TLN: Oh dang, I entirely forgot that I had picked up this novel. Wow, it’s been two years since I translated the prologue for it? Here it is for those of you who’ve forgotten (or for those of you who are new). Man, time sure flies by fast. Anyways, here’s chapter 1 translated for you all.
One day in high school, I received a video tape from a friend. She claimed that the tape was supposedly part of some kind of urban legend, where those who viewed it would experience paranormal activity.
The VHS had no label. Though, it had definitely seen some wear and tear. There were numerous scuffs on the plastic exterior. Most prominently, the bottom-left corner of the VHS seemed flattened and chipped, as if a car ran over it over something.
I didn’t think much about it at the time. I simply assumed that it was just another one of her asinine antics, one of her make believe stories she would conjure up on the spot. Creating some homemade, retro film using old recording equipment was definitely something I would expect her to do. So, I thought nothing about her superstitious tale.
Also, who even owns a VCR nowadays?
“Soooooo, Ren….why don’t you give the tape a view tonight?”
“Really, Yui? If you’re that curious about it, why don’t you watch it yourself?”
“Well, I don’t own a VHS player.”
“And I don’t either.”
“You work part-time at a thrift store, don’t you? You can just borrow one from there and watch it.”
“Get a VCR yourself. I couldn’t care any less about a broken VHS.”
“Aww, but I need you to be the guinea pi—err, I mean…can’t you do a favor for me, just this once…please…?”
Yui gave a coy smile while leaning her body towards me. Her attempt to convince me was no better than a child trying to ask their parents for money.
I stared at her with point blank contempt for a short while, which caused her eyes to waver. She fidgeted around for a few seconds before she continued to speak.
“How about this, you do this favor for me and I’ll do a favor for you in the future!”
I shrugged and gave a sigh before swiping the VHS from her hands and stuffing it into my backpack.
“Fine. You owe me one, remember that.”
Yui slapped me on the back with a grin plastered on her face.
“Alright, I knew I could count on you!”.
That evening, after my shift at the thrift store was over, I managed to convince the manager to let me borrow a VCR for sale under the pretense of checking for defects. With a VCR in hand, I arrived home at around seven o’clock.
I plugged the VCR into my TV and powered it on, making sure that it was indeed functioning. The faintest sounds of mechanical motors from inside the machine seemed to confirm that it would at least turn on.
Noticing that, I decided it was time to do what Yui asked of me. I held the VHS in my hand, slowly moving it closer towards the cassette tape slot on the VCR. Despite being 99% sure that Yui’s story was absolute BS, I still felt a little bit of tension from the 1% uncertainty.
What if what Yui said was true? Unlikely, but I suppose nothing in the world is entirely impossible. She mentioned paranormal activity. What did that mean? Am I putting myself at risk for watching this tape? And why was she so adamant on not watching before I did?
The room began to feel a few degrees colder as the VHS finally made its way into the slot, now leaving my hand. The television blasted a few seconds of static and white noise before the picture on the screen became clearer.
…And it was just a bunch of car commercials.
Yeah, that’s all the tape was. A compilation of car commercials from all sorts of companies. The tape ran for about seven minutes, and not a single interesting thing appeared.
I sighed, disappointed that Yui had wasted yet more of my precious time, all so I could tell her that I watched some narrator talk about the newest Toyota Corolla model.
After the tape was over, I walked over to my VCR to push the eject button. However, nothing came out of the slot. Even after multiple button presses, nothing happened. Somewhat concerned, I pried open the cassette tape slot on the VCR and tried to fish out the VHS with my hands. However, the tape seemed stuck in there.
Feeling a touch of annoyance, I grabbed the VCR and shook it vigorously on its side. Thereupon, bits and pieces of plastic poured out of the machine, crashing onto the floor. Those bits and pieces were…the VHS tape. A pile of shards and black tape were all that was left of it.
With a broom, I swept the scraps and tossed them into the trash bin. I was sure that Yui wouldn’t mind since there was nothing substantial in the tape anyways.
I pondered what I would spend the rest of my evening doing before hearing my cell phone ring.
At first, I thought it was my manager calling for me to take extra shifts, or Yui impatiently asking about the tape, but instead, I found that the caller was anonymous.
Assuming that it was a scam caller, I tapped the ignore button on the phone screen and stuffed my phone back into my pocket.
However, when I did so, I began to hear a faint voice coming from my phone.
Confused, I quickly pulled my phone back out, but the caller had already hung up. I assumed that I must have accidentally pressed accept instead of ignore, and thought nothing of the matter. I didn’t know what the significance of seven days was, but I didn’t really want to put much thought into the words of a scam or prank call.
The rest of my evening was uneventful. I mostly spent my time browsing my phone before deciding to hit the hay and sleep.
The next day, I met up with Yui after school and told her that there was nothing but car commercials on the tape and that it broke when I tried to take it out of the VCR.
“Oh, I see. Well, I guess sometimes rumors are just rumors.”
I crossed my arms and gave Yui a questioning gaze.
“Say, where did you even find that tape? And why did you think it was connected to that urban legend?”
Yui held her finger against her chin, pondering for a few seconds before blurting out her answer with a smile.
I rolled my eyes and flicked Yui’s forehead. She recoiled and took a step back.
I pointed my index finger at her and gave her a stern reminder.
“Just remember, you owe me one now. You better promise not to back out on a favor I ask of you in the future.”
Yui rubbed her forehead with one hand while making a waving motion with the other, as if brushing aside the matter.
“Yeah, yeah. A deal’s a deal.”
I glanced at my phone to check the time while wrapping up the conversation.
