CHAPTER 1 · 4 · What we eat

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CHAPTER 1 · 4 · What we eat

Post by Story Teller on Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:43 pm

I may have spent too much time in the shower. I don’t really know, as I’ve lost all consciousness of the way time passes. I feel much better however, and not only because showers usually make me feel good, but because I feel kind of… proud, I guess, that I actually got up and did something normal and healthy. It’s silly, I know, everyone takes showers everyday, or at least I hope so, but right now, it feels special.
Because I’ve been ridiculously irresponsible for I don’t know how long.
It’s a bit disappointing, though, that I have to put on the same clothes I was wearing the whole time before. I took some fresh clothes in the closet, but they’re the exact same… These ones are clean, that’s for sure, but apart from that, they just look and feel the same.
“It’s not the worst thing that’s happening here…”
From Benjamin not telling me anything regarding murder, I’m guessing everyone’s okay. Plus, if I remember his stupid rules well, if there had been a murder, the one to come wake me up would have been Monokuma…
Now that I think about it, it’s odd that *he* never came to wake me up so that I could entertain him or something. He’s wicked like that, isn’t he?
Anyway, I get out of the bathroom, and Benjamin’s still in my room, waiting for me.
“Still don’t want a snack?”
“To be honest, I’m still not feeling it now… I’d rather wait a little and eat something from the kitchen whenever I’m up to it.”
“Sounds good. I’m glad to be hearing you having ideas.”
I laugh awkwardly. I guess that’s how it is, right now… I recall him being relieved that I accepted to go out and see the others. I can’t see the situation from outside of my own body, but I’m guessing me disappearing, not eating or drinking and being depressed must have been really worrying. That’s the main reason I want to get out, actually, since it makes me feel bad to know that Ciel is worried about me.
And getting out of my room is the first step towards getting out of this academy… to see those who worry about me from the outside once again.
I turn around to open the door, and I hesitate for one second. I must be feeling anxious, or maybe a little bit guilty… Benjamin assured me that everyone would be happy to see me, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve been an annoyance, and now whatever I may do, I’ll always be one. It’ll annoy them if I stay in, I’ll annoy them if I have to reintegrate the group, and they won’t forget that I locked myself in my room anyway. I’ve doomed myself, it seems, and now I have to live with that anguish.
At least until we get out forever.
I finally open the door and find myself in the dormitory, which I don’t really recognize. I never really looked at it before, and this unfamiliar building being the first thing I see makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable.
“It’s noon already, people must be in the dining room. ”
“Oh, so that’s why there’s nobody…”
“Okay,” I accidentally mumble.
I force myself to walk quickly as I head to the main building. Benjamin follows me without a word.



