Jinsei Reset Button

Chapter 6: My Dream for the Future…What Was It Again?
  • Prev Chapter
  • Background
    Font family
    Font size
    Line hieght
    Full frame
    No line breaks

Updated from 𝙛𝙧𝓮𝓮𝙬𝓮𝒃𝒏𝓸𝒗𝓮𝙡.𝓬𝓸𝓶

Chapter 6: My Dream for the Future…What Was It Again?

Part 1

I stood in front of the vending machine of the station, gripping a can of black coffee tightly in my hand.

What thoughts had rushed through my mind the last time I stood here?

I couldn’t remember, but then again, if it wasn’t necessary to recall those kinds of things, then you could say that those memories themselves were unnecessary anyway.

That was what I believed. I had no evidence to back me up; it was a simple leap of faith.

And if the proof that I was looking for was buried in those forgotten memories, then so be it. My faith was all I needed to push forward.

Natsuki wasn’t here yet.

This was where the worlds would diverge.

I gulped down what little coffee remained in the can.

My head felt strangely clear, and I felt confident going forward. It might’ve been because this was my last chance―you know what they say, humans always want to go out with a bang.

I had faith.

I had a goal.

There was no more looking back, only forwards. That way, I could find the strength in myself to go forth.

The final stage of the Last Game was Hachiougi Station. It wouldn’t be enough just to get Natsuki out of harm’s way. I needed to stop the incident from happening in the first place.

In order to do that, I needed to stop my brother―or whomever it was; I still wasn’t convinced that Taishi was the culprit―from spreading the virus. And if found that it was Taishi after all, I wanted to know his true motives.

If the virus were to get out, it wouldn’t be impossible for Natsuki to eventually get infected with it again. The law of cause and effect still governed these things, despite how far back I reset.

I sat myself down on the bench by the fountain, watching the people around me. There weren’t so many people that one could call it a crowd. It was, after all, a regular weekday in the suburbs.

To occupy myself, I went through the list of tools I had at my disposal in my head.

The only thing I had was information―information about the future.

The culprit would somehow gain control to all of the facilities within the station. Then they would turn the concourse into an closed system and release the virus.

If it really were my brother, what strategies could I use?

I stood up from the bench.

My destination was the multi-story parking garage adjacent to the station. It had one underground level and three above-ground ones.

Any reasonable criminal would park their getaway car on ground level, I reasoned. However, assuming that my brother was the culprit, the underground level seemed more likely. If he parked it above ground, the explosions would get dust on his car, and he hated getting his car dirty.

Even in the dim light of the parking structure, I could make out the blue sports car almost immediately. I checked the license plate number as well. It was definitely Taishi’s car.

My brother, who had no valid reason I knew of, no necessity for him to be here, was definitely here.

To commit a crime. Maybe.

It was a difficult thought. I wouldn’t believe that he was the perpetrator unless I talked to him face-to-face.

There didn’t appear to be anyone in the car. I checked that there were no other people I could see in the parking garage, then approached the car slowly. I pulled on the handles, just in case, but they were locked, just as I expected. So was the trunk. I tried to steal a peek inside the windows, but it was too dark for me to see anything. There was a red cylinder lying in the back seat, barely visible.

I tried putting myself in Taishi’s shoes. If I were my perfect brother, what would I do next? He certainly wouldn’t take all of the virus with him, in case the plan were to fail. On the other hand, there was nowhere he could store it safely, other than this car. At any rate, the only people who knew that this car was here were Taishi and myself. Perhaps Dr. Kakitagawa had some sort of inkling about it, but either way, he had his hands tied right now. That much I knew.

I exited the parking lot, now on the search for my brother. In order to familiarize myself with the building exterior, I circled around the station once.

The first floor of the station building housed the train platforms, the second floor was the concourse and ticket gates, and the third and fourth floor were an atrium of sorts. There was an assortment of stores scattered on the third and fourth floors, and you could look down at the concourse from the windows of the small restaurants on the third floor. In order to prevent accidents, there was strong glass paneling installed.

I could see the building’s air-conditioning units installed on the western exterior of the building. They seemed to be just near the rooftop. From what I could tell from the ground, they looked to be just big enough for someone to hide behind.

I went up to the fourth floor and consulted the directory on the wall, then headed towards the employees-only door. After looking around to make sure the area was clear, I walked through the door, and opened the door to the roof.

The wind bit at my skin as I climbed outside. I looked around me, then dropped my gaze to my feet.

Someone―my brother, perhaps―had been here.

There was an air-conditioning unit installed every few meters, exhaust port pointing upwards. There were pipes running all over the ground, but not so many that I couldn’t make my way across the roof. I gingerly stepped wherever there was space, my eyes darting left and right to check my surroundings.

I could see someone’s head pop up from behind the main outdoor fan unit up ahead.

As I drew closer, my breath caught in my throat.

The figure of the person was one that I’d seen many times. Taishi.

He was so absorbed in whatever he was doing that he failed to notice my presence. There was a silver briefcase and various tools scattered at his feet.

“Taishi…”

I called out to him, as if this were any other, ordinary situation.

