Chapter 7:

Seven – Piano

Normal in Parenthesis—The Old Will and the Dawn to All | Our World

Beep.Bookmark here

Beep…Bookmark here

Beep…?Bookmark here

Why do I hear beeping sounds?Bookmark here

It felt like I have slept for eternity. I can hardly open my eyes.Bookmark here

Ah-Bookmark here

My whole body hurts, great. No, that's so much of an understatement. It's like my limbs are barely intact.Bookmark here

“…pe he wak… p soon.”Bookmark here

“His body has alre… bilized. Let’s wa…”Bookmark here

I guess I still can’t properly hear as what I can hear mostly is ringing.Bookmark here

But that’s not the problem. I need to muster enough strength to at least open my eyes to see whoever they are. I can’t catch what they’re talking about clearly, but I think their conversation is about me waking up. Hmm… Was I slept for years or what?Bookmark here

Gin opened his eyes slowly and what he saw first are two people talking about something about him.Bookmark here

Who are they? But I hope they see me now since I assume they wanted me to wake up.Bookmark here

The two men finally saw Gin, who is lying in a hospital bed.Bookmark here

“H-Hey… look… he’s awake…”Bookmark here

“Thank goodness, you’re awake now, sir…”Bookmark here

I looked at them both and scanned their faces thoroughly. They look like they are also from Orio, both at the age of 20s, and quite tall, I think.Bookmark here

“W-Who…”Bookmark here

“Introductions shall come later, if you think you can raise your upper body, we’ll help you. But keep in mind that you’re still severely injured.”Bookmark here

I gave them a difficult nod as an answer to the question of the person sitting on a chair beside where I’m lying down.Bookmark here

Wait… Injured?Bookmark here

*throb*Bookmark here

What in the world…Bookmark here

I remember I was hit by a truck out of nowhere… Does that mean…Bookmark here

I didn’t die at that point?Bookmark here

Hahh…Bookmark here

There’s no point thinking about it. These two might know the situation I’m at right now and they may probably answer my questions.Bookmark here

The two men helped Gin raise his upper body for a sitting position and leaned him onto the pillow.Bookmark here

Thankfully, I can move at least an inch already. But my body still hurts a lot. It’s probably because of the ribs broken inside of me. I guess it’s time for me to speak then.Bookmark here

“Sir, do you think you can sp-“Bookmark here

“Ehem.”Bookmark here

I cleared my throat to clarify if it wasn’t totally busted. In contrast of what I thought, it still works fine.Bookmark here

“Please just call me Gin-”Bookmark here

“Wha…”Bookmark here

“…Don’t worry. I r-remembered the situation that l-led me here. But I-I would like you to answer my questions…Bookmark here

First, who are you?Bookmark here

Second, where am I?.Bookmark here

Third, how long did I sleep?Bookmark here

Before I even feel the pain from the multiple fractures, I need you to answer those.”Bookmark here

“Sir- I mean, uhh… Gin.Bookmark here

I am Hiroomi Katsuto and this man is Sean Hickory. We’re still in Orio, particularly in Cotona. We’ll tell you our specific location later. You slept for 8 hours. We rescued you around 10am, and it’s currently 6:29pm, same day: August 27, 2017, Sunday.”Bookmark here

“I didn’t expect you to give such a detailed answer. Thanks.”Bookmark here

“We should be the one surprised though. How did you know that you suffered from broken bones?”Bookmark here

“That’s for later, but can you two explain the situation right now? And how come I can still move even with such deadly injuries?Bookmark here

Especially my right arm…”Bookmark here

I could have have sworn that it was as good as a decapitated arm.Bookmark here

“Yes, we’ll do.Bookmark here

Actually, I didn’t expect you to be this calm after suffering critical injuries that led you to a near death situation.Bookmark here

But let’s start with where we are.Bookmark here

As I have said, we’re still in Cotona, but in the outskirts. We’re currently in an underground base without surveillance from aboveground, which means we’re hidden right now. We managed to get you by disguising ourselves as an ambulance.Bookmark here

