Chapter 5:

NO!

TOTALLY FINE.


KIP sighed. It was one merely indicating disappointment.Bookmark here

His facial features changed. Those lifeless eyes that's typically plastered in some janitor's face had warped into soul-sucking voids. Streaks of dried bloody tears painted his cheeks. Bookmark here

Horns that could end one's life with a single stab protruded from his head. As if there wasn't any more evidence to prove he was a demon in disguise. Bookmark here

I panicked and stumbled. My vision started to blur as the green lights from my bracelet blinked with rhythm. The room flickered before I was flooded with scenes of my past.Bookmark here

I had been in this situation before.Bookmark here

Scenes of my very own being running from LROP and KIP; at one instance, I was dragged across the floor. My skin burned and begged for mercy but no one heard my calls. Another flashback abruptly interfered and I saw myself, waking up in the same cottage I woke up weeks prior, except it wasn't destroyed. Bookmark here

The biggest surprise was the presence of a petite girl, whose bright, white smile and overflowing hair enhanced her beauty as she stood beside the younger me.Bookmark here

We sang holiday songs and accompanied each other during temporary snowstorms when she convinced me to stay with her for a bit longer before leaving. Bookmark here

It was apparent I had always wanted to leave the cottage, to find purpose in this strange world covered with blizzards and delicate snowdrops. But every time I took one glance out the cottage window, she'd frown and persuade me to enjoy life crammed inside our little shelter.Bookmark here

Her eyes sparkled life when she radiated lively energy and outbursts of a child around me.Bookmark here

While she gazed into mine with pleas of an exhausted individual whenever we spoke of the future. Bookmark here

Was there even a future for people like us? Bookmark here

I once asked her, and she looked away. Bookmark here

"#3, do you know what freedom feels like?"Bookmark here

I giggled at the thought of such rhetorical questions. "What's with the question, #102?" Bookmark here

"You're so young," #102 lowered her eyelids and stared at the floor, "For you to have to endure this, your parents must have either been killed or succumbed to KIP's..."Bookmark here

"Who's KIP?"Bookmark here

She turned to me. Her hand aimed for my shoulder briefly before she retracted and forced a smile.Bookmark here

"Do you believe in Santa?"Bookmark here

"Seriously, what's with these questions?"Bookmark here

"I used to, but now I only believe in Krampus."Bookmark here

"Where are you going with this," I stood up from a chair creaking of old age, "How is this gonna help us understand why you're stuck here-"Bookmark here

"It's not just me. It's all our people."Bookmark here

This melancholic sense of grief, contagious to the point a few tears escaped my eye when she caressed my cheek. Bookmark here

"Most of us are fighting to leave this city. We're tired of being in KIP's fantasy world." Bookmark here

