Part 98: Coco's Route - True End - Part 3
"waaaaaah, waaaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaah"
"Kid, what are you crying about?"
We apparently heard his voice very briefly there, then.
"Did someone pick on you?"
"I know. It's Takeshi, isn't it."
I shook my head back and forth.
"So, it's Nakkyu then."
I kept shaking my head.
"Alright then, Tsugumi!"
Again, I shook my head back and forth.
"Eh? Well, it couldn't be...Sora!?"
"No, nobody is picking on me."
"So why are you crying then?"
I was looking wildly around in all directions. We were in front of the emergency room. Sara was standing right in front of me. But I didn't see anyone else.
I said nothing, but ran into the room.
She wasn't lying on the examination table.
TrackTraum In Der Dunkelheit
"Hey, why'd you run away!?"
Sara's eyebrows were raised questioningly.
"I didn't run away...I just...wanted to check something is all...."
I stood to the side of the table, and slid my hand across its surface. There was no warmth.
"That and the artery is severed. She'll need sutures."
"I'll do my best! Do we have anesthetic?"
"I'll get it ready. The laser scalpel, forceps, and sutures ...everything we need is already in the room."
"Takeshi!! You're in the way!"
I twisted my head and turned, looking around the inside of the emergency room. Looking slowly. The noise from before seemed like a dream.
(Ha, ha, what am I thinking...It was only a 'dream'Just a 'dream'.....)
"Hey? Tell me. What did you want to check?"
I looked straight into Sara's eyes and answered.
"I wanted to see if.....it was real or a dream."
"I had a terrible dream."
"Tsugumi hurt her leg really bad. There was flooding in the storage area and, when she went to fix it, a big chunk of metal fell on her. And then Tsugumi...um...her leg got trapped by the metal."
"And she got a huge gash on her right thigh, I could see the yellow of her fat, the red color of her muscle, and white bone. Her artery, lymph nodes, even nerve endings all hanging out and pulsating like rubber tubes. The whole area was covered in a sea of blood......"
"Eeeewww...Makes me feel sick just hearing about it."
"How can you talk about that kind of dream so calmly?"
"Well it's not as if I WANTED to see it..."
"Hmmm...So that's why you decided to run into here all of a sudden?"
"Well, I guess it's possible that you'd start bawling your head off after seeing a dream like that......"
"Bawling? ...Was I crying?"
"Of course you were! Like a hysteric three year old."
That's when I realized. On my cheeks and chin, there was something that felt cold...There was a small drop of moisture sparkling on my eyelash......I hurriedly wiped away my tears. So...I had been crying...It had all happened while I was sleeping, so I had no idea why I'd been crying.
"Hey, kid? Something bothers me..."
"You just said 'The warehouse started flooding,' right?"
"That actually happened."
"When you were sleeping, a pipe burst in the storage room and water started flooding in."
"When I was...sleeping...?"
What was that supposed to mean? I couldn't fully grasp what was going on from what I'd heard. My mind froze.
"But, don't worry, okay? It got fixed without any hitches."
"What about Tsugumi?"
I didn't think it was possible, but I asked anyway.
"She's fine, of course! She did most of the repairing."
For some reason I felt relieved. I wondered if it was because my dream had been so real?
No, wait...Dream...? Why would I have a dream about the warehouse flooding? I was sleeping...
As though she had read my thoughts, Sara said...
"You didn't have an out-of-body experience, did you?"
She said as if she were making fun of me. But honestly, Sara probably didn't take the possibility seriously. My mind was turning slowly, but hadn't started working normally again. Something was preventing me from thinking.
"Out-of-body experience...If I could do that, I could peep down girl's underwear all I wanted..."
I made a stab at a joke. The fact that I could do so surprised me somewhat.
"Even if you could look up somebody's skirt, you don't look down people's underwear!!"
Sara whacked me on the head a couple of times. Thinking the whole situation odd, I started to laugh.
"But you seem like you're doing better. I was really worried last night that you were going to die or something...But you seem just fine now."
"What? You don't remember? You fell over and were foaming at the mouth."
"Yeah, and you were flailing around on the ground like an upside down crab. Snip, snip. By the time Takeshi called us all together, you were already like that. So all we could do was pick you up...And carry you into this infirmary. Got it?"
"You probably don't remember but...it was really intense."
"You really had us worried there."
Sara slapped me gently on the cheek. My head turned to the side with the force. And from that position, I asked...
"Hey...? Where was I passed out...?"
"In the changing room, in front of the mirror."
It was a rectangular room...and stuck to the back wall was a large mirror. The bench had been returned to its original position.
I walked up to the mirror.
I didn't recognize this kid...I touched my eyebrow with my right hand. He touched his eyebrow with his left hand.
"A, B, C, D, E..."