The two of us are the ones who treated you and your current condition is far better than we thought. You mainly suffered severe fractures and countless wounds. Fortunately, your spinal cord didn’t take any damage even after landing on a wall with immense impact.Bookmark here

What surprised us is how quickly you recovered. It’s unprecedented. It seems that your bones have a very surreal regenerative characteristic.”Bookmark here

“Regenerative…”Bookmark here

“Additionally, we didn’t perform an operation to attach metal plates or prosthetics to your body, since we have observed that while you’re being transported, your bones were already recovering slowly.Bookmark here

It seems that your body can consume a high content of calcium which is then backlogged or stored in your body. So we hypothesized that it’s also a factor to the unprecedented speed of your recovery. But what intrigued us is how a broken bone can naturally go back to its original position that quickly.Bookmark here

We conducted a research, and there are a few cases of what we call ‘Bone Regeneration’ around the world, starting from 1950s. And you are one of them now. But your case is a bit different because of the recovery speed.Bookmark here

But by any chance, do you have any medical record of something along the lines that you can recall?”Bookmark here

“…There is… from the past…Bookmark here

But I can’t tell you the details though, since I don’t particularly remember it.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

“But I actually thought I’m done for…”Bookmark here

“About that… You really are in the verge of death that time, frankly. We didn’t save your life actually. It was you who did.Bookmark here

You were awake the whole time when we were at the ambulance until your vitals stabilized. If you had slept, what you thought might have probably happened. But your eyes were open and it feels like you refused to die.”Bookmark here

“How…Bookmark here

I really thought that’s it for me…Bookmark here

Wait, you said that I was awake at the ambulance, but I don’t remember anything at that point.”Bookmark here

“Anyways, your body is not yet in full condition. Specifically at 60 percent. Your bones are not yet completely healed but I’ll show you the results of the X-ray.”Bookmark here

Sean showed an envelope containing the film of the X-ray results.Bookmark here

“Thanks to the sudden uprising of technology in Orio, a safer type of X-ray machine was developed. It doesn’t have the usual energy of the X-rays that’s why it’s safer.Bookmark here

As for the observations, the regeneration has bound all of the broken and shattered bones to one place but they are not yet fully fixed.”Bookmark here

“How long will it take to completely heal, then?”Bookmark here

“Approximately one and a half year.Bookmark here

After your bones are in one place and stabilized, it was observed that that is the point where the recovery will slow down, in theory.”Bookmark here

“But it’s okay for you to stand now but rapid movements are definitely prohibited.”Bookmark here

While they are explaining, I noticed a door with a different look on the others in the underground base I’m currently at. I feel like it has something inside.Bookmark here

“I’ve been wondering about that door for a little bit. What is it for?”Bookmark here

“That’s something I’m about to explain what it is.Bookmark here

It’s a room discovered seventy years ago by people who took shelter and dug a hole for them to hide during the war. While continuously digging, they felt that an area is somewhat strange and heavy to the feeling. After some time, they polished the cave they dug and found the volume of that mysterious area and made it into a room.Bookmark here

The underground shelter that the people dug is currently where we are in right now. After that door there is the strange room.”Bookmark here

“Does that mean you’re moving at incognito right now?”Bookmark here

“No, not really.Bookmark here

But I think you need to hear our story on how we ended up here.”Bookmark here

The facial expressions of the two subtly change to a traumatic one. It feels like they had a rough time in the past.Bookmark here

“We were people who are not intended to live. When we were children, we were called ‘defectives’ or ‘rejects of the world’. But the name of our kind is ‘Exiles’. Bookmark here

We were thrown away like trash. I landed on a place where I was tortured. I was once a living plaything; a slave, if you may. I don’t even have a name when I was born.Bookmark here

But when I was eleven, I was saved and so was Sean. We were saved by a man who once lived in this place. He gave us a name and shelter.Bookmark here

