TLNC Chapter 15 – The Light Novel Club at the End of the World

The Light Novel Club at the End of the World

The more I learned, the less I understood. In any case, it looked like we had arrived at our location on the eastern side of the top floor of the MiniLove Commercial Centre. We stood in front of an imposing black door made of solid wood reinforced with metal. Above the door, there was a prominent number plate that read “101” in gold lettering on a black background. Next to the door, there was a stern-looking suit-and-shades-wearing security guard who unlike the one at the GGRL seemed to be doing his job whatever his job was supposed to be. Izumi turned the knob to the door and I followed her inside… It was a lot busier than I had expected. No, it was crowded compared to the rest of the building. The entire place was just about 250sqft, all crammed with as many shelves going up to the ceiling.

The air was thick, and an odd silence enveloped the space. Most of the others in here were men from their twenties to their thirties with not much of a sense of fashion. Only the shuffle of feet and the rustle of clothing could be heard. Everyone seemed to keep to themselves in solemn demeanour. Despite the confined space, there was no rush. Everyone appeared quite at ease, perhaps even content. It reminded me of when I visited some Italian monks in a mist-covered mountain cathedral close to Genova. All that was missing was the smell of burning incense. That, and the CRT televisions being attached to the 18th-century stone walls. No, actually they had those too – there were CRT screens with information on what each aisle contained. Names like “Leaf, key, Circus, and elf Corporation were written in white font on the screens above our heads. Although I knew some of the corporations listed, most were only vaguely familiar. Professor Stella seemed a bit bored if not outright annoyed by the pseudo-religious tone. She said she would wait at the entrance until I bought something.

Through the crowd, I was finally able to reach the closest shelf. The shelves were filled with… Visual Novels? Eroge? Bishoujo Games… But this was all ancient and obscure stuff. Who even sold physical media anyway? There were even some games which came on floppy disks. I was starting to feel sick again. Was this reality? I looked up and saw a CRT display which read: “Room 101 Doujin Underground Bunker. 2004年2月27日.” I had, it seems, wandered into a doujin store.

I picked up a magazine copy of a Magical Girl Anime I remembered my late father used to watch but I quickly placed it back when I realised it was fan-made adult material from that series. I never understood my father’s Lolicon tastes and never will. It was then that I noticed two other family members working at their job.

Dr Rudolf Teufel and his granddaughter were standing at the counter busily and enthusiastically helping customers make their purchases. The founder of the Foundation was wearing a red apron, green coat, black fingerless gloves, dark pink shades and a red armband which read “大店長” (Dai Tenchou, or Greatest Store Manager). Dr Teufel meanwhile was wearing a “Military Princess” costume consisting of a navy-blue military hat, a long white-haired wig and a Spanish-style double-breasted coat.

Rudolf left his granddaughter to look after the customers and headed my way.

“So you finally made it here, right Mr…Times Reporter?”

“McDougal Arthur.”

“Ah yes, now I remember. You see my memory is no longer what it used to be… Not that that’s going to matter for much longer. I must have confused you with my late-night visit to The Times HQ, didn’t I!? Can’t you please forgive an old man’s act of self-gratification? What do you think of this place Mr McDougal?”

“It seems like the kind of place that lame Otaku would like.”

“Ah when I was young that would have hurt, but at this age given how the world’s gone, I take that as a badge of honour. Thanks for helping us rat out that member of the militant wing of the Kakuhido, at such a crucial time, by the way. I’ll let you in on a secret in exchange for all that trouble you have been through. Anyhow, there isn’t much time left. We are kind of short-staffed here so wouldn’t you mind helping us?”

Thanks to that I helped out with the store till six o’clock in the evening, doing things like collecting cash, recommending galge, and staking out customers. I really hoped that whatever secret he was going to reveal, it was going to be a good one, because I didn’t think my readers would care about “that time I worked at a top-secret shop that stocks only the most exclusive anime goods and services only for hardcore otaku.” That is the sort of article you’d find on a website with two or three readers max and a single very dedicated contributor, not on The Times of London though. If I had rejected the more boring but safe position as a literary contributor to The Times after leaving Oxford, I might have become exactly that sort of writer.

