.flow 04 - Microbe

I lean away from the computer and stare blankly at the monitor, letting everything from this last flow session sink in. There's no Internet connection so I can't turn to the world for answers, so there's only one way to make sense of all this: the maid.

Soon the maid comes in again—this time with a cup of tea. She leaves it on the desk right next to my hand and, as always, backs away with a light curtsy and retreats the way she came.

"Hey, you." She continues walking. "Why do you always wear that mask?" Halfway across the room now; two more strides and she'll be out the door. "Stop." One hand—deathly pale, although definitely human—rests on the knob of the heavy gray door. But she's not turning it, and that's a good sign. "Please. Just answer this one question for me."

For a heartbeat I hesitate—but I have to know and she's the only one who can tell me; there's no one else in this prison of mine.

"Am I dying?"

Sabitsuki knew she was going to die.

It wasn't just chance that Mother fell prey to illness. It definitely was not coincidence that Sabitsuki had to visit the hospital every single day, even after she moved away from her old polluted home. She was sick and she was going to die like the other children, the children who were now buried and were probably growing like plants. But she didn't want to die.

"How do people get sick?"

The nurse smiled. "So little Sabitsuki wants to be a doctor too?" She opened a cabinet, brought out a microscope and few sample dishes. "Come here and see."

That's how she learned about the invisible things called bacteria.

"See this knob? Turn it this way-" The display blurred, as if a fog had set in—"or turn it this way." The nurse twisted and suddenly everything was sharp and clear again. Little Sabitsuki was already enthralled; as soon as the nurse allowed her, she took hold of the dial and adjusted the view to her liking. "What do you think?"

"These little things make us sick?" They didn't look like much—little blobs floating in a sea of white, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

"Not what you expected, is it?"

Sabitsuki shook her head. Were these the things that killed Mother? Were they inside her body now, conspiring to take over and turn her into a plant? She had to find out, but no matter how she adjusted the magnifier, none of it made any sense in her head. She would have asked the nurse some more questions, but the doctor called the nurse away; he needed help with another patient.

If she had been a little older, she would have noticed that, for the next few hours, the entire hospital would be dedicated to keeping that other patient alive. She caught a glimpse of the dying girl as she was carted from room to room; she saw the missing eye, the punctured stomach, the limbs broken in several places and bent at crazy angles. A car accident. But she wasn't horrified, or even shocked; she'd turn away from the mangled body and return to the microscope, to the bacteria that held the answer. Because the answer was all that mattered—the cure that would allow her to stay alive. Nothing else was important.

It was hidden here somewhere. She just had to keep looking.

And still to this day, I would keep on looking.

Little Sabitsuki was dying. I want to reach a hand through the computer into the past, hold her in my arms, and ask her to tell me more—but how can she? She's dead. She only lives in the memories stored in this computer. I'll never get to know that little girl, my past self. So many things I want to know, yet can't possibly know.

Am I dying?

"I am, aren't I? That's why the doctors sent you here. Is that why you always wear that mask, so you won't catch whatever disease I have while you watch me in this damn cage?"

I expect her to turn away and leave. She's never answered any of my questions before—but then again, why should she? With a mask like that, it's hard to see whether the being underneath is man or machine. And she doesn't speak, she never does—

"Please." My voice cracks and I wipe away a runny nose, willing the tears to stay away. "Am I dying?"

She turns—that's how I know that she's human—and says quietly, "No." And then she's gone.

There are tears on the keyboard, slipping away into that place I can't reach. Tears of relief. Tears of despair.

lol Arm effect. And yeah, Monoko's the dying girl who was at the hospital - it was the only way I could explain why Sabitsuki finds the Arm effect at the Microscopic world. :/ Added some more Cleaner/gas mas maid interaction.

At this point I realized that some parts in this story are going to get rather hairy. I mean, I personally took a less 'grotesque' interpretation of .flow, but how T-rated can you get when you try to interpret the Flesh Walls world? :/ And given that it's one of the most important maps in the game, I can't just conveniently skip over it (the way I'm doing for some areas, unfortunately—I'm not going to try and interpret the green geometric world, lawl). Ah well.

Thanks for reading.