Part 42: Tsugumi Good End - Part 4Video: Takeshi/TsugumiPromised Day I
Light. I felt that I had overcome an immense distance. The end of the darkness. A soft, white light surrounded me. There was nothing else for me to look at. There was nothing below me. Nothing there to support me. But for some reason, I was at peace. I was floating. Floating steadfastly. I was swaying freely in the center...
I could hear something, faintly. The first sound I had heard in my lifeYes, it was the sound of a heart beating. I remembered. I was surrounded by the gentle sound of a beating heart. There was no greater feeling of peace than what I felt then.
How long would I be able to stay there? I didn't know. I knew that I would have to leave the place at some point. I would have to let go of that fragile bond soon. But I wasn't sad. If that time must come... Darkness cleared again and out of it would come... A new world, where I would resolve to be reborn.
Right next to me, Tsugumi was staring at me. She was squatting next to the bed, her eyes level with mine... We stared at each other eye-to-eye.
"What time is it?"
That was the first thing I could think to say.
Tsugumi took the PDA out of my pocket.
"The batteries are dead."
She pressed the buttons, but nothing appeared on the screen.
"You want me to go check the clock on the terminal?"
"Nah, that's okay. Just stay here with me."
There were tears in Tsugumi's eyes.
"How are you feeling?"
"That's a dumb question."
"Just tell me. How are you feeling?"
Tsugumi held my hand softly. The feel of her soft skin seemed like it would pull me in.
"I don't feel so good. My body feels tired all over... But it could be worse, I guess."
I tried opening and closing the hand that was free in front of my face. My movements were still sluggish.
"Your cut doesn't hurt?"
"You fell over and...I tried to stop you from falling, but... I didn't get there in time. You split your forehead, Takeshi."
Tsugumi opened her glossy lips slightly and murmured. I could see the tip of her red tongue.
"Hey... You don't remember?"
I slowly looked around the room. The ceiling... Sheets... The empty syringes on the floor...
"Okay, okay. I remember. I remember, I..."
I touched my forehead lightly. That gash must have been split wide open. There were stitches there now.
"No big deal. Something like this ought to heal right up."
"But... I'm so sorry."
"Why are you apologizing? It isn't your fault, right?"
"It isn't anyone's fault. So don't worry about it."
I patted Tsugumi on the head. I was alive. Even though I was banged up pretty good, I was alive. Besides, it wasn't a big deal.
There was nobody else there. Just the two of us...and the silence. It was almost too quiet to believe.
"Where's the bus?"
"Doesn't look like it's coming."
"How about a taxi?"
"I've already sent for it..."
"Since that one, we haven't had any..."
I could see the monitor. It reported that the remote control guidance was working normally. It would take about one hour for it to reach our pool... But it seemed that the submarine was making its way without any glitches.
"Oh... I guess that leaves us some time to relax until the taxi gets here. Won't do us an ounce of good getting worked up about it."
Even if I had wanted to... My body wasn't doing what I wanted it to. It felt like I was running low on batteries... I was exhausted. I couldn't think straight. I had gone beyond the limits of my strength and spirit.
I noticed something and brought my face closer to Tsugumi.
I almost pressed myself against her, and brought myself close to her face.
I murmured, pulling my face up close.
"I feel like I could eat just about anything."
"And guess what...Tsugumi."
Tsugumi's face became redder and redder.
"There's just the most amazing smell coming from you."
Her eyebrows arched, as if she were annoyed....
"Hey... You're not hiding anything, are you? Food..."
I reached out for her chest.
She quickly covered herself with her arms.
"You aren't going to eat Chami are you?"
"You can't! I won't let you!!"
"As if I would, stupid..."
Her expression returned to normal. She undid a few of her buttons and let Chami out from her shirt.
"I'm sorry for keeping you in there the whole time, Chami. It's okay, you can go play now..."
Chami sniffed the air as he rode in the palm of Tsugumi's hand. He suddenly jumped to the floor and ran into the corner of the room.
I watched the whole time.
Tsugumi spoke to me as she redid her buttons.
"You were watching, weren't you?"
"What do you mean 'what?'...When I was..."
"Did you want to see more?"
"...Forget it, you...jerk."
A low vibrating sound shot across the room. The bed shook slightly...
"Don't worry, alright?"
"We're okay for now...I think."
"Yeah, we'll be fine, I know it. I don't have any proof, but..."
"Ha, ha, I'm even starting to talk like you now. There must be something wrong with me..."
I sat up quickly. And I grabbed hard onto Tsugumi's hand.
"I know, Tsugumi!"
"This is incredible!"
"W-what are you talking about...?"
Flustered, Tsugumi's cheeks changing color in her confusion.
