Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 88
Alice watched Philrain for a while, then withdrew her hand that was about to reach out to wake her up. She glanced at the touch key on the door of the intensive care unit, avoiding making as much noise as possible. When her hand touched the doorknob, she noticed that it did not seem to be locked.
Opening the door gently, she stepped out into the dimly lit corridor. Then she closed the door. The fluorescent lights on the ceiling were occasionally flickering… as if the power was not stable.
She was extremely thirsty. She cast a glance around, wondering if there was a water supply somewhere. Then Alice felt a presence behind her and turned around.
Against the wall, an old man in a dirty white coat was leaning in a slouched position. He produced a worn-out pack of cigarettes from his pocket, pulled one out in his mouth, struck a match and lit it. With a whoosh, he exhaled the cigarette smoke, dropped the match on the floor and stomped on it with his shoe.
There was no time to wonder who it was. All the Bandersnatch in Alice almost flew out at once. Alice quickly restrained herself from unleashing an all-out attack on the “man” and clenched her teeth tightly as she directed her right hand at him.
The pulsation of the Bandersnatch was terrific. Her own heart was racing so fiercely that she felt as if it would jump out of her chest. She gripped her right hand with her left and somehow managed to keep herself conscious. Cold sweat stroked down her cheeks.
There was no “smell” coming from the man.
The smell of cigarettes.
The smell of the match.
The smell of “human” existence.
There was none of that.
There was only a hint of “presence”.
After exhaling white smoke in the air for several moments, the man slowly turned his head towards Alice. It was a very old man with gray hair worn all back, wearing glasses with the left side cracked and fixed with tape.
” I see… You’ve got it under control. Good girl, ‘my’ Alice. You’re a cut above the rest.”
A stifled voice was uttered from her. The man gave a small laugh and swayed his body away from the wall. He then shoved his hands into the pockets of his lab coat and arched his back to have a glance at Alice.
“Who? That’s an interesting question. Don’t you recognize me?”
‘I’m asking you who you are, and I’m not going to ask you the same question again.” Alice replied simply, holding down the Bandersnatch that was pulsating jerkily in her right hand. The man looked at her admiringly and eventually shrugged his shoulders.
“My name is Lewis Carroll. I am the creator of the ‘Alice series’. You could say I’m the father of you all.”
“Lewis…? Lewis Carroll…?” Alice gasped as she repeated the name. “You were the one who did that to Jack…!”
“That was his reward. What is it? Would it have been better to have let his data get lost?”
“… How did you arrive here? No, that’s not important…”
Her wrath outweighed her fear. When Alice uttered the words like a grunt, Lewis grinned and opened his mouth to laugh. It was an inorganic, snarky smile, like a broken clown.
“You seem to want to ask me ‘what did I come here for’? What a natural question… You’re intelligent. So, you’ve already figured it out, right? I created this Nightmare. ‘The demise of Apocrypha’. You know that, don’t you? Apocrypha is an absolute, inevitable, and inescapable truth. It can do anything.”
“It’s not that complicated. Tracing the trail of you and your friends’ data is a piece of cake. And I’m not the one who’s here. You understand that, right? I’m only transmitting my presence here. You spotted it at first sight. Well, that’s quite an awakening of your abilities. I’m simply amazed.” Lewis snapped his fingers. “… Now, Alice, let’s play a game.”
“Game…?” She replied skeptically, but Lewis continued with a grin on his face.
“From now on, the Original Nightmare that I have created will attack you one by one. They are even more vicious than the failed ones you’ve slain so far. Whether you can fight them all off and ultimately kill me is a question for you…”
“I want to know that ‘ending’…!” Lewis chuckled and graciously bowed to Alice. “Now the game begins. The rule is simple. Either you die, or I do. Simple, isn’t it? If you want to stop the ‘demise of Apocrypha’ and find out the whole truth, you must reach me in a desperate effort. Alice. I pray that you will stand before me again.”
He let out a puff of cigarette smoke and took a few steps back to blend in with the smoke. His figure faded and disappeared like a mirage.
For a few minutes after he disappeared, Alice kept her right arm outstretched in front of her, frantically restraining the Bandersnatch that was threatening to break out. Eventually, her heartbeat subsided and the Bandersnatch’s movements slowed to a halt…
She was called from her feet and she turned around. Before she knew it, Raffi was sitting by her right leg. Wiping the sweat from her forehead, Alice took a deep breath and then said in a hushed voice, “Lewis is here.”
“… I know. I hurried down here, but I guess I didn’t make it in time.” The black cat stared into the empty sky and squeezed out the words. “It’s futile to run anywhere huh… He’s using ‘administrator privileges’…”
“I’ve been challenged to kill myself.” Alice slowly lowered her right arm, which was still outstretched. “The new Original Nightmare is on its way here. We need to take action…”
“Regarding that, the administration system of this relay station would like to speak with you. Will you come?”
Alice caught her breath briefly and nodded her head.
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