KnK Chapter 3 Part 13

6

Broad Bridge is distorted like it has been squeezed by a giant hand. Arguing with the guard after coming here in the storm with Tohko-san’s buggy, Shiki shows up from under the bridge with a blood-soaked arm. The guard runs to Shiki but Shiki tackles him and gets him unconcious.

“Yo. For some reason, I thought you would be here.”

Shiki says so with a pale face. There were so many things I wanted to say but it all disappears once I see how weak she is. I run to her to help her, but Shiki refuses and would not even let me support her.

“So you managed with just one arm, huh, Shiki?”

Tohko-san seems surprized. Shiki glares in discontent.

“Tohko, She came up with Clairvoyance in the end. She’ll have a ridiculus power if you leave her be.”

“Clairvoyance, huh? Certainly, if you add that to her power, she’ll be invincible. She would be able to make a fulclum even if you are hiding… Huh? If you leave her be…?”

“She returned to pain insensitivity at the very end. That’s cheating. Asagami Fujino in that state can’t be my target. I couldn’t do anything else so I just killed the disease in her stomach. She might make it if you hurry.”

Shiki did not kill Asagami Fujino. Understanding that, I quickly call the hospital. I’m not sure if they would be willing to come in this storm, but if they won’t, I’ll just take her myself. Fortunately, her doctor agrees to come. The doctor was worried about the disappeared Fujino, and it seemed he was crying over the phone. There may not be many, but Fujino still has people on her side. I am moved. Behind me, the two is having a dangerous conversation.

“Did you stop the bleeding on that arm? It’s not bleeding it seems.”

“Yeah, I killed it cause it was useless. You can make an arm, right? You’re a puppet master after all.”

“All right. That will be your pay for this job. I always thought that your body is too normal in contrast to you eyes. I can make that left arm be able to grab spirits and such.”

… I don’t want them talking about such things.

“An ambulance is going to come here. It’ll be lots of trouble to stay here, so do you want to get away?”

Tohko-san nods but Shiki is silent. … She probably wants to make sure that Asagami Fujino does get taken away safely.

“Since I contacted them, I’ll stay here. I’ll tell you what happened, so you can go back.”

“In this strong rain? You sure are strange. All right, let’s go back, Shiki.”

Shiki refuses Tohko-san’s offer. Tohko-san makes a mean smile and gets on her off-road buggy that seems totally illegal.

“Shiki. Don’t kill Kokutoh just because you couldn’t kill Asagami Fujino.”

Tohko-san says so seriously and drives off. In the summer rain, Shiki and I end up finding shelter under the nearby warehouse.

***

The ambulance comes in no time and carries off Asagami Fujino. In this storm, I cannot see her face. I cannot make sure that she’s the girl from that one night, but I think that’s for the best. Shiki blankly stares into the night. Shiki stands there wet in the rain. She is glaring at Fujino all this time. I ask her heart within the sound of rain.

“Shiki, you still can’t forgive Asagami Fujino?”

“…… I don’t care about the one I already killed.”

Shiki declares so. There’s no hate or anything there. For Shiki, Fujino must be someone she does not know now. … It’s sad but that might be the best result for those two. Shiki casts a glace at me.

“How about you? You say murder is wrong no matter what the reason is.”

She seems like she’s asking herself the question.

“… Yeah, but I sympasize her. To be honest, I have no feeling about the guys who violated her getting killed.”

“That’s unexpected. I was hoping for your popular opinion.”

… Do you want to be blamed, Shiki? But you didn’t kill anyone. I close my eyes and listen to the rain.

“Really? But that is my opinion. Because, Shiki, even though she lost herself, Asagami Fujino is a normal girl. She will take in what she’s done without changing the facts to suit her. Even if she does give herself up to the police, no one can prove what she’s done and she won’t be socially responsible for her sins. That’s what makes it more difficult.”

“Why?”

“…… I think sins are things people burden themselves with their own will. A burden that one casts on themselves according to their views, that is what a sin is. The more compassion you have, the heavier the sin that you burden become. The more common sense you have, the heavier the sin that you burden become. Asagami Fujino’s sins become heavier and more painful as she gets happier.”

Shiki tells me I’m too good-natured.

“Then does that mean those without compassion have no sense of sins?”

“I don’t think no one will have no sense of sins. It means that their sins are light, but it is still there. A small sin within their small compassion. For us, it might seem trivial like tripping on a road, but for that person, it becomes a burden. Even the small pain for us becomes an unpleasant feeling for those with small compassion. No matter the weight, the meaning of a sin is the same.”

… Yes. For example, Minato Keita was frightened up to insanity probably because of his realization of his sins. He cannot atone for his regret, sense of guilt, fear, or impatience, but all he can do is try to atone for them.

“Certainly, it must be easier to not be responsible for your sins socially. But if no one punishes you for your sins, you have to carry your sins yourself. Guilty conscience is not something that goes away, right? You have memories of it. Since no one forgave you for it, you cannot forgive it yourself. The wound in your heart never heals and it will continue hurting. Like her sense of pain remaining, the wound would never heal. As you say, heart does not have shape…… so I think a wound on it cannot be treated.”

Shiki is listening silently. Maybe because I looked up Fujino’s past, I’m unusually poetic. Shiki sudddenly gets out of the cover of the warehouse and goes out into the rain.

“So you’re saying this. The more common sense you have, the more sense of sin you have. That’s why there’s no bad people in this world. But I have no such thing. Can you let such a person on the loose?”

Now that she says so, that is indeed true. Before you can call Shiki good or bad, she has a small sense of common sense.

“I see. Then I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll have to burden all your sins then.”

That is my true feeling. It seems to have caught Shiki off guard as she stands there dumbfolded. After getting hit by the rain for a while, Shiki murmurs uncomfortably.

“… I finally remember. You say those kinds of jokes with a straight face. To confess, Shiki found it hard to deal with such a thing.”

“…… *Sigh* I see. I do think I can at least carry one girl on me, you know.”

I argue timidly, and Shiki laughs.

“To confess one more thing, I think I burdened a sin with this thing today. But I found out one thing in return. What my life is, and what I want. It’s vague and fragile, but I will have to follow it for now. It turns out that what I’m following isn’t as ugly as I thought it was. I’m a bit happy. A bit… A killing impulse that is slightly leaning towards your view…”

… I can only frown at her last sentence, but Shiki is beautiful as she smiles saying so in the rain. The storm should go away by the morning. I keep staring at Shiki, who is in the summer rain. Come to think of it, that is her first true smile she showed me since she recovered from the coma…

Remaining Sense of Pain
Fin

KnK Chapter 3 Part 12

While the storm is hitting town, I return to the office. When I enter the office wet with rain, Tohko-san greets me by dropping her cigarette.

“You’re fast. It’s only been a day.”

“I heard a storm was coming so I came back before the transportation stoppped.”

Tohko-san nods while making a difficult face. I wonder if something is wrong… No, right now……

“Tohko-san, about Asagami Fujino. She was not born with her pain insensitivity. She was normal until she was six years old.”

“What? That can’t be true. Look, even though she has pain insensitivity, it is not affecting her physical activities. If you say her pain insensitivity came after she was born, hollow spine would be the case. But that causes problem with physical activities. A such rare case where she only lacks the sense of pain can only be that she was born with it.”

“Yes, that’s what her personal doctor said too.”

I want to tell her what happened in Nagano from the beginning but there’s no such time. I tell her about the Asagami family… no, the AsaGAMI family in a short summary.

“The AsaGAMI family was a respected family, but it has gone broke when Fujino was around twelve. Fujino came to the Asagami family of now to her mother at that time. It seems Asagami is a family branched off from the AsaGAMI family, and they took care of the borrowed money in want of their land. Fujino had her sense of pain when she was small. But in its place, she had strange powers. They say she could bend things without touching them.”

“… And?”

“She was hated as the devil. She received oppression too. But from the time Fujino turned six, the power has disappeared, along with her sense of pain.”

“………”

Tohko-san’s expression changes. I can tell she’s getting excited from her smile.

“She gets a personal doctor from that time, but there is no record of that at the AsaGAMI house. It’s because that place is empty now.”

“What the… The important part is next, but this is it!?”

“Of course not. I found the personal doctor and talked to him.”

“…… You’re working smart, Kokutoh.”

“Yes, I followed the record and went to Akita. He is an underground doctor without licence, so it took me a whole day to get the story out of him.”

“… I’m amazed. You should become a detective if you get fired from here. I’ll make you my personal detective.”

I reply that I’ll think about it, and continue on with my story.

“It seems this doctor only provided medicine. He said he doesn’t know why Fujino became pain insensitive. He said that is her father’s doing alone.”

“Her father did it himself? Do you mean the curing or giving her medicine?”

I nod to the small difference between the two.

“Giving her the medicine of course. According to the doctor, Fujino’s father had no intention of curing Fujino’s pain insensitivity. Most of the medicine that the doctor provided is Aspirin and Indometacin, steroids. According to the examination by the doctor, he says Fujino probably has Neuromyelitis Optica.”

“Neuromyelitis optica…… Devic’s disease, huh?”

Devic’s disease. It is a type of myelitis and it is a disease that causes numbness of the senses. Popular symptoms are numbness in the lower legs and eyesight going bad. It even has the danger of making one blind. This disease requires early treatment with steroids. The steroids are what Tohko-san said before… what they call adrenocorticosteroid.

“To add, they use Indometacin which numbs the sense of pain. I see. That would indeed make her like that. She’s not inherent or posteriori. Asagami Fujino lost her senses artificially. It’s the exact opposite of Shiki!”

Tohko-san starts to laugh. It’s a bit scary as she is like the professor I saw yesterday.

“Tohko-san, what is this Indometacin?”

“It’s a pain-killer. It doesn’t matter if it’s pripheral or referred pain, pain occurs from reaction to “outside force that might endanger life”. Algesic substance is made inside your body and it stimulates the nerves relating to pain, signaling your brain of the pain. It tells the brain that the body will die if it doesn’t do something. You know algesic substances, right? There are things such as Kinin and Amin, as well as Arachidonic Acid metabolites which strengthen the two. Such things as Aspirin and Indometacin controls the Prostaglandin which is in this Arachidon. The pain from Kinin and Amin isn’t much, so taking in a lot of Indometacin would take away most of the pain.”

Tohko-san seems really happy as she is relatively high.

To be honest, this Arachidon and Kinindon thing seems like monster names to me.

“So it’s a medicine to erase pain?”

“Not directly. If you want to erase the pain, a drug called opioid would do much better. There’s the endorphin thing, right? It’s that thing that the brain secretes to ease the pain. It works like that and opioid kills the pain in the central nervous system. …… Well, I guess all this has nothing to do with the subject. I see. Asagami Fujino’s father decided to seal her power by sealing her senses. A family totally opposite of that of Ryohgi, who tries so hard to make ones with power. But what’s sad is her power became stronger by doing that. Magi from around Egypt area stitch their eyes shut to keep their Mana within them. What’s the different between them and Asagami Fujino?”

… I was prepared for Tohko-san’s words, but I’m still shocked. I knew already that Asagami family has children that has special powers like that of Asagami Fujino… ones born with diffferent channels. They dispited those children and tried to seal their power by any means possible. The result of that is… pain insensitivity. To close off the chanel of special powers, they also closed the function of senses. That is why Asagami Fujino operates her power when her pain returns… because her sealed senses return.

“That’s terrible. The only way for her to stay normal is to be abnormal.”

That’s right. Asagami Fujino could be in our world only by being abnormal in the form of pain insensitivity. But as long as she cannot feel anything, she cannot earn anything. She is only a ghost allowed to live in our world.

“If she did not feel pain, she would have not killed anyone.”

“Hey now, don’t treat pain like it’s a bad thing. Pain is a good thing. The bad thing is the wound, you shouldn’t get this wrong. We need pain, no matter how painful it is. People can recognize danger because we have pain. Do we get away from fire because it puts our hand on fire? No. It is because our hand is burning, and it hurts. If that’s not the case, we won’t know the danger of fire until our hand burns off. It is right for pain to be painful, Kokutoh. Anything that doesn’t have that cannot understand other people’s pain. Asagami Fujino was hit in the back and got her sense of pain back temporary. She defended herself for the first time from the pain she received after that. Those people that she didn’t notice as danger before, she was able to recognize as dangerous because of pain. … Still, killing them was too much.”

… But Fujino does not feel pain. Those people died because of her defending herself, but they are partly responsible as they attacked her. You cannot make her hold all responsibility.

