Posts Tagged ‘ Usami Renko ’

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (124/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]
[73/291]
[93/291]
[124/291]

This an experiment.

I have nothing to say this time other than: Chapter 2 is my favorite.

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

Translation Notes:

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

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

[95]

Chapter 2: March of the Saints

[97]

ーBeast! Do you not realize I am in love!?

Usami Renko only realized her image was being projected on the display in front of the train station a few minutes prior, feeling a breeze indicative of the end of spring travel down her neck.

It was a ten minute trip from West Kyoto University to the train station nearest to where she taught as a part-time private tutor, a trip that consisted of riding local trains that swayed back and forth as they turned.

Despite being the nation’s capital, West Kyoto’s development reached only a little over ten kilometers from its downtown area. At this simple station, there was one exit gate and only three short buildings waited outside. The bridge that led to the station gates only had a few scattered people crossing in either direction.

Renko was walking alone across the bridge and had noticed just as she was adjusting the strap of her bag on her shoulder.

The LCD display hung from one of the buildings that faced the station. It normally ran promotional videos, but this time, Renko saw herself in the display. Where was the camera? Given the angle of the shot, which included others walking across the bridge, Renko thought there might be a camera attached to one of the street lamps, but she couldn’t see anything when she looked.

Renko leaned against the rails bridge and looked up at the display again. There she saw herself looking off in no particular direction, her stupid looking profile there for all the crowd to see. She stared.

[98]

“Now that I have the opportunity to look at myself like this…” Renko muttered under her breath, “…have I lost weight? It isn’t as if anything’s happened… Well actually, I’m not sure I can really say that.”

“It’s no big deal, nothing to lose weight over anyway,” she told herself. Why did she feel she had to say that? She didn’t quite know herself.

Renko took her tumbler out of her bag. It was empty — she had already finished it. All that was left was the container. As she fiddled with it, Renko continued to stare at herself in the screen. The green container with its pattern of small flowers danced on the screen in low resolution.

What is here and what is there… even though they should be the same thing, by taking one through the eyes of a lens and passing it through to a pixelated screen, the result is something entirely different. If you think about it, it only makes sense, but perhaps because the sky is so dark and my image on the screen is flat and to some degree unsaturated… it looks more like a painting that someone drew. While it is me… it’s not. It’s something else.

Renko lifted her left wrist to look at her watch. It was just under five minutes until they were supposed to meet up.

“I really should have filled this thing back up,” she said, looking at her tumbler again.

[99]

About twenty years ago, it an effort to reduce the impact on the environment, it became common practice not to use disposable paper cups for beverages, but for people to carry around their own containers. That way one could bring their container to an automated coffee stand, have their beverage dispensed, and take it with them to go.

But there was nothing in Renko’s tumbler at the moment. She had finished drinking its contents before she left the university.

“There’s no point carrying this around is there, if I don’t keep it filled…” Renko laughed at herself listlessly.

Renko went back to doing nothing, just leaning against the rails of the bridge and staring up at the sky.

“Hi Renko.”

As Renko was tuning out her surroundings, a familiar voice caught her attention. Putting her tumbler back into her bag she turned to face the owner of the voice, who was wearing a school uniform with a dark blue blazer.

“Welcome back.”

“It’s not like this is my home or anything,” the girl laughed with a soft tone to her voice.

Her lightly colored hair, which normally had a bit of a wave to it, was a little disheveled. She must have run at least part of the way, and seemed out of breath. Renko didn’t really care much about this, but even so, she raised her hand and played with the girl’s hair between her fingers. It felt a little damp.

[100]

“Did you run all the way here?”

“I couldn’t help myself once I saw you,” the girl laughed, blushing.

“That so,” said Renko, making a face as if she were happy to hear such a thing, before petting the girl’s hair and straightening out her hair.

The girl fidgeted as if she was ticklish, and Renko thought as her mind wandered that this girl was just like a puppy. That’s right, a puppy. This wasn’t in a positive or affectionate sort of way, just an observation. The girl moved closer to Renko’s side, opposite of her bag, pressed against her and linked their arms together. She moved slowly, without a word, but just smiled.

As they started walking to the bus stop, Renko looked back up at the screen, as almost an afterthought. She wondered how she looked now, but could only see the back of her head and the profile of the girl beside her. The image was pixelated, as before. The smile the girl had plastered on her face too looked like a painting.

“You were early today,” Renko said.

“Are you sure? I’m pretty sure I always come at the same time.”

“I didn’t wait as long.”

“Doesn’t that just mean you came later than usual?”

Renko looked over and saw the girl’s face staring at her. Blue eyes mixed with a little brown. Looking straight into those eyes Renko answered.

“Who knows?” she said with a chuckle.

[101]

“Did something happen?”

“What makes you say that?”

“That face you’re making. That’s the face you make when something’s happened.”

“Nothing happened.”

“Liar. You only make this face when something that matters has happened.”

Renko felt the girl pull on their interlocked arms, and they stopped. She kept staring. Renko knew she should say something. She knew, but that didn’t mean that she actually had to say anything. But no, that’s not it, she thought, feeling as if barbed worms were squirming around inside her brain.

Renko reached inside her skirt pocket and took out a vaporizer, and put the mouthpiece in her mouth. (Such a device is for smoking, rather than medical use. By this time, the sale of cigarettes had ended due to a broad interpretation of the Law for the Promotion of General Health.) Sensors on the mouthpiece measured the temperature of her lips and automatically delivered a puff of vaporized nicotine. Renko inhaled and slowly let out a stream of vapor.

“That’s bad for you, you know?”

“I know,” Renko said with a slight smile.

[102]

Renko felt the effect of the nicotine sink into her brain. There was a slight feeling of intoxication. Her sense of distance weakened. After taking three puffs on her vaporizer, she put it back in her skirt pocket.

“It’s not cheap either.”

“Well I’m making enough money to pay for it.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“That’s not what I mean,” she whispered again again softly and started walking again. Pulled along, Renko followed. They were no longer up on that display.

That’s the way it should be, Renko thought. I don’t want to see myself laid out for everyone else to see, at least not for long. Especially — especially not when I’m alone.

Alone. Usami Renko at that very moment did indeed have someone she was walking with. However, to her, she still felt as if she was alone. The distance between them was vast. They were not distant in any real quantitative way, yet they were and continued to be — distant.

This girl — the one who had latched herself to Renko as they walked — she was Usami Renko’s pupil, the one she tutored. More importantly, however, she was Renko’s girlfriend. But the truth was, Renko didn’t really love her anymore.

[103]

Since when? Probably since the very beginning. Did the girl know? Did she not? Renko couldn’t bring herself to ask, or to even think about it much. The girl was no different from Renko’s vaping habit. She and it filled a void.

The girl’s house was about ten minutes by bus from the train station. However, the bus followed a loop, so it was a shorter distance to walk. So Renko and her girlfriend would never wait for the bus if it wasn’t at the stop. The streets they walked were arranged geometrically, like a go board, and were paved with white tiles. Other than the two, there was no one else to be seen, despite the fact that this was a time when you would expect everyone to be heading home. It wasn’t as if the area was in the middle of nowhere, and Renko thought it was probably some sort of coincidence.

“Hey, Renko? You know, there’s this thing that’s really popular at school right now.”

“Yeah?”

“Stories that are really really scary, depending on who you are.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I said, stories that to some people might not be scary at all, but to other people are really scary. It depends on the person. Those kind of stories are really popular right now.”

[104]

“Are there really that many of them?”

“Everyone’s busy collecting them, and everyone shares one during our lunch break.”

Renko’s girlfriend narrowed her eyes and looked up at Renko.

“If everyone feels the same way about the story, then that’s a win.”

“There are winners and losers?”

“Yeah, I mean after all, it’s a ‘cult’.”

“Again?”

“It’s what’s popular right now.”

Cult.

Apparently they’re using the original meaning of the word, “to worship”.

Renko had heard from her girlfriend that this “cult” activity was especially popular among high school students. Basically it consisted of games that groups of friends would play in order to reaffirm how close-knit they were. Renko hadn’t asked about what happened if the game really didn’t affirm that the group was close-knit, but she had an idea of what would happen.

In any isolated community, any factor that becomes a threat to the community’s continued existence is always removed. A group of close-knit friends must always consist only of those who are close-knit friends. That’s all there is to it.

[105]

“Once upon a time there was a man — a man who said, ‘I am afraid of my own wife.'”

That was how Renko’s girlfriend began her tale.


This man, long ago, was married. When he went out with his wife she always supported him. She never cheated on him, and she truly did devote herself to him. Yet despite this, this man was afraid of his wife.

“When that man first met his wife — it was about ten years ago — well it was love at first sight, you see, and he proposed to her on the spot. But you see, this is what the wife said to him, ‘I don’t love you one bit. In fact, I hate you. But still, for you I will be an ideal wife.’ Together at home, they hardly speak, and it seems that she’s happier when her husband is away and she is out of the house. But she never cheats, and always does the housework properly. If you look at others who married in love, she is clearly far better a wife. She always has been. They had children, and according to that man, even though it’s clear they are his children, it doesn’t look like his wife really loves them. But she doesn’t act mean to them. She’s even saving up money for their future. One day, he asked her, ‘Was what you said to me when I proposed to you really true?’ And you know what she said, with a smile on her face? ‘Yes. I don’t love you or our children one bit.'”

The end.

[106]

“So Renko. Was that story scary to you?”

“Well, I guess it was, a little bit.”

That was a lie. To Renko, this story sounded too normal to be even called a story. Humans are capable of having sex if just a couple of their wants or needs line up. The same thing for housework, or for having children. They can even pretend to love, if that’s part of the rules.

“I’m so happy to hear that. You see, it was really scary for me.”

“You mean the wife was scary?”

“Well yes, but what was… Nevermind, I guess she was, wasn’t she?”

At first Renko tried to catch what she meant but did not say, but in the end she felt that it didn’t really matter, and muttered a neutral answer.

[107]

“Everyone said it was scary.”

“Well yeah, that kind of person is scary.”

“You’re right… yeah… She is scary isn’t she…”

The girl stopped, and so Renko stopped along with her.

“Renko, don’t you have one?”

“One of what?”

“A scary story.”

“I don’t know if I can think of one on the spot… But, hmm… Maybe that story of the performer will do.”

Long ago, there was a really popular act at the circus, where a performer would starve themselves. All it was, was that someone would sit and not eat for days. This man would sit in a cage, eating nothing, just sitting in that cage, eating nothing for days and days. On the man’s cage would be a plaque, which said: “This man has not eaten for X anumber of days.”

People would come in crowds and crowds to see the man reduced to skin and bones.

Was he really not eating? Wasn’t he sneaking in some sort of food? Those kind of curious stares would surround him.

[108]

The man really wasn’t eating. Nothing, for days and days.

Even so, people eventually grew tired of seeing the man.

