Spoilers: MAJOR Spoilers for the entire manga series.
Warnings: Rated T for angst and disturbing things, including flashbacks to abandonment, many deaths, body horror and cannibalism.
Summary: Kirie's thoughts when she reaches the very center of the spiral are not as depressing as she had believed they would be.
Pairings: ShuichixKirie as the main pairing, plus a minor pairing of KazunorixYoriko (in flashback form)
Additional Notes: All canon events have occurred as normal, however Kirie's thoughts put an interpretation on those events that is perhaps a different interpretation than canon (since the manga is kind of vague on certain topics, it is hard to tell if I'm contradicting canon or not). This fic is based only on the manga series, not the movie.
Disclaimer: I do not own Uzumaki, and I do not make any money from these writings.
There had been nothing else to do at the end.
Go to the center.
Go to the center of the spiral.
It was the only thing that made sense to Kirie. All attempts at escape had failed, and failed miserably. Early on, yes, there had been those people who had simply moved out of town, before the power of the spiral became too strong for anyone to leave. They had been the lucky ones, to escape the horrors that followed.
Kirie remembered Shuichi's often-repeated pleas, to elope with him, to leave the cursed town of Korozu-cho behind.
It would have meant leaving my parents, it would have meant leaving my brother. I couldn't do that until I'd seen the full horrors of the spiral, and then, and then, I was convinced Shuichi was right but it was already too late.
Somehow, even after the power of the spiral kept Kirie from leaving, she always had believed that she would escape one day. She had listened eagerly to the stories of those who had tried to get out, attempting to decipher clues to use in her own eventual escape. And then, when her parents had disappeared and the mark of the spiral had appeared on her little brother's back, her determination had become unbreakable. She would get out.
I promised I would return for you, Mom and Dad. I promised. I just had to get Mitsuo out before he fully changed, before the others would kill and eat him. I knew you would understand.
But it hadn't been possible. All routes out of town, even trying to climb through the forested slopes, all those routes spiraled in on themselves and returned to town. Time itself was twisted. Mitsuo had to be abandoned on a cliff face that he could stick to and negotiate in his new form as a snail-person, to keep him from the cannibals. There hadn't been a choice.
Returning to the town... years later yet also not more than a few days... the repaired row houses, extended... extended into a labyrinth, one giant spiral with just a few missing parts... and, as they explored, they only saw one normal human resident there.
Everyone else was already turned into spiral-monsters, grotesquely tangled together, intent on nothing other than the completion of the spiral, sucking the news lady into their midst to never be seen again, leaving Kirie and Shuichi with nobody except each other.
Still, there was nothing else to do, other than approach the center, the center where, as rumor had it, Kirie's father was still living beside Dragonfly Pond, making his pottery.
Go to the center of the spiral.
The rumors were outdated. By the time Kirie and Shuichi arrived, Dragonfly Pond wasn't a pond any more, and everyone was gone. The spiral had finally completed itself and sucked all the changed people down a spiral stairway, leading deep underground.
It was at that point that Kirie had thought about going back, trying to escape again, but she didn't because she needed to find her parents, because nothing else made sense, because she knew the key to everything was at the center.
And because the spiral needed to be completed.
Shuichi agreed. He knew, without even needing to discuss it. The two of them, the last unchanged and living residents of the city of Korozu-cho, those who had been the most resistant to the spiral curse all along, they needed to go to the center, the source, the place where it had all undoubtedly started.
To find my parents.
To rescue them.
The curse is almost over.
The spiral will be completed.
As they made their way down the stairway, dizzy with hunger and exhaustion, Shuichi with his cracked glasses and a slouch and that same tattered blanket wrapped around his shoulders, it had happened. Shuichi had saved her from a spiral-monster's attack, and fell.
There was not the slightest doubt about continuing to the center after that. Kirie needed to reach the center, to reunite with Shuichi, and so she continued downward, seeing the mysterious glow from below, the glow that felt so comforting.
A feeling of completion.
She had continued to the end of the spiral staircase, to the giant screw that she tried to climb, but instead fell herself, slowing and landing softly. Perhaps it was another whirlwind, and she hoped... she hoped... for Shuichi's sake...
But first she saw the underground spiral city glowing with a light so heart-breakingly beautiful, and underneath her, great masses of the spiral monsters who had once been human, also mesmerized by the light, slowly turning to stone...
