Part 35: Takeshi - Fifth Day - Part 4TrackKopfsprung
Cowed, the Kid froze.
I pulled back the hand that I had raised. It all felt so stupid... And so terribly sad. The Kid looked up at me all hunched up and trembling. I was disappointed in myself for having tried to hit someone like him. My heart ached with sadness. I let go of the Kid's collar, and he backed away slowly. Everyone watched us silently.
"Aaghh.... Damn it, damn it..."
Tears welled up in his eyes.
"Kid...look over at Tsugumi. She injured her leg terribly and almost drowned... She had surgery...If it were me, I'd have probably died, but she pulled through it."
I pointed at Tsugumi. Tsugumi stood silently. The kid timidly raised his eyes to look at her. But, he soon stared at the floor again.
"But... Takeshi, you can say that, but..."
"I'm not Tsugumi... We're not all the same."
"I can't do it. I can't do it..."
"I'm just not that strong. And I never will be...!"
"I can't go on living. I don't want to go on living...!"
"So, then.... I should just..."
I didn't want to make him say the rest. But I couldn't stop him. I knew how hard it would be for him to say. Even I wasn't that strong. Everyone waited for the Kid's next words in silence... They were probably unthinkable.
"So, what do you want to do?"
"What do you want to do...Kid?"
Tsugumi took a step forward and stared at the kid. Those eyes were unfeeling, and quiet.
"Come on, you can tell me. I want to know what you want to do..."
Softly she approached the Kid one step at a time. Everyone was so caught off guard that they couldn't move. Couldn't say a word.
"What? You can't say it?"
He tried to say something, but no words would come out of his mouth. He had also forgotten how to back away. Tsugumi went up to the Kid and touched him.
"You don't want to live?"
The Kid tried to nod, but his head wouldn't budge.
"So, you want to die then?"
The Kid couldn't respond either.
"Say something, please... I don't know what you mean...?"
Tsugumi asked the Kid, her tone neutral.
"So, which is it...? Do you want to die? Do you want to live?"
"... So...you can't answer? Well then..."
"Don't ever...say that again. Okay?"
The Kid broke down in tears, and fell to floor covered in water.
"Aaaagh... I'm sorry... I'm so...sorryyy...."
You, suddenly spurred into action, ran over to the Kid and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Sora looked down and covered her face with her hands. She was trembling. Coco and Pipi were staring at everyone, speechless.
Not knowing what else to say, I just stood there. I looked at her face. But I couldn't read what she was thinking from her expression.
"Takeshi... Come here for a second..."
Seeing that I was confused, Tsugumi ran over to me. Eyebrows raised she glared at me strongly. What was she thinking...?
"Ouch! W-w-w-what are you doing...that hurts!"
"Stop whining and get over here! Come on, hurry up!"
Totally clueless, I followed along behind her. She had grabbed my ear and mercilessly tugged...
"Why are you doing this! Ouch..."
Wordlessly, she doggedly moved forward. She kept a firm grip on me and kept pulling, so that I couldn't get away.
"Aaaaaagh, sheriff... This is killing meeee. Let go of me. Pleeeasee."
We kept climbing the stairs. She wouldn't let go no matter how I pleaded, so I finally shut up.
"Wheeeew....thank heavens... I mean...what are you doing!! Are you crazy!?"
"Quit your bitching... Just when I thought you'd FINALLY shut up..."
Tsugumi let out a big sigh.
"W-what's that face supposed to mean!?"
"Just what it looks like... I'm so disappointed in you."
She furrowed her brow and looked at me. She pinched the bridge of her nose, and shook her head. She looked completely fed up. Tsugumi turned and she started walking away from me.
"H-hey! Wait a second!"
"What's with you!? Did I do something to you?"
I hurried over to her and insisted that she answer me.
"No, it's not like that...you don't understand anything."
And throwing back her shoulders, she picked up her pace.
"What don't I understand? I mean...er... Things were getting out of hand back there...if you hadn't said something, I don't know how it would have turned out. I'm glad you did. I'm...really sorry. And, thanks..."
I kept yelling as I chased after her.