In the beginning, the cage was set in the middle of the circus, but before long it was relegated to a corner. The people who came, they wanted to see elephants and lions. No one wanted to see the starving man anymore. But he didn’t stop. He continued to not eat. Even as he dried out, even as he became indistinguishable from a clump of hay, he would not stop.

One day, the owner of the circus came to the cage and asked, “How many days has it been since you have eaten?”

With a voice that could hardly be heard, he answered, “I do not know.”

People had stopped keeping track of the days, and the plaque had fallen, a mess, in a corner of the cage.

“Why don’t you stop?” The owner asked. “No one is looking at you anymore.”

But the man shook his head.

“There is nothing I can eat. What everyone eats, so happily, all of it is disgusting to me. I cannot stand it. I cannot eat anything. That is why I am here. If I could eat, the same way that you all can, if I could eat the same things you do so happily, I would not be here.”

“And that was the last thing the man said, before he died,” Renko said.

[109]

“What happened next?” Renko’s girlfriend asked, listening intently.

“After the man died, they put a large and lively, pitch black panther in his cage. A large black panther, that everyone cheered to see.”

She was waiting, she was waiting for Renko to continue.

“That’s the end.”

“The end?”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“That’s… scary?”

“It’s you who said, ‘depending on the person.'”

Renko reached out and stroked her girlfriend’s cheek. It felt as if she was rubbing the skin of a peach.

“Well I did, but why is that story scary?”

“Who knows? There was someone once who said it was scary.”

“What part?”

“The very end, when they put the panther in the cage, and everyone cheers… I think.”

[110]

“Why?”

“I really don’t know. Wonder why.”

That was another lie.

“At this rate, we won’t make it in time. Can we walk a bit faster?”

“Okay,” Renko answered softly.

When Renko looked up, the sun had started to fall under the horizon, with the sky scarlet and the shadows growing longer. The clouds had darkened to black and it all looked, in a way, like a Rorschach test.

Renko pointed.

“What is it?”

“That cloud…”

“Cloud?”

“It looks like it might show up on one of those psychological tests.”

“Huh?”

“There’s this sort of test where you’re asked what things like that look like.”

“There’s really a test like that?”

[111]

“Yeah. It’s more of an occult sort of thing though.”

“Interesting. So what does that cloud look like to you, Renko?”

“Well, it looks like…”

Renko watched as the wind slowly to tore the cloud apart.

“…a child.”

“A… child?”

“I thought it looked kind of like a child’s finger.”

“Huh,” the girl muttered in response, and that was the end of their conversation.

***

I am not sure how long ago it was that I first met her. I think it was on a day my girlfriend suddenly cancelled our weekend date because apparently something came up she could not miss. So I went by shopping by myself to the same clothing store and boutique we had originally planned on going to, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything, and after a bit of wandering around I found myself walking in a nearby park.

[112]

There was a large pond in the middle of the park, with a lot of cherry trees planted around it and a trail that wound between them. It happened when I was walking along that trail. Often there would be some sort of theater group performing a show, and you would see couples on dates walking together. It was that sort of place. It wasn’t as if it was ever crowded, but it was always lively. Whenever I was in a place like that alone… I couldn’t help but feel miserable.

As I walked around the circular trail around the pond, I looked up at the cherry trees. They had already turned green, already lost half of their spring blossoms. It was a dirt trail, so even after walking for so long, my feed did not hurt. I did not like to walk on paved roads. If I was walking for more than a short while, my ankles and the soles of my feet would always begin to hurt. For that reason, I really did not like walking around town. I don’t think humans were really made to walk on pavement. If I’m together with someone else, I don’t notice as much, but if I am alone, I can’t keep it off my mind. I asked my girlfriend once, “Why do towns and cities always want to pave everything over?” Her response was that cities want everything to be in order. “If a city loses its order, it won’t be a city anymore.” It was a little over my head, and I struggled to understand. When she saw my puzzled face, she looked a little disappointed and did her best to explain. But the more she explained things to me, the more I wanted to just end it all with a kiss. “Don’t grow tired of me,” I thought. I couldn’t help but think it.

[113]

Again and again, I would kiss her, just to change the subject.

I think that my kisses are expendable items. It feels that every time I kiss her, the me inside this girl I love is scraped away, little by little. The pieces would fall off like sand and I would be less. I would be taken apart until there was nothing left of myself within her. It made me sad to think that way, but if I felt that one day I would be gone.

Everyone else, the friends I’ve bonded with by cult, they say that’s strange. Why would someone you’re in love with ever hate you? They ask. Love is eternal, they say. Sure, no one lasts forever. A person can slowly come apart and eventually be no more. But even so, love — love will last forever. That is what they say. That is what all the songs say.

After all, there are no longer any sad songs.

No longer.

Long ago, it seems sad songs existed. But they didn’t sell well, so everyone stopped singing them.

[114]

Someone once said, “Sad songs make us feel depressed, so we shouldn’t sing them.” That’s why we don’t know any sad songs. But I think that’s a wonderful thing. If we only have songs about things that are fun, things that make us happy, things that are beautiful… If we only sing songs like that, surely we’ll be happy. After all, someone else’s happiness can become your own.

But still, every now and then, I feel pain — pain when I see someone else’s smile, someone else’s happiness.

As I was thinking about all of this, walking around the pond, something touched my cheek. When I reached up and touched my cheek, it felt damp. I looked up at the sky and it was covered in gray clouds, and white particles were falling. I first thought it was rain, but the speed that it was falling was too slow for it to be rain.

I stopped and held out my hand. It was a single cherry blossom petal. At first I thought rain had caused some of the remaining petals to fall, but I could not feel any rain fall on my face. Around the petals water droplets were blossoming.

It really did take me longer than it should have to realize it was snow. A strong wind blew and a flurry of flower petals and little snowflakes flew before my eyes.

[115]

One. Two. Three. I quickly lost count.

Soon powder snow had filled half of this spring sky. The weather report hadn’t said anything like this would happen. (In this current age of science, the weather was carefully controlled, and the weather report was nothing more than a release of the latest weather schedule.) It felt as if a hedgehog with soft spines had curled up deep inside my chest. Half of the other people in the park looked surprised, with the other half a mix of other emotions, and you could hear people talking about it amongst themselves.

I stared at the sky, at the snow swirling about in a spiral.

One of those small pieces found its way into my eye.

I felt a stinging, numbing pain. It should have been cold, but it was different from what I thought. Rather than cold, it felt hot. I covered my eyes and looked down as the throbbing pain seeped deeper into my head. Wasn’t it snow? What I had in my hand before was definitely…

Tears began to flow, and I rubbed furiously at my face with my sleeve.

[116]

People only cry when something they don’t need enters them. For instance, when dust or sand enters their eyes, or sadness enters their hearts.

I remember long ago, my girlfriend told that to me as she comforted me. What happened, I wonder. I felt really sad, and a pain in my chest, and she told me that it was okay to cry. She told me to let it all out, everything inside my heart I did not need. That everyone in life has only a limited amount they cry, and it is best to cry while you are still able.

“Umbrella,” I muttered, as the tears started to subside.

I did not have an umbrella. Realizing that if I stayed out in the snow it would only be a matter of time before I was drenched I looked around and saw a small hut by the pond, so I ran to it.

The hut was mostly empty, except for a grimy and blackened wooden table and bench. There was already another person there, a woman. She was not sitting on the bench, but standing, and in front of her was another small hut, and inside that, two dolls were standing. It was a stage for puppet theater. There were portable weren’t there? I thought. I had seen some before when I was little. I wondered if she was practicing a performance like the other theater groups who come to the park.

[117]

But why would she do it here? I thought. The building was run down, more of a shack than a hut. Maybe she didn’t want others to see her practicing? She probably could have practiced outside, behind the hut and closer to the lake and no one would have paid her any mind.

I sat down on the bench beside her. In the woman’s hands were wooden crosses with wires she used to move the puppets. As the wind blew again, I glanced up at her short golden hair, cut above the shoulders. Her face from where I sat looked just like a doll’s. Her blue eyes looked as if they were made of glass.

“At the Snow Queen’s castle, the thick snow itself became the castle walls, and the windows and doors were made of a biting wind,” rang a clear voice. The woman puppeteer had begun to speak.

As I looked at her from the corner of my eye, her lips were not moving at all. She must have been using some sort of ventriloquism. It felt as the story had come unto itself naturally rather than from the woman. The way she moved nothing but the tips of her fingers, I could not help but feel that way.

“Due to the cold Kai had become blue, and then black. Even still, Kai could not feel the cold, for the Snow Queen had kissed him and sucked the feeling of cold out of him. And so, Kai’s heard became like ice.”

[118]

I glanced at the puppet stage. It was all blue, and had no other color. Of the two puppets, one was a girl who was standing aloof, and the other was sitting gathering something. Well, it wasn’t actually gathering anything, but it was moving in such a way that made it seem like it was.

“Kai took several pieces of thin ice he found here and there and pieced them together into different shapes, trying to make something. They were magnificent clumps of ice, puzzles of ice pieces, and in Kai’s eyes these things were beautiful and precious above all else. This was because of the piece of the mirror stuck in Kai’s eye. Kai tried to express a single word with these shapes.”

The puppet still kept collecting things. It moved very smoothly, too smoothly to be real.

“‘I tried to use all of the ice pieces I found to make one word, the word ‘eternity’. But I was unable to, no matter how hard I tried.'”

When I heard those words I felt as if something was caught in my throat. I tried to get rid of it and coughed, again and again, and by the fifth time, I was sobbing. I collapsed upon myself and cried and cried. What was I sad about? What was it inside me that I did not need? I did not know. As I kept crying, and the sobs flowed out from my throat it was otherwise shut, blocked up. Tears from my eyes flowed out, with drops larger than the snowflakes outside. I hugged my body to myself and balled up on the bench.

[119]

By the time my tears had led up, the woman had finished her performance and was staring at me. She wasn’t smiling and she didn’t look as if she were trying to make me feel better. She just stared at me, just like a doll.

“What…” I said, rubbing my eyes with my sleeve. “What story was that from?”

“It’s a story called ‘The Snow Queen’,” she answered quietly.

For some reason, that made me feel happy for some reason.

The snow was starting to fall harder outside. I looked through my tears at the surface of the pond outside. With the white falling over the red of the already fallen cherry blossoms, the combination looked pink, like flamingo feathers. Between the feathers of various shades the surface of the pond reflected the sky. Perhaps because of the dark clouds, the surface looked like a mirror, with several ripples running across it. In one of the many rippling rings I saw myself and the woman in the hut. Because of the ripples running over it, my face was mess.

[120]

“I look terrible,” I whispered.

“You do,” the woman answered.

In the mirror, everything was twisted. Even the cherry trees I had thought looked so beautiful before, now looked like crumpled pieces of paper in a waste bin. Despite being so tall, in the mirror they were short and their branches were twisted. Even the powdered snow, which continued to fall, looked filthy in the mirror.

