Chapter 2 – April 17, She asked me

‎I’m a High School Boy and a Bestselling Light Novel author, strangled by my female classmate who is my junior and a voice actress.

This is my current predicament.

The black dye forming in my mind spreading quickly and quietly.

At the same time, rain began to fall in the middle of my sights.

This is because, the moment Nitadori yelled, the tears gathered on the inside of the lens fell out.

Inexplicably however, the tears never fell no matter how long it too.

They seemed to linger in the air.

On a closer glance, I found they expanding slowly, very slowly.

But they never fell.

The tears never fell.

That was what I realized in my darkened mind.

At this moment, the flow of time seem to be very slow.

 

It was the evening of April 17th, the 3rd Thursday of the month.

I entered the Limited Express car.

Passing through the doors, I went towards the exact same seat I took the previous week.

The free-seating carriage was as empty as before, and there were fewer passengers.

I arrived at the platform 20 minutes earlier than before, hoping not to miss the ride, and also to take my favorite seat. While waiting at the platform, I looked left and right, but did not see Nitadori.

But even so, I placed my backpack on the rack the moment I got on; once she came by, I would not have to worry about moving my stuff aside. The carriage was so empty, and I didn’t think anyone else would come.

After that, I sat down at the windowside seat.

I then looked at the watch wrapped around my left wrist.

When I first had my first royalty, I thought ‘Maybe I should buy something to commemorate’, and so, I spent 30,000 Yen on this digital watch, and ever since then, I had been wearing this. Or rather, I ad been wearing this watch all this time.

The last time I stared at the display so intently was when I first bought this watch.

The train departed punctually from the station, and nobody came to my side.

On this day, a cold downpour occurred since morning, and so the windowpanes were drenched as it began moving, causing the scenery to look contorted.

On this week, from Monday till Thursday, Nitadori,

Didn’t speak to me at school, just as we promised.

It was me who always entered the classroom earlier, and Nitadori would proceed to the seat behind me unwittingly while I was reading or in my delusions.

Once it was class break, I would not turn my head around to speak to her, and she too wouldn’t talk to me either..

Speaking of which, I was hardly in the classroom during class break. I would either head to the toilet,or I would find a place to stroll nonchalantly for no particular reason.

During lunch, I would have my own meal in the school cafeteria, and then stay in the library until class ended.

After school, I would head home immediately, as quickly as possible to read books, watch anime and movies, or write my novel.

The train got faster, and the raindrops flowed down the window.

The seat beside me remained empty.

“Maybe I should get to work…”

I muttered. I couldn’t recall when was it that I first described my actions as ‘work’. Though I had no experience in working part-time, I was already spouting the word work like others.

I stood up to pick up my bag, intending to retrieve the items from within.

And at that moment, the automatic doors behind me opened.

“Yo! Sensei!”

Someone spoke up to me from behind.

Despite hearing only the voice, I knew who it was before I even turned around.

And so, I moved my hands away from my bag.

 

Nitadori had a bag with her on this day.

It was brown, an old looking travel bag with wheels attached to it. Nitadori pulled it as she let it roll, and placed it horizontally at the seat behind me.

She was holding a bag of goods purchased from the convenience store.

I could see through the bag. It contained two bags of potato chips and a 500ml PET bottle of tea.

“Here!”

She said as she handed it to me, and so, I did not take my backpack, picking the plastic bag instead. Trying my best not to touch her hands, I managed to grab the bag skilfully, a rarity at that.

I sat down beside the window. Like the previous week, Nitadori had her hair tidied in a bundle, letting it drape down her right shoulder as she sat down.

“It’s been a week, sensei, though I’ve been seeing your back every day.”

This greeting certainly was weird, but it was fact.

“It’s been a week. Though…I do sense your stare every day.”

I put the plastic bag on my thighs and did my best to answer.

“Did you feel my hot, passionate stare?”

And that reply came with a smile.

Seeing her act like that, I continued to try my best,

“Yeah, I do. I felt…a burning feeling on my back.”

“Oh? You’re good. Do you then understand what’s it about?”

“What do you mean? ‘Hey! Add more appearances for Meek!’”

“Correct!”

Meek is a supporting character in ‘Vice Versa’.

She’s a ‘homonculus’ created by an alchemist; in other words, an artificial human.

Since it is a fictitious story, the characters are typically very pretty, and the homonculus in particular are designed to have ‘extraordinary pretty’.

And so, the unique characteristic the homonculus have is heterochromia; in other words, they have different colored eyes.

The colors differ amongst the homonculus, and in Meek’s case, her right eyes is wine red, while her left’s yellow. Her hair’s blond and short.

Her exotic clothes are such that it bares lesser skin, and there’s a green muffler wrapped around her neck.

Nitadori Eri, the girl with long black hair sitting beside me now, was acting as her voice.

 

I wanted to ask her about something.

And after 3 seconds of choosing my words,

“Nitadori, about ‘Vice Versa’…how much have you read?”

I asked tentatively.

I didn’t go straight to the point and ask her ‘did you read it?’ Instead, I said ‘how much have you read’. Even I found myself pathetic here.

I did hear from somewhere that when acting in an anime that has original work, some would read the entire work, and some wouldn’t read the work at all.

The former group wanted to understand the world setting and the characters they’re portraying, even if it’s a little, and understand the parts that were omitted from the script (however, there are some characters that were completely different from how they were in the original work as compared to the anime script).

The latter group were the opposite, thinking that the script (screenplay) they have is everything for the anime, and deliberately chose not to touch the original work so that they would not sense any difference from the original work.

Of course, there are those who feel that it’s time-taxing to read all of the original work. A manga would be one thing, but reading 9 volumes of a light novel series is not that easy.

“Well, I didn’t read all of the original work, you know?”

If Nitadori were to answer like that, I would probably feel nothing but heartfelt disappointment, and I wouldn’t have confidence in continuing the conversation.

But even so, the reason why I deliberately asked that question was,

I wanted to know how much we knew in common when I talk to her If she did read the original work, there’s something we can both talk about.

In conclusion, her response was,

“I read all 9 volumes! They’re interesting!”

She answered without a moment’s hesitation, in a matter-of-fact manner, continuing by saying the words an author would be most delighted with.

“Th—”

I was unable to continue on,

“Th?”

Nitadori tilted her head slightly as she listened to me.

Taking a steady breath, I blurted out what was on my mind,

“Thanks.”

Nitadori let a little gasp, and expressed her thoughts,

“Likewise, sensei.”

 

 

‘Vice Versa’.

Typically, this term would be used at the end of a sentence, with an ‘and’ added in front. The meaning of this is ‘the opposite of the preceding statement holds true’.

For example,

“I hate him and vice versa.”

The meaning of this English line would be,

“I hate him, and he too hates me.”

This is a very colloquial mainly used in conversations, so normally, it goes like this,

“I hate that guy, and I guess we both hate each other.”

“I hate that guy, but I guess that guy feels the same towards me.”

Well, that seems to be how it goes.

This lines didn’t seem like it was English to begin with, and actually, it wasn’t; it was originally from Latin, it seemed.

I learned of this English expression when I was a Middle School student. It was not taught in English class, and neither did it appear in the textbooks; I saw it in the library, on the title of a slightly old American movie.

 

If I have to describe ‘Vice Versa’ in one line, it would be ‘the story of one summoned to a foreign world”.

The submitted work, which ended up as the summary of the first volume, is as followed,

The protagonist’s a boy born in modern Japan.

His name is ‘Shin Tsumizono 摘園真’. Naturally, the name’s derived from the meaning of ‘Vice Versa’, ‘the opposite of the preceding statement holds true’. (TN: 真means truth.)

Shin’s a docile high school boy, and lived in a certain town of a certain prefecture where the mountains could be viewed. He grew up with a girl called ‘Yui’, and lived a very peaceful high school life with a few good friends amicably.”

