Fourth Story – On Becoming Independent – Part 1
“Shuto Ito, age of demise: 14 years old. You couldn’t stand the bullying of your classmates, so two months ago, you died from your apartment on the 14th floor. I’m sure you’ve heard it from Sasamine but this is just like a government proceeding, okay?” Senpai asked listlessly.
“What do you mean by ‘age of demise’?” Shuto inquired.
“Your age when you died. You jumped down from your house—”
“Oh, yes, that’s right. I killed myself.”
Shuto had quite a delicate physique for his age, and even though he was an elementary school student, he gave off the impression that he wasn’t quite as jovial as his peers. It might not be appropriate to call him adorable, but he had that kind of vibe that makes you want to take care of him and protect him. Shuto’s eyes glowed with curiosity as he alternately looked at me and Senpai, who continued to speak in a business-like tone.
“And your lingering regret…”
Shuto leaned back on his chair, and interrupted Senpai. “Uncle Sasamine had told me. That if I come here, you will resolve my regrets, right?”
Seeing Shuto talk so nonchalantly over being driven to suicide by bullying, I felt all confused and perplexed, but Senpai simply affirmed his question.
“Yep, that’s what we do.”
“Then, let me tell you my greatest regret. It’s easy, I just want to return the favor to the guys who bullied me.”
Shuto sounded happy, yet his expression belied his dark intention.
“I’ll do everything to make them pay for everything they did to me. I just can’t die and leave things this way.”
Looking into Shuto’s eyes, Senpai said sternly. “That’s right. You couldn’t die and leave things that way. Which is why you’re here. So you’re saying that it’s your deepest regret that you weren’t able to resolve your grudge against them—”
I wasn’t sure if Shuto felt better that Senpai was willing to listen to his regret without being ridiculed or judged, but he played with his tongue in jest.
“Yes, they’re all cowards anyway. I’m not just going to leave without doing anything to them. I never offended them or anything, but they hid my shoes, left funeral flowers on my desk, pulled me, called me in the middle of the night and kicked me. They also took my money… I want them to experience the same suffering I felt. I don’t feel any guilt since I’m dead anyway. I’m sure I’ll be forgotten as the years go by, and they will only remember me in passing like “oh yeah, there was someone like him”. But I can’t accept that. I want people to know that I existed.”
Senpai scratched his head as he spoke. “I see. Well then, what you want us to do is…”
“Revenge.” Shuto looked excited at the prospect of it becoming a reality.
“I want you to kill them. Not just kill them but torment them slowly so they could feel my pain.”
“H-hold on, Shuto—”
He seemed alarmingly enthusiastic for something so dark and dreadful, so I stopped him. After all, it wasn’t the type of regret that could be dismissed with, “Oh really, is that so?” There’s no agent who would agree to it—
“Alright, we understand.”
“Se—Senpai?” He waved his hand as though to shut me up.
“Then what kind of suffering shall we give them? They did terrible things to you for no reason, so they should naturally be punished for it. What do you want to do?”
Shuto’s eyes sparkled with interest and thought for a moment. “Well, first, I want you to hit them or something to that extent?”
Senpai looked surprised. “Oh, come on. That’s it? You’ll be fine with just that?”
I shook my head in disbelief.
“They were horrible people who had driven you to suicide. You want to cast revenge against them, right?”
“Right.” Shuto’s eyes twinkled with renewed spirit.
“Well then, first, I want you to grill their ears with a lighter.”
“Owww, that would hurt.”
Shuto furrowed his brows. “Or, maybe stick a needle in between the nail and finger?”
“Well, I think I have a better and more painful idea…”
Shuto shivered with intrigue as Senpai continued to elaborate. “Instead of using the needles as you described, how about we tie up their bodies so they can’t move, force their eyes open and slowly inch the needle closer to their eyeballs. Yep, very slowly.”
Senpai kept going with a dispassionate tone. “And when the needle reaches close to the eye, you poke it deep into their eyeball, and then gouge it out the way you do scoop up a takoyaki with a toothpick. Then, you slowly bring the needle closer to the other eye next. Of course, you’ll take the time to make sure they’re shivering in pain to the point of insanity.”
Shuto remained silent.
“Or we can also use like a huge pasta making machine, you know the one used to roll pasta dough into thin sheets of pasta? We start with the feet and insert them slowly into the machine as they scream in fear and pain until their flesh and bones are crushed little by little. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant scream? They would feel pain in every inch of their body and would slowly forget how they originally looked like.”
Shuto looked completely flabbergasted while Senpai kept his nonchalant expression.
“Um, you don’t have to do that.”
“Why?” Senpai seemed confused.
“Well… I mean… I’m not that evil.”
Senpai’s real intentions finally dawned on me. I clicked my tongue in realization. I was confused when Senpai readily agreed to carrying out Shuto’s revenge but as it turned out, he wanted to test how far Shuto was willing to go for the revenge he wanted.
Shuto’s face went ashen as he descended into a depressed mood. Seeing him all pitifully conflicted tugged at my heartstrings, but it was necessary so he could realize what ‘revenge’ really entails. I felt my body shudder, my tears threatening to erupt, and my teeth clattering at the thought of him being bullied.
“I… I…” Shuto struggled to find the words, his shoulders slouched. He had been in that state for a while.
“Yes?” Senpai replied without a beat, regardless of how Shuto looked.
Shuto took a deep breath. “Regarding the method, I’ll leave it all to you. I just want them to suffer as much as I did. That’s my greatest regret.” He spat out all at once before flopping his trembling body on the sofa as though he was tired.
Senpai stared at Shuto for a while, but his eyes seemed to carry no emotions. “Understood. It is our job to listen to the lingering regrets of the dead. We’ll do our best to resolve your regret.”
I felt like the first interview somehow ended so blithely smooth.