An Invitation to Another World
It was a long, long line.
These are all dead people, huh… that’s incredible, Hikaru thought.
Tall buildings like skyscrapers reared alongside each other, though devoid of any human presence. There was only the long line of the departed, wearing the same outfit; white summer clothes.
Only one thought raced in their minds: that up ahead they will be judged whether they’ll go to heaven or hell.
Like Hikaru, not everyone just stood in line blankly. Some screamed, and some were hitting on the people in line. There were even those that proposed money-making schemes to them. Hikaru was unlike the other departed. He stepped out of the line and went around to the back of a building.
(Who would’ve thought I’d die like this?)
Hikaru met his end at age fifteen. His name meant “to shine”; he was named as such with the hopes that he would grow up to be a bright young man. But he lived all his life staying in the shadows. He chose to. It was much easier to not interact with people. He couldn’t keep up with the boys and girls his age either.
A traffic accident was the cause of his death. Going to the convenience store at night is not a good idea. One could say he was at fault for being deep in thought, but the driver was to blame as well. Hikaru crossed the street when the lights were green, after all.
(Not like there’s any point in lamenting over it now. The only takeaway I got is that humans die easily. Something I learned personally… Hmm?)
Hikaru felt the presence of people behind the building. Dead people.
「Come on, move!」
「Hahahaha! We died too because of you! Hahaha!」
「You freakin’ idiot! You just had to do it, didn’t you? Well, we’re gonna keep on bullying you forever.」
Three boys kicked a scrunching kid, sending him flying. Bullying.
(Bullying even in this place, huh? These kids are beyond redemption. I don’t like it. But then again, it’s none of my business.)
It’s best if I don’t get involved… Hikaru started backing away when his eyes met those of the cowering kid.
The boy looked at Hikaru and quickly averted his gaze. Something was on the ground behind the boys. A bag. Faint light spilled from within.
Now that he thought about it, Hikaru saw some of the dead carrying the same kind of light as well. A few had it in their hands, some in bags. He understood that it was something very important.
Hikaru thought the boy on the ground mouthed the words at him. Take it. In other words, steal it.
Ignoring him would be easy. But Hikaru’s bad habit got the better of him. His curiosity. He held interest in the “light” that the other dead people possessed. There were those that had one, and those that didn’t; Hikaru belonged to the latter. What would it mean for the boy if he took the bag?
(Does me taking it constitute an act of revenge against the ones that are bullying you? Fine. I’ll do it. I’m curious as well.)
Slowly, Hikaru inched closer. The three boys had their backs turned to him, so they didn’t notice him approaching.
Hikaru always refrained from doing anything dangerous, but right now he was trying to brave the risk. The reason for his actions was simple. Humans die easily. And he was already dead. In that case, shouldn’t he at least satisfy his curiosity?
Hikaru was surprisingly calm. He approached slowly. All he had to do was not get noticed and it would be all right.
The boys were in their early teens; same age as Hikaru or perhaps younger. They kicked the kid with faces full of spite.
Hikaru reached for the bag. Just a little more. Only ten centimeters. Got it—
One of the three boys turned around to look. His eyes met that of Hikaru’s.
「What the hell are you doing?!」
Grabbing the bag, Hikaru made a run for it.
「We’ll be in deep trouble without that!」
They’ll be in trouble without it? What does that mean?
Something occurred behind him. He looked over his shoulder for a second to see the bullied kid standing up, lunging himself at the three boys. When Hikaru turned at a corner of the building, he could no longer see his pursuers. They were probably caught off-guard by the kid’s sudden actions.
Hikaru ran, and ran, and ran. He dashed through the forest of high-rise buildings.
「Haa… haa… haaa…」
Eventually, his legs gave up. Exhausted, he propped his hands on a wall, panting, and sat down on the ground.
「Did I lose them?」
There were no sounds of footsteps approaching. It was safe to assume he lost the boys.
「Hmm… this kind of adrenaline-pumping action isn’t so bad… So what’s this thing?」
In his hand was a bag that was made by randomly stitching rags together. Light spilled from within it.
Was it owned by the bullied kid? Or the three boys? They mentioned something about being in trouble if they didn’t have it.
「That was some great stealing.」
A voice came from behind, startling Hikaru, and he turned around.
「Who are you?!」
「I don’t have much time. I want you to listen to what I have to say. All right?」
The one who spoke was a boy around Hikaru’s age. But he had blonde hair and blue eyes.
A foreigner? Hikaru thought.
The boy wore rich velvet clothes that looked to be outdated with a corsage on his collar. He looked like a noble in oil paintings found in art books.
(That’s strange. I thought everyone here was Japanese.)
The dead people in line had black hair and black eyes. The same was true for the three bullies and the kid they were bullying. Then there was the outfit. The boy wasn’t wearing the same white summer clothes.
「You’re coming with me to my world. I want to you to live in my stead.」
「I’m not sure I follow.」
「I will die soon.」
The boy lifted his shirt. His belly was stained a deep red.
「I was assassinated. Stabbed by a knife.」
Assassinated. Now there’s a disturbing word.
「At the brink of death, I sent my soul alone all the way here. You know where you are, correct?」
「The place between death and the afterlife… I think.」
「That’s right. This is the entrance to paradise where souls receive their judgment. My world has one too. I desperately needed immense power for my own goal. So I researched about the art of crossing worlds. Unfortunately, I could only go to another world’s heaven. Before I could accomplish my long-cherished goal, I was assassinated and am now dying.」
「You’re going too fast. Give your story in order. I didn’t understand half the things you just said.」
「I don’t have time to talk about the details. Come to my world and grant my one wish. Then you will be revived once more. Or to be more accurate, reincarnated.」
Revived? Did he just say revived?
「You can do whatever you want once you’re revived. What do you say?」
Hikaru nodded in agreement. He can be alive once more. That brought him joy more than anything. He couldn’t bear having his amassed knowledge and all his thoughts wiped clean from having his soul judged.
「Well then. I’m now going to perform the world-crossing spell. My name is Roland. Roland N. Zaracia. I’m giving you my body.」
White light burst and blurred his vision. And just like that, Hikaru’s soul left the place.