Sage !PLSKN7WwcQ 2013/11/07 (Thu) 03:25 No. 175123
“I want to go to old Hell,” I say.
The reaction I receive makes me almost regret my choice. Marisa and Alice seem distraught, perhaps even confused by my decision. Certainly the alternative would be a much easier route and I would absolutely love to visit the temple at some point. I know that they were pushing hard to get me to go there first, but the drive to remember myself is too great to resist. I could go so far as to say as I’m unable to resist. Fires and furnaces be damned, I need to see this through. I need to meet one of my own kind. Perhaps they can help me to remember. At the very least, maybe they can guide me down the right path. It feels good to have hope.
But I can tell the girls want to object. They want to tell me that I cannot go, that it would be preferable for me to stay where I am now. They sit in stunned silence, struggling within their own minds to grasp what I’ve just said. Alice tries to silently reason with me why I should go elsewhere. Marisa’s mind in particular overflows with past experience and images of the underground as she remembers it. She wants to speak from experience, but seems to become absorbed in it instead.
“I… don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Alice says, finally putting words together.
“I know,” I reply meekly, unsure of how I should best explain myself.
Marisa’s mind starts to race as she sits in silence, a trickle becomes an uncontrollable torrent; she stares deeply at nothing. What I see starts to accumulate into what cannot be called coherent, but the vision is clear. Fire, blood, the smell of charred flesh, a blinding light, an intense pain… Traumatic thoughts flood in, invading my senses. For a brief moment, I see what she saw, feel what she felt. For a brief moment, I can see the world and myself through her eyes. For a brief moment, I find myself engulfed in a living hell.
I reach out to her, wanting to make it stop—
She jumps as I touch her, falls backwards out of her chair. The images stop as she rights herself.
“Sorry, I uh…” Marisa stammers, her mind latching onto my words, “I didn’t really expect you to say that.”
“You’re such a space case,” Alice laughs, trying to lighten the mood.
I feel dizzy for a moment. I lean forward over the table, resting my head in my arms.
“I need to go there,” I say, after a moment of respite. The dizziness fades as I talk, “I want to find someone like me. Maybe they can help.”
“There’s no doubting that she’ll help you,” Marisa says, “Satori’s always on the lookout for folks like her. …But I don’t think it’s such a good idea right now, all things considered.”
“I know,” I say, “Trust me, I know.”
I think better of telling Marisa what I saw in her head. If she thinks that just hearing her thoughts as words is an invasion of privacy on my part, then I know for certain she will not be able to accept that I was able to see—and to a lesser extent relive fragments of her memories.
“I have to agree,” Alice says, “You’re in no condition to manage that sort of journey.”
“Yeah,” Marisa adds, “You were a complete wreck just last night. What you’re wanting is a two days’ walk at least! I hate to break it to you, but it absolutely positively imp—“
“I know!” I yell, raising my voice for the first time I can remember.
I find myself standing as well, a loud thud resounds as my hands pound against the table. I feel anger for the first time, and it feels like I’m starting to lose control. It does not feel pleasant nor does it feel right, and I regret letting such an outburst come to pass.
“Sorry, I—“ I take my seat, “I understand what I’m saying. I know it’s risky—I saw as much. I’m not saying I’ll be leaving right now, but…”
“’You can’t not go,’ is it?” Alice asks, her voice soft and gentle as she tries to assure me, “I know the feeling.”
“Well, I’m not going with you,” Marisa belligerently adds, “Not no way, not no how.”
I cannot blame her for it. Here I am, lightheaded and dizzy, only one and a half days out of an injury-induced unconsciousness and more or less puking my guts up... And I’m just a few spoken words short of asking these two to take me to the worst sort of place imaginable. I can tell that they both feel a sort of empathy towards me, and that they genuinely want to help, but to ask them to go so far for somebody they barely even know would be beyond unreasonable. I simply cannot do it, and my heart sinks because I don’t know the way. I couldn’t go alone, even if I wanted to.
A feeling of hopelessness gushes forth from the pit of my stomach. My chest feels tight, I struggle to fight back the lump in my throat. My eyes start to itch and my face feels warm. It feels strange. Sickening, even. Is my body still so weak? The others grow anxious and I feel terrible for worrying them. I don’t wish to become a burden to them, but in my self-less state I seem to be incapable of doing anything but.
“See?” Says Alice to Marisa, “Now look what you did.” ’Poor girl can’t catch a break, can she?’
“O-okay! Fine, if it’s that bad I’ll go!” Marisa says, “I’ll go okay? Just quit it with the bellyaching!” ’You owe me, you crybaby.’
“It’s not that, I—“ I try to speak, but my voice sounds scratchy and dreadful. So I don’t.
“Hey Marisa,” Alice says, “Here’s a thought. Do you still have that old telephone I gave you?” ’Maybe there’s a better way...’
“Yeah, but—“ Marisa replies, “Wait, you’re not thinking of calling them, are you?” ’The line was dead last time I tried it. Not bad thinking, though.’
“Why not?” Alice laughs, “It’s why we have them, right?”
“I doubt Satori even has a line hooked up, though,” Marisa says, “And my line was dead last time I tried to use it.” ’In case you were pissed and wondering why I never called you…’
The conversation appears to have fallen out of my level of comprehension, so I sit in silence. It gives me a much-needed opportunity to recover from that last surge of emotion. As I am, I don’t think my mind or my body would be able to withstand another one.
“You probably had it hooked up wrong,” Alice says, “Where did you put it?”
