wrapped up in that accident.
And if I know about it, I can stop it.
I can save her.
I used up all the energy I have in me to rush to where she was waiting.
Thanks to her memories, I know the exact location, too.
Now, it’s just a battle against time.
So please—Make it!!
Crossing my limit, I kept on running.
My breathing steadily grew painful, as my calves began to sting.
My heart was about to explode.
But so what? I’m willing to save her even if I have to sacrifice my legs.
Even if my heart gets crushed in the process.
And with every single step I took, I felt terrified.
Despair started to creep up on me, and the possibility that I won’t reach her in time.
To cast that away, I sped up further.
And then I saw her.
She waited in front of the train station building, right next to a pedestrian crossing.
She was waiting for me.
Hearing my voice, she turned toward me.
She looked a bit more grown-up than I remember.
And as she saw me running up to her, she was confused, tilting her head.
It’s okay if she doesn’t understand it.
She doesn’t have to know about that pain and despair for the rest of her life.
Because I came here to save her.
But then, I saw a child in the corner of my view.
It’s the child that Kazuhi tried to save.
I came here to save her, but that didn’t mean I could just let that poor child die, either.
“Don’t move from there!” I told Kazuhi and then ran toward the pedestrian crossing.
Naturally, I had already seen the truck driving toward the child.
One wrong step, and I’ll end up in Kazuhi’s place.
But even so, I’ve decided.
For that reason, I’m standing right here.
At the very least, I won’t let Kazuhi suffer again.
I ignored the pain in my legs and the screams my heart made, as I dashed toward the child.
I then grabbed them under my arm and slid along the ground to get them out of the truck’s way.
The truck barely avoided me, as it crashed into the window of the station building.
The glass scattered everywhere, and since Kazuhi stood close to it, I was worried it was all for nothing—But when I looked over toward her, she stood still in shock…but alive.
She’s alive, I am alive, and so is the child.
My hands were shaking.
I was utterly terrified.
One wrong step, and someone’s life may have been lost.
I was not allowed any failure.
In fact, my heart was still beating painfully fast, reminding me of my reckless actions.
But, she’s alive.
I really did it.
I managed to successfully use this second chance I was given.
Now that future won’t happen again—!
“Kazuhi! I did it! Now we can—”
I never imagined that changing fate would be easy.
However, in this one moment, I was filled with relief and peace, as well as a feeling of accomplishment and bliss—When I heard the sound of a human being getting crushed.
As if to laugh at my arrogance, assuming that everything was resolved…as if I had gotten pranked live on TV for my ignorance…A steel beam had fallen off from the construction area up on the station building.
Whether or not this was related to the truck’s rampage or not…Doesn’t really matter.
All my mind managed to grasp was the sight of Kazuhi being squashed by this.
Like a lightbulb snapping, my head was filled with darkness, as I was unable to process what I had just witnessed.
And then, I heard that voice again.
‘This is the beginning, Haruoka Sou.
This will be your trial…and a time of testing for the two of you.
To confirm if you are worth saving.
A way out does exist—But as long as this will repeat itself, you will continue to suffer for all eternity.’
The odd voice spoke with an indifferent tone, directly inside my mind.
‘But rest assured.
As long as you wish for it, you will be given the right to challenge fate again.
And you didn’t have much time to work with, either.
So just for you, I shall grant you a restart from this day’s morning.
You can repeat this day as long as you please.
However, there is one condition.’
In front of me, I could still see Kazuhi’s blood gushing forth from beneath the steel beam.
Despite being in such a dreadful mental state that any normal human would simply drown out any noise, I could still hear the voice.
And it continued, mercilessly.
‘Each time you begin a new attempt, your lover’s memories will turn into a blank slate, and she will remember the sadness and pain she experienced after the accident.
And each time the accident triggers, she will regain all the memories she had lost from the previous loops.
Do you understand what that means? Each time you fail, she will accumulate hellish dread and fear memories, which will grow in number equal to the number of attempts you’ve wasted.
Does it sound…cruel to you? Well, being able to just erase the loops you will experience from existence…would be a bit too easy, don’t you think?’
“Why…are you doing this…” I muttered, barely containing enough strength to speak.
Needless to say, I didn’t expect a proper response in return.
However, what came back was less of an answer and more of a riddle that seemed unfitting for the severity of the situation.
‘…Have you ever seen bubbles that never disappear?’
What does that even mean? But despite scoffing at it, I remembered something.
When we were kids, Kazuhi and I would often drink ramune.
Inside the faintly blue, cold but sweet liquid…were foaming bubbles.
She would drink a sip and then smile at me.
Her red face, when she grew flustered, and the sweetness of it all.
And even though I could clearly remember it, none of that was part of the present.
Even the sweetest bubbles will eventually burst and disappear.
Instead, a future drenched in red blood built up in front of me and blocked my advance.
‘Now then, how long can you bear with this trial bestowed upon you?’
The voice declared so—And announced the beginning of hell.
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