Make A Mistake With Me - Chapter 2: Pyrrhic Change - by MistakeAnon

>You fly out of your apartment, slipping into your jacket on the go. >You practically jump down each flight of stairs. >There’s no time to lose. >Dozen missed calls. Same amount of texts. >You had completely fucked up. >The one promise you had made today, and you had managed to break it. >You were so mad at yourself the slight drunkenness simply evaporated away. >This was no time to fool around. >Sonata was out there. >Alone. >Cold. >Waiting for you. >And you had let her down. “Shit, shit, shit—!” >You curse as you jump into your car and turn on the engine. >Almost like sensing your panic and frustration, the Buick roars. >It sounds like a beast ready for a hunt. >You barely pay any attention to the traffic. >You cut off the one car still about, steering out of the parking lot and into the street. >The blare of its horn mixes with the screeching of your tires. >But you don’t care. >You’re too busy being angry at your own stupidity. >How could you forget? >How could you *forget*!? “Fuck!” >You slam the steering wheel with your hand. >Immediately, excuses float to your mind. >The argument with Baconswirl, the fight with the boy, the discussion with Strangelove… >You could blame all of those. >But you didn’t. >You knew who was to blame. >You. >You had went and forgot your phone, and gotten drunk. >And now Sonata paid the price. >Frustrated scream slips through your lips as you scorch down the main road. >Your left hand fumbles for your phone. >You bring up the text messages left for you. >Your heart shrivels up as you see their contents. >They go from cheerful to little confused, followed by worry and then tinge of fear. >In the latter ones, loneliness mixes in with hope. >Finally, your eyes fall on the last message. >”I’m still waiting at the shopping center. I know you’ll come, Anon.” >The time sent: 01:42 >Even after being stood up for God knows how many hours, Sonata still decided to wait for you. >The guilt that had dissipated comes crashing back in. >But this time, you feel its full brunt. >This was nothing compared to the shame of losing the control of your anger. >This wasn’t just about you. >You had screwed up, and in the process, put Sonata in danger. >You hated yourself. >Goddammit, did you hate yourself. >You make a sharp left turn, pulling up to the shopping center. >The street lights are the only things that pierce the pitch-black night. >At this part of the city, everything else seems dead. >The windows, the sky, the corners… everything is dyed in darkness. >Almost as if to mock you. >The sight makes your teeth grind together. “Let her be safe…!” >You mutter prayers to nothing under your breath. >You remember the rumors the Dazzlings told. >About young people disappearing in the middle of the night. >They had been out and about alone. >Some of them had been from CHS. >The details had started to match up far too well. >In its panicked state, your mind started conjuring up nightmarish images. >What if the same thing happened to Sonata? >What if you never found her? >What if she never returned to Aria and Adagio? >… How the hell could you face them after that? >How could you possibly live with yourself if, because of your mistake, you lost Sonata now? >You weren’t about to let it happen. “Godshitfuckingdammit!” >Letting out a yell of garbled nonsense and curses, you pull the handbrake and slide the car to a halt. >The tires screech again. >The Buick groans in protest. >Not now. >There were far more important things at stake than your car. >Without even turning off the engine, you rush out of the vehicle and into the parking lot. “Sonata! SONATA!” >Your desperate yell echoes in the night. >All around you: silence. >That, and the oppressive darkness. >Like an oily cloak heaving itself on top of the city. “No, no, no, no, no…!” >You keep repeating that one word as you run up and down the street. >You circle around the large building. >But you only find more streetlights throwing their white cones into the darkness. >None of them seems to break the heavy breath of the night. >It’s maddening. >At some points, in the corner of your eye, you see only complete blackness. >If Sonata had disappeared to such a place, you would have no way of finding her. >Even the light of those raspberry eyes could not be seen from there. >… But. >That did not mean you weren’t going to try. >White puffs emerge from your mouth. >It’s colder than you expected. >Or… did the temperature drop rapidly when the night fell? >Strange. >Continuing your search, you finally return to the parking lot area and look around. >If Sonata was waiting somewhere near the vicinity of the shopping center, you’d see her from here. >However, you see nothing but your car, and the streets that sprawl to every direction. >Nothing moves. >Not the city. >Nor its shadows. >Clicking your tongue, you turn to look back at the large building looming over you like a titan. >At the same time, you fumble your phone. >Desperate, you try to call Sonata. >At the same time, you begin circling the shopping center again. >All the doors seem locked, so it’s unlikely that Sonata is inside. >If she is still waiting, she should be somewhere nearby. >’Click!’ >The phone next to your ear comes alive. “Sonata! Where the hell—“ >”We're sorry. The number you have dialed cannot be reached at this time…” “Shit!” >You slam your thumb against the phone so hard it’s a miracle you don’t break it. >But, it ends the call. >Too bad it only made your panic grow tenfold. >Sonata never turns off her cellphone. >She’s too much of a sucker for social interaction. >So, why now? >Did this mean she had really been…? >No! >She’s gotta be here somewhere! >You were sure of it. >You hasten your steps. >Suddenly, your eyes fall upon it. >Like it was the most natural thing to do. >It stands there, waiting, watching, expecting you to notice it. >An alleyway. >Path into the pure blackness. >It’s the only place you haven’t looked yet. >If Sonata is somewhere in there, it would make sense. >After all, that’s the only hiding place left for her. >But why would she be there? >It’s just an alleyway. >The white walls of the shopping center push towards each other from both sides. >You take a step. “…” >Your vision contracts. >Something warps in the scenery you see before you. >Did the walls just open themselves more, as if inviting you? >… >You push aside [SUCH] ridiculous thoughts. >This is no time for hallucinations. >You have to find Sonata, and fast. >Something in the back of your mind keeps yelling that the time is running out. >Without a choice left, you head on into the alleyway. >Nothing but the echo of your steps to keep you company. “Sonata?” >You yell, but not as loud as before. >Something keeps you from making too much noise. >Why are you being this careful? >Why the instinctive need to be quiet? >You [TRY] to make sense of this sudden feeling of dread as you pass the threshold, and enter the space between the walls. “Ah.” >It’s only [ONCE] you are already inside that you realize something strange. >An alleyway? >Cutting the shopping center in