He looked behind him in surprise, his expression undecipherable, but after a moment, he flashed me his usual gentle smile. “Oh, it’s you, Yuuto.”

He stopped what he was doing and turned to face me.

I could see a bomb behind him. It was nestled in the vent of the AC unit. That unit was where the air ducts converged, I guessed. He would start a fire in the duct and let it travel down to the concourse.

“…You. What are you doing here?”

He took the words right out of my mouth.

“…Uh, well, I kind of got lost. I was supposed to meet up with someone,” I said, with a laugh that sounded far too nervous. I couldn’t think on my feet like this.

It was probably my hippocampus’ fault that I couldn’t think of a better answer. Well, it didn’t matter what I answered, anyway. I just needed to keep talking and use this time to decide what my next move would be.

“You’re the last person I expected to see up here, Taishi. What brings you to the roof on this fine day?”

As I spoke, I drew closer to him, one step at a time…

“Taishi, what are you doing here?”

“…Yuuto, I want you to go down the first floor. I’ll be right behind you.”

This was the first time I had ever seen him flustered like this. He had never evaded any question of mine before.

“What are you doing here?”

I got even closer.

“…Yuuto, stop!”

Taishi’s expression as he shouted at me was one that I had never seen him make before. He had always been cool and calculating, smirking boldly no matter what problems he was faced with.

“What’s wrong, Taishi? Let’s go home. Together.”

“Yuuto…”

Tears had somehow made their way down my cheeks. I didn’t want to cry in front of my brother, but I couldn’t help it. He was the one who had spread the virus, the one who had snatched Natsuki’s innocent life away.

“Taishi, please, just stop this…”

“Yuuto, you…”

I clung to my brother, still crying.

Since I was being such a crybaby, might as well put it to some persuasive use, I thought to myself.

My brother was not usually someone to be moved by tears. He was constant and perfect, someone who would never abandon such painstakingly thought-out plans after investing so much time in them. He wouldn’t just stop everything he had done so far for the sake of someone crying and clinging to him, even if that someone was his little brother.

But right now, he was far from his usual self. His perfect plans had been flung into disarray by me―by noise that he had not accounted for. I was the only one who was capable of taking advantage of his loss of composure to scatter uncertainty throughout his plans.

What next?

My brain felt hazy. I couldn’t think straight.

How could I stop Taishi, how could I stop the explosions, the infection, everything…?

“I came here to stop you.”

I was still crying.

If I thought just a little more, I might be able do something to gain the upper hand.

I fell to my knees before my brother.

“…Yuuto, what are you asking me?”

His voice was so gentle. The second I heard it, I almost reverted to my normal self, accepting everything my brother said and blindly chasing after him.

I placed my hands on the ground and bowed my head deeply.

“I beg you, Taishi, don’t spread the virus, please!”

I couldn’t see his reaction.

After a moment of stillness, he spoke.

“…It’s already too late for that, Yuuto.”

Too late, huh.

So you admitted it, Taishi.

His goal had been a perfect world. In my desire to chase after my brother, I had, in effect, also taken up that goal.

In the perfect world that I wanted, I did not exist.

But in Taishi’s perfect world, it was the people around him who did not exist.

That was the difference between him and me. That was where our paths of thinking diverged.

My perfect world and his perfect world were entirely different things.

I was no longer capable of chasing after my brother, and I no longer wanted to.

All I wanted was a world where Natsuki could be happy.

A world where I didn’t exist, where the person I loved and my best friend could live in happiness.

―Goodbye, Taishi.

I spotted a screwdriver on the ground. It had mostly likely been used to set up the bomb.

I picked it up and stood up straight, facing my brother.

“What are you doing?”

He didn’t move an inch.

“…I’m prepared to die here. If you won’t go down without a fight, then, well, I’m willing to go down with you.”

“Heh…”

There it was, that bold laugh of his.

He took a single step forward towards me, letting the tip of the screwdriver barely touch his torso.

“Taishi…”

“What’re you gonna do, Yuuto? Stab me?”

I gripped the screwdriver harder, my knuckles white. The tighter I gripped, the more my hand trembled.

“Can I be stabbed by the likes of you?”

My palm was sweating so much that I expected to see it dripping to the floor any second. I repositioned my grip on the handle over and over. If I wanted to stab him, all I had to do was push my arm forward with some power. If I did, the bombs, the virus, the fire, and Natsuki’s death would all be stopped…

Yet I could do nothing but hold the screwdriver in my hand and glare into my brother’s eyes.

“…There’s a big difference between killing yourself and killing other people, right?”

“Taishi, are you saying that you…can kill people…?”

“The most important tool when trying to accomplish something is conviction. If you have conviction, if you believe in yourself, then you can bring yourself to do whatever is necessary to finish the job.

As he spoke, he turned his back to me as if I were just an insignificant bystander, took out his phone, and tapped the screen.

I could hear the sound of bells ringing. The shutters inside the building were about to close.

It was about to begin. There was no stopping it now.

"I have to make the world perfect.”

Of course. He had always wanted just that, a perfect and tidy world.

