The Liar that Didn’t Lie

There are no such things as puzzles in the Gallery

Somebody…

Pain wracked through his body in violent spasms, and his vision was abuzz with stars.

My ??? My precious ???.

She was slipping out of his grasp, sinking into the pit of his muddled mind. He pulled at his hair and clawed at his ears, trying to block out the incessant chatters of the ‘others.’ His eyes twitched. His teeth gnashed. He threw himself against the body of darkness, ramming for a way out.

Shut up! All of you shut up! I can’t hear her voice anymore.

She was just a baby when they gave her to him, a responsibility shoved onto the nearest able hands out of convenience. She should have been a nuisance. She was a nuisance. That cheeky imp grew up, her long cherry blond hair done in twin tails, her tantrums obnoxious and rewarded. Matron doted on her, and the other kids couldn’t stand her.

She was selfish. She was arrogant. She talked back, and no amount of coy cuddles or large dewy eyes should have made up for the times she’d thrown him under the bus to save her own hide. But they did. They fucking did, and he didn’t even care how unfair a trade it was.

In the callousing cycle of orphanhood, she made him feel human. Only she. They licked each other’s wounds in the most abrasive ways possible, and it was a bond he never wanted broken.

???ia. Her face was a blur, and her name…Name…what’s…your name? Hey, your name! Oh, god dammit. Answer me!

He was forgetting.

A fledging red rose had been in her hand, and a mocking white rose in his.

The path they’d walked was twisted, infested by crooked creations.

I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it would end like this.

Stop throwing a tantrum, hypocrites. I have to— I have to…

The afternoon had been boiling hot, and what little fat in his scrawny body was sizzling like the pan of bland tofu matron liked to make for dinner. It was just another horrid summer day that couldn’t have ended fast enough. The irony that it never did end when they decided to take refuge in some open museum.

She’s my…my…I have to…

He doubled down from the searing corrosion that robbed him of the shallowest breaths. The hands before him blemished with a hideous black as they continued to shriek, and mock, and wail, and laugh.

The ways of the puzzles had escaped him. He was the brawl and she the brain. Ia had become oddly quiet and meek, but it was a distant concern for him. As long as she was solving puzzles…

But that was it. They never had a chance. The moment they started solving ‘puzzles,’ it had already been game over.

A puzzle has a logical answer to it. And this twisted world was not a puzzle. You don’t get to just solve it and win. Sure, it had rules written here and there, but so did his orphanage. And some of those rules were scribbled in by the other kids when matron wasn’t looking.

There’s an odd one out.

The one in white was all sugar and rainbow.

The one in blue was young and carefree.

The one in green was calm and gentlemanly.

The one in red was laidback and teasing.

The one in yellow was an unconcerned clown.

They were all saying different things.

And then there was the one in brown, silent and taciturn.

You shameless, lying bastard.

Ia drank in the liar’s charming timbre, quaffing down comforting whispers that her brother wasn’t sophisticated enough to utter. And then she’d claimed her intuition told her to trust the smarmy bastard.

Stop acting high and mighty, you incorrigible brat. You make me laugh. What does your sheltered ass know about intuition?

I’m the alley animal that uses intuition.

I’m your brother!

Listen to me!

No, ???ia!

Purple smoke had already engulfed her tiny crouching figure.

One lone red petal floated to the floor before his feet.

His heart was in a standstill, his blood cold, jamming painfully inside his arteries. There she’d lain on the cold tiles, her rose a wilted stalk beside her.

He roared his throat raw to drown out the voices. Liar liar liar! You promised to let me protect you! He hammered his fists against the yellow window, scratching for a way out.

I promised…to protect you.

The blotches in his vision was spreading until he could no longer discern himself from the ink surrounding him. Someone was shouting. He was shouting.

But he didn’t understand.

What was he angry about?

Palette knife in hand, he’d charged for the one in brown. All profanities he’d care to know spilled from his mouth in a frenzied barrage as he maimed the son of a bitch, the laughter and mockeries never ceasing even as the canvas tore and ripped. And when the timber tone of the one in brown went quiet and all the giggles died down, his wrath was far from satisfied.

Why had he been so angry?

He’d spun around to charge at another portrait when he realized they were all…staring.

Wide, unblinking eyes appeared on the previously empty faces, and maniacal grins tore across their jaws.

