Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper
Murder (noun) – The unlawful killing of one human by another.
Serial killer (noun) – A person who commits a series of such killings, typically following a characteristic and predictable pattern.
Haven’t you ever wondered who, in this wonderful world, would ever choose to play the role of a serial killer? …That would be me, Watashi. (Of course, that isn’t my real name. That’s simply just the moniker that the authorities chose to give to me.) In actuality, my name is Nagisa Mul, a Japanese-Korean third-year highschool boy. But I wasn’t always this way.
As I stared at the chuunibyou girl who lay dead on the floor –only nineteen-years-old and with so much to live for– I couldn’t help but ponder what had led me to this moment. How did I end up this way? When did my life take such a dark turn? These are the questions that I aim to be answering in this manifesto…
ADDITIONAL PURCHASE 4 – WATASHI’S STORY: A LITTLE TALE FROM THE PAST – MY NAME IS NAGISA MUL
Twelve years ago, when I was still but a humble child, my father GaRam Mul founded the revolutionary ImagineTech company and begun working on his latest, most ambitious project – Utopia Online, a virtual-reality MMO with realistic physics that would top all VR games before it. If your avatar was wearing armor, you’d feel like you were wearing armor in real life. If you ate Utopian food, you’d be able to taste that food in real life. And if you got hurt in the game, you’d feel pain in real life.
But to reach such an ambitious goal, he’d need to find a way to hijack a player’s senses. He spent months on end working on a solution, until one day he had the breakthrough that he desired – The ImagineTech VR headset! But in order to fully-realize his idea, he’d need a guinea pig to test it…
“In theory, the headset will utilize state-of-the-art technology to make a player feel whatever their avatar feels,” he explained to my mom, “But unfortunately, I can’t find anyone who’s actually willing to help me test it. Everyone that I’ve asked just thinks that I’m crazy!”
“That’s because you are crazy, GaRam,” my mom replied, rolling her eyes, “Technology like that isn’t scientifically possible!”
“I’ll test the headset,” I piped up, “I’d love to help you, Daddy!”
“Are you sure, Nagisa?” he asked, “It could be dangerous...”
“Nonsense! I believe in you, Daddy!”
Perhaps I should have heeded his warning. If I did, then maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I screamed out as pain surged all throughout my body. I was tied to a chair whilst wearing a prototype ImagineTech headset. I had agreed to be my father’s lab-rat, and that meant that I was constantly being subjected to simulated pain as Dad tried to perfect the pain physics of his invention. It was a thankless job, but someone had to do it.
“Is it too much for you, son?” he’d always ask, “We can stop if you want to.”
“No,” I’d always huff back, “I can handle it, Daddy.”
And thus the cycle continued and eventually, after the most grueling year of my life, the experiments had paid off and Dad had finally finished perfecting the lifelike physics of Utopia Online.
One year later, Utopia Online and the ImagineTech VR headset were released to the public. And a few years after that, my best friend Yui Shiotani started playing the game and became completely hooked.
“Your dad’s game is amazing,” she’d tell me, “You have to try it sometime!”
But I never did. I had already experienced enough pain while testing the headset. I didn’t want to experience even more of that pain by actually playing that stupid game. Instead, I wanted to create my own virtual-reality massively multiplayer online game, a game that felt even more realistic than Utopia Online, but without any of the pain physics.
I studied coding and programming at a young age and set about creating said game, and after two years of nonstop work, I had finally finished it – A VRMMO, made entirely from scratch by just one kid. I felt pretty proud of my creation. But something was missing. The game had comfortable clothing and tasty food, but without the ImagineTech headset, they were just regular clothing and regular food. But I couldn’t figure out how to make my game compatible with my dad’s VR headset unless I had ImagineTech’s source code. No biggie, I thought, I’ll just ask Dad for the code. It’s not like he’s going to say ‘no’ to his own son!
“What do you mean ‘no’?!” I screamed, “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the one who helped you test out your damn headset in the first place! I endured a whole year of pain and suffering while you perfected your technology!”
