B2 Chapter 32: Revelation

A door stood in front of Gin. Though to the unknowing, unless you bumped into it by mistake, one wouldn’t know. To the naked eye, it looked like the sandy beach that surrounded it. However, Gin knew. There was no way in hell he would forget. Not when the very door led to his home; his village.

Yet, he didn’t want to enter. He understood the dream-like state he found himself in. Although what he saw felt real, he could not smell the orchids behind him, he could not hear the birds that always migrated at this time of year and he could not feel the roughness of his Xernim1XernimA parasitical entity that sometimes benefits its host. In fact, the parasite vanished altogether, leaving behind an untainted version of his hands. No roots. No vines. No nothing.

‘It’s been a while since I had this dream,’ Gin stared in front of him. ‘Did Artemis do anything?’

Gin waited. He waited until the seconds turned into minutes and the minutes turned into hours. Still, nothing happened.

‘It’s not different,’ Gin sighed. ‘If that’s the case, where’s the hatch?’

As if the world he created listened, the nanobots that covered the location of the door disappeared, revealing the unopened hatch. A pad in the middle beckoned him. “Just place your hand on it,” it would say. But Gin remained steadfast in his conviction.

‘Thought as much. Place my hand on here and…’

The voices stopped. The hatch opened. Stairs formed in front of Gin’s eyes. Then footsteps echoed. First came soft tap, tap, taps but soon loud thump, thump, thumps. The sound grew louder and louder until Gin’s heart skipped a beat when a head of a woman popped out. She had long, black hair and dark, tanned skin. She looked like she was in her late thirties with wrinkles forming around her cheekbones and forehead. As she climbed the steps, her not-so-slender physique showed through the traditional red sari.

‘Mother,’ Gin uttered a single word.

She stayed silent. However, she reached inside a pocket stitched on the outside of her sari and pulled out an all-too-familiar cuboid: his INS. The red tint in particular gave away the purpose of the contraption.

‘Do I need to do the same thing as last time?’ Gin hated the fact his words don’t change the sequence of events.

‘Follow me,’ she instructed like a broken record, opening the hatch once more and taking the first steps down.

‘Yes, mother. Whatever you say, mother,’ Gin shook his head and followed her.

Now what? Gin wondered. His body felt heavy and tired. Was it possible to be tired in a dream? Who knows? But that’s how he perceived it. So much so that he needed to lie down on his back. However, instead of letting the waters envelop him like before, he got up and stood in front of the steps to his village. It looked black. Very black. More like an abyss than a set of stairs.

‘I know what’s going on. Why is this feeling the same as last time?’ Gin took a deep breath. ‘Can I really change anything?’

At that moment, he realised how small his body had become. His arms lacked his adult muscles and his belly hanged a little. Though when he touched his face, he noticed the stubble on his beard. Like the teenage boy he once was.

‘Do I want to visit father’s office this time?’ Gin asked both himself then his mother. ‘No, I don’t. Take me somewhere else, mother!’

All of a sudden, the whole scenery disappeared, leaving just Gin, three steps and pitch darkness everywhere else. He tried walking backwards. The furthest step seemed to vanish and a new one formed behind him. He tried walking forwards. This time, three more steps appeared in front.

‘If last time was anything to go by then maybe I can change things,’ an idea sparked in Gin’s head.

As he climbed down, Gin wondered how the dream would end this time. With the door (presumably) shut behind him, he couldn’t drown, unless the water managed to seep through the non-existent gap. Maybe a new death awaited him. But what?

Before he could get his answer, the steps stopped showing and…he knew the timing. That feeling when you prepare for a step that isn’t there while your heart skips a beat and your body does that falling thing did not happen for once.

‘Aha!’ Gin cheered. For the first time, the sequence of events changed, even if by a little. A new hope grew in him. Like the seeds of doubt blossoming into a tree of understanding. ‘Does this mean next we’ll have…’

When he landed, the area lit up, revealing the new surroundings. Instead of the entrance to the cave labyrinth that led to his village, Gin found himself right in the heart of it. Inside the village hospital on the third floor to be exact. The floors were brown with silver tints coming from the nanobot reinforcements. The walls were pure metal. The doors were made out of wood. Nothing new from what Gin could remember of the place. Well, except for the woman in white of course that stood in the middle of the corridor.

‘Which room do you want to go to now?’ Gin asked.

