Part 100: Coco's Route - True End - Part 5TrackDer Mond Das Meer
I answered honestly.
"Jewel chocolate is an ordinary candy bar. Only the special thing is that a toy ring comes with the candy as an extra surprise."
"There are 34 types of the toy rings in total. If you want to collect all of the rings, then you have to keep buying the candy. But don't you think that is a little odd? The relationship is backwards here. Really the chocolate should be the primary reason for buying the candy and the ring should be secondary. But for people that collect rings, the chocolate is kind of a secondary benefit."
"So you mean that chocolate becomes 'something extra' after the rings?"
"But...so what? ...What does that have to do with what we were talking about?"
"Don't you get it?"
I tilted my head.
"The primary reason that I go to everybody is not to see them."
Tsugumi stopped talking. The smile was gone from her face. She stared at me with a serious look. It was a tense look. Just looking at her deep and dark colored eyes, I felt as if I were about to be absorbed. But I couldn't look away. I couldn't even budge. My body was stiff like a pillar of salt.
"I'm just...Collecting rings. The chocolate is an added benefit."
As she said that, I didn't know why, but suddenly she touched my ear. She traced the outline of my ear and pinched my earlobe tenderly. In that moment, my body burst into fragments.
I just found myself in the middle of the corridor standing in a daze. Tsugumi had disappeared at some point.
"I'm just collecting rings."
Tsugumi's voice echoed in my head.
They were lying on the table and breathing as if they were asleep. Their legs were facing me. I could almost see their underwear. But I was not interested in it.
I pretended not to be interested. I walked to the side of the table and shook You's body slightly.
You opened her eyes rubbing one of them with her hand.
"You'll catch a cold sleeping in a place like this."
"I'm alright...Mayo's body is...warm, so..."
Saying that, You hugged Sara's body tightly. Sara said something in delirium, but she didn't seem to wake up. I figured they both had to be tired...
"I think he went to...the merry-go-round..."
"You mean...the merry-go-round with the dolphins?"
"Yeah...That's what he said...before he left..."
"Did he go alone?"
As I asked, I realized that I'd already known the answer. Sora was in the Control Room. I had met Tsugumi a minute ago. You and Sara were holding each other like koalas in front of me...
"He went alone..."
You answered me.
"Alright then...Can you let me sleep...now? I'm having a nice time..."
Having a nice time? You might have been half in a dream.
I thought briefly that it would be nice to go to sleep between You and Sara, but unfortunately I was not sleepy at all. Besides I was curious about what was Takeshi doing at the merry-go-round. If I remembered right, Takeshi had been sitting on a dolphin earlier in the day as well. Sara had told me that.
I wondered if riding on the merry-go-round alone was fun. If that was something fun for him, Takeshi was kind of freaky.
"I am the king of a dolphin kingdom!"
I could imagine Takeshi having fun by himself. But if he wasn't there for his amusement, then I wanted to know the reason why he was going to the merry-go-round so often. Anyway, I was itching to find out the truth. That's why I didn't mind climbing up 51 feet of stairs.
After I walked a while, I could see a door on the left side. There was a dolphin merry-go-round through the door. The door had been left open. I sneaked into the room trying not to make a sound.
He was alone as I expected. Takeshi was all alone...
"Where are you!? Hey! You! Oh, come on! What IS this!?"
He was wandering around in front of the merry-go-round as he screamed nonsense. It was as if he were chasing something invisible...He might have thought he was chasing butterflies over the flower garden. That was what it looked like to me.
"You've known it all along, right? There's no way I can catch you...No matter how hard I try...I can't catch...you..."
Takeshi was talking to a fake dolphin, tropical fish and seaweed. There was obviously something wrong with him. He was sicker than I imagined. It was no time to laugh. I was paralyzed with fear. I didn't even have the presence of mind to feel sorry for him.
(He's gone crazy because he's locked up in a place like this...We didn't even notice, but somewhere along the line he just snapped...)
"Is something wrong? Are you worn out? Nothing bad's happened, has it?"