"You of all people know how serious this situation is, right? So how come you are... No, that's not it... That's not it...That's not it! You're angry at ME right? Why are you so mad...please tell me!"
Tsugumi stopped at the entrance to Qualle.
"Okay, I will..."
"It's a stupid question, but I'll answer it for you anyway."
All of a sudden Tsugumi smiled at me. I flinched.
"Do you remember what you said earlier?"
"Me? I...let's see... I was fairly angry...so I really don't remember that well... And might not have been all 'there' at the time... B-but, you know! I really don't think I said anything wrong to the Kid! And I'm sure about that..."
"I guess it looks like you weren't wrong."
"That's why I'm mad."
I got on soon after her and closed the door. The gondola zipped into the tube, and out into the ocean.
Takeshi -- Showdown and... I
Tsugumi pounded the shell of the jellyfish with her fist. Her expression was one of annoyance again. The gondola swayed slightly, as it moved forward slowly.
"Is it really just 'enough to be alive'? You say, 'You're one of us, so you should cooperate'?' And that's how you keep pushing him to agree with you, and buy into all your fake ideals. I can't believe how irresponsible you can be..."
"Who the hell do you think you are? You've really got some nerve talking like that..."
"So! What else could I do!? It's better than just standing by and watching him sink in despair, it's better to have a little hope than nothing at all, right?"
"You're such a hypocrite."
"Well, you know what? You're selfish and self-righteous...and you're always faking like you don't care about anyone! You go around hurting people on purpose, and making them feel like crap... And now you're trying to make me look bad...!"
"I do not...I'm not doing it on purpose. There's just a lot that I don't agree with."
"Liar. That's not the way you want things to happen in your heart, and you know that! Why do you have to lash out at everything!? Why can't you just be yourself for once?"
"You're wrong...you're the one who isn't being yourself!"
"I'm always myself."
"You're so twisted."
"That's funny coming from you."
"This isn't what we were talking about, anyway. Why are you so angry?"
"If I did something wrong, then I guess I deserve it... If there really is a good reason, then hey, I won't complain. So, come on, tell me. I won't argue with you, just tell me what it is."
Tsugumi sat back down in the gondola. Her tone had almost returned to normal.
"Y-yeah. Of course."
She hesitated a bit, but soon came to sit next to me. Tsugumi looked straight ahead. She didn't try to look at me.
"Because...I want to know. Because I want to know what my friends are thinking."
I put my hand lightly on her shoulder. I was becoming more and more worried. Maybe she was still trying to be stubborn... Tsugumi didn't try to shake off my hand, but just sat there.
"That's right... You had made me 'one of the gang,' hadn't you...?"
"If you want to know, then here goes. I'll tell you.... It's because in the end, I've become 'Your Friend.'"
"... Why do you have to say it like that! You're not still..."
Tsugumi thrust her hand into her pocket and took something out.
"Chami. Djungarian hamster... Who cares, where the heck did you pull that from?"
"I know that. That's not what I'm asking... Don't just shove him out and talk about him as a 'this.' Hamsters are delicate living creatures, and you should be careful with him."
"Yeah, you're right... But what else can I do? He doesn't have anywhere else to go."
Chami stood in Tsugumi's hand. He twitched his nose and looked up at both of our faces inquisitively. Tsugumi stroked Chami softly with the tip of her finger.
TrackDrittes Auge Nehmen
Tsugumi... Grasped both of her hands tightly together. In between the cracks of her fingers, I could see Chami's soft, warm-looking gray fur. Soon, his body disappeared entirely in her hands.
"Do you know what will happen?"
"I-idiot! Cut it out!!"
"Come on, answer me..."
Tsugumi started to squeeze harder. Chami, who only the tip of his nose was visible, turned his beady eyes toward Tsugumi.
"W-what are you talking about!? It's totally obvious! What a stupid question! You want to talk about stupid questions? There's one for you!!"
She started squeezing more. The space between her fingers got smaller and smaller. Chami twisted his body and started to struggle.
"Cut it out!! Tsugumi, if you go on like this...Chami's going to..."
