Chapter 37:

Dystopia Online (Part 1) - Text From the Departed

Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper


After searching for Watashi and turning up no results, Bonabelle “Bonnie” Rabbitte and I, Yui Shiotani, had called it quits for the day, sleeping over at Ryuuhei “Mii” Miiki’s house. After I got some rest for the night, I vowed to once again search for Watashi in earnest.


The night quickly passed by and I awoke in bed next to Mii. (Don’t get any naughty ideas, nothing happened between us. I’m still too young to be doing stuff like that.) Thankfully, Bonnie had let me borrow her pajamas, allowing me to protect my modesty, although they were a good two sizes too big for my body. I hopped out of bed, hiking up my borrowed pajama shorts in order to prevent the possibility of Mii catching a glimpse of the embarrassing strawberry-print waistband of my panties.

“Mornin’, Yui,” Mii yawned, waking up and blinking repeatedly, “You’re up pretty early, huh?”

“Of course,” I smiled, “The early bird catches the wanted serial killer!”

“Once you find Watashi, what are you planning to do exactly?” the boy asked me, emerging from the bed covers and showing off his tight pajama vest.

I stared at his impressive chest, blushing as I held back the urge to stroke his chiseled abs.

“Oh, uh, I’m not sure honestly,” I admitted, “My dad’s a cop, so I’ll probably let him take care of Watashi.”

“Yuu, are you awake?” Bonnie’s voice called out from downstairs.

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“You have to see this,” she said, her tone clearly displaying an air of concern.


26th PURCHASE – DYSTOPIA ONLINE (PART 1) – TEXT FROM THE DEPARTED


I walked downstairs (with Mii following close behind) and saw Bonnie watching the news in her nightwear – An orange bra and teal short shorts that matched the ones that she had lent to me (although they fit much better on her body).

“What’s going on,” I asked, “Is it Watashi again?”

“…Utopia Online players were sent into a panic last night after receiving a strange message claiming to be from Watashi,” a distressed newsreader said, “According to the message, the alleged serial killer has somehow altered the game’s programming to make it so that players die in real life if they die in the game. Players are urged to stop playing the game until the authorities get to the bottom of this.”

“No freaking way,” Mii murmured, “That’s not possible, right?”

“That jerk,” Bonnie scoffed, “And here I thought it was impossible to hate Watashi more than I already do! How could things possibly get any worse that this?!”

As if to answer her question, the newsman was handed a piece of paper which he began reading from.

“This just in – A body was found floating in the local river earlier this morning. Authorities have identified the victim as nineteen-year-old highschool student Homura Usami.”

“H-Homura?” I stuttered.

I looked over at Bonnie, whose entire body was shaking. Her hands were bunched into fists as liquid leaked from her eyes and nostrils.

“W-Watashi,” she scowled, “How could you?”

She ran to Mii’s front door and slammed it open, running out into the busy neighborhood and screaming to the heavens for all to hear.

“WATASHI, YOU SON OF A BITCH,” she yelled, “STOP HIDING IN THE SHADOWS, YOU DAMN COWARD! COME OUT AND FACE ME LIKE A MAN! I’M GONNA TEAR YOU LIMB FROM LIMB!”

Unsurprisingly, her provocation fell on deaf ears.



I wiped my tears away with the bottom of Bonnie’s spare pajama shirt and sat down at the nearby table. Even though she was a little bit annoying, I had formed a really close attachment to Homura. We had only just met, and there was so much that the three of us could have done together, but now it was just Bonnie and I. Homura was dead. I sighed, placing my forehead on the table. Lying beside me was my cellphone, I must have left it here last night.

You have one (1) unread message. Tap here to open.

A text message? It was probably just my dad wondering where I was. I suppose I should text him back and let him know that I’m alright. I unlocked my phone and… Homura Usami?! She was the one who sent it?! I almost didn’t want to open it. Reading the words of a dead girl felt rather gloomy and melancholic, especially one who I was friends with. Still, I opened it anyway.


Shiotani, by the time that you read this, I will already be dead.

I’ve decided to accompany Nagisa Mul home, so should I go missing or wind-up dead in a ditch somewhere, you know who’s responsible.

Looks like I was right about Watashi after all! You owe me one, dude! >:D …Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood. I am really dead though. Or maybe I just accidentally butt-dialed you, in which case ignore this message. ^^;

Even in death, I’m able to tell you Watashi’s identity. Guess I’m not an idiot after all?

I know that you and Bonnie can bring him to justice! I believe in you!

No, that wasn’t true! Surely Homura had to be mistaken! Nagi really was Watashi?! Of course, that was how Watashi was able to reprogram Utopia Online! He must have been granted access to the game’s code after Mister Mul passed!


“Bonnie,” I exclaimed, running out the door and waving my phone in front of her face, “Homura did it, she found Watashi!”

Bonnie snatched the phone out of my hand and read the text to herself.

“So Nagisa really is Watashi then,” Bonnie grumbled, “I don’t care if he’s your best friend, Yuu. I’m gonna make him pay for everything that he’s done.”

I shook my head. “No, Nagi isn’t my best friend. Not anymore.”



“Really,” Dad gasped, “Nagisa was Watashi all along?! But he’s such a sweet boy, I never would have guessed!”


I had ran back to my house as fast as possible to tell my dad the information that Homura had passed on to us after her death. Bonnie and I didn’t even have time to change out of our pajamas.

“You two girls can get dressed now, I’ll take it from here,” he said as he put on his shoes and prepared to leave the house.

“Wait, I want to come with you,” Bonnie stated, “Watashi took someone very important from me and I want to be there when he gets his comeuppance.”

“…I understand. Follow me then.”

Dad and Bonabelle stepped outside and into the conveniently-parked police cruiser.

“Attention all units,” my father said, reaching for his car’s built-in intercom, “We have finally managed to pinpoint the location of the serial killer known as Watashi! I’ll be sending you the address shortly!”

And with that the cruiser departed down the road. But while Dad and Bonnie were heading to Nagi’s house, there was something that I had to do as well. It was dangerous, but someone had to do it. Bonnie and I had formed this plan while we ran to my house, but we both agreed not to tell my father. If he found out what I was about to do, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have tried to stop me.



I stepped into my bedroom, tossing my glasses aside as I reached for my VR headset. If I know Watashi as well as I think I do, then there’s a high probability that he’s playing Utopia Online right now, killing any players unfortunate enough to cross his path. I highly doubt that my virtual avatar will be strong enough to defeat him, but I’m his childhood best friend. If there’s anyone who can convince him to stop this madness, then it’s me. I took a deep breath as I equipped the headset.

“Okay… Here goes nothing…”



END OF PURCHASE

PLEASE COME BACK SOON FOR PART 2!