The sounds that I uttered came to my ears. The kid in the mirror mouthed the exact same words, but of course I couldn't hear his voice. I reached out my left hand to touch him. He put out his right hand and did the same thing. My nails hit the hard surface of the glass with a 'click.' But I couldn't reach him.
Looking closely, I could see a face floating over his left shoulder. Two pairs of eyes stared intensely at me. It had to be an evil spirit. Maybe he was even being possessed.
(That's so sad, he's been taken over by a demon...)
And as soon as I said that to myself, I realized that HE was looking at ME.
(...What???...I'm being possessed???)
"W-w-when'd you get here!?"
"Heh, heh, heh..."
"'Tis but a simple thing, to conceal the pitter patter of my steps."
Apparently, the person who'd been looking over my shoulder was Sara.
"Well, you didn't say anything, you just took off."
"So you went and followed me?"
Sara had grabbed on to her tied-up hair with both hands and was swinging it back and forth.
"So? What's with the mirror?"
She pointed to the mirror with the tip of her hair.
I pulled Sara by the arm over to stand in front of the mirror.
The left and right side of her face was reflected back in reverse, but there was no mistaking it was her. My face on the other hand...
"Hey? Who's that reflected in the mirror?"
"...H-huh?...I don't understand the question."
"This kid. The kid standing next to you...Who is he?"
"Haa...we've started with this again eh...?"
"Come on...I'm being serious."
"Is this...really my face?"
"Well, if it isn't your face, whose face is it?"
"Hmmm...I guess you're right..."
I knew the answer, but I still had needed to check. This kid was...me. The face reflected in the mirror was mine.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. But I'm also not fine."
"Which one is it?"
A pouting Sara was in the mirror. I looked at her figure in the reflection. She looked back at me. Our gazes intersected and overlapped at the same space at the same time.
"I couldn't remember my own face. I couldn't remember...and I still can't remember it. Of course, I understand that the person reflected in the mirror is 'me.' But...how can I say it...? It doesn't feel real..."
"That's why I passed out in front of the mirror last night. The face reflecting back at me in the mirror, felt like someone else, someone I didn't know..."
"Hmmm...But that shouldn't be enough to make you foam at the mouth, don't you think? I mean if you looked into the mirror and suddenly were hopelessly ugly, even I would faint, but...Your face...isn't that bad...I mean you'd think that you'd be relieved and think, 'You know I've got a pretty nice looking face.'"
Sara glanced at the mirror, and took a good look at my face.
"I mean, if I had to say one way or the other, I like your face."
And, so saying, Sara pointed the tip of her hair at me.
"Do you want to know why?"
"I think you look a little like me."
"...L-look like? ...I look like you?"
I stared intently at Sara's face.
"You don't think so?"
Suddenly, a vast whirling pattern came into my mind. It spun round and round, round and round, paralyzing my ability to think.
"I...d-don't think so."
It took all my will to mumble just that.
"Reeeally? I think our eyes look the same."
"Hey, why are you making such a sour face? I'm giving you a compliment. Or maybe, I guess you could say I'm giving myself a compliment..."
Sara started smiling shyly. And then, all of a sudden she tickled my nose with the tip of her hair.
"Hey! What're you doing!?"
Sara smiled mischievously. The smell of her hair seeped into my mind. It was a smell somehow so familiar, almost animal and private.
I was sitting in a chair, stuffing my mouth with a 'chicken-wich-sand.' I'd grown bored of the chicken sandwiches, so I invented my own version - a slice of bread between two pieces of meat. It was definitely a needed change of pace. Sara was sitting directly in front of me.
Muttering in voice so small I could barely hear, she was saying "I'm not getting enough vegetables. I'm just not getting enough vegetables."
"Say, where'd everybody else run off to?"
With ketchup smeared around her lips, Sara answered me.
"As for Takeshi, I saw him riding the merry-go-round, goofing off by himself. And as for Tsugumi, MIA, as usual. Now that the repairs on the warehouse are finished, I guess everybody's taking a breather."
"Hmm...So what do you have planned next, Sara?"
"Nothing special really. Maybe I'll just sit here and wait to be
rescued while I eat this lettuce."
"By the way, Sara, what where you doing up till now?"
"Watching over you, Kid."
"Watching over me?"
"We were worried you might suddenly go on a rampage or something...so we took every precaution. And until a minute ago, it was my turn to watch. Except in the split second I turned my back and you up and disappeared...I wondered what was going on, and left the infirmary to find you when..."
"When you found me crying?"
Using my index finger, I wiped off some excess ketchup smeared around Sara's mouth, dabbed it on my lettuce and ate it.
"What should I do next?"
I muttered to myself.
"Just sitting here's getting boring."
One choice leads to a redux of something we've already seen and the other leads to something new. The good news is that we can't be bumped off Coco's route now that we're locked on it.