Chapter 19:

[Reboot] Ch. 1: Welcome to Oracle.

Madman's Forgiveness

“I’m finally finished,” I think to myself as I proudly stare at the newly refurbished home I grew up in. It’s been months since my foster father passed and left the house to me in his inheritance. I’ve never been a neat freak or someone who cared for their health in general. But the news breaking of his death shortly after I learned of Suzume’s pushed me off the deep end. I left trash around the house and ignored phone calls from our closest friends. Hell, I even went a couple days without showering here and there. A large part of me was still living in denial. Just a scared little boy hoping for a chance at a perfect world. One where he can change the course of fate and make sure that he and his friends lived their best lives. The only thing that snapped me out of this pipe dream was reminding myself that it was no more than a fantasy.

Me and Suzume never really talked much outside of school and camp, but when we did our conversations always had some merit to them. No matter how bad things would get, she’d always help me get through it. All while keeping that same dopey smile plastered across her face. She was always that selfless person who never feared anything, especially standing up for her friends.


The sound of the doorbell ringing caught my attention. It’s 9 o'clock at night so it’s a bit bizarre to have a visitor at this hour. Especially one that I haven't formally invited over. I have always lived in a relatively safe part of Hyogo prefecture so I move to open the door without thinking.


Before my hand can even turn the knob, the door is forced open. The chain lock luckily stops it before it can slam into me.

“Yo Hiro. Are you just going to keep yourself chained in here forever and rot away?”

“If you want to die so bad, you should know old age is a much better option.”

These voices are familiar to me, but they sound so much deeper than I remember.

“It couldn’t be.” I think aloud as my gaze readjusts to the now open crack.

There in the doorway are two people I thought I’d never see again, Kazuma Fushigawa and Yusuke Maebara.

“There are some pressing issues that we need to discuss. May we come in?”

Politely asks Kentaro, waving his Hyogo prefectural police detective badge.

※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※  ※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※

I can’t believe my eyes as I stare at the mountains of evidence that Kentaro has presented to me, unable to speak. Scattered before me are images of Camp Gehenna and pictures of the people who have gone missing at the camp. The most notable of them being Suzume.

“I know this is a lot to take in, but if we’re going to solve this case. We’re going to need your help Hiro.” Kentaro gingerly asks. It’s only now that I notice that his gaze has been pre-fixed on my being throughout the whole conversation.

“My…help?” I ask, curious as to what he could have possibly meant.

“What could I possibly do to help?” “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I can barely even help myself these days!” It’s at this point that Yusuke begins to grow a bit unsteady, having noticed that my confusion quickly turned to anger.

“I only just started coming to terms with everything and you’re trying to thrust me back into it?!”

“We understand your anger Hiro, but we’re only trying to help-”

Before Yusuke could even finish his statement, a strong emotion quickly surged throughout my body. In one swift moment, all of that rage that I'd bottled up these past few months released itself in the form of a sucker punch to his jaw, knocking Yusuke to the ground.

Just as quickly as the hit connected, the room fell silent. Kentaro just stood there, as if he expected this sort of reaction. As I looked down at Yusuke, the immediate regret of my actions began to take form. “I- I’m sorry” I apologize profusely and clench my eyes preparing myself for the worst. All I’m met with however is a warm pat on the shoulder, prompting me to ease up.

“It’s good to see you’ve learned to stand up for yourself.” “I was starting to worry ya forgot everything I taught ya”

Even with a bloody nose, Yusuke never was one to show any kind of anger. He was never the smartest in our group, but whenever there was trouble he’d always defend the people he cares for. That’s why I always looked up to him whenever we went to school together.

“We wouldn’t ask you if there wasn’t another way Hiro.” An annoyed Kentaro sighs, as he pulls a padded envelope out of his coat's inner breast pocket.

