Part 80: Kid/Sara Route - Part 3
The ceiling was so white it was slightly blinding...It smelled of disinfectant...Was this the...infirmary?
"Are you awake now?"
A shadow passed above me on the bed. It was You.
Déjà vu...No, this was something that I had actually experienced before. Two days before, on the first day, when I woke up You was at my side then...
"Where is Sara...?"
"Who knows? Probably resting somewhere."
"I just replaced her a little bit ago. She looked after you the whole time until then."
I took both hands out from the blanket and stared dreamily at my palms. The countless wrinkles etched there...intertwining, reaching out like the branches of a tree in complicated patterns...The pinkish skin...and buried deeper the slightly blue veins...And...five fingers...Five on the left, five on the right and 10 in total - the same as always. My lost finger still hadn't come back to me yet. There was still the deep scar on my left thumb. Like always, I ran my pinky over the scar gently.
(I see. Maybe this is a habit of mine.)
Strangely that fact had penetrated naturally into my mind. But...I wondered when, where and how I had injured my thumb. Just maybe, the scar held some kind of clue to help me remember my past. As I traced the wound with my pinky it caused a slight stinging pain that tickled a little bit. I was finally feeling completely calmed down.
You poured me a cup of freshly brewed coffee, handed it to me and sat down next to my bed. I took the coffee. After a sip, I started to explain.
"So that little room and the room that you were in before were similar somehow?"
"Listening to that it sounds like a sickroom or isolation ward somewhere."
"You've probably been hospitalized before somewhere."
"Maybe I shouldn't say this, but...Kid, maybe you have had the same...."
"I mean, maybe you've lost your memory or had violent fits repeatedly before. So maybe you were detained in a sickroom with a tiny window like that..."
You touched on the harsh reality of the situation, yet chose her words with care.
"Of course, it's not for sure or anything. It's just one possibility. You probably had a waking dream... that is a possibility, too."
"I...I was dreaming."
"While you were awake though."
According to You, dreams and memory are clearly deeply related, but not everything you see in a dream is something experienced in reality.
In other words, something had set off my hallucination, but...That alone didn't mean that I really had been held in a sickroom. Dreams could often appear as symbols of something else. So what I had seen earlier might have been caused by my repressed memories. In any case, there was no way to be sure of anything. And I still hadn't gotten my memory back. I felt that my experience in a sickroom or somewhere was as unreal as a strange small animal that might appear in a dream.
(Maybe it was just a dream.)
At some point I had become sure of it. I felt sure that it was probably just my mind playing a nasty trick on me.
"Okay. For now, shall we go to check it out one more time?"
"Go check what?"
"That little room. To set the record straight."
You held out her hands out to me.
"You might find a clue to help you jog your mind and get your memory back."
I thought that was unlikely.
(I know that was just my mind playing tricks on me.)
I was convinced that there was no connection between that room and my memory. Even so, I had to agree to go. If she were willing to take me, I couldn't turn her down. I took You's hands and got up from the bed. It only made sense, but her hands felt a lot different from Sara's.
I was amazed that I could have made this much of a mess - that is how miserable it was. I didn't think that even if you compressed all of the world's poltergeists into this itty-bitty space they could have done much more. All I could do was stand there with my jaw on the floor as You said -
"You did this?"
She was saying it as if to make sure.
"And? What was it we were going to...?"
"If I remember correctly...you came into the room and sat on the floor, right?"
"About here, I think."
I pointed to the area around You's feet.
"What about the door?"
"I'm asking whether the door was shut or not."
"Uh...I shut it, I think. After the door shut, I wanted to escape and started throwing myself against the door..."
I closed the door as I answered.
The only source of light was the moonlight pouring through the little window...
"I can't see anything like this."
You grasped around in the dark with her hands. I could see everything perfectly.
"Where's the light switch?"
You walked along the wall looking for the switch, sometimes tripping on plastic boxes scattered on the floor. You's body gave off a faint light. Every time she took a step, a faint streak-like image followed her. It was like the flame of a candle flickering in a thick mist.
"Geez. Can you believe they are still using electronic fossils like this these days?"
You muttered this as she stared at the light switch.
"They should spend money on places like this even if the customers won't see them. It's because they cut corners in places like this that they get accidents..."
"But who cares about that?"
You whipped around. And scouring the room she said -
"By the way..."