"I've made a major discovery!"
I brought her hand close to me. Tsugumi's face was right next to mine.
"Alright, listen up!"
"I know where that great smell is coming from... It is--"
"You're what smells so great... Geez you smell good... What a sweet smell... Perfect. Let me have just one bite..."
"S-stop it...let go of me. Let me go..."
"OW... You idiot! Cut it out!!"
"Hey, did you really have to smack me?"
"Hey, I'm an injured man here."
"Well act like one...and lie there quietly..."
My teeth had left an imprint on her finger.
"Thank you... I'm still hungry, but I feel a lot better."
Video: Takeshi/TsugumiPromised Day II
I couldn't keep sitting up, so I lay down in bed again.
"I can't believe you did that..."
The tears that had dried up just a bit ago were in Tsugumi's eyes again.
"Ha, ha, ha..."
I laughed at the situation. There wasn't much strength left in me, but I laughed anyway.
"I am a man of insatiable desires. When I get hungry, I stuff my face... When I get sleepy, I sleep like a bear... And give me a chance and I'll be thinking about hanky panky... It's all I think about. I'm beyond salvation, right?"
"Yeah... You're an idiot is what you are..."
She tried to smile back at me. Her voice dried up and tears began to fall.
"Ahh, I'm such an idiot. Come on, laugh at a fool like me, will you?"
"Yeah...you are an idiot..."
"You are the world's biggest idiot... I can't believe how stupid you are And it never stops..."
She was smiling... But her tears wouldn't stop falling.
"No reason I guess. I'm just trying to live all out. Because I don't want to die."
"...Really? That's it...?"
The tears continued to fall.
"I... I think there were some things that I was taking too lightly. There are people who go on living even when they want to die. And people that die who want to keep on living. I had no idea that was how things were. I guess I was pretty naive about the way the world works... Until coming to LeMU, that is."
"But then I met you... And the way that I thought about things changed. The world isn't always filled with good things."
She nodded. I calmly wiped away her tears.
"But... I don't want you to think that living is something to be embarrassed about, or something that you hate. I think as long as you are alive, it is okay to live. I think there are good things waiting for you. Wait...not just that, that being alive is a good thing in itself. In that way, my thinking still hasn't changed."
She nodded. We held each other's hands.
I looked up at toward the heavens I couldn't see. I didn't know if there was 'something above. 'Didn't know if it really mattered. Maybe all I had to do was accept.
"The reason we keep living, in other words... What does it mean to die? Does everything really end when we die? Until you can stare--...really STARE reality in the face, I think you should wait. Put it on hold. It isn't time for me to die yet. I just can't die yet. You can't either, and neither can any of the rest of us. Until that time comes... All of us should live."
She... Nodded as if in deep understanding.
I looked deeply into her eyes. I was trying to see if there was light inside there. I wanted to get as close as I could and see.
"Hey...you're bleeding from your finger."
"Well you...bit me earlier, right?"
"Is that so...?"
"Yes that is SO."
Tsugumi's face was close enough so that we were almost touching noses. Closer... Even closer still
"Now what is it?"
"You've got blood on your lips."
"That's not my fault."
"...Are you being serious? Blood..."
"Um...maybe you're right."
"It was probably from when the building shook earlier."
"Well...if it hurts, it's your fault, Takeshi."
"You think so...?"
"...Maybe you're right."
"How are you going to make up for it?"
I could smell her scent. I could taste her blood. Taste her tears. She bit down on my lower lip. And my blood started to flow. We were pressed together as tightly as we could be... Embracing one another with everything we had. Our bodies came together, became one.
I felt her breathing. I felt the beating of her heart. I felt the warmth of her body. The scent of her. A musky smell... Enough to make me dizzy... It was sweet... Such a sweet smell...
"Takeshi... Takeshi, get up. The taxi's here."
I jumped out of the bed and stood up. I stretched my arms and loosened my shoulders. I felt pretty good. I took a deep breath as I fixed my clothes rumpled during sleep. My mind was firing and my head felt clear.
"Chami. Chami...come here. Come on, we've got to get going now."
Tsugumi scooped up Chami, who'd been running around on the floor, and held him to her chest.
Stooped down, Tsugumi let out a cry of alarm.
"What's wrong Tsugumi?"
"Takeshi...under the bed."
"Under the bed? Mine?"
She nodded. I looked under the bed I had been sleeping on. Something was lying there... I reached out and pulled whatever it was closer to me.
It was Pipi...
"Hey Pipi, what's going on? What are you doing here?"
Pipi didn't respond. All of the color had vanished from his eyes. He didn't move at all. Pipi was frozen...as if he were dead. There was something stuck fast in his mouth.I took it out gently.
