PRICES GO UP AT THE GATE
Chapitre d'es Una
“Elle, you don’t have to force yourself. If you want to see Naomi, why won’t you see her?”
She understands nothing. Lide has always been beside me ever since Eliza lost her sanity, but until now she doesn’t know what she’s urging me to do. I really wanted to see Naomi, but I can’t.
My thoughts are making a louder noise than the rain. I pretended not to hear Lide, not to be obliged to answer the most awkward question that she could ever ask me now on my situation. Half an hour have passed since Eliza’s body was buried on the grounds of Eternal Garden Cemetery, and I’m still at the peak of mourning. All I can ever think of right now is Naomi and ‘that’ man.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that. I know you want to be alone, but please call me whenever you need someone to help you with anything, anything!” She ran away and into the rain after realizing what she has done. Her short pale red hair caught the rain as she ran swiftly to the cab she rented earlier. Although she’s making my head hurt frequently because of her ignorance, her presence is one of the things that made me hold on. Her emerald eyes show her true emotions, and that was never mismatched with her petite actions and gentle voice. Lide has always been true to me.
I stayed under my umbrella and waited for another hour for the rain to stop. Right then, I do not know where to go home to.
“He cannot live by himself! He needs his father, he needs his sister… He is your son!” Nio said. He is trying to defend his nephew Elle from his father. Nio is a well respected lawyer and has won several cases of convincing people, but he is seemingly losing in his mission of convincing Elle’s father to take Elle in again.
“It is his choice, Nio. If he really wanted to be with us again, he should be the one doing what you are doing now,” Loren, Elle’s father, said calmly. After Naomi’s accident, Loren has become indifferent towards both Eliza and Elle, putting the blame on Eliza who had been favored by Elle. From that day on, even until the death of Eliza, his relationship with his son was only of blood, not on bond.
The small room was filled with silence for a while. With only the middle-aged man inside, without any device that would break the confidentiality of their conversation, it is not impossible for any of them to make actions that would trap the other to stop or to be convinced.
“How can a confused boy be able to pick up his courage to face the man who wronged what is right? That took Eliza’s life slowly and let her hang onto it even when her mind has already given up? I know what really happened, Loren, and you won’t stop me from spilling it out to everyone if you won’t give Elle what he deserves and deserved a long time ago,” Nio said. He played with his luck in threatening the man whom he knows will never be shaken by anything – including fear and pride. Indeed that, so far, is the only way he knows would end their conversation to his favor.
It didn’t take long that Loren’s expected answer came out from his mouth, “I don’t care” as the answer that have proven Bio’s unlikely bond with his luck. With this, Nio left the room. He may be disappointed, but he has already come up with another argument on their next encounter. Loren, on the other hand, reminded himself that that won’t be their last argument. He believes that as long as he keeps his pride high enough and his fears unfeared, he would be able to hide his true weaknesses and gain more strength in enduring all his sufferings from pretending to all the people around him, except from Naomi.
The clock can play the loudest rhythm that a student can hear inside a room where an examination is being held. It could be the most wonderful sound, to which a knowledgeable and prepared student can go along with in answering the questions served, or it could be the most irritating sound, that a clueless and unprepared student can’t resist to hear for it reminds him that time won’t wait for him to answer. Taps of pens, stomps, scratches, scribbles and sighs are what they responded to its continuous ticking, except for Elle. He did not write anything on his test paper, he is just blankly staring outside the window. He cannot hear anything – the clock, his classmates, and even his own thoughts. He is not sleeping, obviously, not because his eyes are wide open, which he had practiced sleeping with at times, but because his emptiness which started to consume him after Eliza’s death never allowed him to sleep. He is nothing but a lonely boy- homeless and hopeless.
It wasn’t long enough when the examiner approached Elle and tapped his desk, but nothing happened. The examiner passed beside him several times, stayed beside him for a few minutes, and when the examiner still got no response from Elle, he grab his paper and went straight to his seat in front of the class. “If you ain’t answerin’ this paper, y’better hand it o’er to me an’leave the room,” the examiner announced. Still, Elle did not respond.
It wasn’t Elle who didn’t take the exam. Lide stayed at the building’s rooftop, and for the whole three hours, she had been playing with a blue, luminous, crystal ball. She took out a white feather from her pocket and threw it into the air. It flew swiftly and gracefully, like any other feather, but as it touched the ground, it disappeared while creating a portal similar to that of a black hole. After that, Lide dropped the crystal ball into the portal and within seconds, it was gone together with the portal.
Lide is not yet done with her work. She dialed a two-digit number with her phone and waited for the receiver to answer.
“Guardian 049271, Section A, 36th Division trainee, ZENITH, reporting for the harvest,” Lide formally exclaimed when her call has been answered. Her voice is as monotonous and her expression is as straight and fine as she had never shown to anybody else except from where she came from.
“Harvest delivered and received. System balanced from your most previous assignment. Long term mission still waiting to be granted. What else may the Highest Honour do as you request validly for the mission’s immediate accomplishment?” the receiver answered in a machine-like manner.
“If it is possible, please do not allow any other higher divinity to interfere. May I keep the subject to myself until the end?” Lide requested.
“If you would keep him away from any temptation, until the end, no one will and shall interfere. The Highest Honour expects your mission’s success,” the receiver ended their conversation.
Lide seemed satisfied with what the receiver told her. What her mission could be, only she and the unknown receiver know for now. Indeed, with what she has done before the call, her mission could be something that is mysterious and extraordinary, beyond what any human being could possibly do. Then, could Lide be an extraordinary human? Or to make it valid, is she a human being?
No one knows, yet. No identity shall be left unknown; no secret shall be left untold. Maybe Elle knows something; in fact, he knows that Lide has always been true to him.
Evening came. Elle stood beside his room’s window and stared at the moon. He is living in an apartment, small but big enough for one person to sleep in. His kitchen and his bedroom is the same, his bath and comfort room is just a meter wide at each corner, and he doesn’t have a living room for he has and will never invite anyone in his place. Only a small table, a folded sheet of sleeping bag topped with a small pillow, bags where his clothings are, and a portrait of him, Eliza and Naomi made his room distinct from any empty and lifeless room. He had been living there for more than four months since Eliza fell into insanity. He needed to earn money for her medical expenses - even though his relatives are willing to shoulder all the expenses - and living in a cheaply rented apartment was one of the ways for him to save. Nio, his uncle, has already invited him to live with them, but he refused. Even his cousins and other relatives have told him to come too, but he didn’t take their offer. Although Lide wanted to take him with her too, she didn’t tell him because she knows that he will reject her offer like what he did to the others. Elle never needed anyone to give him material things. What he needed, although he never knew himself, are understanding, encouragement, and love from an authentic companion who will fix what had been broken within him.
