Blackstar.

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The urban legend of "Spaghetti Man". Just recently, I became its sole survivor.

Blackstar. is a short story that is part of an anthology of short stories based on the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan series. It was written by Ryo Yoshigami (吉上 亮 Yoshigami Ryō) and published by Shueisha. Blackstar. was included with the August 2017 issue of Ultra Jump to coincide with the eighth episode release of the Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan series.

It was then compiled in a collection named Rohan Kishibe Does Not Shout with four other stories, which released for sale on June 19, 2018. Blackstar. is on pages 55–111 in the volume.

Rohan Kishibe retells the story of him encountering Spaghetti Man, a mysterious creature that appears in people's photos, to an agent from an American foundation.

Summary

Rohan Kishibe is sitting at a café, drawing meaningless lines in his sketchbook on his day off. He has a visitor at his table, who stares at the lines that Rohan is drawing. The man has white skin, blue eyes, wears a suit, and has a muscular appearance reminiscent of an NFL player. The lines that originally seemed meaningless now formed the face of a person as if it were a portrait. Rohan didn't intend to draw a human face, as he actually only drew lines and dots. In gestalt psychology, this phenomenon is referred to as the Law of Prägnanz, in which humans have a psychological tendency to find something meaningful in an irregular pattern of dots and lines. Whenever Rohan draws manga, he always questions if his lines have any meaning because things without meaning have no reality. The man acknowledges Rohan's claim but rebuts that this rule doesn't apply in all cases, and sometimes people see things that they shouldn't. Rohan is shocked and asks whether the man is an editor of an occult magazine. However, the man states that he's an agent like he told Rohan earlier, and gives him a business card. Rohan learns that his name is Agent Gabriel (エージェント・ガブリエル Ējento Gaburieru).

A week ago, the man contacted Rohan claiming to be an agent from an American foundation and had a request for him. It wasn't unusual for Rohan to get requests from overseas since he was a popular manga artist but Gabriel's request was different. Rohan admits that Gabriel is a determined guy to come all the way from America to Japan for the sake of commissioning a portrait. Rohan feels that the nature of his request and his behavior is suspicious, but doesn't feel any sense of danger from him.

Although Rohan is confident that his sketches are comparable to Picasso, he feels that Gabriel's offer of $500,000 for a single sketch is too excessive. Gabriel responds that his foundation determined that Rohan's sketch is worth exactly that much, because he is the only person in the world who can draw a portrait of the Spaghetti Man (スパゲッティ・マン Supagetti Man). Rohan could never forget that name after a recent encounter he had with the strange man. He accepts Gabriel's request, deciding that Spaghetti Man will be the next thing he draws. Rohan takes out a twisted metal rod from his bag, revealing that it used to be a pen but was transformed into a spaghetti-like shape. He points to a scribble in his sketchbook, noting how a man's face emerges from the random lines. Rohan then pulls out a stack of photos from his bag, revealing how the man in all of his pictures looks the same as the face in his sketch. He claims that Spaghetti Man was an urban legend, but just recently, Rohan had become its only survivor. He starts telling his story to Gabriel.

Rohan was researching urban legends at the time. He learned that Spaghetti Man was seen all over the world and posted on the Internet. While sorting his reference photos, Rohan noticed a mysterious man in one of them. It was a photo of Morioh's atmosphere on a late afternoon, depicting the local residents and tourists in the town coming and going. Among the crowd of pedestrians facing sideways, there was one man facing forward as if he was looking directly at Rohan. The man wore a sagging suit and a crumpled hat, with a faint smile on his face. Feeling as if the man looked unnatural, Rohan looked through over thirty photos and also saw the same man in all of them. He looked exactly the same, as if he were a duplicate. Rohan's photos weren't from the same time period nor the same location. They spanned over several years, either being in Morioh, Tokyo, a village deep in the mountains, or on the roadside in Tuscany, Italy. Rohan was horrified wondering why the man was in every place he had been to, thinking he had some kind of stalker. However, he thought this would be a great subject for a manga and decided to research it. He found several articles on the Internet mentioning Spaghetti Man, but everyone who supposedly encountered the man went missing.

