Chapter 9:

The Nightmarish Land Of Dreams And Delirium

The Door to a Bittersweet Ending

After that accident, the guards arrived at what seemed like the speed of light – probably because the Natò family was one of the most important families of the city, so they had to show themselves at their best or they would have passed a bad quarter of an hour with their boss – and started to take depositions of what happened, while Akira was being medicated by the guard’s medical unity, but, in the end, they said that it would have been really difficult to catch the hitman and that it probably had already disappeared by now. They then added that it was too dangerous for Priscilla to be left alone and in that place and suggested to move her to a secure location with a guard escort to protect her, but Priscilla’s family wasn’t too tempted by the offer and said that they would have done what they would have thought best for Priscilla, at which the guards closed an eye and said that, if they decided to reconsider their offer, they were always there. “After all, it’s our job to protect others” concluded the guard that was speaking with Giorgio and Leon, as if not to state the obvious. Then, the guards and the medics left, followed then by the servants, leaving only Akira, Samai, Priscilla, Giorgio and Leon in the garden, surrounded by complete silence.

“We really have to thank you, Akira” said Giorgio, breaking the silence in which the five of them had fallen “without you, Priscilla would have probably died, and we would all be silent for the wrong reason. I swear that, if I ever meet those motherfuckers, I will break their face with my own two fists”.

At first, Akira nodded at those words and wondered if he should have told them what he was thinking, but then he decided to keep it for himself: maybe he was wrong and his idea was just a delirium of his mind, but he couldn’t shake off the impression that it wasn’t Priscilla the main objective of that assassination mission, but Akira himself. Why should have the assassin told him those things when he escaped? To make him understand that there were people who knew about his past? And, if so, who were they? And how did they know?

“We need to decide what to do with Priscilla first. But now is not the right time” continued Giorgio, looking at Priscilla with worried eyes, like the one of a loving father, “First, we need to sleep, and only then we can decide about what to do: a good night of sleep is always the best way to then make the right decisions”. After saying those words, Giorgio and Leon said good night and went back to their rooms, leaving Akira, Samai and Priscilla behind. As he was about to head back to his room, Akira was held back by Priscilla, who, still a bit shocked by what happened, said a simple thank you with eyes filled with gratitude which also showed how she was on the verge of crying, and by Samai, who thanked him with a simple bow and some words of gratitude. Then, the three of them headed back separately to their rooms, like they all had a lot on which to reflect. Surely that night hadn’t been easy for the three of them and they all needed a bit of rest, but which of the three had the hardest time, that was an entirely different question.

After having returned to his room, Akira lay down on the bed, knowing full well that it would have been difficult to sleep for that night. What that hitman said started a process in his brain that made him re-examine all of his past, or at least what he wanted to remember, a thing he always tried to avoid so that he could go on living without facing what happened to him back in the days. He knew full well that someday he would have to face his memories and accept that they happened, but he always wanted to delay that moment as much as possible. But now it was not possible anymore: he went in that world so that he could also escape his past, but, in order to really start living there, he would have to do another thing, and that is, move forward. While thinking about this, he slowly started to fall asleep, as if his mind was trying to escape again from thinking about those memories.

But that was when he started having nightmares.

Akira found himself in a dark room. He was alone and there was no light whatsoever. Suddenly, a flash appeared in the room and it started projecting a light on one of the walls, just like a projector. The first one was the image of a young girl, smiling, with short brown hair, two grey eyes and a face that was capable of transmitting a feeling of liking to anyone seeing it. But, slowly, that image started burning, like a piece of paper on fire, and behind that a flash series of images started appearing: an arm, a leg, a torso, a foot, a hand, an ear and then other images which were hardly understandable for how blurry and distorted they had become. Slowly, sounds also started to play: gunshots, not understandable male and female voices, screams, fire sounds and more environmental sounds until a clear male voice said “This is what you get for having stood against us. A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”. Then, a single light illuminated a little circulated area in the room: in the middle of that area, a corpse. It was totally black, like if the light was incapable of illuminating it well enough to make its features be clear, but it was obvious that it was the body of a girl. Then, slowly, other lights started appearing, illuminating other corpses, some of males, some of females: they were all in line, but it seemed like there was an infinity of them, like if the room had stretched itself in order to make place for as many corpses as it needed. Then, the room started changing colour, going from black to a faint red colour, which emanated a faint red light that in any case didn’t touch the lights that were already lit up. And that was the moment when Akira noticed what was surrounding him: corpses, corpses and more corpses, some with recognisable features, some instead covered by what could have been a red veil that made them look like a puddle of blood. That was the moment when the voice started playing again, but this time it was not only a male voice, but it was like a badly coordinated chorus of voices that said the same thing over and over again “A tooth for a tooth, twenty corpses for one”.

