When I woke up, the first thing I saw was a completely unfamiliar ceiling. I don’t know where I am, my head hurts, my throat hurts, and my body feels very tired.
I can’t even see the moonlight through the curtains, let alone the small flickering lights of household appliances.
I don’t know what time it is, I don’t even know where my phone is. I’m just lying on my back trying to find some source of light or information of some kind.
But it’s completely useless, I can only limit myself to breathing and filling my mind with doubt for not finding an answer of some kind. The only thing left for me to do is to struggle to lift my heavy body.
—Puaj. Geho. Gehogehogoho!
When I tried to get up, I immediately had a feeling as if I was being suffocated. Something is tied to my throat, it becomes very difficult to breathe. My tonsils seem to be swollen, although the sensation is different from when they are.
When I placed my hand on my neck, I felt the cold texture of the metal. It seemed to be a necklace attached to a chain. This means I am chained.
After realizing this fact, my skin broke out in goosebumps, and a shiver ran through my whole body. I must concentrate to stay calm.
I took a deep breath and waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. In the lucidity of the room, a rectangular silhouette loomed dimly. It appeared to be a box, so I crawled towards it considering the length of the chain.
Fortunately, it seemed to be in the opposite direction of the chain limit, and I was able to reach it without difficulty. It appeared to be a cardboard box, and there was something on top of it. A thin, flat board with a slippery texture.
Next to it is a short stick on which three fingers fit. It was an object with which I could not get confused even if there was no light in the room
The object turned out to be a tablet. I was quite calm now, as I could call for help.
I am very familiar with the device, so, without straining my eyes, I was able to slide my fingers to the power button. But curiously, the sound it made was unusually loud.
The screen lit up, but to my bad luck, I was not connected to the internet. According to the time that appeared on the edge of the screen, it was 23:17. And there was only one application installed. An illustration software.
As I was lost in thought, and was about to come to a conclusion, a sound caught my attention. It was coming from outside the room.
The door to the room opens, and the light comes on all at once. The light was so bright that I closed my eyes out of reflex. The next moment I opened my eyes again, and there was a high school girl in front of me.
I did no more than glance her up and down. I couldn’t tell much about her appearance, except that she was wearing a short skirt, with a shirt open to the second button, and a blazer.
She had a black mask covering her mouth. It matched her nails painted in the same color. Her face was small, her eyes were narrowed and her hair was long to her waist.
I could tell with complete certainty that she was a very beautiful girl from her initial appearance, not counting the fact that she still had half of her face covered because of the mask. She was a very modern schoolgirl in other words.
However, she was equipped with something on her right hand that is not typical of a high school girl today.
The object was a kitchen knife. A fairly common one that can be found in any Japanese household.
It really is complicated not to have bad thoughts about this when a girl has you chained up in some unknown place while pointing a kitchen knife near your nose.
A vague memory comes to my mind, and fortunately, or unfortunately, I think I have seen her before. Her appearance is familiar to me.
I stared at her and began to remember things.
I was in a moment of depression. My manga I was working on was finished, and I had to think about a new project.
However, my editor asked me to work on a romantic comedy story, it was something I wasn’t used to, good ideas didn’t come to my head, I was completely blocked, so I had many rejections regarding the proposals I showed him.
To evade that tragic reality, I turned to alcohol and cigarettes. Eventually I reached a turning point where I could not sleep due to stress, and I had to resort to sleeping pills in order to sleep.
Of course, in that state of mind there was no way I could come up with a good idea. And that’s when I saw her.
I had decided to go to a bookstore to buy some manga and use them as references for a new project. To be honest, it was hard for me to see that all the manga of my colleagues were still being published and with great success behind them.
However, the manga I went and bought was a story that sold so well that it made me jealous, and for one thing I could put up with it. After all, it’s a working material that will be able to benefit me a lot.
I needed a receipt for this, but my name is pretty complicated to spell, and it’s hard for people to understand just by saying it. So, I leaned over the counter to write it myself.
