Tale of Souls Chapter Thirty & Epilogue
“Time thinks it can solve riddles doesn’t it?”
“Yes, and no you’re not dead – but you should be.” Izuchi smirked and walked past me.
“Where am I?”
“You’re in the same place you’ve been for a year, locked in the Makara holding cells while we experiment on your brothers. We apprehended you long before the mall – and long before Aura went back in time. Those were just memories we planted in your mind. You’ve never walked, nobody ever taught you – and Mike’s been long gone. My cousin’s life has been cut short because of that – and well – you’re stuck here living out your days.” Izuchi cackled, he noticed my eyes were accommodating to the area and I could finally see. “We’re constantly changing the scenarios, tomorrow will be another day until you submit and crack your old programming.”
I’m stuck. He’s right, i’m in a holding cell – a fucking prison cell for idiots like me. I’m screwed and there’s nothing I can do to fight him. I’m looking around my cell and I can see the stereotypical scratches in the wall, but at the same time there’s a computer in the corner.
“Oh you’re not here inhumane and such – you can communicate with the outside world – but good luck trying, that computer is so old it’s not funny. Unless, gasp – we’ve had you here all along and if you look in the mirror you’ve never changed?” Izuchi snorted, and laughed harder and shut a set of curtains that shielded my cell from other ones. He left the area and everything was dim and quiet.
“How long has he been yapping like that?”
“Who are you?”
“Your cell neighbor dipshit, do I at least sound familiar?”
“I don’t know anymore, I’m not even sure I’m myself anymore.”
“That’s because he’s talked you into thinking you aren’t yourself – look in the mirror you silly loaf – we haven’t lost. We’re just in the endgame, just watch what you’re doing and saying when you walk and we’ll get to the end ok?”
“Yea, do I gotta climb up on my bed and jump up like your daughter and beg for pop tarts? HAVE YOU NOT HEARD MY SNORING AND FARTING? I mean that’s my signature move.”
I looked at my hands.
I looked in the mirror.
I stood on the step stool by the cell bathroom and noticed there was a ledge where the wall should’ve connected with the ceiling. I peeked over and noticed the mark was on his right arm, and I looked around across where the other cells were and noticed everything was going in a certain order.
“How long have we been here”
“Izu says we’ve been here a year, but he’s so batshit he doesn’t know that we’ve only been here a month. Mike’s not dead, and Sai went to the lines to help him – Psilas is at home making sure the young ones are OK. I got a text from him today and he said he’s gotten Aura to eat lasagna, and she’s helping baby sit Psilas’s younger self. “
I blinked and looked around, noticing the cell across the way had Rana in it, and another with Kristoff in it.
“GOD FUCKING DAMN HES AWAKE”
“Shhh i’m sleeping this migraine off”
Remind me not to make so much noise.
I climbed back down and looked in the mirror, my eyes were brown – the mark over my eye. My hair’s brown, and a few lines here and there. I didn’t think this was who I was when I woke up – but at the same time I had a memory, a vision – that i was the one driving. That I was responsible for getting us away from there.
“Aight, WHO THE FUCK FARTED.”
Kristoff’s louder than the other two, that’s for sure.
“I DID SORRY, GOD KNOWS GIRLS FUCKING FART TOO!”
I climbed back onto the stool and there she was in the corner cell sticking her middle finger up and then flashing her bare back where her and Rana’s mark was. I thought she was dead, I swear that her records were real.
“I assumed… that you’d died, I saw the video.”
“Death? God no, that was a Lily from another timeline – one that folded and they mixed us up. YOU ACTUALLY THOUGHT TERRIN WOULD TAKE CARE OF ME LIKE THAT?” Lily dropped to her bed in loud laughter. “By the gods – fuck no.”
This is a relief, but it’s also a confusion? Where’s the puzzle we were meant to solve?
Why am I here instead of there?
What’s the next step?
I’m so confused.
“There’s a lot we’re gonna get done, just go back to bed – we have time. We’re gonna do this, trust me. It’s a shock that all of us are here, but we’re fine – Izu’s just a bit batshit and can’t do much. Felix is still subverting the rules and keeping us all out of harm’s way.”
I looked over to the cell across from me, the one that I would have assumed was Ryan originally – but finding he’s … well he’s me, or who i thought was me. This is all so topsy turvy, I mean it explains the fog, it explains a lot – and it explains why there’s a computer with the tabs in the internet browser open about legal proceedings.
“No, there was no siring – just a lawsuit for breaking the bathroom stalls.”
“I feel like I’m gonna bawl my eyes out, I’m just so confused. Like not just in a – Like im’ just so damn lost right now.”
“It’s ok, we all were when we woke out of the psychic web he’d woven. Just play along until we can get out of here. Go back to bed, it’s late – we have checkups tomorrow and it’s intrusive.”
All these thoughts in my head – they’re wreaking havoc. Was this on the tapes that – was that my memory or someone else’s? The tapes, that hospital.
Which one of us am I again?