That was the moment when he woke up, sweaty. However, it was still night when he woke up, so he tried to sleep again. And, again, that nightmare happened, making him wake up again during the same night. Every time he tried to sleep, the same nightmare came, like a haunting presence always by his side. That was, until he eventually woke up when the sun was up. That made him understand that it was morning and that he needed to get up and start his day: however, when he tried to get up, he couldn’t even move an inch. Then, his body dropped all by itself, and Akira’s conscience faded away.

That was the start of a spiral of events. When he fell, a servant that was near his room heard the sound, forced the door and entered, seeing Akira lay on the floor unconscious. He immediately called the doctor and Priscilla, knowing full well that he was her teacher and that she needed to report that fact to her father. Both the doctor and Priscilla arrived at the same moment and, after an initial examination, he said that Akira was affected by a high fever which had been probably caused by a poisonous substance. In that moment Priscilla thought about the knife he took for her and, making a connection, understood that the knife was probably poisonous – a possible thing, considering that it belonged to a hitman, which surely would want to have anything in his power in order to complete its mission, including poisons – and started crying near Akira, muttering a series of “I’m sorry” that made the scene look like if Akira was slowly dying, a possibility that the doctor couldn’t exclude but that wasn’t also a sure fact. Then, he prescribed some medicines and treatments, saying that, until the situation had evolved a bit, the only thing he could do was to cure it like a normal influence, considering that, even if he had been poisoned, he would have needed to know what poison was in order to use the right antidote and not one that could have killed him on the spot. Then, in front of Priscilla’s tears and Samai’s sad face, who had arrived in the meanwhile, he quickly went away, feeling out of place. During those days filled with tension, Priscilla would have wanted to stay by Akira’s side, but she had her life: plus, her father and Leon were deciding what to do in order to protect her, so in the meanwhile they limited her movements and assigned her various bodyguards that could protect her. So, if someone ever entered Akira’s room to see how he was, that person would have always seen two people: Akira, lay on the bed with a suffering face, and Samai, which was watching over him. During those days another fact happened: the guards found the body of the assassin near where it had disappeared after leaving the Natò’s garden. It wasn’t clear whether it was a homicide or a suicide, and there were almost no significant proofs on the body. Still, a few particulars could be learned from the body: the hitman was a female and she had a small yet elaborate stain on her left breast and also, apparently, from what those who saw it say, on her eye, right in the iris, like someone genetically modified her so that she could have that particular sign. Still, no one recognised them, so the guards send out a help request to the capital, saying it was urgent, in order to try and uncover the mystery. And so, the days passed, while the guards were trying to uncover what there was behind Priscilla’s failed assassination and the doctors were trying to cure Akira, which in the meanwhile had been transported to the city hospital due to his critical yet stable conditions.

