Final Finale – Part 7 (End)

I scrape myself up from the concrete and slink back to my room. The doors to the lecture hall are thick, but there’s no way people couldn’t have noticed my rapid exit. My embarrassment is palatable; my throat is choked and my palms sweaty. If anyone were to see me now they would suspect the worst. At least within the confines of the dorm room I have some shred of privacy. Thankfully all that the departing students saw was me scurrying off alone. I should be able to bluff my way out of this should any of them ask any questions.

I feel a thick knot of gall in my stomach, churning, black and heavy. Hanako has been forsaking her classes so that she could sneak into mine. Any other time I’d be impressed, even a little love-struck. But the pressure is on now. We’re in the home stretch to getting our degrees. Neither of us has jobs lined up, so if we have average marks then we’ve got no hopes for the future beyond working at a Mos Burger or our current service station. If that was the case then we could have skipped the last 4 years of study and gotten on with our lives.

I wish that Hanako would see things a little more seriously.

 

******

I need to get away before the class come out, so I turn on my tail and fly from Hisao and the university.

I must look a mess.

I know that I’ve been crying. This is why I shouldn’t wear make-up. I can dry my eyes, but so long as I have this powder on my face the grey streaks will show everyone what I’ve been up to. The last thing I need now is someone faking sympathy for me. Going back to the flat is no option; it’s too far and it reminds me too much of him for now.

My survival instincts kick in, and I head for a convenience store. I buy some wet-wipes from the counter and head into the bathroom. I lock the door and take to work on my make-up. The wet-wipes aren’t perfect but I should at least be able to hide the tell-tale signs of my tears.

Why does Hisao have to be so difficult? He’s got no idea how hard it is to stay in that flat alone. I can barely sleep a wink. Every sound sets me on edge. Is it just the refrigerator turning on, or is it someone breaking in? Is it a cat on the balcony or a cat burglar? When he was with me it was no problem, somehow having someone else in the flat calmed me down. But for the past few days I just haven’t been able to sleep at all.

Hanako in the mirror glares at me with forlorn, but tear-free eyes. At this rate, no-one will be able to read my heart. I discard the stained wet-wipes and unlock the toilet door.

******

It’s not like I want to be away from Hanako. I liked our peaceful little flat. Compared to the door it was nice and quiet. Here every night is like a Saturday night; drunk students revelling until 3am, loud music left on constant repeat, and the occasional fight breaking out in the corridor. And the room itself is little more than a bed and a desk. Hundreds of students have toiled away in here before me, and hundreds will follow me. It’s cold and impersonal. I tried sticking up a couple of photos of Hanako and I but it did little to dint the armour of anonymity surrounding this parcel of air.

If only I could make Hanako understand…

******

I wander aimlessly through the outskirts of the city. The University is on the edge of town, surrounded by residential units. I pass a few strangers going about their day, mothers carrying shopping bags in one hand and holding their child’s hand with the other, cyclists shooting along the footpath at breakneck speed, and the occasional student type; scruffy-clothed youths toting bags stuffed full with books.

None of them throw me a second glance. Since my days at Yamaku I’ve perfected my camouflage, and no no-one save my friends would even notice my scarring. And since meeting Hisao I’ve realised that no-one really notices them even when they can see them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I have to talk to anyone. I’m better off when I’m by myself anyway.

Placing one foot in front of the other, I let the footpath take me wherever it wants me to go. I walk down a multitude of unfamiliar, uniform streets. Only the slight orange tint to the sky tells me that any time has passed at all. Still, I keep wandering deeper and deeper into the suburbs surrounding the university.

I reach into my bag and pull out my phone. The battery has died; I probably should have charged it last night. No matter, there’s still some daylight left.

******

Hanako’s phone is still not connecting. She’s probably turned it off to avoid talking to me. You know what; stuff her. If she’s going to be so immature then perhaps I should just leave her to think about what she said for a couple of days. Maybe she’ll see that this is a serious situation and come to her senses a little.