“Hey shithead, why did you think you were your brother?” Noah rang out from inside my head, which was weird cause he’s said he’s faded but – I don’t know I still don’t get what’s going on here. Izuchi screwed with my head, I’m still not sure I get what exactly is going on here.
“Yo, Rye, loaf-buddy, it’s ok – We’re both here, we didn’t leave we just – figured you had a handle on shit for a good few years and let you do your thing. I kinda know my way around this place, and fox here said we need to kick up a stink.” Matthew, my former roommate – the one I was forced to fuse with – or was that .. If i’m Ryan, then that was me, if i’m not then it was Ryan. God this is a puzzle and a fucking half.
“You want freedom right? Mate, c’mon, we’re here, we’re gonna devise a plan. I was thinking we’ll just fuck with Izuchi some and get him to let us out for some fresh air. Cause a huge fucking fight.” Noah grinned, it was weird how this worked – or was it?
“You’re quiet, for someone who took up our mantles and fought for others freedom, what happened? Did the dog get your tongue?” Matthew walked towards me, in what seemed like it was my cell – but it must be on the inside…
“Give him time, the psycho fucked with him – it took the others about this long to come around to certain things after they got here.” Noah sighed and walked over and put his hand on my head, “You gotta open up, there’s a reason we’re louder than before.”
“It’s not. It’s not that i don’t want to talk it’s that.” I sighed and shuffled my feet, looking up at the other two. “It’s that I CAN’T physically even if i see it in the mirror and notice shit – figure out which one I am. I woke up and assumed which one I was.”
“ASS U + ME. Or in your case, your ass = them and them . I dunno bad analogy?” Matthew laughed, “If you were Justin? You wouldn’t see us, you’d talk to us through well if you weren’t you – you’d talk… YOU GET MY POINT DON’T YOU?”
“I do, but my brain’s fried.”
“Are you ok? “ Noah put his hand under my chin and tilted my head up to meet his eyes, like an older brother.
“I feel like I’ve been slapped with multiple bricks, and I feel like we’re out of options.” I looked away for a second. I could see my surroundings, but I could see the other two as well.
“OI, YOU TALKING TO NOAH AND MATT AGAIN?!?”
“Answer him, so he realizes you’re not batshit – ok that you are batshit and that you’re devising an evil plan to literally skewer people for dinner!” Matthew laughed again, grinning and pointing in various areas. “No but seriously, just admit it – they’re worried about you.”
“Yea, I am so?” I replied.
“GOOD, THEY GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU. JUST LOWER YOUR VOLUME A TAD IM TRYING TO SLEEP HERE.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP ELSA.”
“YOU SHUT UP RANA.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP DUMB CAT”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP JUSTIN.”
“YOU GUYS ARE NOT NOISY ENOUGH I MISS YOUR NOISY”
“Shut the fuck up lily i’m trying to think.” I growled lightly.
“Oooo, mate – Yell out that I wanna talk to her later about something with her permission – ya ok and yours.” Noah grinned, he had something up his sleeve – like a plan, I guess?
“Lily, Noah said he’s got something he wants to talk to you about somet dorky ass thing is that ok?” I tried to yell, but my lungs hurt.
“YA YAH THAT’S OK TELL HIM I’LL BE UP FOR A WHILE MORE WHEN U THREE ARE DONE YAPPING. IGNORE ELSA”
“WHO TEH FUCK GAVE YOU PERMISSION”
“RANA YOUR DEAD TO ME”
“ELSA IS JEALOUS”
“ELSA IS A GOOD CAT.”
“ELSA IS JACKASS”
I snorted and got in the fray.
“HAY RYE CUT IT OUT, STOP YELLING.”
“NO, ELSA IS JACKASS.”
“ELSA IS NOT ELSA ELSA IS KRISTOFF.”
“RED TELL YOUR BROTHER HES TOO FUCKING LOUD, IM ON GUARD DUTY AND YOU GUYS BETTER ACT LIKE IM IN CHARGE.”
“Hold up, Felix?” I blinked, it looked like Noah and Matthew were just as fucking confused.
“Ya, i’m on schedule – your point being?” Felix walked up to my cell and passed me a bag of pretzels from the vending machine. “Here, eat, I notice you’ve been skipping your meals.”
“I haven’t been SKIPPING them, i’m tripping balls half the day and I don’t remember to eat. I realize the mark’s not on my arm and shit but i’m still processing things.”
“Lemme give you a hint: you may not be processing shit, it just may be that you’re in the wrong body and nobody realizes it. Izu’s been doing some really fucked up shit and I just have to play along. Also, in this time I AM NOT SOME NUDE GARDENER Skye literally needs to stop erasing my fucking existence. I”m not a clone i’m my own fucking person – I got proof of that shit too.” Felix passed me his phone for a minute to show me what Izuchi was up to.