two? >How is that even [POSSIBLE]? >It’s one big building, so… how could an alley split it in the middle? >That’s logically impossible. >And yet. >Here you are. >Braving the darkness ahead of you. “What the hell…?” >You take a quick glance behind you. >Your blood freezes over. >The threshold of the alleyway that was just few steps behind you… >… is now over hundred feet away. >Too late you realize it. >You’re trapped. >Something was waiting for you to come searching for Sonata. >And now it has you. >You almost cry out in surprise. >What the hell’s going on!? >However, before pure terror seeps in, you slap yourself in the face. >Calm down, Anon. [CALM] down. >You have to look at the situation with a cool head. >Reeling your brain in, you begin to analyze your situation. >Something feels odd. >Not only the obvious, but something in the air itself. >The alleyway’s temperature, to be exact. >It was cold. >Way too cold. >Even for an early winter, this was abnormal. >You could feel your skin shiver at the sensation. >This alley… it feels separated. >Like a piece of another time stuck in your [REALITY]. >Everything moves slowly, including yourself. >One leg moves, touches down. >Other [ONE] follows in suit. >But it feels sluggish. >Unreal. >Like a dream. “The hell is going on…?” >Your words sound muted. >Oddly hollow and garbled. >It’s a record played on a slowed down [SPEED]. >That’s it. >You’re like a poorly reconstructed video of yourself. >Trudging forward. >Because that’s the only way to go. >Each [STEP] takes you further and further away from the alleyway’s entrance. >Far further than it should. >The illumination of the streetlights is just a blink in the horizon behind you. >Their pale comfort is long gone. >What you have left [IS] the stretching darkness before you. >And the hope that this is where you’ll find her. >Maybe. >If this. >[NIGHT]. >Captured. >You. >It has. >Captured. >Her. “Goddammit… legs… work…” >You drive more power to your movement. >Every step feels like you’re wading through a pool of boiling tar. >Every thought, a swim through pearlescent jelly. >It’s getting harder. >And harder. >To keep moving. >But that’s the only thing you can do anymore. >You cannot [GIVE] up. >You just can’t. >’Sonata’ >That thought still burns brightly in your mind. >You were what caused all this. >And if you just can, you’re going to fix this. >Whatever the hell ‘this’ is. >Creak. “Huh?” >Creaaaak. >You look around you. >Something makes a sound. >A rusty wheel, a wounded disk, slowly turning. >To the tune of your [EVERY] step. >Creak. >Step. >Creaak. >Steep. >Creaaak. >Steeep. >It’s like bad poetry. >Odd rhythm that fills the darkness that [NOW] completely covers you. >Only with your hands can you feel the walls on both sides. >Your determined charge to save your friend has [TURNED] into a blind man’s crawl just to survive. >And who knows? >Maybe you [AREN'T] even saving anybody. >Maybe she just went back home, and you got trapped here for [NOTHING]? >Maybe you’ll die here for nothing, too? >That’d be ironic. >Would they even know what happened? >Or are you [GOING] to disappear like the rest? >In this odd blackness that waits for the desperate? >Actually. >In the first place… who were you looking for? >Who was it that was so important for you to plunge into this nightmare? >No one person could be important enough to— “SONATA!” >Your scream is an abrupt surprise. >You feel [LIKE] punching yourself. >Don’t you dare to forget. >Don’t you dare. >You make mistakes, but… that’s one mistake you’ll never, [EVER] forgive yourself for. >The alleyway laughs at such foolishness. >Or. >Someone does. >It’s getting hard to tell. >Maybe the one laughing is you. >You? >Who? >Anonymous? >Who’s Anonymous to begin with? >That’s you, isn’t it? >But… isn’t that odd? >Anonymous, Anonymous… >The more you taste that name, the odder it feels. >Not quite right. >Yet all too perfect. >But what does that name mean? >Anonymous. >There’s a past tied to it, isn’t there? >Anonymous. >Vague remarks, vague references… but where’s the truth? >Anonymous. >Why [DO] you never talk about it? >Anonymous. >Just what happened? >Anonymous. >Yes. >Anonymous. >Your name. >Anonymous. >What? >Anonymous! >What!? >”ANONYMOUS!” “WHAT!?” >The spell breaks. >The darkness, momentarily, dissipates. >You feel something wrap its arms around you, clinging so tightly you’re afraid you’ll break something. >You look down. “Ah.” >Blue hair. >Raspberry eyes. >A girl way too short to be hugging someone as tall as you. >Yet she does it anyway. >Standing there, in the middle of the pitch blackness. >Eyes wet with tears, but looking overjoyed with relief. >How could you even think about forgetting that? >That face? >Or that name? “Sonata…” >You mumble that name into her hair. >She smells like the ocean. >Before you can stop yourself, you wrap your arms around her and return the hug. >It probably looks funny. >Like she was being swallowed by a bear. >But you don’t care. >Right now the only thing you care about is this shivering little life form in your embrace. >”Aha… haha… I knew you’d come… for realsies…” >She doesn’t even bother hiding her sobs. >The only thing she does is muffle them against your chest. “I’m sorry… I’m so, so sorry.” >Your words are too little. >There’s no way you can get across just how horrible you feel. >So you just hug tighter. >”Ow. You’re crushing me, Anon~” >Sonata laughs. >Despite what she says, she doesn’t seem to be in pain at all. >At least she has the strength to return the squeeze. “It’s really you, isn’t it?” >You feel a soft tug as she nods. >”Yeah. It’s me, Anon.” >You chuckle. “Good. Now that I know that, I’ll never let you outta my sight again.” >You see her grin widely. >”Now you’re starting to sound like Adagio.” “Damn right I am.” >You might not have been Adagio, but it was like Sonata had told you before. >You two were similar. >And now, holding Sonata like this, you began to realize just how true that was. >You weren’t just embracing a friend. >You were embracing a member of your family. >And after this scare, you were ready to go through hell and back to keep her safe. >”Um, Anon?” “Yeah?” >”I don’t wanna be rude, and I mean, this is super, *super* nice since you never do anything like this, buuuut… we might wanna leave hugging for later.” >You blink. >Wait, what? >”I mean, we’re sorta stuck in this creepy darkness, and we probably should get out, sooo…” >It takes a second for you to process her words. >When you do, you separate from Sonata as if she was a pile of hot coals. >Goddammit. >You feel like digging a hole and disappearing there right now. >You can’t help the feeling of heat on your cheeks. >It does not go unnoticed, either. >Sonata’s giggling at you. >”Aw, that’s the first time I see you blush, Anon! I should’ve gotten trapped in some weird magic dimension way sooner.” >You grind your teeth. “Don’t even joke about… wait. Magic dimension? What?” >The word that she said is not a mundane one. >But Sonata says it like she was most familiar with it. >’Magic.’ >In other words: ‘Supernatural.’ >That which is unexplainable by modern science. >… Why does Sonata throw out a word like that like it was nothing? “Magic? Sonata, I know this seems weird, but… you sure? I mean, magic, of all things?” >You feel foolish before you even blurt it out. >What you felt after entering the alleyway… >There was no way it was natural. >That slowed down, messed up reality. >You couldn’t find a natural explanation for it. >But still. >Magic? >”Um… Anon, I know you might hate it when I say this, but I have to: you’ll just have to trust me. I’d love to give you an explanation, for realsies, and I will when we get outta here, but… I don’t think we have the time right now.” >Sonata looks around, narrowing her eyes. >”So, ehm, let’s cut to the point, yeah? Magic is real. At least, some of it. Like, not the bunny-outta-your-hat magic. What I mean is the warp-reality-and-displace-someone-from-time magic. Which I think this is. Maybe.” >Sonata frowns and folds her arms. >”Ugh, I wish Adagio was here. She’s way smarter than me about stuff like this.” >You feel odd woosh inside your head. >In fact, you felt downright dizzy. >Had there been one, you would have leaned against a wall for support. >Magic. >Real. >Those words should never be used in the same sentence. >Unless there was an ‘isn’t’ between them. >But here you were. >Trapped in some inexplicable phenomena with Sonata, and she told you it was because of magic. “You’ve gotta be shitting me…” >If things hadn’t escalated way beyond the confines of normality, you would have laughed at this point. >But here you were. >Basically enveloped in pitch black darkness. >Inside an impossible alleyway. >Having travelled God knows how many miles with far too few steps. >… Or, so it felt. >Regardless, the time for shocked rejection and refusal to understand was long past. >Okay, Anon. >You can do this. >Magic or not, Sonata seems to know more about this phenomena. >So you’d have to play by her rules. >They were your best chance of getting out. “So, uh… any thoughts? You said this was some magic thing that had ‘displaced us from time’, but… what does that even mean?” >To your surprise, Sonata just shrugged. >”I dunno? That we aren’t in time anymore? I mean, I’m just repeating what Adagio taught me once.” >You feel like groaning. >Forget the rules, it seems Sonata barely knows the name of this game. >”But, can’t you, like, feel it? That wherever we are, we aren’t where we’re *supposed* to be, yeah?” “What does that even—“ >You stop mid-sentence. >Actually, now that you thought about… yeah. >You did kinda feel that way. >The odd coldness. >The slowed-down world. >How your thoughts seemingly faded away. >Before you had met up with Sonata, you had definite felt it. “Yeah, I know what you mean. In other words, we’re not in the alleyway anymore?” >Sonata frowns, biting her thumb. >”Anon, I don’t think there was an alleyway to begin with. I mean, I saw it too, yeah, but the moment I stepped in… I dunno. This feels waaaay too weird to be just some alley. Not to mention impossible.” >So, Sonata had noticed it too. >An alleyway cutting through a building like that… it was paradoxical. >Like if there was a hole at the bottom of your coffee cup. >Sure, you could pour coffee in it from both sides now, but the liquid would just go through. >Except in this case, it didn’t. “Any ways out you can think of?” >Sonata shakes her head, looking glum. >”None. I tried walking to both directions, but all I find is more blackness.” >Suddenly, a smile crosses her face. >”Well… I did find you, too.” >She glances at you and blushes a little. >Jesus. >That look could kill a man. “At least we’re not alone in this.” >You return the smile. “But I think you’re right. When I entered, I did see the lights of the city behind me, but the further I got, the tinier they became. Until they just disappeared. It was weird, like my vision of them had just shrunk until it was replaced by the darkness.” >”I think it might be because of the magic. When we stepped to the alleyway, we totally transported ourselves somewhere else. So, I guess it makes sense for our old world to go bye-bye, right?” “You tell me. I have no experience of dimension hopping.” >You intended it as a joke. >However, all it brings is a hollow chuckle out of Sonata. >”Yeah… Sorry.” >The awkward silence that follows is almost oppressing. >You hasten to fill it with some sort of sound. “What about phones? Do they work here?” >Sonata fishes out her cellphone and looks at the display. >She then sighs in defeat. >”Nope. I’ve been trying to call you, Adagio and Aria ever since I found myself here, but no call goes through.” >You take out your own phone. >Like Sonata said, it’s just about useless. >There was no reception. >Not only that, occasionally an odd glitch seemed to warp the surface of the display. >Wherever you were, it wasn’t good for electronics, it seems. >You can’t help the groan that escapes your lips. “Well of course. That would’ve been too eas—“ >Suddenly, something lights up the darkness. >Your hand shivers. >And you hear four words you would have never expected. >”GUNTER GLIEBEN GLAUCHEN GLOBEN!” >Both you and Sonata can only stare in utter shock. >The phone you’re still holding… >… It’s come alive. >Not only that. >Someone’s calling it. >And because of that, Rock of Ages currently resonates in your ears. “Huh.” >”Wow.” >There are no proper words to describe what you’re currently feeling. >It looks like Sonata’s on the same boat. >Wonderment? >Disbelief? >Something along those lines. >After all, usually in movies or books, when something like this happens, phones never work. >However, there’s no denying what’s in front of you. >”Um, Anon? You gonna get that?” “I… Yeah. I probably should.” >You look at the screen. >Unsurprisingly, what reads there is ‘Unknown Caller.’ >Somehow, you had expected this. >Still, no reason to let it deter you. >Taking a deep breath, you touch the screen and bring the phone to your ear. “… Hello?” >Silence. >No, not silence. >You can hear someone breathing at the other end of the line. >It sounds a bit hasty or fatigued. >That, or especially determined. >Time passes as you wait for the caller to speak up. >Full ten seconds later, your patience is finally rewarded. >You hear a low chuckle from other end. >A strange, somewhat nasally laugh. >And then. >An amused voice. >”Well hello there, Anodicuous.” >You had no face to connect to that voice. >But you would have known it anywhere. “St… Strangelove…” >You can barely believe what’s happening right now. >How is this possible? >Just now you checked it. >There should have been no way to contact your phone, let alone get a call through. >And yet, she— >”What? I’m a little disappointed, Anonymous. Where’s the usual verbal sparring we start things off with?” >That amused voice draws you back into reality. >… Well, what constitutes as ‘reality’ at this point. “Strangelove! What the… what the *hell*!? How!?” >You hear her chuckle. >”That flaring indignation… well, I suppose that counts as a proof. It really is you, Anonymous. Just like I presumed. Calculations were correct in that regard, at the very least.” >You hear the rustling of papers from the other end of the