We’ve only been apart for a couple of days. What if I got a job that needs a fair bit of travel? Or if we both got shift jobs and our schedules didn’t match up for a few days? You can skip classes at university easily enough, but you can’t skip out on work.

“But…”

Now that the sky has turned the navy blue of twilight the suppressed voices in my head find the courage to speak. Hanako has been a source of strength for me, and our lives have become fused together. With Lilly across the seas, all we have is each other. I’ve made a couple of friends form my lectures, but the over-crowded halls leave little scope for socialisation. Instead of attending the various social events organised by the student body, Hanako and I would prefer to go out together, alone. Without each other we are nothing.

And I know that. And I hate that, but I love it.

It’s the reason that I can’t sleep well in this shithole of a dorm room, the reason that I can barely focus on my textbooks in the dim light thrown off by the built-in desk light. The reason that every fibre in my body is screaming at me to pick up the phone and try to call her one more time…

******

“I’m sorry, but the service that you have dialled is engaged. Please try again later…”

Why? Who is he calling?

Maybe he turned off his phone so that he didn’t have to talk to me. Maybe he’s talking to another girl.

I’m lost, and I’m scared. The sky darkened a lot quicker than I thought, and the orange light of the mercury-vapour street lights does little to fight back the gloom. And now the neighbourhood is starting to fill up; people returning from work, half-drunk students staggering back to their flats, and what seems like an impossible number of cars.

I tried re-tracing my steps but to no avail. In desperation I tried reading the green address tags on the lamp-posts, but none of them made any sense to me. So I kept on walking, trying to find a police box, a convenience store, a subway station… anything that would get me home.

The closest I could find was a telephone box. Inside there was the local post map, however the rectangular blocks shown bear no relation to the tangled web of streets around me.

I need help, and there’s only one person I can get it from.

I insert the phone card one more time and try…

******

Again I hear the message that Hanako’s phone is out of range. Fine, she doesn’t want to talk to me. I wish I could say that I’m okay with that, but I’m not.

The dark sky outside stirs even darker things in my mind, and I start to worry. Hanako’s not exactly normal by any standard, and there’s no telling what she’d do when she’s under pressure. I close my eyes and summon all of my mental strength to push back the kaleidoscope of horrors that my subconscious seems intent on thrusting upon my mind.

No, she’s not that unstable. If I turn on the news I won’t see her precious purple locks spilling out from some tarpaulin draped over a subway line. My rational brain knows that she would never do that, but my subconscious shows me image after similar image, flooding my brain with horrors unthinkable.

My phone vibrates noisily against the desktop, and I nearly jump out of my skin at the noise. It’s a private number. I want to ignore it, to hang up and then try Hanako again, but I need a conversation with a real human right now; anything to get my mind back in order. Even a telesales operator would be welcome company at this point.

“Hello, Nakai speaki…”

“Hisao? Hisao!”

There’s no mistaking that voice. Even through the shitty audio of the phone I can tell that it’s Hanako, and that something’s not right. The timbre of her voice, the quavering pitch…

“Hanako, what’s the matter? Is everything alright?”

The tension of the day, the argument, the difference of opinion… all of this is forgotten in an instant.

“I-I’m lost…”

“Where are you?”

“I-I don’t know… I was just w-walking…”

“I mean where are you calling from?”

“O-oh. A p-phone booth.”

“Okay. Read me out the address and I’ll be right there.”

“Hana… Hanahata… 2-chome.”

“Right, stay right there, I’ll be there straight away.” I’m already searching for the address on my laptop. How the hell did she get herself there? She’s not far, but it’s like she’s right in the middle of the residential area surrounding the university. No wonder she couldn’t find her way out; the roads are a tangle of old-world civic planning.

“H-Hisao… I w-want to… to go home.”

“I know, I’ll be there soon…”

The phone rattles, and I know that she is shaking her head.

“N-no… w-with you.”