He looked around his room and crawled to his bed to try to sleep. Unlike before, he does not want to see and expect for the day after this night anymore.
“If you had not left me
Then none of these would have been
But I’m not blaming you,
I’m at fault
I’ve been, and will always be, weak.
Chapitre d'es Daa
'I can feel it - his wavering light.'
The city of Fran is a city that loves the light. It becomes obviously and much more lively during the day than during the night. Hope, new opportunities, glee and synergy fills the city as long as the sun is above the skies, but uncertainty, fear, and sin covers its whole as the sun sets. It is a beautiful day city, but a dangerous night one.
That is the reason why the people in this city, everyday, expect for the day. Every sunrise to them is a gift to be called from the Highest.
The rays of the rising sun filled the room of Elle and started hugging him as it arises. It struck his face and have him feel its warmth- the warmth of a new beginning, of encouragement for him to wake up and stand and start the day without any hesitations. But minutes passed, the rays began to shorten and move away from Elle. Hours passed and Elle is still asleep.
His class has already started without him. Although his presence had always been ignored and unnoticed by his classmates, and even by his teachers, he had always been waited for and expected by Lide.
Lide is always sitting beside him. She is always offering her book to him whenever he left his on his apartment. She is always teaching him the things that he never understood during the class. She is always sharing her lunch with him whenever he did not have anything to eat. Sometimes, she even prepares one for him, sets it on the building’s rooftop, and forces him, sweetly, to eat it with her wholeheartedly. These had been the things that she had been doing for the past twelve months, ever since she stepped her foot onto the gates of their school.
But it isn’t only at the school where Lide shows her extraordinary care and affection towards Elle. She always walks with him on his way home, saying that her house is just a few blocks distant from his apartment. She also has brought dinner at his house, but that was only when Eliza was still alive and intact with her normal thinking. When Eliza lost her sanity, Elle moved to a small apartment and never allowed Lide to come there.
Although Lide’s actions towards Elle are seen by all the people around them, they have never given attention to both of them that much. They have never even thought of any interesting or extraordinary relationship between the two, to which a normal person with normal thinking would have thought and presumed through the actions of Lide. They didn’t care at all.
“Where on earth is Elle?” Andy asked Lide.
Andy is Lide’s ‘friend’. Among all the people around Elle and Lide, only Andy seems to care for them. She, on normal terms, is the only person who talks to them.
“I heard of what had happened to him a few days ago. Is he fine now?” she asked. Lide simply nod.
“If that’s the case, where is he? He should be here if he’s alright, right?” Andy kept on asking Lide, but all she got from her were nods and glances, since Lide isn’t looking at her straightly. She has been away for a couple of weeks, so she wanted and needed to know everything that had happened between her ‘friend’ and Elle when she was gone.
“Where have you been? I… I needed you, but you were gone,” Lide told her.
“Was it really you that needed me, or was it really Elle? You must do your job properly especially now that… that… you know what! Within days, I would be sent again for another mission so I have to leave you, again. Show him to me so that I could help you with what you should do.” Andy said. She now seems like a good friend for Lide after asking her a series of ‘investigative questions’ about Elle and about what had happened. Her advice could be useful for Lide, if she would give any to her. But Lide, so far that Andy will be doing something for her sake, seems to disagree with what she is about to do.
“I think it would be better if we leave him alone, for now. He ne…” Lide was not yet done with her statement when Andy exclaimed “For what purpose is your being?! Your mission is to occupy his other reasons for his life! What happened to Eliza had been known to us ever since he was born, God gave it to him that way. Our job is to make sure that he won’t be misled by that event through supporting him and showing to him that he still needs to exist and to continue living… for us. He must, until his timely death.”
“BUT AT LEAST WE SHOULD GIVE HIM TIME FOR HIMSELF!” Lide shouted. “How good would a life be lived not for oneself? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Andy… I’m sorry, but I believe that having his time alone is more than enough in a situation like this… so please just let him be…” she ended softly.
Andy stopped for a while. She clenched her fists, then relaxed and gave out a sigh. “Okay. Just remember your duty. I’ll be going now; I need to refer to the department’s Information Center to acquire information about my next mission.” With that, she bid goodbye to Lide.
Lide stood up to her choice of leaving Elle alone, just for now. That’s why she never went anywhere closer to his apartment, or walked the streets close to it, just to avoid Elle. He needed time, yes, but that was only what she believes into.
The next day came. Elle, still, didn’t attend to his classes, but now he got the strength to face the day and take a walk at the town. There was just something he felt that made him to stop mourning in his apartment – something he could be bound to find out if he would go out and breathe some fresh air. As to what it could be, Lide, located on the opposite side of town, feels that something was not right.
It was like a magnet that attracted Elle’s feet to go to the Sunlit Fran Railroad. He must have been out of his mind, knowing that there is no reason known for him to go there, as he leaped at the center of the railroad just when the rushing train is coming nearer and nearer to his location. The sound of the train is getting louder and louder. The ground beneath him is shaking more and more as milliseconds passed. He just closed his eyes and wandered, for the last seconds of his life, how Eliza would meet him to where she is now. What would she tell him? What should he tell her?
And then it happened. Everything went blank.
Black feathers engulfed the scenery. Flaps of unseen wings could be heard. There’s a tiny fragment of light which source cannot be determined. Elle opened his eyes, realizing that he is definitely not in heaven, not to where Eliza is.
“Too bad I can’t let you go first…”
“Who’s there?” Elle exclaimed. He can’t see anyone because his surrounding is pitched black.
“…no matter how much I’d like to take you away.”
“Show yourself!!!” Elle commanded to the being he could not even see. He stood up and dusted off his jeans. He looked around again, hoping to see who might have been talking to him. Suddenly…
Chapitre d'es Trie
'Black never meant death.'
