A day has passed since then.

Ai felt as though she had a scary dream. However, she could not remember what it was.

She sat upright and looked around. There was the wall of cloth that let the light shine through, and the stiff, hard blanket.

She was in the tent of the car that seemed so nostalgic.

There was a voice.

“Ai, are you awake?”

Hearing that voice made Ai happy. However, she could not show it on her face, even for a moment, and her expression tightened.

“Yes.”

She cupped her chest, cautiously ensuring that she would not sound excited.

“I’m awake, Mr. Alice.”

Really? So the response, and the person at the entrance left. After a few moments, Ai got up, put on her coat and went outside.

It was the outside world.

There was smoke rising everywhere in the town. The people were quickly repairing their collapsed houses to shelter from the rain and dew, enthusiastically rebuilding their homeland.

 

+

 

The town was full of life. Reconstruction had begun in many places, materials were being brought in, and food was being prepared. Ai was walking with Alice through the city.

Every time Alice caught someone’s eye, someone would approach him and ask for his opinion. He had considered plans in case everyone got released, and had prepared for it..

“Hey Alice, Ai!”

“Mr. Julie.”

After the chaos yesterday, Julie was thoroughly busy, and it seemed he finally got a chance to rest, for he was heading back to the car with the food rations.

“No, the headquarters had finally calmed down, so I got out. Anyway, I finally get to see you two.”

“…I guess so.”

“But really, that shocked me. Is this what they call armageddon? I didn’t think the sky was going to split.”

“……”

“But speaking of which, I’m glad you’re both okay.”

Julie did not know what was going on, and happily gave Alice and Ai a big hug before saying, “Come back soon!” He went off to accompany Scar and the others.

“……”

The two of them walked off again in silence.

“A-Alice!” “Good morning.” “Hey look~ Alice’s here.”

“What are you guys doing?”

They unwittingly arrived at school, and found the members of Class 4 gathered together, talking.

From the center of the group, Dee nudged her old friends aside, and walked out.

“… Good morning, Ai, Alice.”

“… Good morning.”

“Yo.”

She looked up at them with a sleep-deprived face.

“…You’re both early this morning.”

“Miss Dee and everyone too…what are you all doing?”

“Exploratory research.”

Come here. Dee took Ai’s hand and dragged her to the center of the circle.

“I found this last night.”

“This is…”

“It’s still here!?”

The black screen Ai had used to enter Ostia was still there.

“But that’s…why is it still here…?”

“Well, I can guess, but—”

Dee then glanced at Alice.

“…I’m not interested in that though. The question now is what’s inside this black surface.”

She said while she continued with her task. The Class 4 members and the adults were shooting ropes, lights and sounds at the black surface, trying to figure out what was inside.

‘Menhim, how long has it been since Mu entered?”

“Did you let someone in?”

“Yes we did.”

“Are you sure there’s no danger?”

“No, but the advance party hasn’t been back—for eight hours.”

“Th-that’s!”

Ai turned pale and glared at Dee. But Dee seemed to be in no hurry and said to Menhim.

“I guess this thing’s the same after all? If we go in, we can’t get out?”

“Probably…I don’t think it’s any different this time.”

“Well, let’s get the third group ready. And for now, I want you to recruit volunteers for the sixth group. Try to keep the age range as diverse as possible. And the occupations too.”

“Wai-wait a minute!”

Ai tried to stop everyone as she looked at Dee with clear eyes.

“What is it, Ai? I’m busy.”

“I-It’s too dangerous!”

“Yes, it is. So what?”

Dee answered simply.

“Everyone’s already prepared. We could die. It could be worse. But we’re still betting on this ‘World’s Egg’.”

Then Dee gently stroked his black surface.

“We’ve decided to rebuild that world again.”

“Rebuild…?”

“I call it a rebuild, but we’ll be more cautious this time. We won’t ignore any logic just for our own benefit, and there won’t be any annual loops. People will die, and children will be born.”

“Is that…?”

“Yeah.”

Dee showed a hearty smile.

“We’re going to make the world. The ordinary world of fifteen years ago, where people could live and die properly.”

“But that’s…”

“Don’t tell me it’s impossible. I won’t let you say that, Ai. You’re the only one who doesn’t get the right to say that.”

She glared at Ai with hawk-like eyes.

“We’re going to find the world, just like you found Alice.”

“…!”

“And we’re going to do it regardless of whether we can or can’t. Right?”

“……”

“What…? That’s what you said, right?”

“….”

Ai could not answer.

Dee let out a sigh, not even trying to hide her disappointment.

“Alice.”

“…What?”

“This time, we’re going to do it on our own…”

Alice raised his eyebrows in surprise and nodded deeply.

And after that, Dee—Witch of the West, the Ghost, did not look at them again as she used all the power she had to connect people together.

Ai left the place as if she was running away.

 

+

 

Eventually, with nowhere else to go, Ai ended up in a graveyard.

There, Alice finally walked before her and stopped in front of a small, cozy grave.

The inscription on the grave read “Alice Color” in small letters.

As soon as she saw it, Ai slumped down and opened her mouth in an embarrassed manner,

“………You’re angry… aren’t you?

Alice did not say anything.

“You’re angry at me…begrudging me for destroying (saving) your world, aren’t you?”

“…I’m not begrudging anyone.”

“You’re lying…”

“……”

“That’s definitely…a lie…”

And so Ai exploded, clutching the jacket, tearing up, and spitting words heartwrencthing worlds.

“You are begrudging me! You definitely hate me for saving you when you wanted me to destroy you! You definitely hate me!”

“I don’t hate anyone.”

“You’re lying! You’re lying! You’re lying!”

At that moment,

As she stood alone in the collapsing classroom, Ai had a thought. She looked at Alice alone and had such a thought.

She was able to see Alice, in this world that no longer had a host. The world was starting to decay, yet she was able to support Alice’s existence.

If that was the case,

If she worked a little harder, just a little more, would she be able to bring Alice back?

That was her thought.

She could not help but think so.

Ai wanted to bring him back.

She unwittingly wished for him to be revived.

She revived a deceased person

“What’s wrong with that? Isn’t living fine? You’ve been saved! It’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with that!”

“Yeah, that’s right. I got it’s a second life. Yippee ay ay!”

“You’re lying!”

“I’m serious.”

“You’re lying!!”

“I’m serious!”

Alice was neither angry nor spiteful.

He just felt sorry for her.

“I don’t have any feelings about it. I’m not angry, I don’t hate anyone. I just feel sorry for you.”

“Feel…sorry….”

“You failed.”

The words stabbed Ai in the chest.

“You couldn’t save the world. You didn’t save me because you were compassionate. You didn’t save me because I was on your side. You were supposed to save everyone, but you’re biased towards those you want to save, and created an exception. You made a distinction in who you were saving.”

“Uuu…uuu!”

Ai ruffled her hair messily.

“Because! Because! Because even then, I wanted you to live!…Is that so unforgivable?”

Mr Alice, you idiot…she uttered at the very end, and collapsed weakly. Alice however did not relent.

“If that’s the case, you should have made a mistake in the first place…”

“……”

“It’d be fine if you hadn’t saved Hampnie Hambart back then.”

“……”

“You should have made a mistake from the start and not saved him, and you would have been happy. ”

“…………………………ah … ah … ah”

Alice casually sat down at his own tombstone and looked at Ai. Her eyes were at a loss, like a lost child’s.

“Why did you save…someone like me?”

Ai could not answer.

 

And so ­the world saved Ai.

 

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