“Inside of this envelope is a VHS tape.” “I do not know if you have any recollection of this, but suddenly at the start of camp last year Suzume decided to take up vlogging.” “Her reasoning being that she wanted to have something for everyone to look back on and remember.” “As for the other reason..?” Although Kentaro has always presented himself to be a stoic, uncaring person. His tone seemed to shift as if the topic at hand frightens even him. This is something I pick up on as he stumbles to set the tape on the table. “To prove that Camp Gehenna’s very own “boogeyman” exists.”

“You wouldn’t happen to mean “Troy”. Would you?”

I ask, having done my own research on the camp in the time leading up to them confirming her death.

“The very same,” Kentaro responds as he gestures to Yusuke to walk with him to the front door.

“We are to believe that before her disappearance, Suzume must have found some substantial evidence to prove his existence.”

“Though Suzume recorded new tapes every week we were at camp. It is believed that those tapes were all discarded when the Camp Gehenna renovation project started in 2015,”

“The only one we were able to recover was graciously donated to us by her father, who burned the remainder of the footage from her camcorder onto a VHS tape.”

That’s right. Kentaro and Suzume were closer friends before we met. Due to their parents trying to pass their own friendship onto their children. It only makes sense that her father would have no issue letting him have such a sentimental item.

“We weren’t able to find any information that could potentially help us, so that’s why I’m giving the tape to you.”

For the first time since this reunion started, Kentaro's solemn gaze was focused away from me. It’s as if just speaking of this is tearing him up inside.

“You knew Suzume the best out of all of us, so I have high hopes you’ll find the truth…”

With that, they both exit. Leaving me eyeing the strange envelope.

※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※

“I’d be lucky if this thing even works,” I ask myself as I finish connecting the VCR to the living room TV. It took me hours to find it, only to realize that it quite literally was in the last place I’d ever dream of checking. Underneath a pile of my foster father's old porno mags.

“I can’t believe they talked me into this.” “Like, what is there to gain from me watching these anyways.” “Just feels like a way to force me to relive my past mistakes.”

Nevertheless, I press the power button. After a few seconds of dead air, a menu screen begins to fizzle into view.

“Welcome back to Oracle. Where we bring the worlds of your dreams to life.”

“Oracle huh?” “I remember back in the day the old man would absolutely refuse me anytime I'd ask to use this thing.” “Surprised it’s still in good enough shape after all this time.

It’s a bit odd to me that this VCR has a menu screen though. I’ve never used any besides the ones at camp or at Suzume’s place, but they never had this fancy of a layout. We weren’t rich or anything growing up, but my foster father did work as a monk during his time alive. So that could potentially explain splurging on such luxuries here and there.

“Here goes nothing.” I sigh as I remove the videotape from the envelope and slide it into the VHS tray.

I can’t help but feel as though I’m shaking as I move my finger to the play button. As if my soul has been split in two. One half desperately wants to gain that closure that it has yearned for, and the other half feels as if this is a bad idea. No matter which half was more dominant, the button was still pressed.


Just as quickly as the button was pressed, the TV powered off.

“Huh..?” I think to myself, a calming sensation flowing throughout me. It appeared as though the VCR caused the TV to blow a fuse.

“I guess that makes sense. It’s an older model running on a newer television, so I really should have expected this sort of thing.”

I think as I gently begin to push the eject button.

“I’ll just have to call up Kentaro and let him know I can’t help after-”

Before the input could be finalized, that same flurry of static from the tv began to flow out of the VCR.

“What the hell?!”

I think, attempting to throw myself away from the tv. It’s too late, however. The static has already engulfed part of my hand and is rapidly spreading throughout my body. It feels as though a thousand icy needles are all piercing throughout my skin. The more I attempt to wipe it off, the more places it begins to cover. “Was I this close before?!” I think as I finally begin to notice that my body is being pulled closer and closer to the television with every passing second. “No, It’s dragging me in!” I desperately attempt to claw at the marble flooring in a desperate attempt to save myself, but all that seems to do is chip off a few of my fingernails as I’m finally pulled in. The last thing I hear before things fade to black is that same menu screen jingle.

“Welcome back to Oracle. Where we bring the worlds of your dreams to life.”  

Fuzzy Rabid Usagi
Joe Gold

Madman's Forgiveness

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon