At first nothing happened. “God” remained silent and motionless. But then suddenly, something ran across the wall. The countless graffiti all over the city gathered together, sucked into the god. Human blood, ink, and demon blood were absorbed into the god’s core. Red and black combined, forming a pattern resembling a mandala. With the word god at the center, the red and black colors formed complex patterns. And then the next instant, it crumbled. All colors were swallowed up by the wall. Everything vanished, and the wall returned to its original white.
Then it began to stir.
Rippling. No longer a wall.
It was white flesh.
Absorbing blood, the wall was turning to flesh.
“Using the blood of a creature above man to summon a god,” Mayuzumi mumbled.
The wall started bubbling. Flesh split and multiplied. Repeating the process of multiplication and culling, it eventually began to take shape.
A scene reminiscent of cell division.
First there was a tree.
Countless trees sprouted thin branches from the walls, their trunks slowly growing. Hundreds, thousands of leaves sprang, and several fluttered to the ground. But as soon as a forest large enough to envelop the man was formed, everything was sucked into the wall, and it reverted back to a flat surface. A moment later, countless fish leapt out, looking as if they were caught in a net and about to be lifted out of the water. Numerous fish jumped into the air and flailed about.
But those, too, soon vanished.
The next thing that appeared was a deer. The upper half of a buck with magnificent antlers materialized. Next was the buttocks of a brightly spotted fawn, followed by the legs of a slender doe—all of which were immediately swallowed up. Next grew the arms of a human being. Adult, child, old man, woman, man, all kinds of arms reached out as if hungry for something, then disappeared without grasping anything.
What’s going on?
What was the flesh trying to transform into?
“A god that has swallowed up everything in the universe,” Mayuzumi said. “Only matter within the realm of human imagination, though. Apparently that thing has swallowed up everything that exists on this planet.”
Beasts, people, nature, the sea.
Creating everything and reducing it to nothing, the god swelled.
Soon, the surface of the wall slowly began to rise. It squirmed as it took on a single shape. Like a fetus being formed from a lump of flesh, the wall started moving in a clear and definite direction. Trees, fish, beasts, people, birds, and insects were pasted all over the body as the wall gained volume and completed its own form.
A distorted humanoid was formed.
Huge arms slowly appeared from the wall, dripping with flesh.
“And it is born,” Mayuzumi murmured.
The god opened its mouth and let out an indescribable roar. As soon as it reached my ears, my whole body went numb. It felt like my heart stopped beating for a moment—a testament to how terrifying the god‘s scream was. It was impossible to even describe the sound in human language. Sweat drenched my entire body. I stared at the huge entity, forgetting the pain in my wounds. On its skin, the cycle of birth and death continued. All kinds of things were born, then returned to nothingness, swallowed up by the skin. The bizarre panorama, this enormous entity, had me convinced.
This was a god. It couldn’t be anything else.
Who in this world would call anything other than this a god?
Everyone else was speechless too. The man spread his arms out wide at the feet of the god, overcome with joy. The newborn god simply stood there. It did nothing, just stayed still. A god had been born. To borrow Mayuzumi’s words, it must be too heavy a weight. If so, what would happen to this world now? With the god standing still under a red sky, it looked like the end of the world.
“No,” Mayuzumi said softly. Her familiar voice sounded incredibly bored. “That is not a god.”
Silence fell. I pulled my gaze away from the god and looked at her.
While everyone was frightened, Mayuzumi had her normal, somewhat weary look in her eyes.
She had a chocolate in her hand.
The candy snapped.
“You can’t be serious. How can such an ugly creature be a god? It tried to present itself as various things, and settled with a humanoid being. That is an F. Absolutely ridiculous. He possesses a very poor imagination.”
“And how could this possibly captivate you, Odagiri-kun? If you think about it, it’s simple.”
She flashed her usual smile. Her sonorous voice echoed under the red sky, as if she were giving a speech. The man looked up and gazed at Mayuzumi. The god also turned its head slowly toward her. Its eyeballs resembled an insect’s compound eyes, filled to the brim with countless orbs. More than a thousand eyes looked at Mayuzumi, but she only smiled under the terrifying gazes.
In a mocking gesture, Mayuzumi twirled her parasol. “He used the blood of a demon to summon a god. Demons are just that, demons. Not gods. How can you create a god with the blood of a demon? Such an equation could never be valid. One plus does not equal a hundred.” She spat the last part out.
