an English translation of the novel

Page 270-272

I’ve thought about this incident more times than I can count. So I can say with confidence that K was truly the textbook description of a fiend.

Earlier, I said that K’s skill with cantus was average at best. One of the comments on his remaining report cards says “lacks imagination and creativity”. But in using his power for murder he was a genius.

Perhaps it’s a little imprudent to say that. But the ingenuity of his plans put all other fiends to shame, and it was apparent that he had been planning to eliminate the entire town right from the start.

He started by destroying buildings and clogging up the canals. Then he set fire to parts of the town and cut off all but one emergency route. Once these preparations were done, he began his massacre.

People ran around wildly, trying to escape, not knowing that they were already trapped in the palm of K’s hand.

If at the time people had scattered, each running in their own direction through the rubble and burning buildings, a good number could have survived. But no one did. In their panic, everyone ran in the same direction. It’s typical mob psychology. They took the one open path they saw.

The path led them into a forest, where the thick grove of trees gave them a false sense of security. But when chased by a cantus-wielding fiend, this was nothing short of suicide.

Once he was sure that everyone had entered the forest, K created a ring of fire on its outer edge, trapping the townspeople inside. The ring gradually shrank as the fire spread. But true to his fiendish nature, he did not burn them all alive. Instead, he opened up a path in the burning trees.

The townspeople had no choice but to run to their demise like mice in a maze.

 

“So. Do you still want to hear more?”

I hesitated for a moment, then nodded.

“Even hearing about it is sickening, isn’t it? I can tell from your expression. Why do you want to continue?”

“…I just want to know how K was stopped.”

“Alright,” Tomiko smiled slightly.

 

Once he had killed every last person in the forest, K returned to the town. He walked around searching for survivors and killing them in an almost trance-like state. It was the beginning of winter and K appeared to have forgotten to dress properly. In the middle of the night, he became aware that he had caught a bad cold.


Page 273-274

K first went to the half-demolished town hospital. Though he most likely didn’t expect there to be any doctors there. He probably just wanted to look for medicine. But there was one doctor, trying frantically to save the few survivors who were on the brink of death. That man, Doctor Tsuchida, saved the town. And I happened to be there at the time, so I know the entire story.

Surprised? I was a nurse then. Only Doctor Tsuchida and I were at the hospital with the severely wounded and sick patients when K came.

It was obvious from just one look that he was the fiend. His eyes were different. They were rolled back, not like the so-called sanpaku eyes1, but almost completely rolled back so that you couldn’t see the irises at all. I wondered if he could even see. There was no light in his eyes at all.

His hair looked oily and clumped, and his skin was splotchy. When I realized that it was because of all the blood spattered on him, my legs started shaking uncontrollably.

K walked by me silently and entered the examination room. Without any explanations or threats, he said that he had a cold and wanted medicine. I couldn’t see Doctor Tsuchida, but heard him tell K to sit down.

I entered the room without being called, thinking that I couldn’t leave Doctor Tsuchida in there alone. He glanced at me but said nothing. He opened K’s mouth and examined his throat. It was a bright red color I had never seen before. He must have been in some pain. He also had a fever and shivered constantly as if he had a bad chill.

I can’t say for sure whether it really was a cold or not. As he had slaughtered all those people, he must have breathed in large amounts of blood as it sprayed everywhere. His symptoms could have been some sort of allergic reaction. If that was the case, you could almost say it was revenge against K from those who died.

Doctor Tsuchida spread Lugol’s iodine on K’s throat then told me to go to the farthest storage room to get antibiotics. I hated the thought of using precious medicine on a fiend, but did as I was told and went to find the penicillin. Most of the stock had been used for the wounded survivors, so I had to spend some time searching for more from the pile that was to be discarded for being almost past the expiry date.

So I didn’t see what happened during that time. But from the evidence left, it’s clear what happened.

Doctor Tsuchida had taken the potassium chloride tablets from the emergency medicine cabinet and mixed multiple times the lethal dosage in distilled water. Then pretending that it was cold medicine, injected it into K’s arm.


Page 275-276

Suddenly there came a scream, and I dropped the antibiotics I had finally managed to find. I ran to the examination room.

Then I heard something explode violently, and saw that the entire room had been dyed a deep red. K had blown Doctor Tsuchida’s head off.

The terrible screaming continued. K was in the throes of death, but he just wouldn’t die. He sounded as if he were possessed. But the screams gradually weakened until they became a child’s sobs. Then silence…

 

Tomiko finished speaking and stared into her cup.

I should have had a million questions for her, but I was unable to speak.

“…it took a lot of time and perseverance for the town to recover from the fiend’s attack. The first thing we did was to eliminate everyone in K’s bloodline.”

“Eliminate everyone in his bloodline…?” I repeated.

“K’s lack of attack inhibition and death feedback were two major genetic faults. There was a very high chance that everyone related to him carried the same defective genes. So we traced his ancestry back five generations and eliminated everyone in the family tree. Please don’t mistake this for revenge. We had to do this because we couldn’t risk anyone else becoming a fiend.”

