Chapter 3:

Into the Unknown

Where Certainty is an Illusion (Book 1: Uncertainty)


Every matter—from the tallest towers to the tiniest pebbles, even the bridge my foot was on and the evening sky above—disintegrated into glass-like shards and flew freely. Those shards were vapor vanishing in thin air, one after another, leaving a space filled with pitch-black oblivion.

I was caught in that mayhem and found myself floating as if it was outer space but without the far-flung stars in the background.

“Where am I? Everyone…” It was a futile call, though. I tried to search everywhere to no avail. Adding to the confusion, my sense of direction was off since there was only darkness.

My mind was dazed by such a sudden catastrophe. But with no one to turn to, I calmly analyzed the memory of that happening.

– First, there was that slight vibration on the ground when I took a step. A ripple-like wave of light which, as I believed, originated from the point I stepped on. Then, as the “ripple” spread across, everything stood still in time. A continuous pattern of glitching of the surroundings resembling a holographic image took place right away. Then, in about five minutes, the disintegration happened, which brought me to this moment.

I thought that something on that spot triggered that weird turn of events, but I had no idea precisely what that was.

– And there’s that glitching. What’s the deal with that?

With such curious questions that killed me to the core, I was in utter desperation for answers. But sadly, I was alone in such a dark, unknown space.

Then, a miraculous thing happened. A voice uttered the words:

“ADMINISTRATOR’S ORDER: WORLD DEFRAGMENTATION”

– A girl’s voice?

At that very moment, the scenery started to change. From the pure void, what seemed to be pixels appeared randomly and gradually filled some spaces. Suddenly, they took form and built a colossal dome comparable to the size of a castle. I looked around, and everything was ethereal. Inside the dome was a large tower with complex architecture. I felt like I was inside a giant snowglobe, but there were floating particles of light instead of falling snow.

I was enamored beyond comparison.

— What is this place?

I don’t know, and it compelled me to look into it. That’s who I am. Mysteries attract me.

☆ ☆ ☆

My eyes were wide open before such a glorious yet unknown place.

For some reason, gravity seemed to be non-existent in that space. Still, I had complete control over my movements. I could move through space in all directions. But everything inside the hall was held in its position. It’s bizarre and other-worldly.

“Whoa! Maybe I should have a good view of this place.”

So I “flew” higher to have a bird’s-eye view of that dome. As I was still not used to it, my movement was awkward, but I managed to observe the whole place. From above, it was like a vast labyrinth. But there’s a thing that caught my attention.

– A pit?

Apparently, the dome was split into two, and each side was set apart from the other by, I suppose, about a hundred-meter wide chasm stretching along the dome’s diameter. I descended to take a closer look at such an intriguing spot. The chasm seemed to be a leftover of the space before the dome manifested. There’s nothing to see, so to speak.

Two glimmering white plains with distinctive structures were at both sides of the pitch-black abyss. The chasm seemed to be a rift between the two white realms. One was where the tower I saw earlier was located. The other was an empty mystery.

My feet landed on the empty white plain. However, it was a waste of time.

[SEALED]

The gateway was closed and protected by a soft layer of light. Even as curious as I was, utmost caution was still necessary as it was a foreign place, so I went back to the plain earlier. I landed before the entrance of the large tower, where there was a large door.

I swallowed and slowly opened the door. Fortunately, it’s not locked.

“Pardon the intrusion.” As I entered, my ability to float didn’t work, so I walked like it was in the real world. It didn’t bother me, though, so I continued to barge right there.

The place exceeded my expectations. The exterior was magnificent, but the inside was even more breathtaking.

“Amazing!”

My eyes widened before that spectacular view. I don’t know what heaven looks like, but that place resembled a realm of higher order. It looked like a hall of a royal palace. The dominating color remained to be glaring white. There were tall columns at every corner of that tower. As I walked further toward the heart of the tower, I saw a circular platform about ten meters in diameter and surrounded by three flights of stairs. There was an empty seat at the center of the platform. It was bathed in light coming from the dome.

A few seconds passed, and I heard a voice once again in a while.

“ADMINISTRATOR’S ORDER: OVERTURE”

Seconds later, light succumbed the whole platform. It was so bright that I needed to cover my eyes with my arm.

Then, the voice spoke again, “Welcome to this wonderful realm, young lad!”

As the light dissipated, a girl’s silhouette slowly came into view. My eyes widened as the girl’s appearance was revealed. She’s wearing a frilly dress and has a beret and a crescent moon accessory over her blue hair. Basically, she looked like an idol.

No, not just the appearance but her pose and the place she’s standing on suggested that she’s like those girls fawn over by thousands to millions of people.

Her right arm was raised with her index finger pointing upward. A microphone appeared in midair, which she grabbed with her other hand. Her eyes were closed, and she was smiling.

She opened her eyes and looked at me. She changed her gesture and made a peace sign with her right hand while holding the microphone. Winking, she said:

“I’m the cute aspiring idol, Selena, the protector of this realm! Welcome to the Horizon, kyu!

Kyu?! So her name is Selena, huh? Horizon? What in the world was that?

While I was still processing the sudden turn of events, she declared with utter confidence, “Now, for my first song….”

The music suddenly played in the background, and she sang like a real idol.

And there I was, just watching as she performed out of nowhere. There’s this ambiguous feeling of discomfort within me.

– I don’t know why but man, this is so awkward!

“Hey, why are you burying your face to your hand? Did you not enjoy my performance? H-hey! Why are you looking away?”

“No, that’s not the point. Nevermind.”

“Come on, that’s my way of welcoming you here. You should’ve at least watched me ‘til the end, kyuuu!”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

With all the mysterious things that happened, I wonder what’s gonna happen next.

I just hope it’s not some kind of death sentence.

My heart pleaded for comfort. My mind searched for answers.