Marionette

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Here’s a little something I wrote… I don’t know if it’s any good, so I’d like to hear what you think!


Even after fifty years, she still lay there, smiling as if nothing had happened. Oblivious to the ruin.

It was the ideal sort of beauty that collectors like Rampo cherished; untampered, un-toyed with, and untainted. Even if she was missing most of her limbs, her face was all that mattered, and from that you could still innocently guess that she was still in there.

Of course, that was far from true. Her expression now, frozen in content bliss, was only a front. If one looked a little closer, they could see that her eyes were blank, devoid of life — artificial or otherwise. Despite this, her beauty was still evident, yet destined only to crumble here, a rotting snapshot of better times. Rampo couldn’t help but feel sad that they were the ones that survived, and not her. The grief that plagued him for his entire life stung him once again.

Marionette-san.

But there was no use dwelling over it. The past was in the past, and as much as he’d love to relive it, the present required his attention. Nightfall was a dangerous time, here at the end of the world. He had much to do before then.

~

The bus here was his best bet for shelter. Finding the strength to leave her for a bit, Rampo stepped back and surveyed the site.

The entire vehicle had been conquered by vines and moss. Plant matter had locked it up good. The street sign that the bus had crashed into sat mangled under its wheels, fodder for nature now too. After all these years, the bus had been reduced to nothing but a vague landmark, inhabited by moths, butterflies and the empty corpse of Marionette. Together they looked like a lonely piece of art.

“…alright. Let’s open this up.”

Setting his pack aside, Rampo set to work. He jammed his walking cane into a gap in the doorway and gave it a gentle twist. The flat end-bit managed to dislodge the door easily, as fatigue had left it fragile. He grunted in satisfaction as he welcomed himself inside.

The interior was stuffy and smelled like canned food past its due date. He had to cough a few times to get used to the atmosphere, but even so, it didn’t quell his optimism about the place. Despite all the insects and plant-life (not to mention the germs), this little slice of history revived fond memories of life within him; life before the end.

One could describe this feeling as cosy.

The body of the driver was the only other in here, a skeleton now, slumped and resting. The rest of the leather-padded seats were empty, giving him a good space to set up camp. So, he did.

~

Night came, and all was silent, apart from the buzz of Rampo’s two-minute noodles. He ripped the cord, and the built-in stove below the cup activated, heating the water. Most brands came with this nifty extension, he found. It made it so much easier for him to survive out here.

He’d brought Marionette inside, because he’d felt sorry for her having to sit out there all alone. She rested in the seat beside him, her presence giving him a comforting feeling.

“It’s been a long time, hmm?” he said, to lift the mood. “I’ve missed you, you know.”

There was no reply of course. She just stared at him, and it hurt him. He reminded himself that she couldn’t reply anymore. So he set to eating his noodles, as they were done now.

She’s just another shell. Remember that, Rampo.

He looked out the window out of boredom, scanning the skyline and searching for the moon. He couldn’t find it, even as it’s light bathed the bus.

Such a thing would’ve been peculiar, if that wasn’t normal in this world.

The city beyond the forest was even more strange. He’d come through it on his way here, but he’d never noticed how the buildings disappeared.

When he’d originally ventured through, he knew that he had passed a skyscraper, one that should’ve been easily visible from here, as it towered twenty stories above the rest of the buildings. Looking back at it now, it wasn’t there, and the space where it should’ve been looked… blank. As if limbo had spilled into where the sky should’ve been.

Rampo’s realisation of this caused him to panic. The end — the literal, non-figurative end — was catching up to them. It was just on the horizon, close enough by. Threatening to swallow him up as he slept.

~

This was bad news. Very, very bad news. He needed to get going now, otherwise he would never escape.

Mid-way from finishing his noodles, Rampo prepared to leave. He packed his pack, found his cane, and was about fly through the door — when he eyed Marionette, causing him to freeze. A few moments passed before he said anything.

“…you know I can’t bring you along.” he mumbled. “You’d just be… dead weight.” The last two words stung him.

He stood there for a long while, yet the threat of the end creeped behind him, spurring him to act, and so, he decided to bring her.

~

You’re an idiot, Rampo.

I know… I get it, I know!

He threw her over his shoulders and began to run, leaving his cane behind instead. The bus was gone from sight within minutes, and the city started to deteriorate too. The end was near, and he didn’t know if he could outrun it.

Just leave her behind! What fool are you, to bring a corpse along?

He ignored these thoughts and continued the futile escape. The end of the forest was nearby, and the rest of the city lay further beyond that. Too far beyond.

You’ll never make it. Do you want to die, too?

He couldn’t respond, and didn’t want to; she felt weightless above him. That’s what he told himself.

I’ll make it with her, or not at all.

I won’t abandon her. Not again.

~

Despite these facts, he continued on. Despite the challenge, he soldiered ahead, struggling towards the clearing, blindly thinking that he’d be safe if he reached far enough. Soon he’d end up abandoning his pack, only carrying Marionette; she was more important to him than anything else, now that he’d found her. He’d make it to salvation, somehow, and they’d be together again, just like before.

Despite the odds.

But contrary to all of this, he knew deep within that he’d never had a chance to begin with.

Although despite this fact, he was content to be swallowed up by the nothingness, together with her.

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