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I Won't Let Him

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MARI had been lying still for what felt like hours now.

She wasn't exactly sure what she was supposed to be doing at the moment.

Still, to feel the hectic stress and anxiety she felt building up all day melting away from her as the relief and tranquility settled it, it made her give a soft comforting sigh.

She wouldn't mind just staying here for a while to calm down a bit.

After a while of just lying still and doing nothing, a shadow was eventually cast over her face.

She gave a glance up to see HIKIKO sitting on her knees while peering down at MARI.

HIKIKO and MARI gave each other contemplative looks, waiting around as if expecting the other to do something first.

Knowing that she wasn't going to do anything until someone finally relents, MARI sighed and nodded in understanding.

HIKIKO nodded back as she stood up.

By then, MARI had already vanished.

HIKIKO gave her own sigh of relief, before looking around.

WELCOME TO BRIGHTSPACE

YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING HERE FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN REMEMBER

She was back in her safe haven. The bright endless void that stretches on forever, with only her personal belongings to keep her company.

MEWO was purring softly as she laid on her back, continuing her nap from last time. That silly kitty was always so lazy…

Her toy piano was still broken, apparently. The lone piano key was as lonesome as ever until she looked around to try to find the rest.

Her laptop was still in the same spot as she left it. No need to update the journal yet since she hasn't done anything today.

The chair and long dangling rope were back in their original position. She'd need to make a new noose again when it was time to wake up.

Hm.

Well, looks like she has some free time on her hands. Let's go play around with SUNNY and the others.

Turning to the white door in the room, she stepped up and opened the door to visit the small playroom again.

The sky was purple and the stars were out. It looked like today was going to be a beautiful day to play with her friends.

In front of her, she spots three familiar faces gathered around playing a card game to pass the time.

...wait, three?

The moment they spotted HIKIKO entering the room, they all jumped up and came up to her in a flash with worried looks.

"HIKIKO! There you are!" HERO cried out as he grabbed her hand, "We've been looking everywhere for you!"

"Yeah! You said you were only going to take a short walk around the picnic with SUNNY, but then you both suddenly disappeared!" AUBREY had hugged her leg in relief, "We were all worried sick!"

"O-Oh…" HIKIKO felt a bit overwhelmed at all this sudden concern and attention aimed at her, before she did her best to clear everyone's worries away, "I'm sorry guys! I didn't mean to make you all scared. I should have come back as soon as I could, but something came up."

Something came up…? Huh… She wasn't really sure what caused her to actually not come back in the first place...

"The three of us thought that you might show up again if we waited here long enough, but BASIL said he was still going to go around to look for SUNNY." KEL told her.

HIKIKO's thoughts paused as she became hyper-focused on what KEL had just said.

"Wait, you mean SUNNY's not with you?" HIKIKO asked with a worried look.

"We thought he was with you!" KEL stated.

Oh no… Not again…

What were they doing the last time HIKIKO was here? She and SUNNY were out taking a quick walk to stretch their legs, right? But then…

Something about… curtains and… remembering something scary…

A boy coming to… replace...

...

All three of them began dragging a distracted HIKIKO out to the exit with them, as HERO urged, "Come on, HIKIKO! If SUNNY's not with you, then we should all start helping BASIL search for SUNNY too. He might be somewhere around here!"

"R-Right!" HIKIKO snapped out of her stupor and nodded resolutely, before taking charge of the group as they all followed behind her.

If her little brother was missing, it was up to her to help find him. She won't stop until he's safe back in her arms again. Any questions she had would need to be figured out later.

"Any ideas where we should look for SUNNY first? When was the last time you saw him?" HERO asked behind her.

Thinking about it, she remembered… they had walked near the shores of the ocean…

"First, we get BASIL to regroup with us. Then, we all head towards the beach. That was the last time I saw SUNNY." HIKIKO listed off.

"Alright!" Everyone quickly agreed as they followed HIKIKO's lead.


OMORI was sitting on the shores by the ocean for what felt like hours now.

Staring out at the vast sea in front of him, he slowly blinked before becoming aware of where he was.

Taking a quick look around, he steadily recognized the area and found himself frowning.

Big empty grey ocean in front, vast grey forest behind him...

Dark foreboding atmosphere...

So… Back here again, huh?

The entrance to BLACK SPACE…

OMORI didn't even need to find any keys this time around. He just woke up in the middle of it all.

This place…

The opposite of WHITE SPACE, it was the dark black void that OMORI would always shove all of his dark thoughts and unwanted memories into.

It was the place where he hid the truth of MARI's death for so long.

Back when OMORI was still suppressing the truth, he would have no memory of this place each and every time he stepped foot in it. In his mind, all he wanted to focus on was to save his missing friend BASIL and get out as quickly as possible.

But then… the memories of everything would seep back into his mind… The longer he stayed here, the more he would remember…

Eventually, he would realize that BASIL didn't go missing after all. OMORI had subconsciously put him here as punishment for somehow knowing the truth.

Thus, OMORI would then erase BASIL by killing him in whatever gruesome way OMORI could think of. Sometimes even he was surprised at how malicious his methods of murder could be.

It would all be so that OMORI would eventually ascend to his throne of red hands, forcing these hands to lead him back to NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM so that he could reset HEADSPACE once more…

Force everything to go back to normal.

Bring BASIL back to life.

Erase the memories he had of BLACK SPACE.

Suppress the truth further back into the depths of his mind.

Pretend that everything was okay.

Up until BASIL would somehow remember the truth again, forcing OMORI to subconsciously send him back to BLACK SPACE.

Thus, the search for his missing friend begins all over again.

Over and over and over.

For the last four entire years of his life.

A cycle that never ends… Not until now.

...

This was actually the first time he ever set foot in BLACK SPACE with all of his memories intact. Now that he was no longer suppressing the truth, he remembered where BLACK SPACE came from.

He was the creator. The master of the realm, so to speak.

A place he created to hide away everything that would cause him to remember anything related to MARI's death. Whether it was memories, inhabitants of HEADSPACE, or anything else that would get in his way to a peaceful life.

Despite all the scary and unsettling things that resided here, everything was completely harmless as long as he was still OMORI. Nothing here could physically hurt him.

It still didn't stop OMORI from being filled with dread and misery though.

The more he suppressed BLACK SPACE, the more powerful it became. Like a spring being pushed against the wall before finally building up enough energy to bounce off and wreak havoc.

If he woke up here by the entrance instead of in WHITE SPACE, then that must mean that BLACK SPACE has overtaken everything else now. No amount of suppressing the truth would ever push it back anymore. It was too powerful now.

He still would have preferred WHITE SPACE, to be honest…

There would be no doors here this time around.