“Emily doesn’t want to eat pasta again either!”
“Then maybe Emily should learn how to cook?”
“Emily knows how to cook!”
“What can she cook?”
“Pasta!”
“Oh my G-”
“This is why no one wants to eat with us.”
“I’m hearing those who eat at 2 have a great cook…”
“If you leave, do you think this thing will follow you?”
“Emily is but a thing!”
“We’ve already lost Chloe, guys.”
“I mean, we could just all agree to eat at 1 or something of the sort…”
“This is a fight I’m refusing to lose!”
“Fucking true, these guys are weirdos.”
“I do wonder why I ever picked a team…”
I’m feeling a bit lost.
“Please meet the “noon team”. These idiots had an actual fight over what time’s the best time to eat, and while everyone actually gets along greatly otherwise, when it comes to eating lunch they’re at each other’s guts. Except no one in the noon team can actually cook anything without burning it.”
“Wha… But… No one cares…”
“Listen guys, just let me try and cook somethi-”
“I would rather not.”
They seem to be too concentrated on their conversation to notice me or Benjamin… Until someone who hasn’t been talking turns around, looks at me and smiles.
It’s Noah, who quickly walks to me, naturally without a word, especially since his translator is too busy insisting she won’t burn the broccoli this time, and I wonder what he’s planning to do for a second, trying to think of something to tell him – until he suddenly gets close to me and hugs me.
“Wow, what the heck…”
I… actually needed that?
I am so surprised I haven’t even moved when he lets go, and walks back a step, looking at me and smiling. And to be honest, I’m still not moving. I’m trying to assess how much I needed a hug and didn’t realize, how this is the strongest I must have ever gotten, and how it’s Noah who decided to walk to me and hug me. And I’m smiling like an idiot too, because this is both amusing and relieving...
“Wait, where is-”
“Oooh! Oooh! Oooooh! Neo’s back! Neo’s back!”
Emily suddenly notices us and she runs towards me, only stopping right next to Noah to clap enthusiastically.
“Neo’s a cool guy! I wanted him to come back!”
And since of course Emily can’t go unnoticed, everyone else now walks towards me.
“Oh, Isabella’s so relieved. Wait, what did I just-”
“Ah, finally some good news!”
“Yeah, I’m totally happy you came back. Who are you again?”
“Shut the hell up, girl. Noah says welcome back.”
I’m kind of overwhelmed, and not knowing how to respond at first, I turn around to look at Benjamin… Who isn’t behind me anymore.
“Searching for the fortune teller? He just disappears sometimes. I think he’s just scared of my terrific spaghetti.”
“He does..?”
“Ah, ah, Emily wanted to hear Neo’s beautiful voice again!”
“Ooooh, thanks?”
Well, this is definitely a very sweet greeting. Noah, Chris, Andi, Isabella and Emily are all standing around me, suddenly forgetting that not one of them can cook anything else than spaghetti. I still don’t know what to say, deep down feeling guilty that I haven’t been with these nice people during their hardships, but also being confused by their enthusiasm and… chill, actually.
“So, what were you doing back there? You didn’t have any food, did ya? In that case, you may want to hang out with the other group. We can’t cook for shit.”
Well, it seems they haven’t forgotten.
“Come on, it’s not *that* bad.”
“You’re cool and all but you managed to burn a broccoli. And your boyfriend over there, I don’t know what he did but I thought he’d tried to poison me!”
I turn to Noah, who just shrugs, not seeming to care much.
“He’s not my boyf- how about you try to cook the broccoli next time?”
“Listen sweethearts, I don’t think Neo really cares whether you can cook the only vegetable you seem to know… Let’s concentrate on him for now, shouldn’t we?”
Indeed I don’t, and while I’m not sure I really need attention immediately, I think I need some context.
“Hm-hm, I’m not even that hungry.”
“You’re right, Isabella. Plus, the guy’s gotta be confused, right?”
I nod.
“You disappeared for four days, dude, we thought you were dead! I don’t know how the hell Miss Lois found a way to get into your room, but I’m glad she did.”
“Though Benjamin’s the one who came… Apparently, she doesn’t want to see me.”
Wow, I actually hadn’t considered that yet. It does hurt a little, doesn’t it? I guess she’s still mad at me for being so stupid.
“Wow, what a bitch. If she’d made the effort you’d already been out and prancing a few hours ago.”
“Wha-”
What a wha-
“Anyway, I’m glad you’re here. You should show yourself to the others, I know a bunch who’ll be relieved! Unless you want to eat something first..?”
“Uuuh… Uuuh… No, thanks, I think I’ll wait a little, actually.”
“Yes, me too. I’m waiting for 2 in the afternoon.”
“Oh nooo, now Emily has to leave too~”
“Wait, no, you can’t do that..!”
Noah pouts.
“Chris, sometimes you’ve got to admit defeat…”
“I don’t feel like it at all!”
“Please, I’ll learn about other vegetables! Carrots, don’t you like carrots?”
“Oh, uh, I think there were some carrots in what Noah cooked. I may actually be traumatized.”
There they go again…
