V2 Story II – Part 08


Translator: Kell


A goldfish was swimming in the darkness. The red fish gracefully flicked its fins in the shadowy waters.

The creature, so vibrant that it seared the vision, swims along a gentle course.

It soared softly through the air, drifted a little, and glided over the ground.

Its fluttering fins looked like sleeves. Blood.

—Red. RED. Sleeves?

—Oh, was it not a goldfish?

I woke up from a shallow sleep. Yukihito’s breathing echoed in the darkness. I opened my mouth several times, trying to take in some oxygen. The air was awful. I wondered if Yukihito could feel it. I felt as if I were at the bottom of a stagnant pool of water. I reached for my neck. It was sticky with cold sweat.

Why? The room was terribly uncomfortable.

I let out a sigh and sat up. I looked around, but I couldn’t see Yuusuke. He was probably still outside. My head felt very heavy, and it wasn’t just because I was sleepy. It felt as if my skull was stuffed with algae. I decided to go outside to see if I’d feel better.

The door creaked open. The landing was narrow, only about three steps to the railing. Wind was blowing up from the bottom, probably due to the structure of the building. A spiral staircase was installed along the walls. It wasn’t that high, but looking down made me dizzy. I wanted to smoke, but I forgot to bring a cigarette. I studied the staircase as it wound overhead, then shifted my gaze down.

I spotted a red shadow.

Its soft sleeves swayed as if drifting in water. A red blood-like color stained my vision.

Something red was swimming in the air.

Was it a goldfish?

No, it was a human being.

Slowly she looked up. Moist, dark eyes were looking at me. She was a beautiful, middle-aged woman. Her mouth twisted into a grin. The next instant, her figure vanished. The outline of her silhouette became blurry, and the figure of a beautiful goldfish hung over it. Its large, strong fins flapped softly in the air.

I guess I was wrong. It was a goldfish.

For some reason, I felt no fear. My hazy mind just thought that there was no way a goldfish of this size could fit into a birdcage. In other words, Mayuzumi had made an unusual error in judgment.

This goldfish was so large that it could easily swallow a person whole.

The goldfish’s mouth opened, revealing abysmal darkness inside. The goldfish gracefully but powerfully flapped its fins. It opened its mouth and rushed forward. The wind pressure hit me in the face.

Then I woke up.

Right when I feared that I was going to get eaten. There was a stir in the pit of my belly. Pain slowly flooded from within. Something emerged rapidly from the bottom of my stomach. A young finger opened it. Like a butterfly breaking through its chrysalis, a blood-soaked arm reached out from my belly. Laughter erupted. The young arm gently touched the mouth of the approaching goldfish.

The child laughed as it crawled out of my belly.

The flesh on her face rippled. Her mouth spread wide open, and she ate the goldfish.

The goldfish disintegrated as it was devoured. Copious amounts of red liquid hit the landing. The smell of iron filled my nostrils, and the viscous red liquid spread around my feet and dripped onto the floor like raindrops.

So the goldfish was made of blood.

The moment I thought of that, my consciousness plunged into darkness.

A red woman was walking. With a sad look on her face, she gazed at the distant floor from the top of the stairs. There, two girls were cuddled together on a couch, their eyes closed. The woman pulled her eyes away and looked at the ceiling. Numerous birdcages hung from above, swaying. The woman studied her hands next. Her arms were beginning to show some wrinkles. She sank down on the spot.

My vision turned gray. A gray scene, as if splattered by gray paint, spread before my eyes.

A scene dyed in black-and-white.

But it collapsed the next moment.

Several memories intermingled, distorting my vision. The memory of a woman resembling a goldfish. And the memory of a stranger. All kinds of voices rang in my ears, and gray, noisy images flooded my eyes. Like a broken television, my vision switched from one person to the next. There were screams and cries. Amid the clamor, I heard a calm man’s voice. It reached my ears like some divine revelation.

I decided to create a god. They will criticize me. They will try to kill me. Nevertheless, I will create a god. I will summon a god. For that, I must stand higher than the gods. And I will need Mayuzumi Azaka.

I must transcend godhood.

If I could summon a god while being human, then it would be safe to say that I have surpassed the gods. To do this, I must dismantle my own preconceived notions. Only by transcending common sense do you become an esper. But this common sense itself is measured by human standards. That contradiction itself is what I have to overcome. That is what it takes to materialize an abstract concept like god. It is an incredibly difficult task, but one I chose to undertake. Through countless ruminations and contemplations, I have discovered that my god is apparently an all-encompassing being. The whole of creation. A one and true god that embodies everything is the perfect god for me. One worth risking my life for.

But I know the truth. My god is *********.

But there is no point in thinking about it. There is no need to even think about it. I feel as if I have been pondering this matter for a hundred years. But the truth is only a few years had passed.