The hamster looked at Tsugumi and me. At the end I thought he even let out a small breath.
Tsugumi crushed her hands together with all of her might.
Her hands were shaking with the effort. From the cracks of her fingers, red droplets started to fall.
"Well, Takeshi... What do you think happened... to Chami?"
Tsugumi's voice was also shaking.
Tsugumi doesnt really have a mourning portrait like some of the other characters do, so there isnt much I can do about this.
"... No. You think I'm going to answer you that?"
"Open your hands. Tsugumi.... Open up your hands! Please, just open them up... Now!"
Her hands were shaking heavily as they opened.
"Tsugumi...what have you done...!!"
He was dead. And his fur was slightly wet. Chami looked like a dirty old dishrag. Probably all of the bones in his body were broken. All of the blood had probably been squeezed from his body. He probably hadn't had anytime to wonder, it had happened so fast... His life had been...extinguished...
"So... Takeshi, do you know...? What do you think...is going to happen now?"
"Tsugumi! Cut it out!!"
I shook Tsugumi's shoulders violently. I thought for sure that I would knock her down. I forced her to look at me. But... Tsugumi... Was crying, and her lips trembled as she bit down on them.
"Takeshi... Why won't you answer me... Aaaahh..."
"... Chami is... Chami is..."
"He won't ever move again..."
In her hand Chami seemed to move faintly. As if he had woken up suddenly. His movements were stiff, and barely visible and... Extremely slow, but... He was actually moving. His heart had started beating again, he had started thinking again, breathing again. He shook himself off slightly... Fluttered his ears... And twitched his nose. He got up on shaking legs and even tried to stand. However... There was still blood on her hand.
"What happened to Chami?"
Our gondola at Qualle had already passed the entrance to the ride twice, and was just starting to make its third pass. One pass really wasn't that long. All together we had only been on it between just over 10 minutes. In that brief time, he had returned to normal and was sitting up on her palm...staring at the two of us inquisitively.
Tsugumi was petting Chami softly again with the tip of her finger.
"Different than the Kid. Different than you. You saw, didn't you? That was real."
"Chami has the virus. The first time I tried to pet him, he got spooked. He bit my finger, and my blood got all over him... So Chami's just like me now."
"No... No way... No way...I don't believe you..."
I still couldn't believe her. Or what she had told me about the virus earlier. Or what had happened right in front of me then.
Tsugumi murmured as she looked down.
"He's alive... He's breathing. His heart is beating... But it hurt, didn't it little guy? It was painful, wasn't it...?"
"I did something terrible... I'm sorry Chami. I'm so sorry. Forgive me...I was wrong... But, it's okay, because...you're alive right...?"
I started shaking Tsugumi's shoulders again.
"W-what the hell are you talking about!!? H-how can you say something like that!? You just put him through something unimaginable and now you just say 'It's okay, because you're alive!'"
Tsugumi brushed my hands off.
"That's what YOU said! That's exactly what you said back there! 'It's 'enough to be alive' - you're the one who said that! So how about it! You saw what happened right!? You saw what happened to Chami, right? What I did to him?.... You SAW it Takeshi!"
Takeshi -- Showdown and... II
"And you can say it's 'enough to still be alive'...? Well it isn't."
"It isn't. No matter what you say...! I won't believe it! It isn't enough to just have life...you can't say that's living!"
"So...do you understand? ...Or don't you? Takeshi, tell me...? How about you Chami... Do you understand...?"
Her face was pointing down. I couldn't see her expression... But I didn't have to. I knew what it was... Tsugumi was crying silently. Countless tears fell from her face. Like raindrops falling one by one onto the red-stained floor of Qualle.
I didn't know what to say. No words seemed adequate.
"Hey...... Do you know...how many times I've died?"
She was trying to stay as calm as she could.
"I have no idea..."
I scarcely could move my lips as I replied.
"I don't remember anymore, anyway."
"In the beginning there were said to be only a few of us carriers. But out of all of them, I was special..."
"I was 12 at the time, and my family went to America because of my father's job. A friend of mine then... Julia... She and I were the same age and she had to go to the hospital."
