Originally posted on 14 September 2013
Source: Siren Maniacs, page 200-205

Siren Maniacs - Another Story, Chapter 4

Takafumi Shimura / Miyata Clinic / Abandoned ward / 1976 / 17:19:44

"The Wheel of Ouroboros"

"Ouroboros" is a symbol of eternity, a snake or dragon creating a wheel by biting down on its own tail.
The origin of its name is a foreign word meaning "that which eats its tail".
Since it is both the beginning and end in one, it replenishes itself and continues this cycle for eternity.
It births, impregnates and slays itself, repeatedly.
It is a being that both creates and destroys itself eternally.

[From the notes of Omito Takeuchi]

"The Peeker"

--He can hear water dripping from somewhere.
The man curls into a ball on top of a thin layer of dust.
The drops of water dripping from the concrete wall dampen his back.
His body moves slightly, but he rejects consciousness with all his being.
--I'm scared of being awake.
Against the man's will, his consciousness mercilessly pulls itself out of the hazy land of sleep.
Even though it is summer, he feels a cool breeze on his skin through his water-soaked hospital gown.
His already pale face drains even further of colour. There are no signs of life in his sunken eyes.
The man runs through his thoughts.
The previous evening, he had stolen away and hidden himself in this abandoned ward, no longer used due to the construction of the new building.
As he hid himself in the attic of the examination room, waiting for his chance to escape - that's when it happened.
--What's...?
He remembers a strange sound like a siren ringing out.
Intense shaking began, and he felt a pain like his body was being torn apart.
He felt himself losing consciousness, a sensation that seemed to last both a second and an eternity.
He seemed to have been unconscious here for quite a long time.
When he awoke he was still dizzy, and had a terrible headache.
Because he was in a place into which no light filtered, he had no idea whether it was morning or night.
--Something's strange...
The harbinger that appeared in the village a few days ago.
A strange pillar of light stretched through the sky, emitting an eerie glow.
Someone had boastfully written about it with their second-hand knowledge in the paper.
--The natural phenomenon known as "light pillars" occurs when bright light from the earth's surface reflects off of layers of ice in the sky.
"How foolish..." the man muttered, spitting the words out.
--They don't know anything. They call me mad...

--This is a bad omen.
When he learned the meaning of the ominous pillar of light, the man decided to flee - from the hospital in which he was confined, and from the village.
With the troubling thoughts, he chews on his fingertips.
He no longer has fingernails, due to having scratched at the walls so many times.
In spite of the blood dripping from his fingertips, he bites down harder.
--I wonder what Akira is doing...?
There are those with superior senses to him.
There are people besides him who have realised the warping of the village, that woman's true identity.
--She is the cause of the warping. The woman who lives forever. Bringing with her a warp with no end...
--Why don't the others realise who she really is?
--The woman who changes her name, changes her image, living between time and places.
--She's watching over it, watching over this village, watching...
But when he thinks of his own father after causing a fuss about it, the man knows that keeping one's mouth shut is the wiser choice.
Maybe because they share blood, his cousin Akira also senses the woman's distortion.
But Akira would never accept it.
Not interfering with those who are to be feared is probably the smarter option.
Unlike Akira, he had been unable to stay quiet.
In this village, dissenters are disposed of and locked up in cages, trapped.
--I have to get out of here now... Quickly, quickly, before the fearsome one gets here.
Anxiety begins to expand like a dark mass inside of the man's chest.
Hugging his knees in the corner of the attic, he fixates on the darkness before him.
Slowly, he starts to imagine that someone is lurking in the darkness.
The delusion torments him, the pitch blackness beginning to merge into one form.
Suddenly, a diminutive shadow emerges from the darkness.