“You are not weak,
You’re just not strong enough.”
A girl, about his age, appeared in front of him. She is wearing black clothing inside her white knee-length coat. Her long hair is as black as coal, her eyes that of the color of ruby, and her lips that of the same color as her eyes. A broken golden chain hangs from her chest.
“Who’re you?” he asked the girl. She took out a blue faintly-luminated crystal ball and showed it to Elle.
“I am a deathgod. You have just died, Elle Faulton, and this thing on my hand is your soul,” the girl answered.
“What shit are you talking about?” he angrily commented on the girl who’s looking at him straight through his eyes. Elle did not make any move; he was mystified by the girl. “I have no time for jokes or any games alike from a weird girl li- hey how did you know my name?” he added, curiously. He stared at her for a while longer, and then inched closer to her.
“I am a deathgod, I know everything about the soul I’m about to reap. Ask me your questions; I’ll answer it before I let you go,” the girl plainly answered, her eyes still locked into his. Elle was still unconvinced. He took out a frown and said, “Deathgod? Prove it.”
Golden streaks of light spread from around the girl, overcoming the once dark surrounding. She closed her eyes and held the crystal ball higher. “Reaper 051173, Section D, 1st Division trainee, CROSSROAD, reporting for procedure- Code: PITCHBLENDE,” she recited. Slowly, the crystal ball seemed to be pitched by a black ink, and then turned completely black. Elle gasped in surprise.
It wasn’t long enough when the girl reached for Elle. He tried to move away, but his legs are not following to his command. He noticed that his chest has turned to somewhat like a black hole, the sight made him totally freaked out. He screamed as the girl touched him. He could completely feel the touch of her very cold fingers at his shoulders, which made him stay still. Suddenly, the girl pushed the black crystal into his chest- forcefully and without flaw, throwing Elle a few meters back. He can’t feel anything, not even a tinge from what the girl has done to him. But he knows he’s up in the air and sooner he’ll feel the hard ground when he falls. And so he did; he fell unconscious.
“You are not weak,
You just can’t see how strong you could be.”
He could smell the faint scent of alcohol. He slowly opened his eyes, and after looking around him for a few seconds, he knew he’s in the hospital. He rose and sat in his bed, then stared at the table beside him.
A white chrysanthemum flower stands with the porcelain vase atop the table. Lide must have taken me here, he thought to himself. He picked the flower and held it close to him.
“Is this the first time that you received a flower?”
A familiar voice broke Elle’s peaceful moment. He looked around but no one’s around. De ja vu.
“I’m here!” A girl suddenly appeared in front of him, her feet on the ceiling, her face is almost leveled with his, and her long hair is touching the floor. Elle was surprised he dropped the flower. His heart beat faster, and the color of his face flushed.
“You have forgotten about me already, ain’t ya?” the girl said, mimicking a school girl who had just found out a horrible secret. She leaped down into the floor. Elle is still speechless.
“Okay, I’m not blaming you, so stop the ‘totally surprised’ reaction already! I’ve been there for so many times!!!” she yelled. She looked back at Elle. “Still speechless?”
“I-it’s not a d-dream?” he stuttered.
“You want me to pinch you to bring you back to reality? I can offer you a set of long nails for more certainty,” she gave him a sharp gaze.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t fully introduced myself to you. You can call me Eri. I am a deathgod… well I hope I have proven something to you from our last encounter, though the formality is a bit awkward and totally boring,” she continued.
Elle cleared his throat after finally gaining strength to face the reality in front of him. “Proven something weird…” he said.
“In our language, whenever a human called our acts as ‘weird’, we mean to them as ‘natural’. You see, it is really supposed to be that way- taking the sinner’s soul and doing it like that~” she murmured as she finished her sentence. “But hey! I saved you from the train yesterday! You should thank me! Right?” she patted Elle’s shoulder.
“Thank you for what?” he answered coldly. “For not getting me killed? Don’t make me laugh, I’ve never even asked for your help. Besides, it’d be better if you had never been there.” His voice was firm. He fixed his sharp gaze into her. “You’re calling yourself a deathgod? Okay, I’ll buy your claim, let’s pretend that I believe you. But why did you save me? You should have taken my life away, not bring it back to me.”
“Yes, that is my duty, bu-“
“THEN DO IT!” He grabbed Eri’s wrist and pulled her closer to him; their face almost touched. His eyes are still locked into her’s. He put his other hand on his chest and clutched his shirt. “I do not want this. Take it. Take it wherever you please!”
Eri was silent for a while. “You don’t know what you’re saying.” Her cheerful approach to their conversation was replaced by a serious tone. She placed her hand atop Elle’s hand, and as she lets go, a golden chain, like what’s hanging in her chest, was revealed coming from his chest. It was connected to her chain. “Doing what you prefer means breaking this chain,” she clasped the chain with her free hand and looked at it. “And breaking this means leaving your soul to wander around this earth for the whole eternity, with all the pain and suffering of the world at your shoulders. It would be a lot more painful than what you’re feeling now. That’s why it is against our Law to break this under any circumstance; it is our duty to protect it- to protect you.” She returned her gaze at him.
Just as Elle was about to speak, the nurse came. She’s wearing a pretty smile as she greeted him by a small bow. “How are you feeling, Mr. Faulton? Seems like you’re all fine,” she said politely.
Elle released Eri from his grip and faced the nurse. He stood up as Eri headed towards the window. “I’m fine now. How did I happen to be here?” he asked.
“Well, a very beautiful girl took you here, told us that you were her friend. She found you lying unconsciously by the railway. But don’t worry, the doctor said that you might have fainted because of fatigue and that you need to take a rest. The papers have all been signed; if you would prefer to go home, we can allow you to. If you would like to stay for a bit more, we would still be happy to accommodate you,” the nurse said. She remained smiling. “Oh, and by the way, your friend just went home by now. She told us that she’ll be back tomorrow morning to check on you. Do you want me to call her now and inform her that you have just awakened?” she continued.
“No need for that. I’ll be going home anyways,” Elle answered. He removed the dextrose needle from his right arm without any aid from the nurse. He searched for his clothes on the closet.