“I know. Somehow, after today, I want to go home with you too. Always…”

“T-thank you…”

The line cuts out, and I know that she has hung up. I engrave the route to the phone booth in my mind and rush out of the dorm.

******

I stay in the phone booth. It’s like a suit of armour from the harsh, unfamiliar neighbourhood outside. The fluorescent light casts a greenish tinge on the already green phone, a stark contrast to the orange glow of the streetlights.

I have no idea of how long it will take Hisao to arrive. I’ve lost all bearings in this catacomb of streets. Who knows how long I would have been wandering around here if I hadn’t have found this booth.

Maybe I need to focus more. Hisao was always better at study than I. Part of me wanted this fairytale to never end, for us to keep going to university together forever. Maybe it is time for me to grow up.

******

I jog to the address for the phone booth. I could have caught the subway for one station, but at this time of the day it would have be jam-packed with workers and university students. No, it was quicker to jog.

Even so, the 30-minute run feels like an eternity.

In the orange-soaked light of the streetlights I see my target; a tinted-glass box on the side of the road. I pause for a second to think about whom it is that works out where to put phone booths.

Even from a distance I can see a figure sitting in the booth, hugging her knees and trying to make herself as small as possible. The sight of Hanako washes away my fatigue from the run, and I race towards the booth.

“Hanako, are you alright?”

She turns her face to mine, and smiles gently. I can clearly read the ravages of the day on her face; the smeared makeup, the fresh trails of tears, and the heart-warming sliver of a smile.

“Y-yes… now…”

I lend her my hand and help her up.

“I’d love to know how you got here, but I think I can work it out.”

“S-sorry.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s my job to come and get you, right? I mean, that’s what couples do, right?”

Hanako nods embarrassingly.

“S-should we… we go home?”

“I’ve got a better idea. The dorm is closer; let’s head there and order a pizza.”

“O-okay.”

“Oh and Hanako…?”

“Hmm?”

“I love you.”

“I love you t-too.”

 

~End~

45 thoughts on “Final Finale – Part 7 (End)

    1. OH thank god, you didn’t end up killing my heart with bad feels. Phew. Now, I guess this is another book closing, eh? Good story mate. Shame that it had to end.

      1. All good stories end. I am thinking about cleaning it up though and, as you mentioned, putting it into an ebook. That’s mostly for testing out the ebook system for future reference.

    2. If you ever post it as an E-book, you have to like extend it and have it go through both of their lives from early to end or something. I feel like you could do so much more with this, you’re writing is amazing.

      1. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

        However, I’m thinking that any ebook would be the two epilogues after they have been cleaned up. I might also throw in cleaned-up versions of Future and the like as well… maybe a Hanako companion ebook…

        In honesty, I’m really just using this as a way to learn about the ebook systems, like Kindle etc, in order to move into other books, like travel guides and possibly other stories (like Arctic Gale).

    3. I have no idea why this is just so damn enticing to read! I crave more yet, I’m not sure if I want more, seeing as you’ve already given me closure. You’ve done a great job; these characters and their stories.., brilliant! I don’t know, just thank-you.

    4. Well like I said if/when you put it up I’ll definitely be downloading it, and so will two of my friends as you’re an amazing writer. And I love your other stuff to keep writing man.

  1. I’m guessing “door” in paragraph 10 is supposed to be dorm.

    Anyways, a very nice story. Well done! Sad to see it end though… but that’s life, I guess.

    1. Yeah, in hindsight I should have let it bake, but something came up that required my attention.

      Maybe I’ll go back and clean up the whole lot and release it as an e-book.

      I’ve always wanted to have an e-book.

      1. Perhaps, when I get home, I will write a third part to A Runner’s Afternoon.

        I’ll only release it in ebook format.

        We’ll see. There is probably only a little interest though.

  2. Yeah. Someone said it came off a bit as too much too soon, which I can’t quite argue with. I guess, compared to the others, it doesn’t feel as natural? Comes off a bit forced. idk.