“Tohko-san, can she be cured?”

“There is no wound that cannot be cured. A wound that cannot be cured should be called death.”

Tohko-san indirectly calls Asagami Fujino’s wound as death. But the cause of these incidents are the stabbed wound in her stomach. If that pain is to come back, if the cause of that pain is known……

“Kokutoh, her wound cannot be cured. It will only continue to hurt.”

“Huh?”

“She has no wound to begin with, Kokutoh.”

…… Tohko-san says an unexpected thing.

“Um… what do you mean by that?”

“Think about it. If you get stabbed in the stomach, would the wound heal by itself? In a day or two?”

… That… is true but…

I get confused at the point Tohko-san is making that goes against all assumptions. Tohko-san tries to hold back her laughter.

“Like you investigating Asagami Fujino’s past, I also investigated Asagami Fujino’s present. Fujino has not gone to any hospital since the 20th. She did not even go to her personal doctor that she sees secretly.”

“Personal… what!?”

Tohko-san frowns in amazement.

“… You’re good at searching for things but lack in insight. Look, the scariest thing for a pain insensitive person is something wrong with their body. Since they do not have pain, they cannot know any sickness they have. As a result, they have a doctor look at them from time to time.”

I see. She is completely right. Then… does Asagami Fujino’s parent now not know of her pain insensitivity?

“The trigger was a trivial misunderstanding, Kokutoh. Fujino was taken down by a guy with a knife and thought she was going to get stabbed. No, I bet she did almost get stabbed. Since her sense of pain returned at that time, she could use her power too. Cut or twist… Fujino happened to be first. As a result, the guy’s neck was twisted off and his blood spilled onto Fujino’s body. Fujino must have thought that she must have been stabbed in her stomach.”

I can clearly imagine the scene… I shake my head.

“But that’s strange. If her sense of pain is back, she wouldn’t make that kind of a mistake. She would not feel pain if she was not stabbed.”

“Fujino was in pain from the start.”

……… Huh?

“I was shown her status from her doctor. She has chronic Arrihythmia… what people call Appendicitis. Well, I guess that is why she went to the doctor. Her pain in the stomach is not the pain from the knife, but rather an internal pain. Her pain ached from time to time. If her sense of pain returned right before being stabbed, she will surely misunderstand that she was stabbed. If you are raised not knowing pain, you wouldn’t even make sure if the wound is there or not. Fujino would look at the stabbed stomach, and even if it doesn’t have a wound, she would think that the wound must have healed.”

“So… it’s a misunderstanding?”

I say so without strength.

“The wound itself is. But the truth does not change. She was indeed on the edge. It doesn’t matter if the knife was there or not. Her only way out was to kill them. If she did not kill, she would have been killed. Not her body but her mind. But unfortunately, Minato Keita got away. I don’t think it would have turned out this bad if her revenge was completed then.. It’s just like Shiki said. It’s too late.”

Come to think of it, Shiki did repeat that. Why would it be too late? Is it because Fujino has committed murder? But then, that would be when she killed those four guys. I don’t understand.

“Why is it too late?”

“Shiki must mean the mental part. Her murder is murder up to five people. A murder other than those are not murder, but a massacre. It is not justified. That is what Shiki was angry about. … Shiki has a taste for murder but she still understands unconsciously how important death is. That is why she does not kill indiscriminately like Asagami Fujino. For Shiki, she cannot forgive Fujino for doing as she wishes.”

Is Asagami Fujino really doing as she wishes? To me, it seems like she is running away desperately. Tohko-san continues.

“But what I mean by too late is the physical part. Arrihythmia perforate when left alone and becomes Retinitis. Inflammation of retina comes with pain uncomparable to that of the vermiform appendix. You could say it matches the pain from being stabbed with a knife. Then, one would start getting fevers and cyanosis. They may even get shocks from lowered blood pressure. If it reaches the duodenum, you would die in half a day in the worst case. It’s been five days since the 20th. It should already be perforated. It’s too bad but it’s fatal for her already.”

How can this person make such a cool face and say that?

“It’s not too late yet. We have to find her quickly…!”

“Kokutoh, our client for this is Asagami Fujino’s father. He must have known about Fujino’s power. That is why he heard about the incident and thought it must be Fujino’s doing. That father said to “kill that monster”. The only one that can protect her is wishing for her death. See Kokutoh, she has no salvation in all senses. And besides, Shiki already left.”

“…… You idiot…!!”

I scream at no one.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 11

Shiki slowly appears. Fujino cannot believe her eyes. Shiki comes out directly in front of her, and far away too. Fujino does not notice but her fever is over 39 degrees now. She does not realize that the pain in her stomach is from a “certain condition”.

“… I see. …… You must be abnormal.”

Fujino can only think so. Fujino looks at Shiki and bends. Her vision distorts. The fulclum made in Shiki’s head and leg each twists in the opposite direction and twists Shiki’s body like a piece of rug.

… It should have twisted her.

Shiki, whose left arm is bleeding, nullifies Fujino’s “distortion” just by swinging the knife in her right hand. No…… she killed it.

“It’s hard to see those without shape but you used your power too many times. Now I can finally see them. Your power is a spiral of red and green. It’s really… beautiful.”

Fujino does not understand what Shiki is saying. The only thing she realizes is that Shiki will surely kill her now. Fujino repeatedly prays. Bend, bend, bend, bend. As Fujino glares so, Shiki swings her knife and eliminates the power. Fujino’s pain in her stomach is about to go over its limits.

“Who…… are you?”

Shiki answers Fujino’s fear with infinitely deep eyes.

“Everything in existence has an imperfection. Not to mention humans, but even in air, will, and time. It’s natural to have an end if it has a beginning. My eyes can see the death of things. They’re special like yours.”

Shiki looks at Fujino with eyes that Fujino felt was omnious before.

“That’s why… if it’s alive, I can even kill God.”

Shiki runs. It is graceful as if she is walking. She runs to Fujino and pushes her down onto the ground. Shiki get on top of her. Fujino shakes her throat at facing Death so close to her.

“Are you… going to kill me?”

Shiki does not answer.

“Why are you going to kill me? I only killed because my wound was hurting.”

Shiki laughs.

“That’s a lie. Then why are you laughing? That time before, and even now. Why do you seem so happy?”

Fujino hesitates. Fujino quietly places her hand on her own mouth.

…………… It’s bent.

She did not know because she does not feel anything, but she is certainly smiling……

My first murder.
… How did my face look in the pool of blood?

My second murder.
… How did my face look in the pool of blood?

I do not know but there was always an irritation. I was always irritated when I killed. Was that emotion… happiness? I could not even feel anything when I was raped, so I took pleasure in murder……?

“In the end, you were enjoying it. You like hurting others. That’s why that pain would never go away.”

It is because if the pain goes away, Fujino would have no reason to kill. The wound will continue hurting, for the sake of Fujino herself.

“……… That is…… the answer?”

Fujino murmurs. She does not want to accept it. She does not want to think about it. Because she must be different from Shiki……

“I told you, we are alike.”

Shiki’s knife moves. Fujino screams at the top of her lungs… For everything to bend.

The parking lot shakes. The ocean in the middle of the storm appears inside of Fujino’s mind. Withstanding the burning in her brain, Fujino makes a fulclum on each side of the bridge…

… And bends them…

***

*BOOM*

A big noise as if a lightning came down occurs. The metal foundation creaks and screams. The ground tilts and the ceiling starts to collapse. Fujino blankly stares at the building that is about to collapse. The girl that was on her went down as the world suddenly tilted. There is a storm outside with ocean below. If she fell without being able to grab onto something, she will surely die. Fujino orders her body that is even having trouble breathing. She tells it that this place is going to collapse, so she has to get away from here. Dragging her body about to burn out, Fujino exits the parking lot. The shopping mall is relatively free of damage. The square corridor is now a rhombus.

Fujino walks, thinks she is walking… but falls. She cannot breath. Her legs would not move. Her head is in a daze and she cannot think. What is there is…… yes, only the strong pain inside of her. For the first time, Fujino thinks she is going to die. Because it hurts so much. This is unbearable. It’s better to just die rather than living on with this pain.

“…… *Cough*”

Laying face down, Fujino coughs out blood. On the ground, she is in a daze. In the vision that goes white, only her blood is clear. Red blood… red vision. The setting sun seems like it is burning… always seems like it is burning…

“No…… I do not… want to die.”

Fujino reaches out her arms. If her legs would not move, she will have to use her arms. Dragging her body, she inches forward. If she doesn’t do so, Death would come for her. Fujino keeps moving. All the senses in her are pain. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts… that is the only words she can think about. It is the feeling of pain she finally obtained, but she hates it now. But…… it is true. It hurts… it really hurts, so she wishes she does not want to die. She does not want to disappear. She has to keep living and do something. Because she have not done anything, left nothing behind…

That is too miserable.
That is too empty.
… That is too sad.

But it hurts. It hurts so much that the will to continue living might go numb and lose. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. It hurts, but… … Fujino moves her arms while still coughing up blood. What she repeat are the same words. For the first time in her life, Fujino wishes strongly.
… I want to live longer.
… I want to talk longer.
… I want to love longer.
… I want to stay here longer……

But nothing moves now. Only the pain repeats. This is the true form of what she was enjoying. The truth hurts more than anything for Asagami Fujino. Now she truely understands the sins she has commited, the meaning of the blood she spilled. The meaning is so heavy that she cannot even apologize. She only recalls the kind smile. If that person was here… would he still hug me? Her body convulses. The blood coming up her throat tells her of the final pain about to come. That impact causes her light to go away. Now she can only see what is left in her. No, even that is fading away…… Not being able to stand the loneliness of disappearing, Fujino talks aloud. Her true will that she has hidden so stubbornly. … A small wish that she has dreamed of since she was small.

“……… It hurts. It hurts, Senpai. It really hurts… It hurts so much… I might cry… Mother, can I cry?”

… This is what she wanted to tell someone.
… If she could have said that on that day three years ago…

She cries. It hurts, it’s sad, and it’s so lonely that she can only cry. But just doing that eases the pain. That person has told her that pain is not something one bears but something one appeals to someone to love them. Fujino is thankful she met him… really thankful for being able to see him once again before this…

“Are you in pain?”

At the end of the pain, Shiki is standing. She has a knife in one hand. Fujino turns over to face Shiki.

“You should have said you were in pain if you were hurting.”

Shiki says so in the end. … It is the same words as in Fujino’s memory. “Certainly”, Fujino thinks. Even if she could say that starting now, she might not have came down this wrong road. That inconvenient, but normal life goes through her head. But she cannot. She has committed too many sins. She has killed too many people. … She has killed many people for the sake of her own happiness.

Asagami Fujino slowly stops her own breathing. Her sense of pain quickly disappears. So fast that she does not feel the pain of the knife stabbed in her chest.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 10

/5

Shiki starts to run. In the puddle of water and in this blowing wind, Shiki’s speed is amazingly fast. It should not take more than three seconds to reduce the distance of ten meters to zero. It is enough time to take Fujino’s thin body to the ground and stab her in her heart. But even that speed cannot match the speed of vision. Shiki has to get near her target while Fujino only has to look at her target. For the two, the difference of three second is too long.

“………”

Fujino’s eyes glimmers. The left eye for a rotation to the left. The right eye for a rotation to the right. Taking Shiki’s head and her left leg as the fulcrum, she twists. Strange feeling occurs instantaneously. The instant Shiki feels an invisible power on her, she jumps to the side. An exploding jump to the side. But the power on Shiki does not weaken. Fujino’s power is not a firing weapon. Even if one gets away from one ground, it is impossible to get away from it while she is in her vision.

…… Damn……!!

Shiki realizes Fujino’s power is stronger than she thought. Shiki still runs. As if to run out of her vision, Shiki runs in a circle around Fujino.

“Do you think you can get awa-“

Fujino murmurs and then she is astonished. Shiki did get away! Unbelievably, Shiki has jumped off the bridge down to the ocean. A sound of a window being broken is heard. What an athletic ability… Shiki went off the bridge and went into the parking lot right underneath it.

“What a ridiculous person you are.”

Shiki did get away. But Fujino saw Shiki’s left arm until the end. She did see Shiki’s leather jacket twist. Shiki’s left arm cannot be used anymore. Fujino realizes…

“I am…… stronger.”

The pain in her stomach gets worse by the second. Withstanding the pain, Fujino makes her way down. She has to settle her match with Ryohgi Shiki now.