But on a certain day, he felt a mysterious music seemingly ringing in his mind, and he was suddenly transported to a different world.

This world, certainly not Earth, was called ‘Reputation’. There were 5 moons in the sky, and a belt of light surrounding the planet.

Magic naturally existed in this world, and there were also all sorts of creatures, including species like elves and dwarves.

Shin, not knowing what was going on, met a boy who resembled him greatly.

That boy was the other protagonist, ‘Sin’. (TN: Original has it as シン, using Sin here to distinguish between the two.)

Sin was so similar to Shin that they were practically twins, but he had such a contrasting personality, for he’s feisty, and had an amazing amount of combat ability.

Sin is a prince of one of the kingdoms existing in the chaos roaming this world. His father had recently passed away, and he inherited the throne at a young age.

For the survival of his country, Sin fought on, at the same time harboring a dream of finally uniting the world and allowing all to live in peace.

In the history of Reputation, the ‘two great kings’ once fought a battle for supremacy. The winner of the war ‘true king (self-proclaimed)’ ruled his world. Several hundred years passed, and the true king (self-proclaimed) had vanished somewhere. His authority lost its luster, and the world was in chaos again.

Unfortunately for him, Shin arrived in this warring era that was filled with bloodshed. In his very first battle, he died easily.

And then, he revived.

In this world, Shin had immortality, and was able to revive over and over again.

No matter what sort of damage his body took, in other words, his head lopped off, his body burned, or blown into gibs by bombs, his flesh and blood would gather again, and he would revive.

Sin was particularly interested in Shin, and thought of using the latter.

Shin had no intention of getting involve in such fights and getting himself killed, but upon realizing that there were no other ways to live on or return to his world, he colluded with Sin.

Sin’s little sister was a pretty girl called Ema with a similar face to the duo, and Shin, working together with their gathering of beautiful maids cum bodyguards and macho looking warrior subordinates, spent his days dying over and over again in these turbulent times.

Soon after, they took on a powerful enemy country.

The young general of the neighboring country, Pluto, led his forces to attack Sin’s country.

In this battle that concerned the survival of the country, Shin learned of Sin’s thoughts and determination, understanding that the latter’s a kind person in nature who hated war more than anyone else. And so, he decided to summon all his courage and work together with Sin.

It was the final battle.

Shin acted as Sin’s decoy, and deliberately led himself to be caught.

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The former was easily revealed to be an impostor, and was killed. As according to plan, he revived, escaped, caused chaos on the battlefield, and at the very end, Shin took on Pluto himself.

No matter how many times he died, Shin continued to fight and pester Pluto. Once Shin realized that the handsome Pluto was actually a pretty girl dressed as a male, he seized the opportunity and won.

And so, Shin and Sin managed to fight back the enemy forces, saving the country.

While Sin, the leader of the country, and Ema were wondering about how they should repay Shin, Shin heard the music that led him to this world, and realized that he could return to his own world.

When leaving Reputation, Shin suavely left these words to the boy who resembled him,

“You owe me a favor, Sin!”

When he returned back to modern Japan, he found that nary a second had passed.

Having returned safely from the vanished world and time, Shin wondered if that was just a dream,

But even so, he was able to feel proud about being able to summon his courage.

And then, he ran off to the friends calling him name.

The end.

 

Or so it seemed, but it didn’t end here.

After flipping a few pages, there’s the stinger,

A few days later, after school, Shin was on his way to play with Yui and his friends,

“Where’s this place!?”

Only to find a fully armed Sin suddenly appearing in front of him in modern Japan.

And then, he saw Shin’s face.

The 1st volume ended here, and the story was to be continued the 2nd volume.

 

‘Vice Versa has sold 9 volumes’.

The odd numbered volumes are called ‘Side Shin’, and the even numbered volumes are called ‘Side Sin’.

These terms was originally used by the editor-in-charge and me for convenience sake, and soon after, it’s used in the introductory synopsis. Right now, these terms are widely used by the readers themselves.

A little off-topic, but since both of them didn’t sound different, we would call ‘Side Shin’ as ‘Side Makoto’ instead.

In the odd numbered volumes, Shin would be brought over to Regulation to fight, and the story’s serious and bloody.

In the even numbered volumes, Sin would be brought over to modern Japan, causing all sorts of ruckus, and the story’s comedic.

 

In the second volume, once Sin, who arrived in Japan, was spotted by Shin’s friends, the latter had a brainwave, and came up with a setting of him ‘being a guy who likes to cosplay as Middle Ages era characters, and being a long estranged cousin who has such uncanny resemblance both of them were often thought of as twins’.

And so, Sin was nearly arrested by the police for violating the firearms control law, and was completely astounded by all sorts of things in modern Japan like cars, buildings and trains. He tried to look into the distance, and climbed up the high voltage electrical poles quickly, only to be electrocuted and fell to his death.

And then, he revived.

If this were to keep up, Sin would probably end up committing a robbery to survive, and so Shin decided to bring him home.

Though they met Shin’s mother very quickly,

“Since we’re cousins, I guess I have no choice here.”

His open-minded mother, for some reason, agreed to allow Sin to live with them.

And so, Sin lived together with Shin in Japan, not knowing what to do to get back to Japan.

In conclusion, he solved the problems surrounding Shin through some relatively forceful methods.

And at the end of the 2nd volume, when Shin bid farewell to a vanishing Sin,

“You owe me a favor, Shin!”

And so, the volume ended in a completely different situation from the 1st volume.

 

In the 3rd volume, Shin again returned to Regulation.

In the 4th volume, Sin again returned to Japan. This time, he had Ema with him, who just so happened to hold his hand.

And the story of seriousness and comedy repeated over and over again.

 

It may be a little too much for me to say this,

No, I understand this better than anyone else, for I’m the one who wrote this.

‘Vice Versa’s an over-the-top story.

It includes a Middle Age era fantasy, all sorts of monsters, flashy magic, mysterious science and mecha, battles and wars, journeys, friendship, cute moe girls, characters with many aspects of personalities, the burning friendship between guys, Machiavellian schemes of politicians, mystery plots involving identical looks, immortality, sexy situations, gags, tear-jerking episodes, tragic farewells, peaceful school life, cynical irrationality, otaku episodes,

I basically crammed all the interesting elements I saw in the novels, manga, anime and movies I saw into this work.

The idea of letting the protagonists switch between Reputation and Japan was an answer I derived when thinking about how to convey all these aspects.

Upon hearing those words,

“Now that’s cunning of you.”

The editor-in-charge gave me such praise.

 

We’re inside the Limited Express.

And after I expressed my thanks because she read my work,

“Likewise, sensei.”

Nitadori gave me this answer, and then continued on,

“Anyway, that’s how it is. Do you want some snacks?”

I didn’t know what she meant by ‘that’s how it is’, but Nitadori gently lifted the plastic bag that was on my lap.

“Please prepare a table.”

I did as I was told, and pulled the table from the seat handrail.

I would usually place my stuff on my lap when checking the scripts and using the laptop, so this is the first time I’m using the table.

Nitadori placed the two bottles of tea and the salted seaweed potato chips on my table.

“It’s a token of thanks from me.”

“Ah…thanks. I was feeling a little hungry, so thanks for helping me with that…I guess?”

“Don’t worry about it. I want to have some too, and it’s thanks for being willing to continue talking with me. Just think of it as katusdon in the interrogation room.

“I see. You said that you got a lot of questions to ask me, right?”

Even if there’s no katsudon, I’m still willing to answer all your questions (Off topic, but in fact, the police won’t give any katsudon when interrogating others, and if orders were placed, if seems the suspects will have to pay for themselves).

Even so, since Nitadori provided me with a gift, I’ll just accept it without thinking too much.

With this, I guess the excuse of answering lots of questions because I accepted sweets is estanlished.

