Hitokui Magical Excerpt

Here’s a passage from Hitokui Magical, the sixth book in Nisio Isin’s Zaregoto Series. I don’t plan to translate the whole book. This is towards the end of the book, so there are spoilers for the book and series (in this summary as well).

The story up until now: Our protagonist, a college student, gets offered a well-paying summer job. He isn’t particularly interested, but signs up after he hears about his neighbor Asano Miiko’s money troubles. As part of the job, he and his neighbor Yukariki Ichihime spend the night at Associate Professor Kigamine Gaku’s remote lab. After waking up, he finds that everybody else at the lab had been murdered. Bewildered by the sudden turn of events, he goes to his long-time friend Kunagisa Tomo for help, then decides to abandon everything else and live with her. But before then, he has a few things to pick up from his apartment…


I went up the stairs to my apartment.

I need to get… a change of clothes, my bankbook, oh and my insurance card. My books and everything else… I can probably leave those. Kunagisa has more than enough books for me to read. Then everything I’m taking should fit in a duffel bag.

I unlocked the door and went in.

It’s dark.

I turned on the lights.

“…”

“…”

Miiko was there. Her black jinbei blended in with the darkness.

She grunted as she noticed me.

“Welcome home… I guess?”

“…”

“You aren’t saying ‘I’m back’.”

“…Please don’t act like you can see through me.” I walked past Miiko to the closet. Alright, I think I put my bankbook right about here. “And don’t let yourself into my apartment.”

“I was worried about you.”

“Worried? You don’t need to worry about me.”

“Hmm… Where’s Hime?

What a pain.

What a pest.

Why do I have to explain everything?

Hime’s got nothing to do with me, and neither do you.

So stop talking to me.

“She died.”

“Hmm.”

Miiko nodded like it was nothing.

She took out a metal fan from her pocket, and smacked it open.

“So.”

“What is it?”

“Hime died, so what are you doing here?”

“…Because Hime died, but I didn’t. She didn’t have anything to do with me, after all–”

Without much sound or pause.

The metal fan hit my cheek.

It was like my cheek was struck by lightning. I was propelled away from the closet. My shoulder hit the wall. I kept going and hit my head. It hurt. My cheek still stung. That must have opened up the cut I got from Izumu. And it was finally healing up…

That hurt.

What was that for?

“I can tell by your face that something happened, but I don’t know what it was,” said Miiko flatly. “And I don’t care. Just answer my questions. Why are you here, and where are you going?”

“…I’m running away. I’m scared.”

Are you running away?

Are you scared?

Of course.

I’m scared, so I’m running away.

It’s only natural.

I’m just doing what’s natural.

It’s not my fault. Nobody can get mad or blame me.

“Hmm.”

“I don’t want to bother people… Abnormal failures should stay with abnormal failures, and degenerates should stay with degenerates.

“Hmm…abnormal, you say?” Miiko crouched down to my eye-level as I sat there. “Inoji. To me, crying when something sad happens, getting mad when something bad happens, laughing when you’re having fun, being happy when you fall in love, getting into fights with people you hate, being lonely when you’re by yourself, and getting along with others isn’t what it means to be human.

“…”

“I know you call yourself defective goods, but I don’t think–”

 

“Shut the hell up!”

 

I–

I shouted incoherently.

“Don’t talk like you know me! Stop looking down on me! The hell are you pitying me for, do I look that pathetic?! You don’t know a thing about me! This wasn’t supposed to happen, it’s messed up! It wasn’t supposed to happen, and I don’t know why it happened either! But it happened, and there’s nothing I can do! Who even cares anymore! This isn’t the first time, plenty of people died because of me, tens and hundreds and thousands died because of me! One or two or three or four more won’t make any difference!”

I grabbed Miiko’s collar.

Ahh.

I just want to tear her apart.

Tear her into pieces and break her.

I’m filled with anger.

Are you angry because of Miiko?

Yeah. Of course.

Not because Hime died.