The origin of the urban legend is traced back to three specific encounters. The first person who encountered Spaghetti Man was an American freelance journalist who Rohan decides to tentatively name Charles (チャールズ Chāruzu) for the story. Charles was preparing an article when he noticed the man's existence in photos he took of an abandoned city. There were only supposed to be demolished buildings there, and Charles was certain he didn't see anyone while he was there, yet the man was in all of his photos. Charles posted the photos on his news site and asked if his readers could identify the man. His article became the most-viewed on his site, but Charles vanished not long after. His disappearance piqued curiosity around the world and people started editing photos together, causing others to suspect that Charles' photos were also fake. However, then the next encounter occurred.

In Japan, a university student who Rohan names Kanako (カナコ), had a hobby of taking selfies and posting them on social media sites. Kanako would get many comments on her photos, but she stopped posting them one day. When asked why by a friend, she revealed that she kept seeing a strange man coming closer and closer to her. She immediately deleted the first photo she saw with him in it and didn't take any more photos, but since then, she would gradually see the man in the corner of her eye. After eventually seeing the man in her room, she screamed and woke up her roommate, who called an ambulance due to Kanako's fear. Kanako tried going to the police, but they couldn't help since there was no actual damage, and also advised her to go to a psychiatrist. Kanako decided she could no longer stay in her dormitory and decided to leave to live with her parents when she suddenly vanished and still hasn't been found by her family.

The final encounter was in Shanghai, China, with a university student who Rohan names Chan (チャン). Chan worked at a part-time job monitoring social media and news sites to censor anti-government posts. Chan wasn't patriotic, but liked that he had access to a large amount of information. Taking advantage of his position, Chan started a forum calling users around the world to investigate the previous two encounters. He was able to verify that both "Charles" and "Kanako" were real and had gone missing, as there were strange remains found at their disappearance sites. Their belongings such as smartphones, pens, and lipstick, were all stretched impossibly thin and twisted bizarrely, resembling spaghetti. Thus, Chan coined the alias "Spaghetti Man" for the mysterious man. Around this time, Chan stopped appearing on the forum as he was fired from his job for posting delusional information online. Chan complained that he was seeing the man everywhere, thinking it was someone from the government watching him. He posted a desperate plea for help online and then vanished as well, leaving behind twisted remains of the electronics in his apartment. Since then, people were afraid to talk about Spaghetti Man, but sightings continued to be reported. Determined to investigate Spaghetti Man for himself, Rohan suddenly received a phone call.

The display showed that it was a blocked call so Rohan assumed it was a prank, but the ringing didn't stop even after three minutes. Rohan finally answered prepared to yell at the caller, but the caller only calmly asked "Where are you?" before hanging up. Rohan tried investigating Kanako's university and where she disappeared, but could not find any leads since a few years had passed already and not many people remembered what happened. Rohan met an old woman who stated that she heard Kanako shout into an empty alley before suddenly disappearing. Rohan visited the crossroads where Kanako disappeared but didn't see anyone. However, he took a photo and saw Spaghetti Man standing by a utility pole on the image. As soon as he wondered whether it was really a hallucination, Rohan saw the man in the corner of his eye. His cellphone started ringing again but Rohan ignored it and it eventually stopped. Since then, Rohan would suddenly keep seeing Spaghetti Man coming closer to him. People on an active forum hypothesized that Spaghetti Man existed beyond space in time, based on the Wormhole Theory. This loophole allowed Spaghetti Man to travel to any location in an instant, making him capable of following anyone regardless of time or distance. Furthermore, before Chan disappeared, he posted that there is more than one "Spaghetti Man". Rohan realized that if these hypotheses are true, he didn't stand a chance since the range of their powers was infinite.

