Tale of Souls Chapter Twenty Three
My eyes fluttered, the world finally stopped spinning. I’m unaware where it is, because this version here is one I’ve rarely been to. This, this version – is this the beginning? Is this where it all started?
“I’d scream, but I’m aware who you are and I’m aware sadly we’re out of time.” Lily, who’s face I hadn’t seen in a long time, spoke clearly.
I blinked a few times and realized we’re indeed at the beginning, the moment we woke up after they split us up. After they created me, and after they’d created Ryan in secret. Later to find out they’d had Rana stored away without us knowing, but that’s another issue. The day we found out that Lily and I found out we’d lost our choice and became nothing more than pawns in another man’s game.
“Remind me, please how old we are so I can get my head around this.” I sighed, and curled up in the bed. If I were this age, wherever we are – I’d be screaming at what’s in my pants. Kind of like the time I lost my humanity to my Husband – and I screamed at the loss of my legs to a set of ‘life cords’ that look like octopus appendages.
“We’re barely seventeen, our memories tell us we’re close to eighteen but I checked the clock and I checked the calendar. “
“How’d you guess?”
“Because lily won’t check the clock, or the calendar, and you’re the only asshole that would skip out on dinner to make sure i’m not suicidal on my self induced vision-walk.” I smirked, “Not that it matters – you are for every intent and every purpose – still Lily to all of us.”
“Yea well, I had to bargain with her to let me do this – YOU OWE ME.”
“No, I owe Sai, I’m not prepared to battle my niece – let alone Izuchi.” I sighed, “And I’m not allowed to help with Mike and Kristoff.”
“I don’t have a lot of time, is what i’m saying – I have to go back in a moment and report back that you’re OK. I’d be happy to stay, but Matt and Luke don’t listen to Ryan Or Saitou very well, let alone their cousin. My pact is with the fact I told Lily we needed to check you weren’t going to throw yourself out the window – She will remember things I’ve said to you – but don’t ruin it for her, don’t screw much with the timeline and be home before midnight.”
Within moments the eyes staring at me glossed back over, and her demeanor reset.
“Ya, what .. what else.”
“He told you not to screw with the time, so scream about your dick and act like I care.” Lily grinned at me and threw her stuffed rabbit at me.
I looked up and over at her and blinked as the rabbit hit me in the face before I could even respond. I expected her to scream at me, or be mad at me.
“The timeline is screwed, just don’t spoil the ending and I won’t tell the princess you’re a bottom bitch.” Lily curled her lips and kept grinning. She was hoping I didn’t understand what she was on about, or at least that I didn’t notice she still wasn’t the original Lily that should be in this time.
“Ok, is that how far gone time is?” I lightly tossed the rabbit back at Lily, thinking I didn’t deserve anything like that.
“Justin, i’m not meant to be in this version of time, i’m meant to be back in mine – where i’m either dead or hostage before they make Rana and kill me for whatever crimes they think i’ve committed.” Lily sighed and scratched behind the Rabbit’s ears and tried to hold back a few tears at the same time. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of Rana. I’m proud of all of you, but I wanted to escape and find you all – both me and Rei did.”
“I just. I’m not trying to ruin our memory of how we came to be, I’m not trying to escape and rewrite the past. I’m not trying to infect everything with Kristoff and I’s anxiety about all of this.” I sighed as well, I’m not just anxious, I’m starting to catch Kristoff’s depression. “I am, I am still scared of how we were meant to be weaponized. I am deep down disturbed that we had no choice in how we were made.”
“Look, I’m disturbed because the memories are melding – we were meant to be HERE after the algebra vision every time.”
“No, not every time. The pandemic and the..”
“No, everytime. Including the pandemic, it’s the shunting that causes that one to go awry. I’m aware I’m not there in your time that far in the future, well not in most versions of time – but I’m aware in the times I’m in death – I am behind the veil watching you and everyone else.” Lily reached over to the pullover hospital table by her bed and grabbed the notebook and pen on it.
“Which, which data set is that one?”
“It’s not, it’s a journal. You and I, and the rest of us – we’ve all been writing in it when we get back here. It’s our story for when we can’t remember the details that are missing. Sure, there’s some asshole quips from the beginning, and there’s concerns about the future and past from everyone. It’s not data, it’s truths – I had to stop tracking things by numbers because the numbers stopped adding up – and Reiko’s far better at math than I am.”
“Is she with you?”
“When I go back this far, no. Somehow she’s – dormant, sleeping, shut off when I go back this far.”
“Did you want me to write the final entry?”
“You said that last time you were here.”