“There are so many people who would be unnecessary in a perfect world. I have to sweep the dirt away, don’t you understand?”

Was this really what it took to create the perfect world that he envisioned?

“I shall cleanse the world of its imperfection!”

I had come all this way, admiring my brother, wanting to become like him. I wanted to make a perfect world, in a way. But I couldn’t follow my brother any more. He had gone too far, wanted too much perfection.

It was all wrong…

Taishi had gone mad.

That, or his thought process was so complex that it exceeded my comprehension abilities, and I was but taking him for a madman. At the very least, I knew for sure that the world reflected in my brother’s eyes was not the same world that I envisioned.

“The ignorant masses of this world, Yuuto, don’t understand a single thing. What I’m building is something that transcends their imaginations. It’s beyond their comprehension. Some day, perhaps, they will understand. But right now, they will all be sacrifices for this new world. And you, Yuuto, are one of them.”

Me…?

“And my own world’s most glaring flaw was having an ignorant little brother like you in my life.”

Did Taishi really think of me like that…?

“I have had to deal with your irritating presence for nearly all my life…You, lacking as you were in fundamental skills, decided to follow in my footsteps despite your shortcomings. Your attempts to imitate me were nothing but a nuisance. Whenever you came to talk to me, it was all silly questions with obvious answers. Your little romance? Worthless. So incredibly worthless. People caught up with things like that are going to be useless in building a perfect world. That’s why I’m going to give you, and that girl you like so much, a golden opportunity to be noble sacrifices in my experiments. That’s the only use for human garbage like you. It’ll be your greatest contribution to the world.”

“So that’s why you…?” My voice trembled with rage. “So that’s why you did all that to Natsuki? For your little experiment?”

I didn’t care what he said about me. I already knew I was an ignorant brother, a fool who had to bust his brain to pieces just to be useful to the perfect world. But getting Natsuki involved was unforgivable. Speaking badly of her was unforgivable.

Taishi’s gaze seemed to pierce right through my heart. Anyone else might have seen this and thought that he was being sympathetic, but I knew better than that. The person reflected in his eyes was not his little brother, merely an annoying existence, akin to a fly. He didn’t see me as anything bigger than an insect. Well, one could even show sympathy towards insects. No, I wasn’t even a bug, just a whining speck of noise.

“There are too many people in this world who were not chosen―and by that, I mean people like you. Ignorant fools. Do you want to become like me? Can you? I am one of the chosen, favored by the gods.”

By the gods?

Taishi? Favored by the gods?

I threw back my head and laughed. It was hilarious, so hilarious, that for a second, I forgot why I had come up here.

“Why are you laughing?”

I was laughing so hard that I could not give an immediate answer. I kept chortling to myself, until he lost his patience.

“Yuuto…”

He glared at me with burning hatred in his eyes.

Taishi…hated me? Did that mean that he regarded me as human, even just a little…?

I laughed until I could laugh no more, and choked on my breath, coughing.

Then I adjusted my breathing back to normal, and glared back at my brother.

“…I was laughing because I found it funny. You know what’s funny? You saying those things, despite having never met a god in your life.”

“What did you just say?”

“You know nothing of the gods, Taishi! The gods are capricious and cruel and like to pull pranks and childish enough to cosplay and also maybe kinda sorta cute, nothing like what you think they are! Favored by the gods? Don’t make me laugh! I’m the one who’s favored by the gods!”

Taishi took a step back, and placed one finger on the smartphone.

I shifted my grip on the screwdriver and charged at him.

That phone was the key. It controlled when the explosions would occur in the concourse.

I rammed the screwdriver upwards, then once again as Taishi threw his head back to dodge. My next move was a downwards swing aimed at the phone in his hand.

The tip of the screwdriver snagged in the sleeve of Taishi’s jacket.

He leapt back, holding the phone high above his head.

“Don’t come any closer, or I’ll set them all off.”

We were right next to one of the bombs.

“If you do that, then you’ll go flying, too.”

“Have you counted how many bombs there are?”

His finger hovered above the phone screen.

I felt vibrations from under my feet, and heard a faraway boom.

“The bombs aren’t strong enough to kill people. They’re just enough to cause a bit of a fire, to create the optimal environment for the virus to spread.”

Taishi’s fingers pressed the buttons on the screen, one after another, and the vibrations continued. A small blaze burst to life from the external air condition unit.

…If I went to rescue Natsuki now, I might be able to help her get away unscathed. That would be enough to veer history off its course. I could create a world where Natsuki was safe. I could, it wouldn’t guarantee anything. I still wouldn’t be able to stop the spread of the virus.

I took out the reset button, and held it above my head in an imitation of my brother.

“What is that? A self-destruct switch?” His expression didn’t change at all, like he was making fun of me.

“Sorry, but I’m going to make this all so this never happened.”

“What?”

“This thing was given to me by a god. When I press the button, I can reset time. With this, I’m going to screw up your plans. Consider it a favor.”

Hearing that, he cackled in derision.

“Whatever you’re panning on doing, it’s stupid, I can tell you that. You’re powerless to do anything.”