    I would read your e-books. 🙂

  3. Yeah underwhelming is how I’d describe it. It seems like the basic problem introduced in the previous parts just wasn’t really addressed. Hanako obviously doesn’t want to be in college and doesn’t have the same goals for herself that Hisao does, which makes a lot of sense. A quiet life as a stay-at-home mom is something I can see her fitting into pretty well, more so than being a career woman.

    Here it seems like it was just kind of all waved off as her being a dumb, overemotional girl who doesn’t know what’s good for her rather than having them face the differences in each other’s feelings and bringing the situation to a satisfactory conclusion. It was a decent start for an ending, I think, but it should have gone further.

    Just my two cents.

  4. Ah Cpl, you managed to fight off the urge of making a bad end? Good on you. A bit dull, but, then again, Hanako’s route wasn’t exactly Glitz & Glamour. I liked it. It provided some closure 😀

  5. I live (and have lived for a decade) this life of being apart too much and have allowed my priorities to be skewed and/or taking my wife for granted all too often

    I don’t find this underwhelming at all. I was glad to breathe a sigh of relief at a happy ending where they realized once more what they meant to one another. I’m sick of happy endings being a bad thing. Real life is full of horrible endings that are streamed into our homes 24/7, that which we use to escape it shouldn’t have to be. Thank you again, Cpl Crud.

  6. God damnit man, every time T.T
    But this ending was just so perfect, you are a very talented writer. I really wish that you would continue on writing about the K.S. characters.

    1. Yes, I haev been thinking about re-doing the ending and perhaps expanding on A Runner’s Afternoon in order to get my head around ebooks….

      Maybe when I’m on the road again and not so busy at home. Taking leave makes you busy….

  7. I agree in that this is underwhelming as a conclusion, but mostly because it doesn’t really resolve the problems beyond saying “we are in love so the problems don’t matter”. As we’ve noticed over the course of the story, that’s not really an answer. I’d have liked some sort of actual conversation between Hisao and Hanako about their respective viewpoints and sort of a mutual understanding. Or something.

    I dunno. Anyway, keep writing awesome stuff.

    1. True I guess.
      I originally thought that the conflict in this story was mostly that they were drifting apart, and by simply “getting back together” then they would resolve that conflict.

      Perhaps I have made the rift between them too great.

      Still, as you may have noticed from my other stories, I believe in making you, the reader, responsible for part of the story. I think that you are probably intelligent enough to work out what happens from then on.

      However, when I revisit this in… who knows how long… I will probably flesh out that latter half, as I think I have finally identified what I didn’t like about it.

  8. Thank you for writing this and I really hope that you’ll get around to writing that 3rd part of A Runner’s Afternoon.
    I hate reading, I hate it so much that the last time I read a book was somewhere in middle school. You know… one of those assignments. But I really like your way of writing and storytelling and would read thousands of pages of it.

    1. Thanks. Reading can be a pain sometimes (I’m a masters student at the moment, so I read constantly) but if you can find something you can connect to, it certainly is worth it.
      There are books on pretty much every subject. In the past I was relatively naive in my work and life, thinking that I didn’t need the wisdom of others.

      However, in recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that no matter how intelligent you are, you can always learn something more. That may be from books, or blogs, or magazines.

      So I’m glad that you’ve at least found something that you can happily read! Thank you.

  9. I’m a little late to this, I only found KS the other day, and I’ve only played Hanako so far, but I like what I’ve seen here and there.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work.

  10. I just finished Hanako’s path, and I’m a little bit lost with all these epilogues, could someone tell me in what order I should be reading them?
    Thanks for your answers.

    1. There’s no real order to them (beyond the chronological order of the individual stories, of course).
      In my mind, Final Finale is an extension from the Good end, and A Runner’s Afternoon is an extension from the Neutral end of Hanako’s path (although part of me still thinks of it as the “Good End” epilogue).

