This time, I will save them.
I stood frozen, clenching my blood-stained fists.
My watch beeped.
With my trembling hands, I wiped away the blood stain on it.
The night had fallen into deep silence, devoid of any sound but the beeping of my watch.
A drop of snow fell on her face. “Shin,” she called out. “Help.”
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.
A car, with my parents in it, crashed into her, Chiaki.
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.
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.
Then, the fireworks began.
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—”
“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…”
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.
I never wanted this to happen.
Another round of fireworks was shot into the air.
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.
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.
Suddenly, I heard his whistle.
“Wooo,” Reaper said. “That’s 4 wins for me. 0 for you.”
I attempted to grab his body but my hands passed right through it. “Die,” I shouted.
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.”
“If you didn’t end their life here, none of this would have happened! NONE!”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“Not going to happen. Reset me, again.” I said.
“If only we didn’t sign that contract… I wouldn’t have to repeat this.” Reaper said.
“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.”
“I said, reset me.”
“According to the contract, you only have 3 days. Your final chance.”
“As you wish, Shin.”
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.
This time, I will save them.