There was a time of the world war where there are also Exiles that vanished to the world. But actually, they were the one who built this base. The existence of Exiles started that time of the world war.Bookmark here

Slowly, some of the Exiles surfaced to conquer the cruel world once again. They were led by one man and their comeback as normal humans were successful. They are the real veterans of the war, though they didn’t fight. They were supposed to be dead but they rose again and lived aboveground without any danger.Bookmark here

Though, the man who saved us retired from being the ‘leader’ of our small group. We don’t know his whereabouts right now but we are finding him as we speak. I can’t say his name though because he doesn’t want his existence leaked. But I shall give you a hint, he is a very wise person. He’s still young and has a sharp intuition.”Bookmark here

“Question.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“What is the purpose of your group and what do you want to gain?”Bookmark here

At that very time, the two men sensed the unexpected distrust coming from Gin's eyes. They thought, has he already experienced betrayal?Bookmark here

“Right now, we are blending in to the world and living with them. We have a good social standing and we have friends from above.Bookmark here

We don’t particularly want anything. But if there’s one, it’s probably acceptance and equality, where man doesn’t look down on another man. We wanted to be normal.”Bookmark here

“Where men do not look down on another… huh.Bookmark here

I lived a normal life without any danger to me. Except that that normal life is now done for because of my condition. The key to achieving a life without anything special is neutrality. We don’t need to stick our nose to arguments we are not involved, unless needed. But it varies from person to person.Bookmark here

My motto is ‘the word normal is normal’.Bookmark here

Actually, I lost my emotions, literally. But even so, recently it came back when something happens. I have poor social skills, but I made friends. They made my real emotions come back even if just for a moment. So I’m glad that I didn’t leave today. I remembered that I have a place I can go to—Home.Bookmark here

Hiroomi, Sean. You also have that. You have a home both here and above. You said you have friends and acquaintances in this cruel and unjust world. You managed to escape the torment that made you feel pain and perhaps hatred. It doesn’t matter to me if someone had a high or low standing. For me, those who think they are high and mighty are idiotic. I don’t care if someone is a leader or something. That person is just human. I don’t like the rotten system of hierarchy. A human is a human. Not unless they threw away their being as a human already.”Bookmark here

The two can’t help but let their tears flow after what they heard from Gin who is still in a hospital bed.Bookmark here

“Now, now… Please calm yourselves. Our conversation has not yet ended. So is my life.”Bookmark here

“You’re right.”Bookmark here

“Hmm… Actually, you said that you are living aboveground too. Care to tell what do you do there?”Bookmark here

“Oh, that.Bookmark here

We’ve already seen you sometimes. We’re also at Sector 527 and we’re partners at owning Giotto’s. Actually, the reason that we got to come quickly in aid is because a resurfaced apart from us was surveying the area. Having felt that you look familiar in the post-incident image, we immediately moved out before the police came."Bookmark here

“Oh, I see… Giotto’s huh…Bookmark here

Nani?! Ah-Bookmark here

Apples, that hurt!”Bookmark here

“Sorry, sorry. We shouldn’t surprise you like that. I forgot you’re a patient.”Bookmark here

“Wait, if you both own Giotto’s… Do you two have a license as a doctor?”Bookmark here

“No we don’t, but we studied a whole lot of medical things when we still lived here. We have a banished, skilled doctor here.”Bookmark here

“That makes sense now.”Bookmark here

As I’m making all the information sink in to me, I forgot something very important.Bookmark here

“Actually, we lost track of our conversation earlier. What is behind that door?”Bookmark here

“How should I put it…Bookmark here

It’s something that may help you, though it’s very risky and dangerous. That room is like in another dimension where you wouldn’t want to enter. To shorten the quantity of words, I would say it bends the laws of time and physics.”Bookmark here

That made me think a lot. How can such a place under my hometown exist? Is this made by whom or what?Bookmark here