Not because Hime died.

“Besides, I could never stand how clingy Hime was! I just smiled at her on a whim, but somehow she got the idea that we were friends! I always thought she was a selfish little brat! I’m glad she’s gone, I don’t care about her or anyone!”

“…”

“And then there’s you, Miiko! You act like such a know-it-all, but if you really knew what I was thinking you wouldn’t say something so insensitive! I can’t stand how you always pretend to trust me and act so enlightened! The hell’s with the big sister act, do you think I’ll be grateful?! You act so nice, but what have you done for me? Don’t give hope to people in despair! Are you going to take responsibility for feeding me hope?! It’s gross, like walking on cardboard with socks on! Failures are always going to be failures, and so long as they don’t hope for anything they won’t fall any further into despair, why won’t you let me give up, isn’t this enough?”

I spat it out.

Everything that I had been holding back.

“It’s people like you that I hate the most!”

I felt an urge to laugh.

Is that all it is?

Relationships between people.

Connections.

Consideration. Kindness. Compassion.

Wanting to help. Wanting to protect.

Being believed in. Being trusted.

What a joke.

Clinging to things like that is a complete joke.

It spoils the mood.

It ruins everything.

People can only live on their own. There’s no human relationships free of betrayal. Just what relationships won’t end in betrayal? There aren’t any. Everyone betrays someone, everyone gets betrayed by someone, and they all just trust each other until then. That’s all. They all betray someone in the end.

They all betray.

So I’ll betray them.

Believing in someone, believing in myself.

I wanted to do that, I really did.

But I can’t.

It’s impossible.

Don’t be unreasonable.

Can’t you see how much I’ve tried?

I’ve tried so hard.

Just let me give up.

You should praise me.

I won’t be able to do it again.

Never again in all time.

So just praise me.

Isn’t this enough?

 

This is who I am.

 

Hate me, mock me, scorn me.

Say whatever you want about me, I’ll accept all insults. I’m a pathetic man who deserves any and all slander and libel. I can’t care about anyone. I’ve broken everything I’ve cared about. Nobody with me has been happy.

Nobody can be with me.

“Stop it already, just leave me alone, I hate when you worry about me! You must be fed up with a useless pain in the ass like me, right?! You can’t wait to be free of a such a dumb jerk, can you?! You actually hate me and despise me, don’t you?! So just let me go–”

“Inoji.”

She grabbed my face.

And shoved me against the wall.

The whole building creaked, and the wall felt like it might break.

The air was forced out of my lungs, and I was out of breath.

I couldn’t say anything.

I couldn’t say… anything.

“Don’t tell me how I feel.”

“Hu…”

“You can say what you want about me and think what you want about me, but don’t tell me what to do. Just who are you angry at?

“Hu, uuuh…”

“It’s not me, is it?”

She held my face so I couldn’t look away.

Miiko brought her face close.

Her eyes were sharp.

Stop it.

Stop looking at me like that.

I hate being with other people.

Why won’t anyone understand?

“Shut up.. please. Just… stop it, please. Please forgive me… I’m sorry… please forgive me.” I forced the words out weakly. “Did I ask for this? Did I ask for your pity? Did I say I wanted to be friends? Isn’t this enough, it’s already too late for me. It’s all– it’s all too late.”

“…Hmm.”

Miiko let go of me.

Ahh.

I was struck with regret.

She gave up.

She abandoned me.

No.

I hate this.

I hate being looked down on.

But I hate being abandoned even more.

“Then you’re just useless.”

Miiko slapped her fan closed.

“You really are worthless.”

“Ah…”

I knew that.

But I didn’t want someone else to say it.

I didn’t want you to say it.

“Someone who can’t protect a single girl, who doesn’t even try to protect her and just keeps making excuses, doesn’t deserve to live. Someone who wallows in his own powerlessness has no right to be alive.”

Then she took out something from her fan.

It was a hidden knife.

It was small and shaped like a shuriken.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you want to die?”