It seemed that Takeshi was worried about the dolphins. I clasped my hands together as if in a prayer pose. I decided to leave without saying anything. I decided to pretend I hadn't seen it and keep it to myself.
Video: Coco Moonlight Atonement
Now with a faster text speed!
I started walking toward the exit. As the distance between myself and Takeshi grew, I couldn't hear what he said. Only one thing reached me...
Wait, maybe the attack hit before his voice did. I didn't know....I didn't know...but in any case, I lost my sense of balance. I couldn't tell what was up or down. It was such a sudden change that it threw me. I felt an urge to vomit...and a headache....
"Who...are you? Who...am I?"
It was my voice, but it wasn't mine....I lost consciousness....I crashed to the floor. Was it me that fell? Or someone else that wasn't me? I felt myself sinking into the ground. Was I sinking? Or was the floor trying to swallow me?
I didn't know...I didn't know...I didn't know....
"Clone Law? C-L-O-N-E LAW? C-L-O-N-E L-A-W? C L O N E L A W ?"
Takeshis voice is doing the slow down and deepen/distort every repetition here, done to much better effect in the accompanying video.
I melted into the pure white darkness
"Yes...the 'Clone Law'."
"I dunno. I mean, I forgot."
"In 2010 - Human cloning, which had been illegal up until then, was allowed by law. Currently, as long as anyone receives the approval of the authorities, cloning may be used as a method to treat infertility. They take the nucleus from an already-cultivated somatic cell, and then insert it into an egg that has had its original nucleus removed. Then they implant it into the mother's womb..."
"Oh, that's right, I remember now!"
"Do you understand?"
"But what does that have to do with this? Clones develop separately. In other words they are different entities. They're not the same person. They're more like twins..."
"But, their source is the same."
Sora spoke almost casually.
"Let's go back to what we were talking about..."
"There can be several of me existing in the same space, at the same time. For example, in front of you and in front of Coco. There and here, there are two of me. But they are definitely not 'W'...but 'Y'."
" 'Y' ? "
"You see...please think of it this way. What if you could be copied exactly, just the way you are?"
"For instance...For instance, what if every recollection, thought, feeling, character trait, personality, and emotion that is etched into your mind...In other words, your whole intelligence, could be perfectly, exactly extracted...and then duplicated in some kind of storage medium, even reproducing all your abilities...Then, where is the real you? The you who stays in your body, is that the real you? Or is the duplicate character in fact you?"
"The answer is, in any case, the real you does exist in both."
"Historically, and from that moment forward, the two of you are traveling down the time axis as separate entities. But, if you turn around and look at the journey you have taken, you will see that at one point the two of you were joined together. It is split like a 'Y,' with two points emerging from one line. Not a 'W,' with two separate points of origin. You may be unable to imagine two of yourself, splitting apart and going different ways at a particular moment which we will use as a reference point.
But that is something that has already happened. You are always, constantly, approaching a choice in each present moment that becomes the past the instant you visit it. Will you choose path A? Will you choose path B? The you that is standing here may have come down path A, but in another time axis, there may be a you who is going down path B. And both the you on path A and the you on path B are both still you. Except that, the 'you' on path A doesn't know about the 'you' on path B. Because there is no way to know."
"Do you know why that is?"
"Uh...tell me if this is basically it. The me on path A that you are talking about is one of the branches of the 'Y', and the me on path B is the other branch. To make it easier to understand, let's say that this is all 2-dimensional, or on a flat plane. In this case, both my A and B selves would be 2-dimensional beings. As 2-dimensional beings they wouldn't have an accurate awareness of their 2-dimensional world at any time. Just like a person in a 3-dimensional world can't keep track of all six sides of a die in real time. Uh...that means....let's see...Dang! I lost my train of thought!
"In other words, basically...it means this! The person at one end of the Y and the person at the other end of the Y branch can't really be aware of each other in real time. In order to know what is happening at the other end of the Y...You'd have to extract yourself from the 2-dimensional plane and view the 'Y' from a 3-dimensional space. Until you can do that, even if you understand it mentally, there is no way to confirm whether both A and B selves exist."