“Anyways, I better get going. I don’t have any work today, but I’ve got a ton of homework I need to do.”
Yui gave an understanding look and replied.
“Alright. See ya around, Ren.”
“See you later, Yui.”
We both turned around and began to walk towards our homes. About three steps in, I suddenly heard a voice reach my ears.
I reflexively turned around and spoke out loud.
“Did you say something, Yui?”
Yui then turned around as well. She gave a confused look and responded.
“Uh, no. I didn’t say anything.”
I scratched my head before shrugging it off.
We both turned back around and proceeded with our day.
Something strange had definitely happened to me on the day I watched that VHS.
I began to hear…voices.
Voices that nobody else could seem to hear.
I would hear them even if I was walking along an empty street, or if I was alone in the bathtub. The sounds didn’t come from any outside source. No, it was as if the sounds came from some internal force speaking from inside me.
The voices were hard to describe. They didn’t seem to come from a singular person, but at the same time, I couldn’t describe them as a chorus. The voices weren’t exactly male, but they weren’t female either. It was as if the personification of static white noise had spoken to me.
They wouldn’t ever respond to anything I tried to say to them. It was as if there was some kind of one-way communication the voices were using to speak to me.
Furthermore, the only thing the voices ever said were some number of days. On the day after I watched the VHS and spoke with Yui, the voices said “Six days…”
The day after that, the voices said “Five days…”
As the days went by, it became obvious that the voices were counting down to some date. As for what that date was, I had no clue. It was also then that I realized that the phone call I received after I played the VHS may have been related to this. The voice on the phone call said “Seven days,” which would fall in line with the rest of the days the voices were counting down.
On the day the voices said there were three days left, I suddenly felt a sense of dread. It was as if there was something with the voices that made my body instinctively kick into its fight-or-flight response. I decided right then and there that I needed to talk to Yui about this and ask her about that urban legend.
During lunch, I spotted Yui’s figure walking and began to run up towards her.
As she noticed my presence, her gaze moved towards me for a brief second before she suddenly turned around and moved away from me, walking around a corner and out of my sight. When I turned the corner as well, I couldn’t spot her anywhere. It was as if she somehow vanished into thin air.
I couldn’t spot her for the rest of the day either.
I tried again the next day, but was only met with a similar fate. Yui wasn’t just ignoring me. She was actively avoiding me, her childhood friend, as if I was the plague.
On the day the voices said “One day…”, Yui didn’t even show up for school. When I knocked on the door to her house after school, nobody responded. The lights in her house weren’t even on.
My body was in full panic mode by then. I couldn’t even walk to my home without feeling like my legs were made of jello, constantly quivering and trembling. I didn’t know why I felt so scared, and I didn’t even know what I was scared of. My body had noticed, and feared, something that my mind had yet to even recognize.
That day, my body was in such disarray that I didn’t even get a second of sleep. I’m not sure if I even blinked that night, for I was worried that if I blinked, something would get me during the brief microsecond that I wasn’t looking.
Then, the day finally arrived. The voices hadn’t said anything yet, but my body’s tension heightened in anticipation for whatever was going to happen today. I felt so paranoid, drenched in sweat with dark circles under my eyes, that I dared not to even leave my bed, let alone my home, in fear of whatever was going to happen. I sat huddled in my bed, wrapping my bedsheets around myself, trembling in fear for every second that passed.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but the voices suddenly spoke once more.
At that moment, I suddenly felt like an invisible monster had reached its claws into my torso, cutting through my flesh, and gripped its hand around my heart, squeezing it like it was trying to drain my heart of its blood.
I collapsed onto my bed, clutching my chest as I found itself struggling to even breathe.
Something was coming…
What was coming?
What was ”It”?
I don’t know.
Home suddenly felt like the most dangerous place to be. I immediately jumped out from the bed and ran out the front door of my house. I didn’t even put my shoes on and I was still in my pajamas. There were pedestrians on the street who looked at me as if I was a madman. But none of that mattered. That was all trivial when “It” was coming for me.
After some time, the voices spoke once more.
I don’t know how long I was running for my life, but I felt like if I didn’t keep going, “It” would find me and everything would be over.
No matter how far I ran, I didn’t feel like I was getting any farther away from “It.” In fact, I only felt like “It” was getting closer and closer to me.
My breathing grew harsher, the cuts on my feet from running barefoot on the streets began to open up and left tiny blotches of red stains on the asphalt.
“It” was coming, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
My feet suddenly froze. Or rather, my entire body froze.
Then, “It” arrived.
I felt a rumble on the ground as a zooming object turned around a corner, coming into sight.
I could barely make out its figure, both because of the speed it approached and because of my sight suddenly blurring from the intense fear.
“It” was a massive monster. Yet, it moved so fast that it seemed to defy its giant size. If anything was caught under that monster, it would be squished into a pile of flesh.
“It” was somewhat rectangular in shape, with two sets of wheels attached to it, both at the front and back. It seemed so inorganic, as if the monster went against nature itself.
“It” was made of steel, making sure that anything that would come into contact with it would be immediately minced into pulp.
“It” was a giant truck, and it was heading right towards me.
No matter how much my brain was telling my body to run from it, I couldn’t move a single muscle. I couldn’t even breathe.
“It” approached even closer, only milliseconds away from me.
With my entire body frozen, the only thing I felt moving was my heart, pumping at such a fast rate that it might have burst out from my chest if it was pumping any faster.
“It” was right in front of my face.
I closed my eyes, accepting my fate. And, it was at that moment that I realized what I was about to be pulverized by.
The God of Death.
TLN: Happy April Fools’. No, this is still not a real novel.
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