His mother didn’t say anything (what a surprise)! She just bowed and then entered the fourth door to the left.

‘Heh,’ Gin jogged with his small, childish legs.

He knew the place all too well. He could even guess what to find on the plaque that adorned the third door to the right. Yep. Sure enough, he rubbed the non-existent dust off of it to find the words “Doctor Gen Gale” engraved into it. Oh, how very predictable!

He ignored the room this time and reached the door his mother entered instead. On the front, the plaque read out “Elizabeth Gale’s Animal Farm.” Another place Gin knew all too well.

‘Mother. Are you in there?’ Gin knocked on the door but got no response in return. ‘I’ll let myself in then.’

However, he realised he couldn’t reach the handle. He stretched out his arms and stood up on his toes. But, try as he might, his toddler hands missed their mark.

‘Wait,’ Gin held out his arms. He checked them where he found two blobs with stubby little digits for fingers. When he looked down, he saw his legs struggling to stand let alone walk. The moment he took a step, he buckled under the pressure and slammed his head against the door.

It hurt. It hurt so much. It hurt so much that Gin bawled his eyes out. Why must pain be so inconvenient?

‘There, there,’ a soothing voice called out to him. ‘You may be big for your age, but you’re still too little to reach that.

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‘Gah?’ Gin called back.

Before he knew it, he felt tender hands wrap around him. They picked him up and pressed the baby Julius into the soft bosom of a woman he could not mistake: his mother. Except, the moment he looked up, he saw a much younger version of the woman he adored. Her face lacked her usual chubbiness, her hair lacked a single speck of grey and her forehead didn’t contain a single wrinkle.

‘Did you want to go in?’ she asked.


‘Ok, let’s go.’

In his stead, Gin’s mother opened the door. The moment she did, the room burst into a ruckus of roars, grunts and other animalistic noises. Though that didn’t stimulate the senses nearly enough as the smell. The room reeked of manure mixed in with several herbal fragrances into a complete nostril-filling mess.

‘Bah,’ Gin retched.

‘You’ll get used to it, my love,’ his mother cleaned up his mouth and carried on down the jungle-like garden towards a series of pens.

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Gin’s eyes lit up. All the animals came out of their homes and he wanted to join them. He leant out of his mother’s arms, his own outstretched towards the exotic creatures. He wanted to pet them. He wanted to play with them. He wanted to enjoy his dream for once.

‘Here you go,’ his mother let him down as Gin waddled towards the pens.


He pressed his face against the first, wooden cage where several griffons came to greet him. Most of them danced on all four legs in their own, little ritual. All except one, however. The last one to leave the pens. This black sheep (or rather, Griffon) of the flock just watched over the rest. It proceeded to watch Gin, clucked at him, before clucking at the rest.

Without warning, all the birds turned round as if to face their leader. Whatever the leader did, the others copied. Wherever this leader went, the others followed. None of them spoke in its presence.

‘Bobo,’ Gin garbled, pointing to the unique bird.

‘Haha, that one does act like your brother, doesn’t it?’ his mother fed the griffons some seeds before ushering them back into their home.

‘Aw. Chickies!’

‘They need to rest. You can go play with their neighbour.’

‘Mm,’ Gin waddled towards the next pen. Unlike the previous one, this one needed metal walls everywhere except for a little window at the very top. One he could not reach in his miniature body. What was inside? He didn’t know but he wanted to find out anyway.


‘Uwah,’ Gin toppled backwards. Tears welled up as he ran behind his mother as the metallic door kept making banging noises.

‘No need to be afraid. Here,’ she picked him up again and walked over to the window.

At first, Gin hesitated to look. The clang of metal increased in both frequency and volume with each passing bang. Yet, his mother encouraged him with her warm smile.

‘If the previous one was like Jacob, this one is more like your father. He might seem hot-headed and strange and scary but he really does care about those around him.

Encouraged by her words, Gin peered through the glass. He saw two bulls, one large and one small, near the entrance. The more he observed, the more he realised the situation. The child of the two animals got its horn stuck in the door while the parent kept charging into it, trying to save it.


‘Yes, dada. Now if you bear with me, I’ll go help those fools out,’ once again, she put Gin down to his own devices to go inside.