(...Who's there?)
A girl in her early teens appears in front of him.
She wears the hospital gown of a patient.
He hears a familiar voice by his ear.
"...Even this is better than a muddy kimono."
(That voice... Koichi?)
The girl stands completely still, her eyes vacant like a doll's.
Long, glossy black hair frames the girl's lovely features, contrasting harshly with her plain gown.
...What a weird hallucination this is, the man thinks absent-mindedly.
Hearing and seeing things aren't uncommon for him.
But this hallucination is one he has never experienced before.
--It's like I'm inside Koichi...
"Something happened when we were swallowed up by the earth. Something beyond human understanding... What were they...?"
Koichi's voice is tinged with fatigue and despair.
"We burnt it with your kimono earlier; what do we do...?"
The girl remains silent.
--What happened?
From snatches of Koichi's words, the man senses that something strange is going on.
"... said that when power is born, there must be some way to combat it. It must be there..."
There is momentary darkness, his vision cut off.
"But what do we do...? Maybe I can't do anything after all, like my dad said..."
His vision returns... and the girl is facing him, holding out her hand.
(...!)
The man senses Koichi's surprise.
"Sumiko did this for me when I was upset."
The girl's face is right in front of his.
He feels the girl's slender arms wrap tightly around him.
Her glossy black hair spreads out before his eyes.
"I know this is all because of me. It's my fault..."
Koichi's line of sight fixes on the nape of the girl's thin, white neck.
"No. We have to end this..."

When he comes back to his senses, all that he sees is the same dark attic as before.
--What was that just now?
With the vanishing of the hallucination, the man is struck by an intense feeling of impatience and worry.
He moves across the attic, trying not to make any noise.
He exits through a gap in the floorboards into the hallway and sneaks into the men's toilets.
Looking through the window, the sun doesn't appear to have set yet.
He can hear water dripping into the sink.
As he listens, perhaps because he was unconscious for so long, he suddenly notices how desperately thirsty he is.
Turning the tightly-closed tap, a flood of muddy water pours out.
Maybe due to rust, the water that spills forth is dyed red.
The man pays no attention and drinks it.
--It smells like it's mixed with blood.
But he gives in to his unbearable thirst and gulps more water.
--This is...
To his surprise, each time it enters his mouth the water tastes more and more delicious.
He drinks and drinks, water spreading through his body.
The headache and feeling of terror he has had all this time eases.
The more he drinks, the more he feels oddly intoxicated.
In place of the vanished headache he feels a pleasant floating sensation, and his mind begins to drift.
He relaxes against the bathroom wall, sitting with his legs sticking out.
The tap still on, water continues to pour from the sink until it reaches his feet.
The man ignores the water wetting him, his body feeling light.
--What's happening...?
In his clouded vision, scenes like those from the hallucination before appear and disappear.
He shuts his eyes tightly and creates a single, clear image.
He feels as though that strange siren he heard last night begins to peal from somewhere.

--He can see the side of Koichi's face.
The siren keeps sounding, even in the vision.
His face is horribly contorted, as though he is in some kind of pain.
You should drink some water... the man murmurs, facing the apparition, but his voice doesn't come out.
In its place he hears the girl's voice, thick with sobs, right next to him as though it were his own.
Koichi turns around, muttering in pain.
Tears, red like blood, flow from his eyes.
"It's supposed to be here... The other power. But now... I'm just like them..."
(Koichi... what's wrong?)
The girl sobs harder.
"Cover me with this..."
Koichi lies down in something resembling a coffin.
Beside him is a black vinyl sheet and wire.
"Please. I don't want to be wandering around like that. I want to fight it until the end..."
His sight warps horribly... The girl's tears are probably obscuring her vision.
"Please, I'm begging you."
White hands wrap the sheet around Koichi's body and bind it with the wire.
She places the stake to Koichi's chest, now wrapped up in a black mass, as though hesitant.
(...What are you doing!?)
The girl's hand is unmoving.
He hears Koichi's voice through the black vinyl.
"Please, just do - "
In the blink of an eye, the stake is driven deep into Koichi's chest.
Suddenly his line of sight drops, and he can see trembling hands before him and knees wrapped up in a patient's garment.
"I'm all alone now... Sumiko..." the girl's helpless voice says by his ear.

"...Koichi!"
The man awakens again to his own scream.
When he opens his eyes, he is looking up at the bathroom ceiling.
--Was it a dream...?
He thinks over what he just saw.
--Where am I?
The constant visions of being inside other people are causing him to lose track of his memories.
--I remember feeling something I have to get away from.
--But why...?
The sun has finally set, moonlight filtering through the lattice window the only light, and all around him is dark.
He takes a sip of the water collecting by his feet and closes his eyes again.
--I don't really understand a thing...