line. >”Oh, Anonymous? Could you put the phone on speaker? If I’m not mistaken, Miss Dusk is there with you, no?” >You glance at Sonata. >The blue-haired girl seems just as confused as you are. >Quietly, you switch the speaker on, and the two of you return to stare at the device. >”First of all: Good evening, Miss Dusk. Do you know who I am?” >Sonata’s eyes widen at the mention of her own name. >”N-no! Not a clue! Are you… are you Anon’s friend?” >She presses the last word oddly. >Almost like she was interrogating. >”Hmm, I wonder?” >Strangelove laughs. >”I’d like to think him as my friend, but I’m not sure if the feeling is mutual. I *am* a mad scientist, after all. We do not have the most stellar reputation.” >There it is again. >That twisted way she refers to herself. >A joke by you that she seems to take completely seriously. “You know, I might have had my reservations before, but now? You managed to call us even though we’re in this God-forsaken place. If nothing else, I’m willing to call you my friend because of that.” >You can’t help it. >The fact that you have some sort of lifeline outside is enough to give you some hope. >”Wonderful! I’ll be sure to change the category of our relationship in my charts.” >At first, you think she’s joking. >However, you can hear the scraping sound of a pen on paper. >Dang. “Never [MIND] that. Anyways, Strangelove? How the hell did you contact us? I thought our phones were useless in this place.” >She stops for a moment. >”How… well, I called you, I suppose? Oh, but on the other hand, I *am* using remnants of Philadelphia, so there’s that.” >What? >Philadelphia? >”Um, if you managed to get a call in, do you know what’s happening to us, then?” >Sonata leans towards the phone, as if she could see Strangelove [ON] the other side. >”I have a pretty good estimate. A friend of mine told me you might get into some trouble, after all.” >You hear her fingers tapping furiously on a keyboard. “Friend?” >”Yeah, a friend.” >She laughs again, like she had just told a joke. >”I take it you two are currently trapped in a black space that you entered via an alleyway splitting the local shopping center in half?” >”Y-yeah! It’s some sort of magical trap, I think! At least I can totes sense an echo of Equestrian magic.” >Strangelove clicks her tongue at Sonata’s words. >”Well, you’re [NOT] completely wrong, Miss Dusk. But, let’s see…” >You hear some more typing. >”… I suppose [THERE'S] been a partial merging… maybe a superposition… but it’d have to be gradual…” >[ABOUT] half of the words Strangelove mutters go straight over your head. >”But the scale is [UNREAL]… phase space isn’t playdough…” “Hey? Strangelove? What the hell are you muttering there?” >You hear her draw a surprised breath. >”Ack! Sorry, I completely forgot you were there.” “Strangelove…” >She senses the irritation in your voice. >”Ahaha, sorry, sorry! Now, let’s see… you want to get out, right?” >Sonata [KNITS] her brows. >”Anon… you have weird friends. For realsies.” “You can say that again.” >”Alright. So. Escaping that… well, let’s call it an ‘E. Cross’ for now. That’s as good a placeholder name as anything.” >Sonata mouths the name silently and looks at you. >She seems more confused than before. >You just shrug your shoulders. >Strangelove takes your silence as a sign of attention, and continues. >”Well, like you may have noticed, the alleyway you both witnessed was a physical impossibility. I can tell that no such thing exists in our town’s shopping center. In fact, if it did, it’d cut straight through the main lobby of the building. Pretty inconvenient. There’d be no way to contain all the shopaholics.” >Sonata and Strangelove chuckle. >You can’t muster enough energy to even laugh at that lame joke. >”The thing is, however: that alleyway *does* exist. There’s no denying that. So, we have a shopping center and an alleyway occupying the same space. And you two entered into the heart of that strange anomaly. Not the wisest thing to do, but I suppose you aren’t at fault. You were lured there.” >That sends a wave of shivers down your spine. >If something ‘lured’ you here… >… that means something is ‘hunting’ you. >”That puts you two in a problematic situation, however. You’re, simply said, in the middle of an impossibility. Despite everything that should prevent it, that particular state is now locked in the outcome of both the shopping center and an alleyway.” >Strangelove draws a deep breath. >As she begins talking again, her tone sounds much more serious. >”That’s why you can’t get out. The paradox has no ‘out’ you could utilize. Are you in the shopping center? Are you in the alleyway? As long as such simple, yet mystifying, question remains unanswered, you’re doomed to float in that black nothingness, like a couple of particles between two systems that both need you.” >To be honest… you’re only understanding half of what she said. >But it’s the important half. “You [MEAN] there *is* no way out?” >You notice that your voice sounds a bit high-strung. >”Not as things are, no. You are in the epicenter of that E. Cross, and thus, unable to advance either to the alleyway or to the shopping center.” >You feel your stomach lurch. >An icy hand reaches out towards your throat. >No way out? >Is that it? >You’re trapped here for good? >”Ooh! Ooh! I got it!” >Suddenly, Sonata’s voice pierces the darkness. >She’s beaming. >”We just gotta eliminate the other place. Like, this alleyway, yeah?” >Strangelove laughs. >And it’s not her nasally laugh [EITHER]. >No, this is full-blown MAD SCIENTIST. >[Capslock is mandatory.] >”Exactly! Without the other state to confuse the issue, you are free to get out of there the normal way. Just [RUN] and never look back, as they say. The E. Cross will collapse on itself when there’s no other half to support it.” >That does sound [GOOD]. >But still, it seems she’s forgotten something rather important. ”Uh, Strangelove? Destroying either alleyway or a shopping center takes a bit more firepower than we have right now.” >You can almost see her smugly smile. >”Oh ye of little faith. This does not require you to actually, physically ‘destroy’ anything. No, all you need to do is ‘observe.” >… Huh? >”Yes, observe. Once [EITHER] of the two possibilities is observed by an outside source, it just about locks it. The other possibility disappears because, well… I could give you a crash course to quantum physics here, but I don’t think we have the time. Just trust me on this one.” >Frankly, you’re glad. >The last thing you need is another lecture. >Especially by *her*. “Okay, so: observation. How are we gonna do that?” >To your surprise, there’s an odd silence after your question. >You look at the phone in your hand. >You can almost see her flat expression shining through it. >”… I have no idea.” >What. >”What?” “What!?” >Both you and Sonata shout in unison. >”Hey, don’t be so surprised. It’s not like I’ve managed to research this phenomena that extensively. Heck, I *just* dubbed it E. Cross. Cut me some slack here…” >Wow. >The self-appointed mad scientist is sounding oddly defensive. “That’s great… just great. So we know what we have to do, but have no idea how to actually do it. This is perfect.” >”Hey, quit your grumbling! You’re far better off than before, aren’t you?” >Well, she was right about that. >Before, you and Sonata didn’t even know what was going on. >Now you had some vague picture painted before you viewable only through black light. >It was a difference. Marginal, but difference nonetheless. >”… That being said, I have an inkling where you should start.” >Strangelove’s words catch your attention. >What was she on about now? “Yeah?” >”This E. Cross is clearly an unnatural phenomena made with the explicit intention of capturing people. In other words, it has most likely been made so that no normal human could escape from there. That’s why you can no longer tell where you are through vision or touch. Whoever trapped you there doesn’t want you escaping.” >You feel your spine freeze. >There it is again. >That ‘someone.’ >The unfortunate truth that someone clearly ensnared you, and could be coming for you at any given moment. >”Miss Dusk… do you understand what I’m hinting here?” >Sonata’s head jerks up. >She looks at the phone, and slowly, odd smile appears on her face. >”Yeah… yeah! I think I got something!” >”Good. Now don’t go announcing it to whole word. Whoever’s trapped you is most likely nearby.” >You swallow hard. “You… you sure? Because that sounds like we might only have few minutes before we’re attacked.” >”I’m not hundred percent certain, but it definitely seems that way. This whole affair almost feels like you are dealing with an incredibly elaborate cteniza sauvagesi. One wrong move and the spider springs from its hiding place to devour you both.” >Well, that does [NOT] calm you down a one bit. >You remember the creaking you heard [EARLIER]. >Immediately, your mind calls up images of a gigantic funnel web spider creeping in the darkness. >”Oh, that reminds me!” >Strangelove’s voice calls out to you again. >”If you do manage to find a way to observe your environment, do not, and I repeat, do *not* observe the alleyway.” >You tilt your head in [UNISON] with Sonata. “Why?” >”Well, tell [ME], Anonymous: do you know where the shopping center is?” “Sure. It’s in the city.” >”Indeed. How about the [ALLEYWAY]? Do you know where it is?” “No, never seen it… Oh. Oh!” >You understand immediately. >”Exactly. We have no idea where the real location of that alleyway is. Well, I have an inkling, and if it’s right, all the more imperative that you do not observe it. I’m [NOT] sure what would happen if you ended up there.” >Her tone made it clear you didn’t want to press for elaboration. >Some matters are best left unknown. >The only thing you [NEEDED] was the warning. >If Sonata truly had some idea on how to proceed, that would mean you two were good to go. >”Well, it’s almost time for me to hang up.” “Huh?” >That comes as a surprise. >Strangelove wasn’t going to make sure you’d get out? >”I can’t talk with you two forever. I’ve got some guests coming to visit shortly.” >That sounded like an excuse. >”Thusly, here are my parting words for you, Anonymous.” >You straighten your back. “Go ahead.” >”I know you’ll want to discuss with me what happened, and tomorrow morning I know you’ll come knocking. However, I’m afraid I won’t be ready to talk about this just then.” “What do you mean?” >”Just that. I’m not saying you shouldn’t knock on my door. Just know that even if you get frustrated, I won’t have any answers for you tomorrow.” >You and Sonata exchange confused glances. >”Instead, I’d like you to come visit me, let’s see, 9pm sharp, three days from now. I should have all the material I need ready for you then.” >Suddenly, you two can hear another sound from the other end of the line. >Sounds like a loud banging. >Is someone at Strangelove’s door? >”Ah, and bring the Dazzlings with you. I’ll want to talk with all four of you at the same time. I hope you, Miss Dusk, can convince them?” >”Sure! After today, I bet they’ll want to meet you, too!” >”Splendid. Well, that’s all then. I know you two will do just fine.” >Her encouragement sounded a bit awkward, but honest. >”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some fantastically punctual guests to meet. I’ll talk with you two later.” >Before you can even say goodbye, Strangelove ends the call. >You are left staring at the light of the screen. >The somewhat-happy conversation has ended, and it’s been replaced by uncomfortable silence. >Uncomfortable as in ‘unnatural.’ >It’s like the blackness around you two is sucking out all the sound. “So… Sonata? You said you had a plan of some sort?” >Sonata nods. >However, you can see the beads of sweat on her forehead. >The slight shaking of her hands. >She’s nervous. >”I got an idea from what that girl told us, but… I’m not, like, totally sure it’ll work.” “Well, that’s better than my plan. I don’t even have one.” >Sonata giggles. >”Just… just don’t be too disappointed if it ends up failing.” >You put a hand on her shoulder. >Almost immediately, her shivering stops. “Nah. If it does, it does. We’ll think up something else. We’re not alone, after all.” >Sonata nods again. “So, what’s your plan?” >Odd grin creeps to her face. >”We’ll use my sonar.” >… What? “A… A sonar?” >You try to wrap your head around the concept. >But all you can come up with is a mental image of a Subnata. >Zooming around in the dark depths of the Arctic Ocean. >Your inner Sean Connery is going straight to hunting the Red October. >”Yeah! A sonar! That’s, um… that’s a thing I can do. Or, like I should still be able to do it. I might’ve lost my ability to sing, but this? It’s like breathing for me! Erm, well, sorta?” >She makes a somewhat confusing gesture, as if she expects you to understand. >That couldn’t be further from the truth. >However, at this point, you’re just along for the ride. >You have no means of escaping this place alone. >And you trust Sonata enough not to have you both killed. >Still… something about what she said bothers you a bit. “Breathing? Sonata… sonars aren’t really natural to most people, you know?” >You arch an eyebrow. >Sonata looks away from you, awkwardly scratching her arm. >Almost like she’s afraid of meeting your gaze. >”Well, um, that’d be, because I’m not…” “Huh?” >”I’m not. Like, a human. Okay?” >… Well. >You’re not sure what you were really expecting here. >After all, she had already talked about stuff like magic and other unnatural things. >And now she revealed she could somehow use sonar. >To be honest, your question could not have been more misplaced. >Of course the answer would have been something like this. >You should have seen that. >The only thing you managed to do was to make her uncomfortable. “… Shit.” >You mutter under your breath. >Looking at her forlorn expression, it was clear that Sonata had wanted to keep this from you. >Maybe she knew that the revelation would come soon. >After all, you had been exposed to this magic business. >So… maybe… she had wanted to enjoy her last moments when she was just a normal “human” to you? >Here you are again. >Stumbling. >Fumbling. >Making mistakes. >Asking the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing… >It’s