Part 46: Life Unknown
content warning: violence, bodily harm, dissociation/depersonalization symptoms, suicide, police brutality, prostitution mention
[BGM: The Darkness]
Well, this one's pretty self-explanatory as far as what we need to do goes- keep Alicia (and Zucco, hopefully?) from getting fucked up by the bomb somehow, while also hopefully getting Chang a lead he can use to spark his own investigation into what happened with Kang. Let's not waste any time.
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of Bad Endings this time around, so let's get those taken care of first, as usual. (Regallion's guess for Chang results in this ending.)
[BGM: Pensive Moments]
I felt a big hand patting my back.
Hey! Kid, what are you doing over here?
I had heard the footsteps coming towards me, so I stood straight in front of the safe.
I pretended that I had been trying to take some candy from the basket.
You have given me too much work, so I want to take some candy and relax a little bit.
Haha, sure. How about we go take a bath? It should be even more relaxing.
It was already after hours. The spa in the station was quite crowded.
Lieutenant Kim was soon chatting and laughing with the other people that were hanging around.
I stayed in a corner of the spa and didn't join the others.
I remembered the time when I was in the spa with Lieutenant Kang.
Maybe it was because of the steam from the spa, but I felt my eyes watering up.
[BGM: The Darkness]
Get away from there! There is a bomb!
Zucco screamed and ran towards me. He reached his hand out, trying to pull me away from the locked door.
An enormous force blew the door off of its hinges, twisted it and tore it into a million burning pieces that were flying towards me.
Most of them went straight into my body...
Well, that didn't go too well. Let's try something else.
[BGM: Pensive Moments]
Before I could enter the passcode, I heard clean footsteps coming in my direction.
I had no time to check who was coming, so I snuck back to my seat.
I took another peek at the mirror on Officer Ji-yeon's desk and I happened to catch Lieutenant Kim's eyes looking right back at me.
I immediately looked away in a panic, lowered my head, and continued writing the non-existent report.
Lieutenant Kim walked past me and into the bathroom.
[BGM: The Darkness]
Zucco grabbed me from behind and dragged me away from the door that I had just opened.
But I caught a glimpse of a box on the floor of the empty arsenal.
And then, BOOM!
The box morphed into an engulfing flame, and swallowed Zucco and me without the door in its way...
You probably won't be that surprised to learn that a lot of the other Alicia Bad endings are just various iterations of 'and then we blew up' without much other difference. (Regallion's guess for Alicia is one of those.)
That said, here's one that ISN'T that...
Someone grabbed my neck from behind and choked me.
I raised my left hand and stabbed my finger towards the throat of my attacker.
He did a back flip and got away from me, landing precisely on the window ledge.
His lowered baseball cap covered most of his face, so I could only tell that it was a slim, fit young man.
You are indeed as good as they say... Hehe, too bad I have to kill you today!
The weird-sounding man wielded two knives and lunged at me.
I picked up a fruit knife from the table and tried to block him.
We were quite even at first.
Then, somewhere on the street, I heard what sounded like an explosion.
My eyes involuntarily drifted to the window. I suddenly had a bad feeling.
My split-second distraction had given my opponent a chance.
He stabbed his two knives into the artery in my neck, clean and swift.
Had... my end... finally arrived?
Alicia has an A outcome here, so let's go ahead and get that.
Zucco wasn't in the arsenal, nor was he in the apartment.
Somewhere on the street I heard what sounded like an explosion.
I ran downstairs and heard people screaming and crying in agony.
There were injured people everywhere I looked.
The source of all the suffering was a small square that had just been wiped out.
The food carts that sold beef balls were all gone.
A dark radial scorch mark was left on the concrete in the middle of the square.
But in the center of the darkness, there was nothing.
There was nothing left.
Well.... I mean I GUESS it's an improvement in that Alicia isn't dead, but...not exactly an ideal outcome, if we can avoid it we probably should...
We still have some more Bad ends for Chang, though, we should probably finish that up next.
[BGM: Pensive Moments]
The door didn't open as I had hoped.
That was strange. Had I misremembered the passcode?
No, not possible.
I had recorded the passcode yesterday. I had even checked twice today when someone else was opening the safe.
The last person to use the safe was Lieutenant Kim.
