Chapter 18:

Chatting At the Dining Table

The Gallery

“Hey! Daisuke!” I heard a voice coming from somewhere in the bedroom.

“Huh? Who’s there?” I said and turned to the voice to find Mori coming out of under the bed.

“Mori!?” I said, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah…” He replied, “I was hiding under the bed while all the commotions were happening.”

“I’m glad to see that you're still okay, Daisuke!” Mori said.

“Yeah…” I responded, “I’m glad you’re okay too.”

“It must’ve been rough for you, right?” Mori said, “Staying down there for so long.”

“It’s kinda was, haha.” I replied a little awkwardly, “Oh! By the way, I found your diary while being there too, but I couldn’t bring it up with me.”

“Diary?” He asked, “What are you talking about?”

“The diary you've had?” I answered, baffled and confused, “Can’t you remember?”

“I don’t remember that at all, Daisuke.” Mori replied, “What’s it's like?”

“It’s the diary you bought from outside of the mansion?” I said, “When you were a kid.”

“But I never went outside,” He responded, “And I never was a kid as well.”

“Are you okay? Daisuke.” Mori asked me.

“But I swear that diary has your name on it,” I told Mori, “It said ‘Axel’ on the cover.”

“Look, Daisuke. I don’t know what you actually found down there, but that’s not mine! I’ve never written any diary before.”

“Then, is there any other Axel you know?” I asked Mori and he said that there is only one “Axel”. I was getting more and more confused and concerned, then I remembered the lavender in the box that contained the wedding rings.

“Can you… maybe create a lavender?” I asked Mori. His face showed that he was confused and concerned as well.

“Uhh… What do you even mean by that?” He asked me back.

“Like how Hanako can create lilacs!” I said, “Can you do something like that? But with lavenders instead.”

“But I’m not a human, Daisuke.” Said Mori, “I was created from oil paint, so wouldn’t be able to make something like that.”

“Uhh… When were you created?” I asked Mori. Since that diary was fairly old, maybe there was another Axel that’s gone even before Mori was created.

“I can’t really tell the time,” Mori replied, “But I remember the place that I was created.”

“It was in the office!”


But I didn’t find any office in the basement at all.

“Was it in the basement, or was it up here?” I asked Mori. Something didn't add up for me.

“There’s an office in the basement too?” Mori replied, “Well, I must have been too young for that then.”

“Could it be that you were just too young to remember yourself writing that diary?” I asked Mori, “Like you said, maybe you were just too young.”

“No, Daisuke. I’m pretty sure that I was created up here,” He replied, “I’ve never even been down there before.”

“Well, never mind then,” I told Mori, “I’m not gonna bother you with that anymore.”

“Don’t worry, Daisuke. I know that thing was hard down there.” Mori tried to comfort me, “Say, wanna go downstairs and eat food together?”

“I’d love to!” I said, “You won’t believe what I have to eat down there.”

“Can you tell me?” Asked Mori, “Was it that bad?”

“It was very disgusting, Mori.” I said, “What I have to eat was basically the oil monster’s puke.”

“W- What?” Mori replied while nervously laughing, “Well, let’s go eat some better food now.”

“Don’t we wanna wait for Hanako and Victoria first?” I asked Mori, “They still haven’t come back yet.”

“They already ate not too long ago, actually.” He answered, “We can just go and eat on our own.”

“Have you eaten?” I asked Mori.

“You forgot it already?” Mori responded, "I don’t eat those kinds of foods, Daisuke. They’re made from oil!”

“Oh! Yeah! I totally forgot about that.” I responded, “Uh… quick question: Do you know where the food came from?”

“Well, I don’t really need to know that,” He replied, “So, no.”

“Oh, ok.” I responded.

We then headed to the dining room, where I could finally enjoy proper food on the table for the first time in a while.

I was so glad that I didn’t have to eat disgusting and cold food from the floor anymore.

“So What are you gonna do next?” Mori asked me while I was eating. He doesn’t eat this sort of “human food”, so he just sat there on the chair next to me and watched me eat.

“I have to find a way to go back home somehow.” I answered Mori, “But the more I know about this place, the harder it seemed.”

“Uhh… Can you stop eating first?” Said Mori, “I didn’t really understand what you just said, because you keep stuffing food into your mouth.”

“Well, I just missed this food so much.” I replied, then I stopped eating briefly to explain to Mori that I basically have no idea what I’m going to do next.

“If you don’t know what to do, maybe you should just stay here?” Said Mori, “ Having you around is pretty fun!”

“I really can’t do that…” I told Mori, “I have my own family to go back to, ya’ know?”

“That’s… understandable.” Mori said, “But you’re free to change your mind any time, though!”

“Thank you, I suppose.” I said.

I finished the rest of the food on my plate, and was about to leave the dining room, when suddenly, the dining room’s door got pried open and I saw Hanako walked in from the corridor.

“Daisuke! I found you!” Shouted Hanako. She was just as energetic as ever. Seeing her like this sort of reminded me of the time in the Garden. Oh, how naive and clueless I was back then.

“How did you know that I’m here?” I asked Hanako, “And what about the oil monsters that were chasing you and your mom earlier?”

“Mom told me that you’ll probably be here,” She said, “And she’s right! She also took care of those monsters already.”

“Wait, how?” I asked her. “If she could kill the monsters, then why did you guys ran away.”

“She lured them into the fireplace in the living room,” She said, “That’s why she had to run away.”

“But we didn’t see you on our way here at all.” I told her.

“And just how many living rooms exist here in the Gallery?” Hanako giggled and replied snakily, “We just ran to another living room, silly.”

