There are no such things as puzzles in the Gallery
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!
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.
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…
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 ？？？.
- 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.