ・トーキング 或いは 魔女というガラクタによる魂の在り処への言及のバラード – a Diao Ye Zong song created to accompany a certain doujinshi. Kafka Fuura, a professional translator, has now begun to translate this well written 291 page doujinshi, and will continue depending on interest shown. The first 15 pages have been translated and are available for public reading, so be sure to check it out for yourself and send him donations if you want to see more.

  2. That was an intriguing read. I hope you can translate the rest of it, eventually.

    “Somewhere inside her her since of reason was wailing” – you wrote “since” instead of “sense”.

    • I may do a few more blocks. She is about to meet the first witch. I don’t know how far I will get, especially if I don’t get any donations from this.

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