“I suppose the origin of that is unknown.”Bookmark here

“Indeed.”Bookmark here

“Then I would take a guess.Bookmark here

Bending the laws of time means that the time inside is surreal. Let’s say the ratio is 10:1. A person spends ten days in that room but in the outside world, it’s just a day.Bookmark here

Probably the gravity there is greater than the surface of Earth. Maybe it increases as time passes when someone enters it.”Bookmark here

Hiroomi and Sean looked surprised after I said my guess about that room. I probably got at least a relative answer to it.Bookmark here

“Hiro, i-is this real…?”Bookmark here

“H-How did he…”Bookmark here

“How did you know that?!”Bookmark here

The two broke a throat in unison while looking at me with their eyes full of shock and curiosity. I thought they will attack me and break my bones again.Bookmark here

“About what?”Bookmark here

“If you’re taking an exam right now, I’ll give you an S.”Bookmark here

“W-Why?”Bookmark here

“Frighteningly, your guess is spot on.”Bookmark here

“Hontoni?”Bookmark here

“Yes, seriously.”Bookmark here

“Then one last question. Can the time be adjusted there?”Bookmark here

“It can be, but there should also be an equivalent time period in the outside world.”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Before you even oppose me, I will say this.Bookmark here

“The risk of increasing gravity is frightening because my limbs might get destroyed again when I enter that room. The time I will spend might affect somewhere in me. There is definitely danger in entering that room.Bookmark here

But I’ll enter it anyways.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Could you help me stand?”Bookmark here

The two carefully guided the wobbly and frail body of Gin to stand from the white bed he was lying at. Gin’s body is literally covered with bandages from the torso to toe.Bookmark here

“Right. The pain isn’t as bad. But my whole body feels like experiencing extreme muscle pains. I need a short walk later.”Bookmark here

“Gin, are you really sure about your decision?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I am sure.Bookmark here

If possible I want to enter it before the day ends. Can it also be that the duration real time be five days?”Bookmark here

Sean answered my question with another question with a face of someone worrying.Bookmark here

“You mean… the ratio is one and a half year to five days?”Bookmark here

“If possible, make it two years.Bookmark here

The reason is not because I want to get over this injury but instead, I want to change. I want to reevaluate my own self. It may destroy my being, but so be it. I need to see if I can exceed my limits and go back as someone who will know what is it to feel what humans truly have. That will be the main purpose of me temporarily running away from this world and jumping to an unknown dimension.Bookmark here

I’ve recently found the purpose of my life. But I need to take it in action.”Bookmark here

▪ ▪ ▪Bookmark here

Same day, 11:13pm.Bookmark here

“This door doesn’t lead you to the main room. The room before it is a midpoint where we can enter freely. But the next room is the real deal. While you’re inside, the doors in your room will only open once a month, meaning it will only open 24 times. With that time, you can’t go to the outside world but you can go to the midpoint. We will drop supplies and food there whenever the door opens in your side.”Bookmark here

“I have very little experience in cooking, but please keep the food supplies raw. This will be an ultimate survival for me.”Bookmark here

The two quickly prepared a bag for me to bring once I enter that room. There’s no point in escaping since the doors are not ordinary. Once I enter, I will be trapped in a room I haven’t seen yet for exactly two years.Bookmark here

In my case, I will come back exactly August 27, 2019. But it doesn’t count here at the outside world, of course.Bookmark here

“Let us have final checking then.”Bookmark here

“Hmm… All good.”Bookmark here

“It’s no use asking if you’re serious about this or not. There’s no point in persuading you not to enter.Bookmark here

But what are you going to do with the notebook?”Bookmark here

“I’ll keep logs everyday. One won’t be enough though, so I would ask you to bring more.Bookmark here

Based on our calculations, you will drop supplies 22 times and its equivalent to my side is 22 months. The first opening of the door will be today, and the 24th will be the time I’ll come back on Friday.Bookmark here

Hmm…Bookmark here

So this means that tomorrow and Tuesday, you will be putting supplies there 5 times and 4 times on the remaining days.”Bookmark here

