Chapter 6:

Chapter 6: Masks of Melpomene and Thalia

Madman's Forgiveness

Chapter 6: “Masks of Melpomene and Thalia”

For Suika, it felt as though she had been reborn. The world she now found herself inhabiting was vastly different from her own. She had never seen anything like it. Just the architecture alone was enough to leave her speechless. The technological advances of modern society were far beyond anything her dated mind could even begin to comprehend.

She ultimately decided to accept Hiro’s offer due to multiple factors. The main one comes in the form of sympathy. Behind his sorrow filled eyes, she sensed something special in him. His words meant nothing to her, yet she couldn’t help but feel a connection.
“You seem like you’re having enough fun.”

He laughs mockingly at the way the girl held the sides of the television. Suika remained still, staring intently into the television screen at the still image of her home. It was as if she was caught in the middle of “baby's first existential crisis.” as Hiro would put it.
It baffled him how something as simple as a paused movie screen could leave someone so captivated.
He had to remember though that she wasn’t just some ordinary person. She had come from the realm of fiction. Her looking into the television was practically the equivalent of someone learning that their entire life was a lie. That no choice they made in life was ultimately their own. Kinda like The Truman Show. So in a weird way, he pitied her.

“I’m gonna see what the old man’s left in the fridge for dinner.”
“If ya need anything, just ask...okay?”

He states, waiting around a few seconds hoping that he’d get a response. When one didn’t come, he finally began to make his way out of the room. Hiro hoped that leaving her to her own devices would give her ample time to readjust. Aside from her being fictional, Suika also held the barrier of being from a different time period.

Yet, Suika didn’t seem to acknowledge him in the slightest. Rather, she was too lost in her own headspace. Although she didn’t seem it, she was letting her inner fangirl run wild.
“This is all so cool!”
She thought to herself, as she began to press random buttons. This inadvertently begins the process of cycling through different television channels. She’s amazed at what she’s saying. Every time she hits the buttons, she’s given a glimpse at “alternate worlds”. Some are tame, such as them being romance shows or even crime movies. She’s lucky to find more appealing ones however. Such as horror films and fantasy adventure series.

She stops when a certain channel catches her eye. More specifically, the image of what she sees on said channel. The channel in question is Hyōgo Prefecture’s own Sun TV. It was deemed as the most reliable news channel in the area by the locals. It would appear as though she tuned in during the middle of the broadcasting session. The reporter on screen was a woman no taller than 5’3 who looked to be in her mid to late thirties. She had light purple hair that had been styled so that while a majority of it was in a bun, her long bangs hung to the sides of her face. As she spoke, the glare of the light fixture above shined over her glasses making it so the viewers were unable to see her eyes.
“The collective nightmare from all those years ago may of only been the beginning”

“My name is Yua Takano..”
“And I am reporting to you live from Camp Gehenna.”

“What was once a peaceful retreat for children of all ages became a hunting ground.”
“With whomever entering it becoming potential prey.”

The screen cuts from her to show a miniature slideshow of places in the camp. Notably the library, the bonfire area, and the main counselor lodges.

“For years, rumors have spread throughout Hyōgo Prefecture of a man-made boogeyman.”
“That being former camp counselor Michael Kurosawa”
She notes as an image of a masked figure appears to the right hand side of the slideshow.
“Though we have nothing to confirm this.”
“We have 3d generated this image of what he may look like
based on reports we’ve received from locals in the Kobe area.”

Suika seems fascinated by this, but she dare not say a word. She still had no idea whether what she was watching was real or not after all. So she absent mindedly continued to absorb this newfound information.


“Come on.. Pick up.”
Hiro stammers impatiently as his phone is in the process of dialing up Kazuma. It seemed to take a while upon re-entering his reality, for his phone to finally regain signal. When it did, Hiro was surprised to see his notifications.
Kentaro and Kazuma had flooded his phone with messages of concern. The most recent texts sent were mainly from Kazuma’s phone number.
“Hey man, are you alright?”
“We tried stopping by your place but there was no response.” “Hit us up whenever ya can, we’re pretty worried about you bro.”

