Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (93/291)

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CONTENT WARNING: RAPE
While not overwhelmingly explicit, if you would like to avoid this content for whatever reason, skip pages 88-90. This includes the aftermath reaction.

This section concludes chapter 1. Chapter 2 is my favorite in the book, but whether or not I start right away on it depends on a couple of variables. If you like the story/translation so far and want to see more, donating is a great way to pressure me into working on it!

This an experiment.

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

Translation Notes:
[75] ” When you come across…” < Excerpt is taken from Maldoror and Poems (Translated by Paul Knight) as I was able to identify it as the source of the quote in Japanese. Slight modifications were made to match the scope of the Japanese version of the quote.
[76] It is disturbing that a single grave be measured in hectares, given that a single hectare is 10000 square meters.
[76] St. Anthony's Fire is the name of a condition called Ergoism, caused by alkaloid poisoning. It has been linked to symptoms of bewitchment, but may be used here as the fire by which convicted witches burned. There was also an outbreak in France in 1951.
[78] It would help to have at least a basic understanding of the Izanagi/Izanami myth, and the story of Merry and Renko's visit to the Torifune Satellite.
[79] The Orpheus being referred to appears to be the one from the 1950 French film.
[81] The description of the purple spots matches the symptoms of St. Anthony's Fire.

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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[73]

***

Merry stood in front of the stairs to the restricted section of the library.

Why did I come here?

Merry asked herself again.

What is it I want to do?

She listened alone to the clicking sound of her own footsteps as she made her way down the stairs, staring at the wall of the staircase. This time, the pillar was there. It wasn’t a John’s staircase. It wasn’t the same as it was before.

With a final click she stopped walking.

[74]

Was it really only a dream?

This isn’t the first time, I’m always just… no. That’s not it. The boundaries are fickle things. Just because I saw it yesterday, doesn’t mean that it will be in the same place today. It’s as if they flow along a stream.

Merry took another step and then continued down the stairs. What awaited her was… the second floor. Nothing else.

Merry walked over to one of floor’s reading desks and sat down. The database on the first floor was enough for everyone’s needs – that was common sense. However, reference materials for mathematical history were not there, but here. That’s what Renko had said. It wasn’t as if Merry had any interest in the topic before, but humans are simple creatures. “I saw it referenced in a book I once read.” “A friend had mentioned it to me during one of our conversations.” These are reasons enough to reach for a book.

Merry started walking down the aisles and stopped when she came across one label tacked on the shelves: “Mathematical History”.

“Do you know why mathematics was born?”

A quiet and raspy voice reached Merry’s ears from behind. When she turned around, there was but a single bookshelf behind her. However…

[75]

…in between the books on the shelves were the twisted parts of a human being: violet bellflower hair, porcelain skin, and thin lips twisted in the shape of a crescent moon.

“Fare thee well, Miss Ghost?”

Merry felt a sudden sense of vertigo, as if something was turning deep inside her brain. A sickly sweet taste of vomit rose in her throat.

“When you come across a dead dog lying on its back against a sluice gate which will not let it through, do not, as others do, go up and pick out the worms crawling from its swollen belly, examine them in wonder, and take out a knife and cut up a large number of them.”

So the witch laughed as she spoke, holding a cup of tea in her hand, the arm of which extended from the second to lowest shelf.

“In a forest were a people who lived killing goats. You might describe their congregation as the world’s most ancient city. One night, as they sat around the fire, there was a discussion amongst themselves. Who was it that had hunted the most goats? In seeking the answer, they took a bone from each of their goat’s corpses. One from the first, the second, the third, the fourth, and they stacked these bones on top of one another. Then they gave names to these bones for the first time: hii (one), fuu (two), mii (three), you (four)…”

[76]

“Those are some very Japanese sounding names,” said Merry.

“Well this is Japan. I just changed them to match. Would you rather I say their names in Romanian?”

“No, I’m fine with the Japanese version…”

“Well that’s good to hear.”

“Are goats really the first things that were counted?”

“Oh, that was only a fairytale, nothing more. However, the emergence of numbers was always in response to the practical need to count quantifiable things. It is necessary to know how many inches you need for the height of the coffin, how many hectares you need for the extent of the grave, how many individuals died by the fires of St. Anthony. Mathematics was simply a tool to answer those questions. Was. When did it become more than just a tool? Perhaps it coincided with the advent of the zero. Perhaps not. It may be due to something simpler than that.”

“Something simpler?”

“Maybe it was simply because counting only goats was no longer enough for them. In the midst of counting all those goats, again and again, everyone forgot. They forgot why they had to name the first bone ‘one’. Everyone called that first bone ‘one’, but why was that? Everyone who had gathered and named those bones in the beginning were long dead, and the later peoples began to waver, to wonder why, but no one could remember. This is how mathematical history holds up as a field of study. It exists so that we do not again forget what have once forgotten.”

