V4 Story I – Part 06

Translator: Kell


The second I screamed, my vision faded. Glass broke, and sharp pain shot through my palm. I realized that the glass ball had shattered, its shards embedded in my flesh. Heat had caused the glass to crack, it seemed. The coagulating blood inside flowed out and cooled rapidly, mixing with my own blood.

My torn palm ached. Not that I cared. In my mind I replayed what I just witnessed over and over.

Shirayuki… Shirayuki entered an unfamiliar building, and then what happened?

Was she dead?

A shiver ran through my whole body. I bolted upright, but my legs got tangled, and I fell face first onto the tatami mats. I couldn’t move my legs well, like my muscles had grown weak. As I propped myself up, shards of glass lodged themselves deeper into my palm. But I forced myself up anyway. I welcomed the pain, even. I needed to hang on to the pain, or I would lie down again and hug my knees.

This was no time to be whining.

What good were these legs for I didn’t stand up now?

I managed to get up. My head throbbed, like my brain was being stirred. I bent down and threw up. My stomach still convulsed, but there was nothing more to vomit out. Enduring the vertigo, I rose back to my feet, punched my shaking legs, and started walking.

I had to go. I had to find her.

Shirayuki could be dead.

How could I stay here?

Staggering, I managed to make it to the front door. I picked up my suit jacket, which I had tossed aside, and put it on. As I pulled it forward, the door creaked open.

The air rushed in, carrying with it the smell of rain. The shower had already stopped. Night had fallen. A thick and dense darkness, unique to summer, reigned outside.

I went down the stairs, carefully checking my each step. It had been so long since I’d been outside that it felt like I was dreaming. Arriving at the bottom of the stairs, I stared at the dark street. Cars were still running on the road in front of the nearby embankment, headlights cutting through darkness.

In the stifling heat, I looked around in confusion.

It was so spacious outside my apartment.

Where do I go from here?

How was I supposed to find her?

I realized then that I was powerless. Shirayuki was currently in danger. Every second counted. But I couldn’t even figure out where she had gone. A sense of helplessness seared my guts, and my knees felt weak. Fighting back tears, I continued on my way. Accusatory words spun around in my head.

It’s no use. There’s no point. This is a complete waste of time.

How can I be sure that my taking action won’t bring about the worst possible outcome?

Just do nothing and close your eyes. Everything will be over soon anyway.

Why move, then?

I could hear the fox whispering in my mind. Or perhaps it was my own voice. But I ignored it and kept walking. I made my way to the bus stop with no destination in mind. Every step I took aggravated the wound on my belly, and blood soaked my shirt. I hastily buttoned up my suit to hide the bloodstain.

Move. Move. Move. Move. Move!

Don’t think about anything else.

My mind completely blank, I reached the bus stop. The traffic had decreased considerably. Headlights reflected golden off the wet road. I plopped myself down on the wet bench. Warm water soaked into my pants.

She said she would pay back their debt. She fought for me.

If I was going to die, I should at least die while helping her. No. I shouldn’t think like that anymore. I shouldn’t hope to help others. It was too heavy a burden for me to bear.

But still, I didn’t want her to die.

I wanted to help her.

Then my only choice was to keep moving.

When I got on the bus, I was met with an odd look. My body was covered in grime, my beard had grown, and my hair was a mess. The only reason I wasn’t denied boarding was probably because there were no other passengers heading to the station at this hour. I paid the fare, relieved to find my wallet in my suit jacket. Instead of sitting down, I grabbed the strap. The window reflected the image of an enfeebled stranger.

I looked miserable.

On arrival at the subway, I bought a ticket and got on the train, keeping my face hidden. I went past several stations. Then I realized where I was headed.

What would I do once I got there?

How do I even face her?

Aghast, I stayed in my seat. I didn’t feel like getting off at any other station. The train passed through downtown, the city center, and headed east, until eventually stopping at a familiar station.

I disembarked at a place I’d frequented before.

As I climbed the stairs, my legs trembled from exhaustion and pain. I left the subway and ascended the hill step by step. Since this district had both a high school and university, there were many students here. Perhaps that was why there were no more people around at night. I remembered the incident with the Minase clan. That day, we were transported to the spirit world and sprinted through the deserted streets.

