Chapter 0:

The Old Man And The Machine (1)

To Go Back

Within the busy streets of Shinjuku lies a building. A building that holds a special kind of technology—a machine. This machine; it has been in the center of many forms of criticism and discussion. Many question the ethics and morals of a machinery such as this. But the truth is, an even bigger majority simply don’t care about the repercussions. Minor use of this machine is fine—it's sometimes encouraged. But there are times where people can take it too far. Such as—Oh, look at this old man, for example.

The old man, gripping his cane in one hand slowly drags himself to the front of the building. Looking up at its massive size, he pauses. Almost as though he’s hesitant at what he’s about to do. But he proceeds. Of course he does. What else can he do at this point? What else does he have to… Nevermind. The old man enters the building and talks to the receptionist at the desk. They exchange a few words before she gives him a slip and carries on with the next fateful customer.

The old man, cane in hand, trudges across the crowded hall filled with people coming and going. With a shaky hand, he looks down at the slip of paper that says 7-B. The man isn’t even on the right floor. Far from it, in fact. He scans the hall for an elevator and lands his eyes on a large door with flashing lights above it. As though he’s drawn to it, he makes his way to the door. The old man approaches closer to the door and finds—that it says his name. In bright neon letters. That’s strange. He doesn’t remember telling anyone to put that there. Without even shrugging his shoulders, the old man carries on to the flashy door.

The closer he gets to the flashy door, the sooner he realises that the door isn’t flashy at all. The old man looks up at the flashing lights to see them… dead. Oh, did the power go out? It’s alright. From this angle, the burnt neon sign almost reads the number seven. Just like his slip. He must be in the right place, then. The man marches forward and opens the door and finds himself standing in the middle of a dark room. Except, it’s not entirely dark, is it?

In the center of the room glows a light from within a photobooth-looking machine. Yes, that machine. But what of it? Well, it’s the sole purpose of this old man’s journey. The old man takes a step forward to the machine—but realises something dire. He had misplaced his cane somewhere along the way. What a pity. But it’s alright. He’s so close to his destination. He won’t stop now. He can't stop. The old man takes another step forward. And another. And yet another after that. Until—he’s on the floor. Of course, that’s why he had the cane, after all.

The old man drags himself with whatever energy he has within him to pull himself closer to the machine. At the feet of it, he grips the side of the machine and pulls himself up. With a shaky hand, he grabs the curtain hiding the machine and pulls it to the side revealing a bright light from within. A smile creeps on his twisted face. Almost hypnotised, the old man takes a step within the machine and closes the curtain behind him. He can’t have anyone else interrupt him, now can he?

Taking a seat on a stool in front of him, the old man is presented with many wires and technology all lined on a desk. Above the desk—the source of the bright light is a monitor. It looks as though it can hold and read values if it were connected to something. But—of course—all of the technology in front of him. He can connect himself to the machine. The old man takes the wires and devices and starts hooking himself up to the machine—almost as though he…

Almost as though he was being controlled, he elegantly attached himself to each piece just right. Just as intended. The last thing to put on is the helmet that sits to the old man’s right side. With a steady hand, he grabs the headset and slides it on his head. The screen starts to flash many numbers and symbols before switching to a different view. This view is a more simple—far more comprehensible view. It asks but only a simple question:

“When would you like to go back to?”

From somewhere, footsteps thump. The old man's grin grows. Shouts are told. The red. He opens his mouth. The blue. Panic arises. But not from him. Pounding can be heard from a certain door. He loosens his grip on... 

The lights—they flash.

The color.

Of red.

And blue.

“To go back.”

“But to when?”

“When else… but to the desired life that once was?”

To Go Back