A little context.
I wrote this short story in about an hour in a little notebook in my room after repeatedly watching the MV for a certain track, “驟雨の狭間” (“Rainshower”). This track is in turn based off of a poem with the same (translated) name, “Abendregen” by Gottfried Keller. The track can be found here, and the poem can be found here.
The story does not perfectly follow the narrative of the video; I used the central theme as a point for which to pivot the entire story around. Kind of like an orrery—the orbits don’t have to be perfect as long as they all go around the centre.
Also, the central theme of this story is heavily inspired by Andy Weir’s short story “The Egg”, which is my personal favourite short story and has had a heavy influence on my actions and attitudes towards others. It can be found here.
Once more, after an indescribable amount of time, the man dies once again.
He is wearing a white-collared shirt with all of the buttons done, except the ones at the bottom and the top. An open, rectangular depth faces him as he gazes up and down, his feet on the bridge that always brought him on his way to work every day. What more or less could he need out of this life? What philosophies are there to change?
A rainshower arrives. Yet no one takes out their umbrella. The raindrops are not of water though. Instead, they are solid, glistening and reflecting beams of radiant light in all directions. Some seem to be multicoloured, with a rainbow gradient, which bounced fluidly around the man’s body and danced in the empty air. Some were gray, hard like stone, and began to pelt the man harshly as if stoning him, but no pain was felt. Some soothed him, absorbing into his body like lotion on his skin, and still other translucent drops stuck onto him like solid hot glue, forming hard bumps on the surface of his body.
When he started to feel the air blowing his hair upwards and his necktie felt like breaking free, his mind quickened. The raindrops swirled and orbited around him at a faster and faster rate as his heart began to pound rapidly. He reached his hand out into the cold air, bombarded with raindrops.
A circular crystal door with no handle opened out of the air in front of the man. His outstretched hand felt the touch of—not another hand, but maybe a claw. Or was it a handle? A lever?
“You know who you are,” a shrill voice from the blue beyond the door called.
“I imagine it is only now that you realize how much more you could have been. But your fate was sealed from the start, as cliche as that sounds. It was only because of that first time you made this decision… if only your life had been just a bit different that first time, right? You woke up as a newborn, ready to fight for survival and live a long life, but there was already a script written for you. Don’t blame me—the author is also none other than yourself.”
The man’s eyes opened maniacally, as if he had heard the rapid approach of a former friend’s butterfly blade encroaching on his back, ready to perform the ultimate betrayal. He felt his grip on the claw-handle-lever weakening, like it was covered in grease, or like his muscles were giving out. He turned his head left, right, forward, and almost backward, yet all around him the raindrops zoomed until their paths formed a nestlike sphere in which he could only see his blurry reflection of his own face. Blood-red, wide open eyes, a furrowed and tense brow, and shattered lips.
“When you wake again, you will have the same childhood. All your friends and interactions will be the same. No matter how hard you try, you will waste just as much time slacking off, mentally abusing yourself in the process. You will have the same job, the same 8-hour shifts at an inconsequential firm, a cog in the grandiose machine of the corporate world, on a shaky ladder with no rungs to climb up. Your eventual wife and children and everyone else will be the same, the ones you should love the most, though you have always tried to search for something more. And lastly, you will make this decision again, on the exact same day of the exact same year. See you later.”
The man finally lost his grip on the handle-grip beyond the sacred crystal door, and it slammed shut violently yet silently, burying him in the blue abyss. He would slumber there, perhaps in peace, for the finite eternity before the universe is reborn, the stars are once again created, the Earth becomes more than just a rock, millions of years of predator and prey shape Homo sapiens, power and land change hands as the tides billow and shrink, and modern globalized society come to fruition. Such was the gradual buildup of the suffering of commonfolk.
With that, the orbiting sphere of raindrops that was around the man violently exploded like a supernova, scattering thousands of raindrops in all directions into the rest of the rainshower, now intensified into a storm. Some could hear the metallic clangs of some raindrops’ painful collisions, but most simply amalgamated into others as in a regular storm.
A rainbow rose into the sky as the rainshower ceased and the clouds made way. Some on the bridge were quite bothered by how heavy it had been. Some complained about being late, while others were cursing their luck that they had witnessed such a thing.
There was no surprise in what happened that day. The man was simply weak, so he made that decision. That other half of his life was the dead cat in a sealed box, appearing like a shadow but vanishing into mist. It was lost into the darkness of the flowing river that morning.