Without anything to repress, everything in BLACK SPACE would no longer be locked away anymore.

No doors. No keys to open them. No way out or in.

Everything that was once in there has already escaped out to HEADSPACE.

No access to doors means no access to the keys that reside in them. No keys mean no red door to appear.

No red door means he can't access his throne of red hands…

No access to the red hands means they can't lead him to the NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM.

There probably wouldn't be a point to do that anyway…

Why reset the world if it didn't matter? OMORI has already given up on hiding the truth away anymore. HEADSPACE was nothing more than a distraction for SUNNY so that he wouldn't be tortured by the guilt and suffering of it all. There was no need to be distracted anymore.

Nothing he did matter.

Hiding away the truth again will only cause further problems and further suffering…

The better question would be to ask why he was still here? Why wake up near BLACK SPACE again? It wasn't like he had any unfinished business to do.

He should have been dead by now, actually. The fall from the hospital roof should have killed him, he was never supposed to be back here again… Yet, here he was...

What to do then?

"Lost in thought as always, DREAMER?"

OMORI widened his eyes as he recognized the voice appearing out of nowhere.

Now that was a voice that he wasn't expecting to hear ever again.

Popping out of the ocean in front of him, he saw the familiar face of an old imaginary friend.

ABBI.

Or at least, the haunting form that she had been reduced to.

"Surprised to see me, old friend?" ABBI asked in a gentle tone.

"A little, yeah…" OMORI nodded, growing a bit cautious.

A giant head protruding halfway out of the surface, surrounded by tentacles. Staring back at him was a single eye, reminiscent of the many forms of SOMETHINGS that haunted him.

"I thought I banished you to the ABYSS and wiped away your memories…" OMORI recalled.

"You did." ABBI stated, although she showed no sign of contempt towards him… strangely enough.

ABBI, one of the first three imaginary friends he had brought to WHITE SPACE in order to be a companion and distraction for SUNNY. The wisest one, ABBI had acted as a sort of surrogate sister-figure for SUNNY to fill the void left empty after MARI's death.

She had been the one to introduce him to HEADSPACE in the first place, conjuring the door that led him out into the colorful pastel world of his imagination. Along with HUMPHREY and the BIG YELLOW CAT, the four of them would travel on adventures together to keep SUNNY entertained.

ABBI was too wise and caring for her own good though… Knowing that SUNNY was still in pain from the guilt over what he had done, ABBI wanted to encourage SUNNY to face the truth so that he could find the strength to forgive himself.

At the time, facing the truth was the last thing SUNNY wanted to do. Thus, her attempts to help him only caused him further pain and suffering.

OMORI had summoned her to fulfill the role as a distraction for SUNNY, not to help remind him of the truth. Acting beyond her duties and hurting him in the process, OMORI became furious and banished her into the darkest depths of the ABYSS that he could think of as well as stripped away her wisdom so that she would never be smart enough to find a way out again.

Afterwards, OMORI performed his first-ever reset of HEADSPACE in order to forget that she had ever existed.

Seeing her again after so long, especially in this new grotesque form she had, it was quite unsettling for the most part. OMORI didn't know what to think of it.

"You look different." OMORI said simply.

"Yes. The ABYSS wasn't kind to me." ABBI explained sadly, "Those who wander the realms close to BLACK SPACE for too long will eventually find themselves deformed. You might have seen some familiar faces during your adventures, but perhaps didn't recognize them."

OMORI could recall some of them, yeah. At the time, they all just seemed like monsters from his nightmares… He didn't realize that they were actually all his former imaginary friends from the earliest cycles. All abandoned or punished in some ways or another for similar reasons...

"How did you get your memories back?" OMORI asked.

"The light bulb was broken, wasn't it?" ABBI stated, "Everything you ever tried to hide away and forget came back in full force. This includes more than just the truth about your sister, DREAMER."

OMORI didn't quite understand fully, but he supposed that's as satisfactory an answer as any.

Not even he knew exactly the full logic behind how his imaginary friends worked in his mind… Sometimes the inhabitants of HEADSPACE felt more lifelike than he expected for a bunch of imaginary people...

"So, you have faced the truth, finally." ABBI said sadly, "And yet, you chose not to forgive yourself. I'm truly saddened…"

OMORI furrowed his brows at this, before telling her, "Don't be. I'm not worth pitying over."

"...I guess not then…" ABBI turned her eye away depressingly. "I was just hoping that something else would've happened instead."

For someone who had spent years trapped and tortured in the darkest pits of the ocean, ABBI was surprisingly amicable towards him.

"You still care about me? Even after what I did to you?"

At this, ABBI gave a small chuckle, "It will take a lot more than erasing my mind and torturing my body to get me to hate you, DREAMER."

"For most people, it would take far less to be enough."

"And when have I ever been like most people?"

OMORI didn't answer, knowing it was just a rhetorical question.

It was odd, talking to her again after all these years. OMORI had mostly forgotten ABBI's entire existence up until now, so he didn't quite know what to say to her.

Well, there was one thing he should probably say…

"Sorry." OMORI apologized stoically.

Sorry for a lot of things, to be precise. Sorry for banishing her when she was only trying to help. Sorry for wiping away her mind so that she could suffer endlessly this entire time. Sorry for doing what ended up being a pointless waste of time to begin with.

"It's okay. I forgive you." ABBI responded simply.

OMORI flinched back, feeling like he had been hit directly in the heart.

Dammit, that was not what you were supposed to say to a horrible person like him...

It hurts to be forgiven. He didn't like it. He'd rather ABBI hate him instead…

Knowing her though, asking that would be impossible.

"ABBI, can I ask something?"

"Of course, DREAMER. What's on your mind?" ABBI responded expectantly.

"After I tried to kill myself, I woke up in a different world where my sister was still alive. She's trying to convince me that the past four years were just a nightmare I had from a coma." OMORI explained, "It all seemed too convenient to be true. I was wondering if you knew whether it was just a dream or not?"

Surely, someone as wise and smart as ABBI could help him figure this out.

ABBI closed her eye and gave a contemplative hum, before answering unsurely, "I don't think I can provide the answer to that. This is something you'll need to discover by yourself..."

OMORI sighed and looked away with disappointment, "Figures…"

Of course ABBI wouldn't know anything. If even he couldn't tell whether or not it was all real, how could he expect ABBI to know? She was just an imaginary friend after all...

"If you ask me though, I'd say this must be a second chance for you. Perhaps it would be best not to look a gift horse in the mouth and accept it."

With a dismissive scoff, OMORI hid his face in his knees and grumbled, "And why would anyone want to give me a second chance? I don't deserve it…"

"Maybe, maybe not. You feel this way now, but… maybe someday you'll change your mind…" ABBI offered.