“Taishi, there are gods in this world. They’re always watching us. Sometimes, under the guise of granting our wishes, they’ll sprinkle some chaos in our lives for their own amusement. But I know now that I was given this button for this moment. I’ll sacrifice myself to reset life and save both Natsuki and you.”

“Yuuto, what can you even do at this poi―”

I pressed the button without even letting him finish his sentence.

―Reset!

It appeared as though I was no longer capable of resetting with accuracy.

Whether it was the fault of a weak wish or my atrophied hippocampus, it was undeniable that I was unable to jump back to exactly the time I wanted. The time I arrived at was much more recent than I’d anticipated.

I’d intended to go to a point before Taishi had entered the parking lot, but instead, I ended up on the roof. I landed right as Taishi was setting off all the bombs with his phone.

Why had I gone back only a few minutes?!

“The bombs aren’t strong enough to kill people. They’re just enough to cause a bit of a fire, to create the opt―”

I’ve heard you say that already!!

“Sorry, Taishi! I gotta go!”

―Reset!

I arrived in the parking garage, after Taishi had left to set up the bombs. The blue car was parked neatly between the white lines.

It appeared to be approximately the same time as the last time I’d arrived here, but now that I knew the way, if I got the roof immediately, I could get myself a few extra minutes. I had to somehow get the phone away from his and stop the explosions.

But what if the bombs had timers? Then I would still be unable to rescue Natsuki when the fires broke out.

I arrived at the rooftop, my thoughts still in disarray.

I confronted my brother once more, and was once again unable to stop the bombs from going off.

―Dammit! Reset!

I arrived in the parking garage again.

The second I touched down, I was hit with such intense vertigo that I collapsed.

My head was spinning.

Huh? Why was I here?

No no no, you got this, you came here to rescue Natsuki.

How?

The more I tried to think, the more my brother’s voice resounded in my head, obstructing my thoughts.

“Yuuto, what can you even do―”

His words from when I pressed the button whirled around in my brain.

What could I do? As long as I had the button, I was invincible.

Then, I recalled something he had said earlier.

The bombs aren’t…kill people…a bit of a fire, to create the optimal―

Taishi had been trying to create an environment to allow the virus to spread, he had said.

Then what if the virus was somewhere separate from the bombs? Or, wait―

I had to find Natsuki.

I would be able to pick up hints once I found her. Natsuki had been infected. If I went to where she had been during the fire, I would understand how she came to be one of the ones who caught the virus.

The shutters started to close.

I dove under the descending gate, into the building.

Inside, there were people everywhere, trapped.

The explosions would happen soon.

If the virus was in a place other than the bombs, it would most likely―

I called Natsuki on my phone. She answered immediately, saying,

“Where are you? Did you get my text?”

It didn’t seem like she had noticed that the shutters had closed.

“Natsuki, where are you right now?”

“I’m on the second floor―”

Just then, explosions shook the building.

I could hear the sounds of the bombs going off from the phone speaker, and felt the vibrations.

“Natsuki, I’m coming to find you! Where on the second floor are you?”

“Wait, there’s a fire or something!”

“Natsuki!”

The call was cut off.

I ran as fast as I could, up the escalator, to Natsuki―!

The crowd on second floor was thrumming with panic. There were small fires all over the place, surrounded by increasingly thick smoke.

“Natsuki! Where are you? Natsuki!!”

I shouted for her even though my voice was growing hoarse, but her name was drowned out by the chaos.

Natsuki had said that she was with a bunch of kids, right?

20 meters ahead of me, the entrance to the restrooms burst into flames. Startled by the explosion, the people nearby all started running away from the fire, and towards me.

I looked a little further to a makeshift stage, with a signboard decorated with heroes’ names that I had seen somewhere before, and posters all over the walls.

The posters had the same heroes that Natsuki, Shuu, and I had gone to see that summer day.

Right, Natsuki had told us once that they had done a show at the station, too.

She was probably nearby, with the kids.

I sprinted toward the stage.

By the stage I could see folding chairs scattered everywhere. A little further, huddled in a corner, were a small group of children, and alongside them―

Natsuki!

I scanned the area, trying to grasp the situation. There was one kid by the restrooms who was sitting up after having fallen. Natsuki ran to him, holding him in her arms.

The fire by the restrooms had grown unexpectedly vicious. Natsuki reached for the fire extinguisher placed by the wall.

―Ah! The fire extinguisher!

Back then, Natsuki’s clothes had been covered with the fire extinguisher foam.

What if that substance was what contained the virus? fr(e)ewebnovel

The fire extinguisher was small and had no label. It was identical to the one that I had caught a glimpse of in the car earlier.

There was no doubt―it was a fake.

The explosions were supposed to cause someone to pull the pin on a fire extinguisher and let the deadly virus loose in this airtight space. Even with the low infectious capacity, in a space like this with so many people and nowhere to go, direct contact with the virus would be sure to infect quite a few people.

Man, what a clever set-up.

Natsuki had her finger poised on the pin of the fire extinguisher.

I could not allow her to spray that thing.

“Natsuki! Don’t use the fire extinguisher!”

For the first time, she noticed that I was there.

