Chapter 23:

The Missing Pieces Of A Mad Puzzle

The Door to a Bittersweet Ending

After having lifted up his face, Akira was bewildered by what his eyes showed him: in front of him stayed Leon, a gun in his hand, a somewhat morbid smile on his lips that made no feeling of sympathy came out of it. Moreover, he was pointing his gun against him, like he was his hostage. Akira didn’t understand: why? How could he kill Samai? And how did he made a gun in a world that had no knowledge about those weapons? His eyes probably gave off the surprise he felt for that spectacle, because Leon laughed when he saw his face.

“Come on, why are you so surprised? This isn’t the first time something unexpected happened to you, no? In any case, get up: we have to talk”.

“You bastard…” murmured Akira between his teeth, a homicidal look on his face. Then, he looked straight into Leon’s eyes and said, in a cold way, “Why?! Why did you kill Samai?! WHY?! …You expect me to talk to you? That’s BS, you know? Why should I? If anything, I should send you to hell without even having to think about it”.

However, when he said that, Leon’s eyes showed something Akira didn’t expect to see in them: excitement, pleasure, and, most importantly, a morbid feeling that made Leon seem like he wasn’t sane at all in his mind.

“Oh, Akira, the answer to your question is really simple: I just wanted to see you suffer”.

He wanted to make him suffer? What the hell was Leon talking about? Before replying, Akira looked around the room: Priscilla was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she ventured way further in the house to look for the fire he asked her, and, if that was the case, that was a good thing: the situation he was in was a dangerous one, he was sure of that, and he didn’t want to also put Priscilla in danger. In that moment, Leon seemed to him like a loose cannon, capable of killing anyone that didn’t serve to the mad project his mind seemed to have. Continuing looking into his eyes, Akira replied to him.

“Why the hell should you want to make me suffer? Plus, you haven’t even answered to any of my questions: why should I listen to you, instead of killing you right on the spot?”

“Well, first, because I have a gun. And, secondly, because I can fill your missing puzzle with some important pieces that are missing”.

Akira kind of agreed with the first one – not that he hadn’t been in situations like that before, but it was always better to be careful around a gun -, but it was the second one that tilted his interest, even in his bitter cold rage.

“So, what, are you going to do the normal antagonist monologue where he reveals all of his plan to the protagonist? You know that it is a bit clichéd, right?”

“And do you know that I do not fucking care about it? I am here, ready to give you info, and you are playing hard to get? What a bummer: I thought we were on the same wave length”.

“Tsk, me and you, on the same wave length? Don’t make me laugh” replied Akira, laughing in a cold way, just to make fun of the guy in front of him. However, what he heard as a reply made him froze on the spot.

“You think? But, you see, our pasts are really similar: we had difficult situations, we tried to get out of them in a way and then we lost someone important that made our life change”.

“…What do you mean with that?” asked coldly Akira. He never told him something about his past, so how could he knew something? Unless…

Before he could say anything, Leon laughed again and looked in his eyes with a crazy look that somewhat emitted also a feeling of full lucidity, like his madness helped him really understand what there was near him.

“Oh, Akira, Akira… you never asked yourself why you were here, why someone chose you to be teleported into a new world? I’m sure you did, you are intelligent, I know that: still, you probably didn’t arrive to an answer, because you have no base on which to try and construct a hypothesis. I know why you were summoned here, and your story is strongly entangled with mine. We are both pawns of the same person, only that I accepted that with joy, while you don’t even know in what you are involved”.

Akira felt like a spear pierced his heart: so there were people in the shadows that already decided what should have happened? Seeing him bewildered, Leon continued talking, a big mad smile on his face.

“You see, the things I said to you, when I talked about my past… were a bit far-fetched, to say the least. Sure, there was something true in them, but I didn’t tell you what really happened. Do you want to listen?”

“And if I don’t want to, also considering that this building is burning down, what, are you going to kill me?” asked Akira, a sarcastic smile on his face

“Oh, trust me, I would like to do that with all of my heart, but I have strict orders: I have to let you live, even though I can think that I can break them, if I want…”

He had orders? The more Akira heard, the more confused he was. At that point, he had to decide whether to listen to his deranged story or try and kill him right now, avoiding his madness. Still, if he could at least shed some light on a few doubts he had, he was willing to hear him: after all, Akira would have tried to kill him even if he listened to his story. Like hell Samai’s murderer was going to live another second of his life. If, when Makoto died, he was lost, because he didn’t know who did that, now, having the murderer right in front of him, he was lucid, ready to act whenever an opportunity arose.

