When I woke up, I was in an unknown room.
It was about ten tatami mats in area, so a rather big room. But, it was filled with things, so it felt small, cozy.
It was lined with a light creme colored wallpaper.
The ceiling was a bit high, and there was a fluorescent light shining a whitish-gold.
On top of the pipe bedframe was an orange underquilt.
There was a computer on top of the desk, but there was no button.
The bookshelf was filled with classics, both modern and traditional, as well as a number of self-improvement books.
On the dresser were around ten books lined up next to each other.
There was also a door. A wooden frame with a large glass window.
It wasn’t locked. There was a hallway past it that led it to the kitchen and the house’s front door.
Ah, I almost forgot.
I do know this room.
It was where I originally lived.
Yes, something happened.
While prancing around the room in excitement, I spotted my phone.
How do you use this again?
I rubbed my temples for a bit before I remembered that the power button turned it on.
2017/4/1/7:00[note]The superior time format, year/month/day. Americans and Europeans both have it wrong.[/note]
The exact date and time popped up as soon as I turned it on.
To me, an unforgettable date.
“Hm? Why would that be?”
A haze was clouding my thoughts.
What was it?
I felt like I was forgetting something.
Something very, very important.
“What was I doing again?”
It had something to do with the computer.
I was doing something with the computer, I think.
Something that took forever, and was very painful. But it was also fun, filled me with pride, and fulfilling.
I just couldn’t remember what.
Even though it was something I shouldn’t have been able to forget.
Almost as if it was all a dream, it disappeared.
●2018, April 2nd●
My name is Watanuki Hajime.
I’m often told that it’s a strange name, but the person is not.
A normal working adult born and raised from a normal family, graduating from a normal university, getting a job at a normal company.
I like to cycle, play darts, and bar hop.
I used to read a lot, but I stopped about a year ago. I don’t know why.
One day, a friend of mine invited me out to eat.
He’s a bit self-centered and talks too fast, which was strange coming from an introverted otaku. He wasn’t someone who made people enjoy being near him, but I still got along with him in any case.
And so I gladly accepted his offer of a treat and off I went.
He was waiting at a table at the back of the restaurant, looking at his phone.
Even when I came over, he was still staring at the screen; he seemed to be very eager for something.
I shook his shoulder and said, “Yo.”
He finally looked my way.
Putting his phone onto his off hand, he replied, “Oh? Ah, hi. You’re a bit late.”
“Sorry. Something came up at work.”
While I was speaking, I sat down and looked at the menu.
What would be good?
I’ve been eating a lot of fatty foods this past year, and I’ve gained some weight.
I decided to order something healthy.
I noticed something on his screen out of the corner of my eyes.
There were many characters on a white background.
I recognized it.
It was a certain novel uploading site.
I’d totally thought that he was playing a game or something, but he was actually reading a novel, it looks like.
“What’re you reading?”
He smiled as if to tell me “Good question.”
When this happens, he just goes on and on.
“Recently, I’ve been back to binging novels on ‘Let’s Write a Novel.’”
Yes, yes, I remember now.
It was called “Let’s Write a Novel.”
I was recommended a few novels on this site before, but they were quite boring.
“Didn’t you recommend me a few unpopular novels from there before?”
Saying that, I tilted my head in confusion.
How did I know that they were unpopular?
It wasn’t as if I spent any time on that site.
Well, they were boring, so it’d make perfect sense for them to be unpopular.
“Oh, you know, I was young and naive then? You know those people who think they’re cool because they like unpopular stuff? But after all, that’s youth, isn’t it? So now, I read the good, popular stuff.”
He seemed to have changed after we didn’t see each other for a while.
He was wearing fashionable clothes that he would never wear a few years ago.
It gave me a sense of maturity.
There was no particular thing I could point out, but it felt like he’d grown up.
He also spoke more like a proper human being.
“That’s why I’ve been reading this lately because they’ve taken the top spot in the rankings.”
He showed me the ranking page of “Let’s Write a Novel” while saying so.
The title of the first place is “Death a Corporate Slave -My Long-Awaited Vacation in Another World-”
According to the synopsis, it seems to be the story of a man who works for the worst black company, who dies in an accident while driving a truck and is reincarnated into a different world.
“Have you finished reading it?”
“No, not just this one. I’ve pretty much read all of the top-ranking novels. I’m reading fast, I’m reading fast, right? It only took me a few months to do all that, you know!”
Oh, I missed this. This cute bragging.
In the end, he’s still the same old him.
“And now I’m reading the number one work of the year. Well, what was the cumulative total…?”
I don’t know why such a number came out of my mouth.
However, those numbers came to my mind.
Maybe it’s just intuition.
But, I said that with some confidence.
“Oh, close, it’s at 23rd place. Wait, how? Are you reading it?”
“No way, I just had this feeling.”
I was somehow relieved that I was wrong, but I still felt something off.
It just felt so disconcerting that it wasn’t at 24th place.
“Well, that’s fine. Anyway, what I’m reading right now is this.”
He showed me his phone.
The title and the synopsis of the work at the first place in the present year were written there.
“Other World’s Pincer Master”
My eyes ate up the words on the screen.
It looked familiar.
The synopsis also felt nostalgic.
I don’t remember where I saw it. I’ve never seen it before.
However, I felt some kind of deja vu.
“Huh. Looks interesting.”
Such a word came out naturally.
It looks interesting.
The title and synopsis were completely different to everything else I was interested.
But, for some reason.
I wanted to read this novel.
I wanted to know the ending.
He looked at me, surprised.
“I never expected you, of all people, would say that?”
“Yeah, you always give that ‘it’s probably boring anyways’ look.”
Was I doing that before?
Well, it’s been a while since I met him…
“I used to be young too.”
“Haha…hey, are you thinking that it’s probably boring anyways in your heart?”
“No, this is different.”
“Well, how about this novel? This was at the first place in the previous year…”
After that, he started to spew out a flood of recommendations.
I gave a prompt retort to each novel he recommended.
What’s with that title?
The synopsis is literally a single line.
No, it seems rather, borthing?
He was as proud as ever, and sometimes he made nasty remarks, but we had a good time regardless.
In all that time, only one novel remained in my mind.
“Other World’s Pincer Master”
I had no idea why that novel bothered me so much.
But for some reason, I wanted to read that novel to the end.
I came home after dinner that day.
When I arrived at my home, I drank a glass of water.
I wasn’t drunk by any means.
I didn’t drink alcohol because I have to drive a car back.
However, I thought that it was necessary to prepare a little to read that novel.
I was very excited.
It felt as if I had been waiting for years to read this work.
Today, I could read the part of the novel I wanted to read most.
I could read the parts that I couldn’t read for a long time.
And while reading those parts, I couldn’t be drunk or sleepy.
I had to sit down and read.
That was how I felt.
I’ve never heard of this novel before.
“Well, I guess I’ll start.”
I turned on the computer and eased myself into the chair.
“Chapter One – A New Beginning”