A new scene emerges out of the darkness...
He hears the owner of the vision let out a sigh.
In the dim lighting of the basement-like room, he sees a woman's hands tightly gripping a pair of plain, doll-like objects.
They are statues, perhaps made out of lumps of clay, with designs carved into them. One holds a sword, the one in her other hand holding a shield.
He hears the metallic sound of a door opening from behind.
The owner of the vision puts the figures on a table and turns around.
Through the half-open door he sees that girl in the patient's clothing standing there, petrified.
With an expression of disbelief on her face, the girl cries out.
"Sumiko...!!"
An endless river of tears flows from her eyes, and she runs this way.
The viewer embraces the girl.
"Lady Miyako... Didn't I tell you I would come for you no matter what?"
The woman's voice sounds nearby, sounding like she is trying to hold back tears.
(...This woman's voice... I've heard it... before...)
Something seems strange about the voice to him.
"Sumiko, I, I didn't know what to do... Nor did Koichi..."
She is sobbing too hard to speak.
"Lady Miyako... I won't leave you again..."

The woman wraps her arms even tighter around the girl.
She snuggles against her cheek like a child and sobs.
The woman gently arranges the girl's messy hair.
Suddenly, the girl's eyes move to the tabletop.
"That... That's something important Koichi found."
"Sit here, Lady Miyako..."
The speaker called Sumiko ignores the question and commands the girl.
"...Sumiko?"
The girl does as she is told, sitting down on a metal chair.
"Don't leave again, Lady Miyako..."
The woman's hands wrap a belt tightly around the girl's body and the chair.
"Sumiko... What are you doing?"
"It's unstable and dangerous here, so I must tie you up like this. This is what you do with important things."
The viewpoint moves to the idols on top of the table.
The woman reaches out her hands to them and passes them to the girl tied to the chair.
The girl's expression hardens as she takes them.
"Sumiko...?"
"Sumiko made a mistake, Lady Miyako. Sometimes I even forget myself. Who I am..."
(...This voice... This voice is...)
The man grasps for the memories sealed away inside his mind.
Suddenly his vision blurs and the image disappears.
He focuses again on the snippets of the woman's voice he hears.

"Sumiko? Sumiko! I'm scared! Stop it!"
He hears the girl's fearful pleading close by.
A leather belt enters his field of vision, coming closer.
(What are you doing with that?)
As his vision is completely covered, he catches glimpses of the woman's face through the gaps.
The woman's face is covered with an amazing, affection-filled smile... The face of the woman the man fears most.
(That woman... That monster...!)
His eyes are completely shut away in the darkness.
"I can't see, Sumiko... Why are you doing this?" the girl says tearfully.
"It's alright now. You had a bad dream, didn't you? Sumiko will sing you a song..." the woman says, like a mother trying to soothe a baby to sleep...
As though covering up the lullaby the woman sings, something like a strange siren begins to sound.
(That woman is to be feared.)
The girl's bitter sobs will not cease.
In the darkness, he hears the woman he fears more than anything continue to sing.
--A woman who changes her name, her appearance, and exists between time and places.
--Watching, that woman is watching this village, watching...
But contrarily the man feels a sense of calm, like a child being held by its mother.
The siren and the singing voice, not that of a person of this world, mix and melt together inside his head.
Somewhere he hears a baby crying.
The woman stops singing and speaks softly.
"...This place is dangerous after all. But it's okay, I'll come back..."
The woman's voice grows gradually more distant.
All that remains is the girl's sobbing.

But the man, unafraid, enjoys the vibrant, writhing world that spreads out before him.
The whole world unfurls for him, a second and an eternity seeming as one.
His mind slips into the darkness... and the man flits through the dense air flowing through the rift of eternity.
--A woman surpassing time, coming this way.
--A woman who comes for eternity, never ending.
--The woman who controls the beginning and end of everything.
--Yes, there is nothing left to fear...
He no longer remembers the world full of suffering that tormented him.
A woman surrounded by light appears in the expanse of eternity.
The woman passes something to her other self.
The unending wheel of ouroboros.

--The the next time I awaken, I will be reborn as someone with no anxiety or fear.
This is what the man believes.

"Guiding Priest's Diary"

Wednesday, 4th of August 1976

The Guiding Nun has returned. She had the Head with her.
Is it all God's will?
The Guiding Nun was surprised when she saw Kei, but he has taken to her like she were his mother.

I am tired.
I just want to see her holding Kei, full of love for him.
Until Kei is ready to take on the role, I will wait.