Part 99: Coco's Route - True End - Part 4TrackErsteboden
Had there really been an accident, which had flooded the warehouse? I wanted to see for myself.
"Think you could join me for a bit...?"
"Do you mind waiting until I'm through with my lettuce?"
Sara spoke with her face still covered in ketchup.
I decided to wait for Sara to finish her 'meal.' While waiting I asked her a question.
"So tell me...why ketchup and not dressing?"
Her answer was straightforward.
"Because I like tomatoes. They taste like the sun, don't you think?"
And the floor was covered with enough water to just cover our shoes...Around the room lay pipes, many of which look to have been recently welded to repair damage.
"So there really was some kind of flooding here..."
"Huh? Didn't you believe me when I told you...?"
"Of course I believed you, but...There's a difference between hearing something and seeing it for yourself...I mean...there's way more impact."
"You know, the impact from realizing I saw this all in a dream."
"Like a premonition..."
"Well, I don't know if I could really call it a premonition or not, but..."
"I mean, Tsugumi didn't get hurt, right?"
I said this and stopped, sweeping my eyes across the room. The scene was almost exactly as I had dreamed it but...one thing was different. There had been a pile of scrap material stacked high, but now it was stacked on the floor.
"In my dream, the warehouse was completely submerged in water. But by the looks of it here, everything seems fine...I wonder if you could still call that a premonition?"
"Beats me...I have no idea about things like that..."
"Sara? Was the warehouse arranged like this from the start?"
"See those containers and metal pipes lined up over there?"
I asked her while pointing to the rows of scrap metal.
"Were those stacked up in one tall pile before?"
"You can't expect me to remember all the details."
"Yeah...I guess you're right..."
Besides that one point, nothing else seemed out of place. Except, I was amazed how calm I felt analyzing the situation. Premonitions, the phantom girl, the mirror affair, amnesia.... Considering the countless number of strange things I had experienced, I was surprisingly calm.
Not thinking such strange events as strange was in itself...strange...Was I just desensitized to everything? Or maybe I just had never been the type to think too deeply about things. I didn't know why, but I felt fine about the situation.
Only to find...
At that same moment I heard a sound
'Bang! Bang! Bang!.'
Like something pounding powerfully against a steel wall. I searched for the origin of the sound. A small door suddenly jumped into my field of vision. In front of the door stood Sara.
I let out a yell and ran to her.
I asked, standing at Sara's side.
"Nothing. What do you mean?"
Sara acted like there was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, she seemed so normal that normal didn't begin to describe it well enough. The bashing sound continued unabated. It was coming from beyond the door. Someone was...It sounded like someone was throwing their body against the door. And they weren't holding back. It was an explosive force, almost animal in intensity...The sound reverberated to the core of my body, rattling my brain.
"Who...is it...? Hey! Who's there!"
I yelled at the door.
Confused, Sara reached out and touched the door panel.
The room inside was dark. But even before I could turn on the lights, I could tell there was no one inside.
"So then, what was that noise just now!?"
I turned around and looked at Sara.
"Hey? What is it THIS time? I have had no clue what you're talking about."
"What do you mean, no clue!? I'm just asking, what that noise was just now!"
"A noise...you know...noise!? The sound of someone ramming into the door. That noise."
"No really, I'm tired of putting up with your..."
Sara said this to me with a scornful look on her face..
"What are you talking about?"
"That's exactly what I want to ask you. What are you talking about?"
"First you knew my name. Then you predict the future...And you see little girls who aren't there? And when you look in the mirror, you think you're a different person? And now you're hearing sounds that aren't there...I'm sorry but I just can't keep putting up with this..."
"Hearing sounds that aren't there...? You mean, you couldn't hear it Sara?"
"Uugh...I shouldn't have to answer, but...No I didn't hear it."
"So, why were you standing in front of that door?"
"Like I've been saying, no special reason."
"I was just wondering what's beyond that door, that's all."
"Are you serious?"
"Why would I lie about something like that?"
"If there was a place on a map you'd never been to, wouldn't you want to go there? If there was an unopened treasure box, wouldn't you want to open it? If there was a person in the town that you lived in who you'd never talked to before, wouldn't you want to say something to that person?"
"Ah, I see..."
Sara's discomfort showed clearly on her face. Her eyes were frightened. So I...
"Really! I don't know what came over me! Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
...I decided to try to play it off by laughing.
Not thinking strange events as 'strange' was becoming...not so strange after all. When enough coincidences happen one after the other, they stop being 'coincidence' and start to become unavoidable. What's more, having encountered strange phenomena so often they seemed like old acquaintances, I started to think that nothing could faze me.
What a time to suddenly become philosophical! Spiritual awakening! Enlightenment! Nirvana! I felt like there was nothing left to be afraid of...
"Haaaaaaa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
My laughing voice reverberated throughout the room.
"Ouch...that really hurts..."
It seems my laughing had only proved to increase Sara's frustration and doubt in me, but I didn't care. And the look she gave me, like I was some kind of weirdo...well, that didn't bother me either. I began to dance lightly, circling around the small room like some Polynesian tribal dancer.
But it made me dizzy, so I stopped. Out of breath, I leaned against the nearest wall for support. In front of me I noticed a small square window. From outside the window, faint moonlight shone in.
Sara must have notice the direction of my gaze because she began to walk toward the window. Speaking toward her backside I said,
"Why would there be a window in a place like this?"
Sara's feet stopped.
"This looks like...a window to you...?"
She said as she spun around.
"Isn't it...a window?"
Sara shuffled backwards and planted her back against the wall.
"You just said 'light' didn't you?"
"It looks like it's shining light to you?"
