From Isshow Con's book
"The Salvation called the FREEDOM TO DIE
-- Net Group Suicide and Psychiatry"
(c)published by kawadeshobo-shinsha 2006

An excerpt from Chapter one:
We don't need suicide manuals anymore
-- dying in the era of internet suicide pacts.

Section 3: Internet Group Suicide Simulation Novel founded on fact
"What we did to die right"

"Screen name: Mr. Wannago (*This name might have better translations.
His name in Japanese is Ikitai Hito. Iku means to pass away - a reverent way
to refer to human death. Also, read with the same pronunciation as iku "to go"
= "to come" (sexually) in English. Might be a play on the idea of the orgasm as
"a little death." I kept the "wannabe" nuance. Like to hear Kon's opinions about this.)
31 year old male, living in Kanagawa prefecture.
Too cowardly to do myself in. Somebody please kill me.
I want to die, now. Won't somebody die with me?
I prepared the coals and a brazier. I've got a car.
I have a place in mind too. I'm serious.
Only serious people need respond. Taunters and hesitaters not welcome."

I saw this post on a suicide bulletin board.
These days, when server administrators and moderators are eager to delete
such suicide collection posts as soon as they find them,
this guy's old school directness led me to think he was serious.
So I responded to this "Mr. Wannago."

"How do you do. My name is Mayu. I'm 26 years old. Female.
I saw your post. When do you plan to do it?
Have you already decided on where to meet up, and other particulars?
I'm interested in joining in."

Then after we exchanged several emails, about 2 weeks after I first wrote him,
we decided the date.
We were to meet up in front of Nakano Sun-plaza in Tokyo
the following Saturday morning, and then go to the Yoro Valley in Chiba.

The night before the suicide, I got an email from Mr. Wanna Go.
Tells me that Ms. Maimai, a 20 year old shut-in living in Takasaki, Gumma prefecture,
and Mr. True Death (*Masashi is a very common first name in Japanese,
and there are many different Chinese characters to write it with.
This one uses two, True, or correct, and Death), a 29 years old part-timer
from Oomiya in Saitama, will be also joining.

Everything's ready. Nothing more to think about... And this realization makes me excited.
I don't sleep that well anyway, but tonight, it's special.
I impulsively leave my downtown Tokyo bachelor's apartment in the middle of the night.
I start to walk on the street, discovering an empty franchise "family" restaurant,
and sit at the back corner window seat.

I look through the address book of my mobile phone to kill time,
but I can't find anyone who I'd feel like calling.
Even if I were to tell someone that I'm going to off myself it'll all either end them
thinking it a joke, or trying get me to stop, and they might call police,
and we can't have that. I'm sick of complications.
I'm sick of talking about myself,
and I'm sick of trying to think my way through these emotional matters.

And so I spent my time, until morning came at the family chain,
then went to the north exit of Nakano station,
some 15 minutes ahead of our 9 o'clock appointment.

The air was still chilly this early spring morning.
I cut through the bustling crowds of people snorting white steam clouds,
and arrived at the foot of the huge white tombstone-like Sun-plaza building.
I went into the nearby coffee shop, bought a cup, then sat on a white chair
at a silver table outside the shop to drink it.
It was cold outside, but the shop was too full of people with inquisitive eyes.

Just then I noticed a girl in juvenile dress, high-school I guessed,
sitting down at a table right behind me.
She didn't look like a shut-in.
More like a young woman coming to pick up some proficiency test results.

I was checking incoming messages on my mobile when thinking this,
I heard a voice call "Mayu...?"
I looked up to see a guy with a troubled expression wearing a black leather jacket with black pants.

"I'm Wannago"

Just as he'd said in his email he was recognizably head to toe in black,
but the overall impression was of a middle aged man with no fashion sense.
The bit about being 31 was a lie. But that doesn't matter.
We're all gonna be dead tonight anyway.
That's what we're here for. It's not worth getting upset over.

What surprised me a bit, was that when Wanna Go spoke to me,
the girl sitting behind me approached hurriedly,
saying "I'm Maimai, nice to meet you" and bowing.

Maimai had a baby face that would pass for junior high, and intensely anthrophobic,
still shifted uneasily, looking down, quite intimidated by having to engage us.
She was definitely not 20 years old yet.
Her long straight hair extended to her chest,
and with her wistful smile she could have been a lovely ingenue.

