Chapter 8:

The Second Death

Second Chances

“See you tomorrow,” I waved at Chiaki.Bookmark here

She stood in front of her house, and waved back. “See you.”Bookmark here

Her house is still dark, meaning that none of her parents have returned yet. She opened the light at the entrance door, and waved at me again before going inside.Bookmark here

I looked at my watch.Bookmark here

10:45PM.Bookmark here

We spent more than an hour reading, before I walked her home. I also grabbed two umbrellas with me, and said to my mom that I’ll be picking up dad at the train station.Bookmark here

My father.Bookmark here

He’s the next death.Bookmark here

I rushed to the train station and got a ticket to the next train station, which is the second last station where my father boarded the last train here.Bookmark here

It will take an hour to reach there, and he’s expected to leave work at around 11:30 PM. Overtime, I know. He must have been tired.Bookmark here

My father is a man of few words, but that didn’t stop him from showing his love. He was never late to any of my school activities: cultural festivals, sports days, parents’ days, and entrance ceremonies. He was more excited than my mother when the mailman delivered my university acceptance letter. He talked more than usual during our dinner that day, asked about my plans, asked about my interest, asked about the campus, asked about the activities they have.
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But he never mentioned the fees.Bookmark here

He told me to just choose whichever course that I’m interested in, and will motivate me to study. And, I did. He didn’t want me to worry about the fees, so I attended my university with a scholarship. Because I didn’t want him to worry about it either.Bookmark here

My father used to be just a small clerk. But every weekend, when he was dating my mother, he’d always bring her out to many places. He’d take her to eat local delicacies that my mother had never tried before, then movies, arcades, and museums. Yeah, museums.Bookmark here

My mother didn’t really care about having a luxurious life at the time, she only wanted to spend some quality time with my father. My father also had the same thought, but he didn’t want my mother to not be able to buy things that she liked. So, he worked hard, and got promoted to a manager in the big city. Of course, that’d mean he had more responsibilities, more work to do, more people relying on him. So, often, he’d arrive home late and go to work early.Bookmark here

My mother would always cuddle him when he came home, and he’d always have a warm smile on his face.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a whistle slipped into my ears.Bookmark here

The cursed Reaper’s call.Bookmark here

“Getting ready for the next death?” Reaper asked. “Have you decided what to do this time?”Bookmark here

I didn’t say anything.Bookmark here

“The lives of all the passengers… or the life of your father,” he continued. “Tough choice, huh?”Bookmark here

“Shut up,” I said. “You’re the one taking their lives.”Bookmark here

“You see,” Reaper knocked the holder of his scythe on the floor. “That’d be right if you didn’t know this. If you experienced these incidents for the first time. But you’re not. You know what is going to happen. You can save them. But are you going to do so, or are you going to just blame me for it?”Bookmark here

I took a deep breath, without replying to him.Bookmark here

“You’re a really selfish person, Shin,” he said. “You’d already decided, didn’t you? 10 passengers’ lives, 10 small worlds that they hold precious to, in exchange for your dad’s life. For your happy future.”Bookmark here

“SO WHAT?!” I punched the steel exit door of the moving train.Bookmark here

“So what if I only try to protect my dad? Is that wrong? Do I need to save 10 people I don’t know for one that I love and care about? Who decided this rule? YOU?”Bookmark here

He chuckled. “Oh, Shin. Ohhh Shinnnn.”Bookmark here

“Shut up,” I said. “Don’t say my name.”Bookmark here

“It’s your decision, Shin,” he said. “In the end, you’re the protagonist of your story. The end justifies the means, don’t they? I just hope you can see it through.”Bookmark here

He chuckled again.Bookmark here

“Enough. Get lost.”Bookmark here

“As you wish, Shin.”Bookmark here

I felt a wind past me, and then I was all alone in this train again.Bookmark here

The first time my father’s death happened, my mother and I only received a call from the central hospital a few hours past 12AM. There was a train accident. When the train reached the intersection not far away from the station I’m heading to, it derailed. All the train’s carriages were flipped to the sides. My father’s body was jerked out of the window and they only found it an hour past 12, when they did a thorough search around the area. He was already severely injured at the time, and by the time he reached the hospital, they couldn’t have done anything.Bookmark here

They also picked up his phone from where he was found.Bookmark here

When my mother and I unlocked my father’s phone afterwards, it showed the phone contact section. My mother’s contact number was clicked on, but slightly below the ‘call’ option, there was only a red blood stain. My father… didn’t manage to make his last call.Bookmark here

I had never known how important my father was to my mother until that day. She cried, for what felt like an eternity as I hugged her in my arms. It was a long, painful sob that shook the core of my heart. I couldn’t have said anything, because nothing would matter anymore at that time. Our hearts were broken into pieces.Bookmark here

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I took a deep, shaky breath.Bookmark here

I looked at my watch.Bookmark here

11:43PM.Bookmark here

I’m almost there.Bookmark here

Soon, the doors opened and I stepped out of it. I took a look around to see if I could find my father.Bookmark here

