(I can’t… I won’t believe anyone ever again…!)
It was the middle of the night. In the room of the sort of apartment one might find on any street corner, Agawa Suzuran wept.
The screen of the TV she had switched on in fear of silence flashed the face of the sacred assembly’s bishop for yet another day in a row. The location was likely somewhere on temple grounds. In the depths of a vast sea of green, a well-lit construct of white walls… what they called their temple… was just barely visible.
‘I want you to believe—’
That one line from the young bishop echoed through the TV, and through Suzuran’s ears. She recalled the cold tears running across her face.
(Who’d believe you…!)
Her parents weren’t around.
Her birth parents had tossed the girl who was but a newborn into an orphanage. Her foster father failed in his enterprise one day, so to drown in liquor and divorce. While she went with her mother, that mother found a new man come time for Suzuran to enter middle school, and went off who knows where. For a while, she was passed around relatives on her mother’s side, and thanks to that, across middle school, she was never in the same school for more than a year, and was unable to make any proper friends.
Claiming to be the brother of her birth parent, the relative who finally did show up pushed his debt onto her and fled in the night. In short, he was just a swindler.
When she got home from school, she found a letter with a contract for twenty million yen, an outrageous sum of money.
‘You mean to say… not in some conceptual sense, that a real God will make his descent… is that correct, Bishop Ferriol?’
The camera changed angle. The sky over the temple… a pale blue mist hung over the city sky.
‘That is correct. According to our oracle’s divinations, there is one week to go.’
‘In one week… a god, from there?’
With the voice of the interviewer who couldn’t conceal his excitement, the camera zoomed into the night sky. As if they were trying to zoom in on an aurora, a rainbow and pick out only its blue, a royal hue certainly did fill the screen.
Heavens gate… the door they said God would pass through. That which couldn’t be explained by science was a subject matter that went beyond simply being the pillar of this strange religious group that suddenly popped up a year ago.
The camera once a gain panned to the white outfit with gold thread inlay, the ash-silver hair and fair, slender face… the youngster who seemed to embody purity itself. The man on TV gave a warm smile as if to bless a baby’s birth.
On top of that, without fearing any, accepting of all… a smile that wouldn’t stop drawing people in. Even the interviewer woman at times seemed to stare at him in a trance.
Bishop Ferriol was, by this point, an idol among female students. As was the natural order in Japan, somebody had started a trend of calling him ‘Ferry’. Despite all his popularity, Suzuran, who was supposed to be a high school girl, couldn’t care less.
To believe and be abandoned. Owing to repeating such a reality, Suzuran couldn’t understand how anyone could get so zealous over anything… she couldn’t believe their belief. The classmates who would purposely call him Lord Ferriol, or the stations that would broadcast his face day and night—
‘—But in order for that to happen, a certain person’s prayers are indispensable. The reason I’m going on air today is to ask if anyone has any information regarding that individual.’
‘And who might that individual be?’
The interviewer swallowed her breath, closing the microphone in on Ferriol.
‘She’s a young girl called Suzuran.’
As her eyes met with the young bishop on the screen, Suzuran’s hair stood on end.
‘Her name is Nagoyakawa Suzuran.’
A small silence followed.
As the bishop’s eyes strayed, the power drained from Suzuran’s body. Even if Suzuran was a Suzuran, she was an Agawa Suzuran. She had never proclaimed herself a Nagoyakawa, past or present.
‘Is that… all?’
‘That’s the most we were able to find out. But if you believe, I’m sure the lord shall—’
The rest was inconsequential.
If God exists. If someone out there has salvation, then please come and save me. She pleaded. But no one came. No one would tell her how to live the next day. That’s why Suzuran couldn’t believe in God.
(Should I die…)
Those thoughts passed quite tangibly across her head, her tear-withered hollow eyes searching out a knife from the kitchen.
A violent knock struck the door of her apartment. Opening it afforded her no time to ask questions as two low-brow men pushed their way in without a word on her part. The man in a flashy suit gave the order.
“Alright, take anything of value.”
“Got it, boss.”
The delinquent-looking one in a jersey made off with one furnishing and then another. The TV that told her to believe was unplugged and carted off.
There’s no way God existed. The world was just bitter, there was no sugar around. These two men surely didn’t believe in God either.
Frozen in a corner of the room, Suzuran expressionlessly thought.
According to the sacred assembly, they lived in the era of God’s descent, but from her point of view, the night made society’s fervor seem like a lie. Perhaps this would be what it would feel like to see a festival over the walls as she stood at the gallows.
There was a truck outside. Under the street lamp, either a pawn shop or broker, another man did a good check over each item as he tapped it out on his calculator.
With this and that going on, the clock struck eleven.
“That’s a clean sweep… so how much was it?”
“Yessir, fifty thousand one hundred and five yen he said.”
Suzuran almost did a spit take. That was far too cheap.
And, with a jerk, the boss’s eyes turned towards her.
“You heard her, missy. Nowhere near twenty million.”
Her body winced back at the hand plopped onto her shoulder. She at least knew the standard in a situation like this.
“Nothing against you, but you’re gonna have to sell your body..”
Just as she thought.
She’d start off with Kabukichou. Net, some onsen district. And when she had worn out her use, she’d end up sold to some country whose name she didn’t know.
(But… that’s just how it works. I was born under that sorta star…)
At the very least, she’d wear her destiny with pride. Killing herself was far too pathetic. In Kabukichou, she could work her way up from Yakuza harlot to legal wife somehow or another. At the onsen district, she could invite the favor of some company president and work her way. In a foreign land…
(That’s right, keep living, and something good’s sure to—)
“Like your organs… starting with the ones you’ve got two of.”
(Whoah. That’s what you start out with…)
Even her greatest effort to be optimistic was destroyed as she was about to be silently taken away.
“A biker gang? They’re a noisy bunch.”
The sound of approaching cars came to a stop in front of the apartment.
“Want me to give it to ‘em, boss?”
“Sure, have at it.”
The subordinate one placed his hand on the doorknob.
The door was brown right off of its hinges, pinning him to the floor.
In front, a young man in his early twenties stood still in the stance of having delivered a kick. His slender body was clad in a wide-open black jacket and slacks. A white cardigan- not tucked in. Beyond his silver-framed glasses lay sharp slit eyes.
“That’s as far as you go, street thugs,”
Emitting a composed tone befitting his shapely features, he stepped on the door as if to deliver the pinned yankee the final blow as he trounced in.
From behind him, one girl around the same age as Suzuran with curly hair. For some strange reason in maid clothes. Perhaps she had been injured, as from the back of her head, a bandana stretched over the right eye of her lethargic expression. And once again, truly for some very strange reason, there was a Japanese sword in her hand.
“W… who the hell are you!?”
“Me? Well to answer your question,”
The boss accepted the business card the young man held out. Suzuran joined him for a peek.
‘Iori Obliterating Industries
President and Planning and Management and Public Relations and Operations
The boss blinked as he stared at the card. Suzuran also blinked a few times at his long and droning title.
“Obli… terating industries…? And what’s that supposed to be!? Huh!?”
Just as the boss finished, a straight punch from head-on.
The intruder’s eyes were wide open, his canines flashed in a grin.
“An evil organization.”