As if being called by the light, I began to walk toward it. I knocked a few times against the window with my knuckles. I stopped in front of the window. Except...it was not a window at all. It was...a steel door buried in the wall.
"Hey? Will you answer my question? Does it look like a light is shining?"
"Yeah, it does."
Sara stood beside me and put her hand on the steel door. I also reached out and placed the flat of my hand on the door. The door seemed to sizzle with a penetrating heat.
Without changing our pose, our eyes met. Sara started to speak but hesitated. She then opened her lips to try again but stammered. Her breathing became rough. She seemed a little agitated. A red light seemed to emanate from her body.
"So why does it look like it's shining?"
It was a very innocent, almost naive question. Without answering me, Sara removed her hand from the door. I removed mine as well. Two faint handprints were left imprinted on the square steel door.
"Kid...can you see this?"
Muttering, Sara gently removed something from her pocket.
A flame burned. In an instant the whole scene changed and Sara's face was lit up in red. I realized that what Sara had taken out was a pendant and a lighter.
Without saying a word, Sara brought the flame and the pendant in front of my eyes.
When I asked this, Sara's hand began to quiver. The flame shimmered. And from this a large shadow was projected on the wall, which also flickered.
"So...You can see it, too..."
Sara shut the lighter.
"When Nakkyu tried to open the door to the Generator Room...you stopped her, right?"
"How come? Why did you stop her?"
"Wait, hold on a second. Weren't you just telling me how tired you were of all my 'premonitions and illusions'?"
"Premonitions...? So that was...a premonition?"
"I can't say. I mean I don't really know...It's just that, I thought it would be dangerous for her to open the door..."
Sara looked at the ceiling. She then looked at the square door in the wall, then the pendant held tightly in her hand, then finally looked slightly upward into my eyes. There was a long silence. Sara looked deep in thought, or maybe as though she wasn't thinking anything...The only sound was her steady measured breaths. At last she spoke...
"Yeah, it couldn't be, right? *sigh*..."
Sara took a deep breath, and put away the lighter and pendant.
Sara took a big stretch. I repeated my question to her.
"Sara? Who's image was that in the pendant?"
As she walked toward the exit, she answered.
"A person from the Sun."
Everyone was silent.
You rested her chin on her hands and watched a plant in the corner of the room. Sara put her face on the table and closed her eyes. Takeshi stood by the window and stared at ocean. Sora was not there. She had gone back to the Control Room. Tsugumi...had just stood up. She headed toward the exit. She touched the panel to open and close the door. Just before she left the room, she looked at me again. It bothered me. I couldn't let it not bother me.
A while after Tsugumi had gone out, I...
"I'm going to the bathroom..."
Saying that to everybody, I followed Tsugumi.
She was walking ahead of me in a curved corridor. I ran to Tsugumi and asked her.
"Hey, why did you keep looking at me?"
Tsugumi didn't stop walking. She didn't even look at me.
"You were shooting sideway glances at me, right? And then you glanced at me when you left the Conference Room."
"Yes, I was looking at you. But you watched me as well, didn't you? If not, you wouldn't have noticed my glance."
"So we're even."
"But you started watching me first."
"Is that a problem?"
"No problem, but..."
"What? Are you afraid you'll turn into a pillar of salt if someone looks at you?"
Saying that, Tsugumi started to walk. I blocked her way, holding out my arm.
"Wait a minute. Don't change the subject. What I wanted to know was the reason why you were glancing at me."
"Do I need a reason? Do you need a reason to look at someone?"
"You are trying to change the topic again..."
"Then why are you asking me such a stupid question?"
"Because I want to know."
"To know what?"
"About you, Tsugumi..."
"Tsugumi, you want to say something to me, don't you?"
Tsugumi looked down. She dragged her leg slightly on the ground behind her. There ripples spread over the surface of water. Tsugumi's eyes followed the direction ripples spreads absently.
She looked up. We stared at each other. Tsugumi pushed her hair back softly with her little finger and said...
"I have many things I want to say. But I can't say them yet."
She spoke in mild, calm tone.
"Hey, Tsugumi? Why do you keep trying to hide so many things? You can't trust us yet?"
"Then why did you help us with repairs when the flooding accident happened today?"
"I didn't help you."
"I did the repairs and everyone else helped me."
"You can look at that anyway you want. It's not important. What is important is that you tried to help us anyway, right?"
Tsugumi said it simply.
"I just don't trust you guys. It's not that I have a grudge against you. There is nothing special about helping someone during an emergency, is there? I don't care about what happens to myself, but...I can't just sit doing nothing when someone is going to die. Especially in circumstances like this..."
It was an unexpected answer.
Little by little, Tsugumi might have been seeing our side of things.
"Alright, then. I'll ask you a different question...You show yourself around us often even though you're saying that you don't trust us, right? If you doubt us, you don't have to hang out with us. You can act on your own. Tsugumi...you actually want to be 'buddies' with us, don't you?"
I was kind of taking a gamble. If she had answered back like something like: 'Fine. If that's what you want, I'll never show my face again' - then that would have been the end of things. I waited for her reaction.
TrackDer Mond Das Meer
"Heh, heh....hee, heeee...."
She kept shaking her head and laughing hard.
"Wh-what's so funny?"
"Because...you said 'buddy'...We're not school kids, you know...I am much older than you think."
Tsugumi covered her mouth as she kept laughing.
"H-hey, stop laughing! I...I am being serious!"
"Hee, hee, hee..."
"If I'm wrong, then what is it...? If you don't want to be 'buddies,' with us then why do you come to where everybody is?"
"Do you want to know why?"
"I can tell you why if you want, but...I want you to answer this question in exchange."
"Do you know about Jewel chocolate?"