The woman. The woman beside me. She…

Beside me stood what looked like a life-sized doll, filled with gears. From the waist down was the frame of a skirt, which looked like a bird cage, something a woman from the middle ages would wear. Between the wooden slats of the skirt frame I could see a large pocket watch. But the hands of the pocket watch were twisted and the face of it was filled with symbols I did not understand. I could not tell what time it was supposed to show. The hour hand, minute hand and second hand were all twisted into a spiral, and they all turned. Still, I thought that it must be telling some sort of time. Where her face was, where it should be, was a round outline of a face. It had hinges and had swung open. It was still swinging back and forth slightly. Inside it looked like the inside of a clock. There were countless gears and springs of all sizes ticking along in an orderly way. There was a shattered clock face, and a single clock hand, clicking and vibrating in place, by the number seventeen. It kept vibrating on seventeen. Even though there is no seventeen on a clock, it was there, on that clock like thing.

[121]

But it wasn’t just that number. All of the numbers were seventeen.

The face, the cover… It was swinging, the woman’s face was a door, a cover, and it was swinging.

Upon that face a single snowflake blew in and landed, creating a ripple.

The eye was shaking, the eye that snowflake just fell into. It was convulsing.

I turned my neck away from the window to face her. There she was, like a large doll, staring at me. It wasn’t that she had forgotten how to smile. After all, dolls don’t smile.

“You…” It just slipped out, I couldn’t help it. “What are you?”

[122]

“I am a witch,” she said softly.

This time, her lips were moving.

“I am a witch. A witch who performs puppet theater, a witch of the forest, a witch named Alice Margatroid, an empty stage mechanism. Do you know? Humans are not reproduced, they are not reprinted. Some times in a person’s life, like the man with his head of lice, they will set their eyes deep into space, beyond the film of green, staring as if it consumes all else. Right beside them I feel the mocking laughter of the ghosts beside them, that I feel during those times.”

Before I knew it this woman, named Alice, was right beside me. She was touching my cheek.

It was cold.

“You could say that all of the power lines and cables that are hung all over and spread throughout the city are its brain. Within that brain, humans are not reproduced. They are not reprinted.”

She drew my face closer to hers, speaking in a whisper, her voice white like snow.

[123]

“There is a mirror inside of your eye.”

“A mirror…?”

“A fragment of the mirror we made long ago.”

“You made a mirror?”

“Yes, we did. What we called it then, however, was a witch mechanism.”

“A witch… mechanism?”

“Yes, a witch mechanism. We made it so that everyone could be happy.”

“Happy?”

“Happiness may be a personal matter, but on the other hand, misfortune is often a social matter. At least, that is what some people say. But you see it may be that happiness is the more social of the two.”

Those words, just like the words of the one I loved, went right over my head.

“Eternal beings made the world as it is now. If only they would forget their heavenly dignity for even for a moment, for just enough time it would take for them to shatter the head of a single girl with a hammer, to make ‘our’ world a little easier to breathe than that of a fish flung from the sea and into a boat, to make blatant the many secrets and things of the occult, if only that would happen then…”

As she paused, Alice smiled, for the very first time, twisting her lips slightly.

[124]

“…it certainly would be an event.”

“Event?”

“We are looking for an event. Something that will cultivate the void, and allow us to find a world of eternal happiness.”

“Will I…”

As I paused, Alice said nothing, but only stared with blue eyes.

“Will I be happy then too?”

“Yes, of course.”

I still don’t know why I asked that question, but…

That was how Alice and I first met.

***

Advertisements

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

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

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

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

[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]
[73/291]

[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)

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

[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]

[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.”

***

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (56/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

I’d like to thank the people who have donated so far. I appreciate it, and it is because your support that I keep working on this translation. Thanks again.

Mostly plot building and foreshadowing in this block, but I still hope you enjoy it.

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]

Translation Notes:
I have absolutely no knowledge of French, so I base my translations of those sections on both existing translations (when it’s (in)famous text) and the Japanese translations of the French text given in the book. (I’m not using automated tools or anything.)

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

[15/291]
[35/291]

[36]

Maribel Hearn had a boyfriend. He was a year older and they took a seminar together.

Merry ran her fingers along his naked chest as he slept, listening to him breathe as she lay beside him in bed.

It had been months since the last time they had sex, Merry thought absentmindedly. It wasn’t as if they loved each other any less… at least that was how Merry reasoned with herself about it. There was no way for her to see inside her boyfriend’s thoughts and she knew that, but all the same. Their relationship felt like a loosely tied thread slowly coming apart under its own weight. Merry couldn’t really put her finger on the circumstances, but inside of her the meaning and value of having sex felt as if it was slowly being filed away. Looking back now, Merry thought, even the last time they had sex she had felt some sort of distance between them… though she wasn’t sure.

Merry continued to think about this as she traced her boyfriend’s chest, which was by no means muscular, but not twelve minutes went by before she was tired of both.

What happened that day at noon. The thing with the human library. Renko.

Merry tried to remember. She tried to tie everything together, but her efforts were fruitless.

[37]

Merry closed her eyes and looked on at the darkness that remained, watched as it rolled around behind her eyelids. She waited, but the curtain of slumber would not fall for her, not one bit. She couldn’t sleep. Instead she felt her pupils constrict, and her eyes attempt to focus.

Lately this was getting to be more an more of a problem.

Merry shut her eyes more tightly and readjusted herself, wrapping her arms around one of her boyfriend’s. His arm was thin. His biceps probably weren’t any bigger than hers.

Moments later, without really thinking about it, Merry had reached for her portable terminal device. Rolling over to one side, she started it up, and bluish white light from its diodes faintly filled the room.

Merry opened up her address book and flicked through its contents. There were the names of her classmates, of her parents, the names of people from high school she still kept in touch with… and the name of her one and only friend.

“I’m connected with all of these people, so why is it that she is the only one I can call my friend?”

I used to have more, she thought. There were more, in the past, when I was in elementary school, middle school, high school… Out of all of the people Merry had contact with, there was only a small percentage that actually had the contact information of. Out of that smaller number, there was an even smaller percentage of those that she saw on a daily basis, and…

Merry closed her eyes.

[38]

Merry brought her terminal to her chest and rolled onto her back. Behind her eyelids, she watched the burned afterimage in her eyes swirl about. She watched as outlines were drawn, and she watched as they frayed apart. She watched them connect, swell and disperse like a surging tide, come apart and together again. As her eyes moved, the movements slowly became more disjointed. There was no rule or sense to it that Merry could find. Normally she wouldn’t give any thought to it, but on these sleepless nights it bothered her. She opened and closed her eyes, as if she were blinking in slow motion, but she could not call sleep to her as time wasted away.

Merry turned her terminal screen back on. Not three minutes had gone by.

Merry slipped out of bed and put on a shirt and some track pants before walking to the window. The apartment had an eleven tatami mat layout, about 18 square meters, and its outward facing wall was entirely made of panelled glass.

Merry pulled back the curtain and stepped barefoot out unto a small veranda. While the night that lay across the sky was a night somewhere between spring and summer, it was enough for her to feel a chill across the soles of her feet as she walked onto the veranda’s rough concrete surface. A 2 am breeze brushed lightly against her cheek.

About fifty years ago, regulations were put into place to protect the night sky. After 8 pm, artificial lighting was limited by lux, and so the city streets Merry looked down upon revealed themselves as small variations of the color of a thick coffee brew. Merry watched as the streets of West Kyoto slept, and she thought they resembled the library. She was reminded of the words that human library, that self-proclaimed witch had spoke to her.

[39]

“Books are caskets…
“In a way, you could say that a library is a city…

The rectangularly structured city streets, with their low rectangular buildings, in each of them were people. In each of them are people, separately. But under the curtain of night, everyone was the same, everyone in their boxes.

However they laughed, however they cried today, all of that existance was now buried, and to Merry that made her feel terribly alone.

Merry rested her arms on the veranda railing and looked down at the terminal in her hands. There was a single droplet on the liquid crystal display, and it twisted and warped the light coming off of the screen. It took Merry a while to realize that she was crying. Once she realized she was crying, her tears turned to sobs, which turned to wails gushing out from her uncontrollably. She couldn’t understand why she was crying, but she knew that she was sad. It felt as if there was a mass of leaden wool in her chest, stopping up her heart, and this feeling ran rampant through her. The night filled her with sadness.

Merry balled up and continued to cry, softly.

[40]

By the time Merry came to, wiping her tears on her sleeve, she had completely lost track of time. After wiping her tear stained terminal screen, she turned it back on, went straight to her address book and selected the name of her friend.

Would she answer? Merry sniffled and brought the terminal to her ear. After a few rings…

“Merry?”

“Good evening, Renko.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for ‘good evening’?”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t sleep either.”

“What makes you think I couldn’t sleep?”

“Isn’t it normal to think that when you get a call at this time of night?”

“Well isn’t that something? You, talking about what’s normal.”

“Well statistically speaking, the median status of someone who calls at this time of night with the voice of someone who has clearly been crying is that of insomnia, as several studies on this subject confirm.”

[41]

“Where do you find this kind of information?” Merry replied, a slight smile forming on her lips. Above all else Merry felt comfort in these words, which showed her friend understood the state she was in.

“What, you don’t know? There was a paper published about it at the 2034, uh, Human Engineering something something Conference.”

“You’re making that up, aren’t you?”

“No, no. It’s just that it’s late and so I need a buffer to trace back over my memories properly… probably.”

“You need to qualify that with ‘probably’, even though you’re talking about yourself?”

“What we know least about is ourselves. Talking about the animals we call ‘humans’ as a whole I mean.”

“I agree.”

“Well isn’t that unusual, coming from you?”

“…”

“So, what’s the matter then?”

“Well… I’m just a little emotionally unstable right now, I think.”

“I see. Well, I guess that’s often the case with sleepless nights.”

“I guess so…”

[42]

“Are you having trouble with your boyfriend?”

“…We’re not having sex.”

“Come again?”

“I mean, it’s been months now since the last time we did it.”

“So does this mean you’re ‘sexless’?”

“I… think so. Probably…”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t think it’s that, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“It’s just that I feel like my body and soul are separated when we do it.”

“There you go again, being all abstract…”

Merry could hear what sounded like a snicker on the other side of the line.

“Ever since I’ve been able to see these strange things, I feel like my sense of reality has bottomed out.”

“Some kind of change is to be expected. After all, for humans, sight influences us more than any of our other senses.

“You think it’s as simple as that?”

“Absolutely. It is also true that I haven’t ever heard of a case where that has had a direct effect on one’s physical sense of touch though.”

[43]

“You and me both.”

“So that’s the reason you chose to rely on your friend in the middle of the night?”

“I’m not ‘relying’ on you, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“I just wanted to believe that there was someone out there watching me.”

“……What kind of nonsense is this now?”

The tone of Renko’s voice had changed slightly from before. Was there a trace of… anger?

“Renko?”

“Yeah?”

“Nevermind, it’s nothing. But I wonder, what should I do?”

“About what?”

“My boyfriend.”

“Well I think your boyfriend is partly to blame. He’s got this beauty lying next to him every night and doesn’t lay a finger on her? He must be out of his mind.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Just trying to make you feel better.”

