So, this is a bit different from what I usually post. There is a booklet that comes with the limited edition Collar x Malice Unlimited. This is a short story based off of the ‘tragic ending’ in the original game. So of course, spoilers if you have not finished the first game. The 2nd story is Kei! It is quite sad, but of course aren’t these all?
[The Last Email]
Cold skin. Stiff fingers. Eyes that won’t open. Lips that won’t breathe a sigh.
It looks like an elaborate doll, like how you can use AI to create something very similar. I started thinking stupid things in the back of my mind.
As I’m nearly falling into the pit of darkness, clinging to her body, an unpleasant voice brings me back to reality.
“You wanted death, did you not? Living in a world without her would be very painful.”
A man covered in a hood–
It could be a woman, but it looks like a man’s physique. It was if he came out of a fairy tail, ready to drag me into hell with his voice through a speaker. No, I can probably be at ease if I nod and follow his voice, so I wonder if this man is a savior?
No… I made a promise. That no matter what happens I would live.”
Despite my heart trying to find salvation in a symbol of distain, a hoarse voice slips out of me. I couldn’t control my strong emotions as they continued to go against my will.
“I understand your sorrow. That is why I will do the favor of killing you.”
“I don’t need your pity! I’m going to kill you and then expose Adonis! That is the last wish she entrusted me with.”
“Is that how you truly feel? You’re regretting the fact you couldn’t protect her. You’re in despair and have lost your proof of existence. ”
A unnecessary reason is spoken by the voice that sees through everything. Yes, when I think calmly about it, living is painful. If I continue live with these feelings, I won’t gain anything.
“Allow me to indulge you with your death. Death in the line of duty. It’s an honorable death. This is what you wish for.”
“Goodbye, Kei Okazaki. I truly hope you can channel that sorrow of yours.”
I want to die.
I want to live.
Let me die.
I have to live.
Conflicting words flicker in my mind like a signal, eroding my brain.
The man named zero pointed the gun slowly to me. It felt like pure salvation as the gun inched closer towards me.
At this moment, everything looked as if it was in slow motion. In accepting this bullet, I can easily die. I can be with her. As stupid as it may be, it was something to be happy about. However, my body was moving without permission.
At the same time the bullet hits my cheek, I did not hesitate to grab the gun from my waist and shoot through the forehead of this god or devil.
(Ah, I didn’t die.)
Those words resounded in my chest. It wasn’t full of regret or happiness, it was just a fact that remained.
I reload the gun and insert a magazine out of my pocket while walking. I hear a clang. In this tranquility that was like the end of a dream, the sound was relaxing so I smiled.
“…That was anti-climatic. Did your defense system run out of ammo? Or did you want to die?”
I already knew he wouldn’t answer. I moved closer to the man who was lying on the ground, I entrap him with the gun’s barrel and remove his hood. I recognized his exposed face. Before remembering his name, I put my finger on the trigger again.
(2nd shot to the thighs.)
I believe his name is Saeki Yuzuru. Her colleague.
If this man was the mastermind, was it revenge for someone?
(3rd shot to the abdomen.)
It’s ridiculous. What a load of shit. What will change with revenge? Those lost will not come back. Even after looking at his deathly deformed face, I didn’t feel anything.
(4th shot…. Ah, what a pain. Maybe just the heart would be best?)
Every time I shoot, my hand gets stained red with blood. I started thinking strange thoughts like, why is blood red? I was surprised that this was the same person who built this building. I didn’t take my finger off the trigger until my bullets ran out.
I escaped the hideout while supporting her body, after that I heard from the higher ups. The memory around then is a bit vague. However, it could not be judged I was deviating from the mission, so I was considered substantially innocent and it was decided I would be monitored closely. The obvious reason was because I neglected to make a report of it in advance. Regarding the fact the body of the sole culprit was shot numerous times with a gun, I told them “I thought it was necessary.” It wasn’t perused any further.
“Senpai, you’re not eating again, huh? …Oh, your phone is dead? If I can’t contact you, don’t expect me to come running when you collapse from starvation!”
I haven’t looked at my phone in 2 days. Even if my work calls me, it would just be a business call. It doesn’t matter if there’s no party to contact. Because I’m on watch, all I can do is look at the wall absentmindedly. Yoshinari-kun decided to come see my situation since he hadn’t had the chance to see me.
(But, it’s weird. I can’t understand Yoshinari-kun’s face at all.)
To be more specific, I could discern anyone’s face. It’s as if they’ve been painted black. Not just people either, even the day, evening, night, and sky all appeared to be dyed black.
“Um… Senpai, you might get mad if I say this but I…”
Yoshinari-kun opened his mouth about to say something but then stopped himself. He probably felt bad. It’s unfortunate he’s gotten caught up in a situation cause by me, but I can’t allow him to get hurt anymore. It may be easier to let him if I speak harshly to him. He forcibly smiled as if to say ‘it’s okay’, but he’s not smart enough to deceive me, because he’s an idiot after all.
“…Once you’re punishment is resolved, I’ll go back to Shinodo-senpai, and we’ll no longer be partners.”
“Yes, I’m listening.”
“I won’t be coming anymore. So, you can be lazy all you want during your punishment. After going back, you’ll need to eat, or your body won’t move. You better do so or—”
“But, I don’t feel like coming back.”