No.

Not if OMORI could help it.

A murderer like him doesn't deserve to live...

...

Changing the topic, OMORI looked up at her curiously before asking, "So, why are you here with me, ABBI? Don't tell me you just wanted to keep me company."

Surprisingly, ABBI shook her head, "Contrary to what you're thinking, no. As much as I enjoy seeing you again, I have something important to do."

"Huh?" OMORI looked at her confusedly.

"Your friends wish to see you again. I'm here to help lead you to them."

Wait, what?

"What friends? You mean… MARI and the others? They're still around?"

She nodded.

"But I thought HEADSPACE was taken over by BLACK SPACE. I'm not hiding the truth anymore. HEADSPACE doesn't have a reason to exist. It was all just something I created to keep myself distracted, wasn't it?"

How could his friends in HEADSPACE be around if HEADSPACE doesn't exist anymore?

ABBI giggled at him before saying, "HEADSPACE is more than just an imaginary world created by you, DREAMER. It's an idea that's existed long before you ever came to be born, since the beginning of time itself."

OMORI felt himself growing confused even further.

He wasn't even sure if this was just all his overactive imagination talking or not.

"Hm… it would be hard to explain… Just know for now that your friends are waiting for you. It seems pretty important too." ABBI insisted, "Whatever they have to say, I think you should at least hear them out."

OMORI took one last look around the area.

Nothing but a dark grey ocean and a dark forest behind him.

It's not like he has anything better to do.

Standing up from his spot, he patted the sand off of him before nodding, "Okay then. Lead the way."

A red door suddenly appeared in front of him, exactly on cue.

"Travel through here, DREAMER. Everyone will be waiting for you on the other side." ABBI told him.

OMORI widened his eyes at seeing the familiar red door in front of him again. This was the door that led to the CHURCH…

Something inside him made him hesitate… He wasn't sure if he was ready to go through yet, and he couldn't understand why…

ABBI seemed to notice this, pointing out, "Getting cold feet, DREAMER?"

"ABBI… Why does it feel like I'm about to say goodbye?" OMORI asked cautiously.

"Hm…" ABBI gave a small hum, before confirming, "Maybe because you are?"

That definitely didn't answer his question.

Giving a small gulp, he rephrased the question, "Will I ever see you again?"

Unexpectedly, ABBI answered him honestly, "I'm afraid not, DREAMER. Once you go through this door, this will be the last time we ever see each other again. For real this time."

Ah.

So that's why he felt so hesitant.

"In that case… sorry again for everything I've ever done, ABBI. It would have been nice if we went on some adventures together one last time…" OMORI apologized again.

"It would have been nice, wouldn't it?" Despite it all, OMORI had the feeling that ABBI would be smiling at him if she still had a mouth to do so.

OMORI still hadn't moved towards the door yet… For some reason, he felt like he had something more important to say to her…

"Don't tell me you're thinking you might regret leaving me." ABBI said in a teasing tone, "You were planning to end your life the last time you were here, and you didn't even think to say goodbye to anyone. Suddenly changed your mind?"

Instead of answering her question, OMORI asked back, "Why is this going to be the last time we see each other? Are you going somewhere important?"

"No, DREAMER. I'm staying right here. You're the one who's going somewhere important." She replied cryptically, "You'll see what I mean when you meet your friends."

OMORI was going somewhere important, huh?

Okay then…

Knowing that there was nothing else for him here, OMORI steeled himself before opening the door.

"Good luck, old friend. You'll be needing it up ahead." ABBI said just as he passed through the door.


What he expected when he got to the other side was the familiar unrelenting cold showering his body, just like all the other times he's been here.

He definitely got that, seeing how he was shivering right now.

What he did not expect the moment he opened his eyes was to feel someone collide against him and wrap him into a warm hug.

"OMORI! You're here!"

The green hair and the flower crown covering his vision right now could only belong to one person…

"BASIL…?" OMORI muttered in shock.

Pulling away, the green-haired pastel-colored flower boy gave a humorous smile, "Who else would it be?"

The last time he had seen him, OMORI had stabbed his guts out with a knife and trampled over his body to get to the throne of red hands…

He never did make it to NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM to force a reset before SUNNY woke up, did he?

This BASIL should still be a corpse right now…

"You look like you've seen a ghost. Something wrong, best friend?" BASIL tilted his head curiously.

God, don't even mention ghosts right now. He's seen so many ghosts recently that he was about to have an existential crisis.

OMORI shook his head, "Just surprised to see you is all…"

It was at this point that OMORI finally took a deep look around to notice that he and BASIL weren't the only ones in the area.

Lots of familiar faces surrounded him on the snowy mountain of the CHURCH. All inhabitants of the many worlds he came across during his adventures.

Many of them seemed busy conversing with each other, but the occasional few had noticed him staring and showed their greetings in one way or another.

"What's going on, exactly...?" OMORI felt the need to ask, growing confused by the situation.

"Everyone here is showing up to say their final goodbyes." BASIL explained cheerfully.

"Final goodbyes? To who?"

"Who do you think?" BASIL chuckled obviously.

So, was that how this works? Now that he wasn't suppressing the truth from himself any longer, his overactive imagination decided to give him one last final send-off with all the imaginary friends in his mind before the entire place gets overtaken by BLACK SPACE?

Seems fitting. Feels sort of like an end of the world party being celebrated…

"So where are MARI and the others?"

BASIL pointed up to the top, "They're all waiting for us back in NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM. We're having a slumber party there!"

Is that so? Sounds nice. He wouldn't mind one last final slumber party with all his friends…

He wasn't quite sure he knew what was going to happen next after this, however. If HEADSPACE gets overtaken by BLACK SPACE, will he be left all alone? What will happen to him the next time he goes back to sleep?

Will it just be normal dreams from here on out?

"We don't have to go there immediately, you know." BASIL informed him, gesturing to the crowd of people surrounding them, "We still have some time left to say goodbye to the others."

OMORI shrugged, deciding to go with the flow and letting BASIL lead him around the area.

On their journey up to the CHURCH, the two of them met up with many familiar friends and foes alike as they exchanged their goodbyes.

The PLAYGROUND children were first, all expressing their fond farewells and thanking OMORI for the time they were able to spend playing together.

BOSS was amongst them as well, somehow getting along with BERLY of all people. He and BASIL had a quick hug as he thanked the flower boy for sticking up for him when no one else would.

After that were the people of OTHERWORLD. Various inhabitants from that world came to say their farewells before they both came across PLUTO and CAPTAIN SPACEBOY having a heart-to-heart talk with each other. Strangely enough, the various clones of SWEETHEART were standing just nearby, as if waiting on CAPTAIN SPACEBOY.