Inside the parking lot is darkness. The vision is bad and it is hard to walk. It feels like being in a miniature town. The metal poles and the stacks of materials are arranged like buildings. A few minutes after following Shiki down here, Fujino regrets choosing this place as the battleground. Her ability has to have the target in her vision to make the fulcrum of the twist. Even if Fujino knows that Shiki is hiding behind a metal pole, if she cannot see Shiki in her vision, the twist can only go to the pole. In that slight instant on top of the bridge, Shiki understood Fujino’s power. That is why she ran away, to here, the place where she has a chance of winning. … Fujino realizes how inferior she is at fighting. But still…… She is stronger in power. If she cannot see, she’ll just have to destroy everything blocking her view. Fujino takes every metalic pole that might get in her way and bends them. As she twists each one, the pain in her stomach gets worse and the shaking in the paking lot gets harder.

“You really are ridiculous.”

Shiki’s voice echoes through the darkness. Fujino turns to the direction of the voice. The stack of materials Shiki is hiding behind is instantly smashed. At that instant… a white figure runs out of it.

“… There!!”

Fujino’s eyes gets hold on Shiki. The girl in white kimono and a red leather jacket runs toward Fujino sticking her left arm out.

“……!!”

Fujino hesitates a bit and then bends. With a cracking sound, Shiki’s left arm breaks. Her neck is next. When Fujino looks… Shiki is already within her range. The line that the knife takes is like a flash of light. It is a bright swing that seems to leave a trace in the darkness forever. The knife that is swung without hesitation however does not hit Fujino. It is because Fujino avoids by ducking the swing that was aimed at her neck. No, it was just an accident. Asagami Fujino only looked away because she got scared of Shiki, who was running towards her with a broken arm.

“Damn…”

Shiki says so and readies her knife again. Fujino frantically stares at Shiki’s body.

“… Go away…!”

Shiki’s movement is faster than Fujino’s scream. Shiki runs into the darkness without hesitation. One should be surprized not at her athletic ability but her quick thinking choosing escape.

“…… What a person……”

Fujino murmurs. Her rough breathing is not from the pain in her stomach. Fujino carefully checks the darkness around her. She does not know when Shiki will jump out of it again. Fujino feels her neck. From the last attack, her neck has a slight scratch. A wound of about 4mm is not bleeding. … It is not bleeding but her breathing is hard.

“Why does she not stop when her arm is broken…?”

Fujino says so aloud, not being able to contain the fear from that question. She cannot forget that instant. Those eyes of Shiki who still came at her after having her arm broken. Shiki was having fun. That person is enjoying this situation where I, even the one with the advantage, is overwhelmed with tension. Maybe… for Ryohgi Shiki, having her arm broken is not pain, but happiness. Fujino has not enjoyed murder so far. It is because she does not want to kill. But that person is different. That person must like murder. The more extreme the situation is, the happier she becomes. Fujino thinks… if Ryohgi Shiki is a person that lacks in sense of feeling of life, what will she do to substitute for that? For Fujino, it was murder. When she sees other humans die, she gets this undescribable feeling in her. Since Fujino found out what pain feels like, she is able to sympasize when looking at others in pain. The reality that she is the one in control of others makes her feel that she really does exist. A “ruthless murder” is Fujino’s substitute. She does not know it herself, but Fujino takes plaesure in murder. Then what is Ryohgi Shiki’s sustitute……?

***

“That was bad”

Hiding behind a stack of materials, Shiki murmurs to herself. The arm had no power when it was twisted on the bridge. Since it was useless, she decided to use it as a shield and rely on one strike. But the plan failed before the fact that Fujino was more cowardly than Shiki thought she would be. Shiki takes off her jacket and cuts the sleeve. Using the cut cloth, she stops the bleeding on her left arm. A rough treatment which she just wraps around the cloth on her upper arm. The left arm that was twisted has no feeling. It will probably never move. Shiki feels a chill at that fact.

“You’re great Asagami. You’re the best…!”

Her blood is being lost quickly. A sensation of losing conciousness.

… I’m hot-blooded anyways. If I lose some, it will just make me think more clearly…

Shiki concentrates. Asagami Fujino is a strong enemy that might be the best she’ll ever meet. One mistake could cost her life. That is pleasant, that makes Shiki feel that she am alive. For Shiki, who is bound by her past, only this moment is real. This sensation that she is able to feel only when putting her life in danger. That small life of hers that she can declare is hers. Kill or be killed. Since even her normal life is vague, Shiki can only feel life only by such basic methods like this. If Asagami Fujino seeks pleasure in murder… Ryohgi Shiki seeks the sensation of life by relating with murder. Fujino fears this situation…. and Shiki wishes for this situation. That is the difference between the hunter and the hunted. The difference between the two is definite at this time.

… Fujino’s breathing echoes in the air.
… Roughly, strongly, painfully, as if in fear…

She is breathing hard like Shiki even though she has not been hurt yet. In the dark, they breath in unison. Are their beats, minds, and even their life the same? The bridge swinging in the storm feels like a crib. Shiki, for the first time, feels love toward Fujino. So much that she feels she must take Fujino’s life with her own hands.

“I know it’s useless though……”

Shiki murmurs. She knew from the time she saw her at the cafe. She knows that the inside of Asagami Fujino is on the verge of breaking down. It’s meaningless to finish off Fujino right now. But, that’s like life. Shiki thinks some things should come out of meaningless actions. She remembers Tohko saying that humans are things that does meaningless things. Shiki feels the same way now. Exactly like this bridge. People contempt one uselessness as stupidity while praising another uselessness as art. Where does the boundary lie? Boundaries are uncertain. It is yourself that establish it, but it’s always the outside that determines it. Then there is no such thing as a boundary to begin with. The world is full of empty boundaries. That is why there are no walls in society to seprate the abnormal from the normal.

… The one to make the wall is us.
Like me wanting to get away from the world.
Like how Mikiya thinks I’m not abnormal.
… Like how Asagami Fujino is running away to death…

In that sense, Shiki and Fujino are alike. They are similar. In this small space, two of the same kind is not needed.

“Let’s go. I can see the trick to your magic trick now.”

Shaking the head clear from bleeding, Shiki gets up. She grips her knife hard in her right hand. If Fujino does not lay her own boundary… then she will just have to eliminate her.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 09

July 24th. It has been a day since Kokutoh Mikiya went to investigate on Asagami Fujino. Not much happened in this time. Only such thing as a big hurricane coming later tonight upto tomorrow morning and a 17year old driving without a licence dying in a corrision. At least publically. Ryohgi Shiki is just staring outside in Aozaki Tohko’s office. The summer sky is so huge that one gets bored of looking at it in an instant. In the cloudless sky is the shining sun. It seems like a bad dream that this clear sky is going to be covered by storm clouds later tonight. *Clang* *Clang* The noise echoes. A metal factory is beside this office. Since Shiki is beside the window, the noise hits her ears without rest. Shiki looks at Tohko. Tohko is making a phone call wearing her glasses.

“Yes, that is right. About that accident. … I see, so he was indeed dead before the collision. Is his cause of death strangulation? That is not wrong. If the neck is twisted off, that is strangulation. It does not matter how strongly it was done. How have you people treated this accident? A collision, I see… That would seem right. There was only the victim in the car. No detective can solve the mystery of a moving sealed room. No, that’s all the information I wanted. Thank you very much. I will repay you for this somehow, Officer Akimi.”

Tohko sounds very formal and kind. It is so different from her usual tone, whoever knows her normal tone should shiver from hearing it. After hanging up the phone, Tohko shifts her glasses. Emotionless eyes are underneath.

“Shiki, the 7th victim appeared. This is more than the killer two years ago.”

Shiki walks away from the window a bit upset. She wanted to see the sky be taken over by dark clouds.

“I told you. It has to be a meaningless murder this time.”

“It seems so. Minato Keita doesn’t know this Takagi Shouichi guy who died in the accident. This murder has nothing to do with her revenge.”

Shiki, who is wearing a white kimono grits her teeth. What’s there is anger. She puts on a red leather jacket.

“I see. Then I can’t wait any longer. Tohko, do you know where she is?”

“Nope. I can guess a few places where she might be hiding. If you’re going to look for her, you’ll just have to go look at all those places.”

Tohko takes out a few cards from her desk and throws it at Shiki. Shiki grabs the cards.

“… These are… Asagami group’s personal identification cards? Who is this Araya Souren guy?”

All three cards are entrance cards to the construction areas which the Asagami construction is involved in. It must be a magnetic lock as it has a stripe of magnetic sensor on each card.

“That fake name is of my acquaintance. I couldn’t think of a random name. I used it when I made someone make these identification cards. Well, that doesn’t matter though. It should be in one of those places that Asagami Fujino is hiding. It’ll be troublesome, so finish this off before Kokutoh gets back.”

Shiki glares at Tohko. Her usually hollow eyes become sharp. She directs a silent complaint to Tohko but turns around without saying anything. It is because she has the same opinion as Tohko. Shiki does not hurry out but leaves with her usual graceful steps. Being alone, Tohko looks outside the window.

“Looks like Kokutoh didn’t make it. Well, would the storm come first or would a storm occur first? Shiki by herself might not make it out alive, Ryohgi.”

The magus murmurs to no one.

***

Right after noon, the weather starts to change. The blue sky is now already covered with gray clouds. The wind is getting stronger too. Everyone walking around is saying that a storm is near.

“Guh……”

I keep walking holding the burning stomach. I didn’t know about the storm. Probably because I was so caught up with looking for a person. The town is rowdy but there are fewer and fewer people out on the streets. It looks like I won’t be able to do it tonight. I think I should go back for today.

Taking many hours, I finally reach the port on foot. The sky is already dark even though its still seven in the summertime. A storm can even mess up the usual times of seasons. Moving the body that lags more in reaction as time goes on, I reach the entrance of the bridge. This bridge is the bridge my father is working the hardest on. A big bridge that connects this port and the port on the other side. The bridge is a four-laned road and many pathways are beneath the bridge. The underground is like a shopping mall. Even though it is floating on the ocean, I call it so because it’s under the bridge. The upper part of the bridge has guards so I cannot get in. But the entrance to the underground mall is unmanned and I can go inside if I have a card. I take one of the cards out which I took from my house and open the entrance.

… It’s dark inside. It is because even though most of the interior design is finished, electricity isn’t running. The empty mall seems like a station about to close up for the day. The corridors stretch on forever. Many different stores are on either side of the corridor. I walk for about 500 meters and end up in a parking lot. This place is still under construction and is really messy. The walls are unfinished and the bags on there to keep the rain out is making noises from the wind. …… It’s almost eight o’clock. The wind is strong. I want to plug my ears at the sound of the wind and the sound of the waves. The sound of rain hitting the walls are more fierce than the machine gun I saw in movies.

“Rain……”

It was raining on that day too. After my first murder, I washed myself off in the rain. After that, I was able to meet that person. That person whom I met only once in middle school and whom I only talked to for a bit to.

… Yes, I remember. It was a time when the sun was setting. After an event at out school, a Senpai from a different school talked to me, who was still on the field. I could not move because I have sprained my ankle. Since I am pain insensitive, I could actually move, and even if I did move, it has no effect on me mentally. But my swelled ankle tells me that it will get worse if I move anymore. All I could do was watch the sunset without feeling anything. At that time, I did not call for help. I did not want to call for help. If I did, everyone would tell me…
“You beared quite a pain. “
“Does it hurt?”
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Don’t you think it hurts?”
I do not want that. That is why I was sitting down with a normal expression. I was being a bit stubborn not to let anyone notice. My mother, father, teacher, friends… nobody noticed. I had to let everyone think that Fujino is normal. At that time, somebody tapped me on my shoulder. I did not feel it but I heard a sound by my ear. When I turned around, that person was standing there. He looked kind without knowing what I was thinking. I think my first impression of him was that I did not like him.

“Does it hurt?”

That person greeted me with unbelievable words. How did he know about the wound nobody should know about? I shook my head. I was being stubborn not to admit it. He looked at the nametag on my gym uniform and said my name. He then felt my sore ankle and made a sour face. I knew he was going to say something I did not like, so I closed my eyes. I did not want to hear insensitive words from people with normal senses such as “does it hurt” or “is the pain bad”. But he said something completely different.

“You’re stupid. Look, a pain is not something you bear. Pain is something you have to appeal, Fujino-chan.”