“Well, thanks.”

[44]

“…So you don’t like doing it?”

“That’s not… I don’t think that’s it. Like I said before, I just don’t feel like I’m myself. When we do it, it’s… I feel like something’s off, something’s not right.”

“You think it’s a problem with your sexual sensitivity?”

“Maybe? But I don’t think that’s quite right either.”

“So you feel pleasure, but it isn’t leading to any emotional satisfaction?”

“That might be the reason. When we do it, it’s like my spirit is

“It’s like… my soul is separated from my body, like a ghost. It’s not as if I can see anything, but… No, that’s not right. I can see. I can see my boyfriend. I can see the room. I can see everything properly, but it’s as if I’m observing everything from the outside.”

“Sounds serious.”

“You aren’t taking me seriously, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“Well… if you say so.”

Silence found its way into their dialogue. Unlike before, Merry felt as if she was being left behind. It wasn’t as if she could say so though. She was afraid that if she did, something between them might end.

“Why don’t you try something new for a change?” said Renko, breaking the silence.

[45]

“Something new? I’m not trying any of that weird fetishistic stuff.”

“That’s not what I mean. Like, what if you try sleeping with someone else?”

“You’re saying that’s not fetishistic? No, I don’t want to do anything like that.”

“Are you sure? The basic idea is that by breaking down the status quo, you might be able to find something new.”

“But still, I don’t want to have sex with another man.”

“Who said anything about another man?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, you could do it with a woman.”

Merry gasped slightly before answering.

“Renko, you… always come up with the craziest ideas, don’t you?”

“Is it really that crazy though? To be honest, in this day and age… the idea that sex is an act only to be shared between those of opposite sexes, I think, is the one that’s more behind the times.”

Merry knew same sex marriage had been legalized nationally a number of years ago, and she understood why Renko would bring up, “this day and age” to argue her point. The nation had already come to a conclusion on its solution for declining birthrates. Instead of continuing to pressure the population to have more children, which had not yielded results, the government had changed direction. If there was not going to be enough children, all they had to do was make sure their nation could survive indefinitely without them.

[46]

The nation was aging. Everyone agreed. After reaching a certain level of development, it was impossible to continue an endless series of economic booms. Just like people, just like other animals, a nation will age.

All that was left was to wait for a slow descent unto death. With that in mind, everyone had accepted death, and focusing only on how to die in the least painful way possible. Every nation on earth had come to the same conclusion. Rather than material sufficiency, emotional and psychological satisfaction was more important.

There was no need or pressure to get married to someone of the opposite sex, to have children. To do that, “for the sake of our future” was laughable. There was no need to engage in romance. If you could die together with someone you truly loved and cared for, that was enough. Renko’s words truly were a product of the present age. However…

“I… guess you’re right. But still, I wouldn’t want to have sex with some random stranger.”

“So you’d be fine with someone you knew?”

“Better than someone I didn’t.”

“How about having sex with me?”

[47]

Merry gulped, completely taken off guard.

“R-Ren… ko?”

“……I was kidding.”

“T-That wasn’t funny, okay? You almost gave me a heart attack.”

“Why?”

“The thought of having… of having sex with you is just… I’ve never thought of anything like that before.”

“That makes sense I guess… Well, I mean, it just sort of came out. I wasn’t really thinking.”

“That’s not something you say without thinking.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Please do… But, come to think of it, I feel a little better now. Maybe because of your bad joke?”

“Behold the wonders of Ms. Usami’s Shock Treatment! Pretty effective, don’t you think?”

“I’m afraid of the side-effects.”

“What kind?”

“I’m not telling you.”

“As the founder of this treatment I’d like to pin down its various effects and virtues.”

“Enough already! Good night,” said Merry, hanging up before Renko could respond.

[48]

Immediately afterward, Merry looked up, sensing someone there. It was her boyfriend.

“Did something happen?” He asked.

“No, nothing. I just couldn’t sleep.”

“I see.”

The lights were already on in the room. Had she really been that concentrated on her call with Renko to notice? Because of the yellow tinted back light, Merry couldn’t see her boyfriend’s face. It was indiscernible in the shadows. Neither could she really make out what emotions might lie behind the vague tone of his voice.

“You’ll catch a cold like that.”

“…Right.”

Feeling that she was being pressured to, Merry went back inside.

On the glass table next to their bed, there were two steaming mugs. They must have just been poured. Merry sat down on the floor by the table and took one of the mugs in her hand. It was filled with a yellowish white liquid. When she brought it to her lips, she could smell the sweet scents of honey and milk. She took a sip and felt the hot milk flow down into her stomach, the heat from it spreading throughout her body.

[49]

“Hey, Mary.”

“Mary”, of course, referred to Merry. That was the way her boyfriend called her name. Not only her boyfriend, but everyone in her classes referred to her the same way. It was the more common, normal, shortening of her name.

“What is it?”

“Do you mind if I turn on the TV?”

“Go right ahead. …You don’t normally ask though. Is there a reason why?”

“Not really, I mean. I dunno.”

“I just thought you might be bothered by the noise,” her boyfriend muttered as he reached for the remote.

As electricity flowed through the television screen, it lit up with a color bar code. According to the clock hanging on the wall, it was three o’clock in the morning. It hadn’t felt as if Merry had spent a long time talking, but it seems that she had been out on the veranda for quite some time.

Flicking through a couple of channels with scheduled programming, Merry’s boyfriend left the television on a news program.

“News at this hour?” Merry thought, but she realized that she never really watched TV this late, and it might not be strange at all.

[50]

There were channels upon channels available nowadays, a far cry from the past, when only a dozen or so channels was the norm. So it wasn’t all that unusual to have dedicated news stations which ran the news all day long, even at this hour. Due to the nature of the programs, the station sets did not have be changed more than a handful of times, and the station itself didn’t require a lot of funds to keep running. Cost effective, Merry thought, as she stared at the female newscaster with her perfect makeup reading off news items in a detached and disinterested manner.

“At 5 o’clock, yesterday evening, an explosion occurred in a district of West Kyoto. Immediately before the incident, a suggestive video message was uploaded to a public video site by the suspected culprit, with the handle name ‘ICQ’. Police are investigating a possible connection between this incident and a series of similar explosions. This most recent explosion occurred on the grounds of *** Park, where…”

This wasn’t Merry’s first time hearing the news. On her way back from classes in the afternoon, just as Merry was thinking that the grounds were a lot busier than usual, she heard people talking about an explosion that had happened near campus. When this series of explosions first started happening, everyone was making a big deal out of the incidents, but now they were so common that they didn’t feel quite as real anymore. Of course, everyone was still cautious, a little bit on edge. There was no telling when you might be caught up in one of the incidents yourself.

However, given that Merry didn’t know anyone, or knew anyone who knew anyone caught up in any of the explosions, she had to admit she felt a strange sense of safety. Even if another explosion occurred, she was sure that she herself would be alright.

Merry stared absentmindedly at the screen, as she continued to drink her hot milk.

ICQ.

[51]

Merry didn’t know what it meant. No one knew who was behind the incidents, or what their motive was. It was always an empty flower shop, an empty cafeteria, an empty merry-go-round in an empty theme park, an empty something. The culprit always picked a place where there were no people present, and the explosions were all on a small scale. Otherwise, no one knew what linked the places together. They seemed almost random. However, before every single incident, there was always a message from the culprit uploaded to a video site. The police still had not pinpointed the source of the uploads. Merry thought it strange that the police hadn’t been able to do that, but she wasn’t really familiar with the methods behind such a search.

“Hey,” Merry said hardly above a whisper.

“Hmm?”

“I wonder what this person is trying to accomplish.”

“Well… have you seen any of the videos the culprit has uploaded before, Mary?”

“I haven’t. By the time the news outlets report on the incident the videos have always been deleted.”

“If that’s the case, I’ve got one of them saved on my terminal. Would you like to watch it?”

“…When did you get your hands on that?”

“I ran across it by chance. If you can call it that. I’m not the one who downloaded it.”

[52]

“By which you mean…?”

“I got it from one of my friends. It’s the video that was uploaded before the third explosion, if I remember correctly,” Merry’s boyfriend said as he stood up to get his tablet from where he had left it on the table.

After turning it on and scrolling his fingers across the surface a few times he stopped.

“Here it is,” he said, holding the screen out in front of Merry.

The video playback program had already been started and Merry found herself looking at a pitch black screen, as a melody she had never heard before began to play.

“What is this music?”

“It’s ‘Parade’.”

“Parade?”

“It’s the name of an old ballet, this is the music used in that ballet. The composer… was it Satie? Yes, it was Erik Satie.”

[53]

A strange and lively sort of music sounded from the tablet’s speakers. Then, shown on the screen was a single picture. A picture of the Mona Lisa with a white frame. On the white part of the frame was written, “L.H.O.Q.Q”, and that was it. That picture, and the music continued for a few minutes. Then, the visual changed. A circular plane was rotating. It was something Merry felt she had seen before. Something burned in the back of her brain. That. In the restricted section of the library it seemed as if… but wait, no. It wasn’t that. Merry felt a burning sensation deep within her brain. In her throat she felt as if there were masses of cotton with thorns stuck in her throat. Merry tried to wash the feeling away she drank the rest of her hot milk in three large gulps. That spinning circular plane. On it was a spiral. A spiral dancing, spinning in such a way that it disrupted her depth perception. As it spun, words appeared on the screen. A place and time, and the letters ICQ, and the words, “Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?”.

“If I give you a penny will you give me a pair of scissors?” Merry’s boyfriend muttered.

[54]

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Who knows… I can’t help but think they wrote it without any particular meaning in mind.”

“Huh.”

The video ended after four minutes and thirty three seconds, leaving the words, “Se il vous plait arreter de Vexations (We have a duty to stop the vexations)” at the very end.

“I wonder what it all means,” Merry wondered aloud.

“Who knows? It doesn’t seem like they’re doing it for kicks, nor with any political motivation. The police don’t seem to have any idea either.”

“I bet…”

“But…”

“Hmm?”

“But you know, I kind of get the feeling I understand.”

“Understand what?”

“What the culprit is thinking.”

“What do you mean?”

Merry’s boyfriend took a sip of hot milk and let out a sigh.

“I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet they’ve just grown tired of the world.”

[55]

“Where did that come from?”

“I mean, doesn’t everyone feel that way at some point or another?”

In response to that question, Merry thought to herself, “No, not everyone.”

“I bet they just want to run away.”

“From what?”

“You see that, I don’t know… Everyone, I think everyone wants to run away from some thing or another. I think that’s what they’re trying to say. After all, they’re calling themselves ‘I seek you’…”

“I seek you?”

“I-C-Q. It’s a play on ‘I seek you’.”

Merry hadn’t realized the meaning until then.

“I hear that there used to be a communication application with the same name a long time ago.”

“So that’s what it meant.”

“Of course, I still have no idea why they’re calling themselves that.”

“Well if you did, that would be scary, wouldn’t it?”