“But how did you eliminate…?” my hands shook slightly.

“Yes. Since I’ve already told you this much, there’s no point in hiding anything else. We used queerats. We created a troop of forty queerats from the most loyal colony, gave them weapons and instructions to kill the remaining bloodline in the dead of night. If these people were to learn of this, they could have dealt with the queerats without any difficulty, so the plan was very carefully laid out. Even so, over half the queerats were killed, but they would have had to be eliminated anyway, so you could say the plan was a complete success,” Tomiko said casually, as if discussing a town-wide cleanup event. “But that wasn’t enough. Even with K’s bloodline gone, there was no guarantee that fiends wouldn’t appear again. So we completely revised the education system. We scrapped Leadership School and created Sage Academy, where every aspect of the student was managed in terms of performance values. The Board of Education was given more power and answered to no one but the Ethics Committee. Finally, part of the Code of Ethics was rewritten to delay the age when basic human rights become applicable.”


Page 277-279

“What do you mean?”

Tomiko refilled the teapot and poured two new cups of tea.

“According to the old Code of Ethics, a fetus was considered to have human rights at 22 weeks of age. That rule was created in regards to the period of time during which an abortion could be performed, but the new Code made it so that a child did not have human rights until their seventeenth birthday. This meant that up until a child turned seventeen, the Board of Education had the power to order their disposal.”

I can’t even describe the shock I felt when I learned that under the law, I was the same as an semi-developed fetus–non-human. We were never told about this in Harmony School or Sage Academy. To begin with, I’ve never questioned at what age were human rights endowed, or whether I already had human rights.

“The method of disposal was also refined. Because no matter how loyal the queerats are, giving a being with that level of intelligence permission to kill people was just asking for trouble in the future. So normal household cats were bred selectively with cantus to created tainted cats.”

Tainted cats…that phrase brought up intense emotions that had been repressed for a long time. Fear. And sadness.

“And after that, thanks to the thorough measures we undertook to stamp out any dangerous factors before anything happened, no more fiends appeared. But another terrible incident occurred. I remember this one quite clearly, as it happened only about twenty years ago.” Tomiko drank her tea in one gulp and started the story.

 

The dangers of cantus leakage had been identified as early as the final years of the ancient civilization. But destructive leakage, called bad spills, was overlooked and underestimated for a long time. At most, leakages would cause delicate machinery to malfunction, and objects would become a little warped, but it was never thought to pose any harm to humans or animals. And in truth, that was the case most of the time.

It was around then that a girl, Izumi Kutegawa, proved us wrong. Her cantus polluted everything around her like radiation. She was an only child who lived on a farm on the outskirts of Gold. Once she hit puberty and the spirit of blessing had visited her, the animals on her farm had an unusually high rate of deformities. Most of her crops withered, and in the beginning, we suspected that it may have been caused by a new virus.

Even at Sage Academy, anything placed within ten meters of her would show signs of deforming. Chairs and desks became unusable in a short amount of time, and even the walls and floor would begin to bubble and grow long whiskery mold like a scene from some nightmare.

The Ethics Committee and Board of Education gathered a group of specialists to investigate the situation. When they determined that the bad spill of her cantus could damage even human DNA, it caused a huge uproar. She was ordered to withdraw from school and told to study at home, but by then, the range of her spill had extended to unthinkable proportions. The gears of a clocktower six kilometers away were twisted out of place, causing the clock to stop moving entirely.


Page 280-281

We held council and reached the conclusion that she suffered from Hashimoto-Appelbaum syndrome and would have to be disposed of as a karma demon. As the head of the Committee, I wanted to tell her this in person, but it had already become too dangerous to approach her. So I wrote her a letter and had it delivered by a karakuri puppet1.

Even now it pains me to remember. Izumi was truly a kind and gentle soul. However, as history has shown, those are precisely the ones most in danger of becoming karma demons.

Once Izumi learned that peoples’ lives were in danger because of her, she proposed her own elimination.

Since Kutegawa Farm was ground zero of the bad spill, every living thing on the farm had already died. We told Izumi that her parents and all the farmhands managed to escape from danger, but the truth was that they had already died from a strange disease that caused fibrosis throughout their bodies.

The last time I saw the farm, it had transformed into an amorphous, amoeba-like thing that, to this day, swallows everything it touches.

The puppet brought five pills to a small building on the edge of the farm that had not yet completely melted away. We told her that they were tranquilizers that could help control the bad spill, and only one was lethal. We instructed her to take one a day.

Izumi took all five pills that same day. Being the smart girl that she was, she had already figured it out. She was probably afraid that her leaking cantus would alter the medicine…

 

Tears fell down my cheeks.

I wasn’t sure why. Even though I had never met Izumi in my life, I empathized with her from the bottom of my heart. But it wasn’t just that.

The emotions I felt were so powerful I felt like a small raft being tossed about in a storm. My tears fell unceasingly.

“I understand how you feel,” Tomiko said. “It’s okay. Cry as much as you need to.”

1 karakuri puppet