The nurse approached Elle to help him change his clothes, but he refused. With that, she stepped back and said, “Okay, but will you be fine going home by yourself? Or would you still want me to call your friend to pick you up?”
Elle stopped after hearing what the nurse asked and looked at Eri who is by the window watching the two of them. He realized that the nurse, even by the time she came into the room, never gave attention to Eri. It seems like she was ignoring her, or could it be, she can’t see her?
“I forgot to tell you, nobody can see me except you, Elle,” the deathgod said cheerfully.
He finished dressing after brushing off the thought that it’s pretty obvious for ordinary people to see an extraordinary being like Eri. He has believed in the girl a few moments ago after recalling someone telling him in the past that there really exist beings like deathgods, and that someone happened to be very important to him.
“No, it’d be better if we do not bother her anymore. I can go home by myself,” he told the nurse.
Chapitre d'es Quatrie
'Be patient; my presence is your curse.'
“Don’t worry, the chain is very ‘stretchable’- it will never break even if we are very far from each other. And obviously, no human being can see it, just like me. Isn’t that fun?” Eri cheered.
Both of them are sitting at the park. It was a wonderful afternoon, with the sun almost setting down. Elle is looking at the sky, wondering. He is trying to breathe the fresh air, but nothing fresh seems to enter his lungs. Yes, the air is clean, but the foulness of his soul seems to overcome everything he takes into his body. He hated how he feels by that very moment.
Eri, on the other hand, seems so eerie. “Can we go home now? The scenery and peace in this place freaks me out… it’s so out of a deathgod’s senses!” she complained. She looked at the man before her and found that he’s trying to find peace, but getting none. She has been used to everything around her, including how a human would be after being approached to by a deathgod. “It’s okay if you’re feeling awful today; you’re body is still adapting to the soul inside you. To tell you the truth, that black soul that I had forcefully placed inside you is not completely yours. A great part of it is mine. Yours have died out after I pitched it black. Well, you were already dead to start with- you have succeeded in killing yourself, but I saved your soul just to kill it with my own hands,” the deathgod chuckled. “And put your dead soul back to your dead body. Ironic, isn’t it? But deathgods are powerful beings, very powerful indeed. We can duplicate a soul’s memory before burning it up, and then put these memories, together with the remains of the dead soul, to the new soul that will be brought back to its body. Our soul can give life to another soul, but for the expense of its color.” She closed her eyes and heavily breathed the air around her. Seconds later, she regained her cheerful energy and smiled at Elle. “I’m giving you all I got just to keep your soul safe, so you should learn to take care of yourself, got it?”
“That is the reason why I hated you for bringing me back to life. Thanks a lot,” Elle said sarcastically. He stood up and walked away.
Eri chased after him, even though she was made uneasy by Elle’s statements. She should be used to being hated by those human she saved since she had been doing the same things for a long time. But still, being told of how they hated her still stings for her.
“Why are you still following me?” he asked. He is starting to get pissed at Eri for following him all the way to his house. He never allowed anyone to come inside his apartment, not even Lide, ever since Eliza turned insane. And for a complete stranger to break the record sure hits his nerves.
“Duhh, I’m tasked to protect you, so what do you expect me to do? Watch your every move from afar? I can’t do that! That means exposing you to lower demons!” she said, with a rise in her intonation and her ‘quote- and quote’ expression on the word ‘demons’. She walked past Elle and entered his apartment without any second thought, but was held back by him.
“Demons? Talk about yourself. I treat every damn trespasser as demons! Get the hell out!” Elle yelled as he pulled Eri out of his way. He blocked the doorway and looked at her with angry eyes.
“I am a god, not a demon. Remember that. By the time I have approached you, your soul became an attraction to every demon in this world. And I have to prot-“
“Shut. Up. Save your lengthy nonsense for other people,” he finished, then closed the door.
Him slamming the door at the face of a strange being whom he started to hate a while ago felt so good for him. He had just realized that he would never be able to breathe like before if the ‘deathgod’ would always chase after him. Something about her made him feel uncomfortable: maybe it was because of the foul atmosphere around her or of the idea that she’d be reaping his soul after time. He has to find a way to drive her away.
He is still facing his heavy metal door. He could still hear the girl from behind the door. But he just doesn’t care about her; just leave her alone, he said to himself. He locked the door, but as he turned around, the girl that was supposed to be outside is now IN his apartment- sitting by his table and drinking a cup of tea. She seems as calm as she peacefully sips from her cup.
“Oh shit!” Elle was surprised.
“Just face it Elle, you won’t be able to get rid of me. Lock your doors from me, run like a brand new bullet train, or even hide at your closet but always will I be there near you,” she stopped and looked around the room for a while before continuing, “Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t have a closet to hide into,” she teased.
He scratched his head irritated, then headed to the bathroom. He felt that the deathgod is following him through her eyes, so he yelled at her, “Fuck off will you! Are you even planning to follow me on my bathroom while I pee?!”
“I can do that,” she said. “But no thanks. I’m not interested in watching your fun recreation,” she continued. She can feel him fuse up, but she did not mind at all.
“Indeed, even if you have any secret passageway in your bathroom, it will still be easy for me to find you if you happen to run away. Please remember that.”
He slammed the door of his bathroom with much force. And so their conversation for that day ended just like that.
Chapitre d'es Quantrie
'His painful past - from where did I stand?'
“Will you believe me if I tell you that there are other beings here with us today? They are supposed to be unseen, but I can see them very clearly,” Eliza said to him.
It has been four months since the two of them has shared a wonderful time together. She is slowly losing her sanity, that was what the doctors tell them, but he believes that there’s nothing wrong with her. But when she began behaving differently and was not able to recognize him anymore, his uncle Nio suggested confining her to the mental hospital. He cannot do anything for her, and the simple act of accepting Nio’s suggestion is the only thing that could give her peace. He can feel that he, being by her side as time went on, is causing her much pain than not being there.
And now, here she is, talking about unseen creatures and how she is the only one to see them. She looks older and more tired, but having a little bit of peace in her more than before. She’s become thinner and paler. Her eyes lost its brightness.
“Who are they?” he asked.
“Rein and her friends. See, they are here to continue our chat from last Monday…about beaches and cakes, and Christmas trees,” she said, seemingly troubled from her last statement. He felt guilty leaving Eliza alone and without anyone to talk to at the expense of, what he believed to be for, her safety.