Nothing looked out of place until we closed and left the store. Maybe I imagined it, but I noticed a group of otaku exiting through the black wooden door reinforced with metal right before us. However, once we reached the outside of the shop, they were nowhere to be found. I looked at the security guard but he looked as inscrutable as before.

“We are going to the Light Novel Club where Dr Makoto is waiting for us.”

The what? As always the cryptic comments of the people on this island left much to be desired in terms of clarity. Dr Arnold Teufel who was in the driving seat of the Mitsubishi Pajero iO and sat next to me, informed us, or rather me of our destination. Professor Stella and the feisty Dr Teufel were there too, although the latter had changed back to a red suit and tie.

In about fifteen minutes we were back at the Global Gadgets Research Laboratory. I could feel Stella’s impatience from behind my seat and I guessed that it was because of Dr Arnold Teufel’s leisurely pace of driving.

“Is it okay to leave your jeep at minilove?”

“I won’t be needing that anymore. Well, I could always get a new Jeep for cheap once this is all over. Still what a waste.”

The sun was setting on the Global Gadgets Research Laboratory and we were standing under its upside-down trapezium-shaped shadow. The receptionist girl greeted us with her well-practiced smile and the taxidermied animals lining up the hall stared at us unmovingly. We took the lift but just as I was ready to be greeted by yet more CRT screens in the computer room on the top floor we found ourselves going down instead to the underground room where Professor Stella had gone after skirting my questions yesterday.

Stella and the two Heufels all had a look of seriousness in their eyes as they stepped out of the lift, and not to be left behind I hastened to follow them.

What I stepped out into was a familiar yet alien place to someone my age who’s not in the profession of teaching. It was a classroom, well rather than that I’d say it was an after-school club room. An old computer, a CRT TV with an antenna jutting out, too many plastic knick-knacks on the table, manga and light novels lining the shelves near the wall, an unfinished line-art drawing of the Global Gadgets Research Laboratory.

There was a window overlooking the school courtyard and outside I could overhear the sound of children from the more athletic clubs practising football (“soccer”).

Light spilled out from the open window, and onto a familiar girl, Makoto Izumi, now not in her labcoat but rather a school girl’s sailor uniform immovably reading a thick volume that only a pretentious college student would read but before I could reach out to touch her, a small but firm hand caught the cuff of my shirt. It was the little girl with heterochromatic eyes I had rescued at the beach close to the false light-house with a statue of Mother Mary. The little girl who was also in a school uniform now shook her head from side to side to tell me not to disturb Makoto.

I heard a crashing sound and when I turned back I noticed that both the young Teufeul and Professor Stella had collapsed in a seated position propped up by the shelves behind them. Their eyes were wide open and unblinking but before I could rush over to them Dr Teufel launched me across the room with unnatural strength. His movement wasn’t even that fast, it wasn’t just my lack of athleticism as a reporter, this was abnormal. I would need some time to recover.

“Did I put too much power into my arm?”

Dr Randol Teufel looked at his arm while taking off the red “大店長” (Dai Tenchou) armband, and replacing it with an old worn-out red armband which read “団長”(Tancho or Brigade Leader).

“You know it would be pointless if you died here, after the trouble I went to get you here. Well, that’s what I get from letting those visual-novel-obsessed maniacs at Realta Neue fiddle with my artificial arm. I told them not to turn me into one of their VN protagonists who have some hidden power in their arm. It would be inappropriate for an old man like me, you on the other hand? I should have just let Stella handle it even if she was busy with this little one. Oh well, it doesn’t matter now.”

Dr Arnold Teufel sat next to the heterochromatic little girl and patted her light blue hair. The little girl smiled warmly as she waved her head sideways.

“I told you I would let you in on a secret… Didn’t I? Mr Reporter… McArthur? Was it? Or should I just call you Winston Smith to go with the 1984 theme? I guess that would make me O’Brien, the torturer,” he burst out into laughter,” Please don’t look at it that way. The past really is about to change.”