The man trembled. The god‘s whole body heaved as well, as if responding to its creator’s agitation. Then I remembered. A Minase’s ability was influenced by their own preconceived notions. The god he created was most likely inspired by his own notions too, in other words, his own faith.
But could you really call a creature sustained by such fragile things a god?
“Whether he uses my blood or the blood of a demon, it’s pointless. An entity created by a human being cannot be a god. You can never call it a real god. God’s in his heaven, and all’s right with the world—or not. You offer your faith and gods respond. That’s all they should be. They’re not something that can be created by human hands. That right there is nothing but an ugly clay work, a piece of his image of a god that had taken shape.”
Mayuzumi’s smile deepened.
“And even that will never be complete,” she said in a low voice, almost like a curse.
The god extended its arm as if to deny her statements. Immense pressure loomed before me. White flesh, rippling waves, human arms, animal legs, and bird wings appeared and disappeared in its palm. A huge weight was coming down on Mayuzumi. But she did not move. She wasn’t even scared. She looked at the mass of flesh approaching in front of her, smiled, and twirled her parasol, tracing a beautiful red circle.
I didn’t move.
There was no need to.
What I felt in my chest was absolute certainty.
She would neither die, nor get wounded.
Supernatural abilities can’t kill Mayuzumi Azaka.
The moment the god touched the parasol, it burst open from within. Like clay melting under intense heat, its flesh slowly fell to the ground. The body of the god started crumbling like all the beasts made of ink before it. White flesh trickled down.
“There are no gods,” Mayuzumi said as she watched the entity crumble like melted chocolate. “At least, to me.”
The god collapsed. Its melted flesh no longer retained even the most basic form of a living creature. A sea of flesh blanketed the entire city. The man, puzzled, reached for it. He touched the disintegrating flesh and stepped back. Beasts and fish peeling from the flesh rolled to his feet and leapt at him. Touching the dead flesh, he looked around. Then suddenly, he froze.
He stood still amid the sea of flesh.
A second later, he began wading through it all.
Towards the face of the god.
“What the…” I breathed.
As the god’s gigantic body crumbled, the sea of flesh became deeper and deeper. He had to get away, or he’d be in danger. But he pushed forward to the middle of the sea without hesitation, then stopped when he reached the area where the head disintegrated. That area’s skin was made of human beings. He reached for his mask, pulling on it repeatedly until he finally managed to take it off, and looked up to the sky.
His was a face of a calm young man, bearing a resemblance to Shirayuki.
A tearful smile appeared on his visage.
The man reached his hand out. He grabbed the arm of something from the lump of humans buried in the remnants of the god‘s head, and pulled it. Meanwhile, the dead flesh had now reached the man’s waist. Flesh corroded slowly, but he didn’t try to escape. Shirayuki jumped onto the pedestrian bridge railing and screamed at the man. She pleaded in her barely audible voice. But the man didn’t so much as look up. Eventually, the man, buried in flesh up to his chest, pulled something out of the sea of flesh.
A woman with black hair.
She had gentle features, and her eyes were closed, as though asleep.
She was still breathing softly.
The man gently and carefully stroked her hair. He kissed her forehead and hugged her tight, propping her body up with one arm. Suddenly, as though running out of strength, the man crumpled into the sea of flesh. The waves swallowed the two of them. Shirayuki screamed. The sea of dead flesh stretched further, engulfing the entire district—and vanished abruptly.
The sky slowly regained its blue color. The sensation of being underwater faded. The spirit world remained closed, swallowing the dead flesh. As soon as the world returned to normal, all sorts of noise reached my ears. Under the pedestrian bridge, cars drove off, horns blaring. Several people were walking through the daytime streets. Women heading to college passed by, chatting. A man who was about to cross the pedestrian bridge looked away when he saw us and ran down the stairs; he must have sensed something off by the way we looked. Shirayuki sank to the ground, holding on to the railing. Her small back was trembling. I tried to talk to her, but I couldn’t. Blood rushed to my throat. A small arm tugged at my sleeve.
Hearing Uka’s voice filled with concern, I collapsed on the spot.
Just before I slammed onto the hard concrete, I felt a white arm catching me. Shirayuki embraced me like a child. Maybe I was just imagining things. Either way, it didn’t matter.
If there was something I was sure of, it’s that something resembling a god was born—and her brother died.
It might have been a tragedy.
But I was sure he had no regrets.