7: A Goal to Reach For

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 2: 1/1,000,000,000th of a Kiss

Chapter 7: A Goal to Reach For

I've fallen in love before.

Yes, I've fallen in love... and I did think it was love. But I never got married. And I wasn't sad when we broke apart. In some sense, you could say marriage was the goal of life - of course, I have no intention of arguing against people who think differently (and I in fact am in their camp) - but I had my own goal that I could never forget. I went to college, got a job, and started working freelance. There were times when I did volunteer work, times when I found myself completely ruined. I've suffered from a broken heart, but then found someone else to love, but through all this my desire to reach my goal never faded.

There were also times when I stood in the park and watched children play, and for some reason during those times I would feel myself tear up.

In one world, I lived until forty-seven, while in another world I died at fifteen. I died at fifteen seven times. I died at sixteen three times - and most of those times I had been murdered. I once smuggled myself out of the country. It was not something a girl should be doing. I also knew that America was a country that prized self-defense. I learned how to shoot a gun, and also learned how to handle myself in a fight. But the one thing I could depend on in the end was my own stamina, and I thanked the heavens that I had never stopped practicing the naginata since I was a child (at that time I didn't notice the inconsistency). I felt the set of values I ascribed to and thought would never change do just that, and readily.

One me got permission from Yukari's parents to cross over into America.

One me graduated from junior high and then went abroad immediately.

One me went into a Japanese high school, and then a Japanese college, and tried to reel in my goal inch by inch.

There were times when I would just be completely sick of the lack of progress every day. There were times when I wanted to toss everything I had done out the window.

But through all of this, always and forever, my goal was my everything.

I wanted someone I could depend on, and I fell in love. And you might be surprised, but I fell in love with Kasoku Tomonori. I dated him, and then I was shocked to find out that he had dated Nanami before me. We broke up afterwards.

All of this was my life.

There might be people who question what one could actually hope to accomplish by studying qualia.

It doesn't get you anything at all to go off in search for qualia, they might say.

But there are people who might respond thusly:

It was precisely qualia that made life something worth living.

When I looked back on my life - and there were many of them - I found that I was quite satisfied with how those lives had gone. I might have suffered through some cruel times and done many pointless things, but after all was said and done, I honestly felt quite content. In fact, none of my lives in any world seemed very bad, as far as I could tell.

However, I still had a goal.

And any me who could not accomplish that goal was just another possibility that I had no use for.

So, every single time, I just casually tossed those possibilities away.

Yes, I felt that at some point, I had started straying from the proper path in some way.

But even so, I couldn't stop.

Ultimately, the world that I chose was the one in which I notified Jaunt about my left hand.

After Yukari's funeral, I made contact with Jaunt. And then I acted the part. Acted the part of a girl who had come to terms with Yukari's death and was trying to move on.

Acted the part of a girl who was bewildered by her own abilities which were awakened thanks to Yukari's purple eyes.

Jaunt knew all too well about those purple eyes, and they quickly came to verify what I had told them.

I couldn't use this cell phone in front of people, but I allowed them to check my body and make sure that I wasn't holding onto anything, nor did I have any electronics buried inside my body, before dialing a call out from an empty container box.

Everything went off without a hitch, and Jaunt recruited me just as I wanted.

There was no doubt in my mind that this was the fastest route for me to my goal.

After I graduated junior high, I moved to the Jaunt school.

I reached my goal... reached Alice, and learned the truth.

Alice cried as she apologized to me.

"Sorry. Sorry. Sorry..."

"Don't worry. It's fine."

Jaunt had never recruited Yukari because they wanted to protect and nurture her. They had always wanted to use her eyes to do something (Alice never knew about this).

And, just as I had imagined, Yukari had refused them.

So, to force her to cooperate, Jaunt had performed horrible experiments on her.

However, what they had not taken into account was the fact that Yukari was not that much stronger than a normal child.

So Yukari quickly broke, and realizing that this was the end of the road, the Jaunt scientists dissected her for the sake of their research.

And just like people had done with Einstein, they extracted Yukari's brain and preserved it in formalin...

"Sorry... sorry... sorry... sorry..."

"It's fine. I know you tried your best..."

I tried to comfort Alice while stroking her on the head as she hugged me tight and repeated the same word over and over again like a broken toy.

I combed my hand through her hair, hair which had black parts now prominently showing through (had she forgotten to dye it because of all this stress?) and I began to think.

It's really fine, Alice.

Because I knew.

Ultimately, it was not an easy task to get Alice to talk.

In one world, I tried to persuade Alice by breaking into tears.

In one world, I threatened Alice.

In one world I begged her for her cooperation, in another I forced her to submit to me, in another I betrayed her, in another I tortured her. Just as I had crossed the ocean, I had also crossed a line of humanity. In one world I felt nauseous, but in one world I enjoyed myself. In one world it was like I didn't feel anything anymore, and I just looked down at Alice's still body as I stepped on it.

I would have never guessed that I was capable of doing such things... but these were my possibilities that I could not deny.

All those possibilities eventually led me to this world - the world in which I managed to persuade Alice.

Because I knew. I knew the truth.

... Hey, Alice. I know everything. I know about you, about your name and your mother. About your pride, your past trauma, your kindness. About how you tried to protect Yukari, tried to save her. About how despite all that, you couldn't do anything.

So in this world, I would forgive you.

And in one world, I would love you.

In one world, I would hate you.

In one world, I would save you, in one world I would push you away, in one world I would support you, in one world I would break you, betray you, use you for my own purposes.

For the sake of the next, new goal I had found.

If even a small part of Yukari's body was left, then I would take it back.

And on the way, I would find the people who did this to Yukari, and I would make them answer my questions.

Would make them tell me when and exactly how Yukari died.

And then all together with all the infinite worlds and infinite possibilities, I would make them feel the absolute highest level of pain--

And just like a beam of light, I set off on my task.

Although, just a few days later, this goal I had vowed to accomplish began quickly dropping lower and lower on my priority list, to be replaced by a different goal.

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