Chapter 9:

Killing Harmony

Yesterhead


For once, someone else is making even less sense than me.

“Run that by me again? Debby, I don’t understand what the fuck you’re saying. Slow down and speak clearly.”

Here I am again, alone with this poor girl in her farmhouse. As much as I rag on him, I gotta give Dylan some credit for farrying me back home and then over here on such short notice.

“Listen, Molly-“ Debby explains, her weight rested on the familiar crutch pinned to her century-old family rug. “The only reason you haven’t been able to summon Elopas yet is because you aren’t actually using an officially registered VISTA headset!”

“What the shit do you mean? It said so on the fucking box, dumbass.”

“No! That’s not it! Molly, you use all those illegal chips, right?”

“Yeah? And?”

“Your system isn’t linked to a FRiDAYLaND account, is it?”

I take a frustrated step back, itching my forehead holes. “The fucks’s that got to do with anything?”

“It didn’t make any sense Molly. I believed in your dream this whole time, I really did. I looked and looked for the reason your experiments weren’t working. Then it hit me- Molly, you use your headset the way you do to go off the grid- but from what I’ve read, all signs point to that being exactly what’s getting in the way of you summoning Elopas!”

“How the hell would that be the case? Christ, Deb… I was in the middle of a date, you know! Shit, I was- this close to losing mine!”

“Molly. Molly.” The bitch hobbles over to me, putting her hands on my shoulders without asking. “You came here because you knew there was still hope. A part of you still believed in Elopas. You’re this close. So please, please listen to me!” The girl airs. “Please… let me repay you for all you’ve done for me!”

I shove her away a little.

“Explain. Explain more! What would me having a fucking social media account have anything to do with summoning Elopas?”

“Molly… as backwards as it may sound, everything I could find on those servers you use… the ones at PSICO, yeah? They all have security measures in place. While an off-the-grid headset could by all means join their VRchat lobbies, there’s just no way the company’s computers allow such tech to harness their experimental capabilities! Given- there’s no real proof of anyone harnessing that power in the first place, but- if someone’s gonna be the first, it’s gonna be you! So please!”

She fucking cups her hands over my shoulders again, nearly sobbing as she spits all over my face.

“S-Sign up for FRiDAYLaND! Make an account right now, and summon Elopas!”

I push her off me as hard as I can. She falls to the floor, unable to stand as I kick her crutch far, far away from her grubby little hands.

“M-Molly…”

“You drive me fucking mad, girl. When I came here looking for your solution I thought it’d be the one thing to convince me that Elopas was real. It- was a desperate, stupid fucking endeavor. From a stupid fucking girl.”

“I’m not… stupid.”

“I wasn’t talking about you.”

“Please… just help me up, Molly.”

I consider spitting on her face as payback for mine. But in the end, I just take my VISTA and stomp straight out the door. As I wait an hour for Dill to show back up, I relax easily knowing poor Deb won’t be able to come out here and talk to me any more than she already has.


The ride home with Dylan begins in silence. It’s like I don’t have anything to say to the guy anymore. But eventually, he starts a conversation with me instead.

“So your, uh… girlfriend.” He says, feigning disinterest. “You two going to Prom tomorrow?”

“Yeah… of course.” I reflexively stare out my window. “I almost forgot.”

He laughs.

“Forgot?”

I just watch the landscape pass by.

“Well, I’m not going.” He remarks.


Home. Sleep. Got a lot more time to rest when I don’t have an imaginary friend to play with.

I get a text in the middle of the night.

Today 3:26 (Unknown)

Molly its Harmony

Today 3:27 (Me)

Hi

Today 3:27 (Me)

Really fucking sorry about today. What I had to leave for wound up being absolutely pointless

Today 3:27 (Unknown)

I forgive you

Today 3:27 (Unknown)

just don’t talk about all that scary stuff again.

Today 3:27 (Me)

I won’t

Today 3:28 (Unknown)

okay. are you excited for prom?