But Emily taps me on the shoulder and whispers loudly:
“The others are hanging out in the auditoriuuuum~”
“Oh, thanks, Emily!”
She seems proud of herself, so I smile to her, and I try to smile to anyone who crosses my sight, then quickly turn around, eager to see more people.
And that’s all there is, actually. If I hadn’t been so anxious to show myself to the others too, I could have stayed here, listening to their silly fight. It’s actually extremely relieving to see people acting so lightheartedly when I thought everything was terrible for so long… And I’m starting to really want to be close to all these people.
This is all it’s making me think… If we work together, if we form bonds, if we talk about the silly things that make up life, we’ll only be stronger to fight what’s standing before us. And that’s what I think as I cross the empty hall to get into the auditorium, which I clearly remember as being the place where I was blinded a few times by someone I would have loved to be with this whole time..!
I walk in, and everyone’s sitting on the comfortable-looking red chairs, not far from the door. Someone immediately notices me.
“Welcome back.”
Oscar soberly welcomes me, and the others all suddenly turn around. I hear a few gasps.
“Ah, right as I was starting to get really worried.”
Most remain seated, but Mina and Akiro get up and close to me.
“Man, I-I, I thought we’d never get to see you again…”
“Pff, I knew you’d come back.”
“Well… I’m so glad to see you’re okay.”
“Yeah, me too, evidently. I’m guessing Benjamin brought you here.”
“Uh, actually, he brought me to the dining room first. But Emily told me you’d be here…”
I look around, and everyone seems pleasantly surprised. I keep looking, though, and while I can’t make out any thought out of it, not seeing someone makes my heart sink…
“Something worrying you, boy?”
“Ah, uuh…”
“If you’re searching for Ciel, he’s guarding the weaponry room. Is that it?”
“Y-yes, actually! And, oh. Oh okay, thanks. Uuuuh…”
I nervously scratch my head. I’m so awkward it hurts. I don’t want to seem too needy, though, especially after I disappeared for so long without letting anyone know why, so I raise my head and force myself to smile, hoping it’ll eventually come naturally.
“Well, thanks for welcoming me back. I’m… glad to see you guys again. Really.”
“Glad to hear tha-”
“Of course you are.”
“I know I’ve asked this question already, but what’s this little girl’s damage?”
Mina completely ignores her.
“Anyway, reassure me. They didn’t make you eat their poison soup, did they?”
“Poison soup..?”
“Seems that they didn’t. Trust me, you’d know.”
“How can their cooking be that terrible..?!”
“Haha, you-you’ll see, we have a much better cook.”
Someone who has been sitting in the back, not saying anything the whole time, hesitantly walks towards me.
“That we do…”
She looks at me from head to toe, and then stares me right in the eyes.
“Is… something the matter?”
She pouts.
“No… I’m just confused, that’s all. I’m reassured to see you again.”
“It’s okay to be confused. We all are, sometimes.”
“Yeah… Yeah, it’s fine! Don’t sweat it!”
I try my best to say enthusiastic, and I have to say, once again, seeing everyone so calm and happy really helps.
“I hope so...”
“I’m glad to see everyone is okay too. I feel much better already.”
“The more the merrier. We gotta believe that everything’s gonna stay fine.”
“Y-Yeah! These few days have just been feeling like… some weird kind of vacation.”
“Except a little more angsty.”
Akiro says the next one a little lower.
“Well, I’m kinda used to being angsty on vacation…”
“Then let’s not stay angsty this time! Neo showing up again proves that we’re on the right path. You want to see Ciel, don’t you? They’ll be so glad to see you. You think Akiro’s anxious? You haven’t seen them any time we mention you.”
“L-let’s try to not use me as a scale of what being anxious means, shall we?”
“Hmm… I’ll consider that. Anyway, you remember where the weaponry room is, right? You should head there.”
I nod again, happy to see everyone getting along nicely, and looking forward to seeing my new friend again.
“Don’t forget to come back before 2pm, though. Jan’s a terrific cook. He said we’d get steaks today!”
“Okay, I’ll make sure I’m here! And I think the other group will be there too. I doubt they’re going to get much to eat it today.”
“Looking forward to victory.”
Jan’s calm as ever, but he seems to be hiding that he’s actually excited about what I just said. I can’t tell for sure, though, if he’s actually as invested in this as Chris is in secret, or if for some reason he just likes to cook for more people. He’s so cool about everything, I keep overthinking it. Anyway, I look at everyone one last time with a smile stuck on my face.
“See you all soon, then!”
I turn around and carefully close the door as I leave. I walk towards the stairs, ignoring the complaints I can still hear coming from the dining room. Now optimistic again, it feels like I’m forgetting everything that’s happened before.
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Re: CHAPTER 1 · 4 · What we eat