And that’s when I didn’t realize that I had dropped my phone. I have a habit of wearing headphones in my ears to reject the noise of the outside world. I am unable to make normal decisions with so much noise around me.
I left the store without noticing that little detail. And that’s when it happened, the girl in line behind me grabbed my phone and ran out behind me to hand it to me.
Of course, I thanked her for taking the trouble to hand it to me. But the image of that girl breathing heavily after she had run was etched in my mind.
She was somewhat different from any other normal high school girl. Girls her age are strong. As living beings, there is a point at which we are at the peak of our physical strength, and this is the one that allows us to dream endlessly. It makes us believe that everything in life is possible, and that we have the power in our hands.
But she was the opposite. She was beautiful, but there was no sign of a biological force. There was no sense of unfounded spirituality. She was so weak, she gave the impression of flying away with the slightest breath of wind.
My first impression of her was that she was not part of this world.
I can’t remember exactly what conversation we had. But if I had to go out on a limb, our exchange of words was limited to a «thank you», and «sorry for the inconvenience». But even if there really was one, it was surely very brief.
Anyway, that was the only event I had in my life where I might have seen this girl. But, it wasn’t something that would change my world to have my phone returned to me by a high school girl.
I still couldn’t stop drinking, I smoked more than usual, and my works kept getting rejected.
After that, I had decided to change things in my life, move out, and give up the bad vices that were leading me down a rampant path which was not going to end well for me.
I could have fled to Hokkaido, Okinawa, or even moved to the west…. But I couldn’t.
The stingy side of me didn’t want to pay the price of moving. So, I decided to look for another place nearby to live.
It was a foolish decision to move without thinking ahead. It was difficult to find a moving company, especially since I moved in the spring, a time when this activity tends to happen a lot.
That’s why I decided to throw away all my belongings. It’s a bit contradictory to get rid of everything considering that it will be more expensive for me to reacquire all those objects. But I didn’t care at the time, I had completely lost my mind.
The only thing I kept was my tablet. This was the only thing I couldn’t get rid of. All the other gadgets were cheap, but the tablet was an item that cost more than 200,000 yen.
And it was something that was more a part of my life than just being another object in my house. So, I didn’t have the courage to do it.
The decision I had taken turned out to be quite extreme, but… At the same time, it was beneficial, because after a while, things fell back into place, and I was able to have a meeting with my editor again.
I was very happy about it. Since for a long time we only exchanged messages by email. Not even a phone call, I must admit I was starting to feel worried. But all those bad thoughts were diluted by the realization that I had not yet been dumped.
I had a premonition that things would go well from now on… But it was just a wrong premonition.
After all, the topic of discussion was all my rejected works. The editor was worried about me, as I kept sending him incoherent stories. That’s why he wanted to meet me in person.
The meeting lasted less than thirty minutes. I couldn’t forget the look on my editor’s face when we said goodbye. He told me not to worry about the deadline for my next work, and not to be too hard on myself.
That look of sympathy and compassion was half the look you get when a doctor looks at a patient in their last moments of life… I think I’m exaggerating. But, that’s not the way I would view an up-and-coming mangaka with a lot of talent to prove.
I was in a very bad mood when I left the publishing house. I wasn’t sure I was a mangaka anymore. I saw myself as an unemployed person who was trying to follow a silly dream, a pathetic fourth-rate drawer calling himself a mangaka.
I have read that illness is the result of the mind. As if responding to my depressed mood, my body also began to deteriorate. During the train ride, I only felt a little cold. But from the moment I got off the train at the nearest station, my condition had worsened.
When I left the platform, my heart was pounding harder, and before long, a headache came over me, nausea began to set in, and I was about a hundred yards from home when an intense tiredness began to take hold of me.
As I shuffled my feet and clung to the railings, I made it to the door of my new home.
I put my hand in my pocket to get the key out of my wallet, and… That was all I could remember.