Chapter 20:

The Plan

The Gallery

She painted something into the painting again, then all of a sudden, three paintings with gold frames appeared on the wall. Those paintings depicted the Garden, the Pine Forest, and the painting of my world.

She then left my bedroom. I was still lying in my bed and it was so comfortable that I fell asleep almost immediately after Victoria left.

Then I heard a faint sound coming from somewhere. It got louder and louder, and eventually, it woke me up. I opened my eyes a little and saw Hanako.

“Hey! Hey! Daisuke! Wake up already!!” Hanako shouted while standing next to the bed. “You’ve been sleeping for sooo long now!”

“Huh?” I asked while getting up, “What time is it now?”

“You’ve been sleeping so long,” She said, “It’s already the next day’s morning now

“What?” I told her, “Well, I can’t help it, this bed was so comfortable.”

“Yeah! Right?” She said, “Let’s go eat breakfast together!”

We walked out of my bedroom, and met up with Mori and Victoria before we went to the dining room downstairs.

I had some French toast and some tea for breakfast, then I headed back to my room, stopping at the office on the way there to check up on the source’s painting.

It got quite a lot darker from the last time I checked it. If I have to guess, It would be less than a week before the source could manage to escape. I have to find a way to destroy it somehow.

I got back into my room and got the idea to go into the paintings of the Pine Forest and the Garden, but then Hanako walked in.

“Hey, Daisuke!” She called me, “What are gonna do next?”

“Well, I wanna visit the Garden for a bit.” I told her.

“Why?” She asked, “Is there anything you wanna see?”

“I just miss the place, I guessed.” I replied, “Wanna go in there together?”

“Oh, sure!” Hanako responded, “I haven’t gone there in a while as well.”

“I thought you like to be there.” I told her, “Why haven’t you gone there?”

“Well, it’s because there are monsters in there now.” She said, “It’s scary…”

“Oh…” I responded, “That’s right…”

We hopped into the Garden painting and landed right under the tree to find a familiar sight, which of course, was the field of oil monster statues.

“It's still as terrifying as before, huh?” I told Hanako, “I wonder if there’s actually a way to get rid of them.”

“Or we could just create a new Garden.” Said Hanako, who stood behind the tree, she was trying to stay as far away from the statues as possible, “Mom would do it for us if we ask.”

“Even if we create a new one, it wouldn’t be the same, ya’ know?” I replied to her, “This Garden holds a lot of memories between us.”

“Hmm, you’re right, I guess,” She said.

Hanako laid down under the tree and I continued to stare at the monster statues for a bit.

“Maybe Mori can turn the source into a statue just like them?” I thought to myself, while slowly pacing closer and closer to the statues.

I observed the statues really closely and saw that these statues were actually almost identical to the oil monsters in the basement.

So could Mori’s fire work on them?

And could it work on the source as well?

Both Hanako and I chilled under the tree for quite a long while. I couldn’t tell what Hanako was thinking, if she thought about anything at all, that is.

But that whole time, I was brainstorming ideas to defeat the source. I don’t even know if Mori’s fire would work on it. And even if it does work, what if the source just slipped away like how it did back in the basement?

Eventually, Hanako got bored and wanted to leave the Garden, so we came out of the painting. We then left my room and went into Hanako and Victoria’s bedroom.

“Oh, Victoria fixed that hole already?” I asked Hanako, referring to the hole in the floor that Victoria made to pull back up here.

“Yeah, the first time that I came back here from the dining room, it was already fixed.” Hanako answered, “Did you forget something down there?”

“Not really…” I replied, “Victoria is in her office, right? I wanna talk to her a little bit.”

“Ummm, yeah?” She responded, “But I’m not sure if mom locked the door or not.”

“Well, I’ll pay her a visit a bit then.” I said to Hanako before I left the bedroom.

I turned the doorknob on the office door and it was actually locked, so I resorted to knocking on the door.

“Mom’s a little busy right now! Violet!” She said very gently, very different than how she usually talks to me, “Wait for me in the bedroom, okay? Honey, I’ll be there in a bit!”

“This is Daisuke, actually,” I told her, “I wanna talk about the source for a bit.”

“Oh, Daisuke,” She replied. Her voice turned into a more cold and stern one as soon as she heard my voice, “Where’s Hanako?”

“She’s in the bedroom,” I replied, “I told her to wait there.”

“Hmm… Okay…” Victoria said, then the bedroom door behind me suddenly locked itself. The office door opened ajar.

“Come in.” Victoria said, so I walked in and the door slammed shut and locked itself as soon as I made it through. I looked at Victoria as she placed the Gallery painting back on her easel. She seemed extremely concerned and nervous.

“Are you… Okay?” I asked her, “You seem nervous.”

“Not really…” She responded, “Look at that.”

She pointed at the wall, where we hang the source’s painting. I turned to the wall and was surprised to find that the canvas has gotten significantly darker than before. The speed that the hue changes seems to be accelerating as well.

At this point, the source might be able to escape tomorrow, maybe even today.

“Do you have any plan?” I asked her, “It’s getting really close now.”

“I’ll trap it in a new canvas,” She replied, “But I have to be quick.”

“And what are you gonna do after that?” I continued asking her, “Are you just gonna trap it in another canvas forever?”

“I’ll figure it out later,” She said, “But if I couldn’t think of anything, then I’ll have to trap it forever as you said.”

“Well, I have a plan as well.” I told her.

“Hm? What’s your plan?” She asked me. She seemed intrigued, her face was slightly less concerned.

“We’ll put the painting in the basement,” I said, “And as soon as the source escape, we’ll have Mori burn it down, along with the entirety of the basement and the monsters under there.”

“Interesting…” She said, “But does that mean…”

“Yes, you have to let Dexter back into the Gallery.” I cut her off.

She stood in silence, pondering something for a while.

“Fine,” She said, “But he will not be allowed on to this floor.”

“Whatever,” I told her, “As soon as the source is destroyed, I’m just gonna go home anyway.”

“That’s the plan then,” She said, “But how are we going to do it?”

“You’ll have to open up the floor,” I told her, “Just like what you did to pull me up from the basement.”

“We’ll leave the painting down there, and we’ll leave the hole open, then Mori will burn the painting from up here.”

“Let’s do it then,” She said, then she painted something in the painting and a big hole appeared in the middle of the office. I stared down into the hole and it stretched all the way down into the first floor of the basement.

“You gonna be the one who go and sort things out down there, alright?” She asked me, “Because I’ll never step foot near the basement.”

“That’s fine by me,” I told her, “But can I go get my lantern first?”

“Yeah, sure.” She replied.

I went into my room to get the lantern. I put Hanako’s lilac in there, then I went back into the office and took the painting down from the wall.

“I think I’m ready…” I told her, “Send me down there!”

“Good luck.” She said as I started to levitate, then she dropped me down into the hole. I fall straight down before slowing down and landed gently on the basement floor.

I was hit with the smell of old rotten oil right away, even though I got used to it before, haven’t smell it in a while made me feel sick.

I put the painting down on the floor, right in the middle of the hole, then I walked toward the spiral staircase and find that it was still blocked and I couldn’t take the stairs down, so I walked in the opposite direction hoping to find a certain someone that could get me down to where Dexter is, which is all the way on the bottom floor of the basement.

I walked deeper and deeper down the corridor, but I still couldn’t find him, it got me worried a little bit, so I started calling for him.

“Sora!” I shouted into the corridor. My voice echoed throughout the floor and eventually, it faded away.

Then suddenly, I saw something looming over the horizon. It got closer and closer, until eventually, it got close enough that I could see what it was.

And it was indeed Sora. He flew right at me and stopped in front of me.

“Sora! Sora! Sora!” He said. He seemed incredibly excited and ecstatic to see me there. I guessed it must have been pretty lonely being down here alone.

I hugged him, his feathers were soft and comfortable, and they tickle me a little bit.

“I’m back! Sora!” I told him, “You’ll get to go up there and see Violet now!”

Sora seemed even more excited than before, he started jumping around cheerfully in a circle.

“But first, can you carry me somewhere again?” I asked Sora, “Then after that, we’ll go back up together.”

“Violet!” Sora said, then he lowered his body and turned his back toward me, gestured me to get up on his back.

“Thank you! Sora,” I said, “Remember the room that you carry me to last time? Yeah… I need to go there again.”

So I hopped on Sora’s back right away, he spread his wings, before taking off, then he zoomed down the corridor really fast. This was definitely a lot faster than the first time. I guessed Sora must be really excited.

Not too long after, I saw the light coming from the horizon. We were about to make it to the outside again.

The outside was as beautiful and magnificent as ever. I really do miss this realistic sun that kept me sane while I was stuck in the basement.

We flew downward toward Dexter’s bedroom, then Sora perched on the balcony of the room.

“Wait here, Sora!” I said, “I need you to carry me and that guy back up there.”

Then I walked into the bedroom and found Dexter sleeping on the bed.

I approached him to wake him up and saw the family stuff that I found in the old dining room far far away on the bed.

Is he sleeping with all this stuff?

It’s just that important to him, I supposed.

“Hey! Dexter!” I called him, “Wake up!!”

He didn’t get up, so I continued screaming at him for a bit more, but I got no response whatsoever, so I started shaking his body.

“H- H- Huh? D- Daisuke?” He finally replied, but he seemed really weak and his voice was very raspy as well. It looked to me like he hasn’t been eating or drinking anything for at least a few days.

Is he okay?

Why did this happen?