Had he noticed my plan and changed the passcode?
I went back to my seat, defeated.
What else could I do to help Lieutenant Kang?
Alright, alright, let's get to our S ending.
There was a stack of files in the safe. I quickly flipped through them. They were exactly what I had been looking for.
But before I could find out where the Lieutenant was being held, I heard somebody walking in my direction.
I quietly closed the safe, hid the files under my jacket, and snuck into the bathroom.
In the men's bathroom there was a stall that had a window to the outside.
It wasn't too big, but it was enough for an adult like me to climb out.
And the back door of the station was not far away from the outside of the window.
I opened the door to the stall and stepped on the toilet lid, when I heard a deafening scream------
I let out a scream myself and fell to the floor.
The bathroom door opened. The person who had just come in was none other than Lieutenant Kim.
For a moment I even suspected that he had seen through my plan to steal the files the whole time.
Lieutenant Kim pulled me up from the floor and took the files away from me.
Then he said in a lowered voice, For the sake of us having worked together for a while, I won't tell anyone about what happened today.
I thought Lieutenant Kim would be saying this in an accusatory tone.
But when I looked up at his face, I realized that he was actually smiling.
Why would he be smiling?
I couldn't figure out what he was thinking.
All I could feel was a chill down my spine.
[BGM: The Darkness]
Zucco grabbed me from behind and dragged me away from the door.
An enormous force blew the door off its hinges, twisted it and tore it into a million burning pieces that were flying towards us.
Zucco blocked most of the debris for me. His body had become almost unrecognizeable.
He was holding my hand so tight when he died.
Zucco was gone.
There was no funeral. A couple of his body handlers took care of everything.
During the night of the full moon a few days later, I opened my fist and examined my palm under the moonlight.
Zucco had given me one last small present. He had been hiding it in his hand before stuffing it into mine when he died.
It was a small metal part that he had taken off the baseball boy's bomb...
Something strange happened in Chang's side... that should've been his S ending too. Let's just check the History...
...to learn that his S ending is, in fact, actually impossible to get right now! If you're in the habit of checking the History to see how many endings there are you immediately would've noticed it greyed out, but in order to find out exactly what is causing it to be blocked you still have to do the puzzle- and a certain feline seems to be crossing paths with our rogue hero...
In any case, this actually still gives us the short-term outcome we want, because we have Alicia's S ending- she survives the bomb, which means that she isn't dead (for the moment, we don't have a letter proving otherwise right now) in Carlos's future, which should unlock those letters for us to finally get to! We'll have to just save Chang's side for later; for now, let's go back to the Letter menu.
[BGM: Lost Memories]
We can see that Carlos's letter is unblocked now, and if we check the previous letter...
...things are back to how they were previously, where he was stopped by a policeman. Now, let's go see what his letter entails, and who this mysterious new person is...
[BGM: Getting Serious]
Five years wasn't really a long time.
But when I looked down on Hong Kong from the airplane window, all I could remember was some fractured memories about this city.
Everything I could remember about Hong Kong seemed to be connected to a coffee shop called Maple House.
However, when I finally found the old address of the coffee shop there was only a real estate agency at the location.
I tried asking around the neighborhood, and people told me that the matron of the coffee shop had died in an accident.
They also said a few regular customers had tried to keep the shop open in his name, but the landlord had refused to extend the lease.
That meant that I didn't really have a reason to stay in this city any longer.
I felt a little disappointed. Nevertheless, instead of wandering the streets aimlessly I might as well go back to the UK sooner.
My mental condition hadn't been very stable recently.
If I suffered an attack here, my doctor friend half a world away wouldn't be of much help.
For example, just earlier...
No. Actually, I couldn't even tell how much earlier just earlier really was.
As far as I could remember it had been a clear night.
I was walking out of the alley in front of the coffee shop while I pulled my blazer tighter around myself.
It was quite dark in the alley, except for the pale white moonlight shining down from above.
I unintentionally looked up at the moon. Then, all of a sudden, I felt the moonlight getting whiter and brighter, and it was almost blinding.
After a deafening moment of buzzing in my ears I blacked out...
When I woke up again, I found myself lying in the bed of the hotel room I had booked.