Post by Story Teller on Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:41 pm

I try to go up the stairs quickly, but I’m forced to have a break in the middle. I’m feeling a little dizzy, which may have something to do with me not having eaten in a few days.
I even feel a little like I’m going to throw up…
…But it’s not like I even have anything in me to throw up! I take a few deep breaths and finish climbing the stairs much slower, figuring I’ll be there quicker if I’m nice to my body than if I put myself at risk of collapsing.
There isn’t anyone on the second floor… Except for Ciel, sitting cross-legged on the floor!
“Ciel!” I can’t help myself but shout.
“Why am I even that enthusiastic?”
I don’t think much of it – the idea simply makes me giggle.
Ciel suddenly looks up and their eyes widen. It seems they were eating something, and they start choking a little bit.
“N- hh- huerck!”
“Ah..! Are you okay?” I say, walking towards them.
“H- Ha, yes. Well, no, I’m not okay!”
“W-”
“Neo! I was so worried! Jeez!”
They put their Tupperware on the floor next to them and dart up.
“Are you okay? What happened? Come on, speak, atone for your sins!”
I know they aren’t completely joking, but I can’t help but giggle – a little bit nervously, I must admit.
“Right, right! Just give me a minute, please?”
“Oh, yes, the time for you to speak. Of course.”
“Haha, yes.. ! Well…”
I look at them for a second. They look a little bit tired, but they don’t seem to feel bad at this very moment. I scratch my head a little.
“I’m very happy to see you again, Ciel.”
They immediately pout.
“I don’t really care about that. I mainly want to know if you’re okay.”
They look slightly on the side.
“Well, I guess I do care a little bit. Thanks. A-And obviously! I’m very happy to see you again too! Now don’t change the subject!”
“Of course, of course! Well I… uh… made a mistake?”
“A mistake?”
“…Yeah?”