Please do not touch the displays. If by any chance you damage any exhibit, you will b comp sat n

.

.

.

I’m glad you’re with us, neighbor.”

.

.

You’re welcomed to stay, bro!”

We’re like a family here~”

.

Family~ Family~ Family~”

.

Boy, do remember our rule.”

.

Here, in the Liar’s Room, we do not lie.”

It wasn’t like Brown particularly cared, but he supposed he’d already realized the twisted nature of his ‘family’ since long ago. He didn’t mind staying with the liars though, because he fit right in. Without knowing why, Brown knew he was just like them.

So why…

He could’ve sworn paintings didn’t ‘bleed,’ but what did he know? He’d been a fool through and through. Annoying. Those hypocrites were all yelling at him as they tore his existence apart.

Brown heard the slam of a door, and the little girl with eyes as deep as the crimson bloom in her hand came before his cracked and smeared window. He could’ve sworn he knew this shade of red. He could’ve sworn that, all along, he’d wanted to leave this room, leave this world. And he could’ve sworn he once had a heart that would hurt every time he saw…her…

‘…Her?’

Who?

The moment he’d set his eyes on this little girl, all of his doubts was gone. He did know this shade of red. He did want to leave. And he did have a heart. And his heart was telling him to talk to this girl some more. Maybe then he would have his answer.

But everything was growing dark, and it was hard to see her anymore.

In any case, he was satisfied. Finally, he’d managed to protect her.

The holder of the red rose.

His most precious ???.

 

 

 

 

Trivia:

  • This takes into account the gameplay aspect of Ib, e.g. when Ib is separated from Garry and Garry “somehow” find out the birth year of Juggling. In short, this story is based on the assumption that Garry and Ib were just doing random stuff that happened to resemble puzzles in the gallery, and were very lucky when they managed to get out.

 

  • Brown is sometime depicted as female in fanarts. The silhouette in the portrait just seems more like a young boy to me.
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A Coward’s Hide and Seek

Say that a hen is constantly being chase by a rooster.

What do you think the hen is thinking?

Garry ran his fingers over the row of books and picked out a random volume. He sucked in a deep breath and blew at the dusty surface, releasing a wave of dancing silver particles into the phony sunlight that cascaded through the empty windowsill.

There was no title – scratched out, but that didn’t really matter.

He cracked the text open, eyes squinting to read in the dark room. The scrawled writings told the story about a pair of lovers whom was faced with opposition from the whole world. So they yearned for another world. A dangerous world that they believed would accept their union.

How silly. They were only running away.

As he read, Garry noted the difficult words, acting on a habit formed long ago. But then…it was a habit that was no longer needed.

He looked to his side, where once upon a time a small figure always stood, and his chest twisted in guilt. He remembered the way her wine-colored eyes had gazed up at him in patient wonderment, waiting for his answer. And when he regarded her with a smile, she’d snap her head down, hoping her short bangs would hide her emotion from him.

Not anymore.

Now there was no one stood next to him. And though the young girl had been as silent as doll, the difference marked by her absence was unmistakable. There was a void empty enough to swallow him whole.

Garry closed the book and shelved it. Just who was the author of these stories he kept finding around the gallery anyway?

He walked to the window to peer outside, scanning the messy lines of crayons that made up the ‘world.’ His eyes followed the solid stroke of deep pink leading from the door of this house to the horizon afar. Along the way, spiky tulips bloomed from squiggly patches of grass, taking on colors that would put a rainbow to shame. Comically polluted puffs of smoke could be seen rising from the only chimney in town, announcing the approaching end of another ‘day.’

As Garry stood watching the quiet scenery, he was about to address the sinking feeling in his stomach when he spotted her. His smile returned. Underneath the swirls of green that denoted wide vaults of leaves, the little girl of red was wandering, no doubt with vigilant eyes, trying to spot any clue that might be of help to her search.

It didn’t seem like she’d noticed him yet, that red skirt of hers swaying as she spun around, reacting to some sound she’d heard. He leant against the windowsill to contain the adrenaline that was already starting to circulate in his veins.

Hurry up and find me already.

Just like before, when he’d been incapacitated, lying on the cold floor. In the face of an excruciating pain, he wished for death. But it never came. Instead, he awoke with renewed strength, and watching over him were the most hauntingly beautiful pair of eyes.