“If you’re not here, everything will be miscalculated and considering you are injured, you helping us aren’t necessary honestly.”Bookmark here

“Just think that it was the last thing I did in this world after I went on a journey where I don’t know where I’m going to. It’s a bit unfair though. You won’t see me for only five days but I won’t see anyone for two years. I just want to mutter a lot of things after the door close.Bookmark here

And while I am there, I’ll do some research about that room since I will be the one to spend the longest time there…Bookmark here

Oh, I also have some favors to ask.”Bookmark here

“What are those?”Bookmark here

“First of all, I want my parents to know what happened to me. I know they’re worried that I’m lost for the whole day. So tomorrow as soon as possible, I need you to tell the whole story to my family.Bookmark here

And please grab my phone while you’re at it. It’s black at front and gray at the back.Bookmark here

Next is submitting a leave of absence to the school. As much as possible, I want the reason of my absence confidential except from the principal.”Bookmark here

“So you only want the principal to know the whole truth? But why?”Bookmark here

“Just a hunch, but I think he is the only one I can trust about this in the school. I don’t know why and I don’t even have proper connection to him.Bookmark here

At lunch break tomorrow, please talk to my friends about my absence, but keep the conversation in the shadows. They will only be located at a lone table in the school premises.Bookmark here

The rest is up to you two and I’m sorry for being very imperative.”Bookmark here

“No, no, no, it’s okay. Just leave the small things to us.”Bookmark here

“But I’m worried about your stay there. I hope that you will heal properly since we can’t monitor you from outside.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I’m also worried about myself…”Bookmark here

Two years.Bookmark here

730 days.Bookmark here

I’m all alone in that duration.Bookmark here

I wonder what will be the outcome of this foolishness of mine. I should keep myself from seriously dying there. I don’t know what will be behind the door because I’m entering a whole new dimension. I can’t say I will be properly safe for two years of staying there. But at least I want this experience to bear fruit and somehow give myself a change.Bookmark here

“Gin, it’s almost time.”Bookmark here

“Yeah.Bookmark here

It’s only a short time since we met, and now I’ll be leaving already.Bookmark here

I guess the only way to move forward is by entering that room. I can’t ensure that I will come back unscathed, but I’ll try not to die there, seriously.Bookmark here

I would love to have a nice chat with you two and the others in this underground base…Bookmark here

August 27 in two years…Bookmark here

September 1 here…Bookmark here

I guess I should move now instead of talking.Bookmark here

Hiroomi Katsuto, Sean Hickory…Bookmark here

I’ll see you again at Friday midnight when the door opens once again.”Bookmark here

“Gin, one last thing…”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“You… You’re a lot like the former leader who lead us here.”Bookmark here

“Hahaha… Now I’m eager to meet him in the future…Bookmark here

Catch you later.”Bookmark here

The sound of my footsteps slowly weakened and I can hear the sound of the doorknob while the door is opening.Bookmark here

I closed my eyes while I was walking forward to the opened door. I want to see what’s inside after the door closes. While my back is shown, I waved my hand to the two behind me saying that is goodbye.Bookmark here

I can feel the door slowly closing behind me. At last, I finally entered a realm I have never entered once.Bookmark here

Nothing out of the ordinary is happening yet. My body doesn’t feel heavy. I guess it takes time for the effects to kick in. I hope the pressure won’t destroy my half-cooked bones in the process.Bookmark here

11:30 pm.Bookmark here

The door’s finally shut.Bookmark here

I can open my eyes now.

Chapter Message:Bookmark here

Meep. Meep... Meep...? That winds up the 7th chapter!Bookmark here

And so another day of confusion as Bad POV transition-san strikes again. On the other hand, it felt weird mentioning the year 2019 in 2017, and now it is 2020.Bookmark here

Thanks for reading!Bookmark here

Eight: This room... is this a ____ reference?!Bookmark here

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