༺ A Good Dog ༻
What exactly is sleep? Why do living animals require time to disconnect from the world, entirely unprotected while sleeping?
There was no concrete answer. Nonetheless, how sleep affected a human could be inferred as one estimated the form of an object by its shadow. Lack of sleep led to a twisted heart, and the person would become as sharp as a needle; they become tired, and their mind would flicker dangerously. Even sages frowned when they had been woken up abruptly, so sleep must be an act that refilled something in the mind.
However, as we cannot know completely, we cannot fully explain the role of sleep.
I was just floating in unconsciousness, waiting for something to wake me up…
Something then grabbed my leg. I jolted up from my slumber.
It made no difference how deep the sleep was. The sensation of your body hitting the floor, whether from sleep or anything else, took away my comfort. The awful sensation of Mother Earth abandoning me jolted my spirit.
That was the same as being cursed by Mother Earth. Even Mother Earth permitting me to fall to the earth sent me into the abyss.
“I’m sorry! Help me! I’m sorry!”
I instinctively begged as I fell. And—
I dropped to the floor in an instant, in less than half a second. I sprang up in a panic, unable to shake off the shock.
Huff. Huff. Huff.
I got into a wary stance and scanned my surroundings.
I had fallen 50cm below the low military bed. I’d woken up because something had pulled my foot and dragged me off the bed.
It didn’t take long to realize the cause.
Azzy gave a curt bark with a cold face then left. After our fight over the stolen food, she seemed to have developed a slight contempt for me.
But seeing as how she still came to wake me up, she doesn’t completely hate me.
No, that was a weird thing to say.
Dogs cannot develop a hatred for humans from birth.
Azzy only turned her head. Unlike before—when she would turn her whole body to face me—instead, she only gave me her gaze.
But what of it? A dog is still a dog.
“Come to the cafeteria.”
Her ears pricked up, and her tail began to wag. I couldn’t read her mind, but there was no need for that. No other animal had a body language as revealing as this one.
“Yeah. Because today, there’s a special dish.”
‘She becomes overjoyed at the sound of food and starts to jump around. Haha. There’s no need to rejoice about it too much. Because today, it’s your turn to cook.’
“Go wait for me while I take a shower first.”
“You wash too much! Woof! All Hair fall out!”
“I’m not bald yet, okay?! Simply put, you’re not washing enough! Anyway, bring her from downstairs, quickly! Not you and me, her!”
“Down? Woof! Okay!”
The Regressor recalled last night’s humiliation. She was entirely exposed after trying to eavesdrop, and her mind was half occupied by the embarrassment as she shut herself in her room.
And it seemed like she cried a bit.
‘She cried’ in the sense of ‘not physically but emotionally felt the sadness and self-disappointment’. It seemed like being exposed in her camouflage was absolutely shocking to her.
I thought she would live a messy life considering she can just regress and try again, but she was a lot more sensitive and more of a perfectionist than I thought.
「Dammit, dammit, dammit! Your initial attempt was too obvious, Shei! Of course, they would be on alert after that! When are you going to throw away these prideful thoughts? Just try your best for once!」
‘No, please, stop with the self-deprecation. Was it the only thing on your mind last night? Without any sleep?’
「It’s also a problem that you underestimated the opponent too much. You set a low standard for this man just because he couldn’t see through the camouflage previously. There are no guarantees. Just because you didn’t get caught once doesn’t mean you won’t get caught the next time…!」
‘This is crazy. It was troubling when she was trying to kill me, but it was even more so when she was saying all that like she was about to kill herself. On top of that, she was avoiding eye contact with me for what I assumed to be an embarrassment. Sigh. Goodness me. Why don’t we lighten the mood?’
“Trainee Shei, did you not sleep well last night? Your eyes look exhausted.”
The Regressor was babbling to herself and was unable to properly respond. She appeared to be trying to get me to stop talking to her, but there was no chance she would do that.
Because mind reading.
「Tsk. Even though it was you who kept me from getting any sleep the night before…」
‘If someone heard that, there’d be some misunderstanding. Thankfully, no one else could hear it but me.’
Anyway, you seem quite irritated, Regressor.
“Up till what point were you listening?”
“I thought I was throwing a boomerang with the number of times you came back after I struck you down. Please refrain from doing that ever again.”
The usually aggressive and violent Regressor didn’t assault me with her sword this time.
Probably because of her now-damaged pride. And because this world has a strange law of conservation, as the Regressor’s pride decreased, mine appeared to increase.
Ah, I shouldn’t be doing this. But it’s just so fun.
I was going to make fun of her a bit more, but let’s leave it here. Because Azzy is grumbling at me.