O’Brien, sorry I mean Dr Teufel, picked up what looked like a photograph of five students at this school and looked at it with warm eyes.

“You know, it was better when photographs were a physical thing. Of course, sometimes you came across photo albums of dead people and wondered what the point was. Ah, age must be getting to me to let such sentimental and indulgent feelings affect my judgment but I guess I wanted to let at least one human know. I am sure you will be able to forgive an old man’s indulgence.”

“Did you know that the Word End Foundation started out as a student association?”

I nodded. I had not recovered enough to be able to speak, since I got here all I have done is get thrown around. This has got to change.

“Well it goes further back than that, it is true that our research got attention when we were a university student association but our activities had already begun when we were a high school club.”

“You..” cough… “You can’t repeat the past.”

I finally got back onto my feet, slipped past Dr Randolf Teufel who was now seated, and dashed towards the two who had just lost consciousness… hopefully.

“Why of course you can! It just takes a little imagination!”

Dr Randolf Teufel stamped down causing the floor to shake.

“Oh well, I guess you do have an annoying sense of right and wrong. If it wasn’t for that, then Unit M-6 wouldn’t have chosen you.”

I checked for little Teufel’s pulse, there was none and she just crashed with a thud onto the floor.

“Forget about those two. They’re not dead… but they’re not alive either. Maybe I have been too much of a tease. Here.”

Dr Randolf turned on the CRT screen with an old-looking black rectangular TV remote with way too many tiny multi-coloured buttons and then with another blocky grey remote he turned on a disk player, which started audibly whirring as the disk rotated. A brief flash of light passes across the glossy screen and simultaneously a faint vibrating sound is emitted. An old TV newscast from 2004 started airing. A Typhoon in Okinawa. A warning had been issued by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) to south Kyushu residents.

“Oops. Sorry wrong channel. Never would have messed this up 30 or 40 years ago. I even prepared the disk and inserted it, you know.”

Dr Randolf Teufel fiddled with the TV remote until he could get to the AV channel and then pressed the play button.

The image looked slightly grainy and dark. It was security camera footage. There was a time code and date. This was at 2 O’Clock in the morning seven years ago. There was the sound of bullets in the background, security personnel and men in labcoats armed with guns scurrying around. However, their target was not in sight.

“What the hell is this?”

I tried to wake Professor Stella but no luck there either. I wasn’t close to either of them but I was feeling a bit too angry to be polite to the old man. Plus I was worried about what was wrong with Makoto who hadn’t moved an inch, even for her this was too weird.

“Calm down young man. The time to panic will come later. Do you know what this is?”

The security personnel and the men in lab coats were dropping dead one after the other. Now that I looked closer that upside-down trapezoid shape in the background was this building.

“What do you think we do at Desire Island? It can’t be that you thought that all we did was cosplay as maids, sell anime merchandise and make visual novels? You know I half hoped that you would uncover this whole thing and have stopped me. Isn’t that a common motive among criminals?”

“I am not a crime reporter. I am from the literary section of the paper. You must have rung the wrong department.”

The little girl and the old man were in the way so I was thinking of a way to go past them and reach Makoto while they were distracted by the TV. The little girl pointed at the TV causing me to glance at it again.

“Very droll. It’s been a while since someone’s spoken back to me like that. Brings me back to memories of the Light Novel Club.”

What I saw was a small figure armed with a handgun, perhaps, it was hard to say, appearing from the top corner of the visible parameter. At first, I was confused but then I realised that the armed men were shooting at the little girl but she didn’t seem to be affected and instead picked off her assailants one after the other until everyone was dead.

“This is the best part you should really see it… This is the second batch of researchers working here, you know.”

The small figure walked towards the camera. I could tell that it was a little girl, my breathing got hard again.

“It was really difficult to restart research even with most of the data intact. Good personnel is hard to come by. Most universities are degree mills these days, even the prestigious ones. Really this world, as it is, has no right to exist. The foundation’s, no my efforts, to recapture those days at the Light Novel Club have been a failure, until now.”