“You agreed to that on your own volition,” my father sighed, “Look, Nagisa, You’re a smart kid. You were able to create an entire MMO by yourself. With enough studying, I’m sure that you’ll also be able to recreate my source code.” He placed a hand on my shoulder, “I believe in you, Nagisa.”
“You ungrateful piece of crap,” I yelled as I smacked his hand away, “You don’t believe in me at all, do you?! You just don’t want to give me that source code because you know that my game will be better than yours!”
“Nagisa,” my mother scolded, “Your father loves you!”
“Really?” I muttered, “Because it certainly doesn’t feel like it.”
From that moment forward, I had developed a hatred towards my father. I had helped him develop that stupid VR headset and he did nothing in return to thank me! I vowed to put an end to his company and his damned game. I was going to burn Utopia Online down to the ground, no matter what it took.
That night, our family were the victims of a home invasion. My father and I survived, but unfortunately Mom wasn’t so lucky. But every cloud has a silver lining, and my mother’s death had given me an idea. The perfect way to ruin Utopia Online’s reputation and punish the fools who enjoyed it…
The next evening, I had snuck out of the house while Dad was on a business trip and claimed my first human lives – An idiotic young boy who was playing Utopia Online in the middle of an empty alleyway and a middle-aged woman who was playing the game in the house that she had foolishly left unlocked. Two murders occurring on the same night isn’t exactly the rarest occurrence in the world, so I needed some way to let the police know that these murders were connected, some kind of message. The sooner that they figured out that these attacks were linked, the sooner they’d realize that someone was targeting Utopia Online players. And once they realized that, my dad would be forced to pull his stupid game and headset from all the stores nationwide! It was the perfect plan!
My mother was really into arts and crafts, so she had left a lot of unopened art supplies lying around the house before her passing, leading me to decide to leave some of her leftover balls of cotton at the scenes of my killings.
Over the next few nights, I’d honed my skills of sneaking out undetected and taking the lives of other people. The local government quickly figured out that they were dealing with a serial killer (or possibly a criminal gang, although I obviously knew that the former was correct), although it took significantly longer until they figured out what connected the victims. As my kill-count slowly increased, I was growing agitated. If the authorities never figured out what connected all the victims, then Utopia Online’s reputation wouldn’t be affected and my killing would have been all for naught.
Thankfully, the government eventually figured out the connection and were prepared to make a public announcement telling people to stop playing Utopia Online. Unfortunately, my father hastily bought their silence, hiring his own team of investigators to try and get to the bottom of my killings. But I knew that the truth would eventually reveal itself if I kept killing more Utopia Online players. And when that happened, my lousy excuse of a father would have to shut down the game. And once Utopia Online was shut down and word got out that he knew that Watashi was targeting his playerbase, Dad’s reputation would be ruined!
Years went by and my old man still hadn’t cracked under pressure. Even after all those years, he was still none the wiser that I, his own son, was the one killing his playerbase. But all that changed on one fateful night.
Ten minutes past midnight. Dad had once again departed on a business trip, giving me the chance to kill once more. I exited the house, knife in glove-clad hand, looking for my next victim, when I spotted an unfamiliar girl standing across the street while talking on her phone – A girl that I would later find out was named Jackie Miyajima when they read out her obituary on the news.
“My boyfriend, like, got me a pair of cat lingerie for my birthday, but they’re totally not my style,” she complained into her phone, “He was totally thinking about himself! What a piece of work!”
She paused to let the person on the other end speak.
“…Yeah, of course I tried ’em on for him! I’m, like, super generous like that, ya know?” she giggled, pausing again.
“…What?! Eew, no! I’m waiting ’til marriage to do that! Get ya head out of the gutter, girl!”
Was this the fabled ‘girl talk’ that I had heard so much about? I thought that was just made up for chick-flicks.
“Anyway, I gotta go home an’ play some Utopia Online! Jo’s, like, totally sick of covering for me all the time! TTYL, girl!”
