Author’s Note: This can be considered chapter 13, or a chapter 12.5. It’s up to your personal preference~
I woke up and opened my eyes, and considered it a new day in this dark, dingy cell.
I feel my head and limbs throbbing, it’s been getting worse as time passes. I think it’s an infection. I need to get out of this filthy place and get help, or I feel like I really might die down here. I don’t want to die again… I don’t want to die all alone…
(If I’m going to die anyway, I wish Karin was here so I could at least talk to someone… I hate being alone like this. It’s not like it would be possible for Karin to be here though since she died-)
Suddenly my chest seized and I curled over, desperately gasping for air, for the pain to stop. It felt like my insides were being ripped apart and drowning and it hurts- oh gods I don’t believe in it hurts-
I laid limply on the dirt floor, curled loosely into the fetal position as the painful shattering feeling started pulsing through my entire body slowly. I need to figure out what this is. It’s not normal, and it doesn’t make sense with the injuries I have. Am I really actually dying!? Okay wait a second.
I somehow forced myself to dissociate from the pain so I could attempt to think and analyze things with as much of a clear mind as possible.
(It isn’t from my heart, this pain isn’t from my plate either… I think it’s from my soul? C-Can souls create physical pain? Is it even possible? I guess anything might be possible considering what I can do…Oh right, during the Korean arc-)
Through the glaze of pain, I heard a very, very small feathery sounding voice reverberate from… it seems to be coming from the mana flowing in my veins. Well, this is weird.
I completely froze. I know this voice. It was the voice in the memories I gained when I woke up that day, and the voice I hear every time I open my mouth.
I felt the feeling of the guard staring at me strangely, but I shut my eyes tight. For some reason, almost instinctively, I started to focus internally, entering a meditative state. I belatedly realized my feverish mind’s actions were no longer within the control of my own will. Then, within a mere moment, I became unable to feel my physical body, yet I somehow still remained conscious. I (obviously) began to panic because of just how far away from everything I know and any sense of normalcy this situation was.
(Did I faint? What is this situation!? This is making me really nervous… I’m getting really sick of being in situations outside of my comfort zone!!)
I saw scenery forming in my head, an imaginary space. Despite my conscious self not in control of the action at all. I wanted to scream or hide or anything, but a person cannot hide from their own mind. This is far scarier than the torture and abuse! What the fuck is going on? I’m scared-
(This is actually really, really scary! I’m not in control but I am in control?? What is going onnnnn!? Get me off this crazy ride! All I want is to go home, not get stuck in this indie horror game-like situation! I JUST WANTED TO BE FREE AND HAPPY-)
My internal? screaming was ignored, and the process continued and time seemingly went on as I watched my own mind create whatever it’s trying to make helplessly from the corner. The behavioral process occurring was like those you’re supposed to do in mindfulness exercises, like when the therapist tells you to imagine a beach or something. Though, somehow I don’t remember the images you’re supposed to picture being like you’re inside a jellified snow globe? What the hell even is this space??
(Whoa… how surreal. It’s like I’m inside a slime or something…)
As I stood there dumbly, a strange translucent oblong orb manifested within the strange opaque scenery about a meter away from where I perceived myself to be looking from. It looked a little like a glass case, but the edges of the object’s boundary seemed to fade or smudge every so often before sharpening again within the second.
A little girl with silver hair and hazel eyes appeared inside the jelly-like casing connected to the gelatinous snow globe-like space I was in. Yet as I continued to gaze at her, her features seemed to glitch between those fantastical shades, and… and an uncomfortably familiar combination of dirty blonde hair and stormy blue eyes. The girl was decorated with a pastel purple dress with white lace accents, and seemed… intangible yet real. Ethereal. Though despite her beauty, her eyes were dim and without the light of life and human will. Like a porcelain doll. I felt chills go down my back before I took a double-take and finally thought of my own body.
Without thinking much, I looked down. Wait, I’m able to look down?? And I saw a hand. A hand full of circular looking scars… Cigarette burn scars. I know this hand. It belonged to a body I always hated. A body I thought I would never need to see again.