“Why is that?”

[56]

“After all, the only one who knows that is the culprit, right?”

“Hmm… I suppose you have a point.”

“Now don’t tell me that you’re the one behind all of these explosions.”

“Of course not. I’d never go to all that trouble. It seems like a huge hassle.”

“A… hassle?”

“Yeah.”

As Merry looked at the slight grin on her boyfriend’s face, she thought, for the very first time… that she probably, really did not love him anymore.

***

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (35/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

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

This an experiment.

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

Translation Notes:
[29] An exchange attributed to Natsume Souseki involves him claiming the best way to translate “I love you” into Japanese is to say “The moon is beautiful.”

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

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

==
[0-15/291]
==

[16]

There were several bookshelves arranged in an orderly fashion, and nothing else. In fact it was so orderly it seemed unnatural. It was as if those shelves had been born there, and died without anything about them changing. That was the impression Merry felt.

Merry’s boots clicked on the wooden tiles as she walked across the floor. She had thought the red carpeting on the floor had no sense or purpose to its arrangement, but she was wrong. It seemed to be forming a shape, but standing where she was, she was too close to make out the shape in its entirety.

The bookshelves were filled with paper books, and all of them were exquisitely bound. There were leather bound books, clothed hard covers, books with gold and silver lettering and so on.

One of those books caught Merry’s eye. It was a book with a cloudy yellowish white color that had blackened in places. Merry reached out and ran her fingers along the spine. It had a rough feel to it and she thought that it was as if someone had bound this book with human skin.

The title read, “Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella”.

Merry used her finger from the top of the spine to pull the book out. It was heavy in her arms. When she brought it close and opened the cover, the mouldy smell which wafted from the pages tickled her nose.

[17]

From the pages which had already began to yellow, she read.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number.

That is how it began.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number. As for the reason why…

“It symbolizes death, and death is a sphere. Spheres, within their limited number of fragments repeat over eternity. No one was able to provide proof for what separates the inside and outside of a circle. The only thing they could think of was to fiddle repetitively with the arrangement of a hundred thirty thousand letters, like the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”

Someone was reciting the words written in the book.

When Merry reflexively looked up, in the gap made when she removed the book, there was a single lip – half of a pair of lips. From the half mouth’s single lip opening were fingertips. Not fingers with fingertips attached, but only the fingertips, twisted and bent like withered birch, bent and packed into a ball.

Merry gasped and slowly started to take a step back when she finally realized.

[18]

The red velvet carpeting was laid out in the shape of of a person. It was a young girl’s silhouette lying on the floor.

Between the folded legs of the silhouette was a single tea set. The porcelain tea cups’ edges were painted gold, and they were filled with a dark red liquid. Floating on the surface was a single flower. It took a few moments for Merry to realize that it was a colombine flower.

“Eighteen is a perfect and complete number. It is a number formed from the multiplication of the numbers three and six. When eighteen is divided by seventeen, one can say that it is the same as a single fragment of sky passing through the gas pipes.”

Merry felt as if her brain had lurched into a spin.

Dizziness… Vertigo…

It felt as if the entire restricted section of the library was spinning, with Merry at its center.

The bookshelf furthest from the entrance had its books pulled randomly from the shelves, and in those void spaces Merry saw a face… a face whose presence suggested it was the face of the entire room.

[19]

As that thought crossed Merry’s mind, from the bookshelf right beside her, the shelf closest to the floor, an arm reached out. The hand attached to the pale arm had only its thumb and pointer finger, with the others missing. That hand picked up a teacup, as another similar arm reached out to the teapot and poured a dark red tea. Merry could smell the faint fragrance of the tea, and it was bold and sickeningly sweet.

“I wonder, is it more appropriate to say, ‘Welcome’, or ‘How dare you!’ in this situation? At least the present me can’t say for certain. Be that as it may, ‘Welcome’ to this mansion with no master to receive you, Miss Ghost.”

The voice was laughing. The human library buried within the bookshelves was laughing.

“Gh-Ghost?”

“You’ve been here before, haven’t you? Here and… somewhere,” The voice cackled.

“Baths in course tea for beauty marks without too much Bengay. (In the end, is there any meaning in translating these words? Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengue.) Well then, Miss Ghost. I see you’ve taken the trouble to come all the way down here, after all. How can I help you?”

“U-Um…”

Words crawled their way through the air, without serving any purpose.

[20]

“When you think about it, books are nothing but caskets, the same as I am. Humans are not reproduced in a shower of raucous laughter. Humans are not reproduced. I am searching for a singularity. For that signifies nothing less than a cultivation of the void.”

Merry did not understand the words that were being spoken to her. What she was saying was…

Is ‘she’ the right word?

Merry looked around. There were countless gaps among the countless bookshelves. In those gaps were mixed the parts of a young woman. From the dead middle of one bookshelf, she could see a thin leg sprawled out. But from where the ankle would be, was not a foot but an ear, such that it looked as if a flower was growing there. The ankle and foot instead were suspended from the ceiling, flickering inside a light bulb. One eye opened from the sole of the foot. A rounded, feminine belly was exposed. In another place was a slit, probably her vagina… but from it gazed a single eye. Merry could see her hips and breasts peeking out from gaps in the top shelf. Then there was a white, frilly cloth. It floated out of several gaps in the bookshelf, and probably was what she was wearing. From the book that Merry held open in her hands, was the paired lip of the other she saw before. It was trembling slightly, as if it were breathing.

“Who… Who are you?” That was all that Merry was able to say.

[21]

The human library raised a melancholic smile.

“I have seen it. I have seen how all of this time every single human being has huddled their shoulders and run off doing countless idiotic things, lowering the intelligence of their peers, spreading the rot of their souls by all means possible. You know what they all claimed as the motivation for their actions? Honor.”

“U-Um…”

“Good afternoon, Miss Ghost. I am a witch. A library witch bestowed with the name of ‘Knowledge’. Yes, a library is nothing but a communal graveyard.”

Merry recognized those words. After all, that is just what she had been thinking about.

“Books are caskets. Why? For they consist of others’ souls buried solely for others to observe them. They are no different than the Jane Does laid in their caskets and placed within rose decorated rooms. The collection books and their storage behind locked doors constitutes nothing but the formation of a communal grave. In a way, you could say that a library is a city. We are but a single casket eternally locked within a city.”

Tea spilled from the overflowing teacup and spread out on the floor.

“The only thing that makes me distinct is the name ‘Patchouli Knowledge’.”

The red liquid, still flowing, had spread all the way to Merry’s feet. As it filled in the area outside of the outline of Merry’s boots, the liquid continued to flood the velvet carpet and wooden tiled floor.

[22]

A sea three centimeters deep now filled the restricted section of the library.

“In the mirror I stared at my mouth, my mouth I had injured of my own free will. I hadn’t thought things through. How was I supposed to know whether this was a normal human smile, when the blood gushing from the two gashes on either side of my face made it so hard to see? But after looking intently in the mirror for a while I could finally see. I could finally see that my smile was no human smile. In fact, I was not smiling at all… Well then, Miss Ghost. From where should I begin?”

Silently a finger, a pointer finger and nothing more, reached from the bookshelf and slowly traced Merry’s lips. It continued to move, from her lips to along her jaw, along the path of her tears.

“But the void was not cultivated,” Patchouli continued. “I cannot help but be silent in the face of the fact that it is yet impossible, in the same way that you cannot help but be silent about things which you cannot speak.”

“Is that Wittgenstein?” Merry interjected reflexively. She had read Wittgenstein as a requirement for one of her lectures.

“Yes, his ‘now’ was hundreds of years ago, and his theory is still incomplete.”

“Incomplete?”

“Everything was incomplete, be it the definition of existence, existential meaning… Everything was left incomplete, while everyone died insane. Logic fills the world, and the limits of logic are the limits of the world. In other words, it is impossible to have others accept what which you yourself cannot understand. This is despite the fact that everything exists on an outer shell. For whenever you look into a mirror, you are being looked at by yourself residing within it.”

[23]

Merry heard the sound of something crawling about. When she looked behind herself, she saw a chair. In that chair a young woman’s body was seated. The body was armless and legless, only a torso. The stomach was separated by a grating, a grating that traced along the body’s entrails. Buried in the very center between the heart and stomach behind the grating was a microphone.

A static noise echoed in Merry’s ears. Where the body’s head should be, from its neck upwards, was a birdcage. In the birdcage, tightly fit, was a picture of a blue sky.

[24]

It was an empty sky. But the sky was twisted into an unnatural shape. It shape was almost like that of a human eye. In the very center was a pitch black sphere. That is all there was. (A false mirror, or perhaps a mechanical boy.)

From the microphone howled a noise ridden voice. It produced a resonance in Merry’s ears, and she felt as if they would burst. She felt thousands of rusty needles piercing her brain.

Vertigo… Dull pain… Nausea… Dizziness…

The flickering restricted section and the young woman’s body which would not collapse… Her face in the gaps between bookshelves and her violet bellflower hair… The scarlet velvet carpeting… The geometric layerings of the wooden tiles… The shelves, the ceiling, the spiral stairwell…

All moved with uniform velocity repetitively in different ways. (Many critics discuss the ways in which M.C. Escher’s images define spaces which do not exist, but why will no one talk about the fact that what is necessary is not a pure formulation, but something completely removed from it, and nothing but that?)

The library itself began to move about and become entangled in itself. It was like a fetus in the womb. Yes a fetus kicking in the womb.

[25]

A scarlet puddle spread from Merry’s feet. (Menstrual blood is a crimson pollutant.)

Within was reflected faintly a spinning circular surface.

The tea, which like frozen blood had clung to the surface, cracked and flaked off as it spun, creating a series of patterns, a series of letters by Merry’s feet.

What was it that rose from the surface? That word… Merry no longer remembers.

***

“What you’re telling me sounds far too vague and indeterminate to be a dream… in my opinion anyway.”

Merry sat across from her friend, Usami Renko, on an open café terrace located within the West Kyoto University grounds. Renko looked somewhat annoyed as she responded to Merry’s story, in between sips of her synthetic coffee.

[26]

“Well I’m not disagreeing with you…”

In her hands, Merry felt the temperature of her light brown milk tea in its plastic cup slowly drop as it was exposed to the surrounding air. It was just past noon. Morning lectures were over and afternoon lectures had yet to begin. While the crowds around them were loud and bustling enough to be a nuisance, they all kept passing by, giving Merry the impression that just Renko and her were being left behind somehow.

Merry took a sip of her milk tea and felt only its sweet fragrance pass down her throat. Whether the tea itself was synthetic or not was minor compared to the overwhelming additive flavors of saccharine and synthetic milk, clearly there to mask the cheap flavor of the tea, and Merry felt them stinging on her throbbing tongue.

However, Merry thought as she wiped the bit of milk tea left on her lips with her ring finger, there was no way for her to really know what true milk tea really tasted like. Her impression of the milk tea in her hands was limited to the fact that, “This is a drink that is called ‘milk tea’,” as she could not compare it to the original. True milk tea had long been left only to the realm of high class connoisseurs, and even the price of food plotter cartridges with non-synthetic ingredients far exceeded the budget of a university student.