… That is what Senpai told me when I was in middle school. After that, Senpai carried me to the nurse’s office and that was that. It was like a vague dream. Come to think of it, Asagami Fujino might have fallen in love with him since that time. That smile that worried about my suffering that nobody noticed……

*Throb* My stomach aches. That pushes me out of my dream. There is no way I can be dreaming when I’m covered in people’s blood. But… rain might wash off my impurity. I want to go up to the bridge. The storm is already here. On the bridge, it should be like a tipped bucket out there. I start to get excited. I drag my body that feel pain all the time now and go up the slope in the parking lot.

Asagami Fujino goes up onto the bridge.
To be soaked in the familiar summer rain.

***

The big bridge has turned into a shallow lake. The four-lanes of asphalt is covered with rain water and it goes up to one’s ankles. The smashing rain comes down at an angle and the wind is raging as if to knock the streetlamps down. The sky is dark. The light of the port is far away and unreachable like watching the moon from the ground. Asagami Fujino comes out into this storm. The black uniform blends into the night. She walks soaked in rain, breathing out from her purple lips. When she reaches a streetlamp, she meets Death.

“I finally found you, Asagami.”

In the sea of the storm, Ryohgi Shiki stands dressed in a white kimono. The red leather jacket reflects off rain. She is also soaked in rain and it makes her look like a ghost.

Shiki and Fujino both stand under the streetlamp. There is about 10 meters of ground between them. She finds it strange that they can see each other and hear each other in this heavy rain and the raging wind.

“Ryohgi…… Shiki.”

“You should have just gone back home like I told you. You’re a beast that knows the taste of blood. You’re enjoying murder.”

“…… That is you. I am not enjoying murder.”

Fujino, still breathing hard, stares at Shiki. What is there are enemity and a will to kill. Fujino quietly covers her face with her left hand. …… From in between her fingers, her glaring eyes show. As if to answer them, Shiki holds up a knife in her right hand. This is the third time they have met. Shiki laughs thinking that there does exist a line that goes “third time’s the charm” in this country. This Asagami Fujino is more than sufficient as her killing target.

“… I feel it. Yes, we are alike.
Yeah…… I can kill you as you are now.”

With those words, the two’s restraints are completely removed.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 08

4

I tell Tohko-san of the circumstance and have her protect Keita. She lets the boy who hasn’t slept since the night of the incident on her sofa and comes back to the office where Shiki and I are waiting. Tohko-san sits on her chair and Shiki is leaning against the wall. I am sitting at the sofa directly in front of Tohko-san. Finally calming down after Keita sleeps, they both tell me I am too good-natured. I take their words of criticism with a sullen face.

“I knew you guys were going to make fun of me like that.”

“If you knew, you shouldn’t have involved yourself in this mess. You’re easily taken advantage of by those kind of guys..”

“It can’t be helped. The situation was special.”

Tohko-san ponders to my response. She is using offensive words, but she did accept taking in Keita for protection. However, Shiki is against it. She might be really mad as she is glaring at me without saying anything.

“Special case, huh? I do admit this is an abnormal case but what are you going to do now? Are you thinking about looking for her and persuading her?”

“…… I’m thinking so. We can’t have him here forever and Asagami Fujino might continue killing people. I think I can only go see her and talk to her.”

“You idiot. That’s why we say you’re too good-natured.”

Shiki holds nothing back. She never does, but she is rather offensive today. She really is mad today.

“You won’t be able to talk to her, it’s too late. She won’t stop until she accomplishes her goal. No, I don’t even know if she’ll stop then. Her means and intention are reversed.”

“Shiki, you sound like you know her.”

“I know her and I’ve met her too. She was there with Azaka yesterday.”

I’m surprized. I wonder why Azaka would be with Asagami Fujino. They are totally unrelat…. I guess not. I only heard that she is a high schooler but it’s a different story if she is from Asagami Lady Academy.

“You’re pretty slow, Kokutoh. You haven’t investigated on Asagami Fujino yet?”

“Hey now, I only heard her name for the first time two hours ago. My purpose was to protect Minato Keita, so I didn’t have time to do such a thing.”

… But I have a bad feeling about this. It’s not that I’m worried that Azaka might be involved… it feels more like the impatience you feel when you are forced to think about what you’ve been avoiding.

“… Then is Asagami Fujino still going to school?”

“No, she hasn’t been home or back at the dorms since the night of the incident. She’s been skipping school too, she has completely disappeared. Azaka said she hasn’t seen her since yesterday.”

“Tohko-san, when did you research this?”

“Just a while ago. I received a search request from her parents. I heard Azaka was with Asagami Fujino yesterday from Shiki but it seems Azaka didn’t notice anything wrong with her friend.”

What an irony, if my promise with Azaka was a day later or if I found Keita faster, yesterday’s victim might not have been killed.

“So the protection of Minato Keita is not meaningless for us. If we cannot find her, we can use him as bait. It’ll get rough from there so you and Keita should stay here.”

With that, I finally understand… the reason why Shiki is here.

“Rough……? What are you going to do with Asagami Fujino?”

“Depending on the circumstance, we’ll have to resort to fighting. First of all, even the client is wishing for that. He doesn’t want her daughter reported as a killer. He told us to get rid of her before it all goes public.”

“What? It’s not like she’s commiting meaningless murders…! I think a discussion is possible.”

“Oh, that’s impossible. You haven’t heard the big truth. You don’t know the final blow she took when she killed them. I made Keita confess when I put him to sleep. I heard that his leader attacked Fujino on the last night with a knife. It seems she was stabbed. That’s what triggered her revenge.”

… Knife… so she was threatened with a knife even after being violated? So why would that be a reason she’s done for?

“The problem is right there. She was stabbed in her stomach on the night of the 20th. Shiki saw her two days later. At that time, she had no wound… she was completely healed.”

“Stabbed in the stomach……”

Hold on. Don’t think anymore. My mind tries to stop me but fails. On the night of 20th, student of the Reien Academy, stabbed in the stomach……

“I heard from Keita but she says on the phone that she cannot forget because the wound keeps on hurting. The wound that healed starts to hurt. Probably, whenever she has a flashback of the times when she was violated, the pain of being stabbed returns. The horrible memory brings back the horrible pain. I believe the pain is an illusion but it must be real for her. This is no different than a fit. Every time Asagami Fujino has a flashback of the pain that doesn’t even exist, she kills. Who can be sure that won’t happen while you’re talking with her?”

But that means we could talk to her if she doesn’t feel the pain. But before I could say that, Shiki speaks out.

“That’s wrong, Tohko. She really has pain. Her pain is still in her body.”

“That can’t be. Then Shiki, is it your mistake that her wound is completely healed?”

“Her stabbed wound is healed. There’s nothing like a piece of metal in her. Her pain really did appear and disappear. It’s already too late when she’s in pain but when she’s not, she’s too boring. I told you that I came back cause she wasn’t even worth killing.”

“Well, she would be already dead if a metal piece was still in her. But a wound that still hurts after it’s healed, huh?”

Tohko-san takes out a cigarette as if saying she doesn’t understand. I too can only wonder at Shiki’s words. It’s normal to be in pain until the wound heals. But why would a pain of a wound that’s already healed come back from time to time? That’s like having only the sense of pain remaining in your body.

“… Oh.”

And it hits me. It’s not an answer to her unknown symptoms, but I am able to understand why Keita called her weird.

“What Kokutoh, is it some new way of staying healthy by saying vowels out loud?”

… I don’t think anyone do such a thing even if it existed.

“No, about Asagami Fujino being weird.”

Tohko-san raises a brow. Oh, I only told her the summary of the story, so I guess I haven’t told her about this yet. I tell her about the strange condition of Fujino.

“Isn’t something strage? It was in the conversation with Minato Keita, but it seems she was unaffected by anything they did to her. I thought she was a firm girl at first, but I was wrong. She isn’t that strong of a girl.”

“…… You sound like you know her, Mikiya.”

Shiki glares at me. My instincts tell me ignore her. … I might put myself in the hole if I don’t.

“It’s possible… I don’t know that much about it, but I think she might be what you call pain insensitivity?”

Pain insensitivity is just as it sounds, a disease where one cannot feel any pain. It’s a very rare disease, so you never see it but if that happens to be the case, her strange symptoms might be possible.

“I see. Then that can explain some things, but there should be a reason. Even if she did get stabbed, if she is pain insensitive, there won’t be any pain to start out with. You also need to check if she was born with it and you also have to know if her nerves are dissociated. Well, even if she is pain insensitive, are there any reasons that might cause it to disfunction? Like hitting her back hard or taking lots of steroids?”

Hitting her back hard… it must be that.

“I don’t know how hard but I heard they hit her in the back with a bat.”

I say so unemotionally as possible. Tohko-san just laughs.

“I see. It’s them, they should have had a full swing. Then her backbone might have been broken. Even a crack is considered broken bone. And she was still violated even after her backbone was broken, not knowing what that feeling is. Geez, that’s the first pain she feels, huh? She must have not understood what her irritation is. Wow, I’m surprized you decided to protect Minato Keita.”

Tohko-san says so while making a grin. She has this bad habit of cornering someone with her words. I guess she likes to attack people mentally, and it usually ends up being me. I usually fight back, but I cannot answer right now. … I don’t have the confidence to answer. All I could do is look down and reject her response.

“… So Tohko-san, does the backbone and pain insensitivity have something in relation?”

“Yeah, your spine controls your nerves, right? When you have a problem with the sense of pain, you usually have something wrong in your spine. Do you know of Syringomyelia?”

… I would not know of such a technical medical term. Tohko-san lowers her shoulders in disappointment when I shake my head.

“Syringomyelia is the most known case of pain insensitivity. Listen Kokutoh, there are two types of senses. Superficial sensation that lets you feel such things as pain, temperature, and feeling. And there’s deep sensation that tells you of your body movements and general area. Normally, these two senses work at the same time. Do you know what it means to have no sense at all?”

“I can understand in words. You won’t feel anything when you touch, you don’t taste things even when you eat it, right?”

Tohko-san nods with a smile.

“That’s a natural response of a person with senses. You think they don’t have senses but has a body, so they are like you. But that’s wrong. To have no sense means that you cannot gain anything, Kokutoh.”

Cannot gain anything…? No way. They should still be able to hold things and talk to others. Then that would only mean that they cannot feel what they are touching. Why would that lead to not being able to gain anything? It’s not like they don’t have their body. I think it’s better than someone missing a part of their body or something.

Then I realize. …… No body. Even when they touch, they cannot feel that they are touching. They just look at it and confirm that they are “touching”. That is the same as reading a book. What’s so different about it from reading a book or imaging a story? Even when they walk, they are only moving their body. They do not feel the ground, but only feel their feet moving. No, even that feeling is barely comfirmed by looking at their own feet. To have no sense means not having a body. That would make them no different from ghosts. For them, all reality is what they see through their eyes. That’s the same as not being able to touch anything even if they could actually touch…!!

“So that’s pain insensitivity, huh.”

… That night, I met a girl who was unconfident about all of reality.

“That’s right. Let’s assume Asagami Fujino’s pain insensitivity temporary went away from being hit in the back. Then that would mean she knows what pain feels like. That sense she has never felt before must be her impulse for murder.”

Would that girl who found out what pain feels like hate the feeling of pain? No, it’s impossible for her to think so. … Since she is like a ghost, how happy must she have been when she found out the feeling of pain? She would have not understood the feeling of happiness either though.

“… Maybe the pain insensitivity went away temporary for her to feel pain and might have caused her to figure out the emotion of hate. The feeling of pain she finally obtained triggered her revenge…”

… What an irony.

“That’s the question. Fujino said she is taking revenge because her wound is hurting, but I have to wonder. To be more accurate, her pain makes her recall the violations done to her which makes her want to take revenge. I think this is how it is but it just doesn’t feel right. First of all, according to Shiki, she’s back to pain insensitivity, right? Then that would take her reason for revenge away. Her wound should not hurt since it’s healed.”

“That’s wrong, Tohko-san. To have no feeling must mean she has no sexual feelings too. So she cannot feel anything even when they rape her. For her, it only means that her body was raped. But… no, because of that, instead of her body hurting, her heart was taking the pain. I think her wound is not on her body but rather on her heart. That’s why the pain comes back with the memory, because her heart is in pain.”

Tohko-san does not answer. In her place, Shiki starts to laugh.

“That’s impossible. There’s no such thing as a heart. How can something that’s not there hurt?”

