probably more accurate to say that she was shown it. She simply couldn't press the stop button.
She was drenched with sweat and was shivering. She felt something force its way up from her stomach into her throat. She felt more revulsion than fear-something had come inside her, deep inside her. She knew she had to get it out. She stuck her finger down her throat, but she only vomited a small amount. She choked on the taste of bile, and tears streamed from her eyes. Turning a hollow, helpless gaze around the room, she slumped to her knees. For a while she could feel herself being destroyed-and then her consciousness receded, to some place far, far away.
PART TWO - VANISHING
It was already fifteen minutes past the time they were supposed to meet. Ando started to fidget. He took out his planner and checked the schedule again.
There it was: Friday, November 9th, 6:00 pm, in front of the Moai statue at the west exit of Shibuya Station. Meet Mai for dinner. He hadn't misremembered.
Ando inserted himself into the flow of passersby and made a brief circuit of the area. Each time he saw a woman of roughly Mai's age he peered at her face, but none were hers. Half an hour had passed now. Thinking maybe she'd forgotten, Ando called Mai's apartment from a pay phone. He let it ring six or seven times, fancying he could hear from the echoes how small her apartment was.
It's really tiny, she'd said. Less than five mats!
Ten rings. Obviously, she wasn't home. He brought the receiver away from his ear. No doubt something had happened to make her late. She was probably on her way. At least he hoped so, as he hung up.
His gaze kept stealing back to his watch. It had been almost an hour now.
At seven I'll give up.
It had been so long since he'd dated that he didn't even know if it was proper to wait any longer. Come to think of it, he'd never been stood up before. His wife had been pretty punctual when they were dating. He'd kept her waiting occasionally, but never she him.
He spent a while thinking back over various times he'd waited for people in the past, and as he did so, seven o'clock came and went. But Ando couldn't make himself leave. He couldn't give up while there was still some slight ray of hope. As he kept telling himself, Five more minutes . … All week long he'd been looking forward to this. He couldn't give up now.
In the end, Ando waited in the Shibuya throng for an hour and thirty-three minutes, but Mai never appeared.
He entered the hotel lobby and headed straight for the front desk to ask where the farewell party was being held. Funakoshi's send-off. Now that Mai had stood him up, he had no reason not to come. Plus, after standing in the chilly evening air in a throng of countless young people, he just couldn't bear to go straight back to his empty apartment. Seeking some way to salvage the evening, he'd hit on the idea of showing up at the party after all. It wouldn't hurt to kick up his heels with his friends for the first time in a while, he reasoned.
The organized-gathering part of the evening was just ending, and people were getting together in groups of threes and fives to hit the bars. This was how it always worked. The professors would go home after the main party, allowing the younger faculty to speak freely in their informal post-party binge sessions. Ando's timing was perfect; he'd come just in time to join in on one of those sessions.
Miyashita was the first one to notice him. He came over and put a hand on Ando's shoulder. "I thought you were out on a date?"
"Oh, she stood me up," Ando forced himself to say cheerfully.
"Ah, sorry to hear that. Hey, come here a second." Miyashita grabbed him by the cuff and led him over to the space by a door. He didn't seem interested in pursuing Ando's strikeout.
"What is it?" Something seemed fishy.
But before Miyashita could tell him anything, Professor Yasukawa from the Second Internal Medicine Unit walked by. Miyashita whispered, "You'll