When it came down to it, Gin wanted to wait for his mother but his heart, mind and body already moved toward the next animal. With the previous two looking like his brother and father, he wondered what the next one would remind him of. Uncle Wo? Auntie Steph? Oh, how exciting!

The next pen was small. Almost as small as Gin, in fact. If he wanted to, he could climb over to meet the animals up front, even if it meant facing his mother’s fury.

So, that’s what he did. He clambered up the fence with his stubby, little legs, hauled himself over the top and tumbled down onto the other side. It hurt. It hurt so much. It hurt so much that he almost bawled his eyes out but stopped his tears.

He persisted through the pain towards the hut. No animal came out to his disappointment. Were they scared? Or were they simply not there?

Gin knocked on the home then sat down. He waited in anticipation. A second passed that into a minute that turned into an hour. Neither his mother nor the animal came to greet him. What took them so long?

Impatient by everyone’s tardiness, he went on all fours. He crawled into the hut which, to his surprise, contained bright lights. From the outside, he would never have guessed! Aside from that, straw littered the home as well as a little area for food, water and toilet purposes.

‘Ooh. Ma!’ something caught Gin’s eye at the very end. He could see a bed. On that bed, a small fluffy being slept. ‘Ma!’

He rushed towards the animal, stopping right as he reached it. Though he couldn’t pronounce the word, he knew a mouse when he saw one. He could only watch in adoration at its silver fur.

‘Wo Ma,’ he spoke out, loud enough to wake the creature. After all, the only other being with such beautiful hair belonged to his uncle.

‘Eep,’ it squeaked.

‘Ea!’ Gin mimicked back with glee.

The creature turned round, shaking with every step. It avoided looking at Gin. Why? He did know. But now he did not think of Wo. It wasn’t because of its timid actions (though Wo would have probably attacked him for sure), but rather its eyes reminded him of someone else. Not the way, they quivered in his presence nor the abnormal size of its pupils. Instead, it was the colour. It was a __ colour.


Gin looked with more care. The mouse’s eyes were of a colour he couldn’t pinpoint. Not quite brown but not quite anything else. What was the name of that colour then? Why couldn’t he find the word? Did his mental age match his physical one? It was the colour of a certain nut, maybe. Yes, he was sure of that. But what? Either way, he knew who it belonged to.

Then it hit him.

‘No, no. What am I doing? I need to get out,’ Gin’s speech returned back to him as his baby teeth forced their way through his gums. His limbs elongated while his body burst through the little onesie (clothes that he didn’t realise he wore this entire time).

He kept on growing, the house suffocating him. It creaked as his back pressed against the wood. The nanobotic nails holding in place came apart. The roof flew out as his body reached his adult size. He stood up and glared at the mouse.

‘It’s hazel,’ he understood at last. ‘It’s f****** hazel! It all makes so much more sense!’

Now he needed to die. He needed to get out of this dream as soon as possible. With no flood able to reach him, no zombies in sight nor his mother in the vicinity, he turned to the insignificant being below him trembling more than ever.

‘Summon them,’ he barked. ‘Summon your wormy friends, now!’

But the mouse ran.


‘You shouldn’t swear, Gin,’ a soft, angelic voice called out to him.

‘Ah,’ Gin choked as he turned around. He collapsed at the sight of his mother who remained in her youthful appearance. Tears crashed to the floor. His heart ached more than ever. ‘Why are you here now?’

‘You dropped this outside,’ she walked up to him and handed over an INS.

‘Oh,’ he took the device.

A hand patted Gin’s head. He didn’t dare look up. He stared at the INS that got more and more soaked as the nostalgia hit him hard instead. His heartbeat alternated between calmness and throbbing in agony. He couldn’t tell if he missed the feeling of his mother rubbing his hair or if he hated the fact that it was a mere imitation of the real thing.

‘You didn’t want this for yourself, didn’t you?’ Gin wiped his nose. ‘It’s for me?’

Gin looked up. He placed his hand over the INS, putting his fingers in the chambers one by one. Blades, he told himself. But nothing happened.

‘Ah, right,’ Gin forgot his lack of Xernim.

He pressed the first mechanism instead. Within an instant, the blade materialised in front of him. It shone under the room’s headlights, enough to see one’s reflection. In it, he could see his mother smiling though he dared not see her himself.

‘Thank you, mother,’ Gin mouthed as he placed the blade up to his neck.

Then, with one single slice, he –

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