      Everything else is just my personal writings…

  11. Hey Crud, I hope it’s ok that I could ask you this:

    In Hanako’s ending scene she says that before her accident she had friends that she cherished, but after the accident they turned on her, so she stopped believing in friendship, her self worth, and she believed it was best to go unnoticed. And then she says “But after meeting Lilly and you… I tried, but I couldn’t make myself think that way again”

    I don’t know what she is referring to there at the end; After meeting Lilly and Hisao she tried to keep with her post-accident feelings (no hope on friendships), but she couldn’t?… or, did she try to go back to her way of thinking before the accident (trust friends), but she couldn’t do it?

    I would not ask an author to interpret their work for me. I just need to know which one of those two different things is she referring to in her last sentence.

    I think the whole thing reads more toward the first conclusion, but all her actions in the story support the second one. I hope you could clarify this for me. It would help me a great deal in understanding her. Thank you and wish you the best.

    1. Hi.
      to be honest, that part was written by Suriko.
      However, I think the point he was trying to get across is that Hanako could no longer think of herself as “worthless,” because Hisao and Lilly had shown her that she was a person, not just some burnt orphan…

  12. Cpl_Crud… I cried reading this… thank you… thank you… THANK YOU… to say indeed Hanako’s was my favorite path… and reading this conclusion is incredible… is amazing is… I have no words to describe all of this… Your character, and the history you made around it, really got me… Thank you again… gg

  13. I hope I’m not too late to comment.

    Amazing writings as always. Just finished reading this, and I’m glad and relieved Hisao didn’t get a heart attack at the last scene.
    Yes, “we are in love so the problems don’t matter” is all that matter.

    I think (if I may suggest), if you made another Hisao-Hanako story, you should continue from this, instead of from A Runner’s Afternoon.
    A Runner’s Afternoon is great, but no one wanted their dreams crushed, right? I mean, even in “good” situation, there will still be problems. And I think you should bring this issue and tell how Hisao and Hanako overcome the situations.

    Thank you, Cpl_Crud.
    You enlighten me once more.

    p.s.
    I’m not a native English speaker, so I’m sorry if there were errors.

  14. Wow…. cplcrud, you and I have a love-hate relationship, you know that? One minute you’re ripping my still-beating heart out from my chest and in the next you’re filling it with flowers and kittens and putting it back in the gaping hole you’ve created… Either way, my heart won’t function properly again. Thanks a lot ❤

  15. I was so engulfed in reading until “playstation” reference popped up. Oh man….lol

    anyways, thx for the great story.

  16. Jaja, you good sir really know how to put feels in the feels. Yuuko, Kenji, Karen, those “L-love you too” from Hanako, you really hit the spot. A really great history from beginning to end, I may be a few years late, but I can enjoy all your stuff (until now) I will need to take care of my heart, reading your written is just…http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/image/708.jpg

    This thing of the ebooks catch my interest, if you did it true or will make it true, please let me know it good sir.

    Finally I need to ask, if you had finished the Hanako route, how will it be? Congratulations for your hard work in Katawa Shoujo, you did a really good work there, now don´t let down all yours fans, keep it up!

    1. Hi. Thanks for the comment. Apologies if this is a double-post; Indonesia ate my last comment.

      I am in the last stage of putting Arctic Gale into an e-book. I’ll be putting that everywhere once I get to that point. I have commissioned Doomfest to do cover art for me and I want to delete one sequence, and then it is done. There is a draft available for free download but it has changed quite a bit. I’m thinking it will be out in Feb.

      As for the Hanako path; I don’t think that it wouldn’t change that much. When I left there was a draft of the path done all the way to the end. When Suriko took over the 3rd and especially the 4th act had a serious level of editing, but the plot was roughly similar. Of course, the details would have been different.

      I hope you stick around!

  17. No problem good sir, Indonesia have a dark side too.

    The art of Doomfest is really good, I personally love the works of one of your fellow workers, Mike Inel is the man. That is quite a “draft” I will check it out and I will be waiting for the complete version.

    That resolve my doubt thank you for being so fast to answer, I would like to read those details in a draft or an alternate route dunno, you created a great, great character be proud good sir be really proud.

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