I held the ends to open the bag of potato chips,

“I really like salted Seaweed.”

And expressed my honest thoughts.

Even since I was young, salted seaweed flavor’s my favorite for potato chips, and I like it to the point of being unwilling to take other flavors.

“I I like it too.”

Nitadori’s brief words really shocked me, and I nearly dropped the bag.

Wait. Don’t be mistaken. That’s definitely not what she meant. I tried convincing myself this.

I crisply open this bag of potato chips that’s slightly bloated due to the atmospheric pressure of this town.

And then, I thought of something.

“What about horse sashimi flavor?”

There’s a souvenir shop located next to the departure platform selling such flavored chips, though they aren’t potato chips. As they’re souvenirs, they’re a little more pricey.

Having asked this question, I look over at Nitadori, and she turned her glasses towards me with a serious look.

“I did hear of the rumors before, and I did try it. It’s nice, but I must say that it’s different from real horse sashimi. I don’t want to dabble in such trivial stuff of whether such a thing can be considered as such, and I don’t think I’m the one to decide this. Now then—who can it be?”

In response to this overly serious and pretentious declaration, I ponder seriously, and say,

“…Erm. The horse sashimi god?”

“Understood. When I take Gonsuke out for a walk the next time, I’ll ask him if I meet him.”

“Meet him, really? While walking?”

“No, I haven’t met him yet. But well, it doesn’t matter what my mystery experience is like. More importantly, please tell me more about being a writer like what I said last week, and help me level up here.”

“Understood…but your Japanese’s a little weird.”

“You’re really particular like an author.”

“I’m an author.”

 

After eating 4 pieces of potato chips and drinking two gulps of tea that was provided,

“Now then, do you mind explaining?”

My interrogation began in this Limited Express carriage.

I don’t know whether Nitadori was adjusting her glasses as an act, or something else altogether.

“Understood. I’ll answer all of your questions.”

And so, I told her as manly as I could. If I can do it, I’ll do it.

“But I don’t really have a clear answer other than the overly private stuff, so except for the private matters regarding other people and what I definitely can’t reveal in my work…”

And then, I answered in a wimpy manner. If I can’t do it, I won’t do it.

“Understood.”

The glasses girl who loved horse sashimi smiled as she said this,

“Now then, as for what I wanna ask today,”

“Eh? Today?”

“But we only have 2 and a half hours, right? That’s why I decided on a theme every week. There are other things I want to ask next week.”

“…”

“You ate some of my potato chips, right? Actually, a chip’s worth a week of questions.”

“…”

I silently reached my hand out for the 5th piece.

 

I continued to crunch the 6th and 7th piece of chips.

“Ah, do you want some?”

But after realizing that I can’t be the only one eating all these, I turn the bag of chips over to Nitadori.

“Thanks. I don’t need it now. I’ll wait till I’m hungry later. You can finish it all yourself.”

Even if she said so, I didn’t intend to finish it myself, and sealed the bag tightly to avoid letting the chips sog, and placed it in the plastic bag.

I wiped my hands with a handkerchief, took a gulp of tea, and said,

“Now then…go ahead.”

 

“I apologize…if the question’s too rude, and please remind me of that.”

Nitadori started off with these words,

“What kind of lifestyle do you have?”

And asked the first question.

I can’t see it, but it seemed I showed quite the shocked look.

“Ah, sorry, it’s too crude…”

Nitadori frantically added on,

“Well, when I first did the After Record, I was really, really shocked there! ‘Vice Versa’s really interesting, and it’s my first time voicing a named character, so I always wondered what sort of person the author is. But when I searched through the internet, I found the author’s real face to be a complete mystery, and some think that the author may be a female…”

Well, it’s normal for her to be shocked. I thought. Till this point, I’ve been shocking the people I met at work.

There was once when I went with the editor-in-charge to meet the anime personnel.

“Oh? You brought your son along?”

And that was what they said to the editor-in-charge.

“And well, I was really shocked to find that person seated in front of me in the classroom during the new semester, so much that my heart and lungs practically stopped…I didn’t know how I would end up if the self-introduction continued…”

“Ah…well, I see. I understand since I was shocked too.”

It’s only till this point that I realized it was a good thing for me not to turn my head around immediately.

“So first, I want to ask, what sort of childhood did you have, sensei? When did you start reading books? When did you start writing books? How did you think of so many stories and characters.”

I understood what she wanted to. Basically, she wanted to know about me up till this point.

“Understood. Those questions are fine.”

Once I said that, I felt the brown eyes behind those glasses glowing.

 

As for the first memories I had in my life, I didn’t answer them because I didn’t want to.

I didn’t think there’s a need for that.

That’s why I answered Nitadori using the next impression I had in life.

“I’ve…been reading books ever since I was young.”

“When did it start?”

“Hm, well, I got to tell you something before this…I only have a single parent, raised by my mother. If mum didn’t tell me about it, I wouldn’t have known who my dad is, and whether he’s alive or not.”

“…”

After seeing Nitadori suddenly scowl and quiet down,

“But it’s to be expected for me. The people around me, including my classmates knew of this, so it’s nothing to hide. Don’t worry about it.”

I then continued on as per normal, and she nodded slightly,

“I understand…were you always reading books alone since young, sensei?”

I nodded.

 

I only have a single mother in my family.

I never knew why I was born, as my mother never told me so.

Of course, I never thought of myself as a child of God.

At this point, it’s pointless for me to know, and so I never ask; never will I intend to ask.

I heard that my mother’s mother, my maternal grandmother, died when I was 2, and my maternal grandfather died earlier. In other words, my mother and I—

Have no relatives at all.

My mother has been working as a nurse for a long time, and because of this, she never once got retrenched. Our family’s not rich, but it’s not to a point where we can’t survive without relying on others.

But as mom’s always deployed at different hospitals, we’ll move to apartments located near them. I lived in a few places in this prefecture.

I like reading books. I can’t think of when it began, and what started it, but what I can remember in my childhood was that I spent all the time reading books by myself.

I was either reading books at home, or at the childcare centers, or at the libraries in my elementary school.

I started reading picture books, and then went on to children books, and then to children literature. I suppose that when I was in 4th grade, I read through all the books in my school’s library.

I really like to read books, and anything goes as long as I have books. I never thought of doing anything else.

And because of that, I practically had no friends.

There are classmates I sometimes interact with in school, but there aren’t any friends who would ask me out to play after school or invite me to their houses.

This is because I kept transferring schools, coupled with my introverted personality, and more important—

“I felt happier reading books, treating them as toys…”

 

“Treating them as toys?”

Nitadori tilted her head, as the term implied.

This was to be expected.

There’s a definite need to explain this.

“What I mean by ‘treating them as toys’ is…”

 

To play with the books.

To play with my delusions.

There was no way the young me could imagine characters, settings and conversations right from scratch.

And so, after reading a book, I’ll read it again.

When reading it again, I’ll understand the scenes in the book, imagining the images in my mind. I’ll then destroy them as I please and reset them accordingly to what I like.

For example, I’ll turn a tragedy into a complete opposite, a comedy.

And I’ll turn all the characters that appeared in a comedy to die unnatural deaths in a tragedy.

That was how I started off playing with the characters.

Once I got proficient at it, I started to increase the number of characters. That would be myself.

I would immerse myself in the world of the book, beat all the characters that debuted inside it, and prove my strength.

I could play with this up till 10 times in a book. I would rewrite the setting every single time, until I got addicted to it.

That’s the ‘role play’ kind of game. Every kid had done it.

I’ll use dolls for girls, and for boys, I would insert myself as a hero.

However, I used books for this case.

 

“I see…”

After hearing the explanation, Nitadori seemed impressed, saying,

“In other words, you’ve always been reading books and having imaginations since young, sensei.”

“Yeah. I prefer the term ‘delusions’ however, so I’ll express it as ‘delusions’. That’s about the same meaning.”

