Part 96: Coco's Route - True End - Part 1
Deciding to sleep was fine, but where to sleep?
There were four legitimate beds in the dry areas. There was one in the compression chamber, two in the infirmary and an examination table there as well.
Tsugumi was AWOL, Sora didn't need sleep, so there were exactly four of us. Takeshi had been relegated to the compression chamber as a potential danger to the women. You and Sara had said that since they were vulnerable young women they would take the two beds. So I...got stuck on the hard examination table.
"Hey...Kid...Kid...You asleep already?"
Takeshi was shaking me.
"I'd wake up even if I were asleep with you shaking me that hard."
"So? Which is? You awake or asleep?"
"It should be obvious. I'm sleeping like a log..."
"Hey, come on, don't be like that."
"I can't sleep..."
"But I'm all alone in this tiny little cramped space. It's like being cooped up in a coffin. It makes me feel..."
"It's the same place you were snoring away last night! You could sleep in a coffin. You could sleep in a cup of coffee."
"Hey, that almost rhymes or something..."
"Coffin and coffee...'Coffee has caffeine in it. That wakes you up. So there's no way a normal person could catch a wink in a cup of coffee...But...caffeine wouldn't phase a big lunk like that Takeshi. He'd sleep like a baby.' Is that what you are trying to say with that almost rhyme of yours?"
"Ha! Is that any way to talk to your elders?"
"I'm going to sleep."
"Hey! Come on K-I-D!...Stay up with me a bit!"
I turned away from him.
Tug, tug, tug...
Takeshi had pulled me off of the examination table.
"Hey, what are you doing? I'll sue you!"
"Come on, take it easy. Calm down...Let's have a drink. Y'know, man-to-man..."
"My thoughts exactly! Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuckity, yuck!"
"I'm nothing without you, Kid!"
"Cut it out the two of you! Just go to sleep!"
You, lying in the bed next to me, had snapped. She sat upright, a strange light emanating from her.
"Oh, sorry for causing such a ruckus milady..."
Takeshi started walking. I stayed where I was.
"Is there beer in LeMU?"
"Uh, I don't think it was for sale, but it was stashed in the back of the fridge. I figure some worker hid it in there..."
"But...I can't drink beer."
"Huh? Why not?"
I stopped and turned around.
"I'm not old enough."
"Underage means you can't drink alcohol. It's the law."
"So, what are you saying, you don't want to 'go break any laws there' boy scout?"
"But you ate sandwiches and cola, right? And you didn't pay a cent."
"That's...because I had to survive..."
"I bet you're the kind of kid that'll nark on the kid next to you in class if he's passing notes to his friends."
"I...I am not..."
"You don't know if you are or not, 'cause you don't got any memory."
"Oh, alright, alright. You can drink cream soda then."
"Why cream soda?"
"Because you're just a wittle baby!"
"I'm not a baby! I'm 16..."
"Ha, ha! Sixteen, huh? Sixteen...old enough to lead a whole gang of snot-nosed brats on your own."
"Stop it. Sixteen is still underage, but I'm not a kid anymore. I'm still not an adult, but I'm not a kid anymore...that's what I am."
"Just WHAT about you is more than a kid? Kid...?"
"I'm...going back to bed."
"Liar, liar pants on fire! Right, right! Because you're a BIG boy... all grown up...nya, nya, nya..."
"What? Hey! Hold on a sec!"
"Kid...you got no memory, right?"
"So...how do you know that you're 16?"
Video: Coco Who am I, Who are You?
As I mumbled I unconsciously held open the palm of my right hand. I stared absently at the palm of my hand. I still didn't have any idea what had happened to my finger.
There was no doubt that I had said I was 16. But I couldn't be sure I was right. I wondered if I was really that age - if I could believe my words.
"Well, whatever. Anyway, it's good that you remembered your age...Proof that you're slowly getting your memory back."
"Hmmmm, 16, huh?"
"So my guess wasn't that far off, huh?"
"Yesterday I guessed, right? I said you were around 14 or 15. I suppose someone like you could be 16.... Could be possible enough..."
(Could be...? Could be? What's that supposed to mean?)
I looked at my arms, my legs and my whole body as if to check. And lastly I touched my hands to my face...
"Don't tell me you...You didn't forget your own face, did ya?"
The room had a high ceiling...and I ran toward the mirror on the room's far wall.
My leg caught on the bench and I crashed to the floor. I lifted my head slowly. The mirror was right in front of me. And I was inside it. I looked at me.
I willed my legs to stand me up. My knees shook. I stumbled two or three steps. I put my hand on the locker to keep myself from falling. I tried to walk...It was as if the mirror were sucking me...toward it...I put both hands on the mirror.
I was facing me and both of us had our hands facing each other. I could only see his body. His legs quivered. His palms shook. The mirror rattled as it shook. I took a breath.
My shaking stopped. At that moment, sound suddenly disappeared. I didn't move. The other 'me' didn't move either. I waited for him to move. I looked up ever so slightly.
A bench lay knocked over...and clothing was scattered everywhere...Someone was standing on the other side of the open door.
"Hey, Kid! What's up with you? Running off like that..."
I turned around. Takeshi stood with one hand on the door.
His voice made me want to look. I turned my eyes around looking...Inside the massive mirror...
He screamed as if it were the end of the world. His face contorted in a way that chilled my spine. He clutched at his hair. His body shook, wracked with convulsions.
"Wh-what is it? What's going on! Kid!!!"
He put his fingernails on his cheek then scratched harshly the flesh around his neck. His neck jutted forward, drooping downward and his tongue hung out.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
"This...this...this...It's not me...It's not me...It's not me..."
"What's not you?"
"Damn...what am I supposed to do!?"
"No...no...no...It's not me...it's not me...it's not me..."
"J-just hold on! I'll go get everyone!"
I didn't know who the 'me' was in the other side of the mirror. It wasn't the face of the Kid that I knew. It wasn't the sick color of his skin, or his bloodshot eyes or the way his tongue hung limply. His whole appearance was completely different than anything I had in my memory of myself.
He wasn't me. No...I wasn't him.
Who was he...? Who in the world was I...?
The me that was standing there didn't know who I was....Where....was the real me...?
I asked him...and he asked me.
I asked me and he asked he. I was confused and losing touch with reality.
I didn't know if it were me or him...
His body swung back and forth like a pendulum, finally disappearing from my sight.
But it wasn't me or him floating but both me and him. I lost sight of where I ended and the world began. I had lost all sense of everything. I had no way to confirm my existence. I just let myself drift. Like a baby floating in the womb...
I dissolved into pure white darkness, the pure white darkness becoming me. I was nowhere. The me that was nowhere, was everywhere.
So...where...was the real me...?
The motion of white waves of darkness surged forward, permeating my skin and shaking my whole body. Something...like a hard shell, began to resonate and to emit a black light from inside. There was no sign that the waves would stop. Rather, they seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.
A crack ran down the outer husk. It began to spread like the strands of a web, and soon covered the entire shell. Pieces began to fall away. Dropping...to the floor...I was able to glimpse what lay beyond the shed husk...it was dazzling Particles of light, whiter than white, filled the air and began to collect into one another. The light formed a vague image. The image jumped into my field of view...A fragment of a scene familiar to me.
Welcome to the official beginning of Coco's route. Hope you enjoy the ride.