“IS THAT THE VIDEO AGAIN, FUCK SORRY FORGOT TO EXPLAIN THAT”
“HOLD UP YOU ASSFUCK YOUR MEANING TO TELL ME I’M SITTING HERE THINKING I’M BATSHIT UP THE WAZOO AND WE SWAPPED BODIES. YOU DUMB ASS WOLF”
“HEE-HEE. IT WAS FUNNY WHEN SAI CAME TO VISIT, I FLIRTED LIKE I DO WITH YASUO AND HE WAS SO FUCKING CONFUSED.”
“ELSA IS IN WRONG BODY TOO, BUT LILY IS FINE ITS FUNNY”
“STOP CALLING ME THAT”
“I AM NOT RANNIE STOP THAT”
“OK LILLY BEAN.”
“Uh, we forgot to say something because we weren’t sure if it was ok to say something mate, sorry.” Noah grinned at me, sitting on the bed in the cell. “Lil is the only one who’s here in her own body, and I’m not sure exactly how that one worked.”
“She said she wasn’t dead.” I blinked.
“Well, she may have been, and she may be right that it was another timeline, but we need to do more research on that one.” Matthew pointed at the computer, “Remember that person I accidentally made you fuse with in the office that one – OH I MEAN shit fuck, that ws Ryan SORRY”
“Yea can you explain now that i know what teh fuck is going on?” I raised my eyebrow and squinted at Matthew for a second. “Like honestly, now I know what’s up right now with me, spill it.”
“God you’re an ass. I don’t like you as much as Rye.” Matthrew whined, “ANYWAYS when shit was going down years ago I was freaking out and accidentally made Rye fuse with the person in the med bay or wherever the fuck it was. So uh, they’re still around here but quiet – and they’re amazeballs at using that computer.”
“Is that why I see someone doing the Gendou Ikari look?” I blinked, looked around and noticed that creepy shitty villainous father type look.
“Yea, they’re doing some research into what the fuck is going on – and that’s kinda how Felix was tipped off on it – he caught it up on the cameras for us.” Noah grinned, “Brilliant mate, brilliant.”
“He can’t even hear you.” I side eyed, like why is it that he’s saying that if nobody can hear him?
“No, but there were times I was able to talk to him, so like just chill – shit’s gonna be ok.” Noah scoffed, and fist pumped the air a bit.
I paced around a bit trying to get my head around things. This changes shit, i’m like sitting here thinking i’m Ryan. I mean, ok fine – body wise i’m in his meatsuit – it’s like no different than childhood when we were all the same person. Like imagine running into Mom or Dad at this point and going ‘HEY MAHM IM RIIDING MY BROTHERS MEATSUIT HI HOW YA DOING’ – that’s like a trip and a half.
Also ew, my stepchild/brother in law has literally had weekly if not nightly sex with this body off and on for years. I’m a bit – creeped out. I dunno, I guess Ryan’s about just as confused. I don’t usually have this sort of – I don’t usually see those i’ve accidentally fused with. I haven’t really done that since the old days – in the arena.
Come to think of it – I don’t really remember fully doing that?
Come to think of it again, like what the fuck still is going on? I can see everything that Ryan’s gone through. No wonder I’m a ball of anxiety now. Literally he’s seen some shit, how the hell does he stay –
“He stays sane because he’s had to.” Matthew walked towards the computer where the nerdy looking guy with the glasses sat.
“I think I have a breakthrough”
“Do you know their name?” I asked.
“They don’t because I don’t remember it, I lost a bunch of memories – they just sort of call me the nerd – I don’t take offense. I realize what happened wasn’t Ryan’s fault. I’ve dedicated time to try and aid his sanity.”
“Do you want a name?”
“That shouldn’t be your choice, it’s not your mind.”
“No, but I’m here – and Ryan’s taken 20 years to even realize you’re here.”
“No, because he doesn’t know – I’ve stayed silent, and I prefer to stay as in the background as possible.”
“I don’t care, I can’t just call you a nerd with glasses. Where are you even from originally?”
“I don’t remember?”
“C’mon, it’s time you tried to remember if it’s – if it’s safe.”
“It doesn’t work that way.”
“Do you remember anything?”
The clattering at the keys stopped, and they faded away… Noah and Matthew as well, like the room suddenly went quiet.
“HEY, SPARKY, DID THEY FIGURE ANYTHING OUT?”
“YES I’M STUCK HERE NOW, FELIX JUST DROPPED ME OFF – THAT GENDOU FIGURE? THAT WAS THE GARDENER FROM ANOTHER TIME – SORRY I GOT THEM MIXED UP. I CAN’T KEEP TRACK OF MYSELF LIKE FELIX DOES. “
“So uh, does he have a name?”
“I dunno, I forgot that one even existed” Felix walked over to my cell, motioning for me to come towards the bars and door. “C’mere.”
“I gotta show you one last thing.”
“COME HERE DIPSHIT.” Felix growled, flipping the middle finger at me.
I walked over, and as I finally walked to meet Felix eye to eye he placed his fingers inches from my face.
“Close your eyes.”
I didn’t continue asking, I just did it.
Within seconds, the room went dark.