"...where's the window?"
There wasn't a single window in the whole room. Thinking about it, it made sense. Nobody would fork over the cash for a little window with special pressure-resistant glass in a little storage room stuck on the side of a warehouse. I looked around for moonlight that had been there until a second ago. There was no moon. I wondered if it was because I had shattered it.
But that wasn't it. What I had mistaken for a window was...just a little square hole.
"Is this the window? You are saying you thought this was a window?"
You followed my eyes and went and stood in front of the square hole. I went over beside her and looked up at the hole. The hole was bordered by a steel frame. It was about the same size as a coin locker. It was about 20 inches on each side. There was a door on the hole. I might have broken it but the door was bent completely and hung loose at a hinge on the side of the hole. The hole was more than an empty space. A bunch of colored wiring, something like an integrated circuit board, some kind of plug and something like a small lever were all packed into the hole.
"What is this?"
I had no idea what it was.
"It's probably an inverter unit or something."
"To change the AC power that comes from the generator into DC...It's a mechanism for changing the electrical current into one that the tools in this warehouse can use. That means this device controls those functions."
Everything she was saying was like gibberish to me, but I nodded.
"Or to be more precise, it WAS anyway."
"That WAS the inverter unit. It looks broken now..."
"I have no idea who broke it, but..."
You said it straight faced and without looking at me. I reached out to touch the inverter unit thing. It was a little bit warm. Or maybe I had it backwards. Maybe I knew that it was warm before I touched it. So I had wanted to make sure by touching it...
No...but...But it did seem like something was trying to move...at least to me. It felt like...It felt like someone inside me was tossing and turning in his sleep.
Even though I had just embarrassed myself in front of everyone, they all acted as if nothing had happened.
Day 3, part 3: You and the Kid go to fix the L-MRI, Takeshi joins in and it turns out it was only unplugged? Enter Tsugumi, apparently trying to avoid Sara and failing as Saras right behind her. An argument between the two breaks out. The new content picks up after The scene was just like...Just like...
It was just like...
A hot surge of hate raced through me.
"Who the hell do you think you are! You good for nothing...!"
"What are you doing? Stop it!"
"Let go! Let go! I said, let go of me!"
I continued to struggle violently. I was like a desperate beast, devoid of all reason. With my fangs bared and a thirst for blood.
After what had happened, I didn't want to be around You or Takeshi. But I was too worked up to just stick around in one place. I thought I would pick the place they were least likely to come and wander around it. I wondered what that fit of rage had been about...Why had I gotten so mad...? Why...? Tsugumi had stared coldly down at Sara. And Sara had desperately battled to stand her ground...What were the emotions that had welled up within me in that instant...?
I felt like I was on the verge of figuring it out. Like my lost memory had been concealed by a thick fog. But now it was only an inch away, right there covered by a thin sheet. But no matter how thin it was I still couldn't remove it. The more I thought about it, the further away into the fog my memory seemed to recede. I wondered what I could have had in my past...I continued to wander LeMU without understanding anything...
In the sprawling night sky were a number of orb-shaped planets...And in between the planets, there was a huge, soft-looking whale floating.
This was the Cosmic Whale Room. Of course, the whale and the starry sky were all merely theme park attractions. I thought that wide, open space and the attractions would help to ease my ragged nerves. Even though it was fake, the expansive space eased my tense mind and nerves - frazzled from being cooped up for so long. But I still had no memory...I realized again just how stressed this situation had made me without my even noticing. For a while, I just relaxed, looking at the scenery.
Something moved slightly on top of the whale. I squinted, peering at it.
I glanced quickly at the planet next to the whale and headed for the stairs leading to it.
I thought that normally whales and dolphins have their blowholes or nostrils near the middle of their head so it wasn't probably accurate to say 'its nose.' We looked at the countless stars sparkling overhead. It seemed as if we could reach the stars in the sky. If I had stood up, I could have probably actually touched a star. Because it was all a facade of fake stars projected onto the ceiling.
Speaking of fake, the whale was, too. I don't know what kind of cutting-edge technology they used, but the skin on the whale felt like it could have been real. Then again, I didn't suppose I had ever actually touched a real whale. Maybe I was just working from some image I had of what whale skin would feel like.