PLUTO wanted OMORI to flex with him at least one time before he had to go. OMORI decided to humor the dwarf planet by flexing his muscles and repeating the signature catchphrase.

"WHEN I FLEX, I FEEL MY BEEEEEEEST!"

"When I flex, I feel my... best." OMORI flexed halfheartedly.

He felt like an idiot, but it was fun to play along. PLUTO then asked OMORI to remember to say goodbye to KEL for him, which OMORI will try to keep in mind.

CAPTAIN SPACEBOY came up to him next, hand in hand with PERFECTHEART as MUTANTHEART and ROBOHEART followed slightly behind. Apparently, the four of them had met at some point and decided to hit it off with each other. He was now happily SPACE HUSBAND for real this time to three different clones of his original girlfriend.

Good for him. OMORI always liked the space pirate captain.

ORANGE OASIS was next in line. The wacky characters from that world all came forward to him and gave their goodbyes and wished him good luck.

He wasn't expecting to see an unlikely duo discussing something amongst themselves. MR. OUTBACK and DADDY LONGLEGS were standing together holding a conversation until one of them noticed OMORI approaching.

"How d'ya do, buckaroo!" The cowboy greeted gently, "Seems you finally made it through the end of your journey. Darn shame the fat load of good it did for ya, though…"

"So you have finally decided to embrace the truth rather than run from it again." DADDY LONGLEGS crouched down to get closer, "Yet even so, you still choose to deny your salvation. An interesting, if not disappointing, outcome. Perhaps it would have been better to live in blissful ignorance after all, DREAMER?"

"Would it have made a difference if I chose to live like that?" OMORI asked curiously.

"Hm… Perhaps not…" DADDY LONGLEGS sighed, "The end of the world was an inevitability, whether you choose to accept the truth or not. The darkness would have overtaken this world one way or another… This path just ended up being quicker."

Remembering the time when OMORI came across DADDY LONGLEGS on his adventure to find BASIL, back in the LOST FOREST, OMORI asked, "So you knew this was all going to happen from the beginning?"

Back when OMORI was still trying to suppress the truth, this mysterious dark man in the LOST FOREST had told all of them the story about HEADSPACE's origins. A door conjured by a dreamer, bored from being stuck in his room. He would wander around the world, coming and going as he pleased. Eventually, he would accidentally come across the darkness that lurked deep below the surface and began to fear it. Thus, in his fear, he forcefully piled world after world on top of the darkness to cover it up, hoping that it would never be found again. But the darkness never stopped clawing its way back out to torment the dreamer, not until he chose to forget himself and lived in ignorance as he took another name.

At the time, it seemed like a weird and cryptic story that couldn't possibly help him find his missing friend BASIL. All it did was creep him and his friends out.

Now that he knew better… He was slowly realizing just how much these imaginary people in his head knew more than he originally thought.

"As all things are born, so too must they end." DADDY LONGLEGS answered back in his usual mysterious manner, "It is not a bad thing, though. Sometimes things must come to an end so that another could be born in its place. A circle of life, as you would call it. Someday, another HEADSPACE will take its place."

HEADSPACE was such a mysterious world… The people living in it even more so.

How much of this was actually just a part of his overactive imagination? Even he had to admit, he couldn't possibly be this creative to come up with… all of this. Characters like these.

Before he could ask any further questions of how much they knew, BASIL tugged on his arm, "C'mon, OMORI! I know I said we had time, but we should really hurry up if we want to make it to the others!"

"R-Right." OMORI nodded apologetically before waving goodbye to the two more mysterious inhabitants of HEADSPACE.

So they continued on, meeting familiar character after character along their way up to the CHURCH.

KITE KID and his KITE gave them a respectful salute as he flew KITE in the air. It was nice to see him doing well.

MR. JAWSUM was apparently enjoying an increased hike in the stock market, saying that the end of the world was helping him make a killing in selling insurance. How he'll enjoy any of those CLAMS by the time HEADSPACE gets overtaken, OMORI decided not to ask in order to let him have his brief thrill of fun.

Seeing the SLIME GIRLS still alive was another surprise that he wasn't expecting. Although they were only just a trio of talking heads now, they didn't seem to have any hard feelings towards OMORI since their last encounter. Another big surprise was the fact that they converted the obnoxiously selfish SWEETHEART into the obnoxiously annoying SWEEPHEART. She was apparently going to work off the debt she owed to them by being their maid, despite the fact that the end of the world was coming.

OMORI gave SWEEPHEART his entire life savings of CLEMS as a tip, to show his support. She immediately crumpled up the valueless paper and threw it off the cliff, called him a miserable peon, then continued sweeping the mountain in a fit of rage.

Darn. A reliable source told him that CLEMS would replace CLAMS in the future. Oh well.

While OMORI was busy saying goodbye to everyone he came across, BASIL stood by the side with a smile every time before leading him towards the next character.

Seeing the flower boy acting happy and smiling, despite the gruesome death he experienced, made OMORI wonder if BASIL had somehow forgotten about it when he somehow came back to life.

On the stairways leading up to the CHURCH, OMORI actually pulled BASIL back so that he could actually ask a few questions.

"Hm? Something wrong, OMORI?" BASIL asked with a patient smile.

OMORI stared at the flower boy, wondering what to say or how to ask…

Without the truth being suppressed, OMORI remembered every single time he had killed BASIL within the depths of BLACK SPACE. Each death was more gruesome and violent than the last… If OMORI could remember, does that mean BASIL could too?

"BASIL, how much do you remember since the last time we spoke?" OMORI ended up asking.

BASIL widened his eyes a bit before looking away embarrassingly, "Oh, that? It doesn't really matter anymore, does it?"

"It does. To me, at least." OMORI shook his head, "I want to know how much you know. Do you remember any of the other cycles?"

With a sigh, BASIL rubbed his head and frowned, "Y-Yes. I do. All of them, in fact. Ever since the light bulb was broken."

The same case with ABBI then.

Somehow, OMORI knew that was going to be the case.

"Aren't you upset?" OMORI felt he should ask, "I… kinda killed you. Like, a lot of times. Several times, actually."

BASIL shook his head before giving a reassuring smile, "Like I said, I really don't think it matters anymore. Instead of focusing on that, we should be living in the moment now that we can finally spend time together before everything goes away."

"Seriously? No grudges at all?" OMORI pulled out his steak knife and pointed the handle towards the flower boy, "I wouldn't mind if you wanted to even the score a little."

"Jeez, OMORI…" BASIL quickly pushed the knife away and gave him a disapproving look, "I wish you learned to love yourself a bit more. I already told you that it doesn't matter."

Giving a tired sigh, OMORI pocketed the weapon away, "Guess I'm just feeling guilty now that I remembered everything I ever did."