Today 3:28 (Me)

Yeah ofc

Today 3:28 (Unknown)

it’s gonna be so much fun

we’ll have to finish what we started last time

Today 3:28 (Me)

Yeah

Today 3:29 (Unknown)

do you wanna talk or sleep

Today 3:29 (Me)

Sleep

Today 3:29 (Unknown)

(╯︵╰,)

Today 3:30 (Unknown)

goodnight bby

Today 3:30 (Me)

Gn

Two hours later, I’m up again. My hand’s on the wardrobe. What’s it gonna be today? Might actually matter for once now that I’m in a relationship. Underwear- well, that’s easy. Still sticking with green. As for the rest of my outfit… well, it’s not like I really have anything all that special or that she’d like to see me in. I could forgo the tights for once and just do shorts. I guess that’s something.

I always make the mistake of brushing my teeth after I dress. S’why I try to match what I wear with what I scrub- the green mint toothpaste is hardly visible on my top, which is the same as usual. I don’t own makeup, so I can’t do any today. I guess it doesn’t really matter. Harmony likes me for me, after all. I stare into the mirror, my detached, ghostly fucking frown staring right back. Yep, still me. God, I love this bitch.

I slip on my crocs as I step out the door and follow Elaine to the car. My choice of music for the ride is Deathwishiz and my choice of view is directly behind the car, watching things as we pass them. I try not to think too hard about how close we are to getting there. Even today, I’m not all that hyped for school itself. After all, it’s still gonna take forever. And then what? No matter how good Prom is, it’ll all be over in an hour or two.

On the way to class, Debby stops me in the hallway just to apologize. Says it was a last-ditch effort anyway. Like I don’t already know. First block’s more of Dill’s depression hour. He’s just getting worse and worse these days. But he’s pretty passionate about not going to the dance, so that’s something. I just wish he didn’t sound so fake these days. I can count on Wire to be honest with himself, at least. He doesn’t act like today’s anything special for him, and doesn’t complain either. He says that, by now, we should really cool our jets. The year’s practically over. In just a week or two, we’ll be out of this dump- for good. And at least according to him, once that happens- nothing we did here will matter to us ever again.

Like we did anything that mattered here in the first place.

At long last, I arrive just in time for girlfriend class. Early, even. You’d think I sprinted down the hallways to get here. It actually kinda sucks because then I have to wait like six minutes for her to show up. But oh-is-it worth it when she finally does.

“Good morning, Molly.” She says from above me, not sitting down. “Let’s not do class today, yeah?” Her outfit today’s amazing. I can’t describe it in detail without sounding like a lecher, but it’s pink, black, tight, and short.

“Yeah.” I respond, rising from my desk. “Let’s not.”

I follow her as we seemingly walk down to the quiet hallway, but she doesn’t stop there. To my surprise, she puts her painted nails on one of the supposedly locked classroom doors and opens it right up.

“Yo, what?” I stare into the dark room. “How’d you know about a place like this?”

“You never tried all the doors, did you Molly? What, were you too scared? This is the only one that’s not locked.”

We step inside, but she doesn’t flick on the lights. I wonder if they’d be able to know if we did. Probably not, but it looks cooler in here lightless anyway. As I shut the door, the same relief of privacy I get when I arrive home from school washes over me. It’s like we’re not even here anymore.

“Since yesterday went off the rails… we can have our first real date here, in a world all to ourselves. How’s that sound to you?”

“Like heaven.” I say. She’s right. We aren’t even in school anymore. This is someplace else.

I catch her looking at the side of a desk. Something’s carved into it, with what looks like must’ve been an unsharpened mechanical pencil, more likely than not. She’s enthralled by it.

“You ever wonder about the people who carve their and their lover’s initials into stuff like desks and playgrounds?” She asks me out of the blue. “I always can’t help but imagine what kind of people they were, or how old they are now, or if they’re still together.”

