Day 5: Manga with Mary-san
“Oh, you serious? You’ve read it too?”
‘Yes! The intensity when the Shadow Four Heavenly Kings were defeated and the True Four Heavenly Kings made an appearance was the best. At any rate, it got my heart pumping…’
“You know your stuff. Well, personally, I have to go for after the fight with the Four Heavenly Kings MKII when the Sky King of Four came out.”
‘I get where you’re coming from, that was another splendid scene…’
A few days passed since we started talking; Mary and I had grown more accustomed to one another, and the conversations would often grow lively.
Today’s topic was about a shonen manga that went out of serialization a while ago. I was in the middle of reading through the box set I’d found at an old bookstore, and when I tried bringing it up, to my surprise, Mary latched on.
“But Mary. So you read manga? I never thought we’d be able to discuss manga like this.”
‘A-ahaha… well now, this is the era of digital publications. Even if all I’ve got is a smartphone, I’m never troubled with things to read.’
“Are you really an urban legend?”
Digital publications and whatnot, I get the feeling that’s running contrary to the occult.
This sort of sense that machines are supposed to break down before supernatural elements.
‘You’ve got it wrong, Akira. We urban legends exist through transmission and online circulation. It’s true we don’t have a good affinity with the technology itself, but our penchant for net circuits isn’t bad at all.’
“You’re going places I don’t understand again… whatever the case, be careful when you’re walking and looking at the screen.”
‘You don’t have to worry about that. My smartphone is a conceptually deployed model.’’
“Are you really an urban legend!?”
What’s with that wonderful device that reeks of sci-fi? You’re changing my worldview.
Is it that? The sort of hologram thing you often see on TV?
“… Wait a second. Eh? Up to now, I always thought I was having a phone conversation with you, but on your side, does it look like you’re talking to yourself or something?”
Let’s try to imagine it.
Summer. The blazing, hot sun. Shimmering heat haze drifts over the road. A walking young girl. She wears a straw hat and white dress. The girl endlessly mutters to herself… I really wouldn’t want to approach that.
Rather, before that even comes into question, how did she manage to take a selfie?
Mary went right into answering that question.
‘Ah, no, that isn’t the case. It’s a phone formed out of spiritual power, so while a conceptual deployment is the standard arrangement, it’s possible to manifest it with physical form. I guess you could call it a super next-gen wearable terminal.’
“How many nexts would that be? That’s way too big of a generational gap… so to summarize, when you’re talking to me and when you take selfies, your smartphone is physically manifested?”
‘Yes, that’s about right.’
If I had to say, this is more SF than supernatural. Does anything go with her?
And wait, she’s surpassed the technological prowess of humanity. The seat of most intelligent lifeform on the planet, perhaps it belongs not to humans, but to irregularities.
“But when it comes to spiritual energy, it’s got to be that spirit world detective. I’m amazed to hear you’re a spirit user as well. Can you fire off spirit bullets? I’m jealous.”
‘I’m not a combat type… and wait, Akira-san, do you want to try using spiritual power?’
On those words from Mary, I emphatically lift my head.
“I can use them!? No duh, if I’m able to use them, then of course I’ll give it a try!”
‘I-is that so… my senior in the business told me there are a number of ways for humans to use spiritual powers. I’m going to pass on her teachings.’
Hearing those words, I gulped down my spit.
This… could it be my era has come…!?
I don’t know specifically what I can do with spiritual powers, but that can come later. I don’t really get it, but I’m sure I’ll at least be able to generate a bit or light or something. First things first, I have to get that power in my hands.
Once I’ve obtained it, all that’s left is to temper it. From the start, my little sister and some others said I was, ‘like a ghost,’ behind my back, so I’m sure, no, there’s no doubt I have a good affinity with spiritual energy. I can even see myself eventually being named and praised the strongest of the present age…!
For the sake of a radiant future, I tilted my ear towards the voice I could hear from the speaker.
