I, Who Still Had 1.8 Billion Seconds To Live, Made A Promise With The Shinigami - Part 1
When I found a compilation of urban legends of certain “unreadable stations” on an ad-filled website, I found myself scrolling down the screen to kill some time, though the content itself was silly.
When the train stops at the ■■■ station, please turn around immediately.
They say you can get back to the original station by going down to the platform and taking a train in the opposite direction. That’s easy.
However, there are three conditions.
One, do not look at the other passengers.
Two, do not look outside the ticket gates.
Three, do not talk to the station staff.
This is because the ■■■ station is an entrance to the underworld where the souls of the dead gather. It is said that if the dead are aware that the living is mixed in with them, the living’s soul will be drawn “outside the ticket gates”.
However, even if they make it back alive, people who wander into the ■■■ station seem to die within a month at best. They may fall ill, have an unfortunate accident, or be killed. The causes vary from case to case.
It is a mystery whether the people who suddenly die are “summoned” or if they are “drawn” to the station. If it’s the latter, we might survive if we take three conditions seriously.
In this article, we looked into the ■■■ station. Urban legends are truly terrifying.
So, please be careful when you board a train.
The screen turned dark.
Huh? Is it out of battery? I could have sworn there was about 50% left in my phone. I wondered as I reached into my school bag. As I scrambled for my portable charger, I felt the sensation of gift wrap with the back of my hand. It reminded me of my cute childhood friend’s face.
“I can’t wait to see her face tomorrow.”
Looking up, my view was painted with sepia, as if time had stopped. Is it because it was nearing dusk? If so, it was quite unusual. I pointed the lens of my phone at my surroundings until I remembered that it had run out of power.
The train, which usually stops about every five minutes, arrived at the station. The door opens, and men and women rush out from the train, their facial expressions are all of those dead-faced businessmen. They don’t seem to be looking at me, at others, or even at the ceiling. Their sight goes straight through the ticket gates. I overslept and missed my station, and I’m currently waiting for the station staff at the window by the ticket gate. At this time, the return train has not arrived yet.
There was heavy fog outside the ticket gates and nothing noticeable was in view. I looked back at the station sign, which was an old piece of wood with carving on it. For some reason, I couldn’t make out the three letters on it. I was once again impressed with the massive list full of different kanji characters in the Japanese language.
“Excuse sir, you may want to take a look at this.”
For the first time in ten minutes, the shutters of the window by the ticket gate opened. The female staff member shyly peeked out just the right half of her face and placed a small lit plate on the counter with a trembling hand. What was this?
“Um, I believe you said earlier that you’d give me a return ticket.”
“Hiii~! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I want my customers to go home as soon as possible. But I can’t seem to find a ticket for the fire.”
For some reason, the station staff was overly scared of my reaction and shrunk her head back inside. This is no good. Should I make small talk to ease the situation?
“…Speaking of which, what is the name of this station?”
“Heh? Um, the ■■■ station.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear her well, probably because her mouth was behind the window now. If I asked her again, surely she would be too afraid to respond.
“By the way, I just saw this, but did you know that this station is getting some outrageous rumors? Like, if you wander into the station, you’ll die or something. It’s really stupid, isn’t it? They are so inconsiderate of the people who live and work here―”
As we chatted, I guess her guard was down, and I succeeded in exposing about 70 percent of the station staff’s faces. That’s a record. I secretly clenched my fist in my heart, but the look on her face was terribly apologetic.
“S-Sorry customer, thank you for your concern. But, um, that rumor is more of a fact than a rumor, so…”
The staff member looked down at the fire on the counter. I finally realized that the fire was lit by a candle. The wax had already melted flat across the plate, and I wondered how it was still burning.
“What the. I thought you were writing about something…hm?”
Wait, what did she say? Then is what was written on that site true then?
Three conditions. Do not look at the other passengers, do not look outside the ticket gate, do not talk with the station staff. Great, I already went and did all three things that I should not be doing. W-Well, there’s no way that rumor is true.
“Eh, um, so. Does that mean I am going to die soon?”
“Ah, yeah, well, that’s just the way it works. I’m afraid you are going to die soon.”
Her voice was fading as she spoke with each pause, the station staff disappeared from my sight. But her voice continued even after she was completely hidden.
“Well, it’s like this sometimes. Some people are drawn to ‘death’ by some strong hidden force and wander here before their lifespan ends. It’s troublesome and I don’t really want to deal with it, so I usually just let them go back as is, but a law is a law. It’s from the Shinigami Enforcement Commencement Law… I’m not sure which article it is, but it is there.”