“Eh? Yuuto?”

Embers, caused by the explosions up on the third floor, had fallen down and blazed to life in between us. I could only watch as it consumed the folding chairs that had once housed the audience of the hero show. Tongues of flame flickered at the ceiling, and the banners turned to tatters of cloth that rained down between us. Although I was so close to Natsuki that I felt like we could probably reach out and touch each others’ hands, the fire all but prevented all that.

Smoke was rising, filling the atrium above us.

I could still see Natsuki’s face about ten meters away, through the flames.

“Natsuki!”

She was surrounded by flames now. She looked like she was on the verge of tears.

“Why? Why aren’t I allowed to use it?”

“Just because!”

“But why? I want to know!”

“I’ll get you out of there, so just wait!”

“How are you going to manage that?!”

Natsuki huddled with the rest of the kids, watching as the fire drew closer on all sides. The flames were slowly getting bigger, enveloping everything in sight.

It would be impossible, now, to put out a fire of this size.

―My only choice now would be to reset…

I hefted the button in my hand.

What would my plan be after I went back? How could I avoid being cornered by the situation?

I couldn’t figure it out.

What if, after resetting, I collapsed, like I had earlier? If I couldn’t think clearly from the vertigo?

And what if the next reset were to tip me over the edge, send me into a coma…?

I shook my head, and faced the sea of flames once more.

The only thing left to do was play all of my cards, and think on my feet.

In order for any of this to be worth it, I needed to save Natsuki and the kids from the flames that separated me from them. I had to eradicate the fire, without using the bogus fire extinguisher.

The water pipes? No, I wouldn’t be able to make it in time.

Something, anything―

The flames continued to dance before me, as if mocking me. One of the posters advertising the hero show began to go up in flames.

I spotted a black hose that appeared to encircle the stage. At one end of the hose was a black flare that somehow reminded me of a trumpet.

I thought back to the hero show that I’d seen that summer.

The heroes’ entrance had been accompanied by a burst of white smoke.

Perhaps the smoke was dry ice…!

I followed the black hose to its origin backstage. Dry ice was solid carbon dioxide, right? So if I were to put it on a fire, it would be extinguished from lack of oxygen, probably.

I crawled forward hurriedly on my hands and knees, tracing the hose deeper backstage, until I reached its source…

“…What the hell is this?”

A gas cylinder, painted green, stood there. It was about as tall as my chest, with white letters painted neatly on the side: Liquid Carbon Dioxide

“It wasn’t dry ice, then…?”

My shoulders slumped in disappointment, but then I remembered something.

“Wait a minute! This is just what I need!”

Sure, it wasn’t dry ice, but liquid carbon dioxide was still carbon dioxide. It should still be able to put out the fire…

There was no time to lose, and my options were running low at this point.

I gathered as much of the hose together as I could and dragged it out, bringing along the gas cylinder, which was about fifty kilograms, along with it, and faced the roaring fire.

“Natsuki! I’m gonna get you out of there!”

Despite that declaration of purpose, when I walked towards her, it was at a sluggish pace. The gas cylinder was round, long, and heavy, making it incredibly difficult for me to maintain my grip on it without losing balance. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the sea of flames and picked up the hose.

I then pressed the red button located at the base of the hose flare.

A thick white smoke began pouring out immediately, with such power that it probably would have reached the third floor, were I to aim it upwards. The vaporising of the carbon dioxide caused flecks of frosty residue to come out as well.

I aimed the hose along the floor. Smoke spread out in all directions, crawling along the ground and consuming the fire. Asphyxiated by the carbon dioxide, the flames gradually died down.

I waved the hose around, mowing the flames down. A familiar sharp, carbonic sensation pricked at my nose, like the time I’d chugged a soda in one go.

I pressed forward, hose in hand. Stepping over the piles of pipe that were once folding chairs, I spread the smoke all around me. At the base of the hose flare, ice began to form, sticking to my hand as I continued.

By now, the path from me to Natsuki was cleared of flames by the carbon dioxide smoke.

The smoke was thick, covering the whole scene like fog. As it did, the whole area felt colder.

Although most of the fire had been put out by the carbon dioxide, I continued to brandish the spray right and left, as if warning the flames not to come any closer.

“Natsuki!”

The fire should all be taken care of by now.

“Natsuki!” I called again.

She came rushing towards me, ducking under the smoke.

“Yuuto!”

She was still holding the fire extinguisher, with her finger on the pin, ready to pull it out.

“I told you not to use that!”

I snatched the cylinder away from her. She looked up at me, a thousand questions waiting to burst from her lips.

“Yuuto, where have you been?”

“I’ve been trying to reach you. First things first, though, let’s get ourselves over there. The shutters are still closed, so we won’t be able to get out right away, but help will be here soon.”

I ushered Natsuki and the kids to an area with fewer fires.

Then I recognized one of the kids as the girl from the hospital. It was a relieve to know that she hadn’t been infected this time either…

“I’m glad you’re okay, uh…”

I couldn’t recall her name.

She looked at me, confusion in her eyes.

All that was left to do was let time take its course. The explosions continued for a while, and I could see that Natsuki and the kids were exhausted.