“What have you told them?”
“All about our happy memories- when we were all together, picnics during summers, birthday parties, dinners during Christmas… all those moments that were supposed to be continued until today,” tears are beginning to well up from her eyes as she muse over the memories she had, but have forgotten as to whom she had shared it with. Having noticed it, he tried to change the direction of their conversation.
“You don’t seem to be eating properly here. You’ve become very thin,” he said. He stood up and reached for the basket of fruits at the table. He peeled an apple carefully, then sliced it into quarters. He took a slice and offered it to Eliza.
“Will you believe me if I tell you that angels exist? As well as deathgods and devils,” she said, while not responding to him offering. He was shocked at what she said. What he thought, at first, when she was talking about unseen beings was that she was referring to ghosts or other spiritual entities. But her talking about the existence of angels and other divinities is a very different matter.
“Have you encountered one before? Are they-“
“Rein is an angel. Haven’t I mentioned that before?” she cut his question and answered him straightly.
“What did he tell you?” he asked. He is feeling more uncomfortable as their conversation progresses. So more as he wanted to change its direction as he did previously, he wanted to make sure that what he is thinking cannot be true – that the purpose why an angel, as what Eliza said, is by her side has got something to do with her life being taken somewhere called heaven. Should he believe an insane woman’s words?
“She,” she smiled, preparing her answers to him, “Rein told me that someday she will take me to a wonderful place where I can find infinite happiness. And I am very much longing for that day,” she breathed heavily, seemingly a sign of relief – relief that she has been longing for and will have someday. She raised her right hand at looked at her palm. “That’s where I can find infinite happiness, she told me. If I would be able to see them there…” she flipped her hand and tried reaching up, her smile was the saddest he had seen, “then that’s enough happiness for me.”
“Who do you want to see there? Who are they?” he asked gently, almost whispering at his second question.
She did not respond. She remained reaching and looking up. Suddenly, her tears came flowing down her cheeks. She’s still smiling as her tears are endlessly trying to wash it away.
He rushed out of the room immediately and closed the door. He stood behind it and buried his face in his hands. He cannot hold back anymore. He cannot endure that much pain of watching her struggling to remember them. Then there he cried silently.
Morning came. Elle recalled his dream and realized that that is the first time he had dreamed of his past with Eliza. He thought of possibilities how and why, in all the nights he has in this world, he had that dream. He is still lying on his bed. A while after, he felt that something is blocking his everyday share of sunlight, and when he looked beside him, he saw Eri holding the only portrait he had in his apartment.
He jumped out of his bed and immediately took the portrait from Eri. He glanced at her, then at the portrait. He saw a drop of water at the glass and wondered where it came from. Then he looked at Eri once more who was just wiping her eyes.
“Hey, did you just cry?” he asked. He patted her shoulder and forced her to look at him. She did, but with sleepier eyes than his.
“Hell no! Must’ve been my drool, sorry,” she said, reaching for the portrait while handing a portion of the shirt she’s wearing to wipe the water off.
Elle brushed her off and said, “Thanks for ruining my morning.”
Chapitre d'es Hie
'I'm not the sun nor the moon nor the stars; I'm just a cloud.'
At school, Elle was ready to thank Lide for bringing him to the hospital. Although a part of him is unhappy about him being rescued, he still has to acknowledge the part that Lide has played, but in the opposite manner of how he acknowledged Eri’s part. He believes that Lide was just looking for him during that day and coincidentally found him by the railway. She should not be blamed for the failure of his self-mutilation.
He went to his seat and stared at the window while waiting for Lide. But hours have passed together with his two course classes and Lide is still nowhere to be found. He wanted to ask his classmates about her whereabouts, but knowing that for a long time they have not even showed care about him and Lide made him withdraw from his thoughts. For long he has been with them, he cannot believe that right after the news about Eliza’s insanity became known in school, only Lide stayed beside him. They have unexpectedly left him alone. Only simple nods and stares are the things that he had been receiving from them.
But this time is quiet different. Clive, one of his classmates, his fellow part timer and was his close friend before, came and talked to him.
“Hey Elle, what hecks has been unto you this past few days? Have had any loosened screws in your head to fail your midterm exam and be gone for days?” he asked. Looking at Elle’s surprised expression; he decided to sit at the vacant seat in front of him. He then faced Elle. “What?”
Elle got his mind on the track and asked him directly, “Do you know where Lide is?” He does not want to look all-puzzled at Clive for having talked to him once again, thus he put on a serious look just as he wants to have a serious answer from his joker ‘friend’.
“So that’s what you have been minding at those times, y’womanizer!” he slapped Elle’s arm and laughed. He felt that Elle’s sharp and angry gaze is fixed onto him, so he stopped his jokes and chose to be serious for awhile. “Who knows? She’s here when you are not; she’s gone when you’re here. What’s that supposed to mean?” he answered.
“Maybe she’s out hiding from someone, or out with someone you do not know too well,” Eri butted in. She suddenly appeared out of nowhere and here to piss Elle again. But he ignored her. He looked down and thought of any possible reason behind Lide’s absence, or
more so, behavior of seemingly avoiding him.
“And why would you be looking for her? It’s not like you two got something going on behind our back, right?” Clive continued asking him questions more when he noticed that Elle is using his effort thinking about her.
“Haven’t you noticed anything different today? The weather is finer and your friends are talking to you once again! And the girl you’re looking for, the girl whom you’ve been with every single minute in this place, is not here… Hmm,” Eri recited her thoughts well, speaking every detail slowly and with emphasis. She noticed that she got his attention, even though he is trying not to look at her, so she continued, “Think, Elle Faulton, think of even the impossible! Was it just a very huge coincidence, or was it something else aside from coincidence?”
Elle stood up and looked at Eri, who was then smirking. Then he faced Clive then asked, “For all those times that you ignored me, haven’t it crossed your mind that that was the worse I could ever need?”
Clive was puzzled at his response. “Man I thought we are talking about a girl. How come ignorance and confusing lines get into our conversation?” he asked.
“Because Lide has been the only person who had been by my side, when I thought that friends like you are… what I needed most,” he smiled at Clive, although irony creeps from his expression and words. With that, he turned his back and went out of the room. He headed to the building’s rooftop, and Eri reluctantly followed him.