… If she says so, I can’t think of any comebacks. Surely, sentimental things such as a heart is not something you can prove it exists. When I am just standing there silently, Tohko-san disagreees with Shiki.

“But people’s heart, their minds, are easily broken. I don’t think you can conclude that it can’t be hurt just because it has no shape. In reality, some people die because they are hurt mentally. No matter how bad of a illusion it is, as long as it is true for the person, the illusion can be called “pain”.”

That’s a rather ambiguous answer for her. But for me right now, she is someone on my side. Shiki gets mad.

“What Tohko, are you siding with Asagami Fujino too? She not like that.”

“Yeah, I feel the same way about that. I don’t think Asagami Fujino would be that sentimental. She takes revenge because her heart hurts? I don’t think so. Because, if you’re pain insensitive, even your heart won’t feel pain.”

She instantly sides against me.

“Look, personality is medically defined as “a phenomenon of which a person reacts to outside force”. A person’s emotion… such things as kindness and hate cannot just come from within. It would not function unless something from outside stimulates it. That’s why there is pain. To not have pain means this cannot happen. People with pain insensitivity lacks personality. They do not think like you or have tastes similar to us. They do not understand common sense. That’s why talking with her is meaningless.”

She casually tells me the conclusion of the idea of talking with her. Her casualness seems rather like a last warning and puts me on the edge.

“… Please don’t say that when you haven’t even met her.”

I stand up from the sofa not being able to take it.

“That’s all under the assumption that Asagami Fujino is pain insensitive since she was born. This might not be the case.”

“You’re the one who said she might be pain insensitive.”

She says so coldly. … This person really does not care about others. How can she be so cold to Asagami Fujino when she’s a woman? Or is it that she can be this cold because she is a woman?

“Well, I do have things that I’m concerned about too. Asagami Fujino might be just a victim. The question is which was first.”

… What does she mean by “which was first”? Tohko-san starts to ponder and does not explain anymore.

“What do you think, Shiki?”

I ask her without turning around. Shiki answers exactly as I expected.

“Same as Tohko. But I can’t forgive Asagami Fujino disregarding what Tohko thinks. I feel sick just by thinking that she might commit another murder.”

“Hate for those like you, huh? It does seem true that your kind doesn’t like to form groups.”

Tohko-san hears Shiki’s words. I know why Shiki said so. … When will Shiki realize herself that she really does not like murder? Asagami Fujino and Ryohgi Shiki, I do think the two are alike. Since they are similar, they cannot forgive the crutial difference. If the two does end up fighting… would Shiki realize her true feeling? No, I cannot let the two fight.

“…… I understand. I’ll look into her information my way. Can I see any data on her if you have any?”

Tohko-san hands it to me. Shiki looks away telling me to do as I want. Looking at the information, Asagami Fujino was living in Nagano until elementary school. Her last name there is not Asagami as in “shallow top” but Asagami as in “shallow God”. Her father right now is not her real father, meaning that she followed her mother when she remarried. I guess this would be the place to start my investigation.

“I have to travel a bit far. I might not come back today or tomorrow. Oh, and Tohko-san. Is there really such a thing as supernatural powers?”

“You don’t believe what Minato Keita said? Asagami Fujino surely has some sort of power in that category. that. The term supernatural power is too broad so it’s not that accurate. If you want to know about it, I can introduce you to a specialist.”

Saying that, Tohko-san writes the address of this supernatural power-specialist on the back of her business card.

“Wait, you don’t know much about it?”

“Of course not. Magic is a study. How can we associate ourselves with something inherent without history or theory violating the rule? Those kind of powers only given to the chosen ones is what I hate the most.”

She really must hate it as she sounds like she has her glasses on. I take her business card and then speak to Shiki.

“Shiki, I’m going but make sure you don’t push yourself.”

“You’re the one pushing yourself. I guess it really is true that stupidity can’t be fixed.”

Shiki uses offensive words like that but then nods saying she’ll try. I leave the office with relief. It’s all right, I’ve never died but I was almost killed once. I haven’t told her that the one which almost killed me is Shiki herself. It’s because she forgot about that incident after she recovered from her coma. It’s fine if she does not remember. I will probably never tell her about it.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 07

“Shiki……… san?”

“Asagami Fujino… I see, you must have connection with the Asagami God.”

With a light footstep, Shiki takes a step forward. Shiki narrows her eyes at the smell of blood. Not from detest, but from happiness.

“Since when….”

Fujino stops her question. The answer is obvious.

“All this time. I followed you since you brought that piece of meat out here.”

Fujino feels a chill at her cold voice. Shiki has seen it all. She saw it, but she still came out. She saw it, but did not stop it. She knew this was going to happen, but just watched…

…… This person is abnormal……

“Please do not say piece of meat. This is a person. This is a human corpse.”

Fujino argues so in spite of what she is thinking about. It is because she feels Shiki is saying too much to call that man a piece of meat. Shiki nods.

“Yeah, a human is still a human even when it’s dead. It doesn’t become a piece of meat just by dying. But that’s not a human death, is it? Humans don’t die that way.”

Shiki takes another step forward.

“A human who did not end his life like a human is not human anymore. Even if the people you’ve killed still has their head remaining or have no wounds, you can’t treat it with common sense. Those removed from the boundary are deprived of all their meanings. That’s why that thing is just a piece of meat.”

Suddenly, Fujino feels a repulsion against this person. Shiki is saying that the corpse and I are out of the ordinary, just like Ryohgi Shiki, who is watching this tragedy right now without a change of expression.

“…… No. I am sane. I am not like you!’

Fujino screams out for no reason. Shiki laughs, like it is really funny.

“We are alike, Asagami.”

“Don’t be ridiculus.”

Fujino stares at Shiki. The vision in her eyes starts to distort. … The “power” she has as a child is used.

But the power suddenly fades away.

“………!?”

But the surprize is for both Shiki and Fujino. Asagami Fujino is surprized at her disappeared power. Ryohgi Shiki is surprized at the suddenly changed Asagami Fujino.

“Again…? What the hell is up with you?”

Shiki gets angry. She scratches her head like everything is ruined.

“I would have killed you if you stayed that way. You were like that too at the cafe. … Fine. You let me down. I don’t care about you now.”

Saying that, Shiki turns and walks away. The sound of her footsteps gets farther away.

“Go home. If you do so, we shouldn’t see each other again.”

Then her figure disappears. Fujino stands still in the pool of blood.

…… I’m back to my previous self. I feel nothing again.

Fujino looks down at the man once more. There is no feeling in her that was there before. Only the sense of guilt comes into her brain. What’s left are the words Shiki left. Those words saying that Fujino and Shiki are both alike, both killers.

“No……. I am not like you.”

Fujino murmurs as if crying. Truthfully, Fujino hates murder. She starts to tremble at the thought that she would have to continue such an act in order to find Minato Keita. Because killing people would be unforgivable. That is her true feeling.

… The pool of blood reflecting her face shows her mouth making a smile…

——————————————————-

Remaining Sense of Pain

3

In the early morning on July 23, I finally get to Minato Keita’s place. From the information from his friends, his limit on radius of action, and from his way of thinking, I was finally able to narrow down his hiding place after a whole day. In one of the mansions located far from the residential district… he is trespassing and staying in a room on the sixth floor. I ring the doorbell and call out in a semi-loud voice.

“Keita-kun. I came to help you on request from your Senpai. I’m coming in.”

The door is not locked so I enter quietly. There is no light on inside the room and it’s dark in here even though it is morning. I walk through the wooden hallway and reach the living room. From the empty living room, you can see the kitchen and the bedroom.

“You’re in the back, right? I’m coming in.”

There is another room beside the bedroom. I open the door to that room and find its pitch black inside. It is because all the curtains are down. A small scream comes out when I open the door. … Like I thought, there’s nothing in the room. A room without furniture is just like a box, there is no sign of life. In this room is a boy who looks to be about 16, trash from food, and a cell phone.

“You are Minato Keita-kun, right? It’s unhealthy for you to stay in here. And it’s bad to use a room even when nobody is using it. This can be treated as burglary, you know?”

When I enter the room, Keita backs up to the wall. … His face is terribly thin and worn-out. It’s only been three days since that incident but his cheeks are hollow and his eyes are red. It’s obvious he has not slept. I heard that he was doing drugs, but that’s wrong. He is going insane without the help of drugs. … Because of seeing a scene so tragic that he does not want to believe it. He is barely maintaining his sanity by staying in this dark room. It’s a really dangerous way to defend himself, but it might be useful at least for a few days. I let out a sigh of relief n my head as I have made it in time.

“…… Who are you?”

There is still a bit of intellegence left in his voice. I stop. He is still confused facing such a tragedy. He might be scared of the killer, so who knows what he would do if I get close. Doubt will make him think I am his enemy. But… it should be different if we can talk. If we talk, his intellegence should return. I decide to stand and talk instead of trying to calm him down near him.

“Who are you?”

I raise both my hands at his question.

“I’m a friend of Gakuto. I am a Senpai too. I’m Kokutoh Mikiya, do you remember me?”

“Kokutoh…… Senpai?”

I must have been an unexpected visitor for him. He stands dumbfolded for a second and then starts to cry.

“Senpai. Why would you come for me?”

“I came to protect you since Gakuto came and asked me. We’re worried that you’re in some kind of trouble.”

I ask him if I could get near him and Keita shakes his head violently.

“I won’t get out of here. I’ll be killed if I do.”

“You’ll be killed if you stay in here too.”

Keita widens his eyes. He glares at me with enemity. I take a cigarette out and light it. … I don’t smoke but it’s an useful gesture to make you seem relaxed and helps calm down the other person.

“I heard about it. You know the killer, right Keita-kun?”

I ask him while blowing out the smoke, but he only stays quiet.

“Then I’ll just talk to myself for a while. On the night of the 20th, you guys were at your hangout place, Bar Shinkirou. It was raining that night. I happened to be out drinking too at that time, but I guess that doesn’t matter. I heard a lot of stories since Gakuto asked me to look for you. I think I know what you guys were doing on the night of the incident. I think the cops don’t know about it yet. Those people prefer not to help the cops.”

I shrug saying its troublesome. Keita is showing a different kind of fear now. It’s not fear of what is going to happen, but fear of being found out what he’s done.

“On the night of the incident, there was one other person beside you guys. The high school girl you guys were threatening. I don’t know her name but someone saw her going down to the bar. That girl has not showed up at the police station or anywhere for that matter since that incident. But it’s not like her corpse is found like the other four. Do you know what happened to her?”

“I don’t know… I don’t know such a person.”

“Then that would make you the killer. I’ll go call the police.”

“Wait, I didn’t do that…! There’s no way I could do such a thing…”

“Yeah, I feel the same way. So the girl was really there?”

After a brief silence, Keita nods.

“But that brings another question. That incident is not something a girl can accomplish by herself. Were you guys drugged?”

The boy shakes his head. Not to the question that the girl is the killer, but to the question of if they were insane or not.

“It’s impossible for five guys to be taken by just one girl.”

“But that’s the truth…! I thought she was weird from the start, but she was mad! Monster… she was a monster!”

I guess he is recalling the incident as he starts to tremble and covers his face with his hands.

“She was just standing there and everyone started to twist off. I heard their bones breaking and I didn’t know what the hell was going on. … I knew it when she killed two of us, I knew Fujino isn’t normal, that I’ll be killed if I stay there!”

Keita’s words are certainly abnormal. He is saying the girl… the one called Fujino tore off everyone’s limbs just by standing there and staring at them. I don’t know why he thinks so, but I guess Keita felt it on the spot… the difference of the one doing the killing and the ones getting killed. But… she bends stuff just by looking? I couldn’t quite believe it but I take the fact in. What can I deny after knowing Shiki, the one with killer eyes, and Tohko-san, the magus? Well, leaving that aside, there’s one word that caught my attention.

“All right. I’ll believe that this Fujino girl did it.”

“……… Huh?”

Keita raises his head in surprize.

“But… that’s a lie. No one would believe such a story! Please, tell me you’re telling a lie!”

“Then let’s just assume it’s a trick. Or should I say hypnosis or something? Either way, don’t think too hard about it. Don’t try to accept what you really don’t understand. But… what do you mean she was weird from the start?”

It seems Keita is losing his madness. The tension in him starts to fade away.

“It’s just she’s… weird. It seems like she’s acting out everything, like her reactions are always late. She won’t change her expression even when Leader threatens her. She won’t change even when she’s drugged and she doesn’t even show pain when being punched.”