“…”

“You’ve always said that there’s no meaning to life, haven’t you? You’ve always been so nihilistic. So then,

 

I’ll kill you.

 

There’s no point in you living anymore.”

“But…”

No, isn’t she right?

She could be right.

That’s right, there’s no point in living any longer.

I don’t need that.

I don’t need to draw out my life.

If you’re going to kill me, then kill me.

Oh. So that was it. I didn’t want to be consoled, and I didn’t want to be blamed.

I wanted to be killed.

“I’ll be taking responsibility for feeding you hope. Ah, well you know. It’ll be hard for me to kill you, now that we’re friends, but it’ll be hard for you too, so let’s call it even.”

Ah…

I can’t move.

I can’t escape.

But I’m not afraid.

I guess this is okay.

Huh?

Is this really okay?

Did I make a mistake somewhere?

Wait.

Wait just a

“One.”

Miiko’s right hand slid through the air.

Her knife became a blur.

 

Ah, I don’t want to die.

 

And then.

As that thought ran through my mind–-

“Two.”

Miiko’s hand kept moving.

Her knife turned back, then went back and forth.

“Three. Four. Five. Six.”

The blade ran back and forth–

–cutting my right cheek.

Just as I realized that she had stopped, all of the cuts opened up at once. A huge amount of blood came spurting out of those six separate cuts– but Miiko dropped her knife on the tatami mat, and gently held her hand to my cheek to stop the bleeding.

“There. Now you’ve died six times.”

“…”

I couldn’t speak through the pain.

Even though my mouth was closed, I could taste blood. Some of those cuts must have penetrated my cheek. My blood tasted awful, of course. It tasted horrible. I’ve never tasted blood so bad. It tasted like iron. But still, the blood covering Miiko’s hand was neither green nor purple, but red.

It wasn’t blue either.

It was a bright red.

“Now you’ve been reborn six times at once. And if you keep saying stupid things, then you really are worthless. I really will kill you.”

“…”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I’m not really sure…” I replied, pushing down the pain in my cheek and the pain in my chest. “Is there anything I can do?”

“You can do more than me, at least.”

Miiko said candidly.

“I’m powerless. All I know how to do is swing a sword. But what about you? There’s so much you can do. You just haven’t done what you can, have you?”

“Just haven’t done it…”

“You’re sad, aren’t you?” Miiko said quietly. “You’re sad that Hime is gone. Just say so. Why are you blaming yourself and yelling at me? That’s not what you need to be doing, is it?”

Sad?

Really?

I’m sad that Hime died?

Really.

“You’re… absolutely right.”

I said.

I confessed.

It was like my last words.

“You’re absolutely right, Miiko. I’ve… I’ve hurt many people up until now. I’ve made many people unhappy, I’ve brought misfortune to many people, and I’ve neglected many people. Hime was just another victim. For me to mourn someone at this point… I’ve forgotten how many people I’ve trapped, how many I’ve tricked, how many I’ve deceived. I’ve never counted how many I’ve betrayed, how many I’ve exploited, how many I’ve sold. I returned affection with contempt and love with hate. I’ve never believed in anyone, and anyone who’s believed in me could only be a liar. No matter what anyone said to me or I said to anyone, I was completely unaffected. I’ve never thought that there would be someone who would love me unconditionally. I’m an irreparably defective product, it was always too late for me, so for me to feel sad at this point would just be–”

“Cut it out!”

Miiko shouted, and in the blink of an eye she grabbed my neck and lifted me up. My feet couldn’t reach the floor, and my windpipe was forced shut, so now I really couldn’t breathe.

“Do you think that childish rambling you call nonsense will get through to me?! You’ve never had an honest conversation with anyone, do you think your words will reach me? It must be easy for you to act like you can’t do anything and sulk about it! But imagine what it’s like watching you! Can’t you tell that you won’t get anywhere like that?!”

