an English translation of the novel

Page 8-9

Late at night, after everything around me falls silent, I sink into a chair and close my eyes.

The scene that floats up from the depths of my mind is always the same, stamped permanently into my brain.

In the darkness at the back of the temple, a flame burns above the altar. Sparks burst from the fire like orange snowflakes, interrupting the sound of chanting coming from beneath the earth.

Each time, I wonder why it’s this scene.

Since that night when I was twelve, twenty three years have passed. In that time, various things have happened. {Incidents more sad and more frightening than I could have ever imagined.} They would rip out by the roots everything I had believed in until then.

And yet even now, why is that night always the first thing to come to my mind?

Is hypnotic suggestion really that powerful?

Sometimes, I still get the feeling that I {haven’t fully awakened} from the brainwashing.

 

Now, my reasons for recording this stream of circumstances surrounding those events is as follows.

Many things were returned to dust, and since that day, ten years have passed.

A span of ten years doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But problems piled up, and ironically, when the new order was instated, doubts about the future started sprouting. During this period, I spent some time studying history, and realized that as human beings, no matter how many tears we have to shed to learn a lesson, the moment the tears are dry, we forget. That’s the type of beings we are.

Of course, nobody should forget the promise that the indescribable tragedy that happened that day will never occur again. I want to believe that.


Page 10

But maybe some day, in a future where peoples’ memories have faded away, will our foolishness cause us to travel down the same path again? I can’t shake off this fear.

Because of this I suddenly resolved to write all this down, but time and again found myself bewildered. It was as if my memories had been moth-eaten here and there, making me unable to remember the reality of important details.

Although I checked with people who were there at the time, as we tend to make up details for the gaps in our memory, I was surprised to find that even our shared memories are contradictory.

For example, right before I met the False Minoshiro on Mt. Tsukuba, I had put on red-tinted sunglasses. I remember this fact as clear as day, but for some reason, Satoru is positive that I wasn’t wearing glasses of any sort. And not just that, Satoru also hinted that finding the False Minoshiro was a feat he had done by himself. Of course, a notion as ridiculous as that is absolutely false.

I put down my pride, interviewed as many people as I could think of, and came across ever more conflicting points. During that process, an undeniable reality occurred to me. That is, there didn’t exist a single person whose memory wasn’t distorted to hide his own faults.


Page 11

As I was laughing at the pitiful foolishness of humans and writing down my new discovery, I suddenly realized that I don’t have any basis on which to exclude myself from this rule. From someone else’s perspective, there’s no doubt that the memories from which I am writing this are warped to only show my good side.

Therefore, I would like to say that since this story is from my own perspective, it may suffer from being distorted due to self-justification. Above all, the number of deaths that were the consequence of our actions may be motivation for such self-justification, however unconsciously it’s done.

Having said that, I will try to unearth truth from my memories as best as I can because I want to face the facts and realistically portray the events that happened. Also, I want to imitate the style of the old stories in hopes of recreating my thoughts and feelings at the time.

This draft is written in fade-proof ink on what claims to be anti-oxidizing paper that can last a millennium. When it’s done, I won’t show anyone (except maybe Satoru, and ask for his opinion), put it in a time capsule and bury it deep underground.


Page 12

At that time I’ll make two other copies for a total of only three left behind. If someday in the future the old order, or something like it, is restored and all publications are censored, the existence of this record should be kept secret for as long as possible. I think three is just enough for such a situation.

In other words, this record is a long letter left to my countrymen a thousand years from now. {When it is read, our true intentions will be revealed, and whether or not they should start out on a new path should become obvious.}

 

I haven’t introduced myself yet.

My name is Saki Watanabe. I was born in the town of Kamisu 66 on December 10th, 210.

Just before I was born, a type of bamboo that only flowers once every hundred years all simultaneously came into bloom. Snow fell in the middle of a summer everyone thought would not see a drop of rain for three months. Basically every kind of abnormal weather phenomenon possible occurred. And then on the night of December 10th, when everyone thought the earth was wrapped in darkness, a flash of lightning illuminated what many would later say was a golden-scaled dragon swimming through the rifts between the clouds.

…the reality is, none of that ever happened.


Page 13-14

210 was a normal year, and like all the other children born that year in the town of Kamisu 66, I was a very normal child.

But to my mother, I wasn’t. She was nearing the end of her thirties and was convinced that she would never bear children. In our time, having a child in your thirties is considered really late pregnancy.

Furthermore, my mother, Mizuho Watanabe, held the important office of librarian. Her decisions not only influenced the future of our town, but in certain cases could also result in the deaths of others. Having to endure that kind of pressure every day, in addition to being careful about her pregnancy isn’t the kind of hardship people usually have to deal with.

During that period, my father, Takashi Sugiura, was the mayor of the town. That in itself was a busy job. But around the time I was born, the job of a librarian came with an incomparably greater responsibility than that of a mayor. Of course it’s still like that now, but it was probably even more pronounced back then.

My mother was in the middle of a meeting about the classification of a newly discovered collection of books when she went into labor. This was over a week before the expected due date, but since her water broke without warning, she was immediately transported to the maternity hospital near the outskirts of town. The sound of my first cry was heard not ten minutes after. Unfortunately, my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck. My face was purple and I was unable to cry properly. The birthing assistant, who was new at the job, nearly collapsed in panic at this. Luckily, the cord was easily cut and I finally breathed in the air of this world and let out a healthy cry.

Two weeks later, in the same maternity hospital, Maria Akizuki, who would later become my friend, was born. On top of being a premature breech birth, she was, like me, born with her umbilical cord around her neck. Though her condition was much more serious than mine; she was almost dead when she was delivered.

The birthing assistant, armed with the experience from my birth, apparently handled this very calmly. If there had been but a tiny slip and the cord was cut just a bit later, there’s no doubt Maria would have died.

When I first heard this story, I was elated that I had somehow indirectly saved my friend’s life. But now, every time I remember this, I’m hit with a wave of complicated thoughts. Because if she had never been born, there would never have been such a huge loss of human lives…

Let’s return to the story. I spent my happy childhood surrounded by the lush nature of my hometown.