I feel that ‘imaginations’ give a more elegant vibe, while ‘delusions’ give a vibe of ‘doing foolish things’, and I prefer this nuance.

“How were your grades in elementary school?”

“I think I did decent other than P.E. I like reading books, so this includes textbooks. From the start of the new school semester, I read through the textbooks over and over again. On a side note, I do like reading dictionaries too.”

“I see.”

“And then, during 5th grade, there’s something that undoubtedly changed my life. Without that incident, I’ll never have the current me.”

That really did affect my life greatly, and I blurted it honestly.

“Wh-what exactly is it?”

Nitadori asked with a serious face. She’s like a journalist here, just without a notepad in her hands.

Just when I intended to answer, the train conductor came by. It’s a middle aged man this time, and after briskly checking the Limited Express tickets Nitadori and I had, he departed.

“Erm—”

I continued on,

“My mom decided to move houses. For my sake.”

 

It happened during Spring, when I was promoting from 4th grade to 5th grade.

My mother suddenly decided to move houses.

There was no change in her workplace location, she just wanted to move houses for my sake.

She wanted to move to a place 20km away from our original house.

The new apartment was located right beside the largest library in the area.

If I could be right beside a large library, that might that—

I could read all the books to my heart’s content from henceforth. The collection of books in the school library far pales in comparison to it.

I was really happy when I heard about it. Though I had to transfer school again, it really didn’t matter to me.

Mom had a lot more overtime work as a result, and that in turn caused me to be really troubled—

Actually, I was too happy to even think about that.

 

“Ever since then, I was always at 3 places, my apartment room, the elementary school, and the library. The library really was great, because, to put it, I didn’t have to buy books!’

I just hope that all the readers would buy my books ever since I became an author however. I never expressed this thought to Nitadori, especially since even I thought it was selfish.

“Your mother’s really amazing! You’ve been reading non stop ever since then, right, sensei…?”

“I was reading, playing.”

Feeling parched after saying all this, I dowsed myself with some tea.

 

The library contained books many elementary school libraries did not contain. Or I would say, they contained those kinds of books.

In other words, there were a lot more adult oriented books, and my choice of books increased instantly.

The typical detective novels prior to this were mostly about Arsène Lupin and Sherlock Holmes, but at that point, I could obtain detective novels that were more adult oriented.

I hungrily devoured the detective-themed books written by famous Japanese authors.

These books were typically written for adults, so there were some rather erotic scenes written within.

Unable to understand the prose, I read them with my heart pounding. I would wonder if anyone would have noticed what I was reading if they approached me from behind.

The library had mangas which the school library didn’t have.

Of course, they were those famous works, and it really was an opportunity for me, who had no chance to read them. With the chance t obtain these classic works, I understood the joy of reading manga.

There were also many of the so called light novels in the library, and I had the chance to be introduced to them.

At first, I did not particularly notice the differences between a light novel and other kinds of books. I didn’t remember how it was back then, but it’s not a rarity nowadays to see a light novel with a cover illustration.

But as light novels occupied one entire bookstore, I merely assumed them to be another type of book, and started looking from the catchy looking titles.

After browsing through, I found that light novels could be said to be novels similar to manga; There were lots of illustrations, and the plotlines were similar.

At this age, I, like other people, started off attracted by the ‘cute female character drawing’ at first. Thus, I started reading them happily, and played with them.

I could also watch movies in the library.

The library had DVDs for borrowing, and I could either bring them home to watch, or to watch in the library.

I feel that in terms of ‘enjoying a story’, both books and movies are the same. I got addicted to movies after watching a few of them. Like mangas, I did check out a few classic works on the shelves.

And ever since I began watching movies, I started watching television, which I watched infrequently back then, just to watch the movies.

Of course, it wasn’t to a point of reducing my reading time, but watching movies inspired me to watch anime often.

The me right now really like watching anime, and this includes all genres. It was only near the end of my 6th grade that I began to watch them religiously (or record them to avoid missing out). I even rewatched the recordings and watch anime to enjoy the stories.

 

After hearing my explanation till this point, Nitadori looked very impressed.

“Hm.”

Looking solemn, she mused,

“In other words…your mother moved houses to give you gifted education?”

“Ahaha, I guess.”

I gave an honest smile, and continued,

“The types of books I could read and marvel at increased, and as a result, I had more time playing with those works. I forgot when it started, but I was able to come up with delusions even if I’ve yet to finish a book, like before I sleep, when I shower, or when I’m in class.”

“You can’t do that in class!?”

Nitadori chortled, her tone clearly the opposite of what she said, and she continued,

“I got a question, sensei. Do you play video games?”

“Practically not. The first time I tried it was during early elementary school. I borrowed a game from someone at the childcare center, and it was interesting, but—”

“But?”

“I was horrible at it. Very. I just couldn’t play well no matter how I tried, and I couldn’t play to the point where it got interesting, which really puts a dampener on me. I was rather interested in role-play games or adventure games with interesting stories…but I just felt that games were still inferior to books.”

“I see, I see.”

 

The Limited Express raced through a few stations in the rain.

The passengers increased in the number, but the tour group passengers were having a commotion, so we could continue with our conversation as normal.

“So sensei, it’s because you had such a childhood that you were able able to have all sorts of imaginations.”

After learning of my past, Nitadori asked me about a question, ‘the major decision I made in my life’.

“When did you decide to begin writing a novel?”

The editor-in-charge did ask the same question Nitadori did. My answer wouldn’t change with time, and I just had to answer her.

“I decided to do so in 8th grade.”

 

I managed to graduate successfully from 8th grade.

I suppose I transferred schools 5 times in those 6 years. Of course, I had no friends at all.

I became a middle school student, studying at the middle school near the library.

With the school nearby, it meant that I had a shorter travel distance. This really helped me out in Middle School.

If anyone were to ask me if there were any changes upon entering middle school, I would say none, at first.

Just a little growth spurt, and a change of voice.

Nothing else changed however. I couldn’t make any friends, and I was just living my life reading books, watching movies, anime, and having delusions.

“Ah, I studied too!”

“Very good.”

At this point, the stories I had in my delusions ended up forming in the real world.

In other words, a delusion of me being active in the book’s world ends up with me being some amazing guy in the real world, able to do anything. (I can’t really remember when exactly I became like that though.)

For example,

A terrorist attacked my Middle school, killed the teachers, and took the students hostage. I managed to deal with it easily though, and I had the fantasy of such a story appearing in Hollywood.

When I look outside the window during class—

“The terrorists are hiding in that milk truck! We can’t let those guys enter the school!”

I had such grandeur delusions countless times.

And when I shared these delusions as a joke with other authors at the end-of-year party,

“I once had such things too, ahaha.”

And they looked surprised, answering,

“Eh? —there are people who don’t do that?”

That was when I learned that everyone did that sort of thing.

But the delusions of ‘making myself a cool and amazing protagonist’—

Suddenly stopped once I got to 8th grade.

“Why—did something happen at that time?”

The interviewer Nitadori asked me.

The bespectacled face immediately approached me, and I retreated my body back.

“Well…to put it simply, I learned of my own limit.”

“Ah?”

“Actually, I realized that if I’m to keep it up…I won’t be able to be the protagonist.”

“Hm? I still don’t understand.”

 

My delusions till this point are all centered around ‘myself’.

No matter which story is it, I’ll appear and show off in them.

I can do whatever I want within the story, beat any enemy, escape any crisis, solve any mysterys, and become friends with pretty girls (though I was just thinking about pleasant things, not to the point of lovers).

Once I got to 8th grade however, I realized my limits, the limits I have in the real world.

I’m not good at sports, and my grades in school weren’t excellent.

Furthermore, I’m not good at making friends. I never made any in the past, so this is to be expected.