Yet that day seems so far away.

God and ***.

If I had to wait a hundred years to see them, I would. But that will never happen.

I do not understand. I just don’t understand. I racked my brains hard, but I still could not fully grasp it.

How can a person forget someone?

Why do they tell us to forget?

***

“…giri-kun. Odagiri-kun.”

A familiar voice woke me up from my slumber. Softly I opened my eyes and saw Mayuzumi’s face. Feline eyes blinked in my blurry vision. It gave me comfort.

It was the usual sight.

Whenever I woke up after passing out, she was always by my side.

I put my hand on my stomach. It was closed. The child seemed to have gone back inside. I thought I smelled iron, and sure enough, there was a voluminous amount of fresh blood on the floor. Although my stomach was open, I don’t remember spilling that much blood. Shaking my head, I stood up and remembered the goldfish I saw before I fainted. It disintegrated as soon as the child in my belly bit it, turning into blood.

What in the world was that thing?

I opened my mouth to share what I saw, when I noticed that the faces of the people around me were slightly tense.

Did something happen?

I looked at Mayuzumi. Slowly, the corners of her mouth lifted.

“Ashiro… The old man is dead.” Despite her serious tone, her smile was mocking.

It was the first time I had heard his name. I pictured the old man I met last night. I couldn’t reconcile her words with that hideous smile that said he would live forever. He was dead. I couldn’t wrap my head around it right away.

“You will die a painful death one day, Sir Odagiri.”

He derided me, but his voice held an endearing tone.

Why did he die first?

I was stunned.

“His corpse had its blood drained,” Mayuzumi added.

The old man’s cause of death was most likely cerebral contusion. He apparently slipped while trying to climb the stairs and hit his head hard. According to the first one to discover his body, Yukihito, the old man’s head was smashed when he fell on the stairs, but his blood had already been drained at that point. He insisted that his death was not caused by hemorrhage. Mayuzumi agreed with him. She must have good reason to believe him. I didn’t feel like asking why. If she wanted to talk about it, she would, eventually. I couldn’t care less about it at the moment. I couldn’t hide my shock over the death of someone I had talked to yesterday.

Mayuzumi led me down the stairs, and I came face to face with the corpse of the old man just a few steps away from the hall. His head looked like some pomegranate with a deep laceration. His body was drained of blood, and his skin was shriveled. His cloudy eyes, wide open and staring straight into the air, looked like glass marbles buried in the ground.

What did he see in his dying breath?

“How did this happen?” I muttered as I regarded the old man’s miserable end.

He believed that he would die a normal death. Or at least in what he thought was normal.

Yet here he was.

He met a cruel end.

I bit my lip, seized by an inexplicable emotion. Suddenly, my ears caught a gentle sound.

O’ pretty goldfish

Wearing red clothes

I will give you a treat

If you wake up

The high-pitched, young voice came from the girl in the red kimono holding hands with Yuusuke. My eyes opened wide upon hearing her. I thought they couldn’t speak. When she finished singing, she shut her mouth. Yuusuke, holding both of the girls’ hands, was staring at Mayuzumi.

“Yuusuke-kun,” she murmured, meeting his gaze. “If you have something to say, say it. I don’t get angry at questions.”

“What will happen to these girls?”

“Who knows? Many wanted his goldfish. The same with his beautiful girls. I doubt they’re even in the official registry. I’m sure that if you get in touch with the right people, they would be in great demand. Just like goldfish, some collector would want to keep them.”

Yuusuke squeezed the girls’ hands tight, despising the idea. Emotions swirled in his eyes; he looked like he was about to cry. His feelings were painfully clear. Only monsters would treat human beings like goldfish. But there was nothing we could do about it. Taking them in would be a difficult process. And Mayuzumi, who had the power, would do nothing. She does not extend a helping hand that easily.

Could I take them in?

There was the problem of the demon in my belly. And I couldn’t afford it financially.

I bit my lip, then opened my mouth. “Mayu-sa—”

A hand wrapped in a bandage went up, and a folding fan snapped open. A brush moved across its surface at blinding speed.

“The Minase clan will take them in. I will not allow any objections. Would that be all right?”

“Clan head… I mean, Shirayuki-san. Are you sure about this?”

“Worry not. I am doing this of my own accord. I cannot leave them like this. That is all. I trust you have no complaints, Lady Mayuzumi?”

The fan snapped shut. Her gaze bore into Mayuzumi.

Mayuzumi glanced at Shirayuki and gave a casual nod. “If you say so, I have no complaints. Do what you want.”

The red goldfish

Makes a tiny bubble

Then wakes up

From its afternoon nap

The girl in the black kimono continued the song. Both girls closed their eyes softly, holding Yuusuke’s hands tight.



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