[77]

The witch’s voice echoed weakly across the rows of shelves.

“Tell me, Miss Ghost. What is it that you have forgotten?” The witch asked.

Merry couldn’t understand what she meant.

“But I haven’t forgotten anything…”

“Are you sure? Then why is it that you look so troubled?”

“Troubled?”

“Perhaps it would be more correct to say ‘look as if you have trouble understanding’.”

“I… I don’t… feel that way.”

“I see. But are you sure?”

“Enough about me. I wanted to ask about you.”

“I am a witch. The 1 1/17th floor, a witch named Patchouli Knowledge. That is all.”

“Are you from the other side?”

“The other side. When you say ‘the other side’, do you mean the place that you are standing right now?”

“What…?”

“I am a witch. Only a witch. The other side… This side… These sides you speak of, in regards to which you wonder whether something belongs to one or the other, they are nothing but ink stains. The only ones that ascribe any meaning to them are ‘you’.”

[78]

One of the witch’s fingers pointed at Merry.

“If ‘we’ are but single entities, single fates, then building any kind of moral experience becomes impossible. Humans should be able to abandon themselves to the void. The so called freedom that comes of choosing whether to accept one’s fate or to not accept one’s fate does not carry any meaning. It is a matter of defining what ‘we’ are, and what we should be, but at the same time though that may be our true nature, in the strict sense it is not an activity that carries meaning. Rather it is simply a possibility, a simple truth related to the existence of a potential.”

The witch put on airs as she made this assertion, as if she were singing from a stage.

Merry then heard the sound of rustling paper. The innards of the coffin-like bookshelf which housed the witch’s body was writhing. The books jumbled together as they moved and the witch’s body twisted into the shape of a spiral.

“Yes, that’s right. You saw Izanagi, that thing buried within the prison of Torifune. You know what kind of god Izanagi was, don’t you?”

“What kind…?”

“I’m talking about the story written in the Kojiki. The resting place of the god who treated as filth what he had once took upon his shoulders out of love, that is the kind of place Torifune is. When mold kills a thousand, will give rise to a thousand five hundred, breaking through the accursed bonds of the world of the dead, it will give birth to a country. That precisely was Yakumo’s wish. Isn’t that right, Miss Ghost?”

“What do you mean by ‘ghost’? Why do you keep calling me a ghost?”

It had been bothering Merry all this time, and she couldn’t ignore it any longer.

“Grapes and bamboo shoots and peaches, that is how Yakumo’s love has been paid, and that love is you, Miss Ghost. You are bound by a curse from the past. A curse, yes a curse. You are the same as the wishes of the women who burned to death from St. Anthony’s fire. You are the same as what Orpheus saw in the country beyond the mirror. Have you heard of the Devil’s Mirror?”

“The Devil’s Mirror?”

“Yes. It was the final and only curse laid upon Torifune. How pitiable are those that take a fragment of that devil’s mirror into their hearts. Before long they become like clump of ice. Look, and everything appears twisted. Look at a red rose and you will see it infested with insects. Look at a white rose and you sill see it geometrically twisted. Every rose becomes tainted. The same applies to the box. Yes, for that is Torifune’s curse.”

Merry heard the sound of interlocking gears moving. Click tick creak click.

[80]

Creak click tick creak click tick click.
Tick click creak click tick click creak click.
Creak click creak creak click tick click creak click.

The floor beneath Merry’s feet began to slip. Without a sound, without a soul, the library began to crumble, fall.

Merry’s body was falling, falling upside down. Her vision was warping cylindrically, consisting only of varying shades of black.

Then she saw a crack, a world made of only red and black. It was the bottom of a well, the sky seen looking up from the bottom of a well, the night colored sky seen looking up from the bottom of a well.

The red crack formed itself into the simple shape of an eye, and then… a single crow was flying.

[81]

But that crow… Its body was made of arms. Children’s arms, old women’s arms, men’s arms, all sorts of arms, crammed together without any gaps between them. The entire surface was made of arms. But all of those arms… Those arms and arms and arms… The skin of all those arms was covered in blackened and purple spots. But its eyes. The eyes were a single color, a bright red…

It was staring directly at Merry. Staring at Merry as she fell.

It flapped its wings once, and flew right past her, the wind wailing behind it.

“Nevermore.”

It felt as if that’s what it was screaming at her.

“After the crow flew behind her, it turned its belly to the sky and fell along with her, its wings spread out before Merry’s eyes as she looked back. It seemed as if they were drawing a sphere, as if those countless arms were reaching out to embrace her.”

“On demande des moustiques domestiques (demi-stock) pour la cure d’azote sure la cote d’azur. (Seeking domestic mosquitoes (half-stock) for the nitrogen cure on the Azure Coast.)”