Despite everything that happened so far, having a casual conversation with them just felt a little bit warm and reassuring. I really want to go home, but maybe I could just chill here a little longer?”

Hanako closed the door and walked up to the dining table, then she sat on the chair next to me. She grabbed a teapot from the table and proceeded to pour me a hot cup of tea, then she poured one for herself as well.

“Here! Have some tea.” She said, “You probably haven’t drank hot tea for a while, right?”

“Aw, I kinda want something to drink as well.” Mori said, “I won’t drink oil like you guys, though.”

“I can get something for you! Mori.” Hanako told Mori, “I’ll be right back! You two wait right here.”

Hanako got up and left the dining room. I took a sip from the teacup and talked a bit with Mori.

“Oh, yeah, Mori.” I said, “Back in the Pine Forest, why did you bring the food in there if you couldn’t eat it?”

“Well… Those foods weren’t meant for me,” Mori replied, “They were actually meant for you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “You brought the food into the Pine Forest… just for me?”

“Well, Yeah!” Mori replied, “Victoria wanted me to give you a little help so that you didn’t die.”

“Oh… Well, what about that cage then?” I continued asking Mori. This is the first time I actually got to sit down and talked to Mori and Hanako normally. I have so many questions I wanted to ask them right now.

“The cage?” Mori said, “Oh! That cage! Well, Obviously, Victoria put that on me.”

“Why would she do that to you?” I asked, “Those looked painful.”

“Well… It was kinda painful…” Mori responded, “But remember, I am just an oil paint, I wasn’t an actual wolf!”

“But… you can still feel pain, right?” I asked Mori. “Because you looked really uncomfortable back then.”

“It did hurt me a bit.” Mori said, “But you don’t have to worry about me, Daisuke!”

“Well, if you say so…” I said.

Suddenly, the dining room door opened and Hanako walked back in with another teapot.

“Here it is, for you! Mori!” Hanako told Mori, “Sorry for the wait!”

Hanako then proceeded to pour something that seemed a little too thick to be tea into a cup and gave it to Mori. He began drinking it immediately and he seemed incredibly happy with it.

“What’s that?” I asked Hanako, “That doesn’t look like tea at all.”

“Of course! It’s not tea!” Hanako replied, “It’s a mixture of meat, milk, and some other stuff too.”

“Uhh… can I ask what sort of meat was in there?” I asked Hanako.

“Oh, it’s a bunch of things mixing together,” She replied.

“Was there perhaps any human meat in there?“ I asked her. Given my previous encounters, like with that spider and stuff, the easiest meat to get would be human meat.

“No! There’s no human meat in here!!” She quickly replied, “I’m a human too, you know? I would be able to handle being near human meat either.”

“I guess you're right.” I said, “So this is just from animal meat, right? Where did you get this meat?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Hanako said, “I think it’s from the outside, but only mom could go outside, though.”

“The outside, huh?” I said, “How does Victoria get outside?”

If I was correct, the outside of the Gallery should be an endless ocean of oil, so where are all this meat came from? Is there another “outside” where animals exist?

Comes to think of it, where did these people come from anyway? It’s not like this is their world. There aren’t any other people here aside from this family and people from my world who accidentally stumbled into this place.

Did they come from my world? Then what about all this painting stuff then? How do these people have supernatural power in here?

“How do Victoria get out of here?” I asked Hanako, “Is there some kind of a door somewhere?”

“Well, yeah.” Hanako responded, “She uses the front door, I think.”

“What? There’s a front door?” I asked while being extremely confused, “Where even is that?”

“It’s very far away,” Hanako said, “Mom usually had to move the door closer to her before she can go outside.”

“Hmm… interesting…” I said, “Have you ever seen what the outside looks like?”

“Of course!” She replied in excitement, “There are big gray buildings everywhere, and moving cars and all those weird stuff—so exciting!!”

“Huh? That’s not at all how I remembered it.” I told her, “Shouldn’t it be the ocean?”

“Ocean? Wait! Have you been to the outside before?” She asked me, “How did you get there?”

She seemed even more excited and energetic than before. It looked like she really wants to go outside for once in her life.

But based on what she saw outside. Big building? Moving cars? Isn’t that just my world then? Did Victoria just occasionally went into my world to buy groceries? That can’t be true, right?

“I saw the outside while I was in the basement,” I replied, “But what I saw was just an endless ocean, with no land at all.”

“That’s… weird.” She said, “How could there be outside in the basement? Isn’t it supposed to be underground?”

Huh? Hanako didn’t know the origin of the basement? It seemed like she didn’t remember anything down there at all.

So she probably doesn’t know about the problem between Dexter and Hanako either, but I’ll ask her anyway just in case.

“Hey, Hanako.” I called her, “Do you know a guy named Dexter?”

“Dexter? No?” She answered, “I haven’t heard of that name at all, not even once.”

All of the sudden, the dining room door swung open and Victoria was there.

“What are you guys doing?” She asked with a smile on her face, except, the smile didn’t look genuine at all. Clearly, she just didn’t want me to talk about Dexter to Hanako.

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Victoria deleted Hanako’s memory of the basement using that sketchbook.

“Mom! We were just having a little chat!” Hanako told her mom, “Do you need anything?”

“Oh, no, no, honey.” Victoria replied, “I just wondered if anything happened, since you guys took such a long time eating.”

“Well, I’ll go back to my office, then.” Victoria continued, “you guys can talk however you want!”

She then closed the door back up. If she didn’t want me to talk about him that bad, I won’t mention him to Hanako.

It’s probably for the better anyway, at least for now.