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JIKAN

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Today, I didn't feel like grabbing the pen again.

It's the first time I'm feeling like this since I came to this mess of an island. I think it's natural after everything I realized since landing here. Just now, I feel that I'm probably lying, convincing myself that this some sort of vacation is suited for me. Forcing my brain to think that way, I lost the sense of time passing, feeling like I'm floating over a dense cloud of eeriness and self-loathing like everything is going smooth with my life. The island's mood doesn't help, either. I was well received by that clown that acts as an hotel director, Macallister, with the best of his smiles. He gave me the keys to my room, a comfy place, perfect for enjoying some paradisiacal leisure time. It's the kind of place that you can see promoted on TV, for rich weirdos that don't know what to do with their money and their time altogether and have the urge of spending massive amounts of both things to feel important. Even with these bunch of amenities, I felt strange at every moment. That man and his staff's smiles were fake, the cocktails weren't as good as promoted in the guidebook, and I couldn't find my usual smoking label here. I had never been a beach man, either. I always preferred enjoying the trivialities of the city, then return home and look at how Red tries to swim in his small pool. Ah, damn, one day I need to get him a bigger one. Living in this place made me imagine vividly how he must feel at his rather tiny home. I'm sure that Erika is taking good care of him, I usually wonder if he got any bigger. He would be very envious of me, living inside a paradise like this island. Talking about that, even turtles don't have a place here. Their population is decreasing somehow and they're quite rare nowadays... What a shame, he wouldn't make many friends...

At least they let me write an article for that guidebook.

For some days, I forgot its importance, but now I'm grasping it again. My memories feel shattered sometimes, mixed with so many voices, flowing around like the ashtray of a lit cigarette falling down and turning into dust over the air. Feeling like losing myself, I'm missing the sound of my computer's keys tapping, the scent and taste of my usual cigars, the artificial light of my damned house, Red splashing over the water...

However, I know returning to that kind of life is almost impossible now. There were many casualties in my life, and by fate's strings, I ended up with an unwanted curse in the socket of my left eye. This caused me to taste what many idiots call a divine blessing, but that in reality ended up being a deep hole of shit and self-loathing. A culpability that isn't mine, first of all, but the one I can feel very vivid over my skin because of certain, let's say, paranormal issues about chunks of existence resisting to fade away. Thinking about it twice, perhaps that's the reason I can't enjoy the cocktails of the hotel's staff. My brain is the most complex blend they could even try to make.

Now, I isolated myself at a contiguous island called Eleki. I found a warm solitude in this place, owning a boat that seemed to be abandoned. It's basic, also cold during nights, but somehow this makes me feel more human than staying in that luxurious suite, pretending to be who I'm not. I can't feel lonely, because I met a great friend while deciding to stay at this part of Lospass. Not the best talker, I would admit, as he's a hyena. Calm but always vigilant, he seems to be obsessed about my face. I didn't know I could be that charming, but I guess the fact we share a silver eye helps on keeping my coolness on point. This little guy is the embodiment of the secret of this island and, more or less, the reason for me being here in search of answers. He was left on my charge by an old woman native to this place. She was protecting the good boy, and revealed to me that my father caused a considerable grief to their people while searching the secret of the silver eyes some of these hyenas carried. That old corpse caused problems to my life since I was a kid, when I didn't even know about his existence. When that changed, my life started to turn at a very fast, uncontrollable pace. Like if I was a chosen one or some cliché shit, his cursed eye called for me, and that's how I ended with my current burden.

I will admit that I was kind of glad that the old woman said I don't possess the same nature as him. It seems that I need to repair what still can be fixed, like holding a familiar takeover of a weird nature. I didn't complain, as the little buddy gave me a needed company after missing Red for all this time...

Talking about company, and as I started to admire the clear waters that surround Eleki from the boat's view, I could sense a familiar presence behind me. She's approaching, with her characteristic curiosity.

"Catherine? I'm pretty sure I checked on for only one person at the hotel after awakening from that deep sleep."

"It's not like you awakened from it for real, mister."

"What do you mean? You can see I'm living the dream. Writing whatever I want, whenever I want, enjoying paradise. I even got some cool color thanks to the sun."

I can feel that she's containing a giggle.

"I wouldn't assume that you're that important, mister. You talk like a famous figure, or a protagonist that seeks on writing his biography."

"And what's the problem about that? There must be fans of my journalism out there, starving for news about me."

