Here's a short update. Enjoy.
Interlude 7: Spring-heeled Hijack
Somewhere in the Kanto region.
Beyond the screens were dreams.
The being outside the screen shared dreams and even the bitterness of reality with countless other people.
There were piles of screens and radios there, each endlessly spewing information. The information was organized from beyond yet more screens and returned to their sources.
In the endless flow of information refinement, the being called Spring-heeled Joplin fell into thought.
<We’ll own this island. Heehahahaha!>
When Yatsufusa first suggested that, I wondered if he was right in the head. He was never completely sane to begin with, but I had to wonder what he’d suddenly come up with.
The artificial island was turning into the Kowloon Walled City. And he suggested that we make the island dance on our strings, controlling it with information alone.
<I’ll go around the island… and create a flow. And this is your job. You figure out the flow from an outside perspective and control its direction. You’re the one at the helm, basically. Heehahaha.>
Yatsufusa continued jovially, even though his metaphor wasn’t even all that brilliant.
He was unpleasant, but I was slowly drawn to him. And before I knew it, I was creating this system.
I abandoned everything I had been tied with until then—society, my family, and my past—and began to observe the island. Sometimes, people on the island, and other times, those with no relation to it at all. All by pulling them into my system, now known as an urban legend.
I chose those who stood out even on the island, or those completely isolated from society—people who weren’t likely to spill the secret. If someone revealed our identity, it was immediately reported to the rest of Spring-heeled Joplin. And as each individual member kept their ears out on the others, Spring-heeled Joplin was transformed into a true urban legend.
But the moment it seemed we would have all the island’s information in our grasp, Yatsufusa suddenly died.
Had he known when he would die? No… he probably never even went to a doctor. They could probably have treated his illness if he’d only gone to the hospital, but he charged ahead anyway and died alone.
I couldn’t back down anymore, but I didn’t have a real goal anymore. So as the center of the system, I decided to make Spring-heeled Joplin grow as an urban legend—for the sole purpose of inheriting the will of Yatsufusa.
Sometimes I leaked information outside the island, and sometimes I leaked information inside the island. I lived up to the label of ‘urban legend’, as the one who had knowledge of every existence in this city.
But I’d never directly interfered in matters of life and death.
After all, too much contact with the real world drains the mystique of an urban legend.
A choice was demanded of the urban legend.
It was an insignificant choice. An irresponsible decision that would not harm Spring-heeled Joplin, regardless of the outcome.
That was precisely why Spring-heeled Joplin chose to leave the decision to the now-developed Spring-heeled Joplin.
Now… what do you suppose we should do, my friends?
[Obviously.] [Umm… kick him out.] [Who?] [That Kanashima bitch, who else?] [Sounds good.] [He pisses me off.] [But is it really all right for us to interfere?] [I don’t think they’ll trust us, either.] […I agree with what the other guy said. Legends don’t interfere with reality.] [Well.] [Understandable.] [Spring-heeled Joplin is a real-life cheat code, if you think about it.] [stfu] [Grazie.] [Doesn’t matter.] [Sometimes only a cheat can get things done.] [Di molto to the bene.]
[O proverbial brain and spinal cord—and my fellow body parts. Allow me to speak. If we are forbidden to interfere in reality because we are a fantastical urban legend, it is a simple matter indeed! We must elevate the incidents on the island from the realm of reality to the realm of legend!]
[Prissy ass.] [But he’s right.] [More like poseur.] [But that posing] [isn’t so bad.] [Yeah.] [I… don’t want to admit it, but… I think my legs are shaking.] [We’ve never been able to help; all we could do was watch. Who knew that’d be how we’d end up interfering in reality?] [I’m scared.] [It certainly is scary.] [Chicken.] [I’m nervous.] [But we have to do it.] [We can do it.] [We’re] [Spring-heeled Joplin.] [We’re] [an urban legend.] [Even if we are just humans…] [So we’re gonna do this, right?] [B-but! We can’t do a thing! All we can do is watch people through our screens! Is it… is it really right to interfere with them?] [It’s just you.] [Hey, I live on the island, so this is actually relevant to me.] [Back off if you’re not gonna do it.] [Ohhhh… ohhh… please! I love this island, too!] [There’s your answer.] [I’m not on the island, either, but I want to protect it.] [Ha! If you came here in person, the stink’ll have sent you running already.] [Exactly.] [Reality, escapism, whatever. It’s up to the people on the island to accept this or not.] [It’s not in our hands.]
[Hey, let’s not sit on our hands here.]
Excellent. Then, out of personal preference, I will guide Amagiri.
[Amagiri? Why him?]
Would it not make it easier for us to pass on this myth to the future if a fellow ‘visible legend’ gets involved?
[Oh. Makes sense.] [Not sure about passing it on to the future, though.] [W-we! I! I’m the one who understood! So for the m-moment!] [Calm down there, kid.] [Amagiri’s not bad.] [I don’t dislike him.] [I don’t like him. He’s such a creep.] [But it looks like he might end up with Nazuna.] [I wonder.] [Should I do it?] [Doesn’t matter.] [If we want to see an ending, we can’t let the island sink.] [We do not need reasons. We simply send our intentions to the brain, as reflexes do. Reflexes need no reasons. We simply act—or don’t—as our instincts dictate.] [Enough with the posing.]
[Please, Spring-heeled Joplin! I… I’ll become one of you! So please… please help them! Please lend them the strength to save the island!]
[Oh.] [Who’s this?] [