I held onto the fire extinguisher, never letting go.

I knew that this situation would draw to a close before long. There was no working around the situation Taishi had set up. I may have prevented the use of the fire extinguisher, but there was still no getting out the building at the moment.

After what seemed like hours, the shutters rolled open.

“Hey, Yuuto? Why didn’t you show up at the time we agreed on?”

“I went to the place a bit before the time we were supposed to meet up, but then I had to go do something.”

“Then you should have told me.”

“Sorry.”

“Anyway, why did you ask me to meet with you today? Oh, and congrats on getting into high school!”

“You too, congrats.”

“Thank you! We’ll be attending high school together, then…”

I couldn’t help feeling a swell of happiness upon hearing that she, too, was aware of how long we had gone to school together. What the hell, I thought. Why did these feelings have to come bubbling up now?

“Sorry that you’re stuck with me.”

“Same here, aren’t you getting tired of me?”

“‘Course not.”

Of course I wasn’t. I was thrilled at the prospect of attending the same high school as Natsuki.

…wasn’t I?

“So, why are we here today?”

“Well, I…uh…?”

“What’s wrong?”

What was wrong, indeed. My memories had suddenly…Why couldn’t I remember the reason for our meeting today? My memories were all mixed up and vague.

“I don’t…know. Well, whatever, I guess.”

“'Well whatever’ my ass, Yuuto. I came all the way out here for nothing?”

“I really just don’t know. I mean, I have the impression that I had something important to do, but I don’t remember what.”

“Then it must not have been important.”

“Probably.”

She was probably right.

…probably. Yeah.

Anyway, it was fine. I had done my job here.

What was my job anyway? What was…

In any case, it felt like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

The light suddenly disappeared from the world. All traces of light. So did all of my knowledge.

All that was left was color. It was as if I had been prevented from entering the monochrome world and was put here instead.

And thus began a time where each new day was just another day to get through.

Part 2

Natsuki, Shuu, and I all went to Karima High School together. I was in the going-home club, while Natsuki was in volleyball and Shuu was in baseball. Such active people, I thought to myself.

Meanwhile, the ringing in my ears was getting worse, so much so that I was pretty much unable to concentrate on anything. Although I went to see the ENT specialist again, my memory was so bad that I found myself unable to recall when the ringing had started.

It wasn’t usually so bad that I couldn’t remember yesterday’s lunch. On the other hand, there were times when I couldn’t even remember last night’s dinner. What I could remember was stuff like how the food had all been stuff I really liked, those sort of vague descriptions.

During my first semester in high school, I was called in by the police for questioning quite a few times.

Taishi’s professor at college―an assistant professor named Kakitagawa―had already told the police about this temperature-sensitive virus, about how its infectious capacity would change just by being exposed to air and as such was hard to work with. They concluded with that information that the fire extinguishers, being airtight, would be excellent storage containers for the virus.

When they did investigate the fire extinguishers in question, they found that there was, indeed, a virus inside with a low infectious capacity but high fatality rate. They removed all of the fire extinguishers that could be recovered at the concourse, and found that although some had been used, miraculously enough, no one had fallen ill. It was determined that this was because the temperature within the concourse hadn’t been high enough. The police also found an identical fire extinguisher located in Taishi’s car, which he’d left in the parking garage. They began to suspect that I was somehow involved in this whole situation. My memory was so sparse that I had no way to confirm it, one way or the other.

My brother’s whereabouts remained unknown. In the hopes of preventing a similar event from happening, the police ordered a top-secret operation to track him down. As for the assistant professor named Kakitagawa―he became a whistleblower on Danan Pharmaceutical’s corruption scandal, and for a brief period of time, was a big deal in the news.

My high school life slowly whittled away at my time.

On one of the days with no club activities, Natsuki asked me to help with cleaning up. I agreed easily, thinking that it would be unfair to make Natsuki do all the work, but it turned out that all of the girls in the class were there, too. I had to do more heavy lifting than I’d anticipated, and in the very end, had to help them take out the garbage, too.

Natsuki and I lifted the bin and headed towards the incinerators down on the sports grounds. It was then that we heard a heated conversation from inside the storage shed.

“Fujiyoshi-kun…do you have a girlfriend?”

“Nope.”

“Then please go out with me!”

“…Sorry.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not interested.”

“You…you think that badly of me?”

“That’s not what I meant. I’m just not interested in being in a relationship right now.”

“That’s so…”

Natsuki dragged me away from the conversation, muttering, “That Shuu doesn’t know the first thing about girls.”

“Well, Natsuki, you don’t know the first thing about boys, then,” I retorted. She pouted a bit, and for a brief moment, sadness flickered over her face. No wonder, I thought, girls were so hard to understand, what with their changing their moods at the drop of a hat.

The next night, Shuu asked me to meet up with him so we could talk. That was unusual.

“I’ve entered a relationship with Natsuki.”

I expected nothing less of Shuu. Straight to the point, like a real man.

“Good for you. I’m glad it’s Natsuki.”

“You’re not bothered by it?”

