Eden Virus 14

“The name of this world is “Artificial“. The name, it means something not naturally made or a copy. Fitting cause that’s exactly what it is; nothing more than a fake world imitating ours.”

“Wait, wait, wait! F-fake world?! Made? What!?” I cried out in shock.

“Tch. Are you going to let me explain or are you just going to keep interrupting?” He clicked his tongue in annoyance.

“S-sorry…” I quietly backed down and continued to listen carefully.

“We call it a world but, more accurately, it is just a singular land mass in the shape of a giant city spreading a total of 12,742 kilometers from one end to the other. Here, I’ll show you a picture.”

Through his phone, he brought up a strange picture of an island encased in what looks to be a ball.

“This is…”

“What you see here is our estimated concept of Artificial from what we know. The bubble surrounding it, is the invisible barrier that blocks all entrance and exit from this world. Artificial is completely closed off. If you travel to the very edge, you will only run into dead ends. Travel by air or even underground will be the same. There is no way in or out of this world…well, there is one, but we’ll put that aside for now.” He chuckled. “Scientifically speaking, it makes no sense. The only way I can explain how any of this is possible, is only by supernatural means.”

“Supernatural?”

“Well, it sure as heck isn’t something that could be explain by any known human logic. This world defies all known logic.” Senpai sighed as he crossed his arm. “It is an absolute impossibility. Something that could not and should not exist, yet it does.”

I struggle to keep up with what he is saying. It was all so confusing and the more I try to understand, the more lost I am. “I… how… I don’t understand any of…”

“Ah. How to explain it in a more simple way…,” He mumbled as he scratched his head.

“No, I get what this world is…or at least, I can grasp the concept. But what I don’t understand is; why does this world exist? And why are we here?”

“Oh ho! Asking the real questions now, aren’t we?” He mused.

I furrowed my brows as I listened to him laugh. Is he mocking me?

“Why this world exist and why we’re here? Well, the best way to explain that would be because;”

“Artificial is a paradise.” The president suddenly interjected.

“WHAT?!” I turned my gaze towards him and met with his glaring eyes but immediately broke contact when I felt a chill down my spine. I heard as him let out a weary sigh.

“Oh come on, Kenjirou! I was just about to reveal that.” Senpai whined.

“Quit beating around the bush and tell her.”

“Yeah, it is just as he said. That is the simplest description of this world.” He turned back to me. “Artificial is a paradise and the people here, are all real people. All 7.6 billion people, plus other living creatures.”

My jaw dropped as I quickly covered my mouth in shock. Senpai only grinned at me, as if he already foreseen my bewilderment. 7.6 billion people? In such a small place?! How could that even…?

“It is amazing isn’t it? As if they were just all scooped up out of the real world and brought here, to live out the same day every day.” He snickered. “Here, there isn’t a real progression of time either. Nobody ages, nothing changes. There is no death. No diseases. In Artificial, every basic need is fulfilled for every person living here…, if you could still call them living.” He suddenly mumbled underneath his breath. “Truly a paradise…”

He was smiling, yet the tone of his voice was dismay.

“No progression of time? Same day…, wait! Then does that mean… how long has this been going on?! How long has this world existed?”

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“We don’t know. Even after we had broken free from Artificial’s control, we found that we’d already been here for a while. Isn’t that right Kenjirou?”

“Hmph…” The president grunted in response.

“Broken free? You keep saying that. What does that mean?”

“Artificial, this world, can manipulate the minds and memories of the people. All those that live here are subjected to its control. They all relive through the illusion of the same days, and anything that differs from what they are supposed to see, is filtered out. As if unable to see or notice anything out of the norm.” The president replied gruffly.

“That’s-…”

“In other words, you can go outside and blow up a whole building and no one will even notice. It was why when Kenjirou and Takuya first met you, they were surprised you could see them and why your other friend was not able to see either one of them.”

“Manipulating memories… is that why I couldn’t remember anything? My year of birth, my parents?!” I asked nervously.

“Yes. It seems that any memories of the real world that conflicts with Artificial’s is promptly erased. Year of birth and parental information are our most affected.”

“My parents…” My heart felt heavy as he told me that. Unable to even remember their faces at all, not a single memory.

“Ah, but I’m sure your parents are here as well. Just that to find them might be a bit…err…difficult.” He quickly reassured me, although that only made me feel even more distressed.

“You still haven’t explained to me what this “broken free” mean. I want to know, why do you keep saying that.” I asked impatiently.

Everyone was quiet. They looked at each other hesitantly, as if conflicted to what they should say.

“On a rare occasion, a person might become aware of all this.” The president finally spoke. “Their memories become contradictory and they start to see beyond what Artificial tries to manipulate them to. They will no longer be under Artificial’s control and see the world for what it really is; a fake. That is what we mean by “broken free”. All of us here, you included, are freed from Artificial and know the truth of this world.”

My eyes widen. I looked around to see each of the boys looking down.

“So, all the people in this world… everybody… but why?”

“Huh?”

“Why did this happen? Why were we able to break free?”

“We weren’t the only ones to have broken free.” Hideyoshi suddenly spoke, his voice low and ominous.

I turned to him in surprise. What does he mean?

“There have been others. But we’re…” There was hesitation in his voice.

“We’re the only ones who survived.” The president interjected.

