an English translation of the novel

Page 387-388

There was something inside. A metal container that looked like a pencil case. And a thick envelope.

I took out the box first. There was a strange mark on the top that showed a red circle around a big-headed alien-looking creature that had its arms spread wide. A diagonal line through the circle seemed to be stopping the creature from coming out.

I fumbled to open the box for a while before spotting a small button that popped open the lid.

The contents were totally unexpected. It was a cross. About seven or eight centimeters long, made of a glass-like material that had become cloudy with age. That wasn’t the strange part.

A large ring went through the cross, passing through three of the arms. It reminded me of a goat or devil’s horns and the whole thing gave me a bad feeling.

The fake false minoshiro said this was a celtic cross. It was a Christian cross to which the Celts had added a circle signifying the cycle of life and death. But the design of this cross had been created by secret Christians in the ancient civilization when Christianity had been forbidden, and used as a sort of family crest.

I returned the cross to the case and opened the letter. There were a couple sheets folded inside. Unfolding them, I was astonished to find that the paper had not yellowed at all, and the ink was as vibrant as if it had just dried. But I couldn’t read it because it wasn’t in Japanese.

The fake false minoshiro scanned the letter and began translating.

“Exorcism declaration. To cleanse those who have been possessed by the devil, and return to them their humanity, we declare holy war against that most wicked…”

The contents showed the frightening extremes people were capable of reaching when led astray by hysteria and narrow-minded religious fanaticism.


Page 389-390

“…the ingenuity of a demon is a gift that asks for nothing in return. In granting us the terrible power of psychokinesis, he has already seen the destruction that lies a thousand years in our future. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This does not apply just to political power. If you possess a power greater than you can tame, it will sooner or later destroy you, and everything around you.”

The fake false minoshiro reciting all this in its soft female voice gave me the creeps, but I didn’t tell it to stop. This and the cross had something to do with the psychobuster, so I needed to hear everything.

“…as the power itself is undeniably evil, it cannot help but turn those who possess it into demons and witches. The much maligned Malleus Maleficarum from six centuries past is vindicated by the appearance of these witches, and proves that witch hunts were not the product of mass hysteria. Even back when technology had not yet advanced enough to prove the existence of psychokinesis, there were people who instinctively knew it existed, and of its dangers. And if some were misrecognized, or falsely accused in the battle to exorcise these demons from society, it was all for the good of mankind.”

I only learned about the Malleus Maleficarum and the two monks who authored it (no matter how I looked it, I thought they were the ones who should have been exorcised) after everything was over. If it had been published today, it would have been listed as class four, “bewitching” or “catastrophic”. If book burning was still practiced, this book would have been first on the list.

The unbearable diatribe against people with cantus went on for a while, but we finally got the to the relevant part.

“…therefore we have no choice but to kill and cleanse those with the demonic power. There is only one effective way to do that–strong toxicity bacillus anthracis, commonly known as psychobuster. It is truly a blessing from God. Hallelujah. He always provides in our time of need.”

The religious ranting went on until it finally came to the instructions on how to use the psychobuster.

“The blessed powder is to be used to fight political and religious terrorism. It can be delivered in an envelope, or sprayed directly at the target. It is fitting that we have been granted a weapon as sacred as the medal of Saint Benedict for our holy war.”


Page 391-392

Saint Benedict was a Christian saint from the ancient civilization, whose image engraved upon a medal along with the cross, was said to ward off evil.

“This is the cross of righteousness and redemption. When thrown at the demon, it will release an inert gas that propels the sacred powder. Just the smallest amount will, even a millennium later, kill any demon who inhales it. Hallelujah…”

I closed my eyes and listened to the fake false minoshiro translate all the way to the end. Then I took the cross out of its box again.

A deadly bacterium had been sealed inside for a millennium. Just the thought was enough to make my hands tremble. At that moment, I happened to see the cross from a different angle.

It wasn’t a cross. What I had thought was a celtic cross design was actually the biohazard symbol.

I didn’t think there was any practical reason for the design. Whoever had made this had a seriously twisted sense of humor.

