A translation of 星新一 (Shinichi Hoshi)’s short story, 誘拐 (Kidnapping.) I quite enjoyed reading this in Japanese and wanted to give it a shot as my first translation project.
注: I benefited greatly from flashfictionjapan’s translation; the perspective of prior translators was vital in my efforts. I am a complete beginner, so I do not stand by this as the “one true” translation of the work (nor do I think such a thing exists!) Critique is welcome so long as you keep in mind that I am doing my best, and also that literal =/= correct.
And, without further ado, the story!
The doctor leapt up at the phone’s ring. He put it to his ear, and from its jet black depths came a thin voice.
“Hello, is this the master of the house?”
“That’s me; what is it?”
“That would make you the famed Dr. Estrela; is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right, but who in the world is this?”
“I’m afraid I won’t be introducing myself, but I’m sure you’ve guessed by now what I’m here to discuss with you. Isn’t that right?”
And here the voice succumbed to a chilly laughter.
That cool voice interrupted the doctor once again.
“Precisely. Your child is, of course, just falling asleep here.”
The doctor’s voice shook. “You’ve taken my son? And what do you plan to do with him? He’s my whole world—not even a year old—”
“If he meant so much to you, you wouldn’t have left him in the car while you went about doing your silly little errands.”
“So that’s when you took him? When I’d just gone in to get a magazine! You must’ve had your eye on him from long before.”
“Now, Doctor. Instead of panicking, why don’t you accept reality, like any good scientist?”
“Why on earth are you doing this? If you had some kind of grudge against me, we could have settled it personally. This kind of cruelty—”
“No, nothing like a grudge, Doctor. If anything, I’d say I quite respect you.”
“Then what are you going to do? My wife is being driven mad; she’s bedridden!”
At this, the voice donned a layer of concern.
“Oh, Doctor, you don’t say! You haven’t called the police, have you?”
“No, not yet. I thought, just in case, I’d better wait to see if you called first, and that’s where I was when you did. Now just don’t hurt my son.”
“Just as I’d expect from you, Doctor. Given all that, you see there’s no cause for alarm. Your son is quite safe. Now, to business.”
“‘Business’. But you must know that to kidnap a child, to demand money for a child, is a heinous crime.”
“Of course, yes, I know that. But let me tell you this, Doctor—what I don’t know is what will happen to your child if you try anything funny.”
“Please—please just wait! How much do you want?”
“Let’s put it plainly. What I want is the Doctor’s recently completed, most heavily rumored secret—that is, the blueprints to the robot.”
“What?! No, that’s impossible.”
“Now, now, putting it that way just sounds like selfishness, Doctor.”
“You’re talking about something I made to punish evil. I can’t even consider the idea of putting it in the hands of someone like you. I’ll pay anything you like, so just give me an amount in money and have done with it!”
“But, Doctor, it’s just as you’ve always said: research can’t be bought in money, can it? Speaking of which, by the way, when it comes to turning those blueprints into money, I’m certain I’ll be far more effective at it than you.”
“Oh, to hell with you! And you dare to still call yourself human?!”
“The very same. And here’s your evidence—just like anybody else, I’ve got my cravings.”
“A bastard like you shouldn’t be allowed to live!”
“Come now, don’t get excited. You mustn’t forget, you’re responsible for the life of your child.”
“Fine. There’s nothing I can do. Let me respond to your proposition.”
“Yes, of course! There’s my rational Doctor.”
“But first, you’re telling me that my son is definitely there with you now?”
“Don’t you worry about that. Yes, right here on the sofa, sleeping soundly all this time.”
“Alright. That’s a relief, I suppose. But let me hear his voice, just to be sure.”
“He doesn’t talk yet, does he?”
“No, even a cry is enough. Please, let me hear the cry of my child, so I can respond with surety.”
“It’s really alright with you? To make your child cry?”
“To be sure my child is safe? Of course. Just pull one ear hard for me, please. No matter what, the nerves of his ear are quite sensitive; even in sleep it’s certain to make him cry.”
“That’s an oddity, isn’t it? Well, alright. I’m going to try it now. But a baby’s cry is loud, and we wouldn’t want anyone to come running... I’m going to shut the window.”