I lean over to see the old markings clearly etched into the side of the desk- HS + LN. Circled with a heart, scratched over a few times by others who sat here. But all the same, still visible through the age and wear.

“It’s pretty childish…” she contemplates. “But it’s the one kind of immaturity that makes me smile.”

Harmony turns to me, smiling both like an innocent kid and a weary old woman.

“Let’s make one, you and I.”

We find our spot on one of the desks. Somewhere that won’t ever be replaced or painted over. Just a random desk like all the others. Mundane. Typical.

“Who’s gonna write it?”

“We’ll each write each other’s initials.”

“Okay.”

As she scratches an “M” below me, I slowly carve a deep “H.” I remember Wire said her last name once… Bridges or something. I carve a “B,” slightly lighter in case I’m wrong.

When I finish and stand, she’s the one to make the heart. Even adds a little arrow for good measure. I daresay it’s cute.

“HB… MH. So you remembered my surname just fine, Harmony.” I stare down at the design.

“Only the letter it started with. You couldn’t give me a hundred bucks to tell you what it was.”

I sit on the desk we made our marks on, and stare at the short stack of leftover chairs in the corner, no place left for them in a school I’ll never have to step foot in again one day soon. I wonder when they’ll ever get to leave this place.

We spend hour after hour in that room, talking about things that don’t matter as we wish the day away. Each time we get bored, one of us asks the other what her favourite show or animal is or whatever.

“I can’t wait for this dance tonight, Molly.” Harmony rests her head in my lap as we lie across the cold and dusty tile ground.

“Have you ever been to one before? A school dance.”

She pauses.

“Well… yes, of course I have.”

“I never did. So I was just wondering.”

“…Oh. Yeah.”

“I… still wanna know what kind of person you are, Harmony. I never paid much attention to anyone outside of my friends, so I really had no impression of you before we met.”

“What kind of person do you think I am?”

“I figured you were popular. But… it’s not like I’ve seen you with anyone other than me.”

“I… guess you wouldn’t, yeah. Truth is, Molly, right now… you’re all I’ve got.”

“I’m sorr-“

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had a lot of friendships- relationships before, but none of them felt like this. None of them felt real like this.”

“So you… used to be popular?”

“I… I guess so. Maybe. I was the head of a large group of friends.”

“What were they like?”

“…Children.”

“…Oh, yeah?”

“They were awful. Nothing but drama all day long.”

“That’s why you left them.”

“No… they… left me.”

“Really?”

“They all ganged up on me. Blamed me for every little thing wrong with their stupid lives. And just like that, they left.”

Her head turns towards the legs of the desks.

“I… realized then all the time I’d wasted being with them. I’d thrown my whole high school experience down the gutter. Three and a half years spent bickering with nobodies. I doubt I’ll ever talk to any of them again.”

“I mean… I’d hope you won’t have to.”

“But I kept going, Molly. And in these last few memories of my high school life, I’m going to make myself happy.”

“You say “memories” like it’s already over.”

“May as well be. I’m just filling in the blanks for the things I’ve lost. I kind of get the impression you might be doing the same.”

“You’d… be wrong. I just want this to be over, honestly. I gave up on making memories a long time ago.”

She hoists her head up, gazing into my eyes.

“So what are you doing with me, then?”

“I’m… passing time, I guess. I think we’re both just… trying to live in the present in our own ways. Though I’m sure we’re both probably fucking it up somehow. It’s like there’s no winning this game. Either way you wind up regretting something.” I turn to the chairs again. “Maybe that’s just how it is.”

“…Do you love me, Molly?” She asks. I face her again.

“Yeah. I still love you. Even if none of this is real.”

She sniffles, eyes falling to the floor.

“It is real, Molly. Why would you ever say that?”

“Cause that’s how I see things sometimes. I can’t help it, Harmony. I can’t convince myself what is and isn’t a dream anymore.”