By Renko and Merry’s generation, all food products were synthesized with 3D plotters. Synthesized end-product food items could be printed by loading cartridges in specialized machines, where the cartridges were filled with a putty composed of various ingredients the product required. The cost of each cartridge depended on the composition of the putty, where the more pure and less complex its composition was, the cheaper it cost. However, if the aim was to accurately reflect a product’s natural flavor, it was necessary to include impure ingredients and randomized variable components in the putty to an appropriate degree, resulting in added costs of production unnecessary for cartridges with only purified ingredients.

[27]

It was in this way that “true flavor” had become a luxury product for the wealthy. But while the luxury of “true flavor” was still available, handmade food items made from natural ingredients simply did not exist anymore. Not only was the manufacturing of such products incredibly inefficient, human rights groups had claimed the working conditions and labor involved were intolerably restrictive of the human rights and freedoms of both men and women, and this had long ago led to a trend of self-regulation and decline of such products within the food industry.

Therefore, for Merry and Renko it was impractical to try to experience the so called “flavors of old”. For them, only the costs registered on the scales. After all, “true flavor” relied heavily on impurities, and these impurities only served to muddy the flavors they were more familiar with.

“Well let’s see then, Miss Merry… You think this is a case of your eyes being too sensitive?”

Renko took another sip of her similarly cheap flavored coffee. (Renko herself had trouble viewing the kind of coffee that she was drinking as a cheap knockoff however. Her reasoning was linked to the arguments above. To Renko, “coffee” was simply a black liquid that was both bitter and acidic, which she only valued as a means to ingest caffeine.)

“Well, it is true that this time I couldn’t tell where the boundary between the dream world and the present was, but…”

Ever since Merry was discharged from the sanatorium in Shinshuu, there had been times where Merry not only could see beyond the boundary between this world and the dream world, but where doing so resulted in a time-displacement which removed her from the present time axis.

[28]

That phenomenon had occurred before when Merry and Renko had shared their senses. However, from the look on Merry’s face, it didn’t seem that she was as sure of what happened as when she had brought back an Izanagi plate fragment.

“…all that I saw… none of it made any sense,” Merry muttered.

“Well if that’s the case, I wonder what you really did see?”

“I have no idea. It was like I was inside a Dali painting.”

“Dali?”

“Oh? Miss Usami the know-it-all doesn’t know who Dali is?”

“Unfortunately I don’t. Care to fill me in on who this dreamer is?”

“He’s not a ‘dreamer’, just an artist.”

“An artist, huh.” Renko rolled her head back and up towards the sky, before putting her over both eyes with a look of disgust written all over her face.

“Stop it. You know I can never understand any of that poetic stuff,” Renko moaned.

“Are you sure? His paintings are as if you took facets of human psychology and fed them directly through a 2D plotter. They’re definitely worth a look.”

[29]

“But you can’t take any of that and boil it down into a set theory. It’s the same as the fact that no matter how you phrase a statement about the moon’s beauty, you can’t convey love.”

“You really don’t have any passion, do you?”

“Well, it’s not like you can make babies with passion.”

“Isn’t passion a necessary part of the process?”

“The way I see it, the kind of relationship you need to make babies is nothing but a form of mutual dependency. Why else do you think god would have necessitated a game-like process for our reproduction?”

“So you won’t recognize passion, but you’ll admit it’s like a game?”

“Well, of course.”

“Either way…” Merry smiled weakly. “I have the feeling our conversation not only lacks passion, but also is starting to get a bit vulgar.”

“Agreed. However…”

Renko paused and took her coffee cup between her thumb and pointer finger of one hand, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum as she rested her head on the palm of her other hand and stared straight at her friend.

“Whether what you saw was a dream or a product of your eyes being too sensitive… I wonder what it was supposed to show or mean,” finished Renko.

[30]

“Was she was saying to me was so abstract, I’m not even sure I’ve conveyed it accurately to you.”

“Well that’s to be expected. You know what they say, the only ones who can memorize Heine poetry are tape recorders. It’s impossible for normal people.”

“Is this you trying to console me?”

“I’m only stating the obvious.”

“If you say so.”

“Anyway, can you still see that human library?”

“No, unless you count me visualizing her when I trace back over my memories. I might be able to meet her again if I go back to the library, but to be honest, I’m not at all thrilled at the thought.”

“Good point. If I were you, I’d want to pass on a second encounter.”

“Right?”

“But I’ll admit, I’d still welcome a first encounter.”

“It was bad enough for me the first time…”

With a clack, Renko set her coffee-filled cup to the side and leaned in towards Merry.

“I wonder if I’d be able to see her, like that time before,” Renko said.

“Like that time before…? Oh, you mean the time with the Izanagi plate?”

[31]

“Yeah. If what you saw was really something beyond the boundary, then I might be able to sense a fragment of it. Then I might be able to help you understand it, don’t you think?”

“Hmm… Well, I’m not sure what you’ll see… but you might be able to see something… Shall we give it a try?”

Renko silently closed her eyes in response. Merry reached out her hand, so that her pointer finger and middle finger hid Renko’s eyes from her view.

Merry heard a squishy clicking sound as if a gear had started moving deep inside her brain, and noise started to fill her consciousness.

Merry felt her pupils convulse and her eyeballs tremble as her and Renko’s consciousnesses connected.

Quietly, she could feel the fibers ripped from both of their egos touch and tangle.

Renko’s consciousness came to Merry as a minor feedback to the signal of her own consciousness, and she felt a rough texture like sand on her tongue. She felt her feeling of balance slowly crumble under a rotating motion.

[32]

To make an analogy, it was as if there was a screen in front of Merry’s eyes that was split in two. The two separate halves were on the same timeline, experienced the same surrounding noise, projected the same crowds around them, but something was off. There was a sort of phase shift between the two sides, as if there was a small frame delay, a delay of less than point-five seconds. While this disparity continued, something different began to be displayed on the right side of the screen. It was as if someone had fed two layers of different film into the same projector. (For the sake of a half-crushed right eye.)

The two layers of screen began to bleed into each other. The fuse was lit. Filaments. Bamboo filaments. Filaments that carried the heat and burned scarlet. They did not glow. Instead only the distinctness of the shadows melted away.

A screen split in two halves. The bustle of students behind the screen. The shadows of people moving past. Mixing projections. Violet bellflower. The human library.

[33]

Scarlet velvet. A clock. A witches clock. It was a machine. A stage of human shaped clocks. Humans.

The gears turned, the human library’s cage’s bird.

There was the image of a human twisted into a rectangle. Beans spilt over the floor. The soft innards of a boiled bean, perhaps a portent of rebellion, an insurrection from the inside.

Images blurred in multiple layers.

A leg of the human library kicked down a man. No, wait. Those two images were from separate layers. That was only the product of the collage. The two images weren’t on the same axis of space, nor on the same axis of time.

Students kept walking by. One of their heads was a cash register.

Merry had only seen cash registers in reference books, in pictures from when people still frequented convenience stores. It was used in monetary exchanges. A machine made specifically to handle physical currency. A machine long dead.

[34]

Now the human library was kicking the back of the student with the cash register head.

There was a hat at the feet of a young man. There were several hats on the ground.

Again, this meant nothing in terms of space. This meant nothing in terms of time.

Upon the countless hats were eyes. A pattern of opened slits in the shape of eyes.

A single slit. It was placed on the ground. Regularity. What could be seen in it was a single spiral.

It was rotating. The hats were following the path of its rotation.

Everything was rotating. A rotating quiescent point.

“The child who suckles is a hot-flesh blower and doesn’t like hot-house cauliflower.” (L’enfant qui tête est un souffleur de chair chaude et n’aime pas le chou-fleur de serre-chaude.) Those letters alone kept spinning.

Merry’s split vision with the two halves split yet again. Now there were four quarters. The upper left and upper right were the same as before, showing the students. In the bottom right were endless diaries. In the bottom left was…

It was… an eye. An non-rotating pupil. Countless boundaries. Proclaiming. Ghost. What was there was. What it was was… a butterfly specimen.

[35]

“Stop!”

Merry’s hand was slapped away.

Merry could see Renko in front of her, her face as white as porcelain, her lips trembling.

“I’m sorry I just… Please…” Renko’s fingers were shaking.

“I-I should be the one apologizing,” said Merry.

“I’m… I’m going to go now, okay?” said Renko, hurriedly gathering her things before leaving without another word.

The bustle of the crowd began to fade away.

After all, it’s almost time for afternoon classes to start, thought Merry, standing up from her chair.

***

[56/291]

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

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

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

This an experiment.

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

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]

旧約酒場 ~ Dateless Bar “Old Adam” // Kyuuyaku Sakaba // Old Testament Bar

I needed to complete this a year ago, but better late than never, right?

Enjoy.

Notes:
燕石 “Enseki” (literally “Sparrow Stones) is a really rare word, but is a perfect fit for this CD. The word refers to the false jewels that can be found at 燕山 “Mt. Sparrow”. They look like precious stones but they are worthless, sort of like fool’s gold. So the word refers both to the fakes, and also the act of treasuring something as if it were rare, when it is really commonplace and worthless. In addition to this there was a series of rare books/journals written in the Edo period named 燕石十種 or “Ten Types of Enseki”, filled with strange tales and curiosities and customs. There were six series with ten parts each. I would say there’s a direct connection.

博物誌 “Hakubutsushi” is literally translated as “Document(/Magazine) of Broad Knowledge” (what it means is clearer if you understand that 博物館 Hakubutsukan is “museum”, and not limited to a museum that deals with history) but it is also the Japanese translated title of Pliny the Elder’s “Naturalis Historiæ” (Natural History), which was the first sort of encyclopedia ever compiled. A good modern corollary is a scientific journal, and I have translated it as such, but this is why the subtitle is called “Our Supernatural History”. Incidentally this “Natural History” included descriptions of things that were pretty much Western Youkai.

Maribel Hearn (マエリベリー・ハーン) is an approximation, where Merry’s first name has been posited as being closer in pronunciation to “my reverie” or a corruption of “mulberry”. Either way, it’s a play on words off of Yukari Yakumo. (紫八雲)

Chuunibyou (中二病) translates literally to “8th Grade Sickness”, and refers to delusions a kid of that age has about themselves and the world around them, and about how special they are. It is described better by ZUN in the afterward.

旧約酒場 ~ Dateless Bar “Old Adam”
 Kyuuyaku Sakaba
 Old Testament Bar

――幻視する者達が集う場所があるという。
そこは、旧型酒特有の眠くなるような甘い匂いのする酒場だった。
上海アリス幻樂団が奏でる、奇妙で癖の強い音楽集第九弾

-They say there is a place where those who can see the other side gather.
A bar from which wafts that sleep inducing, particular smell of old-style liquor.
The Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra brings you its ninth album, full of music with strong and peculiar tones.

