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Chapter Prologue

Prologue ~ A Lost Couple and A New Coffee Shop

 


To all passengers, thank you for traveling with us. This is the last stop for this train. Please show your tickets at the gate. Since this train will be entering the depot afterwards, please make sure that you do not leave anything behind.
ーIf you have any problems, please do not hesitate to inform the station master.


On a certain evening, the red, setting sun illuminated a train stopped at the platform of Harper Town Station.
After the steam whistle blew, the steam locomotive slowly rumbled away, pulling the passenger cars with it.
When the silence eventually returned, only two long shadows remained on the platform.

「You youths over there, the station will be closing soon. Have you finished getting your tickets checked?」

An old man, who was wearing a double-breasted coat with a stand-up collar and a kepi cap made of navy blue fabric and decorated with a gold ornament, spoke to the two young people at the foot of the shadows.
A bespectacled young man, leading a petite lady by the hand, headed towards the ticket gate where the old man was standing. From the looks of the ears atop the lady’s head, she appeared to be a cat demi-human.

「Excuse me, where on earth is this…?」

The young man asked the old man in embarrassment, after arriving at the ticket gate.

「This is Harper Town Station, the last station on the Roses-Harper Line… Did something happen?」

The old man answered while observing them.
The young man asked the girl, who seemed to be worrying on the side, whether she recognized the town or not, but she seemed puzzled.
As the station master, the old man was unable to simply stand and watch, so he called out to them again.

「Hmm, if you have something troubling you, would you please let us know what your situation is?」

The old man said as he closed the door of the ticket gate, which had been installed at waist height.
He led the two people to a nearby waiting room, just in front of the ticket gate.

―――――

「…What should we do? No, I believe that it’s reasonable to not believe this is happening…」

The young man introduced himself as Takumi and explained the situation to the old man in front of him – the station master entrusted with the management of the station.
Up until a few hours ago, the young man had been heading to “Takayama” in a train bound for “Nagoya” (although Takumi mentioned “Tokyu”, the station master guessed that this was a nickname for trains). It seemed that he had fallen asleep, but a loud noise had woken him up, and he had found himself on the train that had stopped at this station just a short time ago.
Furthermore, his legally married wife, who was sitting next to him, “sprouted cat ears and turned into a young girl”, according to him… Takumi was attempting to somehow explain it logically, but he wasn’t able to put his thoughts into order, so it felt like he wasn’t able to express himself.
(TL note: Tokyu is a famous train company in Japan so Japanese people sometimes call their trains by the train names such as “Tokyu” too.)
(ED: Since our TLC pointed this out, “legally married” seemed strange to us in this context, but it was present in the raws.)

The station master listened carefully, while nodding seriously at every word that Takumi carefully chose during his explanation.
Then, after pondering it with folded arms, he faced the young Takumi and spoke.

「I see…did a “Timeline Switch” occur?」

「”Timeline Switch”…what’s that?」

When Takumi heard


the unfamiliar words, he asked for clarification.

「”Timeline Switch” is a phenomenon where the time and space of parallel worlds somehow intersect spontaneously, affecting people who live in one world by moving them to the other. Can I call you Takumi-dono?」

Even though he was puzzled by his name being called out so suddenly, Takumi just nodded in agreement. The station master also nodded and continued his story.

「Perhaps, some kind of incident happened in Takumi-dono’s original world. As a result, a ‘Timeline Switch’ was triggered, and both of you were transported to ‘this world’.」

「I see… To be honest, I can’t understand what has happened at all, but all I know is…this place is different from the world I’m from. If that’s the case, then my wife too…?」

While Takumi digested the station master’s words, he looked towards the cat-eared girl dangling her legs on the seat next to him. She opened her eyes wide, tilted her head, and stared at Takumi.
The station master gave him the answer he was looking for while watching the situation.

「Yeah, that girl is probably still your wife. I don’t know the details, but this is probably also the influence of the “Timeline Switch”. Umm, is fine to call you Nyaachi-san?」

「Funya~?」

When her name was called out, Nyaachi responded absentmindedly.

「Nyaachi-san, do you remember being with Takumi-san before you woke up?」

The station master dropped down to Nyaachi’s eye level and spoke to her with a gentle tone.
Nyaachi began to think, raising her head with her mouth pursed slightly, as she look up at the empty ceiling and fidgeted.