“You have already seen and proven to yourself the existence of a deathgod like me. I guess it’s time for you to extend the limits of your reality and think how strange things happened in your life,” Eri said to Elle. She has already come up with an idea why the people around Elle acted the way they were, so she needs to make use of it, if it be true, to spot any threat or hindrance in her mission with him. And Lide, whoever she may be, could be one. She has to know her.
She saw her once. At the Sunlit Fran Railroad when she picked up the unconscious Elle and brought him to the hospital. Good thing Eri was able to immediately hide herself from her, because at the moment she saw her, she already knew that Lide is not just an ordinary human being. The deathgod would make use of Elle to find out who she really is, and if she really did turn out to be a threat, Eri would have to exterminate her.
Elle is looking up at the sky. He seemed to be enjoying the good weather, but as much as he wanted to, he was troubled by how strange his situation with his classmates has become and how the deathgod pointed that out precisely. He does not want to question Lide, together with his trust to her, because of all the people around him, only she is, or appeared to be, truthful. What he feels made him need to see her.
“Let’s enumerate all existing possibilities of what she may be,” Eri started. “I’m pretty sure she is not your average human girl, so let’s look deep down into something related to my world. Maybe she is one of those cheap lower demons, or put higher, maybe one of the higher gods as I am. Or maybe she is also a deathgod like me,” she pointed to herself. She is playing with Elle’s thoughts, that being obvious but unnoticed by him.
“Absolutely not any of what you mentioned. I believe in her, that she is just the real Lide I have been with for long. And hell would she be like you- she is much too refined to become such a barbarous deathgod as you,” he said, rejecting all the thoughts that Eri is trying to plant in his head.
“Barbarous, you say?” Eri said, pissed. Ever since she set foot on earth to accept her mission on Elle, all she had was insults and blames. She is now ready to beat him up if ever he tried insulting her again.
But he just kept still, silently looking at the sky. “Lide… she is like the sun. She gave me light as I needed it at most. And I cannot suspect my sun of doing something wrong, because all the dark sides there are has been lit up by her,” he said.
“Talking nonsense,” she murmured. “Then what are you? If she’s the sun, then you’re… let me guess…”
“I would be the moon.”
“Bwahah!!! I knew you’d answer that!” she laughed loudly. Her laugh irritated him.
“And what’s wrong with that?” he asked her. He looked at her laughing more, and then she answered him, with a belittling look at him, “Don’t think so highly of yourself, human. Only a god can be compared to the moon, the same goes for the sun. You have answered your own questions by saying that she is your sun.”
He was confused. For a mere human, comparing each to the sun or the moon is as simple-meant as that. What the person in front of him had in her own world is completely different from his own. But she’s just talking about it as if they’re walking in the same world, so as to look at him so lowly and mindless by just comparing himself to the moon.
He decided to give up any chance of having arguments with her. He foresees that it can never be settled if her ‘irrational’ way of thinking, as he says, would be present.
“A god? Then are you the moon?” he’s only going with the flow of their conversation.
“I am not the moon, but devils are. I am just a cloud,” she said, contentedly. She looked at the cloud nearing the sun.
“What? That’s not even in outer space?”
“You said that Lide is your sun. Angels represent the sun,” she said. Elle was surprised hearing that from her.
“And I as a cloud,” she pointed at the cloud that is slowly blocking the sun, “will someday block your sun too.”
Chapitre d'es Hepie
'Something more valuable than life - Relations.'
Elle was surprised by Eri’s straight-forward confession of her blocking his ‘sun’. He realized through her words that she, if he would take seriously their conversation, aims to be a more of a threat to his seemingly peaceful life. She is really aiming for his life, because without his ‘sun’, his light in the dark, he would die. But he doesn’t have to run away from her yet, he’d just pretend that he failed to comprehend her. In fact, his memories of Eliza’s tales of divines, which she has shared with him when she lost her sanity, all seems so real when Eri is around. He wants to know more about them.
“So what could you be then? Hmm…” Eri said. She is trying to find something in the sky, straining her eyes just to see it then show it to Elle.”I can’t find anything of your likes up there. It’s freaking bright, the sun outshined you.”
He also tried searching for something he doesn’t know in the sky. Just when a glimpse of idea has entered his mind, the deathgod looked at him and said, “Maybe I can show it to you tonight, if it will not rain. You can see it easily if the night sky is clear; or maybe tomorrow or the other night whenever would the sky be fine. The weather is a traitor, so your expectations won’t last long.”
“Are you looking for stars? I’m a star?” he asked. He wants to laugh at her searching for stars during the day.
“What? Don’t you want to be a star? Human souls are represented by stars for reasons I have forgotten long ago,” she said. Elle chuckled.
“And I was about to guess being a very small particle of dust. You looked so strained searching for one,” he said, resisting the urge to laugh. But then, he still cannot understand why she belittled him when, in fact, a star is more superior to the cloud.
Sunlight began creeping back to the surface of the earth. The cloud continued on its adventure in the sky.
“You will know why stars are not visible during the day when you find that Lide-girl. She might tell it to you if you’d ask her,” she said, impliedly suggesting him to find and ask her personally. She’s getting nearer and closer to the truth behind Lide’s identity, but she won’t depend upon Elle’s comparing her to the sun. If she really happened to be an angel, then she has no right to completely exterminate her; Lide might just be another part of her mission.
And no way would Elle accept her suggestion. He would never question Lide, he told that to himself. In fact, what she is saying is, as he sees it, just pure nonsense.
Days passed and he still got no signs of Lide. He already went to her house the other day, but she’s not there. He also tried asking his classmates who were unexpectedly nice to him like before. But they too do not know where she is. He looked for Andy, her friend, but she, too, is missing.
He cannot understand why she left without telling him anything. She has been with him all the times, and it is absolutely not of her character to just be gone without a word.
And every time he was searching for her, the deathgod would still follow him. It was like she has taken the place of Lide by always being with him, but she is more tiring and ‘hateful’ to be with because of her attitude.
After his class, he went to a small bakery in town where he is having his part time job. He acquired the job a month before Eliza’s death. He knows that he cannot depend on his uncle’s financial support for the rest of his life, even more now that he has already turned 18- the legal age to work in any business institution in his country. He requested for a week’s leave because he has to attend to Eliza’s burial, and fix its aftermath for the remaining days. And now he’s back.