"You've been feeling guilty enough these past four years. I just want our last moments to be happy now." Extending a hand out to OMORI, BASIL gently smiled, "We're almost there. Let's keep going."

OMORI nodded as he took his hand before they continued walking up the path.

On the second-highest platform of the mountain where the CHURCH sits, OMORI could see HUMPHREY casually floating by in the air.

Noticing the monochrome boy approaching, the whale grinned, "Whale, whale, whale! If it isn't my favorite sailor!"

"Sailor? You haven't called me that in a long time…"

Like ABBI and the BIG YELLOW CAT, HUMPHREY was one of OMORI's first-ever imaginary friends. Based on a book in the real world, he would often take OMORI off on adventures while living inside his stomach. At some point, OMORI must have just naturally forgotten about him when he started yearning for the relationships he used to have with AUBREY, HERO, KEL, and BASIL…

"Being stuck in a cave by yourself with nothing to do does tend to make one go a bit crazy after a while. NYUK NYUK NYUK!" The whale laughed heartily, "It's nice to be able to remember everything though, even if it's only for my last moments."

"Sorry for forgetting about you, HUMPHREY." OMORI apologized.

"Feeling sorry for me, are you?" HUMPHREY grinned mischievously, before asking, "In that case, how about tossing a few CLAMS my way? I'll be much more forgiving after having a last meal."

"Always hungry, aren't you?" OMORI smirked as he fished out his wallet full of CLAMS. Tossing the entire thing to the whale, he stated, "Savor it. Not like I'll be needing this anymore."

HUMPHREY happily caught the wallet with his tongue before munching on it, "MMMMM! Delicious!"

A quick swallow and a loud burp later, the whale gave a satisfied sigh.

Looking down at OMORI, he gave what seemed to be a very rare sad smile, something OMORI has never seen him do before, "You're a good boy, DREAMER. You always have been. I hope you know that."

A good boy, huh?

No, not even remotely close…

"I'll miss you, HUMPHREY. Goodbye." OMORI nodded back.

HUMPHREY waved a flipper goodbye at him as they made their way to the entrance of the CHURCH.

Before OMORI could open the door, BASIL actually pulled him back a few feet before staring at it.

"Uh, BASIL?"

"Just wait for it." BASIL replied simply.

Suddenly, a big giant red jar crashed through the entrance, breaking the door off its hinges and shattering it to millions of tiny pieces.

"OH YEAH!" LIFE JAM GUY cheerfully shouted, perfectly landing right in front of the two boys.

"There we go." BASIL nodded satisfyingly, somehow seeing this coming.

"Huh, I was wondering where he was." OMORI stated neutrally.

Handing a jar of life jam each to the both of them, LIFE JAM GUY stated, "Try out these free samples of LIFE JAM! It really works!"

Then without another word, the big red jar suddenly charged off the cliff and fell to the dark oblivion below.

Well, okay then.

Hope he's alright.

With that out of the way, the two boys pocketed their jam away before heading inside the CHURCH.


CHURCH was still as silent as ever.

OMORI and BASIL carefully made their way through the sermon, doing their best not to disturb the SCRIBBLES that were pitter-pattering inside.

The light shining down from the podium stairway was bright and warm. It was bright enough to illuminate the inside of the entire building.

"We're nearly there." BASIL remarked with a smile.

Making their way to the top of the stairs, their progress was blocked by a huge gap of space that was in between them and their destination.

"I can handle this." OMORI stated, raising his hand out to command the red hands to form a bridge for them.

When no red hands came, he blinked in surprise. Staring at his own hand, he curled his fingers as he wondered what was wrong.

"Or… not…" OMORI mumbled awkwardly.

Usually, the red hands always obeyed him once he became aware of himself and took control. Why couldn't he control them anymore?

Was it because of… me?

BASIL brought OMORI out of his thoughts, gently tugging his shirt and reassuring, "Don't worry. We don't need them this time."

Without bothering to explain, BASIL put two fingers near his mouth and gave a shrill whistle.

Almost immediately after, like a weird rolling of red carpet down a flight of stairs, a bunch of SPROUT MOLES began forming a bridge downwards towards the two of them, connecting each other one by one until the last SPROUT MOLE came tumbling down in front of them in a daze.

To his surprise, this SPROUT MOLE was actually one that he recognized. A pink bow on a SPROUTE MOLE could only mean one person…

ROSA stood up on her stubby feet before shaking her head clear, then proceeding to act natural as she regarded BASIL with a smooth, "You called, cutie~?"

"Uh…" OMORI mumbled, unsure how to react. "What…?"

"I managed to convince the SPROUT MOLES from the colonies to help us out one last time. We should be able to get up to NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM now." BASIL proclaimed cheerfully.

OMORI took another deep look at the makeshift SPROUT MOLE stairs ahead of him. In his honest opinion, it didn't really look like the sturdiest thing he could trust.

Other than that, he was still a bit in shock to see ROSA of all people agreeing to help him out. He couldn't help but stare at the self-proclaimed number one SWEEPHEART fan with a discerning eye.

As if offended by his suspicion, ROSA gave an indignant huff before clarifying, "Don't get the wrong idea, stick legs. I'm not doing this for your sake. I just remembered owing BASIL-Baby here a favor from a previous life." Then with an accusatory glare, she told OMORI, "If it wasn't for a certain someone unable to handle the truth and forcing everything to reset all the time, I would have repaid it eons ago!"

Ouch. Those were the first hurtful words she ever gave him that actually managed to sting.

Also, ROSA owed BASIL a favor from a previous cycle? Man, that flower boy can get along with just about anyone…

"Alright, settle down…" BASIL calmly waved his hands at the mole, "OMORI has been through enough hardships. Think you can let bygones be bygones just for tonight?"

In a complete one-eighty change in attitude, ROSA turned to BASIL with a happy look, "Of course, BASIL-Baby! Whatever you want, ROSA will provide! Let me know if you need anything else, kay?"

BASIL chuckled, "Sure thing, ROSA. Thanks for everything."

With that, ROSA stepped out of the way to let BASIL pass her as he began taking the first steps up the SPROUT MOLE stairs.

Noticing that OMORI still hasn't moved, he turned around with a curious, "You coming, OMORI?"

OMORI gave another hesitant glance at the stairs before deciding to just go along with it as he shrugged.

BASIL smiled as OMORI proceeded to follow after the flower boy, before the two walked together up to NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM while minding their step.


When he made it to the top, he saw his old group of friends sitting in a circle while enjoying a picnic. The beds were moved away in order to give more space to the center of the room, where MARI had set the picnic blanket on. Overlooking them from above was the BIG YELLOW CAT, guarding the place as he always does.

