Chapter 1:

The Endless Night

The Endless Night

Christmas Eve. The first fallings of snow painted the neighborhood in a crystalline blanket. I pressed forward through the cold. My final destination, the plaza in the center of town.

The red scarf I wore contrasted sharply against the wintery backdrop, and helped shield my face from the unforgiving December wind.

“Are you going to meet him?”

My work colleague, and fellow 2D animator sent me a message on LINE to confirm my holiday plans since I had politely declined attending the company’s own gathering. I was due for a romantic rendezvous with an oft-mentioned lover of mine, and my friend seemed a bit too enthused at the prospect of prying into my love life.

“Is he rich? I need all the juicy details…”

“Tall, brown hair, and an irresistible smile.” I would describe him in great detail during our back-and-forths over the messaging app. Of course, I had no intention of meeting anyone tonight. Or any other night for that matter.

And the reason? Well, to be honest… I kind of made the whole thing up.

Sounds pretty desperate, right? Conjuring up a fake partner out of embarrassment for being alone during the holiday season. Only… That isn’t exactly true. It’s for their sake that I continue to spin my web of falsehoods, and mistruths.

Well into my thirties, having ignored the call of “amour” in favor of rising up the corporate ladder at the studio. It used to be enough for me, but…

The ever-moving goal posts for my success—as defined by my closest peers—was no longer what I could achieve with my own two hands, but with whom I accomplished them.

That’s right, this was reality for me. One far colder than the icy pavement crunching underfoot.

In an aimless march towards the busiest and most festive of all the shopping centers in Tohoku, I continued to pass by their smiling faces. Happy pairs. Like hundreds of candles illuminating the street, where all but I found solace and warmth within the embrace of another.

“So cold.” I rubbed my hands together to stave off the creeping numbness in my fingertips.

Poor renditions of “jingle bells” played over loudspeakers outside the busy storefront, but even that sound was drowned out by the excited murmur of holiday revelers. I stared up at the main attraction in the heart of the plaza.

Adorned with shimmering plastic, tinsel, and ribbons. It was just as impressive as the last time I had seen it, the Christmas tree. But for all its natural beauty, the conifer no longer had roots to tether it to this world. A well-decorated husk, detached from reality, a fake.

I felt similarly about myself. Putting on a happy face to keep up appearances with family and colleagues, only to rot away into oblivion when the spectacle was finished.

They say that the beautiful things in life are temporary, but that’s true of everything.

Yet I still wanted to enjoy the plaza during Christmas Eve… At least this one last time. Breaking from my daze, I finally noticed the crowd of onlookers had begun to thin.

“Well, I guess that’s it.” I turned to begin the brisk walk back to my apartment building, but I paused after a few steps.

In the dying commotion, I could swear I heard a sound. It was faint yet melodic, siren-like…

“A lullaby of the endless night.

You called me forth, the shepherd's light.”

“A song?” I was entranced by a man’s singing voice, but I hadn’t the faintest idea where it might be coming from.

“Suffering alone through endless pain.

Who is my beloved that will take it away?”

I began to circle the trunk of the large tree, and heard the tune slowly increasing in volume with each step I took.

At last I came face-to-face with the source of the hymn, and nearly fell backwards in shock.

“You… you’re—!“

Tall, brown hair, and an irresistible smile.

There he stood. The “lover” I had forged within my mind’s eye was towering over me. The resemblance was uncanny. I resisted the urge to test his authenticity with a touch.

Maybe there was something in the amazake I drank…

As I struggled to come up with a greeting through chapped lips, he broke the stalemate with a single question.

“You, young miss. Do you desire to live, or die?”

“Live or… What?” was all I could manage in response to the weird question.

Young miss? He looks younger than me if anything…

He put his hand up to his mouth to suppress a chuckle, and my face turned bright pink as a result.

“I’m sorry, that was a strange way to start a conversation, huh?” he turned back toward the tree with a twinkle in his eye.

No words escaped my lips once again as I studied his wistful gaze. There was something enchanting about those brown eyes of his. They seemed to mirror the same feelings as mine.

“Jinsei.” the man pointed to himself in a nonchalant way. “And what might you call yourself, young miss? And have you given my question any thought?”

“Question…” I muttered, shuffling my feet around in the snow.

To live, or die. What is it I truly desire? I have no idea anymore.

I thought I had known what I wanted to do with my life, but even my career had lost all meaning over the past year. I was lost.

“I only ask, because I can tell… You were planning to end it all tonight. Weren’t you? Jinsei practically whispered those words in my ear.

My eyes widened in surprise as his knowing words reverberated throughout my mind.


“No, you’re wrong...”

He’s not.

“I could never—!”

I could.

He saw right through my carefully spun web of lies, and I knew it. In roughly a minute, he was able to determine what even my closest peers could not. And yet, I kept making excuses to hide it.

I expected him to lecture me like everyone else when I mentioned the idea of taking my life, of ending my suffering. It didn’t happen. Jinsei remained perfectly silent, listening intently as I did.

“Why not take a walk with me first? It’s not like we need to rush the ending.” he smiled.

I nodded my head without realizing what I was doing. I could easily have refused, and watched him continue on his way.

So why didn’t I? To continue putting off the inevitable, or is it something else?

“Very good. Shall we?”

There was something about him that intrigued me, something I wanted to figure out for myself. And so, we walked.

Back in the direction of my apartment building.

Through the December wind.


“That song you were singing… What’s it about?” I asked, keeping at least a few steps behind him.

“Oh that? It’s an old favorite of mine called The Endless Night. he replied. “It’s about a girl who made a wish to Eros to relive the same night for eternity to protect the love of her life from dying at war the next day.”

Such sacrifice. Didn’t she get tired of living the same night for eternity?


“Never heard of him? Well, it’s said there are two types of people:

those ruled by the desire for life—Eros

and those ruled by the desire for death—Thanatos.”

“Ruled… by desire.” I repeated to myself.

We stood at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn. A flash of green, and Jinsei began pacing across.

I had failed to notice how slippery the asphalt was, and nearly lost my footing. By the time I started walking it was too late. I saw two bright lights, and heard the screeching of tires.


Ironic… I’m getting my wish—for it to end—but something feels off.

I don’t want this.

“Do you desire to live, or die?”

I desire…

…to live.

“Then answer Jinsei properly, and live.”


No sooner than when the words left my lips than I felt a firm shove, sending me tumbling out of harm's way. My relief was short-lived, because, lying in my place on the concrete… was Jinsei.

I wept.

“How could you!? You barely know me!”

“You said… you wanted… to live.” he smiled. “A pity though… I never did catch your name…“

My savior passed away in my arms. Through pained cries I prayed to anyone who would listen to save him. The snow continued to fall in my quiet Tohoku neighborhood.

Suddenly I remembered the tale from Jinsei’s song.

“Eros, please…”

I want to know more about him.

I want a new start.

“Please save him. Even if I have to relive this night forever. PLEASE!” I closed my eyes as hard as possible.

And then…


I heard the song.

“A lullaby of the endless night.

You called me forth, the shepherd's light.”

“Suffering alone through endless pain.

Who is my beloved that will take it away?”

This time things would be different. 

The Endless Night