“That’s terrible, Molly. I told you not to say things like that.”

“Is it because… you feel like that too sometimes?”

She slowly stands.

“I don’t get it at all, no.”

I rise to my legs as well, flopping against the wall.

“This is why I hate people. It’s so hard for us to even understand what each other’s saying, even if we’ve felt it ourselves.”

“You’re “people.” You hate yourself too, then?

“I told you, I don’t. I’m the living embodiment of everything I aspire to. I guess I just mean I hate… other people. And that’s not to say I still can’t love you- I do. But it’s so damn frustrating that the rest of this world can’t just be a little more like Molly Hitchcock.”

“You’ll be pretty boring then, won’t you?”

“At least I’d be easier to understand.”

Harmony walks up to the door.

“What are you doing? Day’s hardly over.”

“Let’s… go back to class. I’m not having fun anymore.”

I frown.

“Suit yourself. I’m staying here.”

She gives me one last sad expression as she exits the room. Five minutes later, I get too anxious and leave too.

I inch back to class, the hallways stretching on and on as I walk slower and slower.

Wait a minute. Oh, fuck.


Did I just fuck this up?


She can’t hate me now, can she? Calm down, Molly. She’s still good for tonight. She would’ve said something if not.


Right?


I have to confront her before she leaves. One last time.




I don’t go back to class. Not a chance. I wait right by the door, acting like I’m studying. Nobody’s the wiser. As I flip through my chemistry textbook for the 500th time, the bell finally rings.


I rush out the door. And at the bottom of the steps, I stand and wait. Parting the sea of children heading down like a tall rock in a raging river, I keep my eyes peeled, not even blinking as I scan the ever-changing crowd for her. Harmony. The only person in this entire world that I’ve decided to love more than myself.

Finally. I spot her. At the top of the stairs, before she spots me. My chance.

She somehow doesn’t see me as she makes the last step towards the sidewalk- or she’s acting like it. Just as she passes, I grab her forearm.

“Ah! What the fuck?”

I turn to her, eyes ablaze.

“H-Harmony! Wait, we’re not done talking!”

“Let me- go!” She cries, snapping out of my grasp before I can release it. She looks at me like I’m some sort of psycho.

“Harmony, please! We- are we- still good for tonight?”

“What is your problem? I- Molly, I…”

“Tell me!” I shout, not expecting to.


Harmony swallows.


“We- Molly, I’ll tell you this…” she’s panting. “You… you’re who I picked. You’re the one person I saw, and somehow thought- yeah.”

The sky above us passes by like nothing’s going on below. 

“-She’s the one. She’s the one who’s gonna fix my year.” Harmony breathes. “But all you’ve done… all you’ve done is make things worse! I don’t get you, Molly- everything you say, your warped brain, this awful, awful shit you say about what’s real or not… it’s just what I was trying to avoid! Can’t you be good for me, Molly? Can’t you be who I need you to be for my memories?!”



A crowd has gathered. I’m faced with horrific embarrassment, along with the pulsating, acidic feeling in my throat. This bitch is fucking delusional. She’s worse than I am! If she thinks she can go about setting people up like pawns, just so she can play queen and live her perfect-fucking high school fantasy… the slut needs someone to bring her back to reality.


“I hate you, Harmony.”


The words fall out of my mouth like they were set there this whole time.


“I FUCKING hate you, and everyone like you! You stupid, ignorant, privelieged fucking assholes who think they deserve their pathetic dream lives! You know why all your friends fucking kicked you to the curb, you fucking loser? Because they could smell the rancid, maggot-piece-of-shit you were! They knew you didn’t care about them. They weren’t good enough for you! And now? Neither am I! Nobody’s good enough for Princess Harmony! Not in this life! I’ll tell you something, you cock-sucking bitch— those friends of yours? That shitty life you had that never quite felt real? THAT’S ALL YOU’RE-“ I pant a single breath. “THAT’S ALL YOU’RE GETTING, AND THAT’S ALL YOU’RE EVER GONNA GET! So suck it up and CHOKE IT DOWN LIKE THE REST OF US!”