「I don’t really knyow. But, I feel like I’ve been together with my husband for a long time-nya!」

As soon as she said that, Nyaachi embraced Takumi’s arm, who seemed embarrassed and looked like he wanted to hide his face.
Takumi naturally received Nyaachi, who was behaving like a spoiled child, and gently stroked her hair. Nyaachi purred loudly while enjoying the warmth.

The station master happily watched the situation, but since he felt that it would carry on longer, he cleared his throat before asking Takumi about his plans for the future.

「Now then, what will you do from now on, Takumi-dono?」

Takumi, who was brought back to reality by the station master’s words, chided Nyaachi, who was clinging onto his arm, and started to think while folding his arms.

「To be honest…I haven’t the faintest idea of what to do. To begin with, I don’t know whether I can return to my own world… Above all, I have to find a place to stay first…」

The station master listened to Takumi and made an understanding expression. He worked out his thoughts for a while.
The station master concluded that there was probably a way, and he proposed a plan to Takumi and Nyaachi.

「For the time being, you may use this station as your lodgings and stay here for a while. Since the second floor of the station was originally a lodging house, I don’t think it will be much of a problem for two people to stay there. Also, please do not hesitate to let me know if you need anything.」

Takumi was troubled by the proposition…but the station master laughed in return and asked him not to hold back.
Takumi pondered for some time while staring at Nyaachi. Then, he stood up and bowed deeply.

「I’m honestly grateful. Then, I’ll accept your kind offer. At least, please let me know if there’s anything we can do to help you.」

「No problem. Well then, this might be a bit sudden, but since the rooms on the second floor haven’t been used lately, please help me clean them up.」

As the station master said that, he took a match from his pocket and lit the portable lamp on the table.
The interior, which had been getting darker as nightfall approached, was suddenly bathed in light. Takumi and Nyaachi followed the station master, who was leading with the lamp, up the stairs.

Thus, it was decided that Takumi and Nyaachi would stay in this station building, and soon after that, they were employed by the station, becoming live-in staff. The lodging house on the second floor of the station became their home in “this world”.

―――――

A few months later, Takumi, who had become the “station master’s representative” and was currently wearing a black apron, was silently contemplating something in the kitchen behind the waiting room of the station.

A pot of coffee was steaming on the newly installed oven stove, and the smell of cinnamon was in the air.
The basket on the kitchen table contained slices of yellow cornbread, all waiting for their turn.
Finally, there was a flat wooden tray holding a bowl of salad, which had contrasting light green and bright red vegetables mixed with white, unpeeled eggs on the side.

「The preparations here are OK-nya! 」

「Got it!」

Takumi loudly responded to Nyaachi’s energetic voice, which had come from the other side of the small window separating the kitchen and the waiting room.
Takumi looked around the kitchen once more. This was the new workplace, which had been shaped by Takumi’s “wish”.

Takumi had learned that the development of technology in “this world” was at least 150 years behind his original world.
There were stagecoaches trotting around the city, and the main power source for locomotives and factories were steam engines. Wells and waterworks had been somewhat developed, but there was no electricity or gas. The heat source used for cooking was mainly “firewood” or “charcoal”.
In that sense, his new workshop was considered a “classic” and couldn’t be compared to the kitchen that he had worked in previously.

However, even so, by the standards of “this world”, this kitchen contained cutting edge equipment.
For example, the rocket stove could produce high heating power even with firewood, and was introduced as a substitute for a gas stove.
In addition, since the oven stove looked like a metal stove, you weren’t limited to using the inside of the furnace as a grill oven. The plate on top could be used as a hot plate that warmed pots with a gentle heat, so it was now possible to make flame broiled food.
All of these things had been prepared by the station master. He had made sure to perfectly prepare everything Takumi needed in order to open a coffee shop by fully utilizing his personal connections. Takumi mentally muttered his gratitude towards the station master once more.


A rather modern rocket stove for reference

The minute hand of the grandfather clock pointed straight up and announced the time by making a “ding dong” sound eight times. It was finally time to open the shop.
Takumi went to the waiting room, which would be used as a “dining area” from today onwards, and opened the big wooden door facing the pathway in front of the ticket gate. He saw some faces that he had become familiar with while working in the station.
Takumi stood in front of the door with Nyaachi, bowed deeply, and made his first greeting as the “master” of this store.

「I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. The coffee shop “Swallow” is now open.」


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