So she was another player of that accursed game? This was too easy. She was standing right outside my house with no-one else in sight. I nonchalantly walked over to her and tapped her on the back.
“Ah,” she gasped, turning around, “Did you, like, want something or--”
I thrust my knife into her stomach without warning. The girl’s pupils shrunk as she coughed up blood all over my shirt.
“Gah! Wh-what the H-Hell,” she stammered, tears forming at the corners of her eyes, “A-are you going to k-kill me?”
I stared down at my now bloodstained shirt.
“You clumsy, arrogant girl,” I screamed, digging the blade even deeper into her body, “Do you have any idea how expensive this shirt was?! You Utopia Online players are so selfish! If you got blood on that cat lingerie of yours, you’d probably ask your boyfriend to clean it up for you, but when you get blood on my shirt, all you’re concerned about is the fact that you’re dying! You need to learn some damn manners, chica!”
I watched as her limp body fell to the ground, sighing as I removed my shirt.
“…Whew, I got carried away back there. That’s no way to talk to a lady.”
I turned away from her carcass, tossing a cotton ball behind me and heading back inside to clean my shirt. As I removed my shoes, I heard a car outside screech to a halt. Within seconds, the door slammed open and my dad stood in front of me.
“Hello, Dad. You’re back sooner than I expected,” I smiled innocently, “Is your conference over already?”
“That’s not important,” he exclaimed, clearly panicked, “There’s a dead body across the driveway! You don’t think that it was Watashi, do you?!”
I stared at my father with unblinking eyes, a knife in one hand and shirt in the other, both drenched in Jackie’s blood.
“N-Nagisa? Is that… blood?”
“Oh, my. It appears that you’ve seen it,” I smirked, walking closer, “Truth be told, I had wanted to keep you alive so that you could watch your precious game fall, but I suppose I don’t have a choice anymore…
Everything had happened so fast. For fear of getting caught, I had had no choice but to kill my father. After the ordeal was over, I collapsed to my knees and cried, not because my father was dead, but because my murder spree was all for naught. All the innocent lives that I took to forward my goal of shutting down Utopia Online, for ruining my old man’s reputation… All my killings were useless.
“I’m a monster... I’m such a monster,” I sobbed hysterically.
But soon my sobbing was replaced by maniacal laughter.
“He’s gone… That pathetic excuse of father is dead by my hand,” I chuckled, “And now that he’s dead, I’ll inherit his company, right?”
I stood by a nearby river after tossing Homura Usami’s dead body into the waters below. By the time that her parents discover that body, she’ll probably have decomposed to the point where a cause of death cannot be determined. That little brat thought that she had won? It’s like I told her, ‘A guy like me will always overpower a girl like you’.
How odd, my phone was ringing this late into the night? Who could be calling me at this time?
“Hello? Who is this?” I asked, placing the phone to my face.
“Are you GaRam Mul’s son?” a female voice asked.
“Depends who’s asking…”
“Very funny,” she sighed, “I’m Satou Tajiri, I used to work for your father.”
“What do you want?” I scoffed.
“I’m ringing to inform you I’m out of a job,” she rambled, “According to your late father’s will, you are now the sole member and beneficiary of ImagineTech.”
I was… the sole member? Was this a parting gift from my father? Some sort of apology from beyond the grave? Was it possible that he… really did care about me?
“He also stated I was to personally give you the source code for the ImagineTech virtual-reality headset,” the woman said, “You will be receiving the code via email very soon, Mister Nagisa.”
I stood there in complete silence, a single tear careening down my face.
“Mister Nagisa? Are you there, Mister Nagisa?”
I hung up the phone and put it back in my pocket. I had the source code. I could finally put this whole Watashi thing behind me and make the best VRMMO of all-time! …No, that’s stupid. Making a highly-advanced MMO where players can’t feel pain? Why would I want to do that anymore? I’ve come a long way since I first had that childhood ambition. I’ve got a much better idea.
Utopia Online ruined my life. And soon, it will ruin everybody else’s lives too…
END OF ADDITIONAL PURCHASE