“That’s just fine. If you’re worried, go ahead and lock the door, too.”
“Whatever you like. Quickly, let me hear my child’s cry. Prove to me that he’s safe and sound.”
“Please, patience. I’m about to do it. Let’s end this and get back to our business.”
For a moment the line grew quiet, followed by the sound of a window closing. Then a distant voice could be heard.
“Alright, son, your father says he wants to hear you cry. This might hurt, but you’re just going to have to deal with it.”
The doctor pressed the phone to his ear with all the force in his hands.
A violent explosion sounded.
Returning the phone to its cradle, the doctor laughed to himself.
“They never guess that the ear is the trigger. One more villain down.”
This is kinds dumb, but i'd love for there to be this iseki where there are consequenses for meeting god.
Like, for this if I could write like I wasnt posessed by a sixth grader everytime I tried, would like to see a girl thats about my age get killed by a filing mistake in the afterlife, and channel her inner lawer so she could get reincarnated with benefits.
So it takes a good chunk of time, fast pacing, and she finally gets reincarnated. As a boy. With problems. But memories so its fineee.
It would be about slowly coming to terms that she was reincarnated as her mental state at her point of death, so some medical issues to refrence some mental illness, like coughing up blood when he gets triggered and skin drying up easily and when its really bad peeling off like she got that part slammed in a door and its sliding off like that? If that makes sense?
And they read the fine print so they vaguly know that theyre mental state at the time of death would be what theyre new body would look like, but why is he a boy?
So after a mild mrntal breakdown with some bleeding they relize theyre not entirely cis, or het for that matter but that comes later.
Anyways, for consequences for knowing what god, an incomphrendible being, looks like i was thinking all the face holes like ears eyes nose mouth start bleeding and she goes almost completely catonic for about an hour or two just remembering it, and while she was getting her case argued is basiclly like a vague dream that you only remember one plot point maybe and five minutes later you forget you had the dream in the first place.
Mortals were not made to comphrend it, nevertheless try and get whatever they can after being wronged from them so basiclly everyone want to forget it happened, but for completely different reasons.
So after rebirth, hes a noble in a fantasy world as is cliche because im absurdly fond of the idea, but a mid level noble if a little more upper class. Not duke level but up there.
The magics based on six main parts that can be divided into subclasses. Fire, water, air, earth, space, and illumination.
Im thinking that the subclasses can be, (and intended to be added to)
Gravity, item box
Light and dark
I think itll be fueled by food and physical strength, and that itll be kinda like blood types in that if you try a combo attack between like air and water itll really fuck up your magic and be deadly. For all parties involved.
Im thinking that the mc cant do combo attacks at all because she got them through godly court and only other mistakenly ko'd can do it with them. And of course therell be mistakes, theres way to many people and not enough gods. And they kinda push their mistakes to one world so they cant fuck up any of the worlds they acctully care about. Basiclly a garbage can.
So more common than you think, theres at least one or two in every generation.
So, also, theres this magic school that the nobles put together so theyre kids could socalize and make friends for future buisness deals. Its easeir to make connections that way and way more hands off.
Pretty classest tho, if your not middle class or have disposible income fuck you sucks to suck.
Not really homophobic because the rich can just.. adopt, forcibley or not from some poor couple whos kid has some jacked up power and potential.
Kinda racist to, cause to play into another cliche i kinda wanted vampires, elves, orges, goblins, werewolves, fishmen, and the works in this.
But its more like "skin color? Nobody cares, but if your a fucking elf istg im gonna break open your lawn gnomes and shit in them, then glue them back together so you have no fucking clue where the smells coming from!"
Economys in shambles, like the rich are the only ones who have opinions that matter. Bribes are abundant, its an open secret the tge prime minister kills his one night stands but gets away eith it because money and girls with 'but i can change him' syndrome, and the.. imma call tgem imperial enforcers for the moment are like the police. So not good.
And id like to apologize for any and all typos, this is just brain farting that probably wont get past two pages but will still keep me up at night. Also for grammer, its one and i go to bed at ten usually
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