Fantasy world.Bookmark here

Fantasy world.Bookmark here

Fantasy world.
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F̴̢̮̗̙̰̊̑̽͐͋͜͝͝͝͝a̵̢̧͎͔͔̼͕̾̌̎͆̽͌́̚n̶̢̫̼͕̦̬̲̓̋͑̅̍̎͒͘͝ͅt̸̢̗͎̞͗̓̋́̌̀͊͒̊͋͘͘͘͜͝a̵̧̤̮̹͇̟̲̳̜̹͆̉̍͑͜ͅs̸̙̼̺̲͉͔͋y̷̨̭̭̮̪͂ ̶̤̮̅͒͊̈́̎Ẅ̶̟̺̞̜̩̤͓̥͚͗́̌͋̽͝ǫ̶̨͇̣̣͇͖̆͑̋ͅr̶̡͍͙͙͇̻̼͖̒̉̈́̆̀͋̔̈̈̽̉̈̀͘̚l̷̺̰̝̩̫̼̠̗͚̼̠̻̇̎̿̈d̵͕̟́̇̏ ̴̨̨͕̩̫̈̿͆̔̈́̒̓̾̄̕͜͠F̷̡͓̩͙̘̔͘a̵͛̿͆̒̈́ͅṉ̵͔̖͇͔̻͚̦̖͑́́͆̈́̈́̐̕͠͝t̵̨̼̜̺̯̰͙̹̩̼̺̦̃̂̀̅͠ā̸͓͇̃͌̑͒̆̾͌̍͝s̶̙̘̱̿̇̅̀͐̽̽̀̕͘͝y̷̙̩͈͔͙͖̳̘͔̩̫̠̑́͋͊͆̀͝ͅͅ ̵̛̛͙̳̯̰̻͔̮͗̎̆̇̈́̽̊̐͗̓́͘W̵̡̢̛̼̝̝͔̫̻̲̜̄̒̈́̈̂̉́̂͌̚̕͝ŏ̷̧̦͉̼̖̳̍̒ŗ̶̤̥͓͍͕̝̫̪͚̥̘̺͂̎̉̾̔̓̉̕͠ļ̸̞̗̲̙̳̱̻̽̂̈́̓̽̾̽̓̆̔̏̀̀͑ͅd̴̡̪̼̠̯̅̎̈́̓̈́͂̀̾͌̈́̅̈͘ ̵̠̯̼̝̹̱̻̳̯͈͓̭͋͜͜͝͝F̴͓̞͕̭͚͎̗̪͋͑̑͊̑̇͋̇̈́͋̐̚ả̵̠̗̻̲̪̘̣̟̝̫̽̀̑͊̇̎͝n̵̡̫͎̮̼̗͑t̴̡̺̭͎̥̥͕̰̳͇̉̌̐̒͂́̅̏͗͂̃͗̓̉̕á̷̰̲̰̼͋̇͜s̷̨̻̲͙͍͎̼̮͚͓̃̓̑̈́y̵̪̗̣̰͈̙͕̫̩̓͌̽̒̀͊̿̀͛̾̈́̕̚ ̷̨͎̲̥̯̯̹̹̹̩͇̥́͑Ẃ̶̰͉̳̆ͅo̷̫̼̟̣͎̟̪̺̲̙̼͉͛͐̃̈́̄̂͊̔͝r̴̨̧̼͎̩͎̗͈̫̮̰̉̉l̶͈͒̍͗͛̃͑̃̇̈́̊͒́̐͝d̴̶͉̭̪̓͗͐́̿̉̆̽̾̑̋͜͝F̷̡̙̞̳͈̄͜ȁ̵̧̛͍̖̮͇̰͕̽͋̐̂̆n̵̨̬͔͍̯͓͖̪͋̊̉̉̇̐́́͒̋͋ͅt̴̢̜̬͕̭͇̜͚̑̋a̵̱̙͚͕̖͒̊s̸̢̫̗̳̜͔̬̖̹̺̦̫̹͎̏̓̚ÿ̴͚̙͎̫̗̞̣̹̩̪̰̰̳́̋̒ ̷̜͇̲̭̲̫̣͍͓͐̔̏́̂͑̾́̽̊̾͒̈̄͜͠W̵̤̒o̶̧̨̮̹̠̼̹͕͎͎͔̱͔͊̑͑͒͒͘͜͝ŗ̵̼̬͛̽̓̑̀́̍͝͝͝l̴̛̙̞̲̀̿̄͑͋͒̕d̸̬̥̮̞͖͎͇̩̠̫̠̗͙́͂͑̑̽̈́͝ ̵̩͗̂͐͑̃̅͐̓̅̀͘F̴̨͙̥̑̈́̅a̵̛̳̱̩͉͔̻͓͓̥̜̭͉̠͉̅̂̓͋̅̒́́́̚͝n̸̹̠͈̪̳̈́̓̑͗̚͝͝t̵̢̬̫͙̰̬͍͔̉͊̓̎̒͋̃̕̚a̷͈͔̲̳̰̠̲̣̝̱̺̤̦͍̰̓̈́s̷̡̛̘̟͈͖̻͎͈̻̗̮̯͔̽̅̄̀̃̌̂̅̋͝͠y̴̨̧͉̮͇̿͊̈́̀͋̊̚ ̵͇̲͔̭̹͎̠͇̩̑̈́̈́̓̔͂͐̓͑W̴̲͉̹̝̼̜̗̝͈̏̊̆̋̋͑̾̅̽͂̇̓͂͠ͅo̸̡̙̩̭̲͍̘͕̩͇̲͙͓͑ͅr̴̤̲̯̙̮̥̦̙͈̓̓̃͌̀͌l̷̩̹̥͕̗͙̋̇̑̔̽̎̕͠ͅd̶̡̧̼̬͍̺̲̱̰͉͈̬̟͋̄̿ ̸͖̣̻͉̯̾̍̃̐͂̋́͂͠F̵̨̡͔̭͔̞̙̙̪̹͈̩̻̙̩̅͒̂̌̋̇̓̓̊͑̋̔͠͠ą̴͎̯͚̟͙̜̘̻͍̪͉̣̱̐̆̉̈́̔͛ͅn̴̦̤̪̎̐́̂̾̄͌̈́̕t̷̨̡̢̯̞̙̪̜̠̙̱̋ͅa̷̭̝̞̗̩͉͋̌̚s̷̛͚̜͇͎̯͚̙͚̹͗̋͐̋̇́͌̈̕͝͝y̸̟͗͘ ̶̙͊̒̀W̷̡̗̖̼̲̼̤̠͍̖̯̖̱̓͊̄͗̀͗̆͜ô̴̢̖͔͈͕̗̝͉̯̫̬̰̒̔̒r̸̖͖̮͍̭͉̩͎̟̹̰̱̔͐̀͊̓̆̍̓̽l̸̨̢͔̥̈́͠ḏ̸̏̉̎̅͌̀͌͊̋̋̃͘͠͠ ̴̨͓͇̖̠̠͉́̊̌̄̒̈̑́̄̏̄́̕͝ͅF̵̢̭̞̝̂͒̂̓̌ã̴̡͇͕̯̻̥̪̠̣̳̊̑̀̆́̊͒͛̐͊̃͑̋̚͜n̶͉̣͙̈ͅt̸̤͉̼͂͑́̔̕a̶͈̝̠͋́͗͒͐̎̍̊̄̇͘͠͝s̵̠̦͈̐̍͂̇̉̾͌̃̈͂̂̓͛y̵̢̼̮͙̭̰͍͚̻̳̽̂̓́̄̔̑̀͑͂͜ ̵̡̢̪̳͚̻̞͗͌̂̉̌̂̓͝͠