"They said it was a terminal disease... She had leukemia.... and was transferred back and forth to different places, but nobody could help her.... But I kept going to see her. To keep up her spirits. Watching her smiling face, I couldn't believe that she didn't have long to live."
"I thought there would be a miracle... I thought if I prayed enough, she'd get better... If I cared enough, her pain and suffering would be less. I believed that... Then one day... I got in an accident."
"...An accident? Is that how you got the virus...?"
"Broken bones throughout my body, torn muscles everywhere. I went into a coma. I even stopped breathing. It was hopeless. But... For some reason I didn't die. And a few months later... I woke up in an unfamiliar place."
It's a hospital.
Well...I don't really know either.
You don't know?
Ha, ha, ha...I don't know why, but I don't know.
My name's...Tsugumi. Tsugumi Komachi. You?
What is your name?
....Well, I don't know that either. Sucks, huh?
"Outside the window, was unfamiliar scenery... I was pretty sure it was somewhere in America. But in order to find out just where I was... It would take another eight years."
"I was there the whole time... I was at that 'hospital'..."
I'm the physician who will be attending to you.
Physician? Oh, you mean you're a doctor.
Yes. I'm going to find a cure for your sickness and make you all better.
Cure me? ...I got in an accident, and got hurt...
No. It's a little different than that.
You have a new disease. One that we've never seen before.
"So that was...?"
"Yes. I don't know how I got it or when. But by the time I woke up...no, probably before I got in the accident. I was already in the process of becoming 'immortal.'"
Well, it's for research, to find a way to cure you, of course.
Your illness is very rare.
There are very few people in the world who have it and of all those people you're special.
Your genetic code is being rewritten. It is truly fascinating. You are the talk of our whole medical center.
I don't understand...what you are talking about...
Hey, don't worry about it. We're going to find a way to make you better, I promise.
Um? How are you going to get some blood?
Weeell, princess...We just...Hey, don't you worry yourself about it.
Just give me your arm, and we'll be done before you know it. It won't hurt.
"I didn't think much about it at the time. Why they would do that... The doctors kept telling me, 'It's so we can find a cure for you,' 'It's so we can help you, and people like you.'"
You're sick too, aren't you?
Me? Uh, well I...
The same sickness as me?
No. Ummm....I mean probably not, anyway.
You mean...you aren't sure?
Yeah, I'm fine. I know. I can...
Um, you can?
I can see the future.
"'You are going to have many tragedies in your life. But I don't want you to be sad. The first one in five years, then three years later, then another three years... But you're going to...live through all of them.' That's pretty much what he told me."
"It didn't take long for me to understand what he was saying, even at my young age."
Oh yeah. They're so cute...
I wonder why they're in a place like this?
Yeah...Those cages are so small, it looks painful...
You want to let them out?
I wonder if it'd be alright...?
It should be, come on, let's do it!
...Hey! What do you think you two are doing!
Oh no! The experiment!
Everyone be careful! Whatever you do don't let them bite you!
Watch out, they're contagious!
You opened up those cages so fast, you surprised me.
They caught all of the animals again.
Yeah, they're right back where they were before.
In those cramped, small cages...
They're trapped again...
Why do they have to be locked up that way?
"I began to understand bit by bit, that I wasn't being kept at a hospital, but a research facility. Nobody came to see me... And none of the 'patients' ever left... And there were hardly ever any new patients... And the whole time, I never knew where I was."
You didn't let them out again, did you?
Oh. Well, I wonder where they went, then?
...I don't know...
Hmmm. But they shouldn't have been kept in such a cramped space anyway.
Maybe the researchers thought the same thing and let them go then?
It happened right in front of me, but I still can't believe it.
The only explanation I can come up with is genetic transfer....It goes against everything we know about science.
They withstood up to 4 splicings. I think maybe they could take 8...
Let's keep testing.
No, if we continue...
There is no mistaking it they're still alive. They might still even react at 16...
But, they're not...!
These aren't living creatures anymore...is that what you want to say?
Perhaps...that way of thinking might have been correct, according to our old way of thinking. But we have no idea of the possibilities this entails.