01.
バー・オールドアダム
“Bar “Old Adam””

 「――いらっしゃいませ」

“-Welcome,”

 バーの愛想の無いマスターがこちらも見ずに言う。

said the bartender, without any feeling and without looking towards the door.

 「貴方がDr.レイテンシーですね。
  お待ちしておりました」

“You must be Dr. Latency. We’ve been waiting for you.”

 そう聞かれた髭を蓄えた初老の男性が、無言で手を上げる。
 否定とも肯定とも取れる仕草だが、こういう曖昧な態度を取る人間は肯定だと思われたいだけの人間である

A man with a beard in his forties or fifties raised his hand in response, without saying a word.
It was a response that could be taken either as an affirmation or negation, but the only kind of people who make those kind of vague gestures are ones who want others to take it as an affirmation.

 男はカウンターに座ると聞いた事も無い名前のお酒を頼んだ。

The man sat at the bar and ordered a drink I had never heard of.

 「あれ、誰?」
 「さあねぇ、いわゆる匿名希望って奴でしょう」
 と宇佐見蓮子は答えた。

“Huh, who is that?”
“Who knows? Bet he’s one of those people that wants to stay anonymous,” Usami Renko answered.

 マエリベリー・ハーン(メリー)の疑問は当然だ。
 Dr.レイテンシーとはメリーのペンネームなのだから。

Maribel Hearn (Merry)’s confusion was certainly justified.
After all, “Dr. Latency” is Merry’s pen name.

02.
燕石博物誌が連れてきた闇
“Dark Side of Japan”
 Enseki Hakubutsushi ga Tsuretekita Yami
 The Darkness Brought on by “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”

 「こんな不気味なお店に連れてきてまで、
  蓮子は見せたかったのはあのお爺さん?」
 「それは偶然ね。
  でも、秘封倶楽部の課外活動としては最高だわ」

“Renko, did you really bring me all the way to this creepy place just to show me that old man? You said you wanted to show me something, right?”

“Oh, his coming is just a coincidence. But really, this place is perfect for our Sealing Club’s extracurricular activities.”

 蓮子の話によるとこのお店では、夜な夜な 特殊・・な人間達が集まっては独自の経験談を語ったり、意見交換をしたりしているのだという。

According to Renko, some rather… strange people gather here every night to talk about their personal experiences and exchange opinions.

 蓮子は二人が作った同人誌、「燕石博物誌」を売っている時にその情報を仕入れたらしいが・・・。

Renko apparently heard about this place when she was selling the doujinshi they made, “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”…

 あくまでもこのお店の客に限っての話だが、燕石博物誌は有名で、殆どの客が読んでいて、内容も信じているのだという。
 それもそのはず、このお店に来ている客は皆、燕石博物誌に書かれているような体験と、同じような体験をした事があると言っているらしい。

She said that among the patrons of the bar, their report was famous. Most everyone here had read it, and believed its contents were true. Which made sense, given the fact that everyone who came to this bar claimed they too had experienced the same sort of happenings described in the report.

03.
リバースイデオロギー
Reverse Ideology

 今の時代、お酒を出すお店は大きく二つに分かれている。
 ”新型酒”を出す普通の店と、”旧型酒”を出す店だ。

In this day and age, the kind of establishments that serve alcoholic beverages are split into two types: the normal sort of places which serve “modern” liqour, and those which serve “traditional” liqour.

 新型酒は、一般的に広く呑まれているお酒で、酔いつぶれないような工夫がされている。依存も低く、比較的身体に害は無い。
 旧型酒は古くから呑まれてきたお酒であり、自然の酵母が作り上げたお酒である。多分にアルコールを含んでいるが、アルコールの分解を促進する酵素などは一切含まれていない。呑めば酔う。

Modern liquor refers to the kind which is most popularly consumed, and it is manufactured in such a way as to prevent drunkenness and hangovers. It is not particularly addictive, and it has relatively few side effects. Traditional liqour refers the kind that has been consumed historically, and is made using natural yeast. Despite containing a significant alcoholic content, it has no enzymes in it to help process the alcohol. If you drink it you will get drunk.

 このバー・オールドアダムは、旧型酒を専門に取り扱っているお店だ。

This place, “Bar Old Adam”, specializes exclusively in traditional liquor.

 新酒を取り扱うお店は、酔っ払いすぎる人がいないので、常に綺麗である。衛生的で健康的だ。
 一方、一般的に旧型酒を取り扱う店の方が、その古典的居酒屋の習わしからか建物も古く、汚いお店が多い。それに客も何だか質が悪いようだ。

As the establishments which serve modern liquor don’t have any patrons who get drunk, they tend to be clean and hygenic. On the other hand, the establishments which serve primarily traditional liquor tend to be in old buildings, like classical bars, and there are more dirty ones than clean ones. The kind of patrons that frequent those places don’t seem to be the best sort either.

 しかし、旧型酒の方が高く、貴重品なのだ。
 ここで価値観の逆転が起こっている。つまり、お金に余裕が有る者が、選んで汚いお店で酔いつぶれるという事態が起こっているのだ

Yet at the same time, traditional liquor is more prized and more expensive than modern liquor.
In other words, in this instance, the values system has been turned on its head. Those that have money to spare are going out of their way to get drunk in dirty bars.

04.
アウトサイダーカクテル
Outsider Cocktail

 「結構高いのね」
 「旧型酒だからねぇ。
  でも、いつもの安酒より本格的に酔えるわよ」
 「お酒に酔っても健康的にいられるのかしら」
 「健康的? よーく考えてみてよ。
  お酒、油、塩分、糖質、カフェイン、グルテン……、食の健康に
  関しては過度に注意するくせに、医療が進化すぎてなかなか人が
  死なないもんだから、計画的に寿命を決めようとしているでしょ?
  社会は人を生かしたいんだか、殺したいんだか判んないよね。
  高い金を払って旧型酒を呑んでいる人達はリアリストだわ」

“This is pretty expensive.”
“Well it’s traditional liquor after all. But with this we can get a lot more drunk than with the cheap stuff we always drink.”
“I wonder if you can get drunk and still be healthy.”
“Healthy? Think about it for a minute. Be it alcohol content, fat, sodium, sugar, caffeine, gluten… Despite the fact that we take so much care to balance these things in our food for our health, the advancements in our medicine have gone so far people don’t really die anymore. It’s gotten to the point where people plan out how long they want to live, right? I can’t tell anymore whether our society is trying to keep people alive or kill them. The people who pay lots of money to drink traditional liquor are far more realistic, I say.”

 お酒は人を饒舌にさせる。
 お酒を呑むと人は必ず自己肯定をする。これがアルコールの一つの効能だ。お酒はこの効能で、人間社会を裏から動かしてきたのである。

Alcohol makes people talkative.
When people drink alcohol they always end up affirming themselves. This is one of alcohol’s side effects. It is because of this effect that alcohol has always pushed human society along behind the scenes.

 マスターが二人のテーブルに黄色いカクテルを置いた。
 これは?と聞くと、「フォービドゥンサイダー」と答えた。他の客にも同じお酒を配っている。

The bartender brought two yellow cocktails to the pair’s table.
When they asked what it was, he replied that the drink was called “The Forbidden Cider”. He served the same drink to several other customers.

 「サイダー? ジュースなの?」
 「サイダーは林檎のお酒よ。
  このお酒が配られたと言う事は、どうやら始まりそうね」

“Cider? Is this some kind of juice?”
“Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from apples. Given that this is being passed around, it looks like it’s about to begin.”

05.
大神神話伝
“Story of Mythomiwa”
 Oomiwa Shinwaden
 The Myth of Oomiwa

 ――あれは数年前。奈良に行った時の話です。
 パワースポットで大変有名な三輪山に入山したんですね。
 ほら、私もオカルト好きの身として有名なところは大抵足を運んでいたんですが、そういえば三輪山には登ったことが無かったな、と思いまして。

-It happened a few years ago, when I went to Nara.
I was climbing Mt. Miwa, which is famous for being a spiritual power spot.
You see, as a lover of the occult, I had been to most of the famous spots before, when I realized one day that I hadn’t yet gone to Mt. Miwa.

 ええ、最近は県が入山を制限している事は知っています。その理由が公表されないので、逆に興味を惹いていますよね。

Yes, I know that in recent years the prefecture has put restrictions on who can climb the mountain and when, but when they never make clear the reasons why, it only grabs your interest more, doesn’t it?

 規制中なのに、どうやって入ったのかって?
 丁度その時、仕事も家庭も上手くいってなくて……。神頼みというか自暴自棄になっていまして。それで真夜中にこっそりと忍び込みまして……。

How did I get into the area when it was restricted?
Well you see, at the time I was having trouble at my job and with my family… I was kind of at the end of the rope so to speak and was willing to do anything, so I snuck in in the middle of the night.

 そうしたら嫌と言うほど判りましたよ。入山規制の理由が。

When I did it was painfully clear why they were keeping people away from the mountain.

 蛇ですよ。蛇。それはもう大量の蛇がウヨウヨしてまして……。
 三輪山では蛇は神様だから手が出せないんでしょうな。
 あれだけ蛇が増えて餌は何を食べているんでしょうねぇ……。
 奈良県の寿命統制がピカイチ進んでいるのは関係無いですよねぇ……。

There were snakes, tons and tons of snakes, slithering all about….
They probably couldn’t do anything about it, because at Mt. Miwa snakes are treated as dieties.
With that many snakes I wonder what they’re all eating….
It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Nara is leading the country in life span control, now would it?

06.
パンデモニックプラネット
“Pandemoniac Planet”

 ――人口が減って、人村自然分離の原則が支配している現在、山村の多くが廃村になった事は当然知っていると思う。

-As the population declines and the remaining population centers in cities, I’m sure you know that many rural villages in the mountains have been abandoned.

 しかし、僅かながら今も山奥に村を維持している地域がある事を知っているかい?
 俺はこういう村を探して訪ねるのが日課となっているんだが、つい

However, did you know that while few in number, there are still some areas deep in the mountains that still have been able to maintain their villages? I make it my daily routine to go out and search for those villages.

 数ヶ月前の事だ。山の多いあの県、奇妙な村を見つけてな。

This happened a few months ago, in that prefecture full of mountains. I found this really peculiar village.

 どうも村民も昔から住んでいたのでは無く、廃村を見つけてアウトロー達が住み着いたようだったんだが、とにかく変なんだよ。
 見た事も無い宗教が広まっていて、一日中空いでいる時間があれば必ず祠に向かって祈っていたんだ。

Now the people that lived there hadn’t been living there for generations, you see. Apparently a group of outlaws had found this abandoned village and made it their home, but it really was very strange. They had this religion unlike any I had ever seen before. Throughout the day, whenever anyone had any free time, they would always turn towards one of many little shrines and pray.