A spiral spins ’round and ’round. The spiral shaped sky turns with the clicks of the gears.

“Come now, Miss Ghost. Unbind it.

[82]

“Unbind it…?”

“Yes. Unbind Izanagi’s curse.”

***

Merry looked out from her veranda.

“I’ve got to try to sleep tonight,” she whispered to herself.

What is causing me to be like this? Merry thought, absentmindedly.

With her back to the veranda’s railing, she hugged her knees. Her portable terminal displayed the time as 2:34 am, the stars slowly rotating in the night sky.

Merry just could not bring herself to call her friend. The words that the witch had told her, the images the witch had shown her, they were still racing about in her mind. The curse… So what? What did any curse have to do with her? Her head felt heavy, tinged with headache.

[83]

“Mary?”

The glass door to the veranda slid open.

“You’re having trouble sleeping again?”

Merry nodded in response, at least that’s what her intention was. It may have looked to her boyfriend that she only tilted her head.

Merry’s boyfriend walked out barefoot onto the veranda and sat down next to her. He had two mugs in his hands. He handed one to Merry who wrapped both hands around it and felt the warmth seep into her fingertips. It was not very hot, so he must have let the drinks cool a bit before he walked out with them. Merry looked into the milky brown surface of the liquid, and took a sip. As she brought the drink to her lips a bittersweet flavor flowed over her tongue.

“You know, every now and then I wonder…” Her boyfriend broke the silence.

“Mmhm?”

“I wonder if this world is nothing more than a butterfly specimen.”

Merry turned to look at her boyfriend, but his profile was blacked out by the night.

“Well, it’s just, uh… I met someone who was saying stuff like that. ‘The way I am right now, it’s like I’m a butterfly specimen, shut away in a case with pin right through me.’ That sort of thing. I sort of felt, you know, that I understood where he was coming from.”

[84]

“I don’t get it. What do you mean?”

“I mean it’s like we’ve lost our sense of ambiguity. It’s dead to us, don’t you think? Aren’t humans supposed to more fluid and indeterminate? The way things are right now, everything is so fixed and certain. But what do you expect, the way we’ve been denying ambiguity for so long.”

“Wait, are you talking about that… ‘Fantasy Release Movement’?”

“Oh, you’ve heard of it?”

“Just today… Well, technically yesterday. My friend told me about it.”

“Ah.”

“…Do you want to run away?”

“Huh?”

“Do you… want to run away from something?”

“Do I want to run away? Hmm…”

As her boyfriend paused, Merry felt her breath drift off and away transparently, into the night sky.

“Well I suppose I do.”

“From what?”

“Everything I guess.”

[85]

“I… see.”

Merry didn’t feel like pursuing the question.

Tell me.

Those words flashed through her mind, but even though she knew that is what she should say to him, despite knowing that that’s what she should say, it just… it just felt like it would be too much of a pain. But is that really what she felt? Deep down inside she knew. She just wasn’t interested. She… just wasn’t interested in him anymore.

As Merry stared at her boyfriend’s darkened profile, she wondered. Just what kind of face did this person have? It felt as if the image she had of him was fading out. As his face mixed with the black of night she couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t see.

“What do you think, Mary?”

“About what?”

“Don’t you think that we should accept ambiguity?”

“I don’t know…”

Merry had had enough.

[86]

She was sick of this.

Merry felt her eyes trembling.

This is enough, she thought. I’ve seen too much of this already. I just can’t…

A feather drifted down between Merry and her boyfriend. It was a dark, black crow’s feather. When she picked the feather up off of the concrete, the shaft and vane of it twisted and warped. It was a crow’s feather, but made of twisted arms with mottled flesh.

Merry looked up and saw a half moon in the sky, and under the bluish white light of the moon, a single crow was flying.

Crows always aimed for weaker prey, for ones they could torment without any threat to themselves, and when they found that prey, with a wicked laugh would they peck with their beaks.

“Mary?”

Merry reached her fingers towards the moon.

[87]

“The crow.”

“Crow?”

“It’s laughing.”

Red fissures, they had spread all throughout the night sky. Before long, everything might come crashing down.

Then, a single fragment of the night came fluttering down, in the same shape as that crow’s feather, and Merry saw it fall right into the eyes of her boyfriend, who had looked up at the sky the same as her. She watched silently as it sunk into him.

The devil’s mirror. It was in a fairy tale she had read long, long ago. A witch once made a mirror, such that if you looked into it, everything you saw was twisted. A tall and slender man who stood in front of the mirror would see a hunchback looking back at him. A beautiful rose garden would look like a pest infested, rotten dump.

Everything lost its congruity, because disgustingly twisted, and hid its true form.