And of course, Wannago couldn't take his eyes off of Maimai until our last member arrived.
Fuck, pretty girls rule until the grave.
I kept silent, and looked around, trying to find ashtray.

Maimai said
"I wrote that I was 20, but I'm really 17.
A "mental" (*Kokoro-kei -- girls into mental health lifestyles) friend of mine was once raped
by a guy who trolled suicide bulletin boards to pick up high-school girls..."
Wannago, vaugely excited by all of this, just stood, stammering uh-huh, uh-huh...
I stood silent, smoking, and looking at the station.
I was glad I wouldn't have to be with these people more than 10 hours.
I hoped that time time would pass quickly.

".... and we'll arrive near water of Yoro valley in the afternoon.
Oh, Mayu san, did you bring your pills?"
Wannago suddenly said to me,
but I was dizzy since I suddenly felt sleepy
because it was cold, and I only replied "What? No, I don't have them".
I had only few pills left, and I left them at my apartment. I remembered that I'd locked the door.
Force of habit, I guess, but it was silly of me. Anyway, I won't be going back there.

"Alright, we'll drop by some stores on the way then.
We can pick up some weak (non-prescription) ones. Perhaps Driel. (*The name of popular brand)"
Wannago wandered off, with an awkward smile.

What, is he having second thoughts about letting me die with him, or kill Maimai, after all? Geezer.
If we could die alone we'd have already lit the braziers in our bathrooms
We are here because we couldn't.

"Sorry about that. Let's be sure to please pick some up on the way." I said brusquely.
Why does this have to become my problem?
I looked on my watch, and it's 9 o'clock, the appointed hour.
True Death doesn't come. I get irritated. Sure, it's his right to cancel at the last minute.

He's never met us, he's not related to us,
so there's no reason to keep the promise in the first place.
It is this same casual relationship that allows us to involve each other in suicide in the first place.
If we bonded, we'd probably end up making deals, "I'll die, but you, please carry on," etc.
I've seen it so many times on the suicide bulletin boards. I'm fed up with it.
I want to go far, too far, where I don't have to hear those pointless discussions now.

After awhile Maimai said "what if he doesn't come?" to no one in particular.
We'd already been there for 20 minutes. Wordless, unemotionally I stood up,
and said "Let's go, just the three of us".
Maimai and Wannago seized the moment and stood up.

Just then, a fat guy in black sun glasses, his balding head intermittently covered with hair
combed across it like a bad bar code came out from Sun-plaza, and timidly approached us.
"Sorry I'm late - I'm True Death(Masashi)" said a guy obviously not popular with the girls,
who looked like the delinquent son of Kim Joing Il who got busted at Disneyland.

He scratched his pate, and a flurry of white dandruff flakes fell on his black jacketed shoulders.
I don't know if it's true or not, but he did look in his late 30s. I was mortified.
I'm going to die with these three?!
I wanted to laugh out loud at my bad luck life,
but all I could do was just grin, and breathe white steam from my nose.

I checked at my watch. It was past 10:30.
It's been an hour since we rode on the car.
We took the highway, so we must be in Chiba prefecture already.
After passing many love hotels, there are no more tall buildings.
Fully loaded trucks and tankers are running heavily on both side of our car,
within the rat-gray walls of highway.

It's the first time for me to come to the Bousou peninsula, so I have no idea where we are,
but I imagine once we take off the highway,
we'll arrive somewhere only with fields and mountains.
The air conditioner in the car must be too high - in my winter jacket,
still I feel sweat on my armpits and forehead.

It should be that True Death, sitting in front of me, is so fat and heavy, left wheel seems sinking,
and I have illusion of the wheel, operated by Wannago, being dragged towards left.
If he failed to handle this mishap, we four would die by accident.
That's not bad though. As long as we could die instantly.

The plan to drop by a drugstore to buy sleeping pills is canceled.
True Deathsaid he has lots of pills, and opens his day pack to show us a vinyl bag full of
prescribed drugs such as Halcions, Vegetamins, Eurojins, etc.
all familiar to us - a cluster almost as big as a soft-ball.
I only pray there's no dandruff mixed in it.