The little girl who was sitting in this room across from me, looked exactly as she did six years ago in the image projected on the screen, down to her heterochromatic eyes. On the screen, she didn’t look any worse for wear than she did now except that her clothes had been reduced to rags by the rain of bullets she had been under.

“This little one’s name is Yun-0 and she did a real number on the Research Facilities on this island. It wasn’t that easy to cover it up. After all many of the researchers came from good families… Stella and Teufel insisted that we should build that fake light-house with a statue of Mary as a memorial since the previous Desire Director was a Christian. I never programmed Stella or Teufel to have those feelings but I guess these funny things saw the previous director, a member of the light novel club, as a mother figure… but enough of the boring stuff.”

The little girl who walked up to the camera destroyed it and the picture on the screen turned to a snowy random pattern of black and white dots or specks moving across the screen and a gentle static noise filled the room.

“You created them?”

Dr Randolf Teufel turned the TV off and the screen gradually faded to black.

“Yes, just like this little one and your beloved, Makoto Izumi, who is the sixth in the production line based on the deceased former Director Makoto Izumi. Don’t blame me now, it was to satisfy Stella’s and Teufel’s desire to bring Makoto back. Though what I am going to do is a lot more different and similar at the same time. Well, there’s no use talking about it.”

“Let me show you.”

Dr Teufel Randolf inserted his hand behind Makoto’s head causing her eyes to turn white. I rushed to get to her but a sudden pain in my abdomen stopped me in my tracks.

The little girl had lept in front of me, stabbed me in my stomach and now giggled uncontrollably. I pulled out the knife pushed her aside and staggered towards Makoto while trying not to pay attention to the blood flowing down my trousers and dropping in bursts onto the floor.

Unexpectedly, Dr Randolf Teufel held my hand to help steady me.

“Steady there. It is very commendable of you to have made it this far. It seems that I have chosen the right man for the job despite little Teufel’s misgivings about your manliness.”

I was finally able to reach for Makoto’s face. She felt warm not like a machine or some kind of monster as this mad scientist was trying to paint her as.

“Pretty well made, if I may so myself. Indistinguishable from human flesh. Oh if you are worried if I tried anything with her. Worry not, I was only ever a warrior of 二次元 (nijigen, or two dimensions):, a perfect form, pure love which can only exist in my mind. This imitation of 3D flesh could never interest me.”

The room was steadily becoming brighter. I could not say whether this was what death felt like or if the room was actually becoming light. A strange noise like the static on the CRT TV but much louder overcame me. I could not see the expression on Makoto’s face anymore, only light, the tearing pain of my wound, and Dr Randolf Teufel’s faint voice over the static reached me.

“Alright, I will relay the specifics of my plan for you now: Have fun in a world that’s better than our own!”


I could feel the sunlight through my closed eyelids. When I opened my eyes I could see a computer screen and the unfinished draft of a novel about a bizarre island called Desire. Did I really write this story? I could not remember.

Across me, close to the club room’s window sat Makoto Izumi reading a book about physics it seems. For a moment there I stopped and thought that she looked more beautiful than usual but then I quickly banished that thought as a delusion. A minor and curable case of Stockholm Syndrome.

More importantly, I did a quick search online to see if this novel had been published anywhere. Seems not. Oh well, I guess we could say it was revealed to me in a dream, and I could use it for the Computer Magazine article.

The Light Novel Club

The Light Novel Club

Status: Ongoing Author: Released: 2024
Ishikawa Isshin, a freshman at North High has decided to join his high school's Light Novel Club, hoping to get some inspiration and quiet, to work on his novel for a light novel writing contest. Unfortunately for Isshin, the club's non-talkative bibliophilic book girl and old-tech obsessed club president, Izumi, as well as other members of the school faculty are intent on getting in his way by dragging him off to participate in miscellaneous after-school club activities.  Will Isshin remain the reluctant member of the club and continue to regret his decision to have joined? Or will he come to love the club, and discover the true purpose of the Light Novel Club?  


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