 それの何処がおかしいのかって?
 それがさ、祈っている対象が神か仏じゃなくて、あちこちの祠に納められていたのは、何やら黒い物体だったんだ……。

What’s so strange about that, you ask?
Well you see, they weren’t praying to any sort of god or the Buddha, but this black thing that was housed in all of the little shrines…

 それは誰かの髪の毛だったんだよ。
 髪の毛を拝んでいたんだよ、髪の毛教だよ。気持ち悪いだろ?
 恐らく、開祖は髪が薄かったんだろうな(笑)

It was hair. It was someone’s hair.
They were praying to hair. It was a hair cult. Gross, don’t you think?
I bet the founder of the religion had a balding problem, haha.

07.
旧世界の冒険酒場
“Fantasy Guild”
 Kyuusekai no Bouken’ Sakaba
 Old World Adventurer’s Bar

 「うーん。
  これって怪談大会?」
 「どうやら、それに近いわねぇ。
  真偽はわからないけど、一応本人の不思議な体験談って形をとっているね」
 「こういっちゃあ何だけど、秘密倶楽部みたいなバーで、いい大人達が……」
 「あら、後でメリーも体験を語るのよ」
 「うえー、やっぱり、そうなるよねー」

“Hmm… So is this some sort of scary story tournament?”
“I guess you could call it that. I don’t know whether these stories are made up or not, but it seems like they all follow a format of them being ‘strange personal experiences’.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t be talking, but for all these adults to be coming to this bar like it’s there version of our Sealing Club is a little…”
“Hm? Your turn to talk about your experiences is going to come around too you know?”
“Come on, really? I guess I should have known…”

 メリーは自らの不思議な体験は、紛れもない真実だと判っている。
 しかし、他人の不思議体験は何故か信じられなかった。人を誑かそうとしているとしか思えなかった。

Merry knew that her own strange experiences were all real. However, she wasn’t able to believe any of the strange experiences described by the other people in the bar. She couldn’t imagine any of those stories were anything but lies made to deceive others.

 ふと、何故蓮子は私の体験談を信じるのだろう、と思った。
 やっぱり、私の話が上手いからかな、とメリーは照れた。

At that point, Merry paused and wondered why Renko ever believed any of her stories.
“Maybe it’s because I’m just really good at telling stories,” she thought, blushing.

 「――蛇と同じで髪の毛の信仰は原始からあるね。
  再生性が何か人間の信仰プロセスに関わっているんだわ」

“-Well belief systems centered around both hair and snakes have been around since the beginning of time. Their resurgence must be connected to humans’ belief processes.”

 蓮子は殆どみんなの話を信じているようだった。

It seemed that Renko believed almost everyones’ stories.

08.
魔界地方都市エソテリア
“E.S.O.T.E.R.I.A.”
 Makai Chihou Toshi Esoteria
 Rural Makai City Esoteria

 「では、本日は初めて参加するお嬢さん。
  何か不思議で、他に類を見ない体験談はあるかな?」

“Well then, let us have the newcomer share. Miss, do you have a strange experience to share, one like no one has ever heard before?”

 「あ、はい。
  マエリベリーと申します。
  今からお話する内容は、全て私が体験した
  不思議で特異な体験談です」

“Um, yes. My name is Maribel. The story I am about to tell is something I have personally experienced, a unique and strange tale.”

 辺りが少しざわついた。
 メリーの放つ異世界のオーラなのか、
 それとも若い女の子が話すので驚いただけなのか。

The other people in the bar murmured to themselves. Was it because of the otherworldly aura that Merry gave off, or was it simply because they were surprised to see that the next person to tell their story was a young girl?

 メリーは色んな体験談を話した。

Merry talked about a number of her experiences.

 墓場から異世界を覗き見た事。
 異世界の竹林を彷徨った事。
 緑に侵食された衛星から宇宙を見た事。

She talked about how she peeked at another world from a graveyard.
She talked about how she got lost in the bamboo forest of another world.
She talked about how she saw space from a satellite overrun with plants

 異世界ではいつも異形の怪物に襲われた事。
 そして、誰かに助けられた瞬間、目が覚めて元の世界に戻る事。

She talked about how she had been attacked by monsters in other worlds.
She talked about how the moment she was saved by someone she always woke up back in this world.

 この場にふさわしい、異世界の冒険談だ。
 しかし何故か微妙に場の空気が重かった。

These tales, these adventures in other worlds were truly fitting for the occasion.
However, for some reason they did not seem to go over very well.

 その理由はDr.レイテンシーと名乗った男のひと言で判った。

That reason was made clear by the man who had passed himself off as Dr. Latency.

 「それはすべて、燕石博物誌に書いてある話だな。
  ここでは、自身の体験を語って貰う約束だ。」

“All of those stories are ones already published in ‘Dr. Latency’s Freak Report’. The rule here among us is that you only tell stories from your own experiences.”

09.
亡失のエモーション
“Lost Emotion”
 Boushitsu no Emotion

 メリーは蓮子の顔を見る。
 蓮子は軽く頷いた。

Merry looked at Renko.
Renko nodded.

 「申し訳ないです。彼女は皆さんの知識を試しただけです。
  これから起こる出来事を体験するには、あの本の内容を知っている事が前提ですので。
  実は、本に書かれていた異世界の一部を体験できるマジックアイテムを入手したのです」

“My apologies. She was just testing your knowledge. In order to participate in what is about to happen, we needed to make sure that you all knew the contents of that book. You see, we have come into the posesssion of a magic item that allows one to experience a part of that other world described in ‘Dr. Latency’s Freak Report’.”

 蓮子は手鏡を取り出してメリーに渡し、順番に見せてまわった。
 その鏡はメリーの能力により、異世界の風景を写し出していた。

Renko took out a hand mirror and passed it to Merry, who then showed it to everyone in the bar. Because of Merry’s power, that mirror reflected scenes from the other world.

 狂おしい緑。
 煙を上げる山。
 永らく侘びた神社。

There was maddening overgrowth.
There was a smoking mountain.
There was a long dilapidated shrine.

 誰もが燕石博物誌で読んだ情景に思いを馳せた。
 お酒が感情を増幅させるのか、涙を流す者もいた。

Everyone thought back to the scenes described in the “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report”.
Perhaps because the alcohol had magnified their emotions, tears ran down some of their faces.

10.
二日酔いの同床異夢
“The horse thinks one thing, and he that saddles him another.”
 Futsukayoi no Doushouimu
 Strange Hungover Bedfellows

 バーでの体験を終え、次の日。
 お酒のあった時はあんなに盛り上がっていたのに、何だか疲れて元気が無い。これが二日酔いという奴だろうか。

It was the day after that experience at the bar.
Despite being so worked up while I was drinking, for some reason I feel tired and a bit sick now. Is this what you call a hangover?

 結局、メリーが見せた異世界の姿が一番盛り上がりを見せた。

In the end, the climax of the evening was when Merry went around showing scenes from the other world.

 しかし、メリーはただ能力を使って自慢したわけでは無い。
 あんな物は殆どの人は手品か、そういう機能のある手鏡か何かだと思っただろう。

However, it wasn’t as if Merry had gone around bragging about her abilities.
Most of the people at the bar thought the whole thing was some sort of trick, or that it was some kind of special mirror.

 メリーのした事、それは、他人の体験談を自分達の物にする事だった。

To everyone, what Merry was doing was taking other people’s experiences and using them as her own.

 「どうだった?」
 「うーん、半分くらいはつくり話だったわね」
 「でも、上手くいったわね。
  メリーが鏡で結界の向こう側を見せると同時に、
  相手に触れて本当に異世界を見たのか探る作戦」

“So how did it go?”
“Well… about half of the stories were made up.”
“But still, I’m glad it went so well, that plan to touch everyone while you were showing them the mirror to see if they had really seen the other world before.”

 メリーは、よくとっさにそんなこと思いつくなぁ、と感心した。
 そう、蓮子はとても聡明で頭の回転が速いのだ。

Merry was impressed that Renko thought all of that up on the spot.
Renko really was very intelligent and could think on her toes.

 「ちなみに蛇の話と髪の毛教は本物だったわ」
 「やっぱり?
  あの二つの話は何か嘘にしては話が整っていなかったからねぇ。
  じゃあ、決まりね!」
 「何が?」
 「何が、ってそりゃあ、これから行くのよ三輪山に!」

“That story about the snakes and the one about the hair religion were real by the way.”
“Really? I did think those two stories were a bit too disorganized to be lies. It’s settled then!”
“What’s settled?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We’re going to go to Mt. Miwa! Get ready to go!”

 旧型酒の二日酔いが残るメリーは、キッパリと断った。

Merry, who was still hungover from all of the traditional liquor the previous night, flatly refused.

あとがき
Afterword

 どうも、ZUNです。連続してCDを作ってみました。

Hello, it’s ZUN. I decided to continue the previous CD with another.

 ストーリー的には燕石博物誌から繋がっています。
 前作、燕石博物誌を表にすると、今作は裏です。
 裏と言う事で、音楽的にも楽しむのが難しい曲を多めにしましたが、如何でしょうか。

Storywise it continues where I left off in Dr. Latency’s Freak Report.
If you consider “Dr. Latency’s Freak Report” the outer surface, this one describes what lies beneath.
With that in mind, I decided to fill this CD with music that is hard to enjoy. What did you think?

 今作のテーマは大人の中二病です。
 中二病とは使いやすい言葉ですが、そのモチーフを知るのは容易ではありません。恐らくは、純粋な自分から大人になる過程で、子供時代を恥ずかしく思う事が源流にあると思います。

The theme for this CD is “chuunibyou”.
“Chuunibyou” is a really convenient word to use, but it is not easy to really pin it down as a motif. I would say that in the process of transitioning from your pure self into an adult, you start to feel embarrassed of how you acted as a child, and this feeling is closely related to the drive behind “chuunibyou”.

 大人になることで、過去の自分とは異なり、その流れで周りの人間とも異なる、結果、理由も無く自分は特別な人間だと思うという流れです。
 だとすると、別に「封印された右手が~」とか「脳内に囁く~」とかそんなのは中二病の本質では無いという事になります。

When you start to mature, you differ from your past self, and in that process you also become different from others around you. The result is that for no real reason you start to think of yourself as special. If you consider that to be the case, then phrases such as “My sealed right hand~!” or “It whispers in my brain~!” don’t really have much to do with the true essense of “chuunibyou”.

 中二病の本体は生きる熱量である。
 想像力の爆発である。
 純粋さと創作性を合わせもつ、冷めた社会への対抗手段である。

“Chuunibyou”, at its core is the heat of life. It’s an explosion of imagination. It is a form of resistance by purity and creativity against the cold society we live in.

 最近思うんですよね。如何にして死ぬまで中二病を保てるのかと。
 それが出来れば、一生お酒を楽しめる筈です。

I’ve been wondering to myself lately, about how I’ll be able to hold on to my “chuunibyou” until I die. If I can manage that, then I’ll be able to enjoy alcohol for the rest of my life.

 上海アリス幻樂団 ZUN (ポケモンGOが_____)

Shanghai Alice Illusionary Orchestra ZUN (Pokémon GO is…)