“Now, now, Azzy. I have some things to say, so just wait a bit.”
“No! Woof! Say while eat food!”
‘How can your pride remain untarnished? Is there nothing to feel hurt about when you’re a dog?’
“Ehem. Anyway. The reason I gathered you all here is that I found a clue to the food supply thief who has been throwing Tantalus into chaos for some time.”
Azzy showed no interest in anything but food.
‘This despicable thing. Let’s see how you fair when the evidence is shoved up against your face.’
I went to a corner of the cafeteria and got the doll-sized golem. As I was fiddling around with it to make sure it was still functional, it turned its head around as if in response.
I placed the golem on the table.
“As a witness, I have brought the State’s Radioman who has been sitting around in the cafeteria as a golem. Captain AB, welcome! Say hi, Captain!”
“Hi, pleasure meeting you!”
Azzy’s and the Regressor’s responses didn’t change even after seeing the golem. The Regressor had brief attention span after deciding to let go of what happened yesterday, and Azzy couldn’t care less about something that wasn’t a human.
‘I can’t introduce it like this. Let’s attempt to showcase my puppeteering abilities from that time I entertained some kids.’
I held the golem up between the arms and waved it around like a puppet. As Azzy took interest in its movement, I closed my mouth and used ventriloquism1The art of “throwing” the voice, i.e., speaking in such a manner that the sound seems to come from a distance or from a source other than the speaker.
Azzy cocked her head as she kept glancing between me and the golem.
Because the voice is coming from me but the golem is waving at her, she was probably wondering what was going on.
I kept swaying the golem’s limbs and spoke with ventriloquism.
“Nice to meet you! I’m called AB!”
“Woof, woof? Human?”
“Yes! I’m a human despite the fact that I’m trapped in here right now! You’re Azzy, right?”
“Woof! Yeah! Me Azzy!”
“You seem like such a good girl!”
“Thank you! You seem very hard!”
“Let’s be friends! You want to give me a lick?”
As Azzy’s nose came in closer, the golem moved at an astounding, never-seen-before speed. After knocking my hand away, the golem stood up on its two feet and dodged Azzy’s face.
Then the speaker’s dry, monotonous voice began to emerge.
｢The State mandates the overseer to critically avoid making contact with the trainees. However, by the Special Instances Clause Article 2, and by the current situation, all security clauses under security level 2 will be overlooked.｣
After declaring that, the golem stood up straight on its feet. Whether it was because it was well made or because they were accustomed used to it, it continued to use synchronization even though the golem was a smaller model.
｢I am the State’s Radioman, Captain AB. I am currently in charge of the communications between the State and Tantalus. I forewarn that the destruction of this individual will result in a negative assessment for the trainees.｣
Even without mind reading, it was clear who it was referring to since there was only one person here who could and would destroy it.
The Regressor gave the golem a sour-faced glance.
“I don’t care about any negative assessments. I’ll leave you alone if you don’t go sneaking around places only because I’ve made a deal with this man.”
｢It is my responsibility as Tantalus’ director and overseer to conduct surveillance.｣
“Yeah? Well, I can’t stand machines that are sent by the State to keep watch on me.”
｢There are sometimes when there are people with that kind of disorder. A category of individuals who are sensitive to being watched. As we give out treatments for such disorders for free, I advise you to go and get it taken care of.｣
｢However, in this current instance, you would not be able to visit the State Hospital. I have verified your doctor. By exceptions to all regulations under safety level 2, for this individual’s safety, I shall put off its mission of surveillance.｣
After exchanging glances at each other for a bit, the Regressor scoffed and stood up.
“If that’s all, I’m leaving.”
‘Huh? Right away?’
I grabbed the Regressor.
“Ah, wait! You must take part in this matter!”
“I don’t care. Just handle that golem. If I see that thing outside the cafeteria on its own, I might just smash it.”
The Regressor got out of the cafeteria right away. Even when feeling down, she still had a deep hatred for the State.
At that time, Azzy—who had understood none of the exchange—asked with a cheerful face.
“Woof. What does it say?”
‘I’m guessing she’s talking about the golem.’
I explained in a flat tone since Azzy couldn’t grasp a word of the golem’s difficult and logical phrases.
“It said, don’t hit it. And don’t bite it. That it hurts.”
“Woof! I don’t bite! I’m good!”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. You’re good.”
“Awooo! I’m good! Good!”
As I patted Azzy’s head, I grabbed it and mumbled in a dreary tone.
“But I have to ask, which bad dog ate all the meat stew from the pot last night?”
- 1The art of “throwing” the voice, i.e., speaking in such a manner that the sound seems to come from a distance or from a source other than the speaker