Chapter 1:

Ah, yes. Fuck.

I can stop time so I do not have to worry about deadlines.

There is too much pressure in daily life. Every classmate who becomes a professional journalist, doctor, or anyone who actually achieves something, gives me a feeling of inferiority. Nevermind that, I could look at every single classmate I have, or the world in large and realize that my life isn’t so bad. No. I have lost the game of life, that is, if someone achieves more than me despite having lived just as long. Therefore, if I do not want to feel bad about it, I have to achieve more in less time.

Unfortunately, If you want to achieve more in less time, you have to improve, but then you need time. Time to learn, time to practice, time to make mistakes. It beats the point. By the time you “git gud”, you have been left behind and you have to use the things you learned just to catch up.

Now that I think about it, not one of these would plague me, if I had more time. Unfortunately, time is the one thing that humans cannot receive. We all ride the tides of time or rather, get swept by the tides of time.

But enough of that monologue about time bullshit nonsense. It’s the morning, and it makes me feel so exhausted with such negativity and self-depreciation. Anyway, I am Nanami and I live within the dense metropolitan city of Tokyo. I work for a company I could care less for, mostly for the money and insurance it provides, but nonetheless it’s all so stressful. I am single, obviously, but as they say: “Single ready to mingle” describes me more. But with a workload of “eight-hours-a-day” (overtime not counted), I have no time to mingle around. Dammit, I wish I had some time to get myself a female partner. That would free myself some time, actually. Wait, no, not only that of course, but also to enjoy and have fun with, obviously.

It’s seven in the morning and I have to prepare for my “nine-to-five” like any other Japanese salaryman. Brush my teeth, because I have obviously already taken a bath last night to save some time, then change into my suit and the whole shabang that comes with it. Would take at least an hour of preparation to finish all that, which is followed by a thirty minute breakfast of leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. My work is thirty minutes away by foot and a little commute by train, so it all works out and I arrive there right on time at nine in the morning. If only I had some more time to cook myself a lunch for breakfast I could save some money, but as usual, I am not blessed with such luxury and have to buy my lunch from a nearby convenience store during break.

I sit on my desk and greet Hide, probably the only friend I have at my workplace. In this trope, he’s the one with the “best-friend” role attached to his name. He has short black hair and his face is cleanly shaved. In other words he looks presentable. Make no mistake, that does not mean that he’s handsome. If he appeared on television, some higher-up would probably make a fuss saying that he’s not suitable for the screen. Not that I have the looks and/or confidence to say that out loud, but that’s how I feel. Just putting it out there.

He greets me back with a generic: “おはよー” (Ohayo-, TN: Good mornin’), he doesn’t say anything further, so he must be busy with his own workload. Sometimes I wonder if he feels the same thing about time as I do.

So, as I sit down at my desk and prep the papers I need to look over, I see Sasaki-san enter the room. In my mind, boss music starts playing as I hope that it won’t be me who he’ll scold first thing in the morning.

To my surprise he sits down at his desk and starts making his usual phone calls. Doing his job as our boss, or probably gossiping with another company’s higher up. I don’t know which anymore.

I psych myself up and use every second working. Every second is used to calculate, read, answer and think of solutions. Hide is quiet and focused as well. He didn’t leave the office during lunch break and seemed to have prepared himself a bento. Surprising. I went for my usual stroll to the convenience store and bought myself those microwave fried rice with some mystery meat cooked ten weeks ago. That was the cheapest meal they got. Heat that up for three minutes and it’ll still taste shit, but warmer and fresher shit at least, if that makes it any better. Well, I cannot complain, for I have no time and money for something else anyway.

Later that day, Hide left before me at around five-thirty in the afternoon, no one leaves at five exactly. As for me, I noticed that there were still some employees who have not received memo x from an hour ago and memo y from two hours ago etc. I also expect Sasaki-san to need a report, which he still hasn’t written. So I stayed. I would not forgive myself, if I just let these matters stand and I honestly enjoy taking on the challenge. Sasaki-san is still in the room typing loudly and composing his formal emails. He often looks at me and my other co-workers, which for me seems to boast himself a bit.

After finishing my workload for today, I told Sasaki-san: “I’m leaving now, sir.”

To which he looked at me briefly and said: “Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow. お疲れ様です” (Otsukaresama desu, TN: Good work today.)

I go home mindlessly knowing my way around and heading myself to the station for the train home. It is already dark outside and cicadas at this time are the loudest, so I put my headphones on and listen to the newest song my favorite Vtuber released last week. I wish I had more time to watch her live-streams this week. But Sasaki-san told me to prepare myself for more work in the upcoming days as there will be a new partnership with another company. I am in charge of confirming some of the expenses that will be used.

I get on the train, take my phone out of my pocket, and use up my (in-game) stamina, then put the phone back in my pocket before getting out of the train. The accumulated online currency reminds me of how much time has passed since I woke up today. It makes me melancholic. It gets me thinking about how much time I use effectively for work and how much time I don’t. It turns out that I use up every moment I have for work and then some. The hours spent gussying up, travelling, working, eating, sleeping and shitting add up to twenty-four hours a day and would have added up to at least twenty-eight, if I went through life at a leisurely pace. So I guess I will have to live as hectically as I always have as long as my day is only twenty-four hours long.

As I was monologuing to a non-existent audience, I bumped into someone because I wasn’t paying attention: a truck. I sometimes fantasize about getting hit by a truck and going to another world. Who wouldn’t? Life isn’t fair and anime always promises getting everything you could conceivably want by going to another world. Forget turning into a literal cockroach when you get hit by a truck and reincarnate (or the actual dread I am feeling right now as this truck will definitely flatten me). This is too stupidly animesque.

Sure enough, the truck hits me with a force I could never imagine. The hardest I got hit was during a fight in high school. The truck obviously hit me harder than that. I get queasy as blood flows from every part of my body. Being the masochist that I am, I try my best to look at my wounds.

Ah, yes.

Muscles and fat bulge from tears in my skin. As I take a broader point of view, I notice that my limbs have taken a different shape. I can only describe my new limbs as weird tentacles.


Ana Fowl
Jio Kurenai