Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 23
Raffi looked abject and fell silent. Philrain stood up and approached the intercom.
“I apologize, but right now…”
Alice raised her voice to counteract her puzzling remark.
“It’s okay! Open the door.”
“I’m fine. See…”
Alice spread her hands out to Philrain and said appealingly, “Please”.
Philrain drew a soft sigh and operated the lock panel to open the door. Jack, on crutches, stepped into the room and momentarily paused when he caught sight of the ripped jug and blanket. He then glanced at the unassuming-looking Alice and approached her with his crutches clacking.
“Is your body all right…?” Jack asked Alice, not addressing the broken objects.
The girl answered him with a mild smile. “What about you too, Jack…?”
“I’m fine. Medical technology is incredibly advanced nowadays. I’ve been treated with the shelter’s facilities. Though I’ll have to use crutches for a while.” Jack settled down in the chair beside Alice. He reached out and touched Alice’s cheek. Caressing it gently, Alice turned her tear-stained face and continued.
“I got the gist of it from Philrain. You went through a lot of pain all by yourself…” He said quietly, and tears rose in both of Alice’s eyes. Jack patted her on the head and then added. “Raffi… is it? You’re there, aren’t you, Mr. Black Cat?”
When called out, Raffi venomously said, “I’m not a cat…” and looked up at Alice.
Then Raffi mentioned to Alice. “I’ve explained the whole situation to this human through Philrain… But I suggest that other humans should not be told too much, basically.”
“Jack, can you see Raffi…?”
When she asked, Jack shook his head.
“No. I can’t see anything after all. But I’m going to help you. As long as I can, Alice… I will help you.”
“Thank you…” Turning her head down, she muttered in a low voice.
Jack wrapped her trembling hands in his own large one and kept on. “I don’t know what circumstances or secrets you may have. But whatever happens in the future… I and Philrain will stand by your side. I hope you’ll believe that.”
“Of course, I’m on your side too…”
Jack pulled Alice’s hand away as if he failed to hear Raffi’s dismissive comment.
“The Elder of this shelter would like to speak with you. I’d like you to come too, Philrain.”
Philrain regarded the shattered jug and blanket with a perplexed expression.
Jack broke into a small laugh and told her. “I’m here. It’s going to be okay. Right, Alice?”
Nodding, Alice staggered to her feet.
She changed out of her nightgown into the normal clothes provided and attached a matching white ribbon to her head. Then Alice walked hand in hand with Jack down the white corridor.
Before long, they had arrived at the shelter of their destination. She met the men who had taken care of her on the train on the way and bowed to them. They were all pleased to find Alice awake and were talking to her. Her eyes were filled with bewilderment as she listened on. One of the men turned to Jack and posed a question.
“Are you fine? You should still be resting…”
“I have to inform the Elder here as soon as possible. There’s no time to be sleeping.”
Nodding and answering that, Jack walked off with the men. At the shelter here, it seemed that they were not passing through the living quarters as they had done before. They rode the elevator a few times and descended to the bottom. Alice’s shoulders were hunched in anxiety, but Philrain gently spoke to her.
“Don’t worry. The bishop is very kind.”
“That’s what we refer to the chief here.”
Raffi, at her feet, yawned broadly in boredom. After a while, they reached a circular room, similar to the shelter of Jack and the others.
The only difference was that there was an altar-like structure in the middle of the room, with a pillar containing green liquid in its midst. As expected, there was a brain floating in the center. Surrounding it were several girls with silver hair just like Philrain’s. Once they had sighted Philrain, they approached her with disjointed footsteps.
“Phil…! You’re safe…”
“I was worried about you…”
“I’m fine. I have the Angel with me.” Philrain remarked quietly, and the girls bowed deeply to Alice. A few of them paused to regard Raffi, who was at Alice’s feet and sent questioning looks at Philrain, but no one uttered a word. The door behind her closed with a whoosh of air, and a quiet old woman’s voice floated out from the pillar speakers into the dimly lit circular room.
“You must be Alice.”
She squeezed Jack’s hand next to her. If she didn’t keep her wits about her, she might lose control of her anxiety and fear. Jack squeezed Alice’s hand back and turned to the bishop.
“We are extremely grateful to you for sending help. That saved our lives.”
“It’s already been several years since the Angel stopped showing up. Unless we make a move here, it will be meaningless for us to keep our defenses up until now.”
“I’m sorry about your shelter… Don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Being told so soothingly, Jack lowered his head profoundly.
“Philrain told me what happened. Thank you, Angel, for reaching here safely.”
When she was called, Alice dropped her gaze and uttered in a small voice.
“But because of me, a lot of people have died… I don’t even remember some parts of it, and there are a number of things I don’t have any understanding…”
Her body started to tremble slightly.
“I’m scared… I can’t help it…”
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