I made my way to my destination with the gait of someone walking toward their execution site.

If I didn’t want to do this, I could just stop. But I kept my legs moving.

I looked up at the apartment complex and saw one room with light. A bizarre sight, but the resident probably didn’t care one bit.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. Like a moth drawn to the light, I continued. I stopped in front of the automatic door and went inside. The interior of the complex had not changed one bit. I got off the elevator at the usual floor and looked down at the streets from the corridor.

A sea of blurry lights came into view. The smell of rain wrapped around my body. Grabbing the wet railing, I lumbered to the apartment unit.

I pressed the doorbell, but no one answered.

Not that it was anything new. She was probably sitting on the couch with a bored look in her eyes.

I took out the duplicate key from my jacket. Holding my breath, I inserted it into the lock. At that moment, my heart rate reached its peak.

I turned the key, and the door opened with surprising ease. Cool air and a sweet smell drifted out.

The air conditioning in this unit was perfectly controlled by its occupant.

The summer heat did not have any effect on it.


The familiar sound of chocolate crumbling under teeth almost brought tears to my eyes.

As I plodded forward, I saw a small figure sitting on the couch. Her black hair was adorned with a fancy headdress. The ribbons attached to the ends swayed as she reached tiredly for a candy.

Mayuzumi was eating chocolate today too.

She would never change.

I moved my feet again and stood in front of her, unable to utter a single word. Mayuzumi did not lift her gaze. Silently she shoved a chocolate truffle into her mouth.

I stared at her blankly.

I thought I had something to say.

But whatever I had in mind vanished as I watched her.

I sat down on the couch across her like I always did. Mayuzumi remained silent. She didn’t complain about the stench mixing in with the aroma of chocolate.

A red goldfish was fluttering gracefully in the water tank.

The sound of chewing continued.

Steeling myself, I spoke.

“Um… Mayu-san.”

“Yes, Odagiri-kun?” she replied easily.

Mayuzumi looked at me for the first time.

Her cat-like eyes flickered. She looked bored, as she always did.

There was no note of derision or disdain in her eyes.

They looked exactly the same as before.

Tears clouded my vision. I bolted to my feet and stood in front of Mayuzumi, my kneecaps banging against the table. She raised her head languidly and gave me an uncaring gaze. Keeping my eyes on her, I clenched my fist.

And I dropped on my hands and knees.

“I’m sorry!” I shouted from the top of my lungs.

Mayuzumi, however, did not respond. Tears rolled down my face and onto the floor. I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t say anything else.

I quietly waited for a reply.

A moment later, something hit me on the head.

I raised my head, and it fell out of my hair. A piece of chocolate wrapped in thin paper rolled on the floor.

“You shouted out of nowhere, got down on your knees, and just stopped moving,” Mayuzumi said with a scowl. “Are you waiting for moss to grow? If you don’t want to get stuck down there, then get up. You’re ruining the mood. For your information, getting down on your knees without warning like that will only confuse people. At least read the room. Seriously, what’s the matter with you?”

She dismissed my apology like it was nothing.

She still had the same sharp tongue.

She nibbled on her chocolate like a small critter. “Following my order of wearing a suit to work is admirable, but it’s hard to tell if you’re actually wearing it properly.”

I followed her astonished gaze to myself. My dirty tie was tangled around my neck. Two of the buttons on my shirt were undone, and the collar was open. The only decent jacket I had was wrinkled. I was surprised I wasn’t arrested.

Mayuzumi clapped her hands together. “First things first, Odagiri-kun. Go take a shower. I’m not going to walk around with you looking like that. I don’t mind being talked about behind my back, but we’d get arrested for sure. And I can’t be bothered to pretend like I don’t know you. I’ll lend you something to wear, so can you please return to human civilization?”

I had yet to tell her about Shirayuki.

I couldn’t handle it on my own, so I came to the office. But I didn’t know how to ask for Mayuzumi’s help. I didn’t think she would willingly enter the fox’s new trap. Mayuzumi looked at me, her lips twisting into a mocking smile. She crossed her legs and rested her chin in her hand.

She was wearing a look that said she knew everything, a look that I hated. Her eyes glinted like a cat’s.

“And then we’ll start from there,” she said with her trademark smile.

Leave a Reply