There isn't any other conversation in the car.
I constantly check my watch, and I am irritated.
The driver, Wannago seems uneasy, he keeps peeping at Maimai's face in the rearview mirror.

Maimai is leaning her face on the window, then she falls asleep.
Wannago can now peep as much as he wants, but he eventually gets bored,
and returns his focus to the road.

True Death, who'd been applying his whole stock of knowledge about the pills,
wonders what to do next with himself, then finally seems to realize that it's vain to look for a topic.

The silent air inside the car reminded me of something. Yes. Karaoke.
When you sing along the song you selected, others don't look at the singer, they don't clap,
but simply return their eyes to the song book to look for the next song they want to sing.
When I finished first chorus of the song, I myself used to take the remote controller
to press the "fadeout" button and put it on the table to stop songs I'd started.
When the new song starts, someone grabs the mic impulsively,
and I too take the song book in my hands and flip the pages.

Nobody listens to others' sing.
Well even my doctor didn't listen to me enough, and my parents, my lovers, my friends
never listened to me seriously, so I guess life is like that.
Everybody wants to tell their stories to others, and it perhaps doesn't matter who it is in front of you,
even if it's teddy bear or Aloe-lina (*a cosmetic product, with a catchy TV commercial song which
became very popular. "Would you listen to me Aloe-lina, it's sort of hard to say, but" it is a soothing song),
if only someone's there with you.

Like, right now. Me too, it doesn't matter who it is as long as they die together with me.
Fat guy, ingenue, age-lier, it doesn't matter.
To meet here up and go to the promised location, and to die from carbon monoxide
and be well prepared for that - only that result matters, it's the last and only truth that we can share.

Although I'm not sure if the other three really understand it.
I won't know till the end.
I just hope that none of us is an idiot who will chicken out and run to the police.

There's no reason that I can trust them, and none of them know
until the end how serious they want to die.
I honestly don't know about myself.
It's true that when I think about how many hours are left to die though,
I kind of feel like running away.

But I've have enough of cop-outs with OD and wrist cutting,
so what if I don't quite have the actual feeling when I'm actually trying to die.
I thought I've thrown away my feelings long time ago,
but when I imagine, the beautiful white face of Maimai,
who's sleeping like a doll next to me, would gradually becomes dead body just like she looks now,
my pretending to be not scared is shown to be a lie. My heart is beating harder now.

I hear the "slam slam" sound of 4 bags of coals which Wannago put in
and a brazier, tiny like flower pot on someone's terrace clashing to each other
sometimes in the trunk of our shaking car, like illusion.

But all of these are real. I will die. It's natural to be scared of death
because nobody alive ever experienced it.
I was repeating those words in my heart like a sutra, when I saw the exit of the highway.
Now I realized that we are driving under bright blue sky.
A good day to die should be a day like this, a very ordinary day with ordinary weather.

We drove down to the general road along the mountain,
and soon we found a convenience store by the road.
True Death reacted immediately as if he was waiting, and said, stuttering,

"Oh, now, we must buy bottles of water. Oh, and, papers...."

I thought "?" once, but soon understood.
We light the coals, then we take the pills, and then we sleep deep to die of carbon monoxide intoxication,
but if you want to take bunch of pills at once you need to crush them first, and when you take the pills,
and when you want to avoid getting bad feelings of dried mouth after taking them, you need water.
You need paper to use it as a plate when you crush and take the pills.

While I just kept nodding, Wannago replied "Yes. Let's get them"
and he stopped the car, and unlocked the doors.
"Ladies, do you want to go to the bathroom?"
Oh, that's right. I shaked Maimai's shoulder next to me.
I thought Wannago very considerate.

If you drink a lot of water, you'd want to pee.
Even you could have fallen asleep with the pills, if you feel desire to urinate, you wake up naturally.
Once you wake up, you'd suffer from carbon monoxide intoxication,
and half unconsciously you'd take off the seal-ups, unlock the doors, smash
whatever things to the car window to break them, and you'd get noticed by passengers outside.

That would ruin the plan. We have to urinate as much as we can now.
The tension could make me miss the toilet, and I don't want that either.
Maimai woke up, I said "You want to go to the toilet?" and I got out of the car.
Maimai followed me fluffily. She might have taken some pills already.
Her long hair wafts a particular smell, characteristic of chronic pill use.