"Well, that is just about right. To pick up there..."
Sora said this in a matter-of-fact tone.
"Until a being existing in the 2nd dimension removes themselves from the 2nd dimension and views it from the 3rd-dimensional space above, that person will never fully be able to grasp the 2nd dimension."
"...and realize too that there is another you who took a different branch of the 'Y'. Let's try to pull this together. In order to be fully aware of one's dimension, one must view it from the next dimension, n+1, or one dimension removed."
"For a person to be fully aware of the 3rd dimension, he or she needs to enter the 4th dimension. In other words, for you to realize that there is another of yourself that has branched off...You must get into the 4th dimension and look down into the 3rd dimension. In this case, the 4th-dimensional space becomes a type of 'Minkowski Space'...but let's not get in to that."
"So...So with this I think I have gotten you to understand that there can be versions of yourself with different histories, in different worlds and existing in different spaces. You are omnipresent in the world. And in the same way, so am I. You and I...We are just branches of the 'Y'...However...Your divided selves can become one..."
"If you could stand in a place where you could see and understand all the others that were 'you' - Then all the experiences of your other selves would become like your own experiences. In the truest sense, you would become one."
I let out a long sigh.
"Listen...Can I ask you something?"
"Why are you telling all this to me?"
"Hmm...that's a good question..."
Sora did a somersault in space and smiled.
"It is a legend. It has to do with the origin of LeMU...and the mythical Lemurian continent. Let's just leave it at that."
"...and you must understand, it is a secret."
Sora held up one finger in front of her mouth. And then, without a sound, she vanished.
There should be an alternate reading for Sora's name that means "onslaught of words." Seriously.
There was doorbell ditching and eating and running, but I figured there wasn't a word like chat-and-run or debate and ditch. But that was exactly what Sora had just done to me.
Letting out a sigh I made for the exit. As I walked I reflected back on what Sora had said. Clones...and dividing selves...walking in different times...simultaneous copies of Sora...the ubiquitous Sora....I wondered if Sora was just trying to say that everything was all the same. So maybe Sora with all her incomprehensible and special attributes - not having one self - was really not all that different.
I wondered if that was what Sora had wanted to say. I wasn't sure....But I didn't see much use in thinking any more about things that I didn't understand...
That is when it happened....
My foot came into contact with something soft. It felt as if I were stepping on a person....
"That's not a person is it?"
One of my feet was standing on the Kid's small back.
"Hey! Kid! Kid! Are you alright?"
I kneeled down next to him and raised his body up.
"Whaddya mean 'Ah! Takeshi'!? What're you doing collapsed in a place like this?"
"Place like this?"
The Kid bounced up like he had been shocked.
"I don't know what happened. All of the sudden my head hurt and...And then I fell down here."
"Your head? That could be bad news."
"No, I'm alright. I think a little sleep refreshed me."
"You sure? You sure you're fine?"
"Yeah...But my back kinda hurts..."
I decided not to tell him I'd been stepping on it.
"And...I'm starved. My stomach won't stop growling."
"I...I see...Well if you've got an appetite, then you're probably okay, but...But maybe you should have Sora take a look at you? Healthy people don't just get headaches and collapse all of a sudden."
"Hey! Are you listening to what I'm saying?"
"Takeshi, you worry too much. I said I'm fine. I'm just a little anemic is all. And if it's not that, then I'm probably tired or hungry. Anyway, right now the only thing that hurts is my back."
(Yeah...I just can't bring myself to tell him I've stepped on it...)
"But enough about that - let's get to the kiosk! I'm starving!"
Saying that, the Kid made for the exit, walking briskly. Shrugging, I watched him go.
Of course, it was to see Tsugumi. Her surgery was done a long time before Sora's talk about 'W and Y'....over seven hours before. I'd asked Sora about Tsugumi's condition.
