Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (73/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

It’s been a long while since I was able to get the last installment out. Thank you for your patience.

This time we have a conversation between Merry and Renko at their usual café, with a little bit of backstory. I added some markers for when who’s talking isn’t very clear, but not many. If you want me to clarify who says any particular line, let me know.

This is the second to last installment of the first chapter. Please enjoy.

If you catch some grammatical mistakes, please tell me. I will fix them.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]
[73/291]
[93/291]

This an experiment.

If you would like to see more, please donate. [PayPal]

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

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[35/291]
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[56]

“Are you talking about the incident that happened yesterday?”

Merry had an hour before she had to go to her afternoon classes, and was passing the time over a cup of tea, with her friend Renko, at the open café terrace on campus. The way the crowds of passing students in the background acted, you would never have guessed an explosion had happened nearby, just yesterday. It would not be a stretch to say that they seemed… emotionless.

[57]

“Yes. Last night I saw one of those videos the bomber uploads before they act,” Merry responded.

“Well isn’t that a rare find…”

“I’m not sure I consider myself lucky though…”

“Still, your boyfriend must really have a wide network. Those videos are premier items right now, you know?”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. An explosion always happens within an hour of a video being uploaded, and after the incident, the video won’t last another hour before its taken down by the authorities. If you don’t find it immediately, it’s gone before you know it. No one has been able to predict the timing of the uploads either.”

“If that’s the case, is there really any point in uploading the videos in the first place? Hardly anyone will see them.”

“It might be that they want the videos to be seen by some specific person, and don’t care about anyone else.”

“A specific person?”

“Yeah. Not that I have any idea who that might be…”

“Well it would be a problem if you did know.”

“Why is that?”

“It would mean you’re the bomber, right?”

“Or possibly the person they’re trying to send a message to.”

[58]

“Oh? You know the kind of frightening people that would start a chain of bombing incidents?”

“Didn’t you know, my dear Merry? I’ve been living my life on the edge for quite some time now.”

“Well that’s news to me. So what’s this information net of yours for anyway?”

“It’s mainly so I can get the answer sheets to the final exams.”

“That’s even more surprising. I thought you, my friend, were one to be against cheating.”

“You’re not wrong. I’m against it. If you don’t learn the material, there’s really no point in taking classes at all.”

“Then why would you want answer sheets to the final exams?”

“So I can sell them to other students.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Well anyway, jokes aside…”

“That was a joke?”

“Oh come on, Merry. Rather than doing all that dangerous work for a little extra change, it’s in your best interest to go the legal route and receive just remuneration for your hard labor. That way no one can blame you if you make a lot of money.”

“That makes sense. So I take it you’re having fun being a tutor?”

“The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.”

[59]

“I see. But aren’t you tutoring a high school student?”

“In order to explain to a high school student the concept of something being negative, you must first understand what causes something to be negative in the first place.”

“That’s the way it works?”

“Exactly the way it works. I’d go so far to say that it’s beneficial to what I’m studying now.”

“Well aren’t you studious. I’m surprised.”

“Yes, I am. So much that you really should complement me more.”

“I’ll make a note to do so next time we go out drinking.”

“Looking forward to it, but you know what really would be wonderful? If you’d pay the tab too while you’re at it.”

“What happened to that just remuneration you were talking about, Ms. Tutor?”

“Hey Merry, did you know? Money goes away when you use it.”

“U-huh. My money goes away when I use it too.”

“But my money doesn’t go away when you use yours.”

“But mine does.”

“What an irrational world we live in.”

“It’s fairly logical if you ask me.”

[60]

“Being logical doesn’t necessarily mean something is not irrational.”

“Then which is less rational? The world, or someone on Plato’s level spouting sophistry?”

“The world.”

“No turning back, huh.”

“In this world, it’s important to know when to give up.”

“Don’t you mean when to dig your heels in?”

“…It’s a figure of speech.”

“Well that’s our Renko for you. It’s like your mouth was born first, and everything else came afterwards.”

“I’m pretty sure I came out head first.”

“Well, yeah. Unless your mother had a C-section.”

“There weren’t any complications as far as I know. I came out at three kilograms.”

“Well congratulations on a healthy birth.”

Renko brought her paper coffee cup to her lips.

“I wonder how long it will be until they’re caught,” said Merry.

“Who? You?”

“What reason do I have to be arrested? I’m talking about the one behind all the explosions. ICQ, I think?”

[61]

“Oh, okay. Right. I think they will soon. Otherwise…”

“Otherwise?”

Renko pointed her finger toward an area of the university grounds.

When Merry turned to look, she saw a group of students. They were all shouting something.

“What’s that?” Merry asked.

“The so called ‘Fantasy Release Movement’.”

“The what?”

“It’s that group that claims all these explosions are an ‘attempt to free us from this world where now science is king’. They’ve been around since before the explosions started happening though.”

When all Renko got in response was a blank look, she raised one of her eyebrows in surprise.

“You haven’t heard of them, Merry? Most of the group’s members are from your field of study.”