That's...that's not right...it's crazy.
Wait, something's strange. One, two, three...
Huh? Are there more of them? Or less?
Did they put the cats back in their cages?
The cover is locked.... Umph... I can't get it off.
Hey kid...? Where did the kid go?
"Every single day... The researcher called for me. Telling me, 'I'm your friend.' But the truth is, he wasn't. I was being forced to do all of these tests and experiments. And they just used me like some tool."
"I stopped being able to feel pain, or to suffer. When I went back to bed, all I could do is cry. Then one day the kid next to me didn't come back..."
"Takeshi...do you know why?"
Takeshi -- Showdown and... III
"...Yeah... I mean, no, I don't know, but..."
"So I don't have to explain to you...?"
"Yeah... If it's too painful for you...you don't have to say anything more."
Tsugumi was stroking Chami with a trembling fingers. I put my hand lightly on Tsugumi's shoulder. To suddenly get hit by a virulent disease... And become someone who would never age... Spend eight years trapped in a research facility... I couldn't imagine how it must have been to go through that.
"I hate it... And I hate myself for talking about it..."
"It's funny, isn't it... Whenever I'm with you, I find myself talking about the stupidest things..."
"It's okay, you don't have to talk. I'm so sorry... It was totally irresponsible what I said back there. It was careless of me to talk about being alive like it is just a given."
"I don't want your pity. It's too late..."
"It isn't like that. It's not like that!"
"Tsugumi... I was wrong, okay?"
She screamed suddenly.
"Don't tell me that!! You don't just take back what you say. Not that easily...! You want irresponsible, THAT's irresponsible...!"
I didn't know what to tell her.
"You're just like them. You don't understand anything You throw around words like 'friend' without really meaning it. You don't understand anything about how I'm feeling. You don't understand anything about what the Kid's feeling!"
She was making me feel it had been a mistake to say, 'I'd been wrong.' No...that wasn't it either. The truth was... There was no such thing as right and wrong.
"'People who are alive, should live as long as they can,' you said that didn't you...?"
"I'll survive. I'll probably die many times more and I'll still be alive. Chami here too... But Takeshi, can you say that you're really alive right now? Are you REALLY there, in front of me now?"
"You said...you'd accept everything I had to say, right...? You said that...right Takeshi?"
She bit her lip. Her shoulders were shaking. She looked bitterly disappointed. Disappointed. That when she tried to live, she ended up dying. And when she tried to die, she ended up living. It was a process that repeated itself over and over without end. It wasn't right or wrong - it was her reality. And it was something that she had no choice but to accept. But I still wasn't able to accept it.
"This is so stupid... I'm stupid... Uumm.... But you know what? You're way stupider than me..."
The gondola swayed. We had arrived at the end of the ride. I had no idea how many times we'd passed by Qualle.
She got up quickly and opened the door.
I stuck out my hand to grab her but she swatted it away immediately.
"Don't touch me! Don't...touch me..."
She closed the door from outside. The jellyfish I was riding on started moving again.
I muttered to myself.
I said it myself. I said it to her. I said it to no one and nothing in particular. To everything....
Outside the window was the ocean. An ocean closed off from the light. When I passed under the shadow of the installation, the gondola became dark.
All alone in the darkness... I bit hard down on my lip as I cried.
In the Conference Room, You, Coco and Pipi were waiting. Even the Kid... It looked like the Kid had calmed down some.While I'd been gone, it seemed that You and Coco had been able to talk some sense into him. You told me that he'd probably been upset by a reoccurring memory, and had gotten worked up in spite of himself. I felt that I'd gotten out of hand and had said some terrible things myself. I went around to everyone there and apologized.
Soon afterward... A report came to us in the Conference Room directly from LeMMIH's terminal. You read out the contents to all of us.
The 'Cosmic Whale' room, had flooded completely.
Flooding to other rooms: None
Chance of damage spreading: None...
Shivering slightly in the cold, I wrapped my arms around my knees and we all went to sleep.
This one's gonna be another multi-parter
Expect the rest of it up soon.