‘Um, as I recall, you have to prepare a mat.’
“A mat? … Will this work?”
I arbitrarily take something that was laying around in hand.
‘Next, violently rub something like cloth against that mat. During this phase, you must let out a rending cry. The more feelings you put into it, the higher the effect, apparently.’
“UUUOOOOOOAAAAAAH! Blaze up, my cosmos!”
Scritch, scratch, the sound of rubbing resounds.
With zeal of such caliber, it’s unthinkable these pleas will remain unheard.
‘Now stand, carry the mat in your arms, and stand before a mirror!’
“I see! Next!?”
‘Try holding that mat over your head.’
“W-whoah…! T-this is–!?”
What is the meaning of this, the hairs growing from the top of my head are being drawn into the fabric– they’re sticking fast, are they not!
I can see… I can comprehend…! This peculiar tingling sensation that graces my flesh, this must be the attributive wave of spiritual energy…! This is undoubtedly a living testimony, the manifestation of spiritual powers…!
As of now, my power is slight, a small force barely able to lift strands of hair. But from here on, I’ll pile up my studies, if I train myself dispersing and amassing this power every day, then someday…!
“… It’s just static electricity, goddammit!”
In my rage, I slam the mat into the ground. The sound of it slapping the flooring rings out sorrowfully. I fall to my knees in despair.
No, hear me out.
I’m not that big of an idiot. It crossed my mind. No matter how you look at it, this is wrong. This is just static, isn’t it?
But I believed in Mary, I wanted to believe!
‘A-are you disatisfied…!?’
“I’ve got nothing but dissatisfaction! It’s summer and the air is damp, so even the strength of the static was iffy! At least let me dream big!”
‘B-but by gathering the feeble electric potential from muscles and forming a large current, there’s a technique where…’
“You just said it, that’s not spiritual energy, that’s electricity. And wait, that’s an Armed Phenomenon, ain’t it! No way in hell I could pull it off!”
What sort of visitor am I supposed to be? I can almost hear the Barubaru sound effects
I chastised Mary, but it seems she has some sort of excuse.
‘B-but…! My senior told me those sorts of vague forces are spiritual energy, I’m sure she did! She told me to teach that to any human who asked.’
“Tell your senior to watch her back at night.”
To play around with an innocent human heart…! A filthy act committed at such a reasonable price…! Such evil, it makes me sick…!
I swore I’d get revenge on Mary’s senior.
“The shame…! The regret…!”
‘I-it looks like I couldn’t meet your expectations. I’m sorry…’
In the end, I’m a normal human. In the first place, even if I set out for spiritual powers or something, if I don’t have any enemies, what do you expect me to do? I don’t have to find it too unfortunate. So what if my hands don’t let off a faint light. Fireflies do it, it’s nothing special. I don’t particularly need that power or anything.
… I’m not vexed at all, you hear!
“… There’s no helping it. I forgive you.”
Mary’s voice turns despondent again.
I let out a sigh as I put the conversation back on track.
“So what were we talking about again?”
‘Uum… ah, we were talking about manga.’
“Come to think of it, that’s right… I haven’t finished reading that one all the way through yet. Tell me a bit of what happens next.”
Mary’s reaction was strange.
Did I really say something so peculiar?
“What’s with that? I’m not particularly asking for spoilers or anything. Just a little, could you give me something like the next episode preview of an anime? Like on the level of Bill doesn’t get killed in Kill Bill.”
‘… T-to tell you the truth, I haven’t finished reading it.’
“Oh? You’ve only read up to the part we were talking about before?”
‘That’s right. Well now, what a coincidence. The world is filled with strange happenings.’
“Oy, something isn’t adding up.”
She friggin’ started whistling. What’s more, she’s not half bad.
… Suspicious. This is clearly suspicious.
From that voice, that sort of voice that seems to have broken into a cold sweat, to start with, there’s no doubt there’s something she feels guilty about. If I had to take a guess…!