Ever since that meeting, he’d followed her around like a newborn chick that blindly imprinted on the wrong mother. It wasn’t mere tit for tat that he’d sworn to protect her.

So how had this happen?

Oh, she saw him.

Garry climbed out through the window just as she started down the pink road towards him. He could hear the patter of her Mary Janes before he took off, away from her.

Come, Ib.

The burn of fatigue was setting in too quickly, and he needed a vase. Garry had to admit he lacked exercise. To his defense, living as a poor college student meant that any attempt to burn away precious calories was a sin in itself. Hunger was one of the few things he didn’t miss from the real world. When he’d first realized that he hadn’t needed food for a while, he was almost glad he wouldn’t have to die from starvation.

Of course, there were so many other ways to die here…

Even now the feeling of her limp form still weighed down on his arms, heavy like shackles of pure lead. As the petals of blood had scattered like autumn leaves, he’d held her close, hot tears slurring his call of her name. Garry never knew a human body could be so cold, and when that very human’s hand had been so warm in his own just moments before, it was a horrifying contrast for his mind to make sense of.

He still remembered the pain that nearly ripped his sanity apart when his rose had been in the bruising clutch of the blue lady. That was what she’d gone through in his arm as he knelt, powerless to help, before she was finally granted peace.

Why couldn’t she have let him save her?

He could have saved her.

Garry jolted awake to a dull stab of hurt in his arm. He was sitting against the wall next to the table where Eternal Blessing stood, and kneeling next to him was…

“Ah, Ib, you found me!” he put on a smile.

In response, her hold tightened around his elbow, and he could feel blunt fingernails digging into him through his thin coat. She wore a blank expression, but her eyes— Ah, they spoke volumes of her displeasure. He grew more nervous with each passing second that she stayed silent, simply looking at him. His dry throat was begging for a swallow, but under the pressure radiating from those angry, blood-red orbs, he knew better than to move.

So he stayed still as the figurative clock kept on ticking.

Finally, her lips parted. Garry held his breath and waited for that first word to be sounded.

“Garry,” his heart skipped a beat as a chill scuttled down his back. The little girl released her harsh grip and looked down to his hand, her fingers lacing with his. “You keep disappearing.”

The worry in his chest subsided, and the smile on his face became more natural. He longed to hear her voice, even if the tone was a little off.

“I was lonely, Garry. It was really scary by myself.”

“I’m sorry.” He dared to raise his free hand to her cheek and made a little stroke down her satin-like skin, glossing over the coldness at his fingertips. “My, this place is such a confusing mess that I keep getting lost. Thanks for always looking for me.”

He was lying through his teeth, but let’s be fair, they both were shameless liars.

She was impassive towards his touch— or so he’d thought before her fingers untangled from his and shot up, seizing the offending hand. It startled him, but he didn’t have the chance to mull over the surprise. Her grip was strong, her nails on his knuckles, plunging into his skin and bones. His smile was slipping, but Garry tried to keep it up. For her.

The girl stared back at him with watchful orbs as though scrutinizing the sincerity of his expression. Swallowing back a whimper, he allowed his joints to relax in her grasp.

The clock was still ticking.

She leant into his hand and closed her eyes. Her breathing was slow as she pressed her lips into the sole of his sweaty palm. For a moment, she seemed so vulnerable that it was nostalgic. And he would have pulled her into an embrace if not for her crushing grip reminding him how untrue that notion was.

The rhythm of his heart quickened as her other hand circled his wrist. She took a deep breath before reopening her eyes.

“Say, Garry.”

“What do I do, Garry?”

Her eyes were down, her fingers curled, slowly etching red lines down the length of his pulse. He tightened his jaw to contain a grunt.

“Um, Ib—”

“How do I get you to stay still?”

“It’s dangerous to walk around. You’ll get hurt.”

She traced her lips along his palm.

“I just want to protect you, Garry.”

She pushed his thumb between her teeth and bit down. Hard. Garry bolted up straight with a surprised gasp. “I-Ib!” He pleaded but received no mercy. The girl never relented, and as the pain sank in and numbed all other decision-making brain cells, he only wanted out.

With a desperate yank, there was an audible clack as he managed to free the digit from the sharp vice. Garry was almost hyperventilating as he studied the damage. The flesh was dented and bloody, everything from the joint to the root of his nail was completely maimed from the abrupt escape. This time he could no longer hold back a pitiful whimper. The rims of his eyes were starting to burn.

