Chapter 11:

Tale Null: Rampaging Raven (1)


Ding-dong.Bookmark here

"Hngg... Who is it?"Bookmark here

I woke up from my nap to the sound of the doorbell ringing.Bookmark here

I tried to rack my brain as hard as I could, but I couldn't remember any appointments I had made at this hour, nor could I think of anyone who would come here unannounced on their own.Bookmark here

My friends would have at least sent a text message beforehand...Bookmark here

So I couldn't help but wonder.Bookmark here

I slowly made my way down to the front door, doing my best to not fall down the stairs in my half-asleep state.Bookmark here

It didn't even cross my mind that I probably wasn't projecting a very nice image to whoever was waiting. I probably looked like absolute crap. But oh well, thinking about it in retrospect, it would have been a good tactic to drive off unwanted visitors.Bookmark here

I doubt any salesperson would seriously attempt to get a sale with a half-asleep minor who looked like he hadn't left the basement in a month.Bookmark here

Regardless, that's something I can only say in retrospect. To be perfectly honest, all I wanted right then and there was to get this annoyance over with and go back to sleep.Bookmark here

And so I opened the door, praying that whoever it was would just go away without much resistance.Bookmark here

Then I saw her.Bookmark here

"Yahho, friend of friends. How're you doing today? I see you're not in your highest hours now are you. Would you prefer I leave and come back later, after you've had your nap? Oh, but we can't do that, we really can't. I'm sorry, friend, but I can't just leave you alone, I hope you understand!"Bookmark here

"... Ellie."Bookmark here

"Hm? What is it? Something the matter, friend? Something you wish to say?"Bookmark here

"... Can you please shut up and go away?"Bookmark here

"Whaaaaaa? But I just said I can't, didn't I? This is an urgent matter friend! Cone on, just stop complaining and agree to do as I say before I have to waste energy punching you until you agree!"Bookmark here

... She was the exact same as always.Bookmark here

I would probably have been freaked out of my mind by her mere presence before. But for some reason, it seemed like I wasn't even fully registering her presence.Bookmark here

It really did feel like that.Bookmark here

Like I just-Bookmark here

Didn't really care anymore.Bookmark here

I really did just want to go back to sleep. Bookmark here

I was done with all the fighting against this girl for the 'truths' and the 'lies' and the 'natural' or 'supernatural'. Bookmark here

If the only way of getting that dumb and excruciating battle over was by surrendering, then sure, she could have it her way for all I cared. Bookmark here

"No, no, and no, friend of friends. You simply don't get it, sheesh... I'm not fighting against you out of pleasure or because I want you to say 'hey, good job, you've won!'. I need you to understand. To understand the reason I care about it by yourself. Or to put it just a bit more bluntly, I won't shut up and leave you alone until your dumbass useless half brain can fully accept my truth as the only one. Get it? So for God's sake, fix that shitty bed face of yours, get dressed and come back here."Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

And so it finally dawned on me.Bookmark here

I couldn't refuse.Bookmark here

No matter what, I had to play along with her game.Bookmark here

Her game. Bookmark here

I had lost at my own game, so this was my punishment.Bookmark here

So unless I wanted to go bad to sleep and never wake up -Bookmark here

No, even so, she wouldn't let me.Bookmark here

She didn't want an eternal stalemate or a shallow, incomplete victory.Bookmark here

She didn't want any of that.Bookmark here

In fact, she would only be happy when- she had completely and utterly destroyed me.Bookmark here

And so, with no other choice, I resolved myself.Bookmark here

I slammed my door shut on Ellie's face.Bookmark here

But she didn't look mad.Bookmark here

Rather, she was smiling.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

“Oh, that was slow, man. You really like to keep ladies waiting that much? I’ve gotta do something about that massive ego of yours one of these days.”Bookmark here

So she said.Bookmark here

I had gotten changed as fast as I had been able to, and I had come back down with a speed I thought myself unable to ever achieve.Bookmark here

And even then she was dissatisfied.Bookmark here

Though I guess being permanently dissatisfied might as well be part of her DNA. Or maybe it’s just her personal hatred of all things me.Bookmark here

Who knows.Bookmark here

I didn’t care enough to ask. In fact, I didn’t as much as utter a single word as Ellie quickly and thoroughly scanned my whole being the moment I opened the front door for the second time.Bookmark here

“Hmm. Though I guess for now it’s the least of your issues. Anyway, now that you’re finally here, care to come for a walk with me?”Bookmark here

That was the intention since the very beginning. Not that you would ever have let me refuse, of course.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

It was a lively winter evening.Bookmark here

Christmas decorations were already all over the town, the festive ambient omnipresent thanks to the people happily laughing and celebrating the approaching end for the year in advance.Bookmark here

Kids, especially, were all a bundle of energy bringing life to the place completely by themselves - some laughed and rejoiced at being free from school for a few days, and some cried and tried to make up excuses for their bad marks before a pair of parents in varying degrees of rage and disappointment.Bookmark here

I couldn't help but smile.Bookmark here

It truly was a wonderful, heartwarming sight - though I couldn't help but wonder why Ellie would want to show me this.Bookmark here

Still, whatever her reason, and I was certain it wouldn't be a pleasant one, I had to genuinely thank her.Bookmark here

For this moment of pure, unadultered joy she let me experience.Bookmark here

I closed my eyes.Bookmark here

While I continued walking, I closed my eyes - to better soak up in this atmosphere. The sound, the smells, the mood...Bookmark here

And just at my side, I could hear another pair of footsteps.Bookmark here

Of course, they were Ellie's. Bookmark here

Her rhythmic steps reminded me of her presence, while also comforting me in a sense. As long as she was there with me, I could be sure - none of what I was seeing, hearing smelling..Bookmark here

None of what I was feeling was a dream.Bookmark here

It was reality. A reality we both shared, and that nobody else could deny.Bookmark here

But suddenly-Bookmark here

With no warning, she simply stopped walking.Bookmark here

She stood still.Bookmark here

So I, too, stopped walking.Bookmark here

And I once again opened my eyes, my mind still absorbed in the town's ambient.Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

......Bookmark here

"What... What is this?"Bookmark here

"Hm? Is there a problem, friend? Anything on your mind?"Bookmark here

"Where... Is everyone?"Bookmark here

I said, unable to comprehend.Bookmark here

I didn't get it, I couldn't believe my senses.Bookmark here

Because from the moment I had opened my eyes...Bookmark here

Bookmark here

The town was completely and absolutely empty.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.