To Hiro’s surprise, according to his phone's system. Two weeks had passed during his time inside of the movie. To him however, it only felt like two days.
It was as if time acted independently inside of that realm. Not tied down to the logic of his own.
The date on his phone is now displayed as December 5th. The clock shows that it’s merely a quarter after six p.m.
From past conversations between the two, he knew that Kazuma should be free at this time of night. So while it took a total of four rings before his friend finally picked up. Hiro felt a strange sense of relief.
“Yo! Hiro!”
“Where the hell have you been man!”
“Me and Kenny have been looking all over for ya!”

Though his phrasing came off as aggressive. Kazuma was never the type of person to harbor any anger or malice toward someone without probable cause. So him coming out of his comfort zone, and raising his voice to Hiro spoke volumes.

“I don’t even know how to begin to tell you.”
Hiro states, trying to lower his tone. Looking over his shoulder, he stares into the hallway. The sound of the flickering of television channels catching his eye. More importantly, he had to make sure that his foster fathers bedroom door was closed.
“But there’s a reason I called you first and not Kentaro.”
This seemed to pique Kazuma’s interest. He seemed more attentive upon hearing this. Although Kentaro and Kazuma had sort of a rivalry going on. Even Kazuma would confide in Kentaro with serious topics. So he felt the fact that Hiro presented something like that to him meant it must have been a big deal. So he braced himself, ready to hear whatever.

“Jesus man..”
“This sounds really serious..”
“You never talk with me about stuff like this..”
“You sure you okay bud?”
“What’s all on your mind?”
Kazuma asks, the cracking open of a soda can bursting through Hiro’s phones speakers.

“Kazuma. If I tell you this, you’ve got to promise me you won’t think I’m crazy.”
Readying himself. Hiro exhales in a last ditch effort to calm his nerves before continuing.
“I..don’t know how it happened..”
“But while cleaning my foster father’s place I came across a box of VHS tapes.”
“I found this one movie called “The Melon Maiden’s prince.”
“I don’t know what I did to trigger this but…”
“I was transported into the world of the movie.”

There’s a brief delay in communication as they’re both waiting for any reaction from the other. When one doesn’t come, Kazuma ends up breaking the silence.
“I believe you.”
Hiro is taken aback by this.
“Wait really..?”
Hiro asks, genuinely confused at how quickly his friend sided with him. Truth be told, he was more than prepared to hear Kazuma lovingly roast him over the phone. Yet, said ridicule never came.
Instead, he was left with nothing but support.
“Am I not supposed to or something?”

“Look bro..”
“I don’t know the full story, but I do know one thing.”
“You would never purposely lie to me.”
“So I’m always gonna have 100% faith in you.”

Kazuma was right. Throughout their friendship, Hiro had been nothing but honest with him. He had no reason not to be. Though Kazuma was a mere year younger, Hiro looked up to him in a sense.
Knowing he couldn’t say much to contest this. He decided to just play it safe and go along with the punches. Worrying that if he were to say the wrong thing, his friend may start to doubt the legitimacy of his claims.

“Yeah well..”
“That’s not the full story anyways..”
“Just make sure that you and Kentaro come to the apartment as soon as possible.”
“There’s too much to talk about, and quite frankly...”
“Unloading it all over the phone won’t do it justice.”

With a sigh, Kazuma agrees with this sentiment, taking a sip from his soda.
“Yeah whatever man.”
“May have a bit of trouble getting Ken to come over though.”
“His sister and her fiance decided to come stay with us for the holidays.”
“I’m gonna still try my best though.”

With a click, the phone call ends.