Hm…
“So… You don’t really know what happened either, huh...?”
They suddenly look very saddened.
Well… They’re right, but… It’s in the past, right?
“True! But… Well, I think it’s mainly that I haven’t really had the time to think about it yet. Like Benjamin appeared in my room out of nowhere and woke me up, and all of a sudden I was up when I hadn’t even thought about the possibility, then I was in the dining room thinking the other guys’ conversations were fun…”
“They didn’t make you eat the soup, did they?”
“No, no soup! I mean, what’s so wrong with this soup?”
“How do I put it… I don’t think Noah’s really a talented cook at all. I mean, he’s a soldier after all, not a chef. Well, you see, since I’m guarding the room today, Jan made me lunch! And it’s really good, how is that guy the Ultimate Pianist of all talents? Oh, you want some?”
“Oh, no, thanks! I’ll probably be going to the dining room around 2 anyway.”
“Good choice. I mean, I’d rather eat at noon personally, but when we have someone who cooks so well who can make everyone food a little bit later, I’m okay with waiting. I’ll snack a little before if I must, Monokuma’s not my mom. Plus Jan really seems to enjoy cooking! So it’s all really cool. Why is there even a fight to begin with?”
“Well, don’t ask me…”
“Oh, true. I totally digressed, didn’t I..?”

“Yep, you did.”
This feels kinda awkward.
“I’ll be shifting the blame towards you on this one. So, you were saying, everything went so fast, right? Well… Why don’t you just give yourself a second to think about it?”
“But I don’t want to!”
I immediately blurted that out, not having had any time to think about it. But… I actually agree with myself. The truth just said itself.
“Neo..!”
Why do they look so hurt?”
“Don’t be stu- silly! You perfectly know that if you repress those feelings for now, they’ll only come back stronger later!”

“Do I know that?”
“…Do you know that?”
“Nope.”
“Huh… Well I guess I’m reassured in a sense.”
“Why?”
“You’ve never felt something quite like that before, right?”
“No… Never.”
“I was asking myself so many questions… I mostly thought… You could have warned me… Or something.”
“What? Well uh, uh...”
Things always go so fast, conversations are part of that. I feel like a jerk for letting myself go with the flow instead of covering the most important topics immediately.
“Uuuh…”
“It’s okay now, what’s done is do-”
“Ciel, I’m so incredibly sorry!”
I instinctively grab them by the shoulders and look them right in the eyes.
“Aaaah!”
“I would have told you if I could! Indeed, I… I have never felt anything even remotely similar before. And I reacted wrongly. I should have talked about it instead of keeping everything for myself! I only made things worse. And from the point I closed the door, it’s like things happened on their own. But deep down, I felt so guilty..! All this time, I really wanted to say sorry, or to go back, but I couldn’t. And that also made things worse. I’m sorry, Ciel, I really am. I don’t want to ever do such a thing again!”
“O-okay, but can you please let go of me?”
I didn’t even realize they were uncomfortable. I was way too deep into my apologies, and by this point, I’m even starting to have tears forming in my eyes. I immediately let go of their shoulders and timidly walk back a step.
“It’s okay, Neo. I can forgive pretty much everything. Especially in a situation like this.”
“Really..?”
“Yes, I understand how stressful, depressing everything is… It’s not like I’ve been incredibly well this whole time either. You only made me more worried. So please… As you said, in the future, be open about your emotions. You’ll see, there is no shame in sharing what you feel, and it’ll always make you feel better. I’ll be here to listen to you.”
“Oh… You’re so nice, Ciel… You know, you don’t have to…”
I’m not even used to being a bother – obviously I don’t want to become one!
“And you don’t even have to feel sorry about not giving me news for a few days, but here we are.”
I can’t help but smile.
“True…”
It’s crazy how quickly I’ve become attached to Ciel. They’re such a nice and interesting person. I wish, oh so much, that I could have presented myself under a better light.
“Ciel?”
“Yeah?”
“Let’s stay friends when we’ve left this place.”
“… I feel like we should get to know each other a little more.”
“Oh? I mean, sure! But I wouldn’t really know what to tell you, just like that.”
“Are you scared, too?”
“Is there… Also someone you’re worried for, on the outside?”
“Why the hell did I ask that?”
They seem to be asking themselves the same question.
“Uuh… Well, yeah, there is, actually.”
“Ah.”


