Hataraku Saibou/Cells at Work! © Akane Shimizu
Harry Potter © J. K. Rowling
Inside a human's lung, AE3803 was waiting for her next oxygen package when she noticed her junior, NT4201, was mobbed by tens of red blood cells. Consumed by her curiousness, she walked towards the crowds and asked one of them what was going on. The red blood cell who was being asked explained, "We have a record breaker right here! That new cell is now the youngest red blood cell to complete her 1,000th delivery!"
She turned back from the crowd and took her package. At the same time, NT4201 was also taking her package. Before she departed for her next destination, she approached her senior and asked, "Why did you get yourself away from the crowd? I noticed you from afar, you know. You look sad."
"I don't know what I really felt just now," she replied. "On one hand, I was proud to hear the fact that you're the youngest of us to ever break that record. On the other hand, I felt embarrassed of myself since I'm an underachiever compared to you. I just about to start my 990th journey."
NT4201 understood her situation. Although the difference wasn't that significant at the time, it was important to know that AE3803 needed much more time than her to reach the number of 989. She tried to comfort her, but not to tell her a lie, "Senpai, I know you can do your job better in the future if you still have that high determination of yours. I'm currently a record breaker because of you. If you were not my senpai, I guess I wouldn't be who I am today. I don't know how many times I have said this and probably, you're tired of hearing this. I'm thankful to have you as my senpai."
AE3803 suddenly changed the topic, trying to prevent herself from being distracted by her own feelings. "Where will you go next?"
"I'm going to deliver this oxygen to a cell who resides there," she pointed at a spot on the big map not far from them.
"Well, I'll go to the neck, close to the throat."
"Why don't we go together then, until we part ways?"
They chatted when they were on their way.
"Honestly, it seems like you're more suitable to be my senpai rather than being my kouhai."
NT4201 shook her head and stated. "That's not right, Senpai. I know from your senpai that you experienced various hardships back when you were a newbie. Unlike me, I can say that you had an extremely bad start. However, I constantly see you struggling to make the best of yourself. That's what I like the most about my senpai."
"And you really make the best of yourself. I couldn't be prouder of you," AE3803 smiled.
"It all thanks to you. Anyway, I'll go this way. Thanks for accompanying me, senpai!" She walked further from her senior and closer to her destination.
"Good luck to you, Kouhai-chan!" she exclaimed, waving her hand.
"Thank you very much!" The oxygen recipient said so after NT4201 gave the box to him.
Suddenly, the ground shook for a moment and chaos broke out among the cells as an announcement repeatedly echoed, "We have detected a life-threatening damage. All immune cells are expected to be ready for bacteria apocalypse! All platelets are required to gather around the neck and to stop the bleeding immediately! Update! An unknown substance has entered the body through the wound!"
"Senpai…" NT4201 muttered. "No! I must focus on my work!" She rushed, bringing a box of carbon dioxide in her hands, to the lungs.
She gasped when she saw millions of boxes of oxygen that should be delivered to the cells who needed them. A red blood cell begged nearby the boxes, "Please, help us delivering these oxygens!"
She quickly exchanged that carbon dioxide for 3 boxes of oxygen and departed for her next destinations. Shortly afterwards, she came back and took 3 more boxes. That happened repeatedly and she managed to deliver more oxygen than she usually did in such a short time. Until…
When she was in the middle of her journey, the body temperature decreased so rapidly. For the second time in her life, NT4201 experienced a fierce blizzard. However, it didn't stop her. She wasn't her old self anymore. She decided not to give up yet and continued to walk in the middle of nowhere, pulling 2 boxes of oxygen (one had been successfully delivered). The snowstorm was so violent that she didn't have any idea where she was at that moment. Eventually, her powerless body fell to the ground. She trickled a tear as she whispered to herself, "Please forgive me, body cells… I am too weak to keep you guys alive…" Shortly afterwards, she closed her eyes.
She opened her eyes again and found herself waking up somewhere else. No snow, no cold temperature. Only her senior standing before her. "Kouhai-chan," AE3803 called her junior calmly. "Give me your hand."
"SENPAI!" she cried, jumping into her senior. "I was trapped in a blizzard! I was hoping you're by my side again like the old times!"
AE3803 embraced NT4201 and spoke to her, "You have done well. You spent the final moments of your life… struggling to save as many cells as possible… until the very end. I'm so proud of you, Kouhai-chan."
NT4201 stopped sobbing for a while only to completely realize that she was in a completely different world. "Are we… dead?" she wondered.
AE3803 responded by nodding her head and explained, "Platelet-chan just told me that the unknown substance prevented blood clotting, making her and her comrades couldn't do their job properly, even though they gave their best effort already. Consequently, the host body died of severe blood loss."
NT4201 continued to weep, even louder, until she finally stopped crying. After that emotional moment, they took a walk. "Come with me, other cells are waiting for you."
"So, how did you die, Senpai?" NT4201 asked curiously.
"Me? My death… uh… much more pathetic and embarrassing than yours," she mumbled.
"Could you tell me, please?" she appealed.
AE3803 gave her sweetest smile. "Well, Kouhai-chan... Yes, as you requested."