Everyone seemed to be in high spirits despite the fact that HEADSPACE was going to disappear soon.

"Hey guys! We're here!" BASIL cheerfully called out once they reached the room.

The moment they heard his call, everyone immediately stood up and ran over as they began crowding OMORI.

"OMORI! You're finally back!" AUBREY cheered, hugging onto his arm as she usually does to show her affection.

"Took you long enough! We've been waiting here forever!" KEL chuckled as he slapped OMORI's back.

"Glad to see you made it back safe and sound. Did you get the chance to say goodbye to everyone?" HERO asked gently, patting a comforting hand on OMORI's head

Off a few meters away, he saw MARI giving him a welcoming smile, "Hi, OMORI. Cliff-faced as usual, I see."

OMORI looked around and soaked in the atmosphere.

The welcoming smiles that everyone gave him… the sheer sincerity in their voices as they excitedly greeted him…

The fact that they all looked so happy, even though everything was about to be wiped away soon…

He wasn't really sure how to feel.

A conflict of emotions arose inside him. For the most part, he does feel a bit happy to see them all again. It felt more bittersweet, knowing that everything was going to be gone soon…

But he also felt guilty…

Despite just being the imaginary versions of his real-life friends, they had been so helpful and caring towards him throughout all these years. While he was busy selfishly indulging himself in this fake world trying to forget about the truth, their real-world counterparts had been suffering because of what he did…

Not only that, but memories of all their previous lives from previous cycles came to him in an instant.

During many adventures on their search for BASIL, he remembered the three of them dying many times in order to protect him. Although reviving them back to life was as simple as covering their TOAST with some jam, or just a quick nap in NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM, the more scarring deaths always left a mark on him.

He was pretty sure that the bones from their previous bodies still existed somewhere… Either back where they originally died, or thrown away to the ABYSS so that OMORI didn't have to remember it.

Knowing what he knows now, he didn't think he deserved any of the smiles aimed at him. If anything… he felt like they should all hate him.

He knew that the ones from the real world would have hated him, at least…

Seeing him clamming up in silence, MARI gently pushed everyone away to give him some space before reaching a hand out to him, "Why don't you come sit with us? We still have time for one last picnic together, don't you think?"

OMORI stared at the hand of his sister, the imaginary version that he made for himself so that he could pretend that she was still alive.

Sometimes she was so life-like, it was hard to tell if she ever died in the first place.

He looked up to watch her face. MARI gave an encouraging smile back at him.

After a while, he gave a relenting sigh and accepted the hand in front of him so that she could lead him towards the picnic blanket.

There was no harm in entertaining himself one last final time, before he has to move on from this fake world. That's what he ended up deciding on.

One last final dream with all of his friends, however artificial they may be…

Then he'll accept reality.

During the time he spent with his friends, they proceeded to play a variety of games together as they waited for the end.

MARI finally helped HERO master making flower crowns, which he went ahead and donned on his head with a proud smile.

They brought out a watermelon to smash, with AUBREY being the one in the blindfold as she haphazardly waved her bat around. She managed to get lucky and hit KEL in the stomach, which she seemed happy about.

Next, they all had a pillow fight together in teams of two. MARI was paired with AUBREY, KEL with HERO, and OMORI was stuck with the life-long pacifist BASIL. It was very difficult defending the both of them by himself, but he managed to have fun since everyone was such good sports about it.

After that, they played a few board games together as they rested their tired bodies.

When that was over, MARI had this weird idea of painting OMORI's monochrome body so that he would look like everyone else. For some reason, this idea excited everybody else except him.

Still, he kept his body still even as they all took their sweet time painting over him like a blank canvas.

When they brought out a mirror for him to witness their handiwork, OMORI was shocked to see how well they did. Having the same pastel colors as everyone else, he looked like he would fit right in with all the other inhabitants of HEADSPACE. In a way, he imagined that this was what SUNNY would have looked like if he belonged to someone else's imagination.

Brushing a hand over his new dark purple hair, he gave a thumbs up to the group, causing them to all cheer at the success of their hard work.

All in all, it was a surprisingly eventful night. He couldn't ask for a better finale for his dream world.

When they played all the games they could think of, the group decided to just laze about together as they all admired the stars in the sky.

Laying next to BASIL, OMORI decided to ask something that he had been curious about this whole time but never had the chance to ask.

"What's going to happen to everyone once HEADSPACE gets wiped by BLACK SPACE?" He asked, turning his head over to the flower boy.

"Hm… That's a good question." He hummed in thought, before turning to OMORI with a smile, "I guess we all just… stop existing."

"That's kind of sad… After everything we've all been through, everything just gets erased like that?" OMORI frowned.

"Don't feel bad, OMORI. None of us are real in the first place. You made us so that we could keep you company, that's all." BASIL replied, "You don't need us anymore now that you've faced the truth."

"Is it weird that a part of me wishes that you could all just… live your own lives? To somehow enjoy being alive and have a future together?"

"A little, yeah." BASIL giggled, "But I appreciate the sentiment. I'm sure everyone else does too."

"What's going to happen to me, once HEADSPACE disappears?" OMORI asked, "Will I ever be able to come back to visit if I wanted to?"

"Do you have any plans to?" BASIL asked back.

OMORI thought about it, realizing the implications of the question.

To want to come back would mean to want to go back to a fake world and forget all about reality again. To lock himself away from the truth once more.

He wouldn't want to come back. Not when he finally broke the cycle. Not when he hasn't faced the consequences of his actions yet.

He still isn't dead, after all.

"No…" OMORI shook his head sadly.

"I guess you'll just have to settle with the regular dreams then." BASIL answered softly.

"Hey, guys…" KEL called out, coming back from the entrance of the bedroom, "I just checked out there… Everything is pitch black outside. I think it's almost time."

Ah.

The end is finally near.

"Oh well, it was fun while it lasted." AUBREY remarked happily, bouncing off the floor with abundant energy.

"I guess it's time to get ready to say our farewells too…" HERO yawned as he stretched before pulling himself off the floor.

BASIL and MARI wordlessly stood up as well.

Knowing what was about to come, OMORI pushed himself off the ground and faced all of them as they all grouped up.

Facing OMORI together hand in hand, each and every last one of them gave a great big smile and a theatrical bow, "Thanks for everything, OMORI! We're going to miss you!"

AUBREY led off first, "We hoped we managed to make you smile and have lots of fun! Going on adventures with you has been the best thing to ever happen!"

KEL continued off, "Yeah! Even though we had our good times and bad times, none of us are ever going to forget any of this!"

HERO picked up the baton, "We know how much you've been suffering these past few years. If we were able to give you even just a brief moment of happiness, then we're glad to have at least done our job properly."