“Miiko…”

“Even if it’s pathetic or futile, just do something! No matter how pathetic it is, it’s much better than doing nothing! Just struggle and flail! That’s how everybody gets through life! Stop making it sound like you’re the only one putting in effort!”

Miiko glared at me.

There were traces of tears in her eyes.

As she yelled, her voice was choked.

“Alright, listen up! No matter how many people you’ve hurt, how many you’ve trapped, how many you’ve tricked, how many you’ve deceived, how many you’ve betrayed, how many you’ve exploited, or how many you’ve sold! No matter how much you’ve hurt them or how unhappy you’ve made them! No matter how laughable or pathetic it is! Even if it’s too late, past the point of no return! Even if you’re defective goods that can’t trust people or a human failure that murders people!”

 

“Why does that mean you can’t be sad?”

 

“…”

Just then–

It was like something dropped.

Suddenly, my body felt light. Everything that I had been fixated on, everything that had been confining me, now felt like a thin, brittle cage.

Just who had been holding me back? Who had locked me in these shackles?

“Did you like Ichihime?”

“…Yes.”

“Did you like spending time with her?”

“…Yes.”

“Did she make you happy?”

“Yes!”

I answered with confidence.

Hime.

She was endlessly cheerful.

She was easy to fool, but a liar.

She mixed up her words, and was bad at studying.

But she was a tremendously hard worker.

And an incredible girl.

That’s right.

These past two months.

They were fun because of Hime.

How could I not realize?

That I was so happy.

That I was so blessed.

Remember it. Remember it all.

What Hime said. What Hime looked like.

Down to the last hair.

I couldn’t forget her if I tried. It would be so much easier if I could forget her, but even then I couldn’t. How could I forget how much I enjoyed that time?

I wanted to shout it out, to run to her and tell her with all my heart. That if only for a short while, you brought happiness to a single irredeemable person, to someone whose life had lacked all happiness.

And not just to me.

Miiko and so many others.

Aikawa, too.

Why was I born?

What’s the purpose of my life?

If I had to bear these feelings, I wouldn’t want to be born. If I had to suffer through feelings more terrible than dying, I’d rather not have been born.

That’s what I had thought.

And I’m not going to take it back.

I can’t take it back.

It felt like everything was a mistake.

That living was itself a mistake.

That I had failed in everything.

That I had already failed by not dying.

So why is it?

Just how could it be?

That I still wouldn’t wish that I hadn’t met Hime.

“I–”

I said, with the taste of blood in my mouth.

“I really hate that Hime died.”

“Yeah.”

“I’m sad that Hime died.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

Miiko let go of me.

I landed on the floor with a thump.

My feet were planted on the ground.

I felt grounded.

“I’m sad, too.”

“…Miiko.”

I touched my cheek.

It was wet and sticky with blood.

“I… have something to do.”

“That so?”

“Something I need to do.”

Miiko gave a small nod.

“You’ll come back, won’t you?”

“I will… But I don’t know when.”

“That’s fine. Come back whenever you want,” Miiko barked. “This is your home, after all.”

“Yes, it is.”

I forcefully wiped off the blood from my cheek.

Though my clothes were already covered in blood.

Well, it suits me.

I was already living like I was dead.

Only living, but like I’m dead.

So I’ll struggle.

I’ll crawl pathetically.

Before me is hell, and behind me is hell.

I’ll turn back time.

I’ll cling to life.

Like I’m going to die,  like I’m already dead.

I don’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks.

“Well, I’ll be off now.”

“Mm. Be careful.”

I looked back before leaving.

Miiko had her arms crossed as she watched me go.

She had a faint smile.

Yeah.

I love her smile.

“Miiko.”

“What?”

“When I come back, I think I’ll confess to you, so please think about your answer.”

“Confess? …What, do you like me?”

“About as much as you like me.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Real interesting, Inoji,” Miiko replied, without hesitation. “Then I’ll be waiting for you to come back.”

“Alright, see you then.”

 

Let’s meet again, even if our fates don’t cross.

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