“Having difficulties with small talk?”
I giggle a little bit awkwardly.
“I’m usually much better at it, actually!”
“We don’t really have to force ourselves to talk if we don’t have anything to say.”
“I guess so…”
I swear I’m usually not that awkward, Ciel… But then again, maybe you are very different usually too. This situation is just not normal.
“There’s something I wanted to ask you, anyway! You said Benjamin’s the one who came to wake you up, right?”
“Ah, yes. Why?”
“But why would she do that..?”
“Uuuh, Benjamin?”
I know he has long hair, but… Coming from Ciel… Or maybe I’m the one who missed something from the very start? No, come on!
“No, Lois!”
“Arg…”
“Why did she specifically send him to see you instead of going herself? We told her she should…”
“W-well you know, it’s alright. Benjamin did a great job, you know, haha..!”
“Sure, but… Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have wanted to see Lois.”

“Everyone knows that. And she does too. So why?”
“She’s just… mad at me, you know. I really upset her, she doesn’t want to see me. Benjamin told me that.”
“But that’s terribly immature of her! Ugh… Why do you even care about her?”
“Well it’s not that I uh, care about her! It’s just… That I feel really guilty, and I did think she was a nice person, so I didn’t want to upset her at all. I wish I hadn’t.”
“You don’t care about her?”
“It’s not that… Uh… Well, I… I care about you, for example.”
“Oh…”
Their cheeks become slightly pink.
“… I think you’re just quick to care about people.”
“I said I didn’t c..!”
They roll their eyes dramatically.
“C-come on, don’t make fun of me!”
“Pff, okay. I’ll trust that you do not care, at all, about ever seeing Lois Davids again.”

“You’re so mean.”
They mark a short pause, too.
“Yes, you’re right, I’m sorry, I’m being a little too savage here, aren’t I? I’m just worried about you. It makes me worried that you’re worried. You should chill! You’re a chill guy, right? Become that again!”
“I try my best..!”
“And you’ll manage to do it, Neo. I’m sorry these first days have been so rough to you. It’s that you mean so well.”
I mean so well... Maybe that is so…
“Now go downstairs and eat! Your breath stinks!”
I immediately cover my mouth with my hand.
“Wait, really?!”
“Kinda. Plus my calculations have said that today is the day the noon team will give up, so maybe everyone will be eating a little early in celebration.”
“Your calculations..?”
“Okay, they’re actually Mina’s calculations. That’s one more reason to trust them, isn’t it?”
“Sure… But… Are you gonna be okay, by yourself, all this time?”
“What? Oh, of course. Everyone’s been doing it, one day each, and I’ve been alright until now! Plus someone may very well come to hang out with me this afternoon. It’s not like I’m guarding the entire floor.”
“Weren’t there supposed to be at least two people guarding the room, though..?”
“I tried to tell them that, but it annoyed most people. If you’d been here, you could have joined my team…”
“Ah… I’m sorry…”
“I said it’s okay! And it’s not like I could discretely take an axe or a gun with me anyway.”
“Hmm…”
“Now go eat something, you’re way too pale! Before I accuse you of trying to trespass!”
“Eh?! Okay, okay, I’ll go!”
“Good! Bon appétit!”
“Yeah, that to you to! And uh, see you soon, obviously.”
“Obviously!”
I end up smiling once again before I rush downstairs. They somehow managed to make lunchtime alarming…
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Re: CHAPTER 1 · 4 · What we eat

Post by Story Teller on Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:40 am

… And I run into Chloe!
I immediately stop, and we look at each other awkwardly for a few seconds.
“… Oh, I was looking for you.”
“Ah! Really?”
“Yes. The whole noon team finally gave up, and out of pity for them, Jan started cooking a little earlier than usual. We figured you’d want to be here with everyone.”
I giggle. This noon team, 2-pm team thing is getting funnier by the minute. If I want to be optimistic – learning about this so late and being exterior to it gives it a certain charisma.
“Well, Ciel totally predicted that!”
“Oh, cool, let’s go then.”
“… Yeah!”
Chloe looks tense. We start walking down the stairs together, and I can already feel the awkward silence coming.
“You must be hungry.”
”Aaaaand I was wrooong.”
“Totally. I haven’t eaten in days. My stomach is really starting to hurt.”
“Oh… Is it really bad?”
“No… Maybe it’s because I know I’m going to get to eat soon, but it doesn’t feel as bad as I would have expected.”
“Ah, okay. Cool then.”