But, while these days were pretty uneventful for all the people involved with these two tasks, that wasn’t the case for Akira. Because, in his unconsciousness, he started his delirium. He woke up in the same room where his nightmare was set. How did he got there? The last thing he remembered was getting up that morning, and then… Then nothing came to his mind. Was he still sleeping? Before he could even have a chance to think, the nightmare he had before started playing yet another time, but, this time, when the room turned red and the corpses started appearing, no voice said anything, no hellish chorus started playing in the background. He was just alone, with the corpses that, lifeless and almost unrecognisable, sprinkled the room like flowers in a garden. Then, the red light suddenly disappeared, and he was absorbed by a total obscurity, through which he could see nothing. That darkness just made him remember the street he was walking through when he decided to abandon his old life, the door through which he achieved that resolution, his hope to leave behind him all his demons. However, he knew he still had to face them one time or another: after all, during the time he passed there he made various analogies between the events that happened there and those of his old life. He was a human, he couldn’t forget so easily years and years of living, especially when they were the ones that made him the man he was at that time. Still, he entered a door appeared out of nowhere, without the certainty that it could have led to somewhere better than the reality he was in and that could have led him to places where he would have been dead in less than 3 seconds. Now that he looked back at it, that just showed how desperate he was for a better life: if that opportunity didn’t arise, he wouldn’t have known what he would have probably done. While he was reflecting like that, he found himself in a white room, just like the one in which he found himself when he entered the door, before being teleported in that cave with those monsters and with Priscilla hanging between life and death. But the room didn’t stay white for long: slowly, lines of different colours started appearing and building what seemed to be the interior of a normal living room, where various bookshelves, a big couch, a table with two chairs and a door appeared, all of them of different colour one from the other. What he had before his eyes emanated a strange yet somewhat comforting aura, like it was aimed at relaxing him and because of that succeeded in making Akira feeling a bit uncomfortable for how perfect in its minimalism it was. Even though the chaos of colours made it seem like a colour grenade just blew up there and nobody had arrived to clean up the mess it left behind. But that impression kind of disappeared when, after taking a step forward, a solemn and monotone voice started speaking.

“For how much will you live fearing your demons, Akira?”

Confused, Akira looked around him, trying to understand from where the voice was coming, only to be met with furniture and walls: there was no one in that room. Then, as he was still looking around, the voice continued speaking.

“You know that you can’t continue like this: if you don’t do something, you will explode in the worst possible way. You know this, but you fear those demons more than you really value your own future. When will you understand that people fought to give you this opportunity?”

The words of that voice without a face hit Akira right in his heart, yet they somewhat annoyed him: who was that entity who was trying to judge him? How could it judge him? However, right when he thought that, the voice sighted.

“Seriously… I can understand it because of your actual conditions, but really, you are just acting like a child right now. People sacrificed themselves for you? I am really sad for them, for they have only sacrificed so that a fearful creature could live an empty life, being annoyed when someone tells him the truth”.

“Who are you to say that to me? And how do you know that?” asked Akira, bewildered by his words.

“…” The voice went silent, giving probably Akira the time to think for an answer himself, before eventually replying “Sigh… you really are a disappointment. But I am as guilty as you for that: I never really intervened during your life because you took me and closed me in a sealed box. I am now free just because you have not as much control over your body as before, so I am going to speak frankly with you. That is also why I know what you think: I am part of you”.

At those words Akira remained speechless, only to then start asking “What did you mean I have less control…” before his head started pulsing, making him collapse a bit on the floor, his breath accelerated, his hands and knees sweaty while they were trying to make him at least not collapse entirely on the ground. That was when he remembered: that morning he got up and then collapsed, then a servant came and… From there his memory was blurry, if not to say that he really hadn’t any memories from that point onward. While he was still fighting against the fatigue that those memories seemed to have exercised over his body, the voice continued talking.

“I am your conscience, your past, your mind… call me however you want, but I stand here representing only a handful of people that were important during your life”. Then, his voice started changing, becoming a male voice that Akira immediately recognised when he heard it “I am here to make you understand that it is time to get out of your shell of despair, out of your cave of isolation, so that you can be reborn and live the life people wanted you to live”. Then, its voice changed again, this time becoming a female voice that immediately gave Akira chills for how familiar it sounded “Those voices, the ones I am emulating, are the ones of those who perished because of you, of those who were close to you, of those who you segregated into your memory, only not to let them outside of it ever again”. Again, after finishing this sentence, the voice changed its voice, this time returning to his monotone one “I am here to let you free, to make you face your demons, but you have to want it: I am thou, so thou art I. I know you want to free yourself from these chains, but I cannot do that for you. I can only give you a push, but you have to be the one to do it”. Then, the voice shut itself up for a moment, during which Akira looked around the room after standing up again, looking another time for the source of that voice. That was when he noticed that one of the two chairs that were in the room was occupied by a person: a girl, to be more precise. In that moment, she turned towards him and, when Akira saw her face, some tears got out of his eyes, until a name came out of his mouth


Real Aire