BASIL continued there, "You've always been a great friend towards us, and we're always going to be thankful for that. Even during your darkest moments, you never abandoned any of us."

OMORI blinked in shock at all the kind words being lobbed at him by all of his friends. He wasn't expecting such a grandiose farewell…

He couldn't help but wonder if they were really imaginary at all... Would his imagination really create something so life-like and realistic?

For a moment, he was almost convinced that everyone here was real... And that he was going to genuinely miss them.

MARI came up to him with a smile, gesturing behind him, "You can stay a little bit longer if you want and wait for the end with us. But if you're ready to leave now, the door is sitting right there."

He turned to look at a familiar white door appearing out of nowhere by the edge of the room.

Was this a door leading to WHITE SPACE? Or was it something else entirely?

OMORI cautiously stepped up to the door and studied it as he brushed a hand on the wooden surface.

It looked exactly like the door that he always used to enter HEADSPACE.

The lights suddenly cut off, blanketing the world into darkness.

He blinked in surprise for a bit, before remembering that this was probably it.

BLACK SPACE has finally overtaken everything. HEADSPACE would no longer exist anymore…

He gave one last look behind him to see all of his friends still there, smiling at him.

With a grateful nod, he went ahead to open the door-

"Wait, SUNNY!"

His hand froze before it could even touch the doorknob.

"One last thing… before you go." He heard AUBREY whisper behind him.

OMORI hesitantly turned around to face his friends again, only for his eyes widened in shock.

Instead of the young versions of his friends that he was so used to seeing back in his childhood, all of them had changed appearance to look more like the old ones that he had gotten to know recently.

Although they were still in their regular pastel colors, all of his friends now looked like the teenagers he had met during the three days he had left in FARAWAY town.

Only MARI was the exception, as she stood by the sidelines and looked away.

BASIL stepped up first, no longer wearing the flower crown that he usually had. Instead, his outfit was an exact copy of the one that BASIL wore back in the real world the last time OMORI saw him. So was everyone else.

"So… In the end, you ended up making the other choice…" BASIL didn't seem like he had the strength to smile anymore, giving OMORI a sad frown, "I had hoped that you… that you would want to make new memories with all of us. To try to move on… I guess it ended up being too much of a burden on you, huh?" Looking down on the floor, he muttered, "I'm really sorry, SUNNY… for everything."

HERO curled his fists as he stepped up too, "Did you really have that little faith in us, SUNNY? I know it must have been hard to accept, but you couldn't have at least put your trust in us that we might have been able to forgive you? I thought you knew us better than that…"

AUBREY rubbed her arms as she sighed depressingly, "Even though we all came to cheer you on... To give you the boost of courage you needed to face the truth… You still chose to leave us the way you did… I thought we were able to help you get over it, but… it turns out that we were never enough, were we?"

KEL cried out, "I would have been there for you if you needed me! You didn't have to keep your emotions bottled up inside anymore! I told you that just because you did something bad, it doesn't make you a bad person! I told you that, didn't I?"

OMORI felt a range of emotions as he listened to all their words. Suddenly, a memory came to mind as he recalled something that happened before…

Memories of meeting up with BASIL right outside his house after chasing MEWO down the street...

The memory of the podium stage… Where he had just finished repairing the violin. After he took the trip down MEMORY LANE.

Memories of his friends all being there to give him their last words of encouragement before he had faced the truth…

Before… SUNNY faced the truth.

Before OMORI assimilated with him and took the reins from then on.

"So it was you guys all along…" OMORI said softly in recognition.

"There were more good times to come… Life could have gotten better. I know it would have..." HERO spoke out weakly, "You were the one that was supposed to make that happen… But… you still chose not to…"

"Bottling up your feelings will always lead to them coming back out eventually. What you did with those feelings, that would have been your truth…" AUBREY clenched her teeth tightly as she held back tears. "Even though we don't have the right to tell you what to do or what to think... I'm still pissed that you gave up on yourself…"

"It didn't have to be goodbye. You didn't have to leave." KEL sniffled, wiping his eyes, "You didn't even bother to take the time to at least say goodbye… We could have stopped you..."

"We believed in you, SUNNY…" AUBREY sobbed, "I believed in you…"

Was this really just his imagination? At this point, he wasn't even sure anymore.

In his mind, he truly believed that they all would have hated him if they ever found out the truth of what he did. That they would all abandon him once they knew that he killed MARI and faked her suicide.

Why would a bunch of imaginary versions of his friends be trying so hard to tell him otherwise?

Even so…

He already made up his mind.

He refuses to be a burden on his friends any longer.

A murderer like him didn't deserve to live.

Life would be better if he'd just die.

"No matter what you guys say, your words aren't going to reach SUNNY." OMORI said back emotionlessly.

This only broke their hearts even further.

"Then… I guess this really is goodbye then…" AUBREY sniffed as she wiped her tears.

None of them had anything left to say as they all faded away to the darkness, one by one.

BLACK SPACE finally consumed everything.

HEADSPACE…

What a mysterious world he imagined for himself. Even though he knew everyone who lived inside was just a figment of his imagination… somehow, it still felt so real to him.

Maybe he was insane to think that...

While he was stuck in deep thought, MARI had come up to his side and grabbed his hand.

OMORI looked up in surprise, not expecting her to still be here.

"You're not leaving like the others?"

Giving a soft smile, she told him, "I have to be there to help guide my little brother to the other side."

Looking down on the floor with a remorseful expression, he muttered softly, "You don't have to…"

"Oh just shush and walk with me, won't you?" MARI giggled lightly, before gesturing to the door again. "After you. I'll be following your lead again."

OMORI glanced over at MARI to see her give him another encouraging smile.

Knowing that he had nothing else to do, he opened the door behind him and entered as MARI followed closely behind.

On the other side of the door was a long thin sidewalk that seemed to stretch on forever.

OMORI and MARI began to walk in silence as they started their journey.

For a long while, they didn't bother saying anything to each other. They just quietly walked down the lane, holding hands together.

In a way, it felt calming and nice. When was the last time he ever had the chance to go on walks with his sister anymore?

It took a while before he noticed that white egret orchids were planted on the side of the lane. Dozens of them were littered all over the place, in fact.

He wondered what that meant…

"Hey, OMORI…" MARI spoke up suddenly, "Can I ask for a favor from you?"

OMORI glanced over at MARI curiously, "A favor? What do you mean?"

"I know you have plans to… throw your life away after this… But is it possible if I can ask you to hold off on your plans for just a little bit? There's something important I need you to help me with before you go."

"Depends, I guess." OMORI shrugged, "What do I have to do?"