"Sadly, I don't think so."

"Hey, just cool off a bit. Okay, you're on point here, I don't think I would even provide decent fanzine material."

"It doesn't matter, mister. What's important is that you found future here."

"Do you mean the hyena? We're long-lost brothers. As cool as you expect a brother to be."

"He's just a part of the secret of this island. You realized its importance, right?"

At that moment, even if her voice was calm and quite sweet, I felt like she was judging me. That little blonde girl, with eyes as clear as the water that Red would like to splash on, knew everything about my deepest needs, wishes and fears. When you go freelancing, you try to not be scared of any situation, taking every possibility in front of you, no matter the risk. By time, I adapted that way of thinking to my own way of life, and I'm not worried on admitting that I fear... thinking on what scares me, as absurd as it sounds.

"Yeah. I guess I know what's happening overseas. I can see the center of the nightmare now."

"Why a nightmare? I told you I would let you experience a peaceful dream."

"It feels that way for me. I'm certain on something. The world will turn in a way I don't want to relate to. The concept of life, society... That's changing, guiding people to the same, or even worse, errors that happened where I came from."

"But it always change. You're just scared, mister. That's why you're dreaming."

I ended up turning, hiding an angry, frustrated expression behind my sunglasses. For some reason, I couldn't look badly at her. It was like she was some sort of spiritual guide, someone that, while looking like a kid, knew how to manage life itself much better than me. Perhaps I'm angry because I'm feeling like a mess, not making up to the words the man who gave me that blank memo told me with all his sincerity.

"I worked my best. I think I have the right to continue dreaming... No need to set the alarm on."

"You try to convince yourself that you want to return. But you know that returning won't give back what you had before. The world turns, and you think you're doomed to change, while not wanting it. But it's natural. You can't prevent the change, but you can make it happen the way you would like."

"... I suppose I'm enough tired for working on that. I'll admit that I'm feeling lonely, girl. It tastes similar to when I was confined in the shelter. I know it sounds crudely ironic, considering the many voices resonating inside my head from time to time."

"But that isn't completely true. Red is still waiting for you, isn't it?"

I knew what she was trying to say here. A chill crawled over my entire system with such a simple question. Taking care of a turtle represented a boundary that was far off the shelter's policy and confinement. Doing what you want to do because you're free on choosing. Being the me I wanted to be, rather than the society, and the eye, wanted me to be. Thinking about her words guided my mind to the image of myself feeding Red one more time and seeing his happy splashes over the water. Just a casual scenery like that represented a lot about my own definition. Breathing deeply, I felt like I used to be, for a moment.

"So I guess you have a final request for me."

"... Yes. After our talk ends, I don't think you'll ever see me again, mister. Not in this form."

"How sad. Even if I don't like kids that much, I was starting to appreciate your eerie presence."

"I thought it was always that way, as I was lingering in your consciousness, keeping us outside the darkness. But I need to be his full time partner now and help putting this existential knot to an end."

"So... The protagonist is coming for real. Do I need to become a supporting character? Really?"

"You're more important than you give yourself credit for. He needs your help. He's the one with the duty of opening the gates of the future."

"I see... So, in the end, I'll need to look directly at the darkness. There's going to be a confrontation. My buddy can feel it clearly. Look at his fur bristling as we talk!"

"I'm sure you already know that it's for a better future."

"It sounds crazy, but I do, even if I feel like time's not working properly anymore. It's like my eye is being obsolete on perceiving reality."

"That's wrong! You're just scared, I told you... He'll come and will let us reunite in a special way. Since I got yourself into this dream, I'll help you on waking up from it."

"We have a deal, then. Stop worrying already and just go. No need for dramatic farewells."

Finally, she laughed at my words.

"Mister... You really try to be cool..."

Those last words rested deeper than expected inside my head as Catherine vanished. Lately, I was feeling like an abstract being, but that girl made me feel human again. I'm certain there's still room for me at this story. The script needs Tokio Morishima one more time. Darkness might exist behind those gates, but we'll open them without fear.

"I'll buy you some time."

I was caressing the soft back of my fateful friend while I looked up at the sky. I decided to take off my sunglasses, only to look at the plane that was taking off Lospass above us. As my cursed eye brightened with a silver spark on the sun's light, the plane exploded, its blast feeling like it was going to leave a mark on time itself.

And I made sure it did.