“Why would I be? The three of us can still be friends, can’t we?”

“That’s not what I’m saying…It’s just that, you like her too, don’t you?”

“Not realllyyyy…?”

What was going on? I couldn’t remember…couldn’t…

Of course, Natsuki was someone special to me. I knew that. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out just what kind of special she was. I had the impression that a voice in the back of my mind―from the hippocampus, I felt―rebuked me, saying, well, it doesn’t matter anyway, does it?

“It doesn’t matter anyway, right, since it’s you.”

I meant it.

But still, I dunno, I felt a little something.

I reached out with my right hand, and punched Shuu gently in the chest.

“So you do mind.”

“I don’t. But still, I dunno.”

For some reason, I feel so frustrated, I thought.

As the midterms drew closer, the three of us studied together again.

However, the only ones who were studying diligently were Shuu and Natsuki. Instead, I would go up to the library desk and check out books that had absolutely nothing to do with our studies.

Books were nice. It felt good to replace the fading memories in my head with new knowledge. Out with the old, and in with the new, like running a cycle through my brain.

Having finished the book I’d borrowed, I got up and went over to the counter.

“Hello.”

“This may be weird, but uh, have we met somewhere?”

“You’ve already forgotten me, Yuuto?”

“Uhh…”

The short-haired librarian peered at me as she spoke.

“Do you have astrong wish?”

“Who, me?”

“Yes, you. A strong wish. Your wish.”

“A wish…”

The librarian’s tone made the conversation feel both vexing and familiar. She had the air of an angel―no, more like the air of a god, perhaps.

Speaking of wishes, though, at that moment, I didn’t have any strong desires in particular. In fact, once I thought about it, I realized that I had everything I wanted.

Objectively speaking, I was extremely content with my life.

I, Hashidate Yuuto, was living a quiet and peaceful life, devoid of any needs of desires.

“Do you have any wishes yourself?” I asked the librarian.

“I like to listen to others’ wishes, I think.”

“I think it’s best to go about not wishing for anything. If you don’t ask for anything you can happily live a peaceful existence. After all, wishing for something and never having that wish fulfilled seems awful.”

“But if no one wished for anything, the gods would be out of a job, no?”

“Oh, that’s true.”

“So maybe from now on you should try letting yourself wish for things just like everyone else, okay?”

“Okay.”

The librarian with the air of a god took the book from my hand and placed it back on the shelf.

What was there for me to wish for?

If I had to decide on something, it would be for me to live this same sort of quiet life in my next life, I guess.

I mean, ignoring the fact that I don’t even believe in reincarnation.

When I returned to the private study room, Shuu and Natsuki were kissing.

Well, it was my fault for walking right in without knocking first.

The two startled like deer and separated with an awkward glance. I tried to maintain my composure.

“I don’t mind.”

I think I blurted it out a bit too quickly to sound sincere, but really, I didn’t mind, and I wanted them to know that.

“It’s fine, really. I’m happy just knowing that you two are happy.”

Natsuki seemed embarrassed, and Shuu hit me on the back for no apparent reason.

The warm atmosphere in that study room was so wonderful to me that I could hardly bear it.

Now this was happiness.

What was there to even wish for, if I had happiness like this?

Time seemed to crawl by even more slowly.

Trying to think with this dulled brain of mine made me feel like I was part of this world, yet at the same time, like I was peering at a faraway world.

It might have been me slowly becoming unable to clearly draw the line what was real and what was not. But it wasn’t like I thought there was such thing as unreality, anyway. The feeling was more like, even if I saw reality right in front of me, it was hard for me to accept that it was real, I think.

I sat on the stairs that led up to the bank entrance, watching the glow of the streetlamps.

I didn’t have anything in mind, doing that. It’s just that by the time I had realized it, I had found myself sitting on the steps, with no idea where all the time had gone. I got the impression that I was hungry. I also got the impression that the feeling of “hunger” was sitting in my stomach. I got the impression that my autonomic nervous system was being stimulated with signals that told me that I was experiencing this feeling called “hunger”.

It didn’t make much sense to me.

Maybe “by the time I had realized it, I had no idea where all the time had gone” was not really what I meant.

I think, once upon a time, I was a person who sought to be perfect, who had decided that I could live a perfect and tidy life. How I really lived back then, and the feeling of wanting to live a perfect life―I don’t remember either of those.

Did the current me have any meaning in living?

The though occurred to me that, wow, this kind of life is terrible, but at the same time, I didn’t think it was all that bad to live like this.

I was happy, and satisfied.

I should just set all this stuff about Maki-chan and my life aside.

…Maki-chan? Who’s that?

Well, whatever.

Just stick with the rhythm.

I heard a voice from inside my head. Inside my hippocampus. Like a professor.

―This life is terrible, just terrible.

The voice in my hippocampus willed me to stand up, so I did.

The flow of the pedestrians began to shift. 5 in the morning. It was almost time for the first train to arrive.

Countless people said their goodbyes and see-you-laters to each other. They were laughing, but there was a hint of exhaustion on their faces. Well, it was five in the morning, after all, so it was understandable.