"There's a girl I know that needs help." MARI began explaining, "She's actually sort of like you. She's been suffering for so long, thinking that she did something terrible to someone she loves. She's been trapped in her own mind for several years now, trying to hide away from the truth of what she did."

OMORI widened his eyes at this, "She has a HEADSPACE? Like me?"

MARI nodded, "Yeah… She's been trying to distract herself all this time just to keep herself sane… The problem is that I don't think it's going to help any longer. She might end up getting worse if nothing gets done about it."

"You want me to visit her and try to get her to face the truth?" OMORI asked.

MARI shook her head, "Not just that… I want you to try to get her to forgive herself."

OMORI furrowed his brows at this as he looked away, "I don't think I can help with that…I'm not the right person to ask. I couldn't even forgive myself, so what makes you think I would be any help?"

"You're the only person I can trust to do this…" MARI insisted, "Actually, you're the only person that could possibly help at all. There's no one else I can rely on."

"MARI… I shouldn't even be alive right now…" OMORI started off, before being quickly interrupted.

"I know how you feel, OMORI… But… please?" MARI pleaded, staring at him with a sad smile, "Won't you do it for your big sister? Just this one last favor before you go? I know it's selfish for me to ask, but I promise I won't ask you to do anything else after this. This is really important to me."

OMORI stared back at her, feeling his resolve crumble in a matter of seconds.

God, he really couldn't ever say no to her, could he?

He could never say no...

With a sigh, he asked, "Do I even know this girl?"

Seeing that as a good sign, MARI gave a relieved smile as she continued, "Yes, you do actually! You might actually know her extremely well. Better than anyone else."

"Will you at least tell me her name?"

"..." MARI went silent a bit as she weighed the answer in her head. In the end, she gave a coy smile and answered back, "HIKIKO."

OMORI furrowed his brows in confusion, "HIKIKO? I don't know anyone with that name."

"I dunno… You might recognize her once you see her." MARI said back in that smug in-the-know way that she usually does when she's keeping secrets.

"Fine…" OMORI sighed, "I won't make any promises, but… I can at least check it out to see what I can do. I'm still not sure exactly how much help I can be for her though…"

"Trust me, OMORI… You're the only one that can do anything for her." MARI reassured, before pulling him to a stop. Looking around, she spotted something in the distance before pointing at it for OMORI to see, "Can I lead you to her right now?"

With a halfhearted shrug, he muttered, "I guess."

Another sidewalk appeared out of nowhere, diverging from the main path they were traveling on. The two of them proceeded to follow this new path before finally coming across another door.

A white one. Just like the one he entered from.

Just like the one in WHITE SPACE.

"She's right inside here…" MARI told him.

Wanting to get this done and over with so that he could finally do what he originally set out to do, he stepped up to the door and opened it.

A beach. It looked similar to the one in his imaginary world.

Before he went through the door, he paused as he noticed MARI standing back instead of following him in.

"Not coming along?" He asked.

MARI shook her head sadly, "Can't do anything in a different HEADSPACE. I honestly should have vanished with the others back in NEIGHBOR'S BEDROOM by now."

"Ah…" OMORI mumbled.

"Will I ever see you again?"

He didn't know why he asked that. He already knew the answer to that.

It wasn't like she was real anyway.

MARI smiled, "As long as you keep me in your memories, I'll always be there."

With that comforting last message, she faded away from existence. Just like everyone else.

So…

One last job he had to do before ending it all.

Fine.

As long as it was for her.

OMORI looked forward again and entered the door.


OMORI was sitting on the shores by the ocean for what felt like hours now.

Staring out at the vast sea in front of him, he slowly blinked before becoming aware of where he was.

He looked around, finding himself in unfamiliar territory.

Looking down at himself, he was surprised to see that his usual monochrome appearance was still colored in with the pastel paint from before.

What was he doing again?

Right… He had promised to check up on something for MARI…

A girl named… HIKIKO? If he was remembering the name correctly.

"HEY! GUYS! I FOUND HIM!"

OMORI perked up as he heard someone shout from behind him.

Turning around, he was shocked to find a large group of familiar people running towards him.

"SUNNY! We finally found you!" AUBREY was the first to come up to him as she tackled him into a hug.

KEL came soon after with a dumb grin on his face, "So this was where you've been hiding! Jeez, you had us worried for the whole day!"

HERO arrived next, gasping heavily from his lack of stamina, "SUNNY… There… you are… Oh god, give me a minute to catch… my breath…"

BASIL was the next to appear, running to his other side and hugging OMORI as well, "Don't scare us like that! We've been trying to look for you all this time! We thought you ran away or got kidnapped!"

"Uh…" OMORI was feeling incredibly confused at seeing the young versions of his pastel-colored friends again. Didn't they all disappear? They had given him their final goodbyes before HEADSPACE was consumed, hadn't they? What was the point of all of that if he was just going to see them again shortly after?

But then one last person arrived, causing OMORI to lose his breath in shock.

MARI came up to him as she kneeled to his level before crying in relief, "Oh thank goodness! You're okay!"

She didn't have the same pastel colors as the others like she always did. In fact, her entire appearance was entirely monochrome, just like OMORI usually was.

Hugging his neck, MARI cried, "You have to stop doing this to me, SUNNY. My heart can't take any more. You know how much I hate being separated from you!"

"Uh… Sorry…?" OMORI apologized hesitantly.

What in the world was going on right now?

HERO, after finally regaining his breath, stood up and gave a calm smile, "I guess all's well that ends well. It's good to know you're safe, SUNNY." With a chuckle, he started rubbing MARI's shoulders as she softly cried, "Seriously though, you need to stop worrying your sister all the time. HIKIKO would have flipped the entire place over and under just to try to find you, you know?"

What…?

HIKIKO?

Pulling away from him, his sister gave a smile as she wiped her tears, "It doesn't matter anymore. As long as you're with me, everything is going to be okay."

OMORI stared at her, completely dumbstruck.

She's HIKIKO?

Suddenly, it all clicked in his mind.

Everything started to make sense to him now.

The reason why he woke up in a world where his sister was still alive.

The reason why he didn't die.

The reason why everything had been so confusing to him up until now.

The universe wasn't rewarding him or giving him a second chance in life. The universe wasn't giving him his sister back after suffering for four years without her.

This was the universe's way of punishing him.

This was the last job he had to do before he could find the peace he was looking for.

This was his redemption.

His final job before passing on to the afterlife was to help this other MARI face the truth and find the strength to forgive herself.

His final job was to help her do what he couldn't do for himself.

This version of his sister was exactly like him. In almost every sense imaginable.

OMORI has to stop her from going down the same path he did before it was too late.

Finally, it all made sense to him.

For the first time in a long while, OMORI felt himself smile.

Oh yeah, it's all coming together.