“…… I see.”

I knew they were violating Fujino but when he comes out and says that, I’m speechless. That girl called Fujino was violated for half a year by them and killed them as revenge. Is there justice in that or does justice and law not get along? Well, I don’t want to think about it right now.

“So she looked great but it wasn’t fun doing her. It felt like doing a doll. Oh yeah, but that time was different. It’s recent but there was this messed up guy in our group. He found her fun because she wouldn’t change her expression no matter how much he punched her, so he finally brought out a bat and smacked her across her back. She was like WHACK! and smacked away. She did make a painful face. I felt a bit relieved cause I knew she was feeling pain too. I remember cause she was human-like that night.”

“You, shut up for a while.”

Keita shuts his mouth. I don’t know if I can keep my composure if I hear any more of this.

“I get the situation. I know someone in the police so we can go there. That’s about the second safest place I know.”

I near him to make him stand up, but Keita jumps back.

“No, I won’t go to the cops. Besides… I’ll be killed if go out. I’d rather stay here if I’m going to get torn to pieces!”

“Killed if you go out…?”

It’s worded a bit strangely. It seems there’s still one big misunderstanding between us. … I can understand him saying that he’ll be found if he goes out. But it’s strange for him to skip that and say he’s going to get killed. That’s like he’s being… watched. Then I finally realize what the cell phone by his feet means.

“…… You’re getting calls from Asagami Fujino.”

Keita starts to tremble once again at those words.

“Does she know of this place yet?”

The boy answers that he doesn’t know.

“I had Leader’s cell phone when I ran away. She called me after everyone was killed. She said she’s going to look for me no matter what! So I have to hide!”

“Why do you still have that cell phone?”

I know the answer but I still ask.

“Because she says she’s going to kill me if I get rid of it! She says I should hang on to it if I don’t wanna die! She says she’s gonna let me go as long as I have this!”

…… What a thing… Her curse is so strong.

“But she still calls me every night. … She’s insane. She saw Shono two days ago, Kouhei yesterday… she said she killed them because they didn’t know where I was. And she said kindly that it was good for me! She tells me I should go see her if I want my friends not killed, no way I can do that!!”

… What kind of fear would that be? The phone call he receives every night is a message from the one trying to kill him.
… I could not find you today.
One of your friends died in your place.
Come see me if you don’t want them killed.
You don’t have to come, but this murder will continue…
… and I will eventually find you…

“What should I do? I don’t wanna die. I don’t want to die like that! They were crying in pain! They were coughing up blood and their necks were twisted like nothing!”

“Let’s get rid of that phone. Or there will be more victims.”

“Don’t you get it!? I’m saying I’ll get killed if I do that!”

Two innocent people were killed because of that.
Asagami Fujino had to commit two meaningless murders because of that.

“You’ll be killed anyway if you stay like this.”

I push my cigarette on the ground and start to walk towards him. I forcefully pull on his arm.

“Senpai, please don’t do this. I can’t do anything now. Please leave me alone… leave me alone…… no, really, I’m scared. I don’t wanna be by myself anymore. Please help me…!”

I nod.

“I’ll help you. I won’t go to the cops. I’ll take you to the safest place I know.”

The only place that will be able to take him in would be Tohko-san’s place. Believing that is the best option, I leave the mansion with Keita.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 06

“”Nii-san, please quickly break ties with such a woman.””

Azaka said so seriously to a woman in kimono, the one called Shiki. I feel rather uneasy due to the tight air surrounding them. It feels like they have a knife aimed at each other’s throat and looking for an opening to actually cut each other. I get timid within this tight air. Now, I can only pray that nothing will occur. Fortunately, they do not talk anymore and the woman wearing the kimono leaves gracefully. I stare at her back as she leaves. Shiki talked like a man. I couldn’t tell her age because of that, but maybe she’s around my age. Her last name was Ryohgi… maybe it’s that Ryohgi. Then her expensive looking kimono makes sense. I could see some worked out designs in her kimono. If she is of the Ryohgi, it’s no surprize she would have her own kimono maker.

“…… She was a beautiful person.”

Azaka nods to my murmur. I think she’s amazing for answering honestly even when she hates that person.

“But she is just as scary. … I don’t like that person.”

Azaka looks surprized. Her surprize is completely natural. Even I am surprized at my feeling. Because probably for the first time in my life, I feel a repulsion toward someone.

“That’s unexpected. I thought you were someone that wouldn’t hate anybody, but I guess I’m wrong.”

“Hate……?”

… Dislike is the same as hate? I never thought so. I just feel that I cannot get along with that person. I try closing my eyes. Ryohgi Shiki. Her ominous black hair, ominous white skin, and the ominous bottomless empty eyes. She was looking at me, so I looked back at her. That’s why we saw what was hiding behind us. She only has blood. She kills from her own will. She tries to hurt others. … That woman is a killer.

But I am different. I think I am different. Because I have never wanted to do such a thing. In the darkness behind my closed eyes, I repeat so over and over. But her figure would not disappear. … We have not talked even once, but her figure is engraved into my mind.

“I’m sorry Fujino. I ruined your day off.”

I open my eyes to Azaka’s words. I smile like I did in my practice.

“It’s all right. I did not feel like it anyways.”

“You do look pretty pale. It’s hard to tell because you’re pretty white to begin with.”

I did not feel like it for another reason, but I nod at her words anyways. … I know my body is not doing well by its reaction, but I did not notice that it is bad enough to show on my face.

“I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll ask Mikiya myself so do you want to go home for today?”

Azaka is worried about my health. I thank her.

“But is that message to your brother all right?”

“It’s fine. I don’t even know how many times I told him that anyways. He should be used to it. To tell you the truth, this a curse. Words that are repeated over and over can twist reality to lean towards that word. Really, a girlie curse. It’s sad and pitiful.”

I don’t know how serious she is but she explains so. I’m used to her unexpectedness. I decide to listen quietly to Azaka’s beautiful voice. … She is always the number one academically in our school and she even ranks in the top ten nationwide. Azaka is a bit strange and has this gentlemen-like side of her. Azaka is one of my friends from Reien Academy. Both of us entered that school from our high school. Since Reien is an “escalator” school from elementary school, it’s rare for people to come starting from high school like us. We met because of that and are close enough that we go out sometimes on weekends. Today, I was supposed to have her brother look for someone through Azaka.

I went to a local middle school and when I was there, a Senpai from a different school talked to me at an event. … I am depressed recently, but I am saved by thinking about this Senpai. When I told Azaka about it, she said we should look for this person. It happens that her brother is also from this area and he knows a lot of people around here. She said he is really good at looking for people our age. … It’s not that I really wanted to see him, but we end up deciding to look for this person with me not being able to refuse the pushing Azaka. We were waiting for her brother today but it seems he cannot come today. … I am relieved in a way.

I am not really into this whole thing because… I accidentally ran into him two days ago. At that time, I was able to say what I couldn’t say three years ago. Since I have done what I wanted to do, there is no point in looking for this person anymore. Maybe Azaka’s brother couldn’t come because God knew I didn’t need him anymore.

“Let’s get going. It’s hard to stay here over an hour buying just drinks.”

Azaka gets up. Even though she should be sad about not being able to see her brother, she still gets up gracefully. Sometimes, she is really manly. Maybe because of the way she talks. Her formal tone disappears like just now and becomes cool like a man. It’s not that she’s disguising herself, but that’s just a part of her. I really like this friend of mine. …… That’s why I shouldn’t see her anymore.

“Azaka. Please go back to the dorm by yourself. I will be staying at my parents house tonight again.”

“Really? That’s fine but Sister would be glaring at you if you stay out too much. You should restrain yourself.”

Waving her hand, Azaka leaves the cafe. Being alone, I take a glance at the sign. “Ahnenerbe”: it means inheritance in German.

***

After Azaka leaves, I start walking aimlessly. It is a lie that I am going back to my parents’ house. There is no place for me to go back to now. From that night two days ago, I have not even been to school. My father has probably been contacted already for unexcused absenses. They will ask me what I was doing if I do go back home. I am not good at telling lies so I might slip everything out. If that happens… father will contempt me.

I am my mother’s child from her former marriage. Father only needed mother’s house and land, so I was just something on the side since that time. That is why I worked hard not to be hated.
A faithful woman like my mother, a student my father can be proud of, a normal girl nobody would suspect about………
…… I always wanted to be that way.

Not for someone else, but for myself. I always dreamed that and the dream has protected me. But it came to an end. Such magic is not around me no matter how much I look. I continue walking, the sun is starting to set. I walk past many people irrevalent to me and many stoplights which blink insensibly. People older than me, people younger than me, everyone looks so happy. My heart contracts in pain. I think of something and pinch my cheek. …… I do not feel anything. I pinch harder. ………… Nothing. When I give up and let go, I notice that my fingertips are red. I guess I pinched hard enough that my nails dug into my skin. But I still feel nothing. I do not feel that I am alive.

“Fufu…”

I laugh thinking it’s funny. Why does my heart feel pain when I myself do not feel any pain? First of all, what is heart? Is it my heart that’s hurt or my brain? When the brain receives any words that is directed to attack an individual called Asagami Fujino, it creates a wound as a protection. Since a wound lets a person know it hurts, whatever story I come up with is only a medicine that soothes the pain. That is why even though I cannot feel pain, I still understand pain in my heart. But that is probably just an illusion. Probably a illusion for sure. A real pain cannot be cured just by words. One quickly forgets a pain in their heart because it is so trivial. But a wound on your body gives you pain as long as the wound is there. That is a strong proof of life.

If my heart is my brain, then my brain should get a wound. Then I should be able to feel pain. Like my days up to now. If the memories of the days I was violated by those people became wounds…

….. I remember again their laughter and their scary faces. All those times I was violated and threatened. When that guy with the knife jumped on me, my stomach felt hot and the cloth around my stomach area was cut. When I thought I was going to get stabbed, I became violent. After I was done with them, I realized that the heat in my stomach is pain. My heart shrinks once more. “I won’t forgive them.” Those words repeat in my head over and over.

“Guh……”

My knee wobbles. It comes again. My stomach is burning. It feels like an invisible hand is grabbing inside of me.

I feel like vomiting. ……… I do not feel that way normally.
I feel dizzy. ……… I abruptly lose consciousness in this situation normally.
My arm is numb. ……… I confirm by looking at it normally.
It really hurts. ……… Yes, I feel alive.

The place I was stabbed is starting to hurt. The pain of the already-healed wound breaks out unexpectedly like this. A long time ago, mother said that wounds will not hurt once they heal. But that is a lie. The wound made by that knife is still hurting me even after the wound has healed.

… But mother, I like this pain. For me who has never felt that I was alive, there is nothing else that makes me feel more alive than this sensation. This remaining sense of pain is not an illusion.

“I have to look for him quickly.”

I murmur under my ragged breath. I have to get my revenge. I have to kill the boy that got away. It is irritating, but if I don’t do so, people will find out that I am a murderer. I don’t want that since I finally obtained the sense of pain. I want to keep on feeling the pleasure of feeling alive. I take my body that hurts every time I move it and start to walk toward their hangout place. I cry at the remaining sense of pain in my stomach. But right now, even that discomfort is lovely.

/3

Parting with Azaka, I return to my place. When night comes, I go out into town. There were 5 people killed so far. 4 in that basement bar two days ago. According to Tohko, another one at a construction site yesterday night. Leaving the 4 killed two days ago, I do not see any relevance to the one killed last night. But I cannot say it is a total stranger. Mikiya once said that ones that hang around at night have many connections. Maybe there is a high probability that the 4 and the one killed last night is connected.

“That girl…”

I suddenly recall the girl that was with Azaka. …… The feeling of death that is planted around her like capillary. Since I am not used to my eyes yet, I saw it without any preparation. … That was abnormal. It might be more abnormal than me. But that girl was normal. She smelled of blood, and she had eyes like me that seem like she did not know which boundary she is standing on. She must be my pray for sure, but I still cannot be confident in myself. It is because that girl has no cause. She has no reason to kill for pleasure like I do, no darkness that takes pleasure in murder.

Take pleasure in murder… How would Kokutoh Mikiya think if he hears that? Would he scold me telling me that murder is bad?

“Idiot.”

I do not really know if that word is directed at him or me. Kokutoh Mikiya said I have not changed from before. I guess I am no different than I am before I went into that coma. Then, did I used to take a walk at night too? … Like an abnormal person that searches for someone to fight with to kill?

