Why was the world so unreasonable?
Inside an old, dark, and narrow one-room apartment, I pressed my hands against the pain in my chest.
I was struggling to put power into my arms.
The hand that was gripping my t-shirt felt shabbier and thinner than I’ve ever felt.
The futon that I was lying down on was already stained and dirty with my blood.
Yes, I was in physical pain, but the mental regret and anguish I felt hurt far more.
I could see lights spinning around me.
I can’t say that I was a completely respectable man, but I really didn’t want to die here.
I never committed any crimes, and I lived seriously enough to be seen in a positive light by the general public.
Get a normal job, marry a girl, have a baby, buy a house.
It’s because of those completely normal aspirations that I was now littered with so many debts and problems.
I pay child support monthly, but I haven’t seen my kid in years.
‘She was finally in a good place in her relationship with her new husband’ –it’s for that reason as to why I had been denied visits.
So I kept paying the expensive child support even though I couldn’t even see my child.
Then I got fired from my job for a reason I couldn’t even recall doing, but I still needed income to live so I made due with whatever part-time job I could find.
There was nothing in the room.
I couldn’t afford to buy anything because of my crippling debt and lack of personal time.
I couldn’t even remember why I was in debt in the first place.
Even so, I was in debt, and I had to pay it back.
At first, I was paying for it with the mindset that it would be used so that my children wouldn’t have to struggle in life, but before I knew it, I had lost weight, my body was paralyzed, and I couldn’t even move from on top of my bed.
“What’s wrong with me? Just… why is this happening to me?”
At that moment, I felt relieved when I saw it.
Because at that moment, a man wearing a tailcoat suddenly appeared at my bedside.
He stood there and placed a leather suitcase down beside his dirty shoes.
“Good evening, isn’t it a beautiful night, tonight?”
I could barely move my eyes, but even then it was so dim I could only barely make out his mouth and the top-hat he held in his hand.
He was a tall man with a slender stature, but there was something off about him.
He was even wearing something like a tailcoat, but I couldn’t remember having an acquaintance who dressed as distinctive as this.
“Have you… come to take me away?”
I was terrified and there was no way for me to escape.
To such a me, the man bent down towards my face, but even then I couldn’t make out his features.
His mouth arched up in a smile like a crescent moon, as if he was stifling a laugh.
“Pick you up? Well, that’s not wrong, but not exactly right either. If I had to say, I’d describe myself more like your ‘guide.’”
The man waved his finger and claimed to be someone that guided others.
A supernatural sight appeared before me, and I widened my eyes slightly.
—My heart was in pain.
I could see it, a man in formal dress and my ex-wife were eating at an expensive restaurant together.
The food and drink looked delicious, I hadn’t eaten a meal like that in years.
However, the problem wasn’t that.
“You snake of a woman. Not only did you leave your previous marriage with your debt, but you even make him pay child support? Is that kid even your ex-husband’s?”
“It’s fine. At least officially he’s ours, and by law the one who reared the child is obliged to pay for child support.”
I couldn’t even process what they were talking about.
Just what was she saying?
My former wife, who used to be so gently and rustic was now dressed so finely.
“After all, women are attracted to those with superior genes. I don’t care about that child one bit, what matters is that he’s a gateway into another source of income. I only married that man because I could. He was only worth that much.”
The guy sitting opposite to her was laughing a little.
“Women sure are scary.”
“Was it not you who made me such a woman?”
Watching the two of them being so happy, my heart seemed to clench in pain, while my empty stomach furthered my depression.
I felt anger boiling inside of me from watching such a scene.
The man waved his finger again and it disappeared.
“Oops, let’s just calm down a bit, shall we? I just showed you this scene because I wanted you to know the truth. Don’t try to fool yourself, this isn’t a vision. This is something that is happening right now in real time.”
Now that I think about it, there were definitely some suspicious things that happened while we were married.
But I forced myself to look away, I had to.
I thought I was just overthinking it.