On the other side of the same bed, another man with a scruffy face and long hair was lying down, snoring loudly with no inhibitions.
Who was this man?
Had he brought me back here?
How would he even know that I had been staying here?
I nervously rummaged through his luggage.
Besides a camera and some daily necessities, I also found a passport and a work ID.
Apparently he was a policeman from Korea, maybe here as a tourist.
Perhaps he was just a good Samaritan who had decided to return the lost item he had found by the road.
After I calmed myself down I realized that I was still wearing the same clothes as before I left.
The wrinkles on my clothes, and the germs on the bed from the other man, were both making me feel quite uneasy.
In any case I couldn't call for room service before he left, so I decided to get changed first.
I changed into my clean clothes and walked into the main room.
I sat down and sunk deep into the soft couch.
The digital clock on the table said that it was almost 10 PM on Tuesday night.
I decided to think about something before the man woke up.
I used to want to become a doctor.
But I never did.
The reason was that while I had been studying for the qualification I discovered that I had a serious condition.
It was called selective cognitive dissonance.
It was a hereditary disease.
A person who suffered from this disease would selectively manipulate their own memories about people and events, based on their own psychological cognition.
Simply put, their own brain would tamper with their memories without their realizing it.
When I first found out that I had this condition, I also realized that all of my memories might not be accurate, or even true at all.
I was terrified.
I couldn't stop myself from second-guessing the truth of my own memories.
I was in the UK at the time and I had a psychologist friend.
He helped me by treating me with hypnosis therapy.
The treatment allowed me to forget the unpleasant memories from my past.
He told me that I was an entirely different person after the therapy.
Afterwards I had a few good years.
But there were some side effects, too.
I couldn't remember what my parents looked like, nor where my home was.
For the past two years there had also been more serious reactions, too. Some fragmented, horrifying images would suddenly flash before my eyes, and I would feel severely sick or even pass out.
My friend told me that the hypnosis might be wearing off, or that my condition might be deteriorating.
Whatever the case, we had decided to do another session after I had finished my trip and returned to the UK.
I was staring at the TV opposite the couch when I suddenly sensed an inexplicable chill spreading over my entire body.
It felt like the entire room was spinning, and I could hear nothing but an overwhelming buzzing in my ears. At the same time a number of unimagineable visions were swirling through my mind.
I could feel it. I could feel a crack opening in my brain.
And something sticky, rotten and pitch black was coming out of a cocoon.
I was having a relapse.
I held my arms tightly around myself.
I knew I was about to compeltely lose control.
There was a knife on the nearby desk.
I could see my own reflection in the blank TV screen.
My face was gradually overlapping with some of the gruesome visions in my head.
It was too late...
I... I remembered everything...
My parent's faces, my home, and... my hellish childhood.
The buzzing in my ears and the spinning were morphing into excruciating pain, pinching every single nerve in my body.
Those bloody memories, and the cruel truth that they implied, were pushing me to the brink of my sanity.
If I was on that edge, my illness would take over my mind and push me over the cliff.
And then, history would repeat itself.
I do not want to become someone I hated again.
I do not... I cannot... I refuse!
I... I must stop myself!
I picked up the knife on the desk and stabbed myself in the throat, at the perfect angle and the perfect depth.
I could not afford to leave anything to chance.
I just hoped that in my next life I could be a good, healthy child.
[BGM: Friend of Mine]
I sat on the bottom bed of the only bunk in the tiny room.
I held my head in my hands, thinking about the most baffling question of the moment:
Why was I in prison?
About half a day ago, two policemen had arrested me on the street.
They put me in their patrol car and brought me straight here ------ Hong Kong Central Prison.
No one would answer any of my questions, and they beat me up whenever I showed any resistance.
Then they just threw me inside this empty room.
There was nothing in here except a bunk bed, a wooden desk, a sink, and a toilet.
It didn't even have a window.
I supposed this is what they called a jail cell.
Cell 28. Open up.
The door opened from the outside. Someone came in.
Right, it must be a prank by Ren and the guys.
They were probably just trying to give me a good scare.
They must be getting me out now.
However, the person that came in had a pale face whiter than the wall, and a pair of lips redder than blood. They were also wearing a strange, long robe.
It, it was a ghost!
