Interlude – 3
Khalija had rushed to the hospital after receiving a phone call. After seeing that Madoka had no life-threatening injuries—although she did have a large sticking plaster on her head—she felt relieved for a moment. However, she immediately realized that Nodoka wasn’t nearby and took a sharp breath.
Madoka also came running up to Khalija after noticing her.
“……Nodoka didn’t go home, did she?”
“No. She hasn’t contacted me either…”
“It’s so strange. There were quite a few people missing when the passengers were carried out of the bus. I’m sure there were more people. It’s not just Nodoka. There are a number of people missing.”
“Wha….. W-What does this mean?”
“I don’t know… All the people who were missing, including Nodoka, were sitting towards the rear of the bus…. There’s something… This feels familiar…”
“Madoka!? What’s wrong!?”
“Khalija-san… You need to… contact Resteria right away.”
“Contact Resteria! I don’t care if it’s Hideo or Erize! Right now! I remember! I finally remembered something!”
“W-What did you remember!?”
“How I… How I traveled to Ante Lande thirty years ago… It was white. White sand dunes. Yes, the desert. That was… ”
“Madoka! Are you okay!? Umm, we need some help over here!”
While supporting Madoka who had fallen to her knees on the floor of the hospital, Khalija called for a doctor. Madoka kept repeating the same word while being held in Khalija’s arms.
“A white… world. A white… desert. I could only move… in a single direction… Back then… my mother asked me to deliver stewed pumpkin to the old lady who lived down the street… I was riding my bicycle, got run over… by a truck… ”
“Madoka! Stay with me!”
“I… Hideo and I were…”
Madoka’s next words were spoken too low for Khalija to understand.
“We passed through the Country of the Dead to reach Ante Lande!”