And she'd found her own parents, their faces stone, their elongated spiral bodies wrapped around each other, and she'd cried over them. All faces were turned toward the city, the ancient underground city, its spiral towers luminous, reaching high.
They were becoming the city.
And then, at last, she'd found Shuichi. He was still fully human, but he couldn't walk. He had been too badly injured. He'd spouted a few last theories about the spiral curse and begged her to go on without him.
But she couldn't. She simply couldn't leave Shuichi, not after everything that had happened. There was no escape. There was no way to fight.
I understand now.
Kirie made her decision then.
"Shuichi, I can't run any more either. I'm staying with you."
He held out his hand.
Kirie knew it was the right decision, the only right decision that was possible now. The spiral was like the whirlpool that formed in a bathtub's drain. It continued until all the water was sucked into it, or until the hole was blocked.
The spiral was too strong, far beyond the strength of any person to block it. The only way for it to end was for it to suck in everything within its reach.
That meant the last two people resisting it must give in.
She felt a sense of deep completion. The light was beautiful.
She took his hand and thought of Kazunori and Yoriko of the row houses, the lovers who were disapproved of by their families. Kirie and Shuichi had both tried to help them elope.
That elopement hadn't succeeded, not in the sense of escaping the town, but Kazunori and Yoriko had twisted themselves together, elongating their limbs, creating an unbreakable spiral shaped roughly like a sea serpent. And then, the elongated mass of their twisted bodies had crawled into the sea and swam away. They had seemed so happy together.
Kirie could feel the power of the spiral inside her body. She conceptualized it as a loving embrace, and her hand, clasped in Shuichi's hand, rose upward, their arms elongating together, twisting, spiraling about each other. His breath was soft and warm in her face. His eyes, seen through the cracked lenses of his glasses, shone with love and acceptance. Shuichi had always, always been there for her, protecting her, helping her, supporting her decisions even when he didn't agree.
Completion. This is perfect.
Their other arms were elongating now too, wrapping around and around their bodies, holding them together in spiraling loops. Kirie had never felt so close to Shuichi before. Though they were only hugging, they were more intimate than they had ever been, a sense of their minds partially running together and melding into the spiral city, which was a thing alive and conscious. There was no need for words.
I understand it now. It is a spiral in time. That is why those original row houses were not that old, and yet there were no records of the spiral curse happening before. Even a town with no survivors would have produced some records, of an abandoned town being found.
The spiral curse had happened in both the past and the future, not because it happened repeatedly, but because there was only one occurrence of it, with time in Korozu-cho running in a spiral. It only fully made sense in the center, from that perspective.
With loud noises, the vast screw below the stairway rose up, screwing itself into the bottom of the stairway. Kirie did not need to look to know that it would rise the rest of the way, concealing and sealing the now-waterless depression that had once been Dragonfly Pond, that would be Dragonfly Pond again, with her father making pottery next to it. She had become one with the city and with Shuichi.
I understand everything. The eternal spiral. The eye follows the spiral to the center, but then it follows from the center outward. The second half is about to begin. I wonder if I will be able to comprehend it as it happens.
It was a timeless moment, deeply comforting. Kirie knew that she would retain her identity and survive through the second half. She already had survived it, in a way, since it was only necessary for time to run backwards.
As she breathed there in Shuichi's embrace, she saw a vision of herself a little bit older, with dark hair. Ferns curled about her feet. In that time-stream she was standing on a ridge where she could overlook the town, and it was normal, bustling, busy with activity. The spiral had not yet claimed the town, and yet the spiral had long since finished with the town and had set it free. It was already over. The spiral curse had only happened once.
That other Kirie smiled with the knowledge of the spiral and said, "This is the town where I grew up. Let me show you..."
A/N (Author's Note):
I made this fic because I kept thinking about the ending to Uzumaki and trying to comprehend what was supposed to have happened. This is, I think, the most cheerful way to look at the ending without actually changing any canon events.
The bit at the end is actually the beginning of the manga (because if time goes in a spiral, it gets back to the beginning). I'm not trying to depict a time loop here, where the horrors of the spiral happen over and over to Kirie and her friends and family. I'm trying to depict a time spiral, where the events only happen once and then unwind themselves, leaving the town much as it was, and leaving Kirie and Shuichi and all the others to live out their lives peacefully.
In the very beginning of the manga, Kirie has dark hair and looks a bit older and a few other things are odd, and when thinking about those things and the end, I tied them together into this "spiral time" concept.