Two hours have passed since Hiro last checked on Suika. The theme song to a show that he’d yet to finish could be heard throughout the house, originating from his foster fathers room. While he despised romantic comedies, he found a guilty pleasure in certain anime’s. The series in question was named “Madman’s Forgiveness.” On the surface it wasn’t anything that hadn’t been done before. It is mainly about how two lovers who despite the world literally falling apart around them, find solace in each other. The main character is a yakuza type with a heart of gold and his love interest, a former idol with a dark past.
By the sad piano rendition of the ending theme he heard. He could tell that Suika had the unfortunate odds of tuning into the saddest episode he’d seen of it. That episode in question being the season 1 finale, ironically entitled “The Divine Comedy”

“Hey Suika”
“You doing okay-”
He asked as he gently opened the door. To his utter shock, she was standing before him modeling the same exact outfit the idol had worn during that episode in front of a mirror. With this transformation, she was almost unrecognizable. The key word here is almost. Despite stealing their fashion sense, she added her own little flair to the outfit. She wore a dark green plaid pinafore dress with a pink wool sweater underneath it to match her aesthetic. The sweater was dotted with these black dots that had been crudely etched into it to represent watermelon seeds. Her hair had also seemed to receive an upgrade. It now resembled that of a fringed pixie cut, similar to the style you’d see Jennifer Lawrence wearing.

She looked absolutely stunning. It had gotten to the point that Hiro just couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He was oblivious to the girl's face beginning to flush with embarrassment. However, the longer he stared. The more he began to realize the fault in his actions. She wasn’t expecting him to just walk into the room like that. Sure he warned her, but did it really count if he did so while already in the process of entering?
She tried her best to hide her embarrassment, looking away from him.
Though she spoke softly, her voice still came out shakey.
“I uh..”
“I saw someone wearing this inside of that box thing and I thought it’d look cute on me..”

Grabbing the ends of her dress, Suika nervously stepped forward; performing a curtsy.

It was strange. The previous nights he had watched her take down bloodthirsty creatures. Now though, she was allowing him to see her more vulnerable side. An evil thought formed in Hiros mind that he knew he had to act on, lest he lose the opportunity to tease her again in the future.

“Hmm… I’m not so sure about that one.”
He took a moment to size her up, doing a chin rubbing gesture to signify that he was deep in thought. A distraught look began to form on Suikas face as he continued this little act. She was unsure how to feel at this moment. Should she be upset? Angry even?
“Y-you can’t be serious right..?”
I picked this outfit out because I thought it was close to my old one!”
“Why do you think you have the right to just shit on it for no reason!”

Her emotions quickly shifted into that of confusion the moment Hiro placed his palm against the top of her head.
Patting her head lightly, he offered her a smile.
“I never said anything was wrong with it did I?”
“If so, I apologize”
“All I said was that you weren’t cute.”
“I never said you weren’t beautiful.”
Her face once again begins to glow a reddish hue as Hiro begins to move his face closer to hers. Before they can solidify a kiss however, the doorbell rings.

“Oh that must be Kazuma and co.”
He tells her as he pulls back, beginning to make his way toward the main hallway. Leaving Suika to just stand there speechless, lost in thought; and rubbing the top of her head. Hiro didn’t know it, but something as simple as a head-pat had seemingly awakened something in her.
As he’s approaching the door, he can’t help but get annoyed at how the knocking has yet to come to an end. This was always something Kazuma would do to try and stand out. Making up new knocking patterns everytime he wanted to enter the apartment so that Hiro would “recognize” him. This quirk had first formed when they all went to Camp together. Hiro regretfully remembered how this only started in the first place because of his own fears. Refusing to let anyone inside of his cabin unless they’d make a unique musical pattern on the oak wood door. This being the event that eventually strengthened their friendship.

“Kazuma bro, you know I love you but..”
Turning the door handle, Hiro begins to shout as he slams it open.
“You’re so goddamn annoyin-”
Hiro’s face turned white. For a coward, this was the first time in his life he could ever say he’d felt something akin to true unadulterated fear. There before him was a group of five people. Two notable faces being Kentaro and Kazuma, standing surprisingly near the back. Kazuma seemed to be saying something to Hiro, but Hiro just couldn’t bring himself to comprehend anything other than the person at the very front.
In front of him with their right arm still raised ever so slightly, was a smiling woman. She appeared to be no taller than 5’5. She wore a pastel pink backpack, a sky blue wool sweater, knee-high white socks, and a beige ruffle hem skirt.
She wore a bob hairstyle and her hair shined a natural orange pigment. There was no doubt about it. The woman standing before him was Suzume.

“Hey Hiro!”
“Did’ya miss me?”

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