Rohan headed back home to Morioh, taking random photos along the way. Spaghetti Man appeared even closer in his photos, and then his cellphone rang. Rohan answered the call and was asked for his location again, but Rohan responded that there was no need to ask him that anymore. As soon as Rohan hung up, he saw Spaghetti Man in front of him. Rohan observed his enemy's movements, prepared to fight, but was surprised that his opponent made no attempt to do anything. Rohan questioned whether the man was actually a Stand user, trying to lure Rohan into a trap. Suddenly, Rohan's body started being pulled toward Spaghetti Man. When he got in range, Rohan activated Heaven's Door. However, it wasn't Spaghetti Man that he used his ability on, but rather a flock of crows who were flying past him at the right time. Rohan wrote in the crows that they would carry him and fly away. While flying away, Rohan managed to grab a tree branch and landed on a tree trunk. He noticed that Spaghetti Man was still standing in the middle of the street without moving, but all of the tree branches and grass near the man had stretched out as if they were being pulled toward him. A pen fell out from Rohan's pocket and started flying toward the man. Rohan witnessed the man ripping off his shirt to expose a giant black hole in his chest. When the pen reached the man, it distorted and stretched thin like spaghetti before disappearing. Rohan worried that the same thing would happen to him. He tested the ability again by throwing a tree branch at the man, observing how it stretched, twisted, and disappeared. Rohan realized that the force causing this unusual phenomenon was gravity. Rohan discerns that this ability is the biggest threat he's ever faced so far out of any Stand and creature.

Rohan attempted to devise a plan, but the whole area began to resound with an ominous sound as the trees on the street started violently swaying. Spaghetti Man duplicated into two men, then into four, and then constantly multiplied. Each of them exposed the black hole on their chest, merging together into a large black hole which sucked every object in their surrounding into them. The flock of crows that helped Rohan suffered the same fate and were pulled into the hole. Rohan could no longer stand on the tree trunk and had to hold onto it with all of his strength. The tree could not withstand the force of the Spaghetti Men's gravity and Rohan's body started being flung toward the black hole. As he was falling into the pitch darkness, Rohan was suddenly enlightened as to how he could survive. Rohan activated Heaven's Door, turning one Spaghetti Man into a book. Heaven's Door's limbs and consequently Rohan's limbs, were being stretched thin and twisted. Before Heaven's Door was completely destroyed, Rohan wrote a command stating that the Spaghetti Men could no longer recognize Rohan Kishibe. Due to the wormhole, the information that one Spaghetti Man received was transmitted to all of the Spaghetti Men. The Spaghetti Men disappeared along with their abnormal gravity. Rohan was dropped to the ground, with his body still mangled from Heaven's Door's injuries. Rohan reveals that he noticed the Spaghetti Man's book only had a string of unintelligible letters written in an unknown language. Rohan's cellphone rang again and then he lost consciousness.

Just as Rohan had gathered all of the information he could about Spaghetti Man and was about to start working on a story, Gabriel had contacted him to draw a portrait of the man. Rohan still wonders Spaghetti Man's true identity and where he would have ended up if he was completely swallowed by the black hole. Gabriel reveals that his foundation was aware of Rohan becoming Spaghetti Man's next encounter and had a response team in place to protect him if necessary. He also divulges that he is a researcher from the Speedwagon Foundation, and shows Rohan a different business card. Gabriel states that Rohan's testimony and sketch is worth $500,000 since it could help their research. However, Rohan is not interested in the money and asks for their information in exchange. Gabriel asks Rohan if he's familiar with the superstring theory in astrophysics. The theory concludes that spacetime has ten dimensions. The Speedwagon Foundation hypothesizes that there are beings which exist in those ten dimensions whose actions are limited in three-dimensional spacetime, so they use Spaghetti Man to try contacting humans. Gabriel also discloses that his team was deliberately posting their hypotheses and information on the Internet forum to try secretly helping people who were researching Spaghetti Man. Spaghetti Man is basically a pseudo-bait meant to lure humans from the three-dimensional spacetime into a different dimension. The three-dimensional space-time is like a body of water, the monster's fishing line is the wormhole, and the bait on the end of the hook are the Spaghetti Men.

Gabriel warns Rohan not to make his next story about the Spaghetti Man since he already escaped its pursuit once and shouldn't attract its attention again. Rohan declares that he's still a manga artist and would draw what he wants. He draws a new image of Spaghetti Man in his sketchbook, tears out the page, and gives it to Gabriel before leaving. Walking along the sidewalk, Rohan could see Spaghetti Man standing among the crowd of people, but it is no longer looking toward Rohan. Thus, Rohan takes out his pen and draws another sketch of it.

Appearances

Characters
Agent Gabriel
Agent Gabriel
Spaghetti Man
Spaghetti Man
Charles
Charles
Kanako
Kanako
Chan
Chan

Gallery

Trivia

  • The title of the story and the ability of the Spaghetti Man is based on the theoretical construct with the same name.

References

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