Endless Eight - The Real Ending
We sipped tea around a table in a cafe as Haruhi checked items off her summer activity checklist. It was August 31st and, according to Yuki, at midnight tonight the world would reset itself for the 16,000th time — and we'd live the same two weeks of summer vacation all over again.
I'd wake on the morning of August 8th with creepy feelings of deja vu swimming through my brain. Midway through our break, Mikuru Asahina would call me in tears after learning she couldn't return to her future. We'd meet at the train station where Yuki Nagato would tell us we were stuck in an endless time loop. Once again, we'd end up back at this cafe, Haruhi would check her list, claim we'd attained our goal, and she'd walk out that door.
Then the cycle would repeat.
What did she want? What did Haruhi gain by repeating the same summer vacation over and over and over again?
The creepy feelings we experienced — a side-effect of our close proximity to the yellow-ribbon-wearing cause of these time loops — were manageable. Yuki Nagato, whose locus of origin resided outside of this universe, wasn't as fortunate. She experienced everything. She remembered everything. For over 600 years she'd been repeating the same week over and over and over — and she was about to explode.
The door of the cafe closed. Haruhi Suzumiya had left the building. Nagato, Koizumi, Asahina and I collected our belongings and disbanded moments later. I hit the sidewalk and turned toward home but stopped when I felt something tugging at my sleeve. I looked down at Yuki.
"I'm going to kill myself," she said in her usual deadpan way. "Tonight. You're a good friend, so I thought you should know."
Stunned, I grabbed her shoulders. "You can't." I shook her. "Promise me you won't do something crazy like that."
"I'm losing my mind. It's dangerous for me to continue."
"No, Yuki. There has to be another way. Besides, how do you know you won't simply reappear when the time loop resets?"
"The same phenomenon that ensures my continuity of consciousness through these time loops will also ensure my demise."
"I suppose it's safe to assume you haven't tried killing yourself before."
"This will be my first and only attempt."
I checked my smartphone's digital clock. It read 9:02PM. "We still have three hours before the reset. Can you hold on for another loop?"
She shook her head. "No. I am telling you this because I've reached my limit. Entering another time loop will result in instability."
"What do you mean by instability? Are we talking Ryoko Asakura style instability?"
"On steroids. My actions may lead to the destruction of this universe."
Though she didn't come out and say it, we both knew what Yuki meant. A Ryoko-style, universe-ending instability involved ending the human existence of Haruhi Suzumiya, the goddess of this universe — an outcome that wouldn't be good for anyone.
"Oh, shit." I looked up at the clear night sky studded with stars. "How does a humanoid interface go about killing herself? Are you going to disconnect or deactivate or self-destruct or something?"
"I plan to hang myself."
"Damn it." I checked my watch again. "Please, Yuki. Give me some time. I think I can fix this. Let me talk to Haruhi."
"I must proceed. There is no alternative."
"Can you at least wait till 11:59 and 59 seconds?"
"I can wait till 11:55."
"Thank you." I hugged Yuki and stepped back. "How will I know if I've stopped the time loop?"
"I will text you the instant Miss Suzumiya's temporal distortion field disappears and quantum time resumes."
"What if I'm in a bad reception area?"
"I will text you."
"What if my phone battery dies?"
"I will text you."
Yuki cleared her throat.
"Got it." I bowed to the world's foremost data manipulation expert, likely the only person on Earth who could send me a text with the device powered off. I shook my smartphone. "Don't let me miss it."
I sprinted across the street to the train station and ran to the platform. Haruhi was gone. The next train heading in her direction left in five minutes. I dialed her number.
"What's up?" she answered.
"Where are you?"
"I'm on the train, heading home."
"I need to talk to you," I said. "In person."
"Why didn't you talk to me in person fifteen minutes ago, dummy?"
"Something came up regarding Yuki. We need to talk."
"Yuki? Really? What's going on? Is she in trouble?"
"This is not a joke," I said, "but she's facing a life or death crisis."
The phone went silent. A moment later, Haruhi replied, "I noticed she hasn't been herself lately. Yuki's not the most expressive girl in the world, so if I can tell something's wrong, it must be pretty serious."
"How soon can you meet me at the club room?"
"It's summer break, Kyon. The school is closed."
"I know about your keys," I said, "to both the outside door and the club room."
"I never said we couldn't get in, but why there?"
"You're going to have to trust me."
I could feel her shaking her head. "Okay, I can be there in thirty minutes."