like some sort of curse that every human carries. >But. >This time, you knew what you had to do. >You had learned something from your previous mistakes. >And so, you gently tousle Sonata’s hair and pull her a little closer, trying your best to smile at her. >She looks up, eyes wide with surprise. >You admit, it’s not like you to do stuff like this. >But the way you see it, she deserves it. >You already inadvertently hurt her. >So now’s the time to heal. “But you’re still Sonata to me. And that’s all that matters.” >It sounds sappy to your ears. >As unlike you as the grin on your lips. >However, Sonata seems to disagree. >Slowly, a brilliant smile forms on her face. >She nods and quietly leans against you, enjoying the sensation of your hand against her head like she was some sort of puppy. >”For realsies?” >You chuckle. “For realsies.” >That seems to finally convince her. >The lonely tinge in her eyes disappears. >It’s like a weight was lifted from your heart. >Still— >You have to admit it. >You’re a little scared. Of what Sonata really is, of what the Dazzlings really are, of what is really going on here. >However, you’ve decided to trust her. >No, you’ve decided to trust *them*. >You’ve come this far in your friendship with the strange trio. You can see it to the end at this point. >Because, just like you said to Sonata… whatever the answer, it wouldn’t change who they were. >And that was enough to out your mind at ease. >”Anon?” >Sonata looks up at you. >”That, too, feels *super* good, but maybe…?” >You laugh at her torn expression. “Yeah, yeah. We should leave this damn place. The longer we stay here, the more we put ourselves at risk.” >She nods, and separates herself from you. >A small part of you is oddly sad that her warmth is now gone. >Sonata stretches her hands and lets her tongue swirl around in her mouth. >It’s like she’s a singer warming up. >You are left to watch this odd spectacle as the blue-haired girl prepares. >Eventually, you switch your gaze from her to the darkness that surrounds you. >Now that you have a way out, your mind starts turning to other questions. >Such as: who is behind this? >According to Strangelove, someone or something specific captured you and Sonata into this ‘paradox’ like a funnel web spider. >But why? >What would they accomplish by abducting two random teenagers? >… Okay, well, one of them was apparently not human. >Did this mean they were after Sonata? >Or maybe not just her, but the rest of the Dazzlings, too? >You feel your hand clench into a fist. >If someone was hunting them, you’d have to do something. >They had helped you so much already. >In some ways you didn’t even want to admit. >Thus, if some stalker from another dimension was after them… >… It’d be your turn to act. “Well, first I’d need to find out more about the culprit, anyways…” >You mutter to yourself and heave a heavy sigh. >With nothing else to do, you turn to look back at Sonata. [Embed: GitS SAC OST 2 - Go DA DA] >Creak. >Huh? >Creak. >That sound— >Creaak. >Like a torture-wheel— >Creaaaaak. >Coming closer— >Creaaaaaaaaaaaak. “Sonata.” >You whisper her name in panic. >Your eyes are locked into the nothingness behind her. >From there, emanates that scraping sound. >The sound of your nightmares. >Like an ancient insect, silently creeping through the darkness. “Sonata!” >You grasp her by the shoulder and turn her to face you. >”H-huh? Anon, what’s wrong?” >Smile still hangs on her lips. >Doesn’t she hear the approaching sound? >Can’t she see? >You can barely stop your hands from shaking. “We need to go. Now!” >Sonata’s eyes widen in surprise. >However, they soon harden like steel. >It’s a look you’ve never seen from her before. >”Is it here?” >She glances around. >It really does seem like she can neither hear nor see the approaching danger. >But, you can still try. “Straight behind you. I… I can’t tell the distance. But I can hear the sound. Can’t you?” >Sonata spins around, and stares into the darkness. >She spreads her arms, like she was protecting you. >You’d chuckle if you weren’t fighting off the panic. >”Anon, I don’t see anything.” >Sonata’s whisper confirms your suspicion. >Only you are left to experience the terror. >”But if you say so, then it’s coming. We need to, like, get outta here. Now.” >That makes your heart jump. >She believes you all the same? >You barely contain your breathe of relief. >Taking a step back, Sonata nearly bumps into you. >She draws in a deep breath. >Moment later, her raspberry eyes turn to stare straight at you. >”Okay, Anon. I’m gonna use my sonar now.” >Her words sound prepared, yet bit nervous. >”But when I do that, you need to plug your ears.” “Huh? Why?” >”The sound it makes is, like, super loud. It’d probably knock you out at least.” >Ah. >That explains it. >Indeed, even the acoustic location used by bats tended to be accompanied by screeching noises. >When utilized by someone the size of a human, loud noises were given. >Though, that reminds you… “By the way Sonata, isn’t sonar something utilized only underwater?” >She grins a bit sheepishly. >”Uh, yeah. That’s how we usually did it. But I’m sure it’ll work just fine in here. So don’t worry!” >She pats you on the shoulder and turns to stare at the darkness. >Taking that as a sign, you stick your fingers in your ears and cover the rest with your palms. “A’ight. I’m ready when you are. Let ‘er rip, Ecco.” >You can’t hear Sonata’s answer. >But she nods enthusiastically. >Right before your eyes, you see how Sonata draws breath in a manner most unnatural. >Her back bends more than a human’s ever should, and for a moment, she’s staring straight to the black ‘sky’ above you two. >No sound enters your ears, but you’re pretty sure there must be a rush of wind from how she keeps sucking in the air. >”---------!” >Then, her mouth snaps shut. >For a moment, nothing moves. >Not you. >Not Sonata. >Not the blackness. >”!” >Like a pendulum swinging forth. >Sonata’s arched back straightens, and she opens her mouth once more. >But this time, instead of gathering… >… She releases. “H-holy shit!” >You probably said those words. >But you can’t hear them. >Even inside your own mind, you can’t hear them. >They were completely snuffed out by the ‘sound’ Sonata let out. >No, it could no longer be called a sound. >It was a physical force that rattled you to your very core. ”G-gah!” >Your vision distorts. >The black of the surroundings mixes with the image of Sonata before, blurring into a fractal-like display of colors. >Your whole world feels like it’s spinning around, even though you are standing still. >Your breath lodges itself in your throat, unable to get out. >You feel awe. >Fear and awe. >The power Sonata displayed is far beyond anything you could’ve ever imagined. >It was like standing beneath a Blackbird going at maximum speed. >You didn’t just feel the world shake from her sonar. >You felt the world *break*. “U-uargh… aaagh…!” >It’s like you’re being thrown around by a giant. >The nausea has elevated itself to unbearable levels. >You feel like throwing up. >Your eyeballs feel like they’re ready to burst. >Your skin