“……….”

No, that’s wrong. Shiki did not have such a taste. She did, but it was not prioritized. Then this is SHIKI’s sensibility. Of the man Ryohgi SHIKI, the yan, in side the woman Ryohgi Shiki, the yang. I wonder at my conclusion. I used to have him inside of me, but he is not anymore. Not being there must mean that he is dead. Then……… this will of wanting to kill cannot be anyone else’s but mine. As Tohko said, this job is just for me. Because I am certainly happy about being able to kill someone.

…… The time is almost midnight.
I take the train and arrive at a station I rarely come to.
From this always-awake noisy town,
I can see a big port in the distance.

***

After I part with Azaka, I change my destination. I do not know where the last one would run to, but I think there is a way to search for him. The only ones directly involved with me were the four that I killed and the one that escaped, but I was taken to many places by them. If I go there and ask where the last one went, I should be able to find where he escaped to. Since they cannot trust the police or the school, the only ones they can depend on should be their kind. I hold my burning stomach as I walk through the night town. I had some resistance about going into indecent places, but it is trivial to me as I am more tormented by the pain and my memories of being violated.

At my third place, I meet a guy that says he is a friend of Minato Keita. He was working at at a big building made into a big karaoke place, and gives me an unpleasant smile as he agrees to talk with me for a while. He sneaks out of his work and starts to walk telling me we should go to a quiet place to talk. … From the long experience I had, I can tell this man is taking me to their hangout place. These people can smell out weak people. This person with a good put-on smile must have seen through me as an easy victim to violate. … He probably knows I was violated by Minato Keita’s group too. That is why he takes me without concern. Even though I know that, I still did not refuse to follow him. This man that is a few years older than me heads to a quieter area. I hold my stomach as it starts to hurt even more, and I prepare myself.

…… The time is almost midnight.
I walk with this man as I curse the repeated violations in my head.
From this always-awake noisy town,
I can see a big port in the distance.

***

The man is feeling his own luckiness. He knew from the boasting Keita that Keita’s group is playing around with this girl from a all-girl school. It is because it is Keita’s habit to do as he wanted to that girl and to brag about it. To this man, it had nothing to do with him. He does not have a big connection with Keita’s group, and they were from different areas. That’s why he always listened to Keita’s story without concern. But for that girl to actually come to him!!

You have to take what is given to you. The man decides to get out of work and take Fujino somewhere. … It’s not that the man is hungry for sex. It’s not an unusual event for people like him to rape a girl with four or five guys. There is a reason why this man does not call for his friends. It is because Fujino is the daughter of the Asagami Construction. He should be able to get lots of money if he violated her and threatened them that he would make the matter public. The group Keita is in is rather stupid when it comes to such matters. Maybe because their leader is not that smart. Or is it that they did not need money because they were smart? Well, it does not matter. Either way, the man is happy right now. He did not contact his friends because he thinks that he will get the largest pay if he does not share it.

The girl who came to ask about Minato Keita… Asagami Fujino is following him silently. It will be bad taking her to the usual hangout place. The man heads to the warehouse area of the port. Since it’s almost midnight, the warehouse area is empty. As all warehouses are made the same way and arranged the same way, it seems like a giant factory. There aren’t many streetlights and nobody should come if he goes in between the warehouses. The only things that will be irritating would be the sound of waves and the lights from Broad Bridge currently under construction on the other side of the water. Bringing Fujino into such darkness, the man finally opens his mouth.

“This should be fine. So, what did you want to ask about?”

The man decides to answer her question first. It is his aesthetic that it’s not smart to attack from the start.

“Yes, would you happen to know where Keita-san is?”

Fujino is looking down while holding her stomach. The man cannot see her face with her cleanly-cut hair in front of her.

“I haven’t seen him lately. He doesn’t even have his own place so he’s been going around people’s places. You won’t be able to contact him cause he doesn’t have a cell phone.”

“No…… I can contact him.”

“Huh?”

This girl’s words are strange. She can contact him but doesn’t know where he is? Has this girl gone crazy from being raped too much? Well, if that’s the case, it should make things easier but it’s also true that the man is let down a bit. The man calms down again.

“All right. If you can contact him, then just ask where he is.”

“Well….. Keita-san does not want to tell me where he is hiding. That is why I am going around asking his friends. Please answer me… I do not care if you know or do not know.”

“Whoa, wait a sec. What do you mean he’s hiding? Did he get into some deep shit?”

The man gets irritated by the girls strange words. He’s hiding… does that mean that the cops know about them raping Fujino? No, if that’s the case, she wouldn’t come herself. The man thinks, but cannot come up with an answer, because…
… Because he has not seen the news.

“Well, who cares. But what do you mean you don’t care if I know or not? Was that your intention to begin with? Keita’s not your intention but you came to find a new man or something?!”

The man laughs from his heart this time – I really am in luck, I should be able to get the money without even threatening. And besides, Asagami Fujino is a beautiful girl that he would not easily obtain. He will be able to obtain prize of money and beauty. What else can you call this but luck?

“Sorry, I should have took you to my place from the start then. Or you like this kinda place better, perhaps?”

The girl in the black uniform nods.

“But before that, please tell me if you know where Keita-san is.”

“Hey dumbass, you can quit your excuse for coming here. First of all, I wouldn’t know where he would go.”

The girl looks up as if satisfied. The eyes looking at the man are abnormal. There is no emotion in her amber eyes that fire up the spiral.

…… It is not normal….

“……?”

The man who does not notice that madness encounters a strange circumstance. His arm is moving on its own! His joint bends. His elbow bends to about 90 degrees, and it keeps bending…
… And it finally breaks.

“W-what……!?”

A stupid scream. The fate of the man ends here. Certainly, he did have luck. Back luck is luck indeed.

In a dark alley not even lit up by the moonlight, a tragedy raises its curtains.

***

“………!!”

The scream only becomes a beast-like groan. The man’s arms are already not like arms anymore. It’s like a puzzle ring… or a rubber band twisted around to make a model airplane fly. … Either way, it should not function as human arms anymore.

“H-h-help…!”

The man runs away from the girl who is only standing in front of him. In that instant, his body floats and his right leg is torn off from his knee. Blood splashes as if emptying a full bucket. The blood that sprays along the wall seems like some kind of art. Asagami Fujino keeps watching with her emotionless eyes.

“I-i-it’s twi… twist-t-t-t-t-ed…!!!”

His words are incomprehensible. Fujino decides to ignore them.

…… She murmurs, “Bend.”

That is the same word she has been saying all this time. Her friend has told her that a repeated word can become a curse. The man is on the ground, only moving his neck. Both his hands are twisted and his right leg is gone. The blood from his leg is soaking the ground. Fujino steps into it thinking that it’s like a red carpet. Her shoes sink into the red liquid. A summer night is hot and the humid air stick to the skin and becomes annoying. The air of the blood has a similar feeling.

“…….. *Sigh*”

Looking down at the man that is acting like a green caterpiller, Fujino sighs. She hates herself for doing such a thing. But she also thinks this is what she intended to do from the start. She knew from the way he acted that this man did not know what happened in that basement bar. But he will find out in time. Then, he will grow suspicious of Fujino for searching Keita. So this is something that cannot be helped. This man intended to do that from the start. This will be indirect, but this is part of Asagami Fujino’s revenge. Only a revenge to those who violated her. It’s just that her ability to violate.far surpassed their ability to violate.

“I am sorry…. but I have to do this.”

The man’s remaining left leg is torn off. And that causes the remaining life in him to cut off as well. Fujino looks down at the convulsing body. Now, she knows how the man feels. Until now, she did not know. She could not understand people’s reaction to pain. But now that she knows pain, she can strongly sympathize with this man. That makes her happy. To be alive means to get hurt.

“And finally… I can be normal.”

My pain, other’s pain. I am the one who made him this way. I am the one that gave him these wounds. It means Asagami Fujino is superior. This is what it means to be alive. The ugly self that cannot feel the pleasure of life unless commiting such actions.

“….. Mother. Am I so ugly that I have to go this far?”

The thing in her stomach becomes unbearable. Her heart starts to beat rapidly. A chill runs up her spine…

“I do not want to kill people…”

“You’re wrong.”

Fujino turns around to the sudden voice. At the entrance of the alley between the warehouses, a girl in kimono stands. With the port reflecting the quiet moonlight behind her…

… Ryohgi Shiki is there…

KnK Chapter 3 Part 05

/2

The phone starts to ring. It stops ringing after five times and switches to the answering machine. After a beep noise, I hear a familiar voice come from the answering machine.

“Good morning Shiki. Can you do me a favor? I’m supposed to meet Azaka at a cafe called Ahnenerbe near the station at noon but I don’t think I can make it. You have nothing to do, right? Can you go there and tell her I can’t come?”

The caller hangs up. … I move my tired body and look at the clock by the bed… July 22, 7:23AM. It’s only been about four hours since I came home. My body is still wanting sleep, maybe because I’ve been walking around town until three in the morning after accepting Tohko’s job. I pull up my sheets. The summer hotness does not really matter for me. I was able to tolerate hot and cold weather rather well as a kid and it still seems that way. As I lay there for a while, the phone rings again. It switches to the answering machine and this time, I hear a voice I’d rather not hear.

“It’s me. Did you see the news? You didn’t see it, right? You don’t have to see it. I didn’t see it either.”

… I always thought so, but now I’m confident. The way she thinks is far from the way I think. One should not understand the real meaning behind Tohko’s words.

“There were three deaths last night. Another one of those suicides jumping off a bulding and two, a crime from passion. None of these are in the news so I’m guessing they were all treated as accidents. But there’s one strange case. If you want to know more, come to my place. Actually, you don’t have to. Come to think of it, this will do. All right… to put it simply so even you would understand with that sleepy head of yours, there was just another victim.”

The caller hangs up. I get pissed off. It has nothing to do with me even if there’s another victim. Even the things around me are uncertain, so such a thing is useless information for me. Death of someone I don’t even know about is less impressive than the sunlight hitting me right now.

I get up when the tiredness in me goes away. I make breakfast just like the previous Shiki has learned so in her 16 years of life. I eat it and get ready to go outside. I put on a orange simple kimono today. Since I’ll be walking around town, this is what I prefer. …… Even my choice of cloth is only a habit from the past. I bite my tongue at the feeling I get like I’m looking at someone else from outside. Two years ago, when Ryohgi Shiki was still 17, I wasn’t like this. It’s not that the two years of coma changed me. … The empty two years brought me something else. It feels like I am not moving out of my will. I always get this feeling that the strings called “16 years as Ryohgi Shiki” is moving me like a puppet. But it has to be just my feelings. No matter how much I curse at myself for being empty and fictitious, in the end, I am moving out of my own will. It is impossible for anything other than me to interfere with that.

When I finish changing, the time is almost eleven. I repeat the first message on the answering machine. The voice I have heard many times in the past repeats itself. The voice that was lost in the air is recorded like this.

… Kokutoh Mikiya

The last person I saw two years ago…

The classmate that I let my guards down two years ago…

I know my past with him, but only the vision of our last moment is not there. No, the memory of the year since I got to know him is full of holes. Many important parts are missing. Why Shiki got in that accident…. Why she was looking at Mikiya’s face at that moment… It would be really handy if the forgotten memories were recorded somewhere. I am concerned about the missing memories and it is causing me not to be able to talk to Mikiya naturally.

… The answring machine stops. It’s strange why my worries go away a bit when I hear his voice. It makes me feel like I have a firm foundation, but there’s no way something like a voice could be a foundation. That should be an illusion too. It probably is an illusion. The only reality I can feel now is the burning excitement I get when I kill people.

***

Ahnenerbe turns out to be an antique cafe. I check the name written in German and go inside. It’s past noon but there aren’t many customers inside. I don’t know how they built it but it is dark inside. Only the tables near the door is light and the back of the cafe, the counters, is rather dark. The only light is coming through the four square windows on the wall. Only the tables by those windows are light as if cut out of the darkness. Maybe it’s because of the strong sunlight but the contrast feels rather majestic. Kokutoh Azaka is sitting at the table in the very back. Two girls in a western-style uniform is waiting for Mikiya side by side.

“Two…?”

That’s not what I heard. According to Mikiya, only Azaka should be waiting. I didn’t hear about this other girl. I look at them as I walk towards them. They both have long straight black hair. They have similar features and they are beautiful, fit for students at a Lady Academy. Even though the impressions are totally the opposite. Azaka has firm eyes and has the strength to face anything. You can’t hide her strength even with her lady-like attitude. Mikiya was liked because of his personal charm, but Azaka would be the one that would be admired because of her strictness. The girl next to Azaka looks rather weak. Her posture looks firm and graceful but she has this feeling that she might break down any second.