“Really?”

“Well, I suppose I should be relieved you have no idea, to be honest.”

According to Renko, the group behind the “Fantasy Release Movement” formed after the “Fantasy Meltdown”, which resulted in the destruction of Old Tokyo twelve years ago.

[62]

It began with the national government’s plans to mount a response to growing concerns of “Border Induced Ego-Loss Syndrome”, which was a term used to describe a condition where it was thought that borders were interfering with an individual’s awareness and ability to distinguish themselves from others. It was thought that when a person came into contact with the other side of a boundary, “something” would flow into them, in a process not unlike osmosis. How to approach and define this “something” has been a topic of debate in the academic world, but no studies have yet proved to be conclusive. However, there was a consensus that whatever this “something” was, as it diffused into an individual it corrupted several cognitive functions which led to permanent ego-loss.

As part of the government’s response to this problem, a large scale “boundary hunting operation” was undertaken. (However, all of the records from that time were lost during what would later be known as the “Fantasy Meltdown”, so all obtainable information is on the same level as urban legends.) Much is left unclear, but what we do know is that as a result of this boundary hunting operation, roughly eighty percent of East Tokyo’s ten million residents had their awareness drift across the boundary. In the face of this “Fantasy Meltdown” all branches of the government ceased to function, and there was no choice but to relocate the capital to West Kyoto.

Shortly after, interacting with boundaries was banned by the government, and several laws were put into place with the expressed purpose of preventing a second meltdown. Even research on the boundaries was prohibited. However, a paper published by an academic before the meltdown was later discovered in a database, titled “The Fundamental Theory of Humanity and its Origins in the Boundaries”.

[63]

The paper argued that the boundaries are our original form, that the ego-loss several people are experiencing was not a symptom but a natural phenomenon that occurs when someone attempts to return to their original form. According to the paper, the current age of science, which exists on a foundation of rejecting fantasy, was unnatural, and the world itself was reacting in a way to restore balance:

“‘The fantasy on the other side of the boundary (defined in the paper as ambiguity)’ is the true world in its balanced state, whereas this world, ruled by purified and distilled theories is the real fake. Therefore, by accepting ambiguity, we can free ourselves from border induced ego-loss syndrome.

“We, as we are now, are unnatural. This world is nothing but an experimental and limited state floating in a flask, and the boundaries are the glass, despicable glass walls that lock us in. We must not close the boundaries. It appears that the government is currently working to close off the boundaries to improve the current situation, but it will only make things worse. By accepting the other side, we should work to make ambiguity a reality. Is it not for that reason which we developed the Torifune Satellite?”

[64]

Of course, everyone at the time of the paper’s discovery thought this was ridiculous. The way the “other side” was described made it sound like something out of an urban legend. The prevailing notion at the time was that the ego-loss syndrome was due to a mold-based biohazard. The government supported the mold theory and explained the current overgrown state of old Tokyo as spurred on by what it described as an independently evolved species of mold.

However, a certain religious organization supported the theory that was described in the paper. (The organization asserts that it is nothing more than a research organization and that its opinions are grounded in science.) It was this organization that held events for the so-called “Fantasy Release Movement” regularly in West Kyoto. Their purpose was to accept the boundaries, to accept ambiguity, release themselves from a reality filled with imbalances and thus become more truly human. The majority of those who aligned with the group were university students. As a result events resembling political demonstrations had begun to be held on campus.

“Ambiguity, huh.”

“What is your take on it, Merry? Does it seem infantile to you?”

“I don’t think it’s infantile, but… do they really what’s beyond the boundary is worth all this fuss?”

[65]

“But even you feel a sense of excitement when you see across the boundary, right?”

“So do you.”

“In my case, I just think it’s fun to see something I’ve never been able to see before. My interest in the other side is purely academic. But if you were to ask me how I felt all this related to my humanity or whatever… I mean, right?”

“True.”

“When you know something’s hidden from you, it’s natural to want to find out what it is. Plus, government denying everything makes you want to even more.”

“Thus our own delinquent club?”

“Exactly. Our serious investigative activities based primarily on fieldwork. That’s how I think of them anyway.”

“I’m… mostly with you on that.”

That’s great to hear. Otherwise there would be no meaning or worth to our Sealing Club.”

Suddenly, Merry remembered what her boyfriend had told her earlier:

“I think everyone wants to run away from some thing or another. I think that’s what they’re trying to say.”

“Hey, Renko?”

“Hmm?”

[66]

“Do you ever feel like you want to run away from something?”

Renko looked as if she was caught off guard by the question, and stared for a moment before bringing her hand to her face and thinking.

“Renko?”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Renko said quietly.

“I… I see.”

“Probably what I want to run away from the most right now is the reality that I have to pay rent next week.”

“…Are you really that low on money? Even after all your ‘just remuneration’?”

“I may have bought a few too many books…”

“Physical books really matter that much to you?”

“There are important books out there that haven’t been digitized and added to the databases you know? Especially when it comes to the topic of the next lecture I have to go to, ‘The History of Mathematics’.”