[88]

However, the witch would say this: No, what this mirror shows is your true form.

The disciples of the witch wanted to take this mirror and place it in front of God. But before they could take it into the heavens, the mirror shattered into a million pieces, showering its fragments across the land. When those fragments fell into someone’s eyes…

“Mary. We really were wrong, wrong about everything, from the very beginning.”

When Merry’s boyfriend turned to face her, it was so filled with mottled spots that it looked like a beehive. His eyes, his nose, his mouth, his ears, they were all gone. All that was left was the spindle-shaped outline of an expressionless face, with its insides filled all over with spots. Spots? They were holes. His face was filled with holes, and in those holes, Merry could see nothing. The holes were shallow, but everything had been gouged out.

“So we have to accept it. We have to accept ambiguity, accept the other side.”

That was the last thing Merry’s boyfriend said, before he raped her.

He pushed her forcibly to the ground and brought his face, now only a mottled flap of skin before hers. The rough outlines of the gouged spots came closer and closer, and unable to bear looking at it, Merry turned her eyes away.

Dry and without any lubrication, all Merry felt was pain and discomfort as he forced himself into her. As he thrust into her again and again, she felt nothing more. This was someone else’s pain. Her emotions were separated from her body. The only thing she felt was real was the sense she felt right before all this.

[89]

That’s what it was.

I really don’t love him anymore.

And he… He is no longer able to love me.

Merry could hear the sound, deep within her ears, of the boundaries creaking, with a ticking sound like a clock. The other side, it was all over his body, the body on top of hers. The skin she could see through his clothes, along his neck, his collarbone, his arms, his thighs, his penis… They were all like his face, with black spots all over them, carved out of them, like pots made of sheet copper. Something else, only shaped like a person, was raping her.

This wasn’t her. This was someone else. This didn’t concern her.

The entire time, until everything was over, she bit down hard on her bottom lip.

The taste of the blood she felt flow over her tongue. That was the only thing that felt real.

***

By the time the sun had risen, he was gone.

Merry lay half-naked on the veranda. Still in a daze, she lifted her upper body and felt something drip down her crotch. Thinking it was semen, she looked between her legs, but what she saw was not the familiar fluid, but crushed butterfly larvae. It was just the crushed remains of a white caterpillar.

[90]

Merry felt an icy, tingling sensation run down her back. She pushed her body away from the remains, and backed into her apartment on all fours. When she tried to stand up, she felt a dull pain as if she was menstruating, and she could not stop her legs from shaking. She dragged herself across the apartment and into the bathroom, reaching up to a touch panel to start the shower. (The faucet was a thing of the past. In this current age of science, all sorts of analog controls were replaced with digital panels.) Warm water fell against her body. She was still wearing clothes, and her wet shirt clung to her skin. It felt unimaginably disgusting. She tore crazily at her clothes and threw them out of the bathtub. Her shoulders were now naked. She continued to sit in the tub as the shower ran over her. She wanted to wash it all away. She wanted to wash everything away. It was in that moment, Merry felt, if only just a little, that she understood the feeling of wanting to run away. But now that meant nothing. Whatever it was that was put inside of her, slowly glopped out of her genitals and ran down with the shower water and into the sewage line.

After everything had come out, Merry slowly got onto her feet and left the tub. She grabbed a towel and wiped herself down before going back out into the main room.

[91]

Nothing looked different. The room looked the same as it always did. But despite that… Merry felt as if she was looking at this room for the first time. All of the papers pinned on the walls, filled with words written in neurotic handwriting.

“We must accept ambiguity.” “We must become one with the other side.” “Embrace the fantasy” “Unification of Ego” “It wasn’t a deficiency.” “Freedom from the City” “Denial of the Cargo Cult” “I” “Freedom from the People” “Cannot” “Izanagi Object” “Keep Loving Her” “Release the Fantasy” “Freedom from the Present” “Farewell” “Until the day we meet the sky…”

Ah…

I really couldn’t see anything, could I?
I never loved him did I? Not from the very beginning.
He was the one who could not love me in the end.
We were so clearly broken, all this time, yet…
I didn’t see anything.
I was too busy looking at the other side.
I had stopped looking at him.

[92]

Merry reached for the portable terminal she had left on the glass table, and opened her address book.

“Hello?”

After three rings, she answered.

“Hey, Renko…”

Tell me.

“That Fantasy Release Movement… Do you know where its current headquarters are?”

“Why?”

“Please, tell me. I cannot be 100% sure, but…”

I can see them.
I can see them broken, just like the boyfriend I could not see.
I can see the boundaries, right outside the window.
I can see, on the railing of the veranda, right there.
I can see the crow.
I can see the giant crow, laughing at me.

“…the boundaries are broken.”

(END OF CHAPTER 1)

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