I went inside the toilet first, did what I had to do, then found Maimai wondering inside the store,
patted her shoulder from the back, and pointed the toilet for her.
She turned around, and just for one moment our eyes met,
but she soon looked away, and dashed to the toilet. She seems like a bitch.

Then I thought - but even among Goody Two-Shoes ingenue
who wants other people's attention, there is her anthrophobia
- and I felt bad about castigating her like that.
What am I making excuses for, in a situation like this.

Shaved-headed high school kids and construction workers, families
living in neighborhood are coming
inside the store one by one.
It seemed to be so boring to compare ourselves,
who are going to a different world to them, and feeling this strange camaraderie.

To change my feelings I went outside and started to smoke to the ashtray right in front of the store.
Is this my last cigarette?
I noticed that Wannago and True Death are putting filling food such as cutlet rice bowl and beef bowl,
and about 10 bottles of water and cokes on the casher table, and paying.

It's the last time for them to pay in this life, but the friendly casher only would see it as a party preparation.
I felt funny that those two guys had no problem at all at the store and came out.

The three of us have been waiting for Maimai for 20 minutes now.
Ladies can take a long time in the toilet, but it's only when we fix our make-up or when it's crowded.
But these two guys somehow just keep cool.

We are only going straight to the target from now on, so we are not in a hurry.
Still, I get irritated. It's also because I'm sitting behind this dandruffy guy,
but after 30 minutes have passed since she's went inside the toilet,
I remember that after the first door, there was another door
which leads to the staff room, apart from the one to the toilet.
And this might have been her only chance to run away. Did she?

"I'd take a look"

I leave the car.
I open the first door deliberately, and run out to Maimai, who just came out of the toilet.
I notic that she is breaking out in a nervous sweat on her face.

"Oh, I'm sorry I'm late. I'm fine now"

She said, and she reaches her hand to the door nob,
in some trepidation, slightly hunched over, and goes outside.
I couldn't say anything, and I followed her, with a sigh.

She's scared to die too.
I remember that I read in a magazine or bulletin board,
"For internet group suicide, if you meet the partners before the date,
you run the risk of getting too close to each other,
and come to feel that you don't want them to die.
It wouldn't succeed unless you do it the day you meet."

Maimai too might be conscious about these unspoken rules.
And maybe it is that she pretends that she's fitting in,
but inside her she cannot accept that she is going to die,
and she might have locked herself in the toilet.

She's only 17.
But I have no room to think about her life or death.
She's a girl who'd be dead anyway somewhere soon with somebody
- I decided to think about it that way.
It's easier.

When four of us sit down in the car, the mood turns serious.
Wannago and True Death both seem to be feeling some kind of bond
as "a group of four who faced down death" since Maimai came back.

True Death suddenly turns around , while devouring the cutlet bowl, and says
"you can't fall asleep if you don't eat"
and passes it around. I'm not hungry, but I tentatively open the package,
and have some. I'm telling myself that it's only one or two hours until I die.

It's an ordinary road, so the car drives cautiously, within the speed limit.
The slowness of it doesn't mean much to us,
but as we see number of houses and buildings decreasing,
we feel that we were going deeper and deeper into the mountains.

It's only a mountain in Chiba prefecture, so there wouldn't be climbers in the winter valley.
So as I read many times in the news papers,
an old man from the neighborhood comes to pick up wild vegetable tomorrow morning,
and will shockingly finds our car.
It didn't take us an hour to get to the place like that, where nobody's there.

I guess the car's stopping pretty soon.
I like that we don't have conversations, it works for me.
Will be able to continue to the end like this?
I'd hate it if somebody's cell phone rang in the middle of this.
Or what if someone suddenly starts to rampage?
What if a police car passes by...
I guess I have too much time to kill, which makes me anxious.

I look aside, Maimai is gazing out the window idly with glassy eyes.
Wannago, who might have been here before, is driving without hesitation, his eyes fixed to the road.
True Death looks dizzy, but I guess he's lived his whole life with that dizzy face.
Maybe it's because I'm being apathic, but nobody can talk about their life even they wanted to,
but that's better for me.
While I look around at everybody my heart calms down.
This is good.