I put the disk Pipi had been carrying in my pocket.
With a roaring sound, the whole room suddenly shook violently.
"Five minutes until implosion."
"Hey, WHAT did that announcement just say!?"
Holding Pipi under my arm, I looked up at the ceiling. Tsugumi quickly got up.
"We've got five minutes...until this place implodes."
"FIVE MINUTES!? Give me a break! Why do they gotta tell us when there's only FIVE minutes left. Give us some more warning...for cryin' out loud!"
I started mumbling complaints to myself. Maybe it was mostly for show...
Tsugumi let out a big sigh.
"Anyway, we've only got five minutes."
Tsugumi shrugged her shoulders exaggeratedly and stared at me. But for some reason...she seemed to be smiling.
"You've just got to accept reality. You could learn something from me, you know?"
"Ha, ha, ha, listen to yourself, Tsugumi. Telling jokes at a time like this is more MY style, don't you think?"
"Ha, ha. Well, I guess you're right... But we should be okay if we've got five minutes, right?"
A smile floated to her lips and Tsugumi held out a hand to me.
I took her hand firmly.
The shaking and rumbling of IBF continued. I could hear the sound of the water rushing in and striking against the watertight hatches somewhere. Ominous metallic sounds rang out from above, and I wouldn't have been surprised it the ceiling had suddenly ruptured.
But still, we ran without stopping. We were running to get out of there. I held onto Tsugumi's hand the whole time... Her body moved fluidly as she ran. We ran in sync with one another... We passed through a door that stood wide open at the end of the passage.
Video: Takeshi/TsugumiPromised Day III
"Yes! At least something's going right... The taxi's even waiting for us!"
"Well, of course."
Tsugumi looked at me with a smug face and said...
"It's a TAXI... They aren't going to just leave us high-tipping customers here."
"Oh yeah you're right...Oh NO!!!"
"I forgot my wallet!!"
"You idiot... Well, we'll put it on your tab."
"Oh, okay... Yeah, in Leiblich's name."
"Well of course."
"Three minutes until implosion."
Three minutes until implosion. We scrambled to the sub and jumped down the hatch.
We closed the hatch on the top by pressing a button. The submarine slipped out from the pool and into the middle of the ocean. The ocean currents quickly pushed us out to sea. Away from the sinking LeMU...
Yes... LeMU was... Paradise was... Our home for seven days was... Warping and folding on itself, like some kind of a crumpled old newspaper. It scattered as it collapsed, like a child's wooden blocks that hadn't been stacked properly... Letting out its final breath of bubbles... It disappeared to the bottom of the deep blue sea.
The small, fragile egg we were in floated quietly toward the surface.
Tsugumi asked in a quiet voice.
"There's so much that I want to do."
I said, as I placed the motionless Pipi, on the seat next to me.
"But, first... I'm thinking more about where to start."
"What about you Tsugumi, what do you want to do?"
"What you didn't like the question?"
"No, it's not that..."
"Can I have a minute to think about it?"
The operating console made a funny sound.
"What's that noise...?"
"No clue... Hey, something just came up on that screen over there."
The monitor behind Tsugumi started blinking.
"What does it say...?"
"You're closer than I am, why don't you turn around and look at it yourself."
"N...no... I don't want to see it... I've got...a really bad feeling about this."
"Don't be so selfish."
Not left with any other choice, I peeked at the monitor.
"Ah...which one, which one... Uumm... 'Low battery... That's what it says."
TrackTraum In Der Dunkelheit
The monitor went dark. All of the power went out. The electrical equipment went silent. The only thing still working was the analog pressure gauge.
Present depth189 feet
Internal pressure12.5 Atmospheres
The submarine was set to saturation diving specifications. The pressure on the inside was higher than the pressure on the outside.
"It's okay. We're going to be fine. Stop looking like you're going to cry."
We had lost our upward momentum... The submarine began sinking slowly, very slowly.
Residual air pressure: 0
Ballast tank: Unable to drain.
"Wonderful, we hitched a ride on a junker... You know, this cab always seems to stall on these country roads... I'm terribly sorry ma'am..."
I looked at the aft hatch. It had a two-ply hatch... The inner side was made of reinforced glass and FRP while the outer side had a door made from high-strength steel.
"Hey, you think if we let some of the high pressure gas out of the hatch we'd start rising again?"
"No... I don't think we'll go straight up and our momentum would be limited. Not to mention the fact that if we do that, we'll start flooding... Because we don't have any spare compressed air. And we don't have enough buoyancy in the main fuselage."
"We've got to get rid of ballast..."
"The valve used to release ballast is usually electronically controlled. But now, we're..."
