Chapter 27:



“I’m going to go get some air now.”

The flat that held warm air just moments ago was now too suffocating to bear, and I could only escape to the frosty night outside.

After opening the front door, I looked back at Kiri, but she just sat still on her chair, with her eyes on her lap.

Following her silence, I turned toward the dark and walked. Before she spoke.

“You know, it’s pointless whether I want to stay here or live with my dad. After all, you can always just report me and they will just take me back. But I trust that you don’t Stan. Or, I don’t know.”

I stared back at her with a lump caught in my throat. After being aware that my attempt of dispelling my state is futile, I walked out and closed the door behind me. And the only thing left behind was the echo of that lingering closed sound.

Although it was still early evening, the night had grown into an endless hole of blackness, with only the dim illumination from numerous windows guiding my way. I did not cross paths with anyone, and yet, the silhouettes that were present from unknown objects managed to give me a sense of longing.

Like I wasn’t alone.

“Pick up that phone and do what you have to do, Stan.”

A sudden voice emerged from the emptiness, and I should have been terrified. But something told me that she would appear, and so, unwaveringly, I met her eyes.

“Long time no see, Kae.”, I spoke.

“Glad that you still remember my name, I thought it was unimportant. Well, no matter, you know why I’m here.”

As soon as she finished, the girl approached my pocket with her hands, which I recoiled back.

“C’mon, are we really doing this? It’s not like she trusts you anyway, there’s no point in betraying her now.” Kae spoke with a sarcastic tone. One that irritated me even more.

“It should be her decision regardless.”

As if my words flew straight through the air, Kae only smiled and went for my pocket again, and so I stepped back once more. Though this time, her face seemed a bit more disgruntled.

“Why do you think she mentioned that you can call behind her back in the first place, Stan? She’s even doubting herself.”

“No.” I hesitated, but nonetheless, words still came out of my mouth. “It’s because she cares about me, and trusts me. That’s why she took so much effort to convince me to help John, it’s because she cares about everyone, and she needed to resolve everything. That’s her fixation.”

A burst of snowy wind passed through us, giving an eerie rustling sound through our ears. But it was not long before the wind was eclipsed by another flamboyant noise, a burst of laughter from Kae. She guffawed and guffawed, and it didn’t seem like she would stop any time soon.

“What’s so funny?” I asked with an obvious hint of annoyance.

The obnoxious noise faded with each second, and even though she hadn’t stopped completely, Kae was no longer amused.


In an instant, my face was encircled with a painful sensation, and I could feel my legs were no longer touching the ground.

“Resolve everything before she could move on? What the fuck is this pretentious bullshit?”, she took a few steps. “She was bluffing half the conversation, Stan. She’s lying to herself so that she can corner all her other options and opt for the easiest one, the most fun one.”

Right after she had punched me, her foot stomped on my arm, and I lost my grasp. My phone was no longer in my hand, and still mercilessly, she spoke.

“Looks like you haven’t learned jack shit, Stan. Hiding behind morals and made-up philosophy, all so that you don’t have to be the one to carry the burden, all so that you don’t have to be the bad guy. How many fucking times do you have to go through the same shit to understand that you have to make your own decisions and not cower away, Stan? Because this sure isn’t the first or second time.”

She bowed down and reached for my phone, but before Kae made contact, I interrupted. With a surprise sweeping kick, Kae could do nothing but fall down, and I relinquished my phone, as well as my footing.

“For someone who doesn’t exist, you pack quite a punch”, I wiped my imaginary injury. “Well, Kae, I know it’s pointless talking to you, you’re just an illusion representing my selfish side, right? Nothing but a replacement of Kiri, with the only purpose to satisfy my emptiness without her. Sorry but, I don’t need you anymore.”

The girl leisurely gained her posture, and she met my gaze.

“How come you only act so petty and ignorant before me? Well, more like before yourself, so I guess it does make sense”, she sighed. “Well, no matter, you’re going to add UFC Champion to the list of my labels after this.”

Following her fighting stance, I made one my own. Neither of us took the initial, and the only thing between us was the rustling of the chilly night wind.

Then, we lunged ourselves. Both of us went for a punch, and they collided just perfectly. And then another, and another. Finding the futility of such an attack, I produced a sudden round kick. But it was naïve of me to think she wouldn’t anticipate that, so, with a duck, she managed to gain an opening. Yet, her knuckles did not meet my face, for it was also naïve of her to think I wouldn’t predict her counter. With my front leg, I recoiled her assault and pushed her back.

“This is fucking pointless, do you know how ridiculous I might look right now, Kae?”

“Well, why not even more ridiculous.”

As she said so, she launched toward me, literally. It was so fast that only seconds after I was hundreds of meters above ground, and the neighborhood looked like a mere synthetic ant nest. And no, that wasn’t a metaphor, Kae literally lunged and delivered me airborne, like fucking Superman.