“*sigh* All right, guess I have no choice” replied Akira, an annoyed and angry look on his face, “I guess I will listen to you: for the time being, at least”.

“I had no doubts you would have chosen the best course of action. Oh, and don’t worry about the fire: we won’t be touched by it, trust me” replied Leon, before starting to tell his real story.

“You see, I am really French, I was really a 36-year-old man and my name is the one I said to you. However, there is a lot of info I left out. I said that I was an engineer, but I never specified where: I worked in the weapon industry. Hence why I can construct guns: I have their structure perfectly in my mind. I know what materials to use, what to do… It was really easy to build a gun here. The right contacts, the right materials, and I created this little jewel you see in my hand. I was also a genius back in France, not only here: always top marks, always the best in anything, a beautiful wife… But, unfortunately, people around me were envious of me: they made other people pass in front of me for promotions, they relegated me to stupid jobs that even someone with no brain could have done and they bossed me around. You know what it means to have a boss more incompetent than you, but you have to follow what he says because he is the boss and all of that bullshit? I know: it is pain. At least I had my wife, who knew about my genius and my greatness. However, even she betrayed me: one day, I returned home early from work, and guess what I saw? My wife… with another man… in my bed… in my house… Until that moment, I sustained frustration, hate, and all of that, just because I knew that someone in that world recognized me as a superior entity. But, when I saw her in that room, moaning with pleasure with that man… I lost control. I felt betrayed, and all of the emotions I kept inside, all of them, blew up in a moment. I went to my studio, picked my gun, entered the room and killed them. But not on the spot: I made sure that they suffered, before they encountered the creator. And, when I saw the fear in their eyes, the pain and sufferance, you know what I felt? I felt pleasure: that activity gave me even more pleasure than my work did, than sex did, than everything I have ever done in my life did. You see, that was also because there is a feeling that I have never felt in my entire life: regret. I felt like, as I was the best, everything was to be mine and everyone had to obey me, so I never felt regret for anything I did: I felt like I was always in the right, so, even if I did something criminal, I would have said it was right because I did it. And, when I felt the pleasure, the excitement that killing gave me, I knew that I was addicted to that drug. I remember that, after the homicide, I observed their corpses with great interest, especially that of my wife: it seemed to me like she was more beautiful in that moment than when she was alive. Still, I had to dispose of them: there is no crime if there are no proofs, right? I had a friend, or more like a submissive acquaintance, that worked in the town crematory: I made him give me the keys, and then I burnt the bodies. Watching them burn through the flames was a great experience, more entertaining than any movie I have ever watched in my life. I made sure that it looked like my wife abandoned me, so that no one would have suspected anything about her sudden disappearance. From there, it was impossible for me to stop: I worked during the day in the weapon factory and, during the night, I would go out, pick up a random girl –sometimes even males, if I was in the mood -, and then kill them. At first, I burnt their bodies, but then I felt like that was a waste of my work: if at first that was only a way to vent up stress, now I thought of that as a work of art. So, one day, I killed another victim and, instead of burning it, I simply engraved on her body a symbol: it served to make her my property and at the same time to certify that it was one of my art pieces. However, that was when I started becoming too much greedy, even for a genius like me. By doing that, I had another problem: I had to drop the corpse somewhere, which meant more risks for me, and the police would have got to know about my existence. Still, I did it: it was unbearable for me that my genius wasn’t going to be shown to the masses. The police started investigating and the journalists even gave me a name: the Possessor. Not a great name, but it was the right one for what I was doing, so I can’t blame their lack of fantasy. Still, after a bit the police started investigating, I was sent to Denmark for work. You would think that I stopped doing my secondary work in that lass of time, right? Oh how wrong you would be. I continued, and probably that was the moment where I signed my death warrant: seeing the same crime happening in another country, the police of the two countries united and searched for French people that were in Denmark when that happened. That was when I was first interrogated by the police: I succeeded in making their suspicions drop, but that meant that I had been too careless. However, at that time, I didn’t care anymore: all I wanted to do was feeling that pleasure again, seeing the sufferance on their face while life was slowly abandoning them. To assert my dominance on the police, I killed one of them, a young girl who just entered into the police. That was when the police started putting all of its forces in that case, and I knew I wasn’t going to survive. At the end, I don’t know how, they succeeded in conducing all the crimes back to me. Remember when I said that I was killed by a criminal? Well… it was the other way around. I, the criminal, was killed by the police after a rather long chase: I was surrounded by policemen and I pointed my gun towards one of them, in a desperate attempt to survive, only to be pierced by I don’t know how many bullets. That’s where everything should have ended, right? The bad guy was defeated and the good ones are victorious, right?”