“You’re a good person, you endured such a hard life and yet you still paid for both her debt and child support, so I’ve prepared a little gift for you.”
The man happily took out a brochure from his leather suitcase.
“You’ve lived such a miserable life, so I’ll make it so you’re guaranteed happiness in your next life. How about it? Would you like to reincarnate into another world?”
‘Miserable’, the emotion I felt was far uglier than that, I felt so much regret to the point that I thought I was going insane.
My heart clenched in pain again, and I could taste blood.
“You continued to work to the point of destroying your body, and yet there they were enjoying their meal in peace. That’s something you can’t forgive, right?”
My left hand squeezed into a fist on my futon.
“Even so, let go of your revenge. Let go of that hate that says you can’t forgive them.”
Tears started to flow from my eyes.
Why did it come to this?
Was I that terrible of a person? Is this my retribution?
I teared up at the fact that my body was now paralyzed.
In such a state, it’d be impossible for me to take revenge.
The guide’s crescent smile widened as he let out a chuckle.
I knew my eyes probably looked dead, but even I felt like laughing at that moment.
The smile disappeared from the guide’s mouth.
“Unfortunately, your life is about to end. All I can do is guarantee your happiness in your next life. So don’t worry, no matter how unhappy you are currently, happiness is just over the horizon. Please give up on your revenge.”
I denied him with a faint voice.
I wanted them to feel every ounce of unhappiness I felt in my life.
I’d do anything for that purpose.
However, the guide shook his head.
“The most I can allow you to do is choose the place you’re going to go next. At the very least, please incarnate into a world that you want. Your happy life is waiting for you.”
Tears continued to flow from my eyes.
The pamphlets the guide provided resembled playing cards a magician would spread out before someone to make a choice.
One of the covers had robots and spaceships plastered on it.
I moved finger over to it.
“Are you interested in this world? You chose a good one. It’s a fantasy world where both science and magic have both progressed. It’s an intergalactic nation in a very enjoyable world. There’s many things to enjoy there, so I know you’d have fun.”
I stretched my hand out towards it without hesitation.
I didn’t know what the next world would truly be like.
All I was thinking at the time was about how stupid everything was.
For what reason did I live so seriously?
And yet this is the result?
You’ve got to be kidding me! Don’t joke around!
If you lived your life seriously, you should be able to enjoy it just as much!
I don’t care about others anymore, I’m going to focus on my own happiness.
If living a good life just ends with something like this, then I want to live for myself from now on.
— I want to be the villain.
“Oh, this world has aristocracy, that’s interesting. Civilization has evolved but society reverted back to the feudal system. That’s really amusing.”
The guide continued, “Next time you’ll be born into a house of power. You’ll have everything you could ever want, you’ll be a born winner.”
Sounds like a lot of fun.
I’ll step over others while doing my best.
“The aristocrats you’ll be born into will be a warm family as well.”
A small amount of laughter escaped from my mouth.
An agent of evil… no, wasn’t I going to be a noble?
I suppose this’ll work to entertain me.
“Are you ready? I hope you have a good second life-”
Let’s do it.
Let’s fully enjoy my next life to the greatest extent.
As an evil lord.
◇ ◇ ◇
The guide looked down at the man who had stopped breathing, and started laughing.
There was madness in that figure.
“An unhappy life? He’s an idiot! Did he seriously think he’s the only miserable person on the planet?! Did he really think that there’s absolutely no one else that’s sad or depressed?!”
The laughing guide waved his finger, and the projection of the ex-wife and the man she was with fluttered into existence.
His grin widened as he roared with laughter.
“And to think, I was the one who caused all his misery in the first place! I just wanted to see how far he’d fall!”
The guide wasn’t a benevolent being, not at all.
It’d be more fit to describe him as a living mass of cruelty.
“Now, let’s finish the hors d’oeuvres before moving on to the main course!”
The guide reached out and touched the image as black smoke started to emit from him.
The two people were having a pleasant conversation.