Staggering, I followed behind a shadowy figure who stood out in the sea of people.

Through the ticket gates and onto the platform I went.

The first train of the day was approaching.

A wind kicked up and pushed me from behind. I’ll just let the wind do as it wants, I thought.

My feet left the platform as if I were being swallowed up by the tunnel, and plunged in front of the train.

There was a strange sense of relief telling me that this time, I would be able to die.

I thought that this was the answer, but who knows?

Jiriririririririri!

My alarm clock wasn’t a digital one; rather, it had a metallic bell chime and a round clock face, with two silver bells on top.

I’ve heard it said that the sharp metallic noise is bad for the heart, but I, for one, welcomed this sort of auditory assault.

My alarm clock was awesome. The shock from the noise cleared my head. I only needed to sleep as many hours as my alarm clock would allow me.

I sat up on the bed and looked on the ceiling, then flopped down on my side.

Above the carpet of my room, next to my small mountain of reference books, was a small box. It rotated in midair, alternating between tilting and straightening itself.

I crawled out of my bed and grasped the box in my hand. There was a red button perched on one of its six sides.

“A box, with a button on it,” I muttered. “What could it be?”

The second the words left my lips, a voice resounded from inside my head.

―Will you wish?

Who was that?

Where was the voice coming from?

Will you not wish?

Wish? For what?

I got the impression that I had heard this voice before.

Somehow, I also thought that this box felt familiar, as if I had played with it when I was child or something...

The voice continued to murmur in my ear.

"It's not Game Over yet, you know?"

Afterword

Hello. I’m Kimoto Masahiko, the writer of “Life Reset Button”.

This work comes from one of the songs produced by KEMU VOXX.

As you know, KEMU VOXX’s songs do not mention specific characters. The protagonist is introduced as a “young man,” and the identity of that young man is up to the audience. People have told me that when they heard the song “Life Reset Button”, it gave them the feeling that a great journey was about to begin in his life. In this book, I have merely attempting to put that feeling to prose.

As this song series is riddled with mysteries, one may be tempted to view this work as depicting the official setting and establishing the canon. However, that is not the case. In fact, the information that I have received from KEMU VOXX is scarcely any more than what has been divulged to the fans publicly. Every character in the book, aside from Maki-chan, is a character of my own devising. Therefore, please think of them as only one of many possible representations of KEMU VOXX’s works.

Of course, everything from the basic plot points to the final draft has been looked over by the KEMU VOXX team, so rest assured that my vision does not stray too far from what they have intended to portray. I hope that this may assuage any fears you may have about the accuracy of this work.

Now, many of you will probably recall a day very similar to mine, one summer day last year (2012), where, thinking, “I wonder what sort of Vocaloid songs have been uploaded lately?” you checked Nico Nico Douga and found that a unit called KEMU VOXX had uploaded a video of some sort, right?

I, who tended not to listen to lyrics even in songs with human vocals, simply listened to the song as nothing more than sound. Yet, combined with the impact of the melody, the song spoke to me, in a way. That was how strongly it impacted me.

Shortly thereafter, I received an invitation to write a novelization of the series, and instantly agreed.

Yes, the works of KEMU VOXX were that fascinating to me.

In my opinion, the novelization of this series was quite different from similar endeavors with other Vocaloid series. For one, the Vocaloids themselves were not characters. There did not even exist established characters (with the exception of Maki-chan). There was clearly a storyline, but it was presented in hints.

This process of creating both characters and story from nearly nothing was, I believe, quite different from the usual process of novelization. It was like deciphering, excavating, and creating a new work from scratch, all at the same time. And because there were hints in the lyrics, I could not allow myself to deviate from those hints. It was a very mysterious yet exhilarating process.

And so, although it took much longer than I had anticipated at first, my novelization of “Life Reset Button” has at last reached your hands, dear reader.

I hope you enjoy my depiction of what it would be like to have a reset button.

My thanks to everyone at PHP Kenkyuusho, especially Miyakawa-sama, for giving me lots of advice. Also I would like to thank my wife, who had to deal with me coming home from work and subsequently working at home. Finally, I would like to thank my son, who has healed me many a time with his smile.

Kimoto Masahiko

Comments

(These come with illustrations of Maki-chan and Natsuki respectively, which I have not included).

hatsuko: (next to Maki-chan) Kay, I’m gonna go reset a life, seeya! Peace! Thank you very much!

kemu: Congratulations on finishing! I’m amazed that my lyrics became a book.

Suzumu: I told you already, I dont wanna!! I’m going home, bye (death flag)

ke-sanβ: I want to mash the life reset button like I’m playing a rhythm game, but one hasn’t appeared in front of me yet.

Takamura Fumi:

Hello. I was in charge of the illustration for this book. I had a hard time deciding who to draw for the comments, but I realized that I had drawn a lot of Yuutos for the book, so here’s Natsuki!

Natsuki and Shuu went through a lot, so I like to think they were a happy couple in the end. I feel bad for Yuuto, though…

The story and character designs made the illustrations very fun to draw! Thank you very much!

[end]

Use arrow keys (or A / D) to PREV/NEXT chapter