“Azaka.”

I come close to their table and call out. Azaka looks at me and frowns.

“Ryohgi… Shiki.”

The voice is filled with enemity. She doesn’t even try to hide it. Her Lady-like feeling is just like her disguise.

“I am waiting for Nii-san. I have nothing to do with you.”

Azaka says so, staying calm.

“I have a message from that Nii-san of yours. He said he can’t make it. He ditched you.”

Azaka gasps. Maybe because the fact that he could not come is a big shock, or maybe because I was the one to come tell her that.

“Shiki, it must be your doing…!”

Azaka trembles her fist. I guess she’s shocked that I came.

“Don’t be stupid. I’m a victim too. He just selfishly told me to tell you that he can’t make it.”

Azaka looks at me with flame in her eyes. The girl next to her tries to calm Azaka as she might start throwing things if she wasn’t calmed down.

“Kokutoh-san, everyone’s surprized.”

A thin voice. I step back.

“…… You’re right, today was supposed to be for you. Sorry Fujino, it was wrong for me to get angry.”

Azaka apologizes to the girl called Fujino. I look at the calm-looking girl. She is looking at me too.

“Does it…… not hurt?”

I say so unconsciously. The girl does not answer but just stares at me. Showing no interest like watching a scenary, and inorganic like a bug. I get two convictions in me. An intuition that she is my enemy and the actual feeling that she cannot be.

“… No, it can’t be you.”

In the end, I trust my feeling. There is no way this girl called Fujino would be able to enjoy murder. Because there is no reason for her to. No, first of all, it’s impossible for her thin arms to tear off things like human limbs. It would be a different story if she has abnormal eyes like me… I lose interest in the girl and talk to Azaka.

“That’s all. Do you have any message for him?”

“”Nii-san, please quickly break ties with such a woman.””

Azaka really leaves such a message.

KnK Chapter 3 Part 04

2

After the incident with the unknown girl, I head to my workplace. There is no official name for the place I work for. It’s specialty is doll-making, but most of the job we get are construction-related. The president, Aozaki Tohko, is a woman in her late twenties and she is a weirdo that would buy an abandoned building to make into her office. It means that this is not a company, but rather an extension of her hobby. There are many reasons why I decided to work here, but this is my daily life now. I have complaints but I have no troubles. I rather think I am fortunate. There are problems but they are all things I can bear.

… While I’m thinking, I arrive at the building. The building is four-stories high and the office is on the fourth floor. This building situated between the residential and the industrial district feels rather empty. It’s not that tall, yet it puts pressure on the ones looking up to it. There are no elevators, so I go up the stairs.

When I enter the office, I see an unusual person within the usual junk scattered about. A girl with sharp eyes wearing a black kimono turns to me. … The kimono has some fish pattern on it…

“Huh, Shiki? Why are you here at such a place?”

“Sorry this place is “such a place”. This happens to be your workplace, Kokutoh.”

Tohko-san, who is sitting behind Shiki glares at me. She is dressed plainly like always with a cigarette in her mouth. She is wearing black pants with a white shirt. She’s wearing an earring in one of her ear. The color of course is orange. I don’t know why, but she seems to have this habit of wearing one thing that is orange on her.

“But you sure are here early today. I told you there’s no jobs for a while, so to show up around noon.”

“No, I can’t do that.”

That’s right. My wallet is not allowing me to do that. I feel rather uneasy when the only thing in my wallet are my train pass and a telephone card.

“By the way, why is Shiki here?”

“I called for her. I got something I need her for.”

Shiki does not say anything but rubs her eyes sleepily. … Was she walking around at night again? … It’s only been about a month since she recovered from her coma. For some reason, we are finding it rather uncomfortable to talk to each other. It seems Shiki does not want to talk so I sit down at my own desk. …There’s nothing to do, so I decide to talk. Fortunately, there is a topic handy.

“Tohko-san, did you see the news this morning?”

“You must mean the Broad Bridge. It’s not like some foreign country, I don’t think Japan needs that big of a bridge.”

I pull back at her comment. What she is talking about is a big bridge that is about 800 meters long planned to finish constuction next year. The town we live in is close to the port. If you drive for about 20 minutes, you can get to the port, but the shape itself is troublesome. To put it simply, there is another side of it. If you look at it on a map, it looks like a crecent moon and a long roundabout is forced if you want to get from the top to the bottom. The city’s construction group teamed up with a big construction company and put into action what they said is the solution for public complaints. They are building a straight route across the tips of the crecent shape in the form of a bridge. … Of course, most of the money to build this is coming from our taxes. I think it is a typical case of government saying they are solving public complaints which did not exist from the start, only resulting in creating more public complaints. The bridge is also to have museums, aquariums, big parking lots and such, and you can’t tell if its a bridge or an amusement park. It was called Baybridge until recently but according to what Tohko-san is saying, I guess it’s officially announced its name as Broad Bridge. Both Tohko-san and I do not like the idea of this bridge.

“But Tohko-san, even though you hate the idea, you already have a space in there for your gallery.”

“It’s not under my will. A person I knew just gave me that space as a pay. I can just sell it off but since I have some relationship with the Asagami construction company, I can’t just do that. Geez, a place that won’t make me money is worthless.”

From the say she’s talking, she seems to be having trouble with money. I get a really bad feeling.

“Um, I don’t want to say this so bluntly, but can I have my pay?”

“Kokutoh, about that… unfortunately, I don’t have any money. It’s an unfortunate thing but I’ll have to pay you all next month.”

Tohko-san declares so calmly. She sounds like I’m the bad guy instead.

“Wait a minute! You had 1.12 million yen in the bank yesterday! How could you say it’s all gone!?”

Tohko-san replies while rocking on her chair that it’s because she used it all. Shiki is looking at Tohko-san with some jealousy. …Certainly, Tohko-san looks like she’s having fun in the chair. No, I don’t care about that right now.

“What did you use the money on, Tohko-san?”

“Oh, what I bought was a boring thing. It’s an Ouija Board from the Victoria Age. I can’t expect much out of its effect but it’s not totally worthless because it’s over a hundred years old. No matter how uninteresting it is, some mana and long time will give it some additional value. Well, it still makes no difference that it’s useless. If I have to give a reason for buying it, you could say it’s part of my hobby.”

I just don’t understand this person. This person called Aozaki Tohko is a magus. I always think how much better it would have been if she was just a magician or something, but that’s the truth so I have to accept it. The magus continues her excuse.

“It was a sudden thing on sale, so I bought it out of impulse. Don’t get so angry. I’m out of money too.”

… Don’t be angry? That’s asking too much. As I have seen many miracles from her, I thought this part of her is rather playful, but I cannot be that tolerant today.

“So is that it? I’m not getting paid this month?”

“Yeah. Get some money from somewhere else.”

I get up from my seat.

“Then I’m going to go find some money to live off of this month so I’m leaving early. Is that all right?”

“Fine. By the way Kokutoh, I need to ask you a favor.”

Tohko-san says so in a different tone. Maybe it has to do something with the fact that Shiki’s here… I calm down and stop.

“What is it, Tohko-san?”

“Can you lend me some money? I’m broke as you can see.”

“…… I refuse with all my might.”

I close the door hard and leave the office.

***

After looking at the conversation between Mikiya and Tohko for a while, Shiki finally opens her mouth.

“Tohko, about that thing.”

“That’s right. I don’t really like to accept this kind of a job but I won’t be able to live without money. …… Geez, I’m going mad over money when I’m not an Alchemist. This is all because Kokutoh won’t lend me any money.”

Tohko sticks her cigarette into the ashtray saying she’s in a bad mood. Shiki thinks Mikiya probably is in a worse mood than her.

“Well, about that incident last night…”

“I’ve heard enough. I know what’s going on.”

“I see…… I only explained to you the scene of the crime, but you already know? You’re pretty sharp.”

Tohko looks meaningfully at Shiki. Tohko has only explained the results of the murder that occured between 7PM and 8PM last night and Shiki is saying she understood what kind of crime it was. This is definite proof that Shiki is a person closer to the world Tohko.lives in.

“The client has some idea of the killer. Your job is to take the killer under your care if possible. But if the killer happens to fight back even slightly… the client said to kill her.”

Shiki just nods. The jod description is easy. Find the killer and kill her.

“But what about after that?”

“If you happen to kill her, they will clean it up and treat it as an accident. For the client, she is already socially dead. It is not against the law to kill a dead person. What do you want to do? I think this job rather suits you.”

“I don’t even need to answer that question.”

Saying that, Shiki starts walking out the office.

“You’re in such a hurry. Were you hungry, Shiki?”

Shiki does not answer.

“Here, it’s her picture and her status. What were you going to do without knowing what she looks like?”

Shiki only looks at Tohko, who throws her the file containing the information. The file drops to the floor.

“I don’t need it. That killer is definitely of my kind. … So if we meet, we’ll start to kill each other at that instant.”

Shiki leaves the office, leaving the sound of her kimono and a cold glare.

***

After I leave the office, I couldn’t help it, so I decide to borrow some money from a friend of mine. We decide to meet at the college cafeteria which I quit in June. A bit after noontime, Gakuto comes. He has grown much bigger since high school. When I tell him what I came for, he makes a troubled face.

“I’m surprized. Calling for someone just to borrow money? Are you really Kokutoh Mikiya?”

“Yeah. You’re special to me. You can be happy about that.”

“Heh, who would. Besides, why don’t you go borrow from your relatives?”

“I haven’t seen my parents ever since that fight I got into with them when I dropped out of college. How do you expect me to go back and ask such a thing now?”

“Haha, you’re pretty stubborn. Was it a pretty big fight?”

“That has nothing to do with you. So are you going to lend me some money or not?”

“Hm? You’re in a pretty bad mood today.”

I glare at him saying it’s none of his business, but Gakuto agrees to lending me some money.

“If I put your name out, I bet I would be able to collect 50000, 60000 yen quickly… and if you still need more, I can lend you some of my money. But, not for free.”

… It seems he also has a favor to ask of me. Gakuto looks around and makes sure no one is listening.

“Well, to put it simply, I want for you to look forsomeone. It’s one of our lower-classman, but he hasn’t returned home. It seems he’s involved in a strange crime.”

Gakuto’s story is not peaceful at all. The name of the missing lower-classman is Minato Keita. He is missing from last night and Gakuto says he is a member of the group that was killed last night. Minato Keita has contacted one of his friend last night but it seems he was acting strangely, so that friend came to Gakuto for help.

“Keita was saying something like he’s going to get killed. That’s the only call he made and he doesn’t even answer his cell phone now. According to the guy who talked to him, he was really screwed up.”

Screwed up… he must mean drugs by that. Easy drugs for beginners are cheap and relatively easy to get now. Even a high schooler can get his hands on L if they try, but they shouldn’t try…

“… Hey now. Do you think such a violent world suits me?”

“What are you saying? Looking for people is your specialty.”

I grow quiet.

“That guy Keita, does he do drugs?”

“No, the ones who used them were the ones that were killed. Don’t you remember Keita? He’s one of the kid that liked you.”

… During high school, I was liked by some lower-classmen for some reason. Maybe because I’m a friend of Gakuto or something.

“It would make things easy if he is just tripping from a new drug. Which kind of drugs do they use? Upper or downer?”

There are two types of drugs: Upper, the ones that make you mentally high and feel good and downer, the ones that make you depressed. The one Gakuto names is an upper.

“It’s bad if he’s using drugs to run away from fear. The killer really might be after this kid. All right, I’ll look into this. Tell me about his friends.”

Gakuto hands me an address book as if he was ready for me to say so. Having lots of friends is a characteristic of the member of that group and it seems he’s no exception. Many names with their cell phone numbers along with each group’s hangout place is written.

“I’ll contact you once I find him. I might get him under my protection but you wouldn’t care, would you?”

By protection, I mean handing him over to Daisuke Nii-san, a cop. Gakuto nods, understanding what I mean. We reach an agreement. To start off my search, I borrow about 20000 yen from him. After saying goodbye to Gakuto, I decide to go to the murder scene. It’s because I feel that I’ll have to really try if I’m to find him. Even though I know I shouldn’t concern myself, I also know this kid is in danger, so I could not decline Gakuto..