I can’t try to make any girl happy even if I tried talking to me. In any case, I was unable to converse with someone of the opposite gender normally.

I never had quarrels with others, and I don’t want to; if that were to happen, I guess I’ll definitely lose.

After looking at myself in the real world objectively—

I couldn’t find myself becoming any kind of hero even in my free delusions.

I could no longer let myself be the protagonist. It’s depressing and down-heartening, but that was what I had to recognize.

So, did the delusions end?

Not at all. The opposite, in fact,

“My delusions escalated further from then on.”

“Escalate…?”

Nitadori repeated what I just said.

And then, she went silent.

The train went around a curb, causing a large jolt. The forces were pressing at me from the side and below.

Looking outside the window, I could see the deformed green leaves pass by in the rain,

“I can somewhat understand, but…”

Nitadori said, and I turn my face back to hers.

This pretty bespectacled girl who loves horse sashimi and is a year younger than me stared at me earnestly,

“You started creating ‘characters that aren’t yourself, right?”

And she mentioned the correct answer so concisely.

 

In 8th grade, I gave up on myself in my delusions, gave up on being the me that would most probably be just a pathetic character.

Instead, I chose to let others take the roles.

That was the turning point.

I no longer thought ‘I can’t do this’.

Instead, I decided, ‘this character’s able to do these’.

Using that example of ‘terrorists invading school vs the students’,

I’ll no longer be in the school.

Instead, I’ll be high above, like the heavens, creating a character created by the god,

“A Middle School boy who was raised and trained by an old man in the neighborhood who was an ex-JSDF special forces commander, and ended up having combat training every day’.

And then I’ll dump this character to the school.

He, living a plain, normal life, sprang to action the moment he heard gunshots, and unleashed the hidden power—this setting will make for a great convenience.

I decided to use ‘the him who’s able to jump up to the second floor’ and replace ‘the me who can’t even jump onto a box. No matter how much the terrorists will change their plans or even take hostages, they’ll definitely be wiped out

 

And so, once I created ‘a character capable of being a protagonist’, my delusions increased exponentially.

I became adept at creating all sorts of scenarios to fit the characters.

For example, when a pursued protagonist’ finds a motorbike in front of him and a subway station, if it’s me, I’ll check to see if I have enough spare change to buy a ticket as I head down.

As the protagonist will be riding on a bike however (as it was written), he’ll leap onto a bike gallantly, and start the engines. As for why the key’s on the bike, I have no idea.

Once I ‘fired myself’ like this, there was a sudden change in the situation, like a creature living in the sea migrating to the land—

This world of delusions that will continue to grow just keeps growing (though in fact, the seas encompasses more area as compared to the land.)

 

“I see…! That’s really interesting!”

Nitadori was truly impressed, stretching her white tender hands to clap for me.

“Th-thank, you.”

I thanked her, and added on,

“During this time…since I fired myself, there’s a need for another important change.”

Her eyes peering through the glasses, she stared back at me,

“What kind of change?”

 

In 8th grade, I began creating characters while giving up on ‘making myself the protagonist’, and the number of characters I could create increased exponentially.

It would be an awkward matter to have a modern Japanese middle student and terrorist fighter be the same character as a prince using swordsmanship and magic in a fantasy world.

Even the enemies, allies and other side characters increased in numbers.

And I created more heroines and protagonists (or else there wasn’t any way to make the protagonist popular, and a ‘harem setting’ can’t be established).

In that case, it’ll be difficult for me to keep remembering the number of characters I created through my brain alone.

I found that even if I continued to make the same delusions, there are still some things I’ll forget.

That’ll be a waste of the characters I created with much work. It’s fun creating new characters, but I still do wish to preserve the characters I like.

And so, I decided to record them down outside my brain.

Where?

There weren’t many options. Back then, I decided to write them down in my notebook, handwritten.

I bought a college notebook at the convenience store diagonally opposite my middle school, and within it, I wrote down—

I wrote down the names of the characters I created, their personalities, their weapons and the names, their favorite foods, and their signature quotes.

And so, my ‘delusion notebook’ was born

That was the first time I converted the world of delusions, in my head till that point, into words.

Till this day, I still remember the moment when I wrote down the words on the notebook cover,

“My Warld the number first”

That was the moment of me taking a small step towards being a future prospective author.

 

It was two weeks later when I realized that the word ‘world’ was written wrongly, and I didn’t know what ‘number first’ meant.

The next day, I bought a second notebook, and wrote in hiragana, ‘my world, 2nd volume’,

 

Nitadori was laughing so hard she was breathless,

She continued to laugh, trying her best not to disturb the other passengers,

nanikore015

“Ah, so nice.”

And I slowly drank some tea. Soon, the bottle of tea offered to me was empty.

There’s a bottle of water in my backpack, but that’s a drink I can’t buy from anywhere, and it’s water I need for medication. In other words, that’s my emergency supply of water, so I decided not to open it.

Once the commotion caused by Nitadori finally calmed down, the cart selling goods in the train arrived, so I bought some tea.

 

The train entered the tunnel, and the carriage car became really noisy,

“Ah…so interesting…I never laughed this hard in so many dozen years! Thanks!”

Nitadori said emotionally.

I retorted in my mind how old are you anyway?, and answered,

“Sure, I guess.”

“Ahh, I’m crying. I thought my contacts were about to slip out…”

“Eh?”

I tilted my head, and Nitadori gave a wry smile, saying,

“Ah, oh wait! I forgot that I switched to glasses already…”

She frantically tapped the sides of her glasses with her fingertips.

“Is your head alright…?”

“Wh-whose fault do you think it is?”

I was about to immediately answer ‘it’s me’, but I changed my mind a little.

I thought she could at least take a little joke. I was originally inapt at saying succh things to girls, but I decided to give it a try,

“I guess…it’s probably ‘my world’.”

“Pfft!!”

And while waiting for Nitadori to recover, I continued to guzzle down potato chips and tea.

The Limited Express continued to stop at a few stations.

After about midway through the ride, the passengers didn’t increase as much as I thought it would. It was already dark outside the window, and the rain continued to pour,

Nitadori said,

“I understand the process that you started off enjoying your own imaginations, and then you gave yourself up, added the characters, and recorded all your imaginations. You’re really good at explaining, sensei.”

“Th-thanks.”

This was the first time someone praised me like this.

“You told me about this because I wanted to know, so I should be the one thanking, thanks—now then, how did you start from this opportunity to begin writing light novels? When did you begin? Since you submitted a script for a contest and published books, you did finish the work; were you able to write it so fluently right from the beginning, or did you have difficulty? How many times did you submit entries for the newcomer award? Why did you choose Dengeki Bunko?”

And after the thanks, it was a rapid-fire of questions,

It’s not difficult for me to answer, but I probably won’t be able to remember all the questions.

I have to answer them all properly, in order.

First off—

Why did I actually convert my imaginations into words and write a novel? And when did it began?

To answer these questions,

“Erm, I just feel that no matter how many delusions there are, and how many settings I create and record in the notebook, those can’t form a novel.”

I first started off with these. It was to be expected; Nitadori nodded,

“And also, I feel that a lot of people simply end things off at this phase…I just feel that there are many more people who ‘want to be authors, but simply stopped at the imagination’, than those who ‘aimed to be authors’, and actually created some form of work.”

Nitadori remained silent as she gave a frighteningly serious look, nodding slightly a few times.

“There are some who actually didn’t write anything, just thinking ‘I hope to be an author in the future’. I don’t intend to say however that these guys are really useless, that they’re just wasting their time.”

Till this point, I still chose my words properly.

“This is because I can’t belittle the past me now that I become an author. I feel that any person will have an egg within them, just that the time they will hatch differ.”

I felt that I was being too pretentious, but I really can’t think of any other good examples, so I was left without any other option.