Despite the absurdity of her strength, I tried to rival it with my own. With all my might, I slammed both of my fists into her back, and she was sent immediately into the ground, leaving a trail of smoke below. Her impact caused a massive explosion on the ground, regardless, it felt so insignificant up here.

Without anyone flying me up anymore, I began to descend, with each passing second the more I accelerated. It was no surprise that I worried about making an impact with the ground, but without explanation, on my forearm was now a golden Spartan shield. Instinctively, as if I had witnessed this multiple times before, I covered myself with the tool I had just acquired and braced for impact.

But right before I met the ground, everything stopped. And before I could question my position, a blinding golden light shined upon me, knocking me back a dozen meters.

However, just as I made contact with the ground, I gained back my footing and eyed the opponent before me. A holy light encompassed her, and a symbol of a cross shined above us. Despite her clearly being feminine, her face was now covered with a short-cropped beard.

“Jesus, Kae. You’re-”

“Now, don’t ruin the joke.”

Wasting no time, I lunged myself once more, raising my shield as a weapon. Having entered her range, I swung my tool of war, hoping to finish her in one move. Nonetheless, with her palm, a golden aura obstructed my attack with a strange force. And on her other another blinding light, and she launched it toward my face.

Still, I luckily managed to duck in time, rendering my chance plausible to give her a fist to the gut, which succeeded. She made a devastating cough, signaling my triumphant assault, but before I could continue a sudden holy explosion launched me backward.

But in return, I felt a rage inside me to counter, and so with a crimson discharge, I negated her impact toward me.


A scream erupted inside me as I launched myself toward her fragile and frail body. One after the other, I kept throwing massive punches at her, her puny holy light could not hold a mere fraction of my muscle power. Having beat her up so much that her pupils were no longer black, I struck one last punch toward her face to end it all.


But before my fist had reached its destination, a golden cage appeared around her, and my punch’s damage was transferred somewhere else entirely. The absurdity stunned me for a second, and so Kae took this opportunity to fall back.

Suddenly and out of nowhere, a gun appeared in her hand, and she aimed it toward whoever else but the opponent before her. A spinning sensation could be felt on my nails, but instead of taking a look, my fingers moved on its own and took aim.



We both took our shots. The bullets and spinning nails flew in slow motion, each passing each other toward the target they had decided, and they inflicted injuries that were planned. Still, it wasn’t fatal, and in our grasp appeared another unexpected weapon.

Kae held something that looked like a spear, but its length made it look so unintimidating that a toy might be more dangerous. But as I thought so, the crimson shade of her weapon turned bright, and it spun quicker after each second.

Despite the damage and fatigue that was dragging my body down, I managed to leap one last time. With a black and white dagger in hand, I raised it to gain force. Knowing that danger was approaching, Kae in turn lunged her spear toward me. But before it could shoot its destructive beam, I had already chopped off her arm, and right after, I pierced her heart.

As much as I wanted a climactic villain dialogue, everything grew bright around us, and seconds after, we returned to the boring and plain world we live in.



The first thing to accompany me was a sound of a struggle, and I diverted my vision toward the source. And even though I knew I was the cause, the sight of her lying on the ground and on the verge of passing made me take a step back.

“What are you so scared about?” She chuckled, albeit barely. “This means you win, right?”

A sudden guilt struck me, and I failed to form any word that came to mind. Perhaps it was because Kae knew what I was thinking, or perhaps it was because of the expression on my face then, she tried to speak in an assuring tone.

“C’mon, you already cried once last time. Be glad that you had won.”

A breath of air entered my lungs, and I could feel my voice return to my lips.

“Aren’t you going to try and tell me what’s right? I thought you were persistent.”

The wrinkles on her face battled each other to form a pseudo-smile, a mere counterfeit of what she had wanted to express.

“I quit, you’re even more stubborn, and I’m you for god’s sake.”

Looking at her now would only bring me pain and guilt, and yet, I could not put my eyes off her. However, she did not mind, kept her vision straight, and waited patiently for her end.

“Hey, Stan”, she glanced at me, though only momentarily. “Be Kiri’s hero.”

Not even a shred of light was reflected in her eyes, and I knew then that it was all over. Her body had turned motionless.

With no reason to stay out in the cold anymore, I turned back to Kiri’s apartment. Well, that was my plan, but it seemed like my feet were stuck shut. I tried to put motion back into them, but to no avail, I did not move a single muscle.



Before I could embarrass myself further, there was a shiver that came from the top of my head, and it shut the entirety of my movements. Confused, or possibly irritated, I looked up to seek for the next thing I could lay all these troubling thoughts inside me down.

Only to find that it wasn’t alone, and a myriad of white round balls were falling around me. As if acting as the antithesis to the unilluminated night, their tone was made stark for my eyes to witness, and I knew then that they had entrapped me. It kept falling and falling, not minding at all the insignificant person they were surrounding.

Whether it was from frustration, or forlornness, regardless, I gave an exhale. One that left a puff of smoke before my eyes. And in sync, my hand reached for my phone.

“I’ll listen to you this time, Kae.”