*Sigh. The continuation of a previous book.
Miwa, Dr. Muzro, Anahita and Amarian were left alone with the blood stain still a stark reminder of the life that was but is no longer.
[Miwa] lamenting, "At least if there was a cadaver, there would be something to eat."
They all look at Miwa ranging from bewilderment to disgust to thoughtful concession.
Anahita recovering first, "I'm famished as well, but that can't be the only thing you're thinking about right now..."
musing, "Am I to safely assume that cannibalism isn't a moral issue with you? Should I worry about my safety?"
"Dr. Dark Brown Hair, it is a moral issue concerning friends, not strangers -especially not of those who would wish to harm me."
Morbidly fascinated, "So cannibalism is okay?" Amarian pressed.
"Must I spell it out for all of you? I bet if I find myself, my answer would be different."
mumbles, "I bet not."
"Yes, you know me the longest but I would carefully consider my assumptions were I you..."
Anahita throws up her hands, exhales loudly and suggests that they all return downstairs together.
After having no sleep and no food, the usual light-hearted jibing between Miwa and Anahita became more and more intense. Dr. Muzro was trying valiantly not to involve himself out of habit while Amarian was more than happy to allow everyone else handle conversations or arguments or whatever else involved [direct] interaction. As they were heading down the hall and towards the stairs, Anahita stops suddenly and wonders,
"What if he hinders us again?"
"…Wait…what really prevented us [from following through] the first time?" Amarian questioned.
"…Ah… well, I thought that I would be going by myself, honestly –and that you'd all leave. But since you all have decided to remain –the only thing that would stop us at this point is his direct involvement. I somehow doubt he would stop all four of us…"
"…How did you come to that conclusion?" Amarian was bewildered.
"It's not so much a conclusion as a hunch…also that going to that room would be more dangerous and a 'less likely to return' scenario than anything he could do (to us)."
"Ah. Okay. Well, as long as the stakes are high, it wouldn't be an escapade if it wasn't…" Dr. Muzro was oddly comforted even given the fact that it wasn't an adventure; (but...?) he genuinely was not seeking any kind of excitement. It hadn't to do with age but more his personality. It was just that since he's been with them –anything goes. Anahita seems to study his words and expression for any hint of sarcasm but ultimately chose not to reply. The feckless foursome resumed in silence. Just as she had predicted, Ukab-bi did not try to stop them. In fact, he wasn’t even there.
"Huh? Weren't there a few more rooms than this…? Or was I not properly counting the first time??" a mystified Anahita voiced what Amarian and Miwa were both thinking –or in Miwa's case, trying not to think. At least it confirmed that she wasn't the only one who thought so. Dr. Muzro wasn't there the first time so he had no opinion of it either way.
"I realize time is crucial, so you should continue, but given what you are all puzzling over, I am curious to see which reality we are currently in…the hallway we left seemed unchanged, but I feel a strong urge to investigate if the cars are still there…"
"Our first 'reality' was being at the hotel because we thought that that's where we were –yet only to discover that we were in her car perhaps the entire time. So, given only those two instances –what would it matter if you went to see if the cars were still there if we don't even know if either of those are our own [realities] and taking into account that now we've all seen both Feral Eyes and Harpy, okay, Zoiyah, even I am not crude enough to speak ill of the…departed –in one instance and a changed basement area in another?" Miwa inquires. (*geez word choice)
He nodded. It made sense when she said it… but… perhaps it was more out of his own fears that he wished to check than anything.
"If this location is important more for a converging (convergence...) of time, as Dr. Dark Brown hair surmised earlier, then it makes sense for Ubiki-biki to want this inn so much, except… why wasn't it [time changing] doing this when my friends and I were exploring it so many times before?"
"Ubiki-biki," Anahita scoffs, "Don't make him sound so adorable."
Brief chuckles and small smiles were shared. Becoming serious again, Miwa asked, "When you guys went exploring, did you take anything or interact with the area in any significant way?"
He mulled over his memories and told her that they hadn't, really.
"But then again, Dr. Dark Brown Hair, you didn’t really have anything to do with this building either –ah, but you were drawn to this town. You were the only one to really speak to Zoiyah. Then, and even now –you got to talk to her more after we left you…"
"Yes…" He wondered what that could mean. They spoke with Zoiyah briefly as well… but… that was only when he was with them…what about when they were running away from her? But again, he was in the building at that time. "You realize that you've only seen her when you are with me?"
Anahita adds, "[And] The only time anyone else had 'seen' her was you [to Miwa] in your premonition…but you even admitted that she looked different…"
"Really? I said that? Thank goodness I told you so you could fill me in on my missing memories. Okay –so maybe it means something, maybe it doesn't but at least it provides me with something extra I can consider when I deal with whatever or whomever I have to deal with."
Amarian turns to Dr. Muzro, "And it seems that it [the time changing fiasco] really only began because Feral-baku dared appear in your office. As for myself… I can only vaguely pinpoint when my priorities [demeanor?] changed and what triggered my sense of urgency to find the blueprints [specifically] for the college… and that an outsider was going to hinder my progress…"
Dr. Muzro laughed, "Yeah… sorry to set the ball in motion –I wasn’t even aware of any of this at all and so I was really surprised that I even wanted anything from here [this inn]. I mean, certainly, after being trapped in this nightmare, I did want answers –but I never wanted to be your antagonist [addressing Amarian]." He couldn’t stop laughing. It was absurd and it disrupted his comfortable life. But he was also enjoying the adrenaline rush even though everything in him screamed to just wake up from or even deny any of this was happening. But he couldn’t do that. If he denied any of these things, he'd be endangering everyone's lives. Also, one does not simply look truth in the face and deny its existence after pursuing it so steadfastly. Amarian and company looked at him, startled –not quite expecting that reaction from him –Miwa was the first to remark, "You're really losing it, aren't ya, doctor?"
To which he laughed harder, "I could deny that… but I don't think I'm going to."
Anahita looked baffled, and Miwa nodded approvingly. Amarian could only shrug and shake his head. Almost with one mind and action –they all headed [finally] towards the room Miwa was warned against entering. Truth be told, Miwa felt that nothing would happen now that Ukabi-bi was no longer there –as though she somehow missed her opportunity. But, she couldn’t allow herself to continue thinking that. As she stepped through the now opened door, she briefly felt faint…did she lose consciousness? She didn’t think so [hoped not]. No one was with her, but she didn’t notice, neither was she particularly concerned since she knew they would meet her at Anahita's car. She was the first one to make it there so she decided to unlock the doors and start the car's engine for them. …Something was wrong… why did it feel eerily familiar? Was she experiencing déjà vu? She shook her head to dispel any doubts. But that never works in real life, that feeling persisted and even stronger as she arrived at the car. She began to unlock the door but realized she couldn’t because she had no key. Where was the key? Did she forget to get it from Anahita? Anahita… where was she? It shouldn’t have taken this long for them to get there… Them? Anahita and who else? Why was she having so much difficulty remembering? As she looked around her, she couldn’t tell where she was –there were, of course, parked cars nearby for she was in a parking lot but where was the building? What building? Rather, which building?
She felt utterly lost. So confused. So acutely alone. But, she was never one to panic. At least not immediately, so she began searching for clues.