The whale was alive. At least it seemed that way to me. A whale swimming in the starry sky. The repetitive wave-like motion of its back as it swam through the sky. His soft mouth opened and closed, and even puffed up from time to time. About every three minutes, he blew out a warm breath through his blowhole. A seawater mist of spray would scatter around the area.
Sitting at the tip of his nose, Sara and I bobbed up and down, in time with its movements...Still, the whale undulated so slowly that we could let go with our hands and still feel safe. It was like a cradle rocking back and forth...On the back of the whale, we sailed through the cosmos. We were on our way to Planet Kuikui. Sara slowly took something out of her pocket and showed it to me. It was an old-style oil lighter.
The flickering flame made Sara's face look red. I wondered why she was carrying around a lighter. I couldn't picture her as the type that would smoke. I thought I might ask her. But as I did, Sara opened her other hand. In it was the pendant from before. A thin chain was wrapped around her index finger. The pendant swayed in her hand. Sara brought the flame closer to the pendant and started at it dreamily. Her expression relaxed. It was as if Sara were mesmerized by something. A mirror was embedded in the pendant. The flame of the lighter reflected brightly in the mirror. I wondered if...Sara might be staring at her reflection and admiring herself. The idea made me laugh without thinking
"Huh? Is something funny?"
"I mean...It looks like you're sitting there grinning at yourself."
"N-no I'm not!"
"I guess you've got a bit of a narcissistic side?"
"I said I'm not!"
With that, Sara snapped the lighter shut.
It had looked like the flame of the lighter in the mirror had split into two images. I thought that maybe there was a crack in the mirror.
"Hey, can I see that pendant for a second?"
"Don't drop it."
The whale's body continued to move up and down. I figured that was what Sara meant.
Saying that, I took the pendant from Sara.
As I had suspected, the mirror was cracked. It wasn't just broken. A piece of it was missing. I touched the area that was missing. I thought it had probably broken from the shock of Tsugumi dropping it. The missing fragment might still be lying about in that room. Feeling the sharp contours of where the missing piece belonged made me sad. I took my fingers from the mirror and held my palm out toward Sara. Without saying anything, Sara plunked the lighter down on the palm of my hand.
It sparked and lit.
I had spoken without thinking. The flame appeared in the mirror, dimly but in three dimensions.
It was basically a headshot. From the shoulders on up, the head and facial expression were extremely clear. I imagined it was made using a holomachine.
It was the same as before - if there were something to trigger my memory, I could recall some things. I thought that if I could remember these kinds of things, why not... But I shoved that thought aside and focused again on the image in the pendant. Since it was a hologram, it also had depth. Changing the angle of the mirror changed the angle of his face. His...it was an image of a man. A man I didn't know. I suspected it was an image that was closed away in one of those inaccessible drawers of my memory. I had no memory of the face.
"Who is this?"
"Is it your boyfriend?"
Sara remained quiet. Her expression was frozen solid.
"It's your boyfriend, isn't it?"
I asked her again. But there was not even a glimmer of hidden romance on her face. Any girl looking at her boyfriend's picture would probably show a smile. Especially, stuck in the middle of the ocean...
"Hey, he looks pretty cool."
I said it in a teasing way. Actually, he was so good looking it was enough to make you sick. I thought she might chirp out, 'Oh, honey, I hope you are well. I miss you.' But there was one thing that bothered me...His image was all in one color. But there was kind of a retro trend going on and some people did go for the sepia or monochrome holograms. So it didn't really seem all that outlandish.
I put out the lighter, set it on the pendant and held it out to Sara. She didn't take them. She was still frozen stiff. It looked like she was forgetting to breathe.
"Hey, Sara? Sara? Hello! Sara!"
I grasped the pendant that she hadn't taken and shook Sara's shoulders. Sara didn't even blink. And then...
The whale exhaled.
Sara leaped up and smashed into me, leveling me with a powerful tackle. Who knows? It might have been that she was so surprised, she just wanted something to grab on to. Still, her full weight came barreling into me. With that I went down and she crumpled with me. We slid down and off the whale's smooth skin. The stars appeared to gain distance.
A fine mist descended down on to my skyward face. Sara was on top of me, unmoving. I could hear her breathing near my ear.
"Safe landing, huh?"
Sara continued talking as she lifted up her face and peered into my face.
"Welcome to Planet Kuikui!"
Next time: A search, a lullaby, and swimming?