Does she always walk that slowly?
“So apart from that, do you feel okay?”
Maybe not. It seems she just wants to talk to me, but she’s not confident enough to really tell me something. I can’t really help her… I don’t know what she wants. Plus, she won’t look at me.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine!”
Now that I think about it, she hasn’t really looked too fine so far.
“… How about you?”
“Me?”
She comes to a stop, and she suddenly looks at me.
“Uuuh, me? Why would you ask that?”
I also stop, and if there isn’t an awkward silence, I feel kind of awkward nonetheless.
“Well… You look pretty… Tense? I mean, I guess that’s normal. But you look kinda down too.”
“Which is normal too, isn’t it?”
“… True.”
“I’m just kinda confused, you know?”
She marks a pause, her eyebrows clearly arching, making her look the most worried I’ve ever seen someone.
“You’ve got all these people acting like everything’s normal and fine, and on the other hand there’s Keith and you, who are the complete and utter opposite.”
“Damn.”
“Are we..?”
I think I know we are.
“… Immediately giving up…”
“Ha, that’s Akiro’s name, apparently.”
Wow, I’m not funny.
… Wait, is she starting to cry?!
“Well, imagine if he gave up too?”
“Uuuh… Uuuuh…”
“At least he’s been hopeful… And determined… Unlike some…”
“No but wait, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to..!”
She wipes her tears and sniffles.
“No, it’s okay. I’m the one who’s clearly on edge.”
“B-But still..!”
“I’m the one who’s sorry to be troublesome when clearly…”
She seems to be holding new tears from coming out.
“… Clearly you just went through a rough time…”
“Well, it’s… because it’s rough for you too, isn’t it?”
No answer.
“It’s rough for everyone. I clearly had an over-the-top reaction, so… You being on edge is normal, and nothing by comparison.”
“Yeah…”
“So, what were you saying? That you’re confused, right?”
“Yeah… I don’t know how to react… Or how to read people’s reactions…”
“Neither do I!”
She smiles sadly.
“But you’re a mess, Neo.”
“Ouch!”
Not that she isn’t right. Seeing her smile, I find myself smiling too, feeling a little reassured.
“But I’m happy to know that you’re okay. Because… We all have our fears and we all reacted differently… But in the end, we’ll all be okay, right?”
I nod.
“Absolutely! We’re going to work together to find a way out of here!”
“I’ll try to get over the fact that you’re all too weird and we’ll do that…”
She starts walking again, a hesitant smile on her face. I’m quick to follow her.
“Come on… No one’s that weird.”
“I don’t understand aaaaany of you. So either I’m reeaaally stupid or you’re weird. So you’re weird.”
“Haha! Well, I think it’s that you’re exaggerating.”
“Am I really, though?”
She walks much quicker this time, and we’re soon enough in front of the dining room. The front door is already open, as if it were an invitation for newcomers.
“It was good talking to you.”
“Oooh! Chloe brought a friend!”
“No one’s surprised, Emily!”
“Neooo! Look! We totally lost!”
“Wait, wait, wait, Noah wants to say something!”
Emily and Andi actually wait.
“He’s telling me to tell you to shut the fuck up!”
Noah coughs.
“Okaaaay, politely please stop talking.”
“Emily can handle a few swear words!”
“Thank God she can, ‘cause God knows Chris has a foul mouth.”
“Sweetie, you’re not that much better.”
I look left, then right, but Chloe’s not here anymore. Is this the new fad?
“Are you looking for the gardener? She just disappears sometimes.”
“Benjamin..!”
He was behind me, he was behind me, of course there would be someone behind me, and now that I think about it, he may just have been behind me the whole time. I’m already not feeling amazing because I’m so hungry, does he want me to pass out too?!
Those are my thoughts, but he actually also makes me laugh.
“Wow, my mom calls me that when she’s angry. Ben’s a cool nickname, isn’t it?”
“Oh, okay, I’ll call you Ben then.”
“Cool. So, did you see everyone? Is everything alright?”
“Ah, yes, actually! Thanks for worrying about me. Well I mean, not everyone…”
“I can’t give you Lois, but if you want, Keith’s here now too. He’s a little less of a beautiful woman, though.”
“Pff…”
“Pfffffffff…”
“But wait, you managed to get Keith to come here too? Where is he?”
“I didn’t, Lois did. He’s…”
He turns around and points towards the corner of the room. Here is Keith, alone, staring at the floor.
“Right here.”
“Oh, he looks… lonely.”
“We decided Lois would go see him because she’s much more persuasive than I am. We already knew it would be easier with you, but… at least he got out. If he eats at least now, we’ll be reassured.”
“Is that why she didn’t come see me?”
“Dude, I know I don’t have those deep blue eyes, but give me a break, I try my best.”
“Ah, sorry..!”
I really spoke without thinking it through. I think there’s a little demon inside of me trying to make me look ridiculous.
“But, uuuh… Yeah, so what are you guys trying to do exactly?”
Because he’s really making it sound like they know each other well. And like they’re both literal angels, though underrated because everyone doesn’t seem to love… one of them.
“Who, Lois and I?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, we’re trying to become superheroes, that’s all. Soon we’ll have saved the entire world.”
“Hm.”
“I have a feeling you’re not buying it.”
“Is that your fortune-telling talent coming through?”
“Man, you’re Mr-all-positive but you’re so savage when it’s with me.”
I blink. Am I? Wait. I totally am. Why is that?
“Oops, I’m sorry..?”
“It’s okay. I guess it’s our dynamic. And I don’t really care that much, anyway.”
I don’t know how I feel about this statement.
“Anyway, glad to see you’re doing fine. I want to go see Jan cook. I find it very interesting.”
“Oh, is it really?”
“I may just be a weirdo. Don’t you think you should go talk to some people anyway?”
“Hm… Oh, yeah, probably.”
“’kay, see you soon, then. Won’t be too long ‘till lunch is ready.”
“Okay, bye!”
I look at him go away, and then look around the room. It seems that everyone – except one person – is in here, kitchen included, but who should I talk to? I really don’t want to stay alone. But everyone I see is chatting it up, no one’s looking for me or anything…
Well, I guess there’s one person who’s alone. And he could probably do with some company.
I walk towards Keith.
“Hi!”
He looks up, but he doesn’t seem to be really looking at me.
“What do you want?”
I suddenly want to run away very badly.
“… Uuuh… Well I thought maybe we could uuh, talk?”
“About what?”
Keith’s voice is a little lower than I remember it to be.
“I don’t really know… I was wondering if you were feeling fine?”
“Do I look fine?”
… No, not really.
“Why don’t you just worry about yourself? I thought you’d locked yourself up too.”
“I mean… Yeah, and I had my load of worrying about myself already.”
“Hmpf.”