The knuckles that crack against my nose are rumbling with the furious anger of their possessor. As I grip the broken redness below my eyes, hunching over, the girl above me, Harmony, has ceased to see the people around her watching us. She only zeroes in on my putrid, worthless face as I stare back up at her, probably crying.

She hits me again. In the head. I fall to the ground and the impact fucks my nose up a second time. She spits on my hair, and nobody cares when she walks off scot-free.

I feel like ground beef.




Elaine doesn’t talk to me when I get home that day. Nobody’s spoken to me since Harmony beat the shit out of me. I fucking despise all of humanity.

I lay on my bed, nude, the crisp blood wiping off on my sheets. I look up and see only the same ceiling I’ve always known. The one I always looked up to in despair when summoning Elopas didn’t work out. The one I stare at thinking for hours as I fail to sleep. After today, I’m not sure I’ll ever sleep again. Not when monsters like Harmony roam my memory.

We really are the same… I want my perfect life too, after all. One where she’s not there. One where… nobody’s there. Nobody but me.


My closet looks lonely.


I open it, looking for something. What exactly I don’t remember until the doors part and I see it lying there. She’s still here, waiting- the box.

All the chips that coward Gormage left me are lying at my feet, ready to assist in any kind of escapism I desire.


But as I comb through them, I have no idea what it is I really want. Nothing quite comes to mind is all…


Lying in bed again, I get a message. It’s from Wire.

Today 6:42 (Wire)

I actually went to Prom. It’s been pretty fun.

Today 6:45 (Wire)

I figured you would be here?

Today 6:48 (Wire)

Harmony is here.

Today 6:53 (Wire)

Why aren’t you?

I throw my phone into my TV.



…the screen cracks.



….



But it’s fine. Because I just got an idea.


I shuffle through my new chips. 



Blindeye Chip- used to eliminate the sensation of wearing your headset.

Eureka…

Auto-Programmer Chip- used to create simple AI without any manual coding.

If I don’t wanna go to their stupid fucking dance…

Molder- used to form accurate 3D models of the user.

I can just make my own!

Maxfeel- used to perfectly synchronise user’s tactile experience with their avatar’s body.

And…

Breakchip- allows the user to feel pain from virtual collision feedback.


I strap in. I find myself a map… yeah, a school will still do. This one’s from some anime. Beats the real one. I load it- private server.

I’m all alone here, but not for long. First thing’s first- I use my Molder to put myself in the game as my own avatar. Now we’re talking. With the Blindeye active, it’s like I’m really here! But we’re not done yet…

Auto-Programmer. I activate it with my head. All I want’s something real simple. Something very, very familiar to me. A ton of them. And I know exactly which model I’m using.


Before I know it, the stage is set~! I stand outside an empty parking lot, shitty textures lining the distant skybox, staring up at a fully-rendered school! From the inside, music is blaring… not my favourite, but it’ll do. At least it’s not that god-awful Masayoshi Takanaka. 

I slowly locomotion my way up to the working front door. I can feel the brassy metal of the doorknob as my fingers graze it… this is it, huh? My high school dance… I wonder who’s gonna show up!


I creepingly slide through the doors to see the lit-up cafeteria where twenty lime-haired girls await me.

“I can’t fucking believe it…”

I don’t need their Prom.

Me, myself, and I are gonna have our own.

The 2023 graduating class of Mollys dances to themselves before they collectively notice the arrival of their progenitor.

“Everyone here… is ME!”

I jump in among them, throwing my hands back and forth as I join my kin. Their lovely faces smile and laugh back at me as I do the same. Everyone is having the time of my life!