“Shin,” he called out, walking towards me. “What’s wrong?”Bookmark here

“Oh,” I said. “Nothing. I just worried there might be snow, so I’m here to pick you up.”Bookmark here

I showed him the umbrellas.Bookmark here

“You didn’t need to come all the way to this station though,” he said.Bookmark here

“I just felt like taking a short trip to refresh myself,” I said.Bookmark here

“I see. Well, your mother called me earlier,” my father continued. “She was all excited about you bringing Chiaki back home.”Bookmark here

I chuckled.Bookmark here

“That’s just like your mom, right?” my father also chuckled with me.Bookmark here

I peeked at my watch.Bookmark here

11:58 PM.Bookmark here

I took a look around the station. Nine people, waiting for the train. One is missing.Bookmark here

“Next train’s the last one,” my father said. “We better not miss it.”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” I replied, as I stood myself a foot away from the boarding platform. “Can you get a ticket for me?”Bookmark here

“Sure. Wait here.”Bookmark here

Toot. Toot. The train tooting sound became louder, as it began to approach us from a distance.Bookmark here

“To risk, or to play it safe?” I mumbled to myself as the sound got clearer, and closer. The impending sound of death was almost deafening, rampaging my inner thoughts.Bookmark here

I looked at my father purchasing the ticket from the machine. He waved at me with a smile, a bit panicked with the train approaching us.Bookmark here

I took a deep breath. 10 for 1, huh?Bookmark here

Then the same strong dizziness suddenly hit but I managed to stand my ground, trying to recollect my breath. My entire body felt another electric jolt as I felt myself warped into a grey shrine gate again.Bookmark here

I started having vision. If I didn’t come, my father would have been waiting for the train in front of the boarding platform as usual. But someone bumped into him. He was already tired, so he lost his footing and fell into the railway track. The platform operator pressed the emergency alert button, but the train didn’t manage to stop in time. It charged across him.Bookmark here

The vision then stopped. I shook my head. The timeline had been distorted. My father’s fate has changed, again.Bookmark here

I calmed myself down, before positioning myself to where I recalled the late passenger bumped on my father.Bookmark here

I readied myself.Bookmark here

I looked at my watch again. A minute has passed.Bookmark here

Bump. The man collided with me.Bookmark here

I let go of the two umbrellas I was holding, dropping them onto the rail tracks.Bookmark here

“Shin!” my father yelled.Bookmark here

I quickly step my right foot in front of me, to prevent myself from losing my balance.Bookmark here

The operator at the platform immediately pushed on the emergency alert button, warning the train to slow down.Bookmark here

The train began to slow with the friction of its wheels and the tracks getting louder and louder as it approached us. After tens of seconds, the train collided with the umbrellas. Snapped them into pieces. Right before my eyes. Then it stopped.Bookmark here

I sighed in relief, as my knees gave themselves up.Bookmark here

“Shin! Are you ok?” my father rushed to me.Bookmark here

My watch beeped.Bookmark here

12:00AM.Bookmark here

I let out another heavy sigh.Bookmark here

Day 1, completed.Bookmark here

“Sorry, sorry,” the man who bumped into me said. His face was filled with red, likely from drinking beers.Bookmark here

“Shin!” My father called me again.Bookmark here

“Yes, I’m fine dad.” I said.Bookmark here

He hugged me. “Good, good.”Bookmark here

I hugged him back. “I’ll never leave you or mom alone, dad.”Bookmark here

“Good,” he said, without another word.Bookmark here

The man bowed at me again, while the train operator came down to see what happened, coordinating with the platform operator.Bookmark here

After they checked, they found that the umbrellas’ pieces were firmly stuck in between the railway track and the train’s wheels, and they had no way to get it out without touching the tracks or moving the train, which was dangerous in that situation. So, this last train is stopped for the day until a technician comes in tomorrow. And, from the slowed reaction when the train was trying to stop earlier, they decided to service the train as well.Bookmark here

Of course, that’d mean we have no way of returning home tonight. Some of the passengers frowned at me, while the rest started to call their family. My father too, where he opened his contact list and called my mother.Bookmark here

1. Plus 10 lives.Bookmark here

I did it.Bookmark here

“So,” my father said after he ended the call. “Want to eat some late-night snacks? There’s a ramen shop nearby that just opened at this hour, until tomorrow morning.”Bookmark here

“How about your job?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Oh, I was planning to take a leave anyway. Your mom… she wanted to watch a movie tomorrow morning.” my dad scratched his head.Bookmark here

I smiled. That’s why he stayed late. That’s why there was a dress hanging out in their room.Bookmark here

“Let’s eat some ramen before we get a taxi home.” I said to my father.Bookmark here

“Sure. Can you handle spiciness though?”Bookmark here

“No, I prefer it plain.”Bookmark here

“Plain?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, just plain. I don’t want any spices.”Bookmark here

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