Why do you think? How are you asking me this as if you’re involved? …Is what I wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come out. This conversation, or what he did or didn’t know.
“Senpai, you can’t just die anymore.”
He squeezed out these words in a crying voice. Even to “her” or anyone else, my thoughts shouldn’t have been easy to understand, yet he was quick to uncover them.
After coming back, I put myself in danger as an SP before. In order to protect someone, I put my life on the line as proof of my existence.
But, I can’t do it anymore.
“Yes… you’re right. No matter what happens, I have to continue to live.”
It was like a curse. I survived indefinitely and became possessed by that word. I will not let myself just die, because it’s myself I can’t forgive the most.
No matter how broken my heart is, I continue to live this dream without an end.
“I’m sorry, Yoshinari-kun.”
In the end, I couldn’t let him leave with cold parting words. He didn’t say anymore and just started crying. The tears that fell from his eyes looked pretty painted black.
(That’s why I didn’t want this. All I do is hurt people now.)
After giving me tons of food from the convenience store, Yoshinari-kun went home. Although he said he’ll come back, it may be better if he doesn’t.
Suddenly, blinding lights flickered at the corner of the room. It seemed that Yoshinari-kun decided to charge my phone. The notification light was annoying so I decided to grab my phone while sighing.
(It’s a private message… Oh, there’s one from Yoshinari. Ah, Yanagi too.)
I exchanged contacts with Yanagi-san and the others due to our cooperative circumstances. He knows what happened so is he trying to blame me or comfort me? Whatever. It’s not like this is their reality, so no one else should be involved.
Not even Saeki Yuzuru is to blame. If anyone has a sin to bear, it’s–
“…? What’s this?”
Even with everything dyed black, for a moment, a letter came into view as I was deleting unnecessary emails.
[From: Hoshino Ichika 20XX/12/28]
My head spins. Hoshino Ichika. That’s her name.
That was today’s date. The status of the mail was unread, of course. If it arrived today, there’s no way I could have read it. And two days ago–she breathed her last breath on the 26th. She couldn’t have sent it today. When thinking about it logically, it could’ve been due to the connection or maybe email was too large, but I couldn’t understand it. The sending address wasn’t always from her phone. This was from her PC address.
“…Haha, what is this, some kind of sick joke?”
A dry laughter echoes in my ears. I don’t think this is a joke. There’s no one around me who would do such a thing.
After coming to an understanding, I pushed the button to open the email with trembling fingers.
From：Hoshino Ichika 20XX /12/28
There are many things I have to apologize for. For lying, for breaking your promise, and for not protecting you. I’m really sorry.
I’m not sure what the situation will be by the time you read this. You may be able to capture the sole culprit of Adonis but at the same time, I may not be by your side.
To be honest, I thought it may be better not to send this email. It may have been better to go to the enemy alone and let you despise me as someone selfish.
But of course, I couldn’t do that. The more helpless I am, the more I come to love you.
That’s why I wanted to convey this until the end and sent this email.
(Because it’s you, as soon as you see this you’ll chase me down and say we’ll go together, so I may be late in saying this.)
I want to live and be with you. I want to promise that I’ll come back to you. But, if by any chance I can not be with you…
I beg of you, please live. I know how much it may hurt. I know it’s something you may not want.
Even, so… please. Aside from me, there’s a lot for you to protect. Do not live as if you’re already dead because you lost me.
I chose this path of my own will. So please do not blame yourself.
Please do what you can to recover from this and find another important thing to make you happy.
I love you.
It was like a curse.
“…What are you saying?”
Those were the words that finally came out with my eyes wide open, staring at the screen. At first my sight is blurred, and I can’t read the sentences of the e-mail. And yet, even these letters are just words, they’re like a curse and don’t disappear from my heart.
(How cruel… how can this… how could you do this…?)
After that, the warm feeling of the lukewarm tears on my cheeks were annoying. They spill endlessly down my face. My heart hurts so much I feel like it’s about to stop. I could feel my throat welling up and felt as though I couldn’t breathe. It was like I was on the brink of death.
“I know… I’ve known all along…”
That’s right I knew. I chose the option to live because I knew the feeling after losing her. That’s why I couldn’t die. How long did she think about me and what was going through her mind as she decided to lie to me and head into the hideout alone?
She was seriously mad at the me who wanted to end it all, so she desperately tried to stop me. She loved and thought of me more than anyone else. She loved my very existence to leave an email like this.
“Live even if it’s painful, even if you already feel dead… that’s a lot to ask for you know…”
I have just one complaint. No, I have 100 complaints. The emotion I embraced the moment I saw this email was anger. Anger that I had no one to vent to about. I felt like I was going to burst in flames. Bringing such intense emotions to someone and saying ‘I’ll recover someday and be happy.” It’s too selfish.
“*sigh* Jeez, you really are the worst.”
I can never find someone who I’ll like more than you. I cannot find happiness. I can’t smile if you’re not here.
I could not accept this last email from her. I’ll never be able to forgive her.
“You always told me I was stubborn but so are you.”
I can’t change. I won’t change. I don’t want to lose this feeling.
“Ichika-chan… I love you too. Only you… Forever.”
Even so, I raise my face wet with tears and look out the window at the sky that was stained a soft orange color.