However, the man smiled and bid farewell to the lady.
“Well, I hope you had fun, but let’s end things here.”
The former wife dropped the knife she was holding, stunned.
“W-what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’ve had enough fun, and now I don’t feel like playing house with you anymore.”
His face seemed to say he didn’t understand why the ex-wife was acting this way.
He was smiling.
“You can resist if you want, but don’t forget that the lawyer who helped you with the divorce was my friend. If you make a fuss about this, you’ll be the one at a disadvantage.”
“But what about our child!”
“Legally that’s not my child, so I don’t need to pay child support either.”
The man put a divorce notice on the table.
“Fill this out by tomorrow.”
The ex-wife was trembling.
“Didn’t you say you loved me?!”
“Oh I loved you, but I’m not interested anymore, that’s all. We’ve already enjoyed each other long enough.”
The man tore off the lady who was now his ex-wife as well, and left the restaurant.
“Don’t touch me, I’m not affiliated with you anymore.”
The man chuckled.
“Stupid, did you really think I’d marry a women who was willing to cheat? You, just how far did you lie whenever I said I wanted to meet? I can’t laugh at how you treated your first husband.”
The now twice divorced ex-wife clasped the man’s hand.
“I abandoned my husband for you.”
“You mean your ex-husband. You’re the one that threw him away, and I was there, I know you enjoyed it. Don’t try to pretend you’re the victim.”
The guide was laughing.
He could tell what the ex-wife was thinking.
“Oh man~ that’s ugly~ You’re already contemplating how you’re going to kill him? Women really are tough! I hope you get your revenge!”
The guide’s laughter roared as he opened the door to another world.
“Now, are you going to come crawling back to your original husband or find a new boy-toy? I’m looking forward to the results~”
Both results would bring her misery, and that thought brought the guide immeasurable joy.
“Well, for now I have to guide this one’s soul to the world where people’s lives are consumed cheaply, so more entertainment for me~!”
Thinking about the world he was about to send this man over to, the guide couldn’t stop laughing.
“It’ll be too late by the time he notices, so this’ll definitely be fun. If this isn’t the case, regret, resentment, sadness, surely he’ll abhor me! Miseries are my delicacies!”
The guide who loves the dark emotions of people spread out his hands in delight.
“Even if you find misfortune in another world, it’s fine! Become unhappy! Hate me! Loathe me! From now on it’s fun time!”
No matter how far the man fell, pleasing developments were all that waited for the guide.
The guide was ecstatic.
“Oops, if I don’t go soon, I’ll have to spend time finding his soul too. Well whatever, I can brush it off with some cheap reason, all humans are fools that’ll jump at the chance in joy when they hear about reincarnation after all, but let’s not waste anymore time, continue to happily be deceived, idiot.”
He cheerfully grabbed his bag, and as the guide who was just insulting a body started to pass through the door into another world–
A small light came into being in the corner of the room.
A tiny light that was hiding and watching.
It was in the form of a small animal.
It looked like a dog.
But the guide didn’t notice it.
“I wonder how I should enjoy this. First of all, I have to decide where to incarnate him. It’d be nice to have him enjoy a family before thrusting him into despair. Like… ‘yah!’ The feeling of something plummeting from a high place?”
Taking the chance while the guide was caught up in delusions, the small light passed through the door.
The guide clapped his hands.
“I’ve decided! Once he climbs up, I’ll slam him back down to rock bottom! I’m sure he’ll send over some great negative emotions then! Oh man, I’m looking forward to this. He’ll aim to be some noble aristocrat, but he’ll just end up in a massive execution! Maybe even tortured!”
The guide embraced himself and writhed.
His joy was clearly abnormal.
“Please live long, live a longer and more painful life! For the sake of my happiness, do your absolute best!”
When the door to the other world closed, it vanished from the room.
The only thing left was the body of the man who just died.
Written by Mishima Yomu/Wai (三嶋 与夢)
Translated by KuroInfinity at slothtranslationsblog.com