Volume 1 — Different World Life, Start
1. Exchange Condition
This is a manufacturing type story, which I like.
Alright, here’s a new series, starting up!
A small scream, but one that was as though it tore apart darkness, rung out through the store where the calm afternoon sun shone inside. From the sudden happening, the gaze of the employees and people who were enjoying tea all gathered to me, the source.
It was my voice, but it was so different from my normal voice. In addition, I dropped the telephone handset. I need to pick it up…… I thought in a corner of my head, but that thought disappeared and soon I was running out of the café I was working part-time at.
Without looking back after hearing the surprised master’s voice, I ran in a straight line.
From the phone, I heard mother’s pained sobbing. There were also flurried voices from beyond the line. Just from that, without mother telling me anything, I could clearly get what she wanted to say.
I squeezed out the narrow alleyway where the café was, coming out into a big street and managed to catch a taxi. Now, I did not have time to wait for the driver to ask, “Where you headed?” I shouted the destination the moment I got in, and I slowly caught my breath for my body whose heart was pounding violently.
My black, no, slightly brown hair extended to my waist. Because I ran, it got ruffled. What’s more, I was still in my uniform. An elegant black uniform with a frilly apron.
Because I ran with shoes that had some heels, my leg hurt a bit.
The driver quietly closed his eyes and did not say anything to me who was sitting on the back seat. It’s probably because the destination I shouted was the university hospital. Moreover, anyone could tell that I was in a hurry. Maybe out of being considerate, he hurried to the destination, overtaking cars in front of us.
When we arrived at the university hospital, he parked at the place closest to the entrance and consoled me.
“The payment won’t matter for now, so go quickly!”
“Oji-san…! Thank you, I’ll come back quickly.”
I hurried to the hospital, running towards the reception desk.
“M-My little sister… where’s Kusunoki Hana!?”
Taken aback by my force, the reception lady’s face faltered for a moment, but I had no leisure to think about that. After saying, “I’ll check immediately,” she was about to stand up, but then I heard a voice from behind me. When I turned around, there was Takagi-san, the nurse in charge of my little sister.
“She’s in the emergency operating room, I’ll lead you there, follow me!”
◇ ◇ ◇
I wonder if I’ve ever prayed this fervently to god.
I think I’ve been the type to overcome troubles through effort.
Please let me pray today.
And please, please, let my wish be granted.
I don’t mind if I have to give up my everything.
“So please, god… Please help my little sister Hana……”
My frail voice echoed through the dimly lit hospital corridor. It felt like a funeral, and I felt scared that maybe the god of death might come.
I sat down on a chair next to a door with ‘operation in progress’ lit up in red above it.
Next to me, mother and father were sitting next to me. The two of them were limp and head their heads down all the time. All I could do was to glance at the nurses that sometimes passed by and pray that the operation will be successful.
I regretted my helplessness that I was not a doctor or anything. No, I know that regretting won’t change anything, but……
Currently, my little sister is receiving an emergency surgery.
I am currently at a large university hospital.
The hospital my little sister entered four years ago.
At first, my parents and I all thought that it was just a normal cold. We waited for her condition to improve after getting her medicine. However, Hana’s health did not improve at all. Sensing something strange, my parents took Hana to a hospital.
However, the doctor’s diagnosis result was a cruel one. The name of Hana’s disease was ‘unknown’.
Even after examining her head and testing her blood, it was impossible to discern. Thus, the doctors could not do anything. They said that it might be a new kind of virus. However, there was clear proof.
17 years old back then, I despaired at the ruthlessness of fate. My thirteen-year-old sister was suddenly hospitalised.
On days when we didn’t have school, we went shopping and cooked together. Before tests, I taught her.
Seeing us like that, my parents smiled, “You’re like twins even though there’s an age gap.” However, that daily life full of smiles collapsed in an instant, like a sand castle. The sound of waves at the beach, the laughter of children playing at the nearby park…… sounded as if they were jeering at us.
“……They said that condition changed suddenly. There may be problems in the respiratory organs, or so the doctor said. The time the operation will end at is…… unknown.”
“……Surely, surely Hana will be alright…?”
Father who had been keeping silent told me about Hana’s situation.
Then, mother held my waist in consolation. Being the spoiled kid, I hugged mother tightly. I kept my voice down and cried, trying to make myself feel better, even if a bit.
Yes. I’m alright. What will an older sister do if she can’t believe that her little sister is safe.
“I forgot to pay the taxi… the driver told me that I could pay later and sent me ahead.”
When I looked at the clock, the time was 17:00. Since the call came to the café around 16:00. Then, even after excluding the time spent travelling, I’m making him wait for about 30 minutes.
“Quite a bit passed… here, take this.”
A 5,000 yen note was held out. Since I rushed out from my part-time job, I just noticed that I didn’t have anything on me. Seeing me like that, father’s expression started to loosen a little.
