“Don’t worry. You don’t have to speak. Congratulations. The leader will meet you.”
The leader? Really? The skinny man’s body began to tremble. For me? Oh, there are so many people. They are all smiling at me. Some are crying for me. For me? Thank you. You were the ones who knocked for me, right? You were the ones who kept knocking for me, to let me know I hadn’t been forgotten, right? A warmth spread through the skinny man’s body. Have I ever felt this much, this much joy?
The skinny man was led by the long-haired believer up the stairs. To the twenty-first floor. The twenty-first floor, where only the chosen can enter. I get to go to the twenty first floor! Me . . . At the edge of his blurred vision, he saw a door. Their steps rang out on the hard stone tile covering the expansive floor. His consciousness faded, but all the sounds resonated through his body. There was a massive door. All he could see was that tremendous door.
The long-haired believer spoke again. “I cannot go any farther. Congratulations. The leader will meet with you shortly. You must be so moved. You must be so happy.”
The door opened. It was dark inside. The leader was sitting in a chair. He could tell from just one look—that was the leader. I came here to meet you. I came here to meet you. To meet you. To meet you. I was born to meet you.
“You have overcome. You are wonderful.”
The leader’s voice was low but strong. The skinny man collapsed in tears.
“Your life of suffering, your unrewarded life will end today.”
“. . . Yes.” The skinny man stared up at the man speaking, tears streaming down his face.
“No one will hurt you here.”
“. . . Yes.”
“There are no idiots here, no one who will fail to recognize your strength.”
“. . . Yes.”
“There is no one here who will interfere with your life.”
“. . . Yes.”
“You are my disciple. My irreplaceable disciple. To us, to me, you are an irreplaceable friend.”
The skinny man continued to cry, unable to stand.
“Your life is here. All your reasons for living are here. I plan to change this world. I want your help.”
The skinny man rose to his knees, and joined his hands together as if praying to the leader. His tears would not stop flowing. They were so violent and warm he didn’t know what to do.
“Leader.” What in this life has meaning? My comforts, dreams, pride? “I give you my life, leader.” I give it all to you.
“I am yours.”
DO YOU SEE NOW?
“Few protagonists in modern crime fiction are as alienated as those in the challenging, violent, grotesque tales of Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura.”
—The Wall Street Journal
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