He saw Clive in his job uniform, and decided to join him. But still, he did not talk to him because of what Elle said days ago.
Then he went to his post and started his daily routines – at the cashier accommodating every customer.
“Elle, you can have my extra copy of our assignment. I won’t need it anyway,” a pale girl named Pisha, his classmate, said as she hands over to him a photocopy of what his professor asked them to bring. Good thing she gave it to him because he was not able to find one. He forgot it.
“Thanks Pisha. You’re really good at sensing people in trouble,” he smiled at her. Lately he is getting used to his classmates being nice to him again. And he still can’t take the fact that Lide is still nowhere to be found. She is missing her chance to talk normally to her classmates as well.
He noticed that Clive has been glancing at him for the last few minutes. As he was about to ignore him, again, he approached Elle and talked to him.
“Uhm~, I’m sorry. For what I did last time…” Clive said. He gave his hand to Elle, and waited for him to take and shake it.
Elle looked at him straight and smiled. He shook his hand, saying that his apology is already accepted. That’s what he has been waiting for him to do as a friend.
Clive smiled at him back and thanked him. Then he confessed to him that he, himself, cannot even understand how he was able to resist a friend like Elle when he needed him most.
And then friendly conversations followed. Eri, who is watching Elle from a nearby tree, saw that his smiles are back. She was relieved seeing that. She wished to herself that happiness like what he got now could be maintained as long as he’s living, and that means no interfering divinities – either lower or higher divinities. She must complete her mission with him immediately and bring his soul to where he belongs – to where he can have endless happiness as he deserves it.
“News! Andy is back, but she is planning to leave the school again. This time, she won’t be back anymore,” the class governor, Chris, announced. The class began murmuring something about the news, like how she really never goes to school because of her innumerable absences, as what Elle heard.
Realizing that Andy could tell him where Lide is, he waited for her to arrive. It wasn’t long when she arrived, with the same mood and aura around her as usual. But what’s new is, by the moment she entered the room, she immediately looked for Elle. After seeing him, she looked away and tried ignoring him. Snubbed, he went near her and asked what he has been longing to ask her.
“Hey. Do you know where Lide is? I’ve been looking for her,” he asked.
“I don’t have any right to tell you where she is. Just pretend as if she never crossed your life,” she said. Elle was surprised by what she said; she is Lide’s friend and is not supposed to say something as that in front of other people.
“And why is that? What happened? Where i-“
“I am not here to answer your questions. I am not her keeper indeed,” she said cruelly. Her aura changed suddenly – from a calm and peaceful atmosphere to a destructive one. He grabbed her arm and tried to make her face him. He wanted to know what happened and why she’s acting that way.
But as she brushed his hand off, everything around him disappeared except from Andy and the frozen Pisha. He was shocked at what he saw, a complete de ja vu of his first encounter with Eri. His surrounding is pitched black. He looked at the frozen girl and noticed something glittering in her chest, more and more as Andy is approaching her. He remembered what Eri has done to him and what she returned in his chest, then he realized that what’s glittering in Pisha’s chest could be her soul.
Chapitre d'es Ocie
'Seeing a friend at the point of death, at the flow of destiny - another curse.'
“A-andy!” he yelled at her. She stopped as she was about to touch the girl.
She looked back at him, surprised as ever could be.
“How?” she muttered.
“Because I’m with him,” Eri suddenly appeared. She stood beside Elle. “I am a deathgod. He can see you in this world because I allowed him to.”
“Interfering in the middle of my mission, don’t you know that that’s a crime against the higher divinities’ world?” Andy said to her.
She got no reply, aside from the smirk the deathgod gave to her.
“And even considering you as a higher god. How dare you disobey our laws…” Andy’s words became sharp and befouling.
“So you’re a higher god as well. Which one?”
Andy held her composure back. She faced both the deathgod and the man, then confessed “I am an angel.”
Elle was speechless. He cannot believe what he has heard.
“I’m contented now, knowing what you really are. So you can continue in your mission now,” Eri said.
“What do you want, deathgod?” the angel asked sarcastically.
“I just want to show this man what our world is like, so please, I will appreciate it if you’d just pretend as if we’re not here,” she
replied ironically. She patted Elle’s shoulder and smiled at him.
The angel wasted no time. She did as what the deathgod told her to. She returned to Pisha and touched her glittering chest.
Elle finally got his nerves back. “What are you doing to her?!?” he yelled. He was about to rush into her and stop her from doing what she plans, but he was pulled back by Eri. He looked at her, her stares telling him to just watch.
“That girl is terribly suffering from a heart disorder and is supposed to just be resting now. But too bad, she overworked herself and had her in this situation,” Eri whispered to Elle. “Death is in front of her now.”
Andy concentrated her energy in her touch. Then she recited, “Guardian 049654, Section A, 21st Division superior, ZENITH, reporting for procedure- Code: HARVEST.” Slowly, steam-like strands began escaping from Pisha’s chest. Andy pushed her hand deeper in her chest, and moments later, a blue luminous crystal ball is revealed.
By the time the angel has completely separated the crystal ball from the girl’s body, their surroundings returned to the usual classroom. Andy was suddenly back in front of him and looking at the girl; and Eri returned at the nearby tree. Everyone was there, unfreezed, and Pisha fell down to the floor.
Elle gasped at what he just saw. The angel just took Pisha’s soul. His classmates rushed at the unconscious girl. They are calling out to her, trying to shake her consciousness back. Elle stayed to where he is, trembling and sweating a lot. She won’t wake up – he said to himself, because among all the human beings in the classroom, only he knows that she is already dead.
Andy turned away and headed to her leave. She got the soul of Pisha and that means she is nearing to the end of her mission. All she needs to do now is to report and submit her harvest to their Highest Honour.
“Andy!” Elle followed her. “Why?!” he yelled. She just stopped, she did not answer him.
“Aren’t y-you supposed to s-save her? Not… ki-“ tears are welling up in his eyes. He stuttered to his words, but he stopped as the angel looked at him with angry eyes.
“I did not kill her. She is just destined to die now, and what I did is take her soul to bring it to my world,” Andy explained.