“S-Shinigami? No… no, no no no, it’s not possible for me to die, I mean, why would I want to die!?”
At my angry shout, the station staff, or Shinigami-san, let out a short squeal through the wall,
Die? I’m still healthy, I’ll turn 18 tomorrow and can vote in the next election. I haven’t read the last issue of my favorite manga yet, and I plan to have fun with all my might when I become a college student. My angry mother and alcoholic father will be sad, and I still have to deal with that pouting childhood friend of mine. I can’t imagine dying, I can’t imagine their world without me.
“…Um, Shinigami-san. Is there anything you could do? Like rewinding time, or extending my life span? I’ll do anything, even contracts, just anything. Like those in resolving payments, or leasing? Anything?”
My desperate pleas for help bore fruit. Shinigami-san quietly appeared again, but she had a fed-up look on her face, kind of unsuitable for someone in customer service.
“Ah man, this is why I hate this job. Humans always give these complaints. When they find out they are going to die, they get angry, then cling to me for help. Like holy, I have been working here, guarding the underworld for 500 million years, ever since your species was just fish. Please just give up.”
Shinigami-san points to the candlelight with her long fingernails.
“This candle has never been extended―Not even once.”
It was the final straw. It was painful as those undesired words entered my ear and my brain processed it.
My heart started pounding. My throat became hot, and my head went cold. The smell of soot hit me, and I immediately identified it as the scent of death.
“So this… represents my lifespan?”
“Yes, the length of the candle is the length of one’s lifespan. And we are obliged to tell the customer how much time is left as an apology for calling him or her early.”
Shinigami-san takes a plain ticket from under her counter and begins to burn it over the candle flame.
I gasped. How much time do I have left? In my head, a scene of an hourglass and the sand falling played. Do I have a month? A week? Or even a day? After ten seconds, which felt so long to me, a light brown number appeared. I snatched the ticket from Shinigami-san’s finger, ignoring how burning hot it was.
1,802,394,127―that is my life span. My lifespan?
“One, ten, one hundred, one thousand…a billion, no, what? Isn’t it messed up and long?”
“Ehh? Long? No, um. Not at all. Listen carefully. Your lifespan…has only 1.8 billion, 2.39 million, and 4,127 seconds left, got it?”
The moment I heard the death god’s declaration of my life expectancy. My head was in jumbles.
No, I mean, how many days is that?
Because a minute is 60 seconds, an hour is 3,600 seconds, and a day multiplies that by 24, so… Ah goodness, I don’t know anymore. But the candle is already such a wretched mess, and from the way Shinigami-san spoke, it seems so short. If I divide a month or something into seconds, it might be about that much more than I think.
My phone was back on for whatever reason. I opened the calculator app. I kept dividing with trembling fingers and the answer that came up was ― 57 years.
“That’s a long time!”
That’s strange. I mean, these things are supposed to be much shorter. After 57 years, I’ll be 75 years old. That’s a pretty normal age to die. I don’t even have to think about what I have left to do. The hourglass I had imagined became bigger than the Tokyo Tower in an instant.
“Maybe so, but it’s short compared to the sharks, the seventh form of Mujomohapepele, the saffron jellyfish, and us Shinigamis.”
“Even so, this candle is too short despite the fact that it’s going to burn for about another 60 years. Also, did you mention an undiscovered creature?”
“Why do you have so many questions!? How many candles do you think there are in that room? There is limited space. That’s why you humans―”
Shinigami-san slammed the counter with a bang. The impact nearly extinguishes the fire for a moment. Then she muttered “Oh, wait” and the sound of a train is heard from the opposite direction from before, and the Shinigami-san points over there.
“Look, the return train is here. Please hurry up and get out. If you miss it, the next one will be 5,181,980 seconds later. That’s a long time for you, isn’t it?”
Calculator time. It’s two months later. I hurriedly stuff the ticket into my pocket and turn my back on Shinigami-san.
What is up with this station? What is with the staff here? As I climbed the six flights of stairs with the barrier-free ramp at my side, my eyes met the front light of the train.
The high-pitched sound of the old brakes stops, and my feet stop too.
There was another person waiting for the return train beside me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just another passenger. But that wasn’t the case. It was as if the arrangement of my room had been slightly changed, and a trivial and intense feeling of discomfort canceled out the electrical signals that should have been emitted by my legs.
About 10 meters away, standing among a sepia sky, stood my childhood friend, Aiba Sumire.