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I shrieked and sewed my eyes shut, the flashbacks carrying my identity soon found their way into my head.Bookmark here

"WELCOME TO MERRIMENT CITY, #3."Bookmark here

I witnessed KIP and a man who referred to himself as LIG welcoming me to my home.Bookmark here

The graphics of the scene shifted back to the cottage, where #102 shook me violently during one of her emotional outbursts. Bookmark here

"I can't do this anymore!" Her grip on my sleeve was equivalent to a thousand men mixed with sorrow, "#5, I don't want to endure this any longer, I-"Bookmark here

She bowed her head and bawled, before several of KIP's guards surrounded the cottage. They threw a smoke bomb inside after exploding the roof, separating the both of us forever. Bookmark here

"No, stop!" I begged for my memories to slow down and give me mercy. Bookmark here

The next scene showed me positioned at a fighting stance in front of KIP. With ragged pants and a bloody arm, I held a knife close to my chest, eyeing for his neck.Bookmark here

"#6, WHY DON'T YOU WANT HAPPINESS?" The heinous monster taunted me as if options were available. A standstill. Bookmark here

I remained silent. Bookmark here

Until a familiar face stood by the doorway. Gone were her beautiful set of bright, white teeth, because a row of hideous black ones was here to stay.Bookmark here

I nearly puked. Bookmark here

"AH, THIS IS LROP," KIP took her hand and led her to me, "SHE WAS YOUR FRIEND RIGHT? LOOK, SHE'S FOUND HAPPINESS."Bookmark here

Before the scene faded, I witnessed LROP's grip on my face as she shoved down pills into my throat amidst my unforgettable screams. Bookmark here

And then, I woke up to the sight of the sky. Bookmark here

It was in the dead of winter that I first ran the distance between my cottage and the city I'd renounced long ago.Bookmark here

I did this 21 times. Bookmark here

Wherever we are in this cruel world, I had thoughts of whether winter will ever disappear. Bookmark here

For it felt like an eternity. My heart bled for those who continued to defy KIP's reign and attempted to flee, only to meet their demise by succumbing to his voodoo shit behind the scenes. Bookmark here

Or some were like me.Bookmark here

We ran.Bookmark here

I ran and hid, but I was always caught. Just like my poor mother who went as far as infiltrating the forbidden forest no one had ever mapped. Bookmark here

Whenever KIP found me, it was as if my organs had dropped to my knees and I screamed in agony, pleading with him to let me go.Bookmark here

The lot of us will never know his motives, or how he managed to erase our memories with a snap of his filthy fingers. Bookmark here

And with years of stacked rage, I released my anger. My vision landed me back to the manager's office in the already evacuated shelter.Bookmark here

KIP's taunting grin imprinted itself into my mind.Bookmark here

Well, I say this every fucking time I had to face him, and still, the power of his voodoo shit managed to wipe any trace of Merriment City.Bookmark here

The rage boiled inside me as I snatched the bloody knife hiding in my pocket, ready to do another futile attempt to leave a mere scratch mark on KIP. Bookmark here

It's a sad sight to know even with expectations of disappointment, a spark of hope lingered for me to move forward. My knife tasted the scent of blood, but it was none other than LROP's.Bookmark here

She had entered the room amidst my rage and blocked my attack with her decaying palms. Scars formed to indicate that someone inflicted pain. Bookmark here

Perhaps that would be enough to trigger a revival the next time I arrive in this wretched place.Bookmark here

Sighing, I closed my eyes. Hands on my back held by none other than a former friend, the last thing I heard before I embraced bittersweet comfort was the snap of that monster's fingers. Bookmark here

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