I flipped one of my arms over, revealing the underside of my wrist and the flesh where a person’s veins would usually show through. Nothing biological in nature could be seen through the pale white layer of skin, but what I could see was…
Three long, jagged lines stretched down from the palm to the elbow. The long crevasses were messily stitched up with black thread like you would mend a stuffed animal or a child’s patchwork doll. Here and there the spacing of the stitching was off, and inside the gaps was just dark black nothingness, as though the inside of my arms was just a void. I just couldn’t look away despite the gory and unsettling visuals and some murky feeling rose up from where it was buried a long time ago.
I couldn’t help but laugh darkly for a second. A reminder of the yesterday and a nod to today’s method, I see. Haha, very funny. Hah, It’s not like I like doing this…
Some filthy blonde hair slipped down past my shoulder blocking my gaze from the record from another place, flashing between the shades of wet sand and silver blue… Just like the girl in the bubble. I suddenly realized that the two of us resembled connected mirror images of each other. Distorted yes, but definitely related in some form. I made eye contact with the small doll within the casing, and opened my mouth. I had a feeling I knew what was going on, but I still wanted to talk with someone. Apparently, I could not physically speak, but I was able to express my words like thoughts.
(What is this place?)
The little girl with the glassy eyes looked up at me and gestured for me to approach her as she seemed to manipulate the strange material of the surface below me into small lumps and sat down on one of them. I could not move myself physically. Instead, I had to imagine myself sitting there and use thoughts to move. Everything is so surreal, I have just given up on rationalizing anything. There was an awkward silence, and I took it upon myself to break it and maybe try to glean whatever I can from this… situation.
“Uh… hello there Karin. I’m Karin too.”
“Sorry to skip the small talk, but what is this place and why do we match?”
‘Oh… you forced me to have a sense of self again, and this is what happens? Sigh…’
Ouch. Somehow, seeing a pretty girl like her sigh and be disappointed in me kinda hurts my feelings? Though I am that pretty girl? Does this count as negative self-talk? Huh.
‘Whatever… What did you want to talk to me about, child? You know I don’t want to experience anything and the reason why we exist. I can’t tell you anything you don’t know, I gave you my memories. I’m tired… I’m always tired, but I can’t feel this tiredness if I don’t have a sense of self… But here I am again. Dammit…’
“I-I just was lonely and I didn’t even mean to…”
‘I know. We do share memories and consciousness, child. I’m not angry. I forgot you were only fifteen or so… Adolescence is a sensitive age, but you seem to be doing alright in a twenty year old body though from what I can see. Though father is as stupid as always… That poor bastard has dug his own grave.’
“As you know, we met Cale! I’ve made friends with Raon too~ …I miss them big sis. It hurts so much. I want to be free, I want to go home…”
‘Don’t call yourself big sis. I have been part of you since you came here and became me.’
“But technically speaking-”
‘Karin, you need to go now. As we speak your body is creaking and you need to escape the prison outside, not escape your reality by withdrawing into your soul. Just use me as you always have, but make sure not to set the magic up to be permanent. It will be possible. Live your new life for the both of us. I may be too tired, but your will hasn’t broken, and you even have a reason to exist. Keep going with it, and don’t make me myself again. I hate it, let me rest.’
The space around me fizzed and blurred as I closed my eyes. Darkness overcame me and I felt the incredibly unsettling sensation of feeling myself regain control over a physical flesh body. I felt nausea surge up and I hurriedly stumbled over to the bucket to empty my stomach, every one of my senses reeling. My entire body felt like it was popping with pins and needles and every sense heightened far too much. It was incredibly disgusting and uncomfortable; nothing worked the way I wanted it to and I felt like I was trying to control a puppet without strings. I hacked up a small quantity of blood before blacking out again on the musty floor.
Good night, this world’s original Karin. I hope you sleep well. I will survive, and I will be happy enough for your share too.