“No!” he clenched his fists and tried not to cry. “Help her!”
“I did. Just now,” she said.
“No!” he shouted. Andy seemed to be angrier by him being so stubborn.
“Angels saving people from death, I’m sorry but that’s just a fantasy that you humans created. No one can oppose death, even us gods,” her voice raised. “Gods work with the flow of destiny, not against it. If it’s her destiny, then we can’t do anything about that,” she continued.
“What?” he muttered.
“Every human will have to encounter gods like us, depending on where each deserves to go in afterlife. You have already met yours,” she ended. She turned back and is about to go.
“Lide? Is she an angel too?” he asked. Andy did not answer him, she just ignored him and left.
He cannot believe himself asking the angel about Lide’s identity. He became suspicious about her since Andy is her friend. And this Andy did turned out to be, unexpectedly, an angel.
He wiped his eyes and decided not to follow her anymore. He would have to know his answers by himself, although he promised to himself that he would believe in the Lide he knew. Confused.
Eri suddenly appeared behind him, again. “Welcome to the world of gods. Someday I’ll show you how devils do it,” she said.
Chapitre d'es Nie
'Unforgettable memories are always the most painful.'
The class was filled with gloom. Everyone is mourning at the back of their minds. The lost of the precious and generous Pisha has made an impact to everybody in the class.
Chris entered the room, then went in front of the class. “Pisha’s burial will be tomorrow at the Eternal Garden Cemetery. I have already asked permission from the principal so that we can all attend to her burial,” he announced. He fixed his glasses so that he could hide his teary eyes. After that, he went to his seat.
Pisha is a petite girl. She has a short hair which is always fixed with a cute ribbon clip on both sides of her head. She possesses characteristics that define ‘beauty’ properly. But what’s more noticeable about her is her pale color because of her illness.
Among all the people in the class, she became really attached to Chris, since the two had been childhood friends and classmates for eight years. Chris, being aware of her illness, has always been careful around her. He is always watching over her, even chasing away any guy who flirts with her. All these things have been appreciated by Pisha, she said to him. And he wanted to tell her that he also appreciate being by her side, but she is now gone and lost the opportunity to hear it from him. Of all, this is Chris’ greatest regret.
And among all the people in the class, Chris suffered the greatest loss when Pisha died. He kept all the blame to himself: if only he had not allowed her to come to school when her doctor said not to; if only he had watched over her all the time; if only he refused not to remind her of her medications; and if only he protected her fragile heart from anything that might burden it.
Elle has been watching him at the other side of the room. He can see how depressed the once overly-lively Chris has become. He pitied him. He saw himself at the man.
“Can you believe it? I just received a call from my world’s authorities! They’re demanding me to go back and have myself explained for interfering in that… that… bitch of an angel’s mission! I cannot believe how fast she reported that to them!!!” Eri squealed.
The two arrived at the apartment and was welcomed with Eri’s phone ringing at the table. She immediately answered it, and after a few seconds into ending the call, she fused up and smashed the phone on the floor.
“That bitch… I’ll hunt her down! Just wait and see.”
“Will you keep it down!? And don’t go littering on my room,” Elle commanded. It has been almost two weeks ever since the deathgod has stayed with him. Until now, he cannot understand her behavior, particularly how she suddenly changes her mood. Before they reached the apartment, the deathgod was just peacefully following him. And now here she is, at the peak of wrath just because of a short phone call.
“Ugh! I guess I won’t be able to be with you tomorrow. I have to go back to my world,” she said. She looks unhappy and angry and uneasy about the news she gave to Elle.
“Good. That’d be really nice,” he smirked.
“But I’ll be back immediately, so there’s no need for you to be lonely. That’s nicer, right?” she sweetly teased Elle. The deathgod is becoming more comfortable with the man as time pass by, although most of the time he just ignore her or act rudely onto her. He is her mission, but nothing like her other missions has been as interesting as this.
“Please don’t mind me. Just return to your world and never come back here again,” he said sarcastically. He fixed his bed and prepared himself to sleep. As he lay down, he noticed that the deathgod is staring at him with worrying eyes. But he just ignored her, as usual, and had his back against her. Then he fell fast asleep.
Eri waited for him to sleep. Upon knowing that he can’t hear her anymore, she inched closer to him and placed her hand atop his head. “Take care of yourself when I’m gone. I won’t take long, but even if, don’t do anything foolish that will make me lose you,” she whispered. A small tint of pink colored her cheeks as she caresses his hair.
He was in the middle of his class when the principal’s assistant excused him for a phone call at the office. It was Nio, his uncle, and he got news about Eliza in the hospital.
He walked briskly down the halls, following the assistant, into the office. He feels uncomfortable; stranger even then that Nio bothered to call his school. Something must have happened to Eliza. He entered the room and headed towards the phone. He can feel his fingers are unusually cold and numb, especially as he reached the phone.
“Elle, you need to go here in the hospital,” Nio said. Elle can sense him uneasy. “Eliza… she… she is…”
Elle’s eye widened. His heart beat faster and he’s sweating a lot. His senses slowly became dull as Nio finished his statement, stuttering. He dropped the phone and rushed out of the room mindless of where his feet would bring him.
Then there he stood, by the door of Eliza’s room, catching his breath and forgotten how he got there within a small span of time. He saw Nio who is sitting at a corner of the room, looking depressed and drained. The bed. Eliza. She was completely covered with a white blanket- from her toes up to her head. He went beside her bed and uncovered her head. She’s become very pale. He touched her cheek. She’s become very cold.
“Wake up… I’m here… Elle’s here…” Elle whispered to Eliza. He tapped her cheeks gently and tried to wake her. “Eliza… wake up…”
She remained still. Tears flowed from his eyes. He grabbed her hand and held it close to him.
“Has she already taken you to that place? A-are you w-with R-r-rein now?” he asked between sobs and hiccups. “D-don’t leave me unanswered. Wake up and answer me!” he ended with a louder cry. Nio approached him and patted his shoulders.
He pulled her hand closer, touching his face. He leaned down; his tears falling on her cold pale face. He closed his eyes as his tears are endlessly flowing out.
Only Elle’s loud cry can be heard at the room.
▆▆▆▆▆▆▆▆▆▆ STATUS COMPLETE