Seventeen: Gleaming Chrome Budokai

I wake up screaming again. It's that way in Hell. If you sleep it's not well. They can't let you have that small consolation, oh no. And they don't turn off the lights. Damn them all to hell, they don't turn off those blasted yellow lights.

My sister scolds me every now and then about my infatuation with the lights. She wonders how exactly we could damn them all to hell, seeing as they (not to mention we) are already there. And I tell her we'd find a way. There's always a way to send an ogre screaming. And if there's a hell for us ... well, there's bound to be one just for them too.

Then I think about the lights. My sister's right, really, my constant thoughts about them are rather odd. I've had this fascination with lights since ... since Gero awakened me. Blowing things up was a preferred method of creating the light. Cars were another.

Cars...oh, the train of thought that brings up. You know, most people never see the darker side of Hell...those times when they take you to a room, perhaps even brighter and sunnier than the rest of the place, and they make you think.

For me, they make me remember. Quite a curse, no? At first I couldn't stand it. But then, I just acclimatized myself to it. And then in return they forced me to drive further back into the darkness, into the murk that once defined my life. Great. I love Hell with a vicious passion.

When they first prodded me back as far as possible into the more obscure parts of my mind, I remembered the oddest things, lives I didn't before remember living. One in particular always stood out to me. Perhaps it was because of the cars. Damn the cars. If it weren't for them I wouldn't remember.

It had seemed pressing at the time to win that tournament money ... I think. I never really paid attention to that sort of stuff; it was always my sister who took care of it. She went there for the money. I would swear every now and then that she was going to become a lawyer and lift us out of the shades of a depression economy we found ourselves in. And she would laugh and tell me I'd been watching the news on the rental store's TVs far too much. Anyway, I went there for the people, for the fight, and for the cars ... people always drove the lastest Capsule Corp models to the tournament, as if showing off what great big shiny things they had made out of nothing. I used to grin, watching the endless rows of black cars, gleaming brightly with those dazzling chrome fenders ... and then, I would think ... yes, one day ... I would drive all the cars I could ever want. Yes. Perhaps that was why I wanted the money so badly. I would have cars. I would have houses. I would have fun. I would have dreams.

I would fight, at least.

Memory over, thank whatever powers that be. And then, I come out of the trance-like state the room always put me in...I know what I'll do next. I'll trudge back to wherever the hell it was that I had come from, wherever I'd had the notion to be before they grabbed me and stuck me in there. Without a fight. Damn the cars. Why do they still bother me when I'm not in there?

I scream and toss in my sleep, an endless nightmarish routine, decorated and ornamented garishly with the Memories the room drags up. I fought. My sister fought. I lost. I think she lost too. Lost. Lost. Lost. I feel horrible. I feel dead. What the hell ... shit. I swore I'd never mention that word again.

I lay there, in the light, the unending light, running over the same illogial, ill-thought thoughts in my head. I know inside my shapely skull that if I have yet another 'day' like this, I'll surely crack. Logic seeps in, again, and I know that it's too late. I've already cracked, like my sister's nose that day at the stupid tournament with the shiny cars out uncaring in the parking lot.

They toss me in there, again, wishing me luck and fun on my happy little drug-like trek down Memory Lane. They seem to have found my last Memory rather pleasing. I feel it coming back, ruthlessly, hunting me in ways I don't think I've been hunted before. I don't feel bothered. I feel scared.

How red her blood had seemed as she laid there, senseless, like slumber doused in that cheap wine we once stole from the supermarket. I took her in my arms like a doll, walked with her outside, away from the people, and into the embrace of the gravel parking lot. She didn't like those people anyhow, it was only me who did ...

A man. I see a man.

I want to run. I don't care whether it's from the Memory or whatever the hell else is wrong with me, but I need to scream and take flight. But I can't, not now, it seems as though I've been caught by some invisible man, and he's holding me tight, dammit, too tight, I can't breathe! Somebody make this Memory go away! I don't want to remember him, I can't remember him, damn!

It is as if my pain delights the warped perversions that run this little think tank. Oh, Kami, they're forcing me to watch my mistakes over and over and over and over again and I don't think I can keep going any longer and I know that even if I fall they'll just drag me along for the ride, come on, Hell is fun!

Welcome Memory. Sure, screw with my mind. I'm sure it can't get much worse.

Stooped, that's what this man is. Stooped by too many ideas that I can see forming in his gray haired head, behind those blue eyes. He's coming down the row of cars now, obviously aiming for me and my sister, and I put her behind my pathetically small frame. She's protected me so many times before now. Perhaps it's finally time to return the favor.

The stranger passed me, as if I couldn't hurt him. Well, guess what, mister, if you hurt either me or my sister just watch I'll ...

He looked at me funny then.

Memory pause. Hell, I can even hear him now, this damn hallucination is so intense. I can hear that voice, so educated and reasonable ... a reasonable flood that drowned me.

He wiped the blood from my sister's face delicately with a white, starched handkerchief. And suddenly I went from being afraid to being absolutely fatalistic.

"She's like a number," I heard the man say. "So like a number. Beautiful...firm...and with those sinistral applications that make numbers so appealing ..."

And I knew. Yes, I was honestly doomed and so was she. The cars seemed to gleam brighter than ever, now, the chrome burning into my mind and the man's arm burning around my waist and something inside of me died forever ...

I falter, gasping. They've stopped the Memory. I don't want any more, please, someone tell them, I don't want to know where it goes from here because I watched it go before, and ...

I need someone to place the blame on, but there's no one around, just me and the light and the impervious white walls of this stinking room.

It's later now, the walls have been taken away, or perhaps I've been moved ... anyway, I look at my sister's tired face, and something suddenly occurs to me ... no matter what the Memory, no matter how long, or how intense...

I still can't remember her name or mine.