“But to be an author, it is a necessary step to ‘actually write your own story. Using that example from just now, it’s basically trying to break an egg open from the inside.”

I said as I looked back at myself, 4 years ago.

“I feel that the opportunity and time to begin writing novels differ amongst people. To be honest, I really don’t know how others do it, but I do clearly remember my situation back then…”

After ending off with this opening, I proceed to answer Nitadori’s very first question,

“I began converting my delusion notebook into writing, and worked hard in actually trying to create a work. It was—4 months after I first used the delusion notebook, and I remember very well that it was during my summer vacation in 8th grade.”

Nitadori brought her face forward. This girl really has the habit of bringing her face forward whenever she’s asking the questions.

“And that opportunity?”

I answered,

“When I obtained my weapons.”

 

To be an author, there were 2 weapons I needed.

Of course, the first would be the imaginations I managed to develop from reading since young
and my delusions.

The other would be the weapon for writing, the computer.

During summer 3 years ago, when I was 14 years old, my mother wanted to buy something for me.

It was only during my birthday and Christmas that I could ask for something a little more exorbitant.

“Back then, I merely asked mom for books that were a little more pricey than normal…”

But that was the only year that was different. I told mom that I wanted a notebook computer, just the cheapest kind would do.

Mom rejected my request, probably thinking that I just wanted to surf the internet alone at home.

Prior to that moment, I learned how to use the computers in the neighboring library since 6th grade, as they had internet access, and I could check for books online and read the reviews.

However, there was a child lock in the library computers, and there’s a time limit for use.

I guess mom was worried that I would get engrossed to the internet, that I would lock myself in the room, addicted to it or online games, and not go to school.

At first, mom said that a computer was expensive, and wouldn’t buy one for me. Back then, I didn’t have a cellphone.

Thus, I stated my actual thoughts.

I didn’t need a network. The proof was that I agreed not to request for internet access. If I really needed it no matter what, I would head to the library next door like before.

I want to write a novel, I want to write one through a computer and a software that could manage my folders.

Having read through so many books, that was the point where I wanted to try writing for myself.

 

“And then…your mother’s reaction was?”

Nitadori clearly knew the result, but she asked with a tentative look.

“She brooded over the issue for a few days, before finally agreeing to it.”

“Ohh! Congratulations!”

“I really was happy about it. Of course, I thought that since people in the past wrote their novels on writing paper, I could do it too if I put in the effort.”

While still respecting those who composed their stories hand written, I still wanted to continue on,

“But I feel that there’s a difference in efficiency between handwriting and typing on the computer, and I’m not wrong to think this way. Ever since I became an author, I heard a lot of things about other authors, but I have never heard anyone say that they composed novels handwritten till this point.”

“I see. So the opportunity that came for you wasn’t a psychological one, sensei, but a physical one, huh…”

Nitadori succinctly summarized everything for me, and so I nodded firmly.

After I earnestly stated all the ideas I had about the computer, my mom finally agreed to it.

Thinking about it, I guess it was a good thing I said,

“I want to write a novel.”

If, instead, I had said,

“I intend to be an author.”

I suppose my mom’s reaction would be a lot different.

My birthday came, and mom agreed to it, so we went off to buy one.

In any case, mom and I weren’t very familiar with the functions, so she personally drove me to a major electronics wholesale store.

To summarize, I just needed to write a story fluidly.

As for the other functions, like being unable to watch television, use the wireless LAN, edit videos or play games—

I didn’t need them at all.

Having made up my mind, I said this to the shop attendant.

And then, the middle-aged attendant asked my mother,

“Are you intending to write a novel in the future?”

Unabashedly, I answered from the side,

“Yes!”

“Wow! Now that’s really amazing!”

The attendant was suddenly enthusiastic as he explained all sorts of various details to us discreetly.

“That attendant back then was really passionately…and he really helped me out a lot.”

I began to keenly discuss the savior whose name and face I couldn’t remember.

“Do you intend to use him as the protagonist of a novel?”

Nitadori chimed in such a suggestion.

“…Do you mind letting me jot this down in the notebook first?”

 

That attendant taught me a lot of things.

“Now then, it’s your turn to teach me about them, sensei.”

“Understood…do you have any intention to write a novel?”

“Currently not at the moment, but I want to know about it.”

“Got it. First, the attendant told me—”

I didn’t have to necessarily buy a new computer (that shop also runs a second-hand department).

He told me that if I was worried about the price, I could choose to pick up a second-hand computer that was certainly maintained.

“Well, that makes sense since the budget’s more important. Did he tell you which computers are more suited for writing novels?”

“He did. There aren’t any special models that are extremely suitable…but I guess you’ll know that computers are generally classified as those desktop computers fixed to the table, and the notepad computers that can be flipped open. The attendant did tell me that the notepad computers are very convenient, that even if I don’t bring it out of the house, it’s easier for me to take it to any room.”

“I see. I got a desktop computer at home and a personalized laptop. Most of the time, I do use that personalized laptop.”

The attendant also told me that most laptops had internal batteries installed, and if there was a power outage, the damage caused will be minimal.

For those office workers who often had to bring their chargers along and use those in cafes, a light laptop would be of great benefit to them; for those that would typically use their computers at home only, it would be more suitable to choose one with a large screen and a wide keyboard instead of a thin, short one. Furthermore, external keyboards could be connected to it, and I could choose them according to my preferences.

“Oh, so a notepad computer can be connected to an external keyboard. I didn’t know that.”

“I did see an author actually do that, saying that he wanted a unique fan-shaped keyboard. Personally, I’m fine with the original equipment alone.

The attendant then told me that the computer operating systems could generally be classified as Macintosh and Windows, and that for beginners, Windows would be the way to go. (perhaps the Macintosh users will get up and shout ‘I protest’!)

There was no need to be particular about the latest operating system. Naturally however, it’s not a good thing to use a particularly old one till a point where the software compare had stopped providing services for it.

“I see. What about the key word processing systems?”

“He told me of two well known ones.”

These two systems were ‘Microsoft Word’ and ‘Just Systems — Ichitaro’.

The attendant did say that it was merely a question of preference, but many companies did have Word pre-installed in them.

“But in Japanese input, the attendant strongly recommended the ‘ATOK’.”

“A tok?”

I drew the letters out with my finger as I answered Nitadori,

“4 capital letters, A, T, O, K.”

“I see. So what is the Japanese input system about? Though I do have a rough gist of things.”

“To put it simply, it’s an input system that can switch all the typed letters into hiragana, katakana and kanji. The computers sold in Japan would all have such a system installed.”

However, Word itself did not have ATOK included, for ATOk was a software developed by the makers of ‘Ichitaro’, ‘Just Systems’.

The attendant also told me ATOK is currently the smartest way of inputting Japanese, and literary writers had high praises for it. ATOK also had an electronic dictionary attached to it, and would show the meaning of the word when typing. If my budget would allow, this software would certainly be more convenient.

“Actually, most of the authors I know of are ATOK users. Of course, I don’t understand anything about this, so he really helped me a lot out there.”

Also, the attendant did tell me that the basic software wasn’t very big (it didn’t take up a lot of storage space), so I could save it in a hard disk, a memory card, or a USB drive.

However, any saved system may suddenly malfunction, so I need to have a spare backup every time.

 

“And just like that, I bought a computer for writing while following the advice from that shop attendant.”

It was a second hand laptop produced by a Japanese manufacturer, and cost about 30,000 Yen.

The word processing unit I chose was a pre-installed microsoft word, and the additional ATOK electronic dictionary was purchased separately.

On top of that, I also bought a USB memory stick for storage.

To deal with any problems I may had, I also bought a manual for the computer and Word (I can borrow it from the library, but I still wish to have something like this with me around).

Also, I bought a game software, the only one I have.

It’s a typing game, enabling me to input the words quickly and correctly.

“When I laid out every single thing I bought onto the table, I was really moved.”