"It required a total of 40 stitches and will take two months to heal completely. Until a rescue team arrives at LeMU, and we can get her out of here, she will have to rest. So I imagine that Tsugumi will have to rest until a rescue team comes or she can get out of LeMU."
We were lucky that there was no damage done to her brain or organs. Only her right thigh was injured.
Maybe 'only' wasn't the best way to put it....In any case, she had a compound fracture and had a severed artery...and if we had taken any longer to treat her...she might have died from blood loss. I was thankful to You from the bottom of my heart.
Tsugumi was sleeping quietly on the bed in the far side of the room. It wasn't my first time to visit her since the surgery. I had been in and out from that afternoon to evening again and again. Thinking about it then it seemed to me that the reason Sora had suddenly called me and explained about the whole W and Y thing....Had probably been to take my mind off of Tsugumi.
She looked peaceful and was breathing steadily. A white blanket was covering her and her foot peeked out from under it. She had a cast and bandage wrapped around her right leg. It looked painful. The smell of medicine continued to assault my nose. The scene was fairly raw, with traces still visible of where blood had been wiped away.
I reached my hand under the blanket and gently took Tsugumi's palm in my hand.
"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."
All I could do was repeat that mantra over and over to resting Tsugumi.
The Kid started...
The Kid was chasing Pipi around as they wove around the statues. They all looked like they were having fun.
"I'm going to go look in on Sora."
...to head for the Control Room.
I didn't see Coco anywhere. I decided to look into the nearby kiosk.
No one was.
Squinting, I looked down the corridor to where it came to a T - only there was no sign of anyone. Nearby was the entrance to the Lemurian Ruins. The door was open. I could here a small splashing sound coming from the area. I entered the room as if it were inviting me in.
She was standing on a stone that was just above the water's surface...her feet together.
Coco lifted her face. She looked lonely. I approached her.
"What...are you up to...?"
Coco just stood there silently, eyes on the surface of the water. Looking closer, I saw that she was clutching something in her left hand. Then Coco took that something in her right hand and let loose with it, tossing it into space.
With a light splashing sound...that something hit and sank in the water. It disappeared amidst a circle of expanding ripples.
Coco threw something again. There was a small spray of water. The lights' reflection on the water shook uncertainly.
Just as the waves were about to die away, Coco launched something into the water. But the area was dark and I couldn't see what it was.
Coco opened her hand and showed me. In her palm were tiny, pebble-sized pellets. I wondered if they were glass. They were transparent and shaped like water droplets. They were shaped like crystal teardrops...that is how they looked. It was as if she had a handful of tears.
Coco flicked one of them with the tip of her finger.
And that 'tear' sunk into the water.
"Ya' know, I...I've been thinking about Tsugumi..."
Coco said that, ignoring my question.
"It's my fault...."
"Tsugumi...she was just trying...to save me...She was trying to help me...That's why...Tsugumi...why Tsugumi..."
Coco's shoulders shook.
"Really...I should have been the one hurt...No...If Tsugumi hadn't saved me...I might have been dead..."
The 'tear' traced an arc through the air before falling into the water.
"Tsugumi...I wonder if she's angry..."
"Don't be silly. Why would Tsugumi be angry with you? Even if she were angry with anyone, it would be me. I mean, my carelessness caused everything...I'm the one to blame..."
I thought that the sadness Coco was feeling...that was all my fault as well....
"It's not your fault...It was me...I'm to blame..."
"It's because I wasn't paying attention...That's why...Tsugumi had to get hurt instead of me..."
Coco let the 'tears' she was holding fall, scattering below her. A burst of white spray erupted from the water's surface below her.
Jumping off of the rock, Coco came bounding into my chest.
"I'm going to go apologize to Tsugumi...I'm going to go tell her...that I'm sorry...That I'm sorry...just real sorry..."
Coco continued to bury her face in my chest, crying. Coco's tears seeped through into my skin and into my core, like rain falling on my heart.
Cold rain. The mini ripples on the water continued to fan out, never disappearing.
Next time: Fowl play and bad eggs.
Oh, and some serious stuff, I guess.