MINUS • PLUS
Yukio was in Ebromia, sitting on a stone and observing the vast forest of Kelna. It was the same stone where he sat the last time he came here. Only the last time, he was nowhere near as angry as he was now.
There was no way he could forget their betrayal.
The raging fire inside him was enough to burn the forest in front of him to the ground.
He would never-
Suddenly, he wasn’t in Ebromia anymore.
He was floating. Only instead of darkness, his surroundings were filled with a white light. Wherever his eyes went, everything was white. There was no single source of light. There was no sense of up, down, right, or left. Everywhere he looked, he got the same image. A white, empty horizon.
It was like looking at the sky, and also different, as the sky was blue and sometimes had clouds as well.
No matter how much he floated, he couldn’t reach the horizon. The absolute white in front of him soon made him feel like he wasn’t moving, like he was stuck at the same place.
The experience wasn’t anything like he had while he was in the Black. Unlike that time, he was completely alert, perfectly aware that it wasn’t a dream. And that was what made it all the more terrifying.
He screamed. No sound came out.
He tried to drift faster.
He screamed again. No sound this time either.
He beat on his chest, pinched himself hard, and realized there was no pain. He couldn’t use his powers either.
He screamed again, and again, and again.
For a long time, he just kept floating, alone. He didn’t need to eat, didn’t need to relieve himself. He doubted that the space contained air; the motion of taking breaths was likely something out of habit. The only solace was that unlike in the Black, here he had a sense of his body. And that meant he could close his eyes, put his hands over them, and find solace in the darkness.
That was probably what kept him from going completely insane.
That, and the soundless screams.
One day, if the concept of days existed in that place, he was screaming. Or trying, depending on how one saw it. Suddenly, for the first time after coming to that place, he heard something.
“Oh. A new one.”
It wasn’t a sound that he heard. It was more like someone was inside his head, and suddenly decided to speak.
“Hey. This way.”
Okay, maybe that was not it.
As he looked around him, for the first time, he spotted something in the horizon. A black dot.
And just like that, his sense of direction was restored. Or at least part of it.
The more he drifted towards the dot, the larger it became, until it was the shape of a human being. A middle-aged man with a grey beard, to be precise.
Only, the man wasn’t wearing anything.
Despite that, his eyes were fixed on the man. If it was possible for him to feel physical sensations, he was sure that he would have palpitations.
“Hello. My name is Thom. What is your name?”
Thom’s mouth wasn’t moving. The voice was again coming from inside his head.
“How are you…”
“It’s how everyone talks here. You’re doing the same, aren’t you?”
He hadn’t even realized that he answered the man through his mind as well.
“The best part is, your voice is automatically translated to my language. Or at least something that I can understand.”
He realized that the voice he heard also resembled Japanese, although the man was clearly not.
“So, how long have you been here?”
Before he could say anything else, Thom asked him.
“I… I don’t know…”
“Oh, okay. That’s fine. When you spend a long-”
“What is this place?” Thom was interrupted.
“I don’t know,” he said, “No one does. You’ve been to the Black, right? It’s probably some place like that. I just call it the ‘White’. Get it? Because it’s-”
“Yeah, yeah,” he had so many questions that he didn’t know where to start. “So, I was on the planet Ebromia, and then something happened and-”
“Oh, you haven’t tried it before?”
“There’s a first time for everything, I guess. Everyone else I’ve met, even the other ‘Me’s, all of them did it at least 3 or 4 times.”
“Did what?” He was certain that the man, Thom, wasn’t right in the head. Then again, where they were…
“Time travel.” Thom finally answered.
After Thom explained how it worked, he felt extremely confused.
“But I just learned about them! Why would I want to go back to the past? It doesn’t make any sense!”
“Well, that is something you would need to ask your other self. Not that you will ever get the chance. This is the dustbin where all of our discarded selves go, after we make the mistake of Jumping to a specific time in our world. In fact, I realized it after talking to another ‘Me’. He was from a time that I hadn’t experienced. He said that after going back, he just waited for the game and caught it at the perfect time. Unlike me, who was late and hurrying towards the forest.”
He grabbed his head with both of his hands. The information he was getting certainly explained his situation, but so far it offered no solutions. As Thom said, they were people who were discarded from their universes, and now floated in a place outside space and time.
With no end in sight.
“There was a woman I met,” Thom kept talking on his own, “She had a knife. She sliced off most of her body except her right hand. It was after looking at her that I realized we don’t even have real bodies here. Like, if you chop off your arm, you won’t see any blood or bone. It would just be white colored muscles. I tried it as well, see?”
The man was pointing between his legs. Even without looking directly, he could tell that there was nothing there.
“The woman was insane. Well, she said she was here for over a thousand years. Compared to that I’m new as well. Been here for a few hundred years I guess?”
With another attempt at a scream, he grabbed the man’s neck, “Is there no way, absolutely no way of getting out of here?”
“If there was,” Thom’s face was as expressionless as he saw it the first time, “Do you think I’ll still be here?”
He let the man go. While drifting away, the last thing he said was, “By the way, if you see people drifting around but not saying anything, just let them be. They are likely people who have been here for so long that they’ve stopped functioning. Bye!”
After Thom left, he kept drifting aimlessly again. Whatever mental energy kept him going had taken a significant hit after hearing the man’s words.
I was better off not knowing anything, he thought.
But soon he realized that his actions didn’t really change after that meeting. He kept screaming every now and then, stretching his body in a futile attempt to feel something, and closing his eyes to get away from the absolute whiteness all around him. His zeal, his hope, his inability to give up trying, all persisted.
Likely because that fire was still burning inside him.
He had no idea why he would try to travel to the past. But if he had to guess, he went back in time to confront Amanda. Yes, she was the reason. She had to be. A foolish version of him who had forgotten about her betrayal tried to confront her before anything happened.
As if she would ever tell him the truth.
As if their relationship would ever have a real meaning.
That stupid version of him tried to trust her. He would never make that mistake.
He would get out of this place, no matter what it takes. He would find them, and he would make them pay for what they did to him.
This time, he would strike so hard, their bones would turn to dust.
He will never, ever forgive them.