And from then on, I began to write.

I equipped myself with the weapons necessary for battle.

“In other words, you’re like a delinquent who just got a bike, huh?”

“That’s really a terrible example—but, yeah, I guess.”

“How about the way to use it? Did you learn it immediately?”

“Well, of course. I was using it from morning till night during my summer vacations.”

 

In any case, I read the books I had—

In the meantime, I began to actually use the computer and learn how to use the two common softwares, Word and ATOK.

And then, I began to play the typing game.

When entering the search terms in the library, I would type them with my two index fingers, slowly.

If I want to write a novel, how I typed would definitely would not be a match to my thinking speed. Even when I was writing out my thoughts, it was not as fast as the speed of my delusions, and I got increasingly irate.

When playing this typing game, I was serious no matter how many times I failed. From there, I learned the importance of the Home position and the correct way to place my fingers.

For the input methods, there was the ‘romaji’ input method which uses alphabets and the direct ‘kana input’; I chose the former.

As for why that’s the case, it’s because I have less to remember about the position of the keys (but in contrast, the number of keys I have to type will increase).

After typing to a certain level of familiarity, I began to input the content of my delusions notebook into the computer, and began typing.

“Characters, main’, ‘heroine’, ‘sub characters’, ‘world setting’, ‘conversations’.

I proceeded to name my files, and entered them into Word.

Just as how it was writing the delusion notebook, I entered the words in a horizontal manner. I was already used to writing in a horizontal format, so till this point, I continued to write in a horizontal manner.

A computer’s really a wonderful tool, but there are two points to pay particular mind to.

The first thing is not to let the computer malfunction.

A computer’s just an important machine. It’s a laptop, but I’ll only usse it in either my room or the living room, and never will I bring out out of the house.

The second is not to cause my vision to worsen.

Extraordinarily, this bookworm here had yet to worsen his vision.

Perhaps it was because I did abide by the rule ‘to not read books in the dark’. Furthermore, the scenery on the streets was wide whenever I head home, and I typically look far away, I guess. On a side note, my mother’s vision is rather good too.

My eyes really got tired (and my hands too) before I got used to using the computer.

I learned how to adjust the screen brightness and the font size according to my own preferences, and the situation improved somewhat; however, I did make sure not to stay ijn front of the computer for that long.

The scenery outside the house window’s wonderful, and when I’m finally able to rest, I’ll look out of the windows, coming up with all sorts of delusuional settings.

I wonder how long did I look at that mountain altogether?

 

Once I got used to it, using the computer itself was really an enjoyable thing.

Once my typing speed increased, I was able to convert what I thought into words.

The computer’s really a magical machine that converts my delusions into beautiful words. This tool has changed my life.

With that sort of attitude I had—

“So you managed it?”

Nitadori asked,

“Yeah, that’s what I think now.”

I answered.

 

And after I entered all 5 books of my delusions into the laptop, I again created another 2 books worth of delusions, and saved them.

After that, I decided on writing a novel.

“Now then, I’ll try writing a novel. Time to write, write!”

My 8th grade summer vacation was about to end.

 

I already answered the question ‘why did I choose to write, and when’,

“Were you able to write it all out at first? Or was it really difficult?”

If I remember correctly, that was the next next question.

“Now then, I’ll answer the question ‘was I able to write it out at first’—”

“Yes, yes.”

Nitadori, seated on my right, had her eyes under the glasses staring straight at me.

I didn’t know what she was hoping for, but I could only answer honestly,

“I couldn’t write at all.”

“What?”

 

In my life till this point, the toughest point for me was the second semester of my 8th grade.

Perhaps there will be more trying periods in the future, good if it doesn’t happen.

There wasn’t any issue with my school life.

I’ll still attend school every day. Though I’ll lapse into delusions at times, I would attend classes obediently, and I would study obediently before the exams.

I still had no friends, but as it was the case normally, I didn’t really mind.

The problem was writing the novel.

I learned how to use the computer, and did not suffer for that.

The delusions file accumulated quite a bit.

I did think of some characters I thought to be cool.

The settings database conttinued to accumulate and refined. I once created a history calendar for characters I created based on months, like ‘he stood in front of the wet nurse at this year and month’. Thinking back about it, it really was rather hilarious.

However—

 

“I couldn’t write a novel. Nothing at all.”

“I see, how…”

Nitadori peered back at me with a worried look.

Well, it’s not like I can’t write right now. You don’t have to give me such a look here.

 

I probably thought that I could write a novel as long as I had the setting.

I thought that if I imported the created characters, they would move on their own.

Since the characters popping out from the notebook would move and interact on their own, I just had to observe them and record their actions.

I may be boasting here, but I did think all the characters had their own charms, and they certainly would do things with much charisma.

That however was not the case.

In my eyes, they did seem to pop out from the words, standing there.

But they would not move. They were standing still, like puppets lined in a row.

It felt like I was writing an observation diary of a puppy, only to find that it was a puppy plushie.

 

It really was weird.

Till this point, was I not thinking of all sorts of delusions in my mind, how the characters’ conversations go, how they look in their actions? They were fluent in their words, fluid in their actions.

However, even after inputting the character names as the pronouns on the blank white screen, I couldn’t write the words behind. I couldn’t think of what the characters would do next, so the characters still wouldn’t move.

I once thought of lines I thought were interesting, and wrote a conversation.

And then I wrote a few of them.

However, a conversation between characters was just a single scene, and even if I did link them all together, that would not form a novel.

In the proceeding 1 month or so, I was brainstorming, racking my head hard in front of the computer screen.

I had the setting information, I could see the scene, and I could write the conversations.

However, I didn’t know how to convert them all into a novel. I didn’t know where I should begin.

The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t write a story.

The precedent problem was that, ‘I didn’t know what sort of a story I should be writing’.

 

I was unable to do what I wanted to do—

To say that it was arduous, well, it certainly was.

But even so, I won’t die because of that.

Back then, I didn’t intend to register for the newcomer award, and so there was no pressure in meeting the submission date.

Thinking back about it, I guess I’m really relieved that I didn’t frustrate myself into getting dejected and thinking that I couldn’t do it.

Summer passed, September went by, and it was the first Saturday of October.

“I can’t think of anything yesterday. Let’s not touch the computer for today.”

Having such a notion, I escaped to a bookshop cum DVD rental shop that morning.

I intended to rent some movies I had yet to watch and bring them home.

Over there, I found a hint as to why I couldn’t write a light novel.

 

“What is it?”

While Nitadori asked me with a shrill voice, I continued to sip the tea. My voice wasn’t exceptionally loud, but my throat was parched after talking for that long.

Did I ever talk this much before? Probably not.

Did I ever talk this much to a girl before? Definitely not.

The second bottle’s empty too. The train went through at least half the distance, and the now many street lights were passing towards the back outside the drenched windows.

Staring back at Nitadori’s face, I answered nonchalantly,

“Erm, can we continue next week?”

“Ehhhh? There’s still time, right?”

She glared back at me.

 

“Now then, let’s continue. I’ll start off with a question—if you want to rent a DVD, have no particular idea of what you want to watch, and intend to pick something that looks interesting, what will you do at this point?

“Erm…I’ll look at the packaging.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’ll do too. I’ll look at the movie title, cover photo, have a rough gist of what the movie’s about, and develop an interest. But if that alone still isn’t enough to judge, what will you do next?”

“I’ll…look at the back of the cover.”

“Why?”

“Because the ‘synopsis’ is there, isn’t it?”

“That’s the clue I’m talking about.”

 

The synopsis.

A simple paragraph that succinctly describes the plot of the story.

While looking for the synopsis of interesting stories that day, I was looking at the back of the cover.

Most of them would contain a brief summary of the movie plot, approximately 200 words in length.