Is he really not going to say anything else?
“Do you… want something?”
And here’s an addition to the list of stupid questions.
“Why are you trying to talk to me?”
“Uuuh…”
“Everyone here’s so friendly. They could probably cheer you up too. So why do you even bother to try and chat me up?”
Wow… He… He really is not okay, is he?
“You just… You just looked sad, okay? I didn’t want to leave you alone.”
“I’m not sad, I’m… Hmpf.”
He looks down to his feet and clenches his fists.
“I’m sorry, Neo. But I really can’t do it.”
“You really can’t do what?”
“Coming out here was not easy. And I regret it.”
“Oh… B-but why? I mean, I was fine… I saw everyone being okay and it cheered me up…”
He buries his head into his two hands.
“Well you’re not me. I’m thinking, what if someone decides to kill me. I’m thinking, why do I even try.”
“Come on, no one will kill you!”
I… I really believe that!
“If someone wants to kill, they’ll probably choose me. I’m such a piece of shit.”
“No, you’re not!”
“Andi?” Keith looks up, and I suddenly turn around to look towards the origin of the voice.
“Uuuh, okaaay, I was just, like, here, by coincidence, and I couldn’t help but hear and react to what you were saying.”
She was on the other side of the room last time I saw her…
Keith doesn’t say a thing.
“But, uuh, come on. No one wants to kill you, man.”
“Right.”
“No, I do not want to kill you either.”
“Why not?!”
“Huh?!”
She looks at me.
“Can you believe this guy?”
“Uuuh…”
I don’t really know what to answer, but she doesn’t seem to care. She’s already looking at Keith again.
“I don’t know what you are, but why would you assume I'm a piece of shit?”
“What?”
“You seem to think it’s a normal thing that people do, like oh yeah, of course we’re told to murder so we’ll do that, we do that every other day, don’t we? Are there a lot of murders around you?”
“No…”
“That’s what I thought! So why would I want to kill you? Just because you upset me that one time? Come on. Don’t be stupid.”
“Ugh…”
“We’re all cool. You can be too. You shouldn’t have to worry.”
“No…”
“No what?”
“No… I don’t think you’re cool, you know what?! So leave me alone! Go away!”
“Shit!”
He looks at Andi, then at me, and stamps his foot on the floor, looking furious.
“You two! Leave me the fuck alone!”
“Wait, no, we...!”
Andi grabs me by the shoulder.
“Let’s go.”
“But…”
I glance at Keith. He’s looking at us both like he hates us, and he’s trembling a little. What… is even going on?
“Okay.”
I sigh and follow Andi to the other side of the room.
Once we’re here, she hits her forehead in a strong facepalm.
“God. Dude, I’m so sorry I ruined everything. I didn’t mean to.”
“Were you listening to us?”
“No... I mean, yes. I was so relieved to see him here but I hadn’t had the guts to talk to him so I thought… I’d be relieved to hear him talk to someone.”
“Wow, well I’m sorry things went so wrong. It’s nice of you to worry so much about him when all you really did was have a fight.”
“But I was in the wrong... Listen, I don’t really question myself very often. But I don’t think I’ve ever upset someone so bad. Without wanting to upset them. So I thought I should fix it ya? But I can’t seem to be able to get through him at all.”
“Well, you know…”
I turn around to look at Keith once again. He’s now sitting on the floor, his head buried against his folded legs. I see a few people looking at him, but no one seems to want to approach him.
“I think… the fact that he got upset may be proof that you actually got through him.”
“Huh? Why?”
“I don’t know, it’s just… His attitude. I really felt like I couldn’t get anything out of him, but the fact that he actually reacted to what you said in a way… Shows that you made him think.”
“Hmm…”
She looks up towards the ceiling. I guess it’s so high, it could be mistaken for the sky… If we painted it blue.
“Yeah, so like, there’s that chance, and he’s also maybe just an asshole, right?”
“Huh?!”
Why is she smiling now? … Her eyes, they look like she was never even worried at all!
“So yeah, everything’s cool. It’s not like there’s any risk at all or whatever. As I said, no one’s killing the guy, are we?”
“Uh, no, we aren’t?”
“I’ll trust ya! You can trust me too. It’s okay if y’all get sad or upset or something. Because in the end we’ll all get out safely and you’ll feel kinda stupid. But you’ll mainly be relieved!”
Wow…
I’m speechless. She… Really doesn’t seem to be faking it.
“OOOOOH! Alice is putting plates on the taaable! Does this mean we’re gonna get to eat soon? Does it? Does it?”
“Of course it does! Why don’t you come and help us out? We’re gonna need a lot of plates today!”
“Yeeeaaaah! Isabella, do you want to come help them out?”
“Oh of course!”
“What a scene, we all really are something, aren’t we? It looks like they are enough to set the table, why don’t you come and take a seat with Andi?”
And to think Emily usually tires her…
I nod, however, because I am much hungrier than I am confused. She leads the way, and I sit next to her on a chair around the huge table in the middle of the dining room. A few people are already installed.
“Hi Neo! We’ll be discovering Jan’s cooking abilities together today. And he better be a reaaal good cook, ‘cause else my ego won’t be able to take it.”
As soon as she finishes her sentence, she looks at Noah. Does she always have to do that? He does tell her something.
“Oh yeah, Noah’s asking, why is he even that good a cook anyway? I thought his talent was that he’s a pianist. Well, he thought that, but I did too.”
“Being a gymnast or a soldier doesn’t automatically make you bad at cooking, but here you both are, buds.”
“Okay, you won.”
As soon as Chris loses yet another battle, Alice and Jan show up, holding a huge plate with steaks on it. Emily and Isabella are already sitting, a little farther away from us, and even Keith sat on a chair on the other side, looking away. Akiro is following Alice and Jan, holding an enormous bowl filled with fries.
“Damn, this all looks delicious..!”
“What? Yeah, Noah. We have to admit it. They won. But they’re kinda cheating too, come on, steak and fries!”
“Alright, we’re putting this baby in the middle, be civil when you grab yours!”
“J-just pass this around…”
My stomach is growling. It’s starting to ache real bad, and I think I’ve never been so happy to see a bunch of steaks. I let a few people grab theirs with their forks before I grab mine to not look too desperate, but I think there may be cartoony hearts drawn in place of my pupils.
Mina sits next to me, Oscar next to her. I also see Chloe taking a sit next to Noah, and Benjamin in front of Keith…
“Thanks for your hard work, Jan!” Mina says as she grabs her fork.
“It’s a pleasure, as always.”
“P-please don’t pretend that you’re not tired…”
“I’ve just come to peace with the idea that this guy’s a robot.”
“I’m a tired robot.”
Whatever, the bowl of fries is getting closer and closer to me..! Oscar grabs it and serves himself, then Mina, and only gives it to her so that she can pass it to me.
Man, they look perfect! I’m so happy I can finally eat again.
With everyone.
Almost everyone.
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