feels like it’s on fire. >This is torture. >Plain and simple torture. >Thousands of needles break your skin and you taste blood. >Something’s broken. >Oh god, something inside you just broke. “Son… Sona…ta…” >You force out those words, even though you cannot be sure they even formed. >But you have to try. >You have to tell her you can’t hold on for much longer. >You feel like dying, just to get out of this sickening agony. >Please. >Somebody. >Help. >Please, Sonata… >“----------“ >Then, you feel it. >A hand on top of your head. >Just like you had done before, Sonata is tousling your hair. >She smiles encouragingly, urging you to fight on. >This is your only way out. >She knows it. You know it. >That’s why she’s telling you to bear it. >So the two of you can finally leave this horrible place behind, and return to your normal lives— “!” >Creak. >You can hear it. >Creak. >Even amidst all this, you can hear it. >Creaaaaaak. >The sound of the tortured wheel, slowly coming closer. >Your eyes snap to the direction where it’s coming from. >… And what you see makes you almost forget the pain you’re in. “…” >You’re speechless. >Why? >Because you can see it. >Not the shopping center that the sonar of Sonata is painting back all around you. >No, you can see the place that’s fading. >The other half of the intersection where you were trapped in. >The ‘other’ possibility. >If the shopping center is a living cat in a box, then this must be the dead one. >There’s no other way to describe it. >A dead world. >A soundless world. >Dusty intersection waiting for you beyond the alleyway. >Asphalt mixing in with old stone and new metal. >A space meant for people, now completely silent. >Your own breathing fills your ears. “No… way…!” >You fall to your knees, unable to take the sight. >Your wrecked body can no longer support you. “That’s… a city, isn’t it?” >It was a city. >But not a city you had ever seen. >Even when empty, you could tell. It was a city not meant for humans. >Something alien. Something different. >City governed only by one sound. >Creak. >That sound. >You had heard it so many times before. >And now you could look at the source. >The darkness had dissipated. >In the final moments before you were whisked away back to reality, you look into the direction the sound comes from. >What you see is a tainted silvery glint. >Reflecting the illumination of the streetlights. >Wheels slowly turning as the source inches closer and closer. >Desperate. >Hungry. “Ah…” >Now you finally understand what the sound you heard was. >You can see it. >The wheels are rusted. >They can barely move. >Yet the one moving them keeps stubbornly continuing, like he has no choice. >Of course. >A wheelchair. >And in it… >… A young man bound to the ground. >You squint your eyes. >It’s hard to tell what exactly you are looking at. >The boy in the wheelchair can’t be much younger than you. >But his body… >It’s light. >Skinny. >Like a skeleton with nothing but the skin wrapped around it. >His hat is pulled down low over his eyes, concealing his expression. >His clothes are old and ragged, like he hadn’t changed them in months. >But even before such a pathetic sight… >You found yourself overcome with fear. >Absolute dread. >You knew it. >This boy in a wheelchair was behind this trap. >Creak. >Creaaaak. >Ever closer. >He’s thirsty. >He needs to get his prey. >You can almost hear his thoughts. >He’s come too far to quit now. >He captured the one he was looking for. >But an anomaly entered the picture. >This wasn’t supposed to happen. >You were a mistake that shouldn’t have been made. >Not much time, not much time. >If he lets you two go now, he won’t be able to— “No. No!” >You try to scream. >Blood is pumping in your ears. >You hear the erratic beating of your heart. >You can’t let this happen. >You’re getting out of here with Sonata. >You won’t let this ‘thing’ get you now. Not after everything that had happened. >After all… >The thing before you is nothing but a corpse. >Wrinkled skin, like an old man. >Burnt skin, like a dead man. >Hands too feeble to even move desperately breaking themselves to push the wheelchair forth. >His cheeks are gaunt and his eye sockets sunken to a sickening extent. >You can see the milky dew covering his eyes. >You know what he is. >What ‘it’ is. >He’s death, trying to catch up to the living. >A desperate phantom that clings on to the pulsating hearts that he captures in this darkness. >He cannot be allowed to catch you. >He won’t catch you. >You can already see the image of the city, and its only resident, fade away. >The shattering of glass announces what’s to come. >Sonata’s sonar. >It’s finally finished. >Like a cascading tidal wave, the sound returns to the one who sent it, bringing back all the information needed. >Of the shopping center. >Of the city surrounding it. >In other words: the true reality has been ‘observed’. >Creak. >It’s no use. >He can’t catch you two anymore. >Laughing like a maniac, you face his blind stare with vigor. >You’ve won. >Sonata won. >There’s nothing the crippled hunter can do anymore. >This time, it ended in the victory of the living. >Unable to control yourself, you yell at the wheelchair-bound boy. >Almost as if to deny him. “Go back to hell, you monster!” >It’s a simple taunt, a curse you muster even with blood staining your mouth. >Even if your body is bruised from the sonar, you still have some energy left. >And you use it to proclaim your victory. “—Eh?” >The ground shakes. >For a moment, you think it’s another effect of the sonar. >But then you realize the truth. >It’s not *your* ground that’s shaking. >It’s the ground of the soundless city you saw. >You look again at the wrinkled corpse on the wheelchair. >You see his lips move. >And then you hear it. >His words. >”[WHO'S THAT BEHIND YOU]?” >You saw a dream. >A strange dream. >A worrying dream. >A happy dream. >A scary dream. >In it, you felt content. >For the first time, you were in a place you were meant to be. >White walls. >Soft colors. >Dulled atmosphere. >Like the dusty old attic at your Grandma’s place. >You remember that, don’t you? >That place where you spent all your summers? >You don’t? >Was your Grandma a nasty person? >Did she live in an apartment building? >Or was there a ‘Grandma’ at all? >What was the truth in the first place? >Was it this dream? >Where you lived in a building separated from all civilization? >That large white building with a clock tower. >There were only a handful of you living there. >You. >Those seven. >And the doctor who kept a watch over you all. >After all, you were all recovering. >You were ill. >As the doctor put it, you all were “unfitting for this society.” >Including himself. >But, none of you needed society. >You were all perfectly content in that white building with a clock tower. >… >So, why is it that you feel so anxious? >Is it because you know it’s a dream? >Or because it feels like reality? >Maybe because you feel like you’re forgetting something? >Or, perhaps, because you hear someone calling your name? >Not here. >Not in the dream. >She calls out to you in the world outside the dream. >’Truth’ is such