“Interesting.”

“Mathematics is constantly being updated, you see, and while all you really need to know is the latest information, when it comes to the study of its history, you have to have to decipher all their past methods, no matter how stupid they may have been.”

[67]

“That’s history for you.”

“Uhuh. I mean, it is fun, but it’s just so expensive to study.”

“But isn’t that what the university’s resources are for?”

“Yeah… I’m probably going to have to lock myself in the restricted section of the library again soon.”

“The restricted… section,” Merry muttered.

“Hey, Renko?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you ever see the human library when you went to the restricted section?”

“You mean the thing you were talking about in your dream?”

Merry nodded.

“Unfortunately I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. I mean, the only thing waiting for me down the steps is the next floor.”

“You’re right… it wouldn’t make sense otherwise… Just what did I see anyway?”

“I’m sure if anyone in that group over there found out, they’d be all over it.”

“I bet. Oh, by the way, I was meaning to ask you…”

[68]

“Ask me…?”

“We shared that experience the other day, and…”

“Huh?”

“You know, when we shared my vision of when I saw the human library.”

“Oh… yeah, okay.”

“…What exactly did you see?”

“…Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“That’s right. Yeah. I didn’t see anything. It just felt as if my vision was spinning around and around… enough to make me feel sick.”

“I see… so that’s what it was. I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. These things happen.”

Renko smiled, but listlessly. When Merry looked at her, she felt a sense of unease, but… she couldn’t bring herself to ask anything more.

[69]

“But really, you would think there would be a more ecological way to conduct their activities, even if they are largely a student group,” Renko muttered as she fiddled with a tumbler she had taken out of her bag.

It was not long before afternoon classes began, and so Renko and Merry left their table at the café and started walking toward their classes. Several other students passed by in the opposite direction, either on their way to their next lecture or from one that just ended.

“What did you have in mind when you said, ‘more ecological’?”

“For example, they could conduct all of their enlightenment activities online.”

“And not go outside?”

“If we’re just talking about the ability to reach out, far more people will know about their activities if it spreads online.”

“But if it’s all just online, wouldn’t they have a harder time controlling their message? People tend to exaggerate and twist information that’s only online.”

“That is a good point. Then maybe they could use the electric message boards,” Renko said, pointing to a large liquid crystal display that had lecture schedules and other information posted. Because the sun was still high in the sky, however, they weren’t very bright at the time.

[70]

“But, how?”

“Well I suppose they’d have to hack into them.”

“Either way, it doesn’t seem like it’d be very effective.”

“Well I guess the kind of activities they do aren’t very ecological in the first place.”

“Besides, the more you have someone try to press some kind of message on you, the less likely you are to believe them. It starts to sound fishy.”

“Whether you agree or disagree, it’s human nature to want to oppose someone who’s yelling at you all the time. That’s why it’s so strange.”

“Hmm?”

“It’s strange because it does work in a way. At least for people who in a state of self-denial. They tend to listen.”

“You think so?”

“It’s that they want someone to accept them… no, that’s not quite right. It’s because they want their self-denial to be accepted that they listen to these words that get shouted at them. They really just can’t help it.”

“Can’t… help it?”

“There are just people in this world that fall into a darkness they can’t pull themselves out of. Songs have been written about it.”

[71]

“…into darkness…” Merry stopped in her tracks.

“Is something wrong?”

“They fall into darkness, begin to hate themselves, and then want to run away from something,” Merry said, looking straight into Renko’s eyes. “I just can’t understand why anyone would feel that way.”

“It’s better not to understand, Merry,” Renko said, pausing to take a sip from her tumbler and looking away. “Actually, it’s normal not to understand.”

“You really think so?”

“Of course. There are terrible things in this world that you can’t really do anything about. You may want to try to do something about it, but nothing changes in the end. That’s why I think some people want to just run away. But you know? Running away won’t solve anything. It won’t change anything. Whenever you run, those things you can do nothing about will still be there. The same way the money in my bank account won’t grow if I stand around doing nothing. It won’t grow, but it can decrease.”

“Decrease?”

“There are some things out there that get worse, the more you run from them. They say that time will solve everything, but that does not mean that time’s solution will be a happy ending. Things cannot stay the same forever, but the only stories that end with everyone smiling are from songs, books and movies.”

“Renko?”

Renko turned back around to face Merry, with a weak smile on her face.

“I can see why people in a dark place would want to listen to anything that sounded good, why they’d want to believe it.”

“Renko, tell me. Do you have something that you want to run away from?”

“Yeah. I’m one of those types that falls into darkness, you know?”

“I see.”

“But you know. I’d never choose to run away.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t I just tell you? You know, about time’s solutions and them not always being happy endings.”

“So what will you do then?”

“Nothing.” Renko took another sip from her tumbler.

[73]

“I’d do nothing,” Renko continued. “I wouldn’t run, nor would I turn to face the problem either. I’d just wait for time to pass, because even if I’m not delivered a happy ending, I’ll still have a solution.”

***

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