Nekomonogatari (White) : 004

He who has suffered the aberrant is drawn to it — so it is said.

Or something along those lines.

Whether that means one is drawn to the abnormal, attracted to it, dragged along by it, or bowled over and overrun by it, the more deeply you think about it, the more intimately entangled each and every one of them is and it becomes a disorienting chaos — according to Oshino-san, it seems that if you have “encountered” an abnormality even once, they become easier to meet through the rest of your life.

He tells me that there is no reason behind this, but I believe I can attach one to it. It is a pragmatic reason, one that is not fantastical at all.

It may be a bad habit of mine, an excessive habit, to attach a reason to anything and everything.

But essentially, it is a matter of recollection and recognition.

Everybody has experienced a time when, as they learn some “new word”, said word seems to appear more often at random.

For example, if you were to remember the word “aspic”, then as you read the newspaper or a novel, or perhaps watch the television or a film, the word “aspic” would seem to come up far too often.

It is not only with words. The same phenomenon occurs with music or names.

You know what you know.

You know as much as you have known.

Knowledge is made equally of recognition and recollection.

It is simply what you know.

In other words, once “that” has entered the circuit of recognition in your head, “that” which you have always ignored up till this point will now easily surface on the vast river of information flowing into you every day.

Abnormalities are everywhere.

They can’t be anywhere else.

It is simply a matter of whether you notice it or not.

That is exactly why the first is crucial.

The very first time is most crucial.

In Araragi-kun’s case, a demon.

In Senjougahara-san’s case, a crab.

In Mayoi-chan’s case, a snail.

In Sengoku-chan’s case, a snake.

In Kanbaru-san’s case, a monkey.

In Karen-chan’s case, a wasp.

And in my case — a cat.

…Well, as for why I’m suddenly talking about this, it’s because that’s what right in front of me at this moment.

What is, you ask?

An — abnormality.

“Whoa…”

Normally, someone meeting an abnormality would think thus:

Ghosts can’t possibly exist in this world, phantoms can’t possibly exist in this world, what I’m looking at right now is not an abnormality — like that.

They should think like that.

But right now, I am wholeheartedly thinking the complete opposite.

I was truly wishing for “that” which was before me to be an abnormality.

After all — it was a tiger.

A tiger.

Right before my eyes, a tiger calmly walked.

It had stripes of yellow and black.

A tiger exactly as one would picture.

I had just seen Mayoi-chan off — as soon as I turned the corner, there the tiger was. So no, even putting it down as a sentence didn’t make it smack of reality at all. Zero sense of truth.

As it didn’t smack of reality at all, it probably wasn’t real.

It was probably an abnormality.

Rather, it would be troubling were it not an abnormality, in any sense of the word — the distance between the tiger and me is less than five meters. It was so close I could probably touch its stripes with outstretched hands. If this tiger is not an abnormality but real — say, a tiger that escaped from the zoo — then my life will unmistakably end here.

It wasn’t a distance I can make an escape from.

I will be eaten.

My life will be accepted with gratitude.

The baton of my life will be passed on.

By the way, in the same way it is said that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, abnormalities which have progressed too far is indistinguishable from reality.

This distinct animal stench and heavy sense of existence; both of these, while not smacking of reality, still felt realistic, and even if it wasn’t real it certainly felt like a big chunk of reality, but it should be all right, as my dearly beloved newscaster hadn’t said anything about tigers escaping from zoos.

`……■■`

The tiger — growled.

It did not purposely roar with a “-gao” like the beasts you see in comics.

Stopping its feet, the tiger glared at me.

Oh boy.

Our eyes met.

Regardless of whether this tiger was real or abnormal — meeting its eyes was a bad idea.

With a real tiger, that would of course be more than enough reason for it to pounce — and with an abnormal tiger, just as I would recognize it, perhaps even more so, it would be aware of me. That was bad.

I immediately averted my gaze.

I removed myself from the tiger’s sight.

This did not trigger the tiger to act, but even so, I could not move from this spot — in the end, regardless of whether it was an animal or abnormal, I gave a half-cocked response.

If only I could just run for it — why aren’t I escaping from here?

I could be saved if I escape.

So,

why do I not run?

“………”

I wonder how much time had passed.

It seems for times like these, expressions such as it seeming to take hours, or conversely seeming to take no time at all, are used, but to be honest, I was not so composed as to be able to think about such things.

My mind is unexpectedly narrow.

Unable to remain here yet unable to leave, I was like an abnormality myself — and at long last,

`Hmph. White.`

it said.

The tiger spoke.

Abnormality confirmed.

`Bright white — and brazen lies.`

Saying this (and not attaching any “-gao”s to the end of its lines, naturally) — the four motionless feet of the tiger swayed, moving slowly, and it passed by me.

Having never seen the living being known as a tiger up-close, I hadn’t managed to grasp at all the scale of what was five meters before me, but when it passed close-by, showing me that its torso was higher than my head, I once again realized that it was unrealistically enormous.

I probably shouldn’t have turned around.

If it was willing to pass me by, I should have let it — if it was willing to avert its gaze, that was all the more reason why mine should not seek it.

However —

White.

Bright white — and brazen lies.

I was ensnared by what the tiger said — and, unthinkingly, without a single precaution,

I turned around.

What utter foolishness.

The lesson I learned during the first trimester, including Golden Week, was practically nonexistent. I can’t tell off Araragi-kun anymore.

No, in my case.

I did something far worse than Araragi-kun.

“…Ah.”

But, fortunately,

or perhaps that should not be said.

Actually, it was clear that that word should of course not be used at all.

But when I turned around, nothing was there — not the tiger, not even a cat.

It was simply a street.

The street where I went to school, the same as always.

“…Well, this is a problem.”

I said this, not because the tiger had disappeared, but because I looked at the watch on my left wrist.

Eight-thirty.

It would appear that, for the first time since I was born, I will commit truancy.

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