Marisa gestures to a cupboard in the corner. Alice opens it up and pulls out a dusty old piece of black machinery—some kind of handset attached to a large wood and metal box. She dusts it off, pulling away a layer of cobwebs to reveal a sort of bronze plaque on the front of the box portion of it. The wording is illegible. She connects it to a wire haphazardly left hanging over the countertop and lifts up the handset. She jiggles a lever where the handset rests.
“It works,” she says, ’I shouldn’t have to remind myself to never trust Marisa with a machine…’
“Does it?” Marisa says, pushing Alice aside and grabbing the set from her hands, “Er, hello? Hello? Is this thing on?” ’There’s no tone, Alice you dumbass!’
“That’s now how it works,” Alice says, “Look, give it here—“
She shoos Marisa back over to the table, who gracelessly falls into her chair before pouting.
“What?” Marisa glares at me, “The thing’s a piece of junk, don’t gimme that look!”
I don’t recall looking at her offensively. These two are becoming stranger and stranger by the moment, and I can’t help but worry that I’ve somehow flipped some sort of switch with my errant mind reading. My ability is still alien to me, and I don’t know if I have that sort of capacity, but the thought that I may and that I am unable to control it is terrifying.
I hear Alice in the corner talking to herself. At first it would appear that my worst fears have been actualized, but in searching Alice’s mind for thoughts I can hear somebody talking from inside the machine she’s using. I suppose I should not be surprised despite the impossibility. Perhaps there is a tiny person inside of it and Alice is talking to them? I listen closely for answers, eager to see how this plays out.
“Hello,” Alice says, “operator?”
’How may I direct your call?’ asks the voice in the box.
“Earth Spirits Palace, please,” Alice says. I begin to see her thought process properly.
She appears to be using the box to direct her voice to my intended destination. How she is able to do so is beyond my comprehension or reasoning, but the fact that it works is alone enough to breathe life back into my body. All in all, it seems utterly convenient—having a conversation with people two or three days’ worth of walking away without leaving the house. I would like to ask why they had not thought of this sooner, as it would have saved us all a load of headache and grief.
’I don’t believe we’ve installed a line there yet, one moment while I check,’ the voice in the box speaks and falls silent.
“Marisa,” I whisper, “Alice is talking to the box.”
“Isn’t she, though?” Marisa laughs loudly, is shushed by Alice, and after a quick retort continues, “She talks to dolls and stuff, too.”
I decide not to continue this line of conversation. Marisa is speaking truthfully, and after all I’ve seen of Alice thus far I should want to respect her privacy. The thought of her talking to inanimate objects is unsettling, however.
’Hello, I’m connecting you now,’ says the voice in the box. A brief pause, followed by a repeating chirping noise, then, ’Hello?’ The box speaks in a different voice. This new one sounds somewhat less thrilled to be speaking to Alice.
“Ah, hello,” Alice says, “This is Alice Margatroid speaking. Is this Rin?”
’Utsuho,’ The box uses a familiar name, ’Rin isn’t allowed to answer the phone anymore.’
“I won’t ask why,” Alice laughs, imagining a cat clawing at the wires, “Hey listen, is the lady of the house in?”
’She’s sleeping, can I take a message?’
“I’d rather she hear this in person, it’s important,” Alice says, “Can you wake her?”
“Er—“ Alice scowls, not expecting to be turned down, “Okay, then… Pass this along for me then, if you please: I’ve found another satori.” ’I’m sure she’ll come leaping to the phone when she hears that one.’
“You found a satori?” Marisa mutters under her breath, ’I think we both know who deserves credit, here.’
’Ah, well… That is important, isn’t it?’ The box says, ’Hold on a minute, I’ll go get her.’
The box falls silent, Alice’s thoughts are a mix of elation and unease. She can’t seem to wait to be able to tell Satori the apparently good news, but at the same time she’s worried in regards to how Satori will respond. The main point of contention seems to be the question, ‘what if Satori doesn’t want the company?’ Alice seems optimistic, though nervously hums a tune to herself.
There seems to be a commotion inside the telephone box. Alice stops humming and holds the handset away from her ear.
“Hello?” Alice says, “Are you still there?”
’You found what exactly?’ says a third voice in the box. Yet again it’s switched voices.
“Another satori,” Alice says, confused by the commotion on the other end, “Marisa picked her up in the forest and—“
’Bring her here at once,’ says the box hurriedly, pausing for a moment before adding, ’…Please.’
Alice looks back at me for a moment, taking into consideration my state of being before saying to the box, “She’s in no position to travel, unfortunately. I was just calling to infor—“
’What?!’ The box exclaims, ’Okuu! Okuu—‘
And falls silent. Alice reels as a high-pitched whine plays loudly in her ear.
’Alice?’ The voice says, ’I’m sending someone your way. She’ll be at your house within the hour.’
“Ah, please send her to—“ Alice pauses, sighing and dropping the handset onto its hook, “Great, she hung up.”
“Huh,” Marisa seems unamused by all that has transpired. I have to remind myself that she was unable to hear the whole conversation.
“Well,” Alice turns to me, “On the bright side, she seems overjoyed by the prospect of meeting you…”
“Lemme guess,” Marisa interjects, “Downside: wrong address, right?” ’Serves you right for taking all of the credit.’
“It would appear so…” Alice starts for the door, ’I suppose I should try to redirect her, then…’
[ ] Offer to go with her.
[ ] Wait here.