It was there I noticed
The book I was reading was a shonen manga that ended its run a while back. For that very reason- naturally, a considerable bit of time has transpired since the final volume was published.
Normally, when it comes to manga, you either follow it weekly, or finish a volume all at once. And yet, she hasn’t finished the series, her reading log coincidentally placing her at the very same point as me. Could it be…
I covered my face with one hand, turning my back away and setting my whole body into a pose before I declared.
“Mary, oh Mary! You’re ‘watching’ aren’t you…!”
“Your next line is, ‘How did you find out…!?’”
‘How did you find out…!? … *gasp*!’
A sound effect convincing me of it played out (in my head).
A triumphant look on my face, I begin my explanation.
“It’s simple enough… logic that comes just as naturally as the urge to turn one’s face away from the inner smell of a shoe on a hot summer’s day… A story already completed, what’s more, with all the time that’s passed from its completion, there was no need for you to stop reading along the way. To add onto that, you stopped pinpoint right where I am! For all these points to match up… that’s right!”
I thrust a finger magnificently into the air.
“You were there, ‘reading alongside me’…! Using your special ability as Mary-san, ‘Clairvoyance’! … Anything to say in your defense?”
It’s my complete victory.
For a while, I raise a grand laugh, relishing in my victory before I seek out the answers.
“And so? Why did you do it?”
‘Y-you’re not angry?’
“Not particularly. Can’t be too different from reading manga with a friend. I’m just curious why you went out of your way to do something like that.”
‘Eep!? Ah, no, um. I’m sorry… if I tell you the reason, will you promise not to laugh?’
“I won’t laugh.”
On my urgings, Mary bashfully spoke of her reasons.
‘I wanted more topics I could talk about with you. I wanted to talk lots and lots, and…’
Around the end, her voice seemed to fade away.
… How should I put it.
Right, this is that… you’re making me blush.
“T-that so. Well, I see…”
‘… T-that’s how it is.’
… No, hear me out here. Forget girlfriend, I don’t even have any friends, you know? Under such circumstances, you want me to say something witty? Of course that’s not happening.
And at that moment, as I wondered what I was supposed to do, I noticed a certain something.
“No no, hmm? … There’s just this little thing I noticed. You were probably reading other manga with me too, right?”
‘Yes, truth be told.’
“And that means.”
Good grief, I give a slight shrug of my shoulders.
“That you were reading dir… ah, sorry. You were admiring pieces of art with me, weren’t you.”
“Mary. As your flagbearer, let me offer you a piece of advice.”
‘W-what is it…?’
“… You don’t have to lie to yourself.”
I spoke with the face of the Buddha and nodded.
I see. Well, she’s at that age.
From across the line, I hear some white noise of ‘You’re wrong!’ and, ‘I-I made sure not to look when you were reading those sorts of things,’ but that’s none of my business.
“Mary, it’s not anything to be embarrassed about.”
‘You’re the embarrassing one!’’
“What are you talking about, Mary? In order to take in the energy of nature, I’m always naked when I’m in my room, right? When you were using clairvoyance to read manga, then natural as it may be, my bare form must have entered your eyes alongside it. Ahh, how troublesome. Good grief, this is why peeping toms are such a bother.”
‘D-don’t tell such blatant lies! You’re always wearing clothes! Even now! Is lowering my image so fun you’d lie about your own decency to drag me through the mud!?’
“Oy, oy, you don’t have to play it off so desperately. It’s alright, you just have to show your true self.”
‘And I’m telling you…!’
For a while that followed, Mary wouldn’t talk to me.
 Armed Phenomenon refers to Baoh’s special physiology From Baoh: The Visitor by Hirohiko Araki. It’s the tale of a teenager kidnapped and turned into the bioweapon Baoh. In this form, he can only say Barubaru. Baoh has a laser cannon.