We reach the end of the asphalt, and enter an unpaved road.
It's a 4-wheel drive wagon, so the car body shakes a lot,
but this also allows us to go deeper into the dark forest.
A bit of sun comes down through the tree branches with only few colored leaves.
The light is more of the evening than the afternoon.

It will be completely dark after sunset when we take our sleeping pills
after we've prepared the charcoal brazier and sealed up the car.
Then nobody will find us. The car slows down, and we arrived at a suitable place.
When we opened the window, we heard some water - there must be a small river or waterfall near here.
It sounds good to my ears. I hear birds far away too.
It must be close to the wild animal sanctuary.

"I guess this must be the place..."
Wannago said hesitatingly, and went outside to open the trunk.

"Masashi" (True Death) san takes rat-gray packing tapes out from his dirty brown day pack,
and gave ones each to Maimai and me, and we started sealing inside the car.
We tightly seal the joint of the window from inside.
I saw the handle of ashtray being sealed in the front sheet.
The small brazer that Wannago took already had small coals in it, and when handed to each seat,
we put it down between our legs.

True Death is already starting to pound the pills in a mortar,
and Maimai, already wobbly, takes out a tablet case out from her small lether bag,
and starts to swallow them with water from a bottle.
I received and started to take the pounded pills True Death gave me on paper,
Wannago confirmed the door lock carefully,
and started to light the coals at the bottom of his legs with a long lighter.

The lighter is passed to True Death, then to me, then Maimai who lights the fire.
Wannago tells us that "It takes about 10 minutes for the coals to get enough heat",
and everyone nods silently.
I don't know what to do until the smoke comes out,
so I crush some of the remaining pills which were in the gear in vinyl bag.

I don't know if it's because I had ate something a little while ago,
or it's afternoon, or that I was up all night, but anyway I feel my eyelids getting heavy.
I'm happy.
Maimai seems uncomforatble with the silence, so with her eyes closed, leaning against the window,
she putts the pills one by one to her mouth and chews.
True Death doesn't seem to notice any of this, he just grins while waving the briquette's packaging
in front of Wannago's face.
Wannago smiles at his gesture, turns around, and hands the package to me.

The package says "For 4 - 5 people". It made me laugh as well.
It must mean "these coals are enough to cook food for 4-5 people",
but it can be read as it's enough to kill us all.
Adding to that, there was a cautionary statement on the back which says
"Please ventilate the air 2-3 minutes for every 30 minutes when you use this indoors.
If you don't you could get carbon monoxide intoxication."
I made a stupid sound, laughing through my nose.

And the price is 417 yene. A person can die for 417 yen. I'm dying for 417 yen.
Ha ha ha, I laughed out loud. I laughed so much that I cried.

White smoke was slowly filling the car. Wannago must be thorough until the end,
that he took out white memo out of his pocket, wrote something, and put it in front of the front glass.
It could be farewell note.
I've got nothing to tell anyone at this moment.
I envy that he has something he wants to say. I, thinking that, am still conscious,
but True Death is already snoring loud. He looks well asleep.

Coals will keep burning for an hour, but in a sealed car they first consume all of the oxygen
and they are suffocated, whereas we'd all be dead from the poison by then.
Maimai has stopped moving.
Who'd be the first to discover this girl, like a smoked like Egyptian mummy?

Suddenly Wannago turned back to me and said,
"Good night"
His voice sounded so plaintive, that I sort of panicked, by mistake.
It WAS definitely his last word.
The thought made my body rigid, and couldn't reply.
Wannago put his folded hands on the handle, and put his forehead there, and became silent.

The heat in the car rose, and my cheeks got hot.
White smoke is everywhere.
At first it smelled terrible,
but a few seconds later I didn't notice it anymore.
It seems like I coughed a few times, choking.
Deep inside my head hurts sharply.

I don't hear anything.
The pills inside my mouth are melting into my throat, and I'm starting to get groggy.
Saliva floods in my mouth and I start to drool, but I can't move my mouth well.
I lean on the window,
I put my cheek against it,
I watch the pulverized pills running down the glass in my drool.....

If you want to publish my books in your country,
send e-mail to me or my agent Kanako Fujiwara who is a bilingual English speaker.

If you're interested in Japanese music,check this site.

Written by Isshow Con (Create Media Ltd.)
Translated by David d'Heilly (2dk)
Spacial Thanks to David Samuels