an English translation of the novel

Page 133-134

Three large, cocoon-like objects hung from the ceiling. The strangeness of it shocked me at first, but I soon realized that they were sheets wrapped in bandages like an Egyptian mummy. From the black hair sticking out of them, I could tell they were human. The chest area of the cocoons rose and fell slightly. They were still alive.

“Get them down.”

Working together, we held the cocoons up, cut the bandages tying them to the ceiling, and slowly lowered them to the floor.

We unwrapped the sheets to find three people. One, Dr. Noguchi, was a doctor I had been to. The other two were a nurse and a cleaning lady, Seki and Kashimura. All three were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind them. When we untied and removed their blindfolds, they sat staring into space and shivering like frightened animals.

“Are you okay?” Satoru asked.

They didn’t respond.

“Maybe they’re hurt. A concussion or something.”

Okano looked them over carefully but found no injuries.

“Or maybe they were drugged…?”

Satoru tilted their heads up and looked into their eyes.

Something about this situation was making my hair stand on end. I wouldn’t have been half as scared if we had come in and found three brutally murdered corpses. I couldn’t help feeling that something was incredibly wrong.

But I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Umm, so the light we saw was made by one of them?” Okano asked skeptically.

“I guess so. I can’t think of any other explanation.”

“If that were the case, shouldn’t they have been able to free themselves?”


Page 135-136

“No…they were too well restrained. Being blindfolded meant they couldn’t see what they were doing and it’s extremely difficult to use cantus in that kind of situation. And I imagine they must have been afraid of falling from the ceiling as well. Plus, they were still under surveillance by the queerats.”

“Then what about that light?”

“They must have tried as hard as they could to recreate the hospital layout from memory and layered the image of a firefly over it. Their only hope was that someone would see the light and come help them.”

As Satoru and Okano talked, I finally figured what was wrong with this whole situation.

“Satoru…why do you think these people were being held captive?”

“Huh? Because they were ambushed? It’s not that surprising. Yakomaru’s plan has already killed dozens of people.”

“But these people are alive. They could have been killed easily if they were attacked from behind. But they were captured alive without a struggle, and the queerats even went as far as to blindfold them. …this can’t be normal.”

Satoru said nothing.

“…this should never have happened,” Okano said, sounding unnerved. “Anyone with cantus would have been able to fight against being taken hostage, or against any other type of situation. And there were three of them…”

“But we can’t be sure that they were able to fight. They could have been knocked unconscious, or tranquilized, or something. There’s just no way to know what really happened…”

Satoru folded his arms in contemplation.

“…ah. Aah. Aah.”

Dr. Noguchi seemed to finally be coming around.

“Are you okay? We’re here to rescue you. Everything’s okay now. We’ve killed all the queerats,” Satoru said, kneeling in front of him.

“R…run. Hurry,” Dr. Noguchi said hoarsely.


Page 137-138

“Why? What happened?”

“Th-they’ll be back soon… Run, now.”

“Who’s going to be back?”

“Oouchi–he’s a patient here–is he okay?”

As Satoru and Okano peppered Dr. Noguchi with questions, the nurse Seki started screaming.

I don’t think she was actually trying to say anything. It was just pure, unadulterated fear. In a night that had been full of nothing but terror, her scream was the only thing that chilled me to the core. I had never in my life heard a human being make such a noise.

“Seki, please calm down. Everything’s alright!”

Okano, despite her own rising fear, tried desperately to calm Seki down. Not only did it have no effect, Seki seemed to become even more frantic. Her shrieks echoed throughout the half-demolished hospital.

Then, triggered by the noise, Kashimura got up abruptly.

We didn’t even have time to open our mouths. She took one glance at us, turned on her heel, and ran. She was surprisingly steady on her feet and we heard her running down the stairs two at a time.

What were we supposed to do? I looked questioningly at Satoru.

“Let’s get out of here first. We’ll take them with us on the boat.”

“What about the people who ran?”

“We can worry about that later.”

We grasped Dr. Noguchi and Seki under the arms and pulled them to their feet.

“Hurry, hurry, run…”

Just when I thought he had finally come back to reality, he started muttering incoherently again as he stumbled unsteadily forward. Seki had finally stopped screaming, but now she trembled so violently she didn’t seem to be capable of making any sounds at all.

As we descended the stairs, we heard someone outside shouting.

“What is that?”

Satoru went back up to the third floor and looked out the window. I came up beside him.


Page 139-140

We saw a figure running full speed away from the hospital. It was difficult to see by the light of the stars, but it was probably Kashimura.

“Hey! What happened? You don’t have to run anymore!” Fujita shouted, standing at the prow of the boat.

Kashimura completely ignored him.

Satoru opened the window halfway and shouted, “Fujita, that’s…”

“…no!” Dr. Noguchi warned, mustering as much strength as he could to talk. “They’ll hear you if you shout.

His voice was quiet, but was filled with so much desperation that we jerked away from the windows reflexively.

“What are you talking about? The queerats…”

“Not the queerats! He…he’ll come back!”

Seki started wailing again, a grating, piercing shriek like the call of some demonic bird.

“Shut her up. Quick!” Dr. Noguchi said.

Okano clapped a hand over her mouth. Dr. Noguchi had an authoritative tone that you couldn’t help but obey. Seki struggled wildly, but quickly grew tired and went quiet.

“Who’s ‘he’? What the hell happened here?” Satoru asked, grabbing Dr. Noguchi by the shoulders.

“He…I don’t know who he is. But he killed them. The staff, the patients, all of them.”

Okano went stiff with shock.

“Only the three of us survived. He probably wanted to use us as hostages…”

“Why didn’t you fight back?”

“Fight? That’s impossible. He killed everyone who tried to run.”

There was a quiet clicking sound. I looked around for the source and realized it was coming from Dr. Noguchi. Revisiting that terrible memory was making his teeth chatter uncontrollably.

“Run. Hurry. If you don’t…”

There was a crazed look in his eyes.


Page 141-142

“Satoru, we have to get out of here!” I shouted, the feeling of impending danger bearing down on me more heavily by the second.

“Alright.”

Without another word, all of us fled down the stairs and into the lobby. Right at that moment, we heard a terrified scream.

“Help!”

Kashimura was running back toward the ruined entrance. She was about seventy or eighty meters away.

“Hey! This way!” Fujita shouted.

“Too late…we can’t leave from the front. Run for the back exit.”

Dr. Noguchi spun around and stumbled back into the hospital.

The rest of us stood there, unsure of what to do.

The next second, Kashimura’s entire body was enveloped in flames.

“That…that’s impossible,” Satoru whispered.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I felt as if I were in a living nightmare. It just couldn’t be real. To be able to do something like that…

Kashimura flailed her arms frantically, her body writhing in pain. A gust of wind tore through the flames, making them flicker wildly.

It was Fujita. He was trying to put out the fire with cantus.

“We have to help!”

I got ready to put out the rest.

“Stop!”

Satoru grabbed my arms.

“We have to help, now!”

“Run!”

He hauled me forcefully back into the hospital. As we went, I looked out once more.

The fire was burning more fiercely than before. Kashimura lay motionless on the ground as the flames consumed her.

I saw Fujita. He had left the boat and was heading toward Kashimura, but suddenly turned and started running in our direction.