I hastily stood up and told them I’ll be right back before leaving.
◇ ◇ ◇
When I returned to the entrance of the hospital, the taxi driver was waiting while drinking a can of coffee. When he saw me, he waved his hand with a smile.
“Hey, you’re making a terrible face.”
“Eh… Ah, thank you……”
He gave me a warm can of milk tea.
He didn’t ask me anything. If he had asked, “Is it alright?” I definitely would have cried without being able to answer.
I decided to accept oji-san’s kindness of staying quiet.
After having the milk tea, I said goodbye to him and left that place.
Up until the end, he didn’t ask anything and saw me off with a smile. I think that it would be nice if I could become an adult that could console others like that.
I entered the front door again and headed to the elevator.
However, when I arrived, there were many people in wheelchairs waiting for the ride. The operating room is on the third floor.
I judged that it should be fine to walk and started climbing the stairs.
“Hey, want me to grant your wish…?”
It was when I was a little past the second floor and was about to get to the third floor.
A voice echoed from somewhere. No, there was no sound in the corridors and stairways. Maybe it would easier to understand if I said that a voice rang directly in my head.
“Nn. A ‘god’, I guess.”
The owner of the ringing voice said that he was a god.
Just in case, I looked around, but there was no one.
I let out an honest question.
A god… I knew that it wouldn’t be possible.
What if it’s really a god?
What if he could make my little sister better?
“Weren’t you praying before? “I don’t mind if I have to give up my everything. Please help my little sister,” or so. So, here are the exchange conditions. In return for your everything, I’ll grant the wish… of helping your little sister. How about it?”
No way, no way no way!
A god really came to grant my wish. It wasn’t on the level of miracle anymore. There was this indescribable feeling of…… bliss.
“Help, please help my little sister! I don’t care about what happens to me…!”
“Yup. Okay, your wish is granted!”
I didn’t have time to check if he really was a ‘god’. However, if there is a chance of one in a billion. I will give everything for that.
While recalling the god’s bright “okay” I thought about Hana. Then, I felt the pain in my hands, making me realise that I had been squeezing my hand too tightly.
Because, I knew it wasn’t long until Hana’s time…… I properly knew that the chance of her living even after a surgery was near zero.
So please help.
I stood there in prayer.
I quietly closed my eyes and thought about Hana.
4 years younger than me, my little sister is now 17 years old. Her disease was found when she was 13, and then she was hospitalised. From then on, she couldn’t go out much. For Hana who was always playing outside with her friends, the word painful would not be enough. Instead, she spent time playing video games that she could play inside. Maybe the only funny story is that she, now 17 years old, became somewhat of a gamer.
Because she played too much, father got angry and pulled out the plugs and fought greatly with Hana. That is now a fun recollection.
Hana. I want to see the laughing… smiling face of Hana again.
“Kusunoki-san…! The operation ended safely!”
To me who was not moving in the middle of the corridor, the nurse Takagi-san ran over to me with tear.
From the sudden words, my head did not respond immediately.
Though, I knew one thing. Hana’s operation ended without misadventure.
That was enough.
That moment, tears started flowing out. I wonder if it’s from relief or from happiness. Not knowing how to stop the overflowing tears, Takagi-san was crying with me.
I have to go to Hana, I thought and took a step forth.
However, the place I ended up was a world of darkness deeper than night……
From the sudden event, I lost balance and ended up falling over. In front of me, behind me, below me, above me, everywhere was pitch black.
“W-What happened…? Takagi-san?”
I called out to Takagi-san who was with me, but there was no reply.
I can’t see anything and I’m alone in this world……?
“No, scary…… dad, mum…!”
My whole body felt fear that I hugged myself.
What kind of joke is this.
Maybe I became unconscious after learning that Hana was safe and sound. Then I can conclude that this the world of dreams.
However, at that moment, the ‘sound’ that reached my ear confirmed that this was reality.
Hearing the voice coming from behind me, I slowly turned around.
I’ve heard this voice. Right, this is…… the voice of god.
When I finished turning around, there was a man standing there.
I wonder if I can see if him in the dark because he’s shining. Or perhaps my sight has gone weird.
His sweet chestnut-shaded hair barely reached his shoulder, while his clothes gave off a western image. On top the deep orange clothing that fit his body perfectly, he had a short-sleeved coat on top. If I were to borrow Hana’s words, he would be a person from a game. There were many times I wondered if the design mattered a lot regarding defence for game characters’ uniforms.
He was indescribable with the words I had. No, if I were to describe him using a trendy word, he’s an ikemen. Those eyes that shined like gems were looking straight at me.
“You’re… a god?”
“For coming here, I sincerely welcome you.”
To my question, the ‘god’ grinned and nodded.