Prologue – A Simple Story
— And all life vanished.
I want to tell a simple, hypothetical story.
One day, when you woke up, you noticed the lights wouldn’t turn on.
Thinking it was a power outage, you checked the breaker, but it wasn’t flipped.
The sun had just begun rising, and yet none of your family members were in the house.
And noticing this makes you anxious. When you go outside to look for them, the mysteries just keep adding up.
First, no cars pass by. The traffic lights aren’t even functioning.
When you rush into the nearest convenience store, you find not a trace of life, and the automatic door doesn’t open for you.
In a state of confusion, you return to your house to retrieve your bike, and using it, you head to the station. As expected, there wasn’t a single car on the road, and you didn’t pass by a single person.
Even after reaching the station, you find no one there.
That place was one you were familiar with, and every day, it was crowded with people going back and forth.
Even in the middle of the night, taxis come and go, and there was never a time when it was empty.
Your anxiety changes to impatience. You pedal you bike from city to city, searching for traces of human life.
And eventually, your impatience turns to resignation.
Because, even with the changing scenery, there’s still no signs of anyone else.
Before you realized it, you had stepped foot in the Capital, Tokyo.
But still, there are no humans, and you notice you’re getting thirsty. Your stomach begins to make sounds.
While you do feel slightly guilty, you enter a convenience store that caught your eye, leave some money with a note on the register, and take some lukewarm juice and an Onigiri with you.
After finishing your late breakfast, you begin to regain your composure.
Resolving yourself to return to your own town… your own home, you begin following the path you came.
Buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation aren’t running, and still, there are no signs of people.
Of course, there are automobiles and bikes lying around everywhere.
But like everything else, they’re empty: unmanned.
It took more time to get back then it did to go, but you arrive at your home.
As expected, your family isn’t there.
Looking at the single house that had suddenly lost its landlord, to sum up your thoughts, you were tired.
When you return to your room, nothing has changed since morning. It’s the room you’re familiar with.
Remembering your fatigue, you spread yourself over your bed.
All that enters your mind are the situation you’ve found yourself in, and nightmares.
When you wake up, the same morning light that greeted you yesterday flows into your room.
With a bit of hope, you look around all over your house, but your family isn’t there.
For breakfast, you simply finish off whatever’s in your unfunctioning refrigerator.
Yesterday, you had quietly skipped, but today, you decide to put on your uniform, and attend school.
No one passes you on the familiar path you walk every day.
And nothing changes when you arrive. When you enter the school building, and make your way to your class, you find it empty.
It was usually crowded with your classmates; quite a lively place.
You arrived much later than normal, and it’s already around 10.
The staff room is no different. No one’s there.
Having given up on school, you begin investigating your neighborhood.
In order to find traces of whether a single human being other than yourself remained.
But your efforts were wasted in vain.
The only things you really found out were that all the stores were closed, and there wasn’t a single person to be found.
You lie down in the middle of the main road, and think.
Why is everybody gone? Why are you the only one?
And you reach a single idea.
It may be a little wrong, but you decide to illegally trespass.
You walk up to the house of your neighbors, who had been kind to you since you were little.
The front door was locked, but the back window was still open.
Once you got in, of course, the scenery of someone’s house stretched out before you.
But still, no one was there.
And you noticed.
— Sets of silverware, and dishes of food were laid out on the table.
Quite an amount of time has passed since the food was cooked, so it’s dry and cold.
You don’t know just how long it would take food to become like this.
But you guess that it’s been around two to three days.
Your trickling worries pour forth like a waterfall, and you burst out of the house.
You continue breaking into every house in the neighborhood, and reach a single conclusion.
It’s not that anyone left of their own volition, one day, by some influence, they were suddenly erased from existence.
And the days pass.
… One week. One week.
For seven days, you search every nook and cranny, and try to gather information.
You hold the food you stole from the department store in one hand as you think.
In places with self-generation and solar panels, you can use electricity.
Your home is no longer the one you grew up in. You move yourself between the houses of strangers that can use electricity.
It’s not that you didn’t feel guilty about it.
But to be caught… you wished for someone to appear to apprehend you for your crimes.
Your ideals cruelly betrayed you.
You quickly gathered up the items in the fridges that would spoil easily.
And not just into a single house, you spread them among all of the houses with functioning electricity.
You heard that canned goods could last even ten years after their expiry dat.
But still, a large amount of food will go bad.
After about two weeks, the smell started to stand out.
Not from your own stock, but from the entire town.
Trash that had been thrown away. Food materials in the houses. The contents of the nonfunctioning refrigerators.
But human adaptability is to be feared.
In times of great stress, you were able to get used to it.
And so three weeks passed, and when it had gotten to be around a month, you noticed.
It wasn’t only humans.
Around the rotten, blackening food, not a single fly circled.
When you go to the department store, you do not find a single cockroach.
No crows grace the skies, and even after walking through the forest, you show no signs of mosquito bites.
Your only saving grace is that processed goods are still somewhat safe.
It may be tough to categorize them as life, but plants still live on.
Eventually, you get used to life, and decided to take a single course of action.
You would search for some life besides your own.
From a nearby training institute, you borrowed a manual on cars, and began studying without a license.
(TL: Driving isn’t as common in Japan)
A few days later, after determining you would be alright, you began your voyage by car.
At the start, you held some fear towards moving a car, but even that quickly faded.
There was no one driving on the opposite lane, and no people in the first place. The traffic signals didn’t even work.
When you ran out of gas, you would simply rummage through a close house, and change to a different vehicle.
Your journey continues.
It will continue until you find some form of life besides your own.
Your journey continues.
No matter how much time passes.
Your journey continues.
A day, a week, a month, a year, a decade.
Until you find life…
Until your life runs out…
Of course, as I said before, all of this was but a hypothetical story.
If someone like that were to find life… if they were to meet another, then just what sort of face would they make?
— It would… definitely be one like this.
Before me was a woman, wearing a robe that covered her whole body. The robe’s color was close to silver.
From the hood, that covered almost all of her face, streamed faint, clear silver hair that seemed to be wrapped in light.
Her complexion was that of a person who had witnessed a miracle she had given up on long ago. She shed tears of joy, and gave a wide smile.
『Fukametni temu met mawozamph… Chnitch temu met mawozamph…』
The girl embraced me while spilling out the words of a foreign land.
It’s not like I could understand any of the words she said.
There’s no way I could truly grasp her heart, her thoughts, or joy.
But I could understand what she was saying.
Thank you for being born… thank you for being alive…
— That day, in a world without life, I met her.