Chapter 1:

The Beginning of the End

Second Chances

This time, I will save them.
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I stood frozen, clenching my blood-stained fists.Bookmark here

My watch beeped.Bookmark here

With my trembling hands, I wiped away the blood stain on it.Bookmark here

12:00 AM.Bookmark here

The night had fallen into deep silence, devoid of any sound but the beeping of my watch.Bookmark here

A drop of snow fell on her face. “Shin,” she called out. “Help.”Bookmark here

Her blood flowed like a stream of river, over her white hair pin, right to my white shoes, staining them with red. I took a deep breath to hold my tears in. No matter how many times I've tried, I’ll always end up in this situation. Not being able to save them all.Bookmark here

A car, with my parents in it, crashed into her, Chiaki.Bookmark here

It was an accident. It always was. This time, a dog ran past their car, and in an effort to dodge it, my father swerved the steering wheels into a telephone pole. And, Chiaki, was heading to the shrine nearby for the countdown of the new year.Bookmark here

The reason that my parents were out this late, was because I called them to pick me from the shrine after the countdown. They departed earlier. The reason Chiaki was only going to the shrine this late is because I called her, saying that I was busy, and cannot go with her. I wanted her to cancel her intention of going to the shrine. But, she didn’t. And I don’t know why.Bookmark here

Why?Bookmark here

Then, the fireworks began.Bookmark here

The car’s broken radio started to play by itself. “Good morning everyone, this is your host today, Mr. Tenshi. What a lovely countdown we are having. Have you visited the shrine, or are you in the middle of crowds trying to pray and wishes for a great new year—”Bookmark here

“Shin…” my mother called out to me, a line of blood flowed out from her mouth. “It’s ok… we’re ok… just stay there… call… ambulance…”Bookmark here

I looked at her smiling face. Even at times like these, she’d never fail to comfort me. Not once. Watching her, my breath became more and more uneven, as my eyes became blurry. I gulped down my breath, trying to calm my trembling fists.Bookmark here

I never wanted this to happen.Bookmark here

Another round of fireworks was shot into the air.Bookmark here

It was deafening. It was like someone is shouting straight into your ears, and no matter how well you cover them, you can still hear pieces and fragments of the sound. The sound of them shouting for help, digging deep into my ears, ringing. It never stopped.Bookmark here

My eyes darted between Chiaki and my parents’ bodies. They had not moved since a minute ago. Chiaki’s hand was reaching out to me, but now it’s on the ground, lying beside her pink flora-patterned yukata. My parents were still in their seats, bleeding out of their heads, silently.Bookmark here

Suddenly, I heard his whistle.Bookmark here

“Wooo,” Reaper said. “That’s 4 wins for me. 0 for you.”Bookmark here

I attempted to grab his body but my hands passed right through it. “Die,” I shouted.Bookmark here

He laughed. “That’s not right, Shin. You were the one who wanted this. Second chances. And now you’re giving up? Not right. Not right.”Bookmark here

“If you didn’t end their life here, none of this would have happened! NONE!”Bookmark here

“Ha. Everyone dies someday, Shin. I just make them die like they are supposed—and to see your reactions. No one has ever defied destiny as much as you.”Bookmark here

He chuckled. “Even when your pet dog died, you just accepted it without another word. Even when your graduation class trip was cancelled, everyone in your class was in uproar except you. Even when you attended your adored grandparents’ funeral. Even when the school festival you’ve prepared for months was cancelled due to heavy storms.”Bookmark here

“But when it comes to death,” he paused. “The kind old neighbor that always gave you sweets for walking his dog. The young aunt who always visited your family and gave souvenirs. The humorous teacher who always had many stories to tell. All of them were supposed to die, Shin.”Bookmark here

I instantly felt an intense aura emitting from him after he finished his final sentence. It was so dark and gloomy that I felt like I can never be happy again. That, all my happiness until now is but a mere illusion. And with a flick, they could be gone forever.Bookmark here

“But you saved them,” he said. “Defied their fate through your reckless actions. Your neighbor was supposed to die of a heart attack, when he was home alone. But that day you returned home from school earlier, and saw it through your window. Your aunt was supposed to die in a car accident. But you called her for her forgotten purse, before she ever made it to the intersection. Your teacher… well, your teacher should not have chatted while he walked down the stairs at school.”Bookmark here

“Why are you doing this? Because I prevented some deaths? Don’t you have more important things to do? Like making a scrapbook of your victims?”Bookmark here

“I don’t have victims, Shin,” he said. “I merely guide them after what was supposed to happen, happened. I was just running God of Fate’s errands. But, you. You just had to interfere. Now I’m stuck with handling you, and your somewhat weird premonition ability. I need you to learn. You shouldn’t interfere with death itself.”Bookmark here

“Not going to happen. Reset me, again.” I said.Bookmark here

“If only we didn’t sign that contract… I wouldn’t have to repeat this.” Reaper said.Bookmark here

“Reset me.”Bookmark here

“You do realize that you need to save five people in order to overthrow me, right? At one single time. After you managed to save them one by one. This time, you only managed to save two. A bit lower than your last time.”Bookmark here

“I said, reset me.”Bookmark here

“According to the contract, you only have 3 days. Your final chance.”Bookmark here

“RESET ME!”Bookmark here

“As you wish, Shin.”Bookmark here

I then felt myself being warped into a grey shrine gate in the middle of nowhere, where time is irrelevant as I shifted and moved backwards. Almost like an invisible string was tying me, pulling me beyond the gate. My consciousness slowly faded away as my world became pitch black.Bookmark here

This time, I will save them.Bookmark here

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