“Garry, does it hurt?” she reached for his injured hand, but he jerked it away from her, his most primal instincts were screaming for him to flee.

“Y-yes, it d-oes,” his voice cracked. No more of this. He’d been a fool to have thought he could get use to this.

“I’m sorry. But Ma always says ‘you don’t learn unless you’re punished.'” She tugged at the hem of his shirt to gain his attention. “Don’t be mad at me, please Garry?” She smiled an innocent smile. It was Ib’s smile.

Unfair. This was foul play.

Even though his thumb was on fire, and the raging pain only wished for him to retaliate, he couldn’t muster the heart to even get mad. How could he ever? Not with her. “No, honey, I’m not.” He patted her head with a shaky hand, half-fearing that this one might be subjected to the same abuse. “Don’t worry,” he said, more to himself than her.

The hurt was growing duller, to his relief. He stole a glance at his thumb and…it was healing, the bloody flesh fixing itself with a strange rippling effect to it. Even his wrist, where there should’ve been swollen scratches, was now unblemished.

His shoulders sagged in relief. He’d forgotten, but how fortunate that his rose had been standing in Eternal Blessing all along. Garry breathed out a sigh and returned his gaze to Ib, who was looking up at the turquoise vase perched atop the table as though she’d just realized its presence. The girl started to climb over his lap to get to the vase.

“Hey Ib,” he held her back and turned her to him. Before she could speak a word, he leant forward and placed a quick kiss on her cheek.

She visibly flushed, hand springing up to cover the place where his lips has landed. Her reaction put a little smirk on his face. No matter how twisted, she was still his Ib.

“I’ve learnt my mistake, Ib. So, don’t be mad at me anymore? Pretty please?” he tilted his head.

She hesitated, then nodded.

“Aw, thanks.” Garry pulled her into a hug, and she returned it in kind, if not more aggressive. As he rubbed her back and snuggled into the crook of her neck, he felt he just had to say “…I love you, Ib.”

.

“Are you tired, Ib?”

“Here, I’ll lend you my lap.”

“Sleep tight. I promise I won’t go anywhere.”

.

So Garry was a liar.

He promised to protect her, but she died.

He promised her he’d leave with Mary, but here he was.

But the funny thing was that…she’d always believed in him. Even now she still did.

Garry took off his jacket and draped it over her petite sleeping form. The girl was cold as ice and probably didn’t need tending to, but he’d like to think his gesture made a difference.

He retrieved his blue rose with a heavy heart, leaving behind a lonely, wilted stem, so small compared to his own, inside the turquoise vase. If only this had been near… Then, just maybe…

Even though it was mere wishful thinking, there was no one to stop him from dreaming.

Garry pocketed his rose and looked around for something that could tell him how long he’d been in this corridor. Granted, time itself was nonexistent in this world, but Garry had noticed a certain interval at which the gallery seemed to…’churn,’ rearranging all of its festering intestines to create the maze anew.

He was a coward. A chicken some might say. Always on the run.

But at least for the time being, he wasn’t running to get away.

And so, with silent steps, he left the area in hope that she would once again find him.


The young man stumbles upon a fork in the road, and he knows what is waiting for him at the end of one of those ink-shrouded paths. A bed of silk, a cradle of dreams and a casket of eternity. Somewhere, his beloved is lying in peaceful slumber. The moment he sees her will be the moment the illusions will shatter like glass.

Because he can’t afford to choose wrongly, he doesn’t choose at all.

The young man turns around and leaves.

He’d never disturb her rest. Not until the day he can finally bring himself to face with the truth.

Oh, but since time is frozen still in this world, I guess that day will never come.

(Excerpts from ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■)

 

 

 

 


Trivia:

  • I am uncomfortable with how I kept using the word ‘hand.’

 

  • It was a little hard trying to figure out how Ib’s silent nature can be twisted without completely losing the original personality

 

  • In my country we have a joke about how a rooster is chasing a hen, posing the question about what the hen may be thinking. The answer is “Am I running too fast?” It pokes fun at our culture where the girl is supposed to sit and wait for the guy to make the move when she prolly also wants his advances. I used it a little out of context, but I thought it still fit…
    (´owo `)