a fragile thing. >Yet you associate it with her voice. >No, not just her voice. >Their voices. >They’ve become your ‘truth’. >So, go out there. >Go to her. >She’s waiting for you. >Anonymous. >You wake up with a start. >The warm sensation that envelopes you feels comforting. >It takes a few seconds for you to realize what’s going on. >Above you: the starry night sky. >Beneath you: the cold asphalt of the parking lot. >Around you: arms of Sonata as she embraces you. >”Anon… We made it.” >Her voice sounds tender. >Even during this cold night, her body against you feels so very warm. >So very comforting. >Her smooth, shining hair tickles your nose. >It’s that same fragrance. The smell of ocean. >”We’re safe now. So, don’t worry, yeah?” >Only after feeling those do you understand just how tired you feel. >It’s like you just went twelve rounds with Iron Mike. >You’re battered and bruised, and you’re gasping for breath. >You can still taste the copper in your mouth. >But even so, the pain lingering in your muscles and joints affirms you of one thing: you’re alive. >You’re both alive. >And that’s what’s important. >”We’re back at the shopping center, for realsies.” >Hearing Sonata’s comforting words, you look around. >The same streetlights. >The same city. >The same car with its engine still running, waiting for you two. >You sigh in relief. “Back home, huh?” >You cough, pain stinging your chest. “Can’t believe I missed this boring place.” >Sonata giggles, but there’s a slight catch in her voice. >Had she been crying? >Slowly, Sonata helps you stand once again. >As you get back on your feet, you realize just how miserable you’re feeling. >That Chinese food you ate will most likely make its way back up any time now. >Together, searching support from each other, you make your way to your car. >It’s strange. >From the looks of it, not much time has passed since you entered the alleyway. >”So, um, what’re we gonna do now?” >Sonata looks at you quizzically. >You bite your lip. >That’s a good question. “Well, first of all, I’ve gotta get you home. Adagio and Aria must be worried sick.” >You give Sonata a lopsided smile. “They’d rough me up into even worse shape if I let you linger here any longer.” >Sonata scratches the back of her head sheepishly. >”Ahaha, sorry. I’ve never tested my sonar with humans nearby…” “It’s alright. You got us out at least. I don’t mind a few bruises.” >To be honest, you felt like you had suffered more than just ‘a few bruises’. >However, the last thing you wanted was for Sonata to feel guilty. >Thus, you’d just stay silent about it. >Maybe a discreet visit to the hospital was necessary. >But right now, you’d fake it till you made it. >”And after that?” >You scratch your chin. “Well, Strangelove said she’d have answers for us three days from now. I’m not sure what’s up with the wait, but I guess we’ll see then.” >That didn’t mean you weren’t going to try to fish some info out of her the moment you got home. >What you had experienced couldn’t go unexplained. >Paradoxes? Two places existing at once? >And worst of all, a culprit behind all of it? >You had to know what was going on. >This whole situation was like out of some horror film. >”Oh, speaking of which… I guess we sorta owe you an explanation, right?” >You look at Sonata, momentarily confused. >Then you remember. >’Magic’. >Sonata had said she’d explain it to you. >How she knew about magic, and how she was able to do something like that sonar. >’I’m not. Like, a human. Okay?’ >That’s what she had said. >So, if Sonata wasn’t a human… what was she? >Did you even want to know? >”Anon?” >You find the familiar raspberry eyes staring at you. >Without any other choice, you nod. “Yeah. I guess I do want to know what’s going on with you.” >Sonata nods back at you. >”Then, um, we should get going. The girls will want to be there, too.” >Of course. >If Sonata wasn’t human, neither were the other two Dazzlings. >You should’ve realized that earlier. >Adagio, Aria and Sonata… >Just who were they, really? >What was this ‘magic’ in the first place? >And how was all of that connected to the Wheelchair Man you had seen in the E. Cross? >No, actually. >How had Strangelove known to call you when she did? >How did she connect to your phone? >Did she also know about magic? >She claimed she was a mad scientist, but still… >Who was she? >Was she connected to the Dazzlings, too? >And if those four knew about magic, how many others did? >Were there more players in this mystery you had been caught in? >You sigh in defeat as you get in your car. >Things had gotten a lot more complicated. >As if your outburst at school wasn’t enough, now you were neck deep in some strange magic shit. >To get your mind off of it momentarily, you hit play on the car’s stereo. >You expect to hear more of the sappy stuff from that old cassette you had last put in. >Instead. >You hear Nick Cave. [Embed: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand] “The hell…?” >You stare at the stereo. >What you see makes your heart skip a beat. >There’s a post-it note stuck to the handbrake. >Still-burning cigarette butt in the ashtray has left a trail of smoke in the air. >Both you and Sonata look at the sight. >”A-Anon? What’s going on?” >You snatch the post-it note and look at it. “Somebody’s been here.” >Two sentences have been written in the note. >’You know when you’ll need it.’ >Followed by: >’245 Levin Road’ >You feel your stomach churn. >Frustrated, you slam the steering wheel with your hand. “Great. Just what we needed. More mysteries!” >Sonata puts her hand on yours. >”Don’t worry, Anon. We’ll tackle them together!” >Surprisingly enough, your frustration is quelled almost instantly. >You have no idea who left the note, or smoked one of your cigarettes. >Hell, it could’ve been anyone. >The car had been left here in the parking lot with doors wide open after all. >But out of all the mysteries concerning you right now, this was the least important. >You could think about it after all the stuff with the E. Cross and Wheelchair Man was dealt with. >And right now, you would focus on your friends. >They, at the very least, had some answers for you. “Yeah. Together.” >You and Sonata bump fists. >After that, you slam the car doors shut and steer the vehicle out of the parking lot. >Sonata, sitting on the passenger seat, slowly hums to the tune of the Red Right Hand. >To be honest, the song unsettles you a bit. >Especially since someone had clearly picked the right cassette so you would hear it when you hit the play button. >Maybe that’s why you opened your mouth. >So that the conversation would distract you from the ominous lyrics. “So, I know you said you’d explain everything to me together with Adagio and Aria, but…” >You glance at Sonata. “Could you at least tell me what you are? You said you weren’t humans.” >After a brief silence, Sonata nods. >She flashes a sharp grin. >”Yeah, we’re not. We’re actually from another world.” >… Well then. >”It’s sorta funny. Both people of this world and that world call us with same term.” “Oh? And what’s that?” >You can see Sonata’s eyes shine in the darkness. >”Sirens.”