With extreme caution, I put the cross back into the case.

I would have to release the devil from this concrete grave. But this seed of hatred was the only hope I had left.

My legs buckled from exhaustion as I tried to stand up. Maybe I should rest for just a little while. Then I’d try to meet up with Satoru and Kiroumaru, but if that didn’t work, then I’d have to kill the fiend on my own. Either way, I had to get out of here first.

Should I go out through the underwater tunnel again? If I could get back to the boat… It would be hard to steer on my own, but I’d manage somehow. Then it wouldn’t be hard to get back to the meeting point.

No. It was too dangerous–I had no way to defend myself. If I ran into another bristle worm, there would be no one around to help me. The two that had attacked us had been killed, but the scent of Inui’s blood might draw more of them.

But what should I do if I couldn’t go that route? I wondered if I could open a hole from the building to the surface. But everything up there would be under surveillance, and it would be almost impossible to deceive the bird spies. Once I was spotted I might not be able to escape…


Page 393-394

Then I remembered the bats. If I timed my movements with the bats coming back into the cave, the sky would be completely blocked out and no one would see me.

What time was it?

“What time was it when we were at the bat cave last time?”

“About an hour and a half from now, yesterday,” the fake false minoshiro answered instantly.

“Wake me up when it gets to that time.”

“Confirmed.”

I leashed the fake false minoshiro to my arm and curled up on the ground. In a second, I was deeply asleep.

 

A deafening sound rang out. I was instantly awake.

“It is 4:05 am. Sunrise is in 31 minutes. I believe the bats will be returning soon.”

Already? I didn’t feel like I had slept at all. But the fake false minoshiro was probably right.

I sat up and started preparing to leave. Not that there was much to prepare. I had already burned up my backpack, and the only things I really needed were the fake false minoshiro and the psychobuster.

Maybe this was the last time I would wake up. I shook my head to chase away the unpleasant thoughts. There was no point dwelling on it.

Right now, I had to do what I had to do.

I left the cursed room. I thought I could feel the former occupant, the one who came up with that fanatical religious tirade a thousand years ago, watching me as I went.

I went up another floor, to the second aboveground level. Unlike the first floor, over half of it had been flattened and filled with sand.

I tried to find a place that exited closest to the ground outside. It was still dark outside, so I could barely see anything, but eventually found a spot where I could feel a faint breeze. There was a crack in the building wall that seemed to go through to the outside.


Page 395-396

Listening carefully, I could hear the cries of thousands of bats. It seemed like they were returning. I had to leave now and find a place to hide.

As quietly as I could, I chipped away at the crack in the wall.

Two or three minutes later, I had made a hole big enough to slip through. I ducked and crawled through.

The faint starlight revealed a world that was as barren as the one I had just left.

Of the few ruined buildings that were left, none were more than two or three stories tall. The metal structures had rotted away long ago, and the super long-lasting concrete was just barely able to hold up what was left of the buildings.

The collapsed ruins of the buildings had been weathered into nothing more than grey boulders that had then been dissolved and reformed into karst columns. Here and there, stripes that resembled black rivers ran along the ground. The fake false minoshiro said that they were paved roads that had lost their shape due to long periods of exposure to ultraviolet rays.

There were few plants apart from weeds. The trees were stunted and twisted due to being blasted by the fierce winter winds of the Kanto plain. The soil at the surface was too porous to hold water so the trees had no choice but to use all their energy to grow roots to search for water down below.

The sky was obscured by fluttering bats. If it took them the same amount of time to return as it did for them to leave yesterday, I had one, or two hours, tops. In that time, I had to find the cliff where I had parted with Satoru.

I walked from the shadow of one building to the next, following the fake false minoshiro’s directions.

The enemy might not only be watching the sky. There might be troops on the ground nearby as well.

Jogging in the predawn darkness, I felt a strange shift in my consciousness.

What was this feeling? Deja-vu? I was certain I had never been to this place before. Yet, my surroundings felt familiar, like I had seen them a long time ago.