After that phrase, Leon laughed insatiably, as if he was entertained by how things turned out.

“Oh, man, how much they were wrong. I was also thinking that everything had ended, that I was going to die, but, after closing my eyes, I woke up in a calm field, with a clear sky, and, before me, a lonely female figure. You know who that was, Akira? “Ealaìn E Builè” you would reply, right?”

He waited for Akira’s answer, which however never came, then bluntly told him who that person was.

“Before me stayed not the one I told you, but Meilìs. Exactly, the same Meilìs you encountered when you woke up in the cave. And you know why she summoned me here? Because she saw my thirst for sufferance, for pain, and so she offered me a deal: I would have served her as a loyal minion and, in exchange, she would have made me be able to live the life I wanted, to do whatever I wanted, to have the life a genius like me should have had. It was obvious what my choice would have been. So, she made me reincarnate in a child and from there on the story is like I told you, except for a thing. The assassins you saw in this house, including the one that you encountered in the garden… all of them were person with whom I had a relationship in my life: they all accepted to submit themselves to me. How, you ask? Because of Meilìs power: you saw them yourselves, no? Meilìs is a powerful being, and she gave me the power to make weak people submit to my will. I used them like I wanted, and thus I created a little… cult, let’s call it like that. The assassin that told you about your past was one of the best: however, she was also slowly starting to beat Meilìs power, so I had to dispose of her. As you may have presumed now, that action wasn’t an assassination aimed at Priscilla: she was just a decoy for you, for bringing up your past, for making you feel pain again”.

“But why? Why do you want to make me suffer so much?” asked Akira, lashing out at that pain reference, because he felt like there was no motive to do that.

“Why? Because Meilìs asked me”.

“Meilìs asked you to make me suffer?”

“Exactly: now it’s time we talk about you, Akira. When you arrived here, Meilìs came and visited me. She told me everything about your past, and asked me, for the first time since I arrived here, to act like her minion: I had to make you suffer, but not to kill you in the process. And you know why, Akira? Because you are her pet, she wants to play with you: she will do as she pleases with you, until she will consider you useless. When that time comes, she will discard you in the most painful way possible. She enjoys watching people struggle, go deeper and deeper into despair and slowly die inside, becoming empty shells. She may be a god, like she says, but, inside her, she is just like me: a psycho. What, you though I considered myself sane? Come on, it’s obvious that I am crazy: but that is also what allows me to see things more clearly than others”.

“But there is a thing that I do not understand” started saying Akira, his voice a mixture of rage, fear and coldness, “If she wanted to make me suffer, why did she give me another chance in life? Why did she give me the opportunity to live again, instead of, I don’t know, keep me in a dark room and torture me like she wanted?”

“Oh, that’s really simple: would you suffer more if you stayed in a continuous hell or if you had the possibility to live in heaven for a day, only to return forever to hell the next one?”

Akira couldn’t reply anything to that question, as it was obvious what the answer was. Then, silence fell between the two, while Akira was looking into Leon’s eyes with ones of ice and the other was looking at him with mad and lively eyes.

“Now do you understand why we are similar? We both lost our humanity at some point of our life, after having passed difficult moments: the moment I lost my wife is just like the moment you lost Makoto. I’m sure that, if we had met under different circumstances, we would have been friends: after all, we both killed, we both had difficulties. People like us can understand each other”.

“... You really think that, seriously?” After muttering that phrase, he looked at him straight in the eyes and, with a visible rage in his voice, replied to that provocation. “You are just giving yourself false hopes by saying that: we could never be friends, because we are not similar, I can’t and I will never understand people like you. And do. Not. Compare. My. Makoto. To that cheating wife of yours: she probably never loved you, if she cheated on you, while Makoto really loved me. You killed because you liked it: I killed because of vengeance. We aren’t similar: we may have passed both difficult periods, but we faced them in different ways. Me? I faced them and tried to win over them, even succeeding in some cases. You? You just cried in front of them, instead of trying to do something. So stop acting like you’re the victim here, because you aren’t: even in this world, you continued killing people to resolve your problems, taking them out instead of facing them. Plus, you killed Samai… Trust me, when I say that we are different: would you have cried so much if they took out another part of yourself?”

When Akira concluded his reply, Leon brought a hand to his forehead and sighted, like he was disappointed by him.