I had always been afraid of ghosts since I was a little kid. I jumped onto the bed and hid under the blanket, trembling in fear.
Get out. Your bed is the one on top. Don't lie on mine. How dirty.
I heard a soft voice from outside the blanket. It actually sounded like a human.
I climbed out of bed and stood aside, watching the new person change into the prison uniform and wash himself.
He seemed to be right at home.
Soon, the scary ghost had become a short, young man with a clean haircut and an innocent looking face.
He was my cellmate, Hotaru.
Although we had just met, Hotaru was a really easy-going guy, and he immediately told me everything about how he had ended up here.
Hotaru was from Japan.
He had a long-term girlfriend from China.
The only problem was that the girl came from a very prestigious family; they didn't approve of Hotaru.
However, they still kept seeing each other in secret. They would fly across the sea every once in a while just to be together.
Eventually, they realized that they would never receive her family's blessing, so they decided to elope.
Unfortunately, just when they were finally ready to run away together, the girl was killed in an accident.
Hotaru was devastated.
Being so far away in Japan, he didn't even know what had really happened to her.
He came to Hong Kong and tried to talk to the girl's relatives and friends that he knew, hoping to piece together the clues.
His efforts finally paid off. In the end, he learned that one of her family members was responsible for her death.
She was merely collateral damage in a vicious power struggle.
Hotaru wanted to avenge her death.
But he didn't have any power or any connections in this distant land. He had to seek help.
He remembered a professional assassin he had known in Japan.
He was famous for his creative ways of eliminating targets. Some people referred to him as The Magician.
He also had a strange hobby: old adult magazines.
Hotaru was able to find out that The Magician happened to be in Hong Kong at the time, too.
However, hiring him required lots and lots of money, which Hotaru didn't have.
Hotaru began to do everything he could for money.
Inevitably he dabbled in some illegal activities. Eventually he was caught and thrown into prison.
He still wouldn't stop.
To him, the prison was just another society, not unlike the one outside. It was populated by plenty of residents with all kinds of different values. It wasn't just the guards or the warden. Even some of the prisoners might have unusual and powerful backgrounds behind them.
Hotaru hustled among these people. He was willing to do everything and anything for a profit.
He smuggled contraband. He traded information with the prisoners. He gambled with them.
He bribed the guards, complimented them, sometimes even sold his own body.
Hotaru said as long as he could get his revenge, he didn't care about himself at all.
He began to choke up.
I was so angry after hearing his story.
I was also feeling both admiration and sympathy towards Hotaru.
If I were in his shoes, I probably wouldn't be able to do what he had done.
Unfortunately, I had no more than a few hundred bucks on me and that was all I could give him for now.
I believed every word Hotaru had told me.
The next day, during lunch time,
I was mocked relentlessly by the other prisoners.
Son, you should be thankful that you only had a few hundred bucks on you.
I told you he was going to fall for it. Hurry! Give me my one hundred!
What kind of story did he tell you this time? Deceased parents?
Although, what he said... haha, is not entirely made up, either. I hear 9 guards out of 10 here have played around with him, hahaha...
I was so angry that I dropped my spoon and ran back to my cell.
Hotaru was sitting on the bed with his legs crossed, making a pyramid out of poker cards.
You lying bastard! Give me back my money!
Hotaru paid me no attention. He just put two more cards on top of the pyramid.
A mini-TV was playing a Japanese prank show near his knees.
The sound of laughter came out of the TV right on cue, as if they were mocking me, too.
I stepped forward and turned off the TV.
You, you monster...
I dragged him off of the bed angrily.
The pyramid of cards collapsed and they scattered all over the floor.
The air in the cell seemed to have suddenly frozen.
People began to gather right outside the cell.
A tall, strong guard walked in through the crowd. I recognized him.
He was the one who had taken my mug shot when I came in, and searched my belongings.
I seemed to recall that he was from the UK. Everyone called him Morgan.
I was about to tell Morgan what had happened when he punched me right in the face.
Hotaru wasn't completely lying at least.
Everyone in here might have some kind of unusual background behind them.
Sigh... why was I so unfortunate?
Not only did I end up in prison, I also had to live with such a bastard of a cellmate.
Lord, was this part of your trial for me?