"Alright, let's just stay calm. Judging by how fast we're sinking... we only need to be a little bit lighter, right? If we can get rid of about 100 pounds or more, we should be fine. Let's try pulling out a few of those machines over there? That should make us lighter."
"You think it's going to be easy?"
"Well...they seem to be welded on fairly good. Probably not easy to do bare-handed. And unfortunately we don't have any tools..."
"So that's it, huh..."
Tsugumi bit her lip and looked down.
"Yeah... We're screwed..."
Sinking... We were sinking...
"Doesn't it... Ha, ha, ha..."
Her shoulders shook from disappointment...and she laughed without conviction.
"So stupid... I'm so stupid..."
Video: Takeshi/TsugumiPromised Day IV
She audibly sucked in her breath.
"W-what are you doing Takeshi!?"
"What...you can't tell by looking? I'm opening the hatch."
"That's why I'm asking you! What are you doing!"
"Do you even need to ask?"
"Stop it!! What are you planning to do!?"
Tsugumi grabbed onto my arm.
"Don't try to stop me..."
I threw off Tsugumi's arm and raised the glass hatch. It was just large enough for one person to go through.
"Please don't touch me... Don't touch me."
"No! I won't let you go!"
Tsugumi grabbed onto my arm firmly. The hatch was closing.
"I don't care if I die...I'm not letting go."
Slowly and steadily we fell. We wouldn't stop sinking.
"Hmmm... You know you really are selfish."
I thought for a bit... And slowly opened my mouth.
"Do you know what the Archimedes principle is?"
Surprised, for a moment Tsugumi's grip relaxed.
I quickly opened the glass hatch, and slipped to the back of the airlock. After I jumped inside it was surprisingly easy to close the hatch from the inside. Once the hatch was closed, I shut the latch right away.
Her eyes were opened up as wide as they would go, and she stared at me from the other side of the glass.
"Takeshi! Takeshi! What are you doing? Open it up! Get out of there!"
Tsugumi wildly pounded on the reinforced glass with her fist. She tried as hard as she could to pull up the lever, but was unable to.
"Tsugumi...what are you saying? The glass is pretty thick you know, I really can't hear very well."
"You stupid idiot! Open it up this instant! What are you thinkiiing!"
Tears started falling from Tsugumi's wide-open eyes. Drops fell in a constant stream. Her tears and her fist pounded against the glass. The glass creaked as she hit it.
"Hey, wait a second didn't you... I thought you knew about Archimedes' principle ? I mean, I think you were the one that taught me about it. I guess you'd know that. Sorry. Ha, ha, ha..."
"This isn't funny! Stop joking! This isn't...it's not about that!! You fool...Takeshi you idiot!!!"
Tsugumi sobbed as she screamed.
"Yeah, I'm an idiotThe biggest one there is! You didn't know that? Tsugumi..."
No matter how hard she pounded on the glass, it didn't break. The hatch wouldn't open, and it wouldn't break either. It looked fairly sturdy. It made me feel good to know that it would hold.
"Well, anyway... We gotta make sure this little egg stays afloat."
I put one hand behind me on the other hatch. If I could open it up, she'd be safe... I slowly turned the handle.
Tsugumi stopped hitting the glass.
"No... Do you really... Want... to... die...?"
I didn't look away when I spoke to her, and said firmly...
"I may be stupid but... I'm not that stupid."
I kept turning the handle with my other hand. Just a little more.
"Please... Don't leave me... Don't leave me all by myself!"
"There you go, always worrying..."
I forced a smile.
"I keep telling you, it's going to be okay, right?"
"You want to live, don't you...?"
"So live! As long as you're alive, live! Don't worry... Me? I'm not going to die."
The air, which had been compressed in the airlock, was jettisoned into the ocean. My body shot out like a bullet into the water.
I could no longer hear her voice. In the middle of the ocean, her voice wouldn't carry to me. On the other side of the glass, I could make out her blurry outline. Tsugumi's face was covered with tears. Her face was broken with sadness.... Her image refracted through the water.
I grabbed onto a rail on the outside of the submarine and steadied myself. I closed the outside hatch. I couldn't see her anymore. Wouldn't be able to see her again.
I let go of my last source of support. And kicked the sub. Released from its support, my body went flying. Into a jet-black ocean filled with sparkling fragments of light.
My consciousness was floating. But my will steadfastly clung to my body. It was still there. Even if it were threatening to turn to dust. Even if it were threatening to be torn apart... Live as long as you are alive. That was what I wanted. Maybe it was just stubbornness... I was sinking to the bottom of the ocean. My field of vision filled with white bubbles heading up toward the heavens.
That's when I realized for the first time that I was here.
I ' m h e r e.
My body dissolved in the ocean, mixing with it...becoming one with it.