For example, if there was a movie titled ‘Kindergarten of the Dead’,

“A rabbit with a zombie virus residing in it inadvertently entered into kindergarten○×, causing the unwittingly kindergarten kids to become zombies one after another. The only escapee, the kindergarten teacher Linda, began a lonely battle to prevent the zombies, still doing the same actions, from escaping the kindergarten. She tried to make them tired by preparing snacks and letting them play games that would distract them, and make them take naps like usual. However, she didn’t know that her boyfriend Robert, working at the donut shiop, did a kind, unnecessary act of bringing some snacks in…”

The story would probably go like this. On a side note, that was what I just came up with.

“What’s that about? I want to see.”

Nitadori’s eyes were blazing. I really don’t understand her at all, but it doesn’t seem like she hates zombie movies.

“No, this, really is impossible. That’s just what I just spoke on the fly.”

I’m really glad that she found it really interesting, but who exactly would come up with funding for this movie? I probably will develop this point into a point. Wait, there are so many zombie movies out there; maybe someone did film something similar, just that I didn’t know.

“Leaving that aside—”

I divert my conversation back on topic,

“Back then, I read through the story synopsis of several DVDs, and to my great surprise, I found that I never paid any particular mind to the synopsis of the story.”

 

I had many delusions in the past.

Whenever I remained awake, perhaps one-fifth of the time remained in delusions.

But those delusions were all settings, scenes and conversations.

None of those were things that were introduced in the synopsis, the ‘plot’.

Even after repeating this scene in my mind regarding the story of ‘the terrorist attack assaulting the Middle School’—

All I had been thinking about how the terrorists disguised themselves as milk sellers, the setting of the terrorists, the reason for attacks, all sorts of action scenes, and the various ways of death the physical education teacher would suffer no matter how hard he tried (I’m sorry), the decisive trap in the blackboard duster used for the last battle, and also the last scene with the protagonist returning home, saying “I’m back. Really tired here. What’s for tea?”

These delusions only would only be mere parts.

They did not link at all.

Without being able to link, I wouldn’t be able to complete the story.

And inside that empty DVD rental shop, I muttered,

“So I never thought about the story before…”

 

After that, I read through the back of the DVD packages.

I suppose I would be deemed as a weird middle school student who entered the shop the first thing in the morning, looking at the back of the packaging one after one. Till this day, I’m still grateful that the shop attendant didn’t chase me out.

And I continued to read the ‘synopsis’.

After being there for more than 2 hours, I didn’t rent a single copy.

 

“I-I see…that’s really amazing! So touching! Dramatic!”

“Ah, no, that’s not really…”

I felt really flustered to have Nitadori hail me like this.

And then,

“Why didn’t you figure out something like this in the first place?”

I figured that what she said then really was appropriate.

“Amazing…”

Nitadori looked very impressed, So, what’s next? and then she prompted me with those looks.

“Ah, yes…I finally began to think of a plot, and recorded it down.”

 

However, that itself wasn’t a simple matter either.

First, the characters I thought of before had many settings to them.

These settings would obstruct me from thinking of the plot.

Whenever I thought of the plot, I would include those characters and add more parameters to them. I went through such setbacks countless times.

Finally, I decided not to include the characters in the plot.

I prevented them from appearing in my mind, ostensibly telling them, Go sleep for now, and I didn’t open the file I had at that moment.

I continued to recall the many story synopsis I thought of, trying my best not to think of the characters I had—

The protagonist, heroines, rivals, last boss.

I tried writing the plot of the story through such a simple expression.

While pondering so hard about it, I suddenly had a story appear in my mind,

“The protagonist is a Middle School student, and on a certain day, he found a girl sitting at an empty seat in his class.

Nobody tried talking to the girl, and she appeared lonely. The protagonist decided to talk to her after school, and made friends with her. However, she only chose to talk to the protagonist after school in the empty classroom.

On a certain rainy day, after they both ended their conversations, the protagonist went home alone. Just when he was walking down the National Highway hillpath passing by the pedestrian pathway, he was suddenly pushed to the side from behind.

He looked back, saw the heroine, and a truck headed towards her while ignoring the traffic signals.

 

I deliberately ended my synopsis at this point.

“And then?”

As expected, Nitadori got baited. She leaned her glasses forward, giving a terrifying look.

“Erm…”

“You’re teasing me now, right? —Ah, is that something you’re intending to publish in the future or something…? Erm, sorry about that…”

I was hoping to give Nitadori time to guess the ending, but it seemed I caused her unnecessary misunderstandings and made her worry, so I frantically shook my head, saying,

“No, that’s not it! Sorry! I’ll explain it later—the truck veered off just like that. The protagonist thought that she would have een kknocked away just like that, but he never saw her. She never attended school beginning from the next day. The protagonist found her photo in the library, and learned that she committed suicide on an incoming truck a long time ago at that pedestrian crossing.”

“Ohh!!”

Nitadori began to clap,

“Hey, stop it!”

I hushed my voice, stopping her. And then,

“This story wasn’t actually really that complete…but it was the first time I actually thought of an ending, so I couldn’t forget about it…the ghost ending however was rather old-fashioned, and I really couldn’t understand why the protagonist would be saved. In any case, if the protagonist wasn’t talking to the heroine after school, he wouldn’t be appearing at that time and place, right? What were the heroine’s intentions?”

I pointed out the flaws in my created story as an example, and Nitadori said,

“That’s true now that you mention it. When I was listening to it however, I didn’t notice those flaws at all. It really was a touching story, you know?”

“I see. Thanks…”

“Since you did manage to complete a story of that level, I guess you definitely have talent! Yuou’ll definitely be an author in the future.”

“Well…I’m already one.”

 

On that day, I was still unable to finish answering all the questions.

The train entered the city, and was about to reach the terminal.

“See you next week.”

Nitadori said, and I nodded my head,

“Sorry for keep you busy for that long. Do you still want those snacks?”

She continued, pointing at the other bag of potato chips.

There was no reason for me to reason. Since it was the sea salt potato chips, I would gladly accept them no matter how many they were.

I thought of eating the potato chips while watching anime in the hotel at night. I could watch anime than those in my hometown, and that was an added perk I was grateful for.

The announcement indicating the arrival of the train rang. Many passengers got off midway through; there were only a few passengers left, and they too got ready.

I suddenly wondered about something.

Where exactly was Nitadori staying at? Was it fine for me to ask such a private question however? She’s a girl. Would I not annoy her in that case? Would I be frowned upon?

While feeling frustrated over this,

“I’ll be staying at my relative’s house.”

Nitadori got up from her seat, saying this as she took her bag along. Does this girl have esper powers, I wondered again. She then continued,

“My relative stays at Mejiro, and well…to tell you the truth, that relative will be picking me up at the station…”

After seeing her give an unspoken apologetic look, I finally managed to interpret this atmosphere, a rarity at that.

I never been to Mejiro before, and I’m not particularly sure as to where it was in Tokyo, but I did hear that it’s an upscale residential area.

It seemed Nitadori’s family’s really well off. Perhaps there were strict limits imposed on her, either in terms of curfew or friends.

And I then proceeded to mention the question i just thjought of,

“In other words, if you continue to remain with me, and be spotted with me, things will get bad, right?”

“Yes.”

Nitadori answered, giving a perfect English pronunciation.

“Understood. Now…do I get off first? Or—”

“Please do get off first. I really hope that even if we do pass by each other on a certain platform, you’ll help by pretending not to notice me! Please do that!”

She raised a hand to beg.

Well, it wasn’t some big deal, just similar to how it was at school.

“Understood.”

I got up from my seat, took the backpack and shopping pack to the corridor, and then said,

“I’ll be going then.”

“Thanks. See you next week.”

And so, I deliberately moved forward in this still moving train carriage.

4 comments

    1. She ends up strangling him. This isn’t supposed to be a spoiler…and that’s half of the ‘wut’ in the story.

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