“No, this time might…”
“Don’t tell me, just write then, warn everyone when they get this what’s going on – what’s left of time will be there when you get back. Also, try not to zip your dick up in your zipper when you get dressed later and try to walk out of here. You’ll rip a hole in your future dick, maybe even a life cord or two.” Lily smiled, and pushed the table to me and tossed the pen at me and the notebook.
She was hooked up by a few more wires than I was – and she looked tired as hell. She had the oxygen filter hooked up to her nose and everything. I grabbed the notebook and peeked a few pages back, scrawled with notes and doodles. Most of them coded warnings of the same thing that’s happening now. A few pages back before that, self esteem issues galore, depressive rants about what’s going on. All the way back to the first page, and you can see the care in writing each word.
“Wait, this one’s dated like three days after we got here.”
“Yea, the visions like that, once we started walking – went back farther than we could remember. Which was why we started the notebook.” Lily laid back in the bed and started to cough, something wasn’t right.
“They took Rana from you earlier than all of these pages admit, which means you’re not going to survive.”
“Yep, they said I’ve only got a few weeks left if I’m lucky. It wasn’t just Rana, there were four they took off me this time in total. Your Kristoff, the one that is attached to your time – the one that told you he wasn’t – is because they fucked up time. They went back and made him, without making him screw with Rana.” Lily was struggling to keep her eyes open, and blinked a few times as she stared at the ceiling. “Promise me if I don’t wake up again, you’re going to fight for me.”
She coughed harder, blood spilling off the side of her mouth.
“Lily, stop – calm down, I’ll get the nurse.”
Lily’s eyes flashed open wide, and a loud growl came out of her mouth and she grabbed my wrist as I tried to push the button for the nurse.
“Do NOT SPEAK TO A ROYAL LIKE THAT.”
“Hello Inuko, you’re in the past- please settle, and let me get a nurse so Lily in this time doesn’t die and you have a future to exist in.” I nervously tried to peel her hand off mine, in case of fusion – but the fusion never started.
“We told you time was fucked up, why do you think the fusion isn’t happening? Because time fucked up, stupid human.”
“Ok, sorry hello Princess Reiko of the Arashi Kingdom, how may I be of service “ I rolled my eyes and peeled my wrist out of her grasp.
“Sorry, I know you just try and help – but time really fucking weird.”
Reiko’s broken English was even more broken than usual. I met her a few times years ago, before she accidentally fused with Lily trying to get away from the Makaras. I mean, like years ago in our time – not … whatever.
“Let me call the nurse, I don’t care if you’re a royal, your brother will murder me if I don’t take care of you as well as my sister.”
“Sis.. oh, Lily.”
“Sorry, force of habit.”
“Yah, was going to say – you two same person, why sibling talk?”
“Because you tend to forget for the longest time that you’re just splits of yourself, and you just settle into being like siblings and you just explain it to others in the regular world – that you are siblings so you don’t confuse people. I mean, I had to explain it to dad like that once, and Mom at first too until she met all of us to understand.”
“I like your mom.”
“Really? I didn’t know if you met her or not.”
“No, but I see in Lily memories, that she’s very cool. Very understand.”
“When did your English go kaput…”
“They grabbed the wrong me.”
“I’m not the future me, I’m the younger me.”
“I fused with her a decade earlier than i – or five years earlier than I expected.”
I blinked, so Lily …
Lily’s Inuko far earlier than – I mean we’re not even eighteen yet.
“DON’T HURT YOUR BRAIN, I’M NOT.”
“Oh, you’re not what?”
“I’m not coughing up blood for the reason you think – her body isn’t handling me, and it’s not because I’m going to shoot out life cords. I didn’t know what they did to her yet, and I thought she could handle the changes. I accidentally put her on a fast path to death.”
“Is there a way to save you?”
“Fix time. You won’t prevent me.”
“I didn’t think I could – Lily accepted you, but Rana maybe not so much.”
“No no, he a little bitch.” I snorted, she’s got a panache. I’ll give her that much.
“If I can stop the first problem, sure, but that’s only one problem – there’s larger issues at hand – and supposedly we can’t unfold everything we lost.”
Reiko crunched her face and coughed a bit more, raising her hand and slapping me in the face.
“Mouse always talking about the worst case scenario. Mouse is human mostly, he doesn’t understand the shit we understand. We unfold time, we did before – we do again. You go back, you find your ex – he’s my brother’s soul mirror. He has notebook, journal of ancient Illyara and Arashi history.” She flicked me in the face one more time for good measure, and laid back down carefully. “ Yes hit the button, but be gone after you do.”
I hit the nurse button, and it all went black again.