My eyes widen. Survived?! But…

“You mean to tell me people have died?! But you said that there is no death in Artificial!” I shouted in fear.

“Yes, nobody has died within Artificial. But outside, is a different thing.”

“Outside?! What do you even-? You said there was no way to come in or out of Artificial and… ah…”

That dark world. That strange world that was like a nightmare. The memories suddenly flashed in my head and I felt my entire body trembling.

“Wait… what was the other place that I was in? That horrible place, where I was attacked by those… monsters?!” I asked, my lips quivering.

“So, you remember.” Senpai snickered. I immediately threw him a dirty look.

“We do not know.” The President responded quietly.

“You do not know? How? You said that you would explain everything, yet you don’t know?” I cried out in anger.

“There are still many things about Artificial we’ve yet to learn. The things we do know, are only from what we could easily find. But that is why this club exist. The Artificial Research Club, A.R.C. Our goal is to try to find answers as to why this world exist, why we were brought here and even…” The president’s voice suddenly trailed off.

“To find a way to return to our world. To become normal again.” Hideyoshi finished for him. I turned to look at him and saw on his face a terrible look of despair mixed with anger. It was across all their faces. I suddenly felt worried.

“Still on about that, huh Takuya? You do know both of those things are an impossibility.” Mitsuhide-senpai scoffed, but in his eyes, I could almost see tears. He quickly wiped his eyes and continued. “If the whole population of the world is here in Artificial, then what will even be in our real world anymore? And normal. Hah, do you really want to go back to being controlled like a damn puppet?”

“Senpai, you know that is not what I meant! You, of all people, who have it the worst should know!” Hideyoshi spat back.

“You-!”

SLAM

The president slammed his fist on the table so hard, the entire room nearly shook. Everyone stopped fighting and stared at him.

“Why must you two always act like a bunch of god damn children?!” He growled angrily.

The two hung their heads in shame and looked away from each other.

“S-sorry Prez.”

“Sorry…”

The president turned his gaze back to me. His eyes were piercing and frightening. I had a hard time trying to keep contact and had to turn my head away from him.

“Takatora, I understand that all of this is very confusing and hard to take in. There are still many things that we can’t fully explain yet, but know that all we have said is the truth. Everything, as unbelievable as it sounds, is all true.”

“I’m…I’m not doubting you. I have seen it with my own eyes and even…” I squeezed my right shoulder. “But it’s still all so hard. I’m really struggling to understand all of this.”

“Yes, that’s why we have a request.”

I looked back up in surprise and met his eyes. They were still frightening yet I could also see a strong determination. This made me felt nervous, yet I did not break contact this time.

“W-what will that be?” I asked in a timid voice.

“Please, join our club.” His voice was calm yet commanding. The way he spoke, it did not seem as if he would take no as an answer.

“I…um…ah…” I stuttered as I tried to find words. I didn’t know how to respond. To suddenly join this club would be…

“Kenjirou, it’s a bit too soon for that don’t you think?”

“What do you mean?”

“She just recovered. Asking her to join our club right when all that has happened is still fresh in her mind, just doesn’t seem right.”

“I agree! Not to mention the way you asked, it sounds more like a demand than a request.” Hideyoshi interjected.

“Hmm…” The president placed his hand on his chin as he started to rethink his words.

“Even if…even if I joined, why do you want me?” I nervously asked. “You said, you’re a research club. That you’re trying to find answers, to learn more about this world. But I’m…I don’t know anything about that. I can’t help you. Especially since my arm…I…”

“No, that’s not true. Takatora, you’re very important.”

“Wha?”

“Do you remember when we first met? When you first broke free from Artificial’s control?” He asked me.

“Y-yeah, what about it?” When he chased me and Asumi down? How could I forget?

“During that time, even though you had been freed, you were different. You were free yet you were not infected.”

“Infected…? Wait, you said that before. You and Hideyoshi both said I have broken free, yet I was not yet infected. You mean infected as in some sort of disease? But did you not mention there was no such thing in this world?” I panicked.

“Mitsuhide, show them to her.”

Senpai nodded his head as suddenly pictures popped up on the screens. I looked closely at them, trying to make out what they were.

“These are…”

They were x-rays, yet they looked like nothing I have ever seen before. I could not make out any notable organs, almost as if it was the body of some alien creatures.

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“What are these? Are these from some strange foreign animal?” I asked as I flipped through them in confusion.

“HA HA HA HA! Did you hear that Takuya? She just called you a foreign animal!” Mitsuhide-senpai burst out laughing.

“Senpai, you said you wouldn’t do this and was why I even agreed! Prez, do something!” Hideyoshi cried.

“Ahem, yes.” He coughed as I watched him hid his face away. It almost seems as if he was trying not to laugh.

“Wait…this is Hideyoshi’s x-rays?”

He blushed as he nodded his head.

“Oh…OH! I didn’t mean to…oh god…” I clasped my hand over my mouth in horror. “W-w-what are you?!”

He gave a look of pain, as if wounded by my words.

“I’m human…” He replied in a monotone voice.

- my thoughts:
I struggled alot when writing this chapter. It was very difficult compare to everything else I've written before. The concept of the world I already had an idea of, but the main problem is differentiation. Explanation was also hard, as I tried the best to explain in chapter while keeping it in-story. However, because it is an vital setting of the story, I knew that I couldn't just make it wishy-washy(as much) either.
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