The crowd giggles as I jump up on a table and start doing the Hare Hare Yukai. I’m soon joined by a quartet of Mollys eager to join me, their hands waving in unison with mine. As I brush one’s skin by accident, I notice I feel the sensation twice over- once for what I feel, once for what she does. I guess the auto-programmer decided to transmit all their haptic feedback to me? I’m more than fine with that. They are me, after all!

The party lights flash green and purple as we all form a rave mob of pretentious fucking lesbians. We jump like mad, flooding the unsupervised dance hall with our perfectly uniform aesthetic as we cheer each other on with energetic verbalizations of our supreme euphoria.

“I fucking hate the real world!” I shout out loud as cheerful as a cheerleader.


We all spread out across the room, jumping from table to table as we perform advanced gymnastics together with our perfectly synced minds. This is how life should be! If things could just be me, it’d be so much easier! I love myself! Are you happy, Harmony?

One motions with her pointer finger for me to leave the group and come closer. I can’t say no to myself, can I? I follow her, the others ignoring us completely as we sneak off to behind the empty DJ setup.

She doesn’t say anything to me, but as her smile draws more and more devilish, me and her know what we’re doing. Without the first thought of the “morality” other “people” would preach about, our identical faces draw near as we press our perfectly-fitted lips together, crossing our tongues as we feel double the pleasure from the exquisite mirrored kiss. Just as we part, I turn to see all the others looking at me with that same, lustful grin.


“Y-you all came to the right place…” I mutter feverishly in my lascivious haze. “Now let’s all have some fun all by ourselves, yeah?!”


The crowd cheers as their nude bodies climb up to the stadium I stand atop. Their excited forms gaining closer and closer to me, I begin to feel so many things at once I might almost pass out. Their hands, mouthes, legs touching me all over, the passionate sensation reflected onto my own senses perfectly… this buffet of feeling creeps up on me in an instant as I maniacally cackle deep in my pile of degenerate clones.

A breast in each hand, our perpetual motion machine of pleasure gradually escalates into a full-blown one-woman orgy. The Mollys on top of, below, and to the sides of me all rollick in salacious delirium as we caress and manipulate one another’s bodies, moaning in rows like British soldiers firing one after another. 

This passionate love-making however quickly evolves into a sex-crazed frenzy in which all twenty-one of me are hitting, biting, and aggressively pounding into each other to the rhythm of the looping track blaring at full volume. At first I’m laughing, but as it goes on, and on, and on, and on- climax after climax, sensation after sensation- I notice them.



I can’t feel my headset at all, that much is true. Forgot it was even there. But that doesn’t stop my tears piling up behind the lenses from distorting my vision as I sob in outrage.




As the music fades, all I can hear is the pathetic sound of myself crying.






I grab one Molly’s neck.



She doesn’t resist at first, but as I start to squeeze harder, her fingers shoot to mine as she tries to pull them off her tightening throat. I can’t blame her. As the pressure reflects to me, it’s so goddamn painful I start to cry even more as I tighten my grip, preparing to choke her to death. Tighter. Tighter. Tighter. Tighter. TIGHTER



“I HATE YOU!”

“I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU-“

“I FUCKING HATE YOU!”




I beat and beat on Molly’s head, thrashing her skull until she can’t think straight anymore. I bash her with every first thrown sent with the intent to kill. I hit and I hit and I beat her senseless until my own brain starts to short-circuit from the pain. It hurts so bad oh god it hurts it hurts it HURTS


I slam her into a wall, breaking her head open.

My headset falls off me, sweat caking it’s inside.




Staring at my real-world room, I pant, pain searing throughout my head.




The Breakchip sticks out the side of my VISTA, taunting me.





I…





I almost just…




….




Killed myself, didn’t I…?

///////////IMPRINT_END/////////////

ALL LIFE’S A LIE

TAKE IT INTO YOUR HAND- THE FUTURE

TASTE IT WHILE YOU STILL CAN

Elukard
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