“Tsk, I hoped you had a larger vision of the whole, but, if that is your answer… I think I can break one of Meilìs orders, I’m sure she won’t get too mad. So, now, before the main event, I will let you ask a last question: if you have any, of course”.

Akira quickly looked behind him, seeing how the flames were effectively keeping out of the hall area, just like Leon had said, then posed his question.

“Yes, I have one: did you ever loved your family in this world, even once?”

“Ah, good question!” replied with a laugh Leon. “I’ll be honest with you: I always hated my family in France, so I don’t know if what I felt towards this family is love, but they were sure better than my previous one. Still, I don’t have any strong feelings towards them: after all, I used Priscilla as a decoy. If I really loved her, I probably wouldn’t have done that. Plus, you know that Giorgio’s second wife has kind of vanished in the last period? Well, that is because I killed her: I did say that I hated her, no? So, the answer to your question is: I don’t know, because I don’t know what love is. I only love myself, after all”.

“And your wife? And your children? What did you feel towards them?”

“Towards them? Nothing: if not, I feel repulse for my possible child, because it could be a disappointment for me, a genius who should have a genius son. In fact, they were the first I killed when this house started going on fire”.

At that declaration, Akira remained silent, not understanding how such a creature could proclaim itself a human being. Then, he murmured, a little smile on his face “So you feel no love, uh?”, and, after that, he lifted his head and looked at Leon: he thought that he imagined it, but, when he talked about Priscilla, his eyes showed something different from the madness they had until that moment. It was like a little hint of sadness appeared for a moment. Still, that didn’t mean nothing.

“Well, that was your last question: now it’s time I deal with you, no?”

Akira didn’t reply to those words: instead, he just made a little nod with the head, not even aimed at Leon but at something behind him. That was when a noise appeared out of nowhere, followed by a scream of pain by Leon. Akira used that moment to quickly lean forward and throw a punch at the hand with which Leon held the gun, making it fly in the air. Subsequently, while Leon was trying to understand what was happening, disoriented by how much confident he was in his position of superiority, Akira threw an uppercut right in Leon’s stomach, making him fall on the ground. All of that took only a matter of seconds. In fact, when Leon fell on the floor, his gun was still in the air, and Akira had no difficulty in catching it while it was falling down. When Leon fell, Akira could see what caused him to scream in pain: a little throwing knife was stuck in the middle of his back. It seemingly came out of nowhere, at least for Leon, but not for Akira: in fact, behind Leon stayed, for almost the whole time of their conversation, Priscilla, who, at Akira’s signal, hit him with that knife. Akira felt bad for making her hit her brother, but, after hearing his story, he was sure that she wouldn’t have minded doing that, especially after stating his feelings for the Natò family. While being blocked on the ground, Leon’s eyes wandered around the room, until they saw Priscilla, which made him whisper “Priscilla… you… were here… the whole time?” A question that received no answer from her, but her eyes showed the same cold and angry feelings that Akira’s ones showed, which per se meant an answer. In the meanwhile, Akira was looking at the gun: it was really a well done gun, it seemed impossible to him that a person alone could make it. He checked how many bullets it had in the chamber: there were three, one for every person in the room. What would have been Leon’s plan if he had let him do what he wanted? No… he didn’t want to know. With the gun in his hand, he got near Leon, looked at his face and then pointed the gun at his head. His eyes were filled with rage and coldness, and, seeing them, Leon swallowed a bit, as if he finally started having fear of the situation he was in. However, he didn’t pull the trigger: he looked silently at Priscilla, searching her consent to that action. After all, even though they technically weren’t, they were still a family, he wanted to make Priscilla decide whether it wanted to leave him alive or take revenge for Samai. After a few seconds of eye contact, she slowly nodded. It was the signal. He looked at Leon, who in that moment understood what was going to happen to him, and then, before pulling the trigger, Akira whispered to Leon:

“This is for Samai, you bastard”. 

Then, the sound of a shot broke the silence that had fallen in the hall. Priscilla and Akira looked at the scene in silence: Leon’s face now had an hole in it, right near the temple, and blood was slowly coming out from that somewhat little hole. Then, Priscilla started coming near him, but, before she arrived near him, Akira said his last words for Leon “You were only a mere puppet, I am not. This time, I have promised to someone that I will live: I won’t stay blocked in my sufferance anymore”. Then, together with Priscilla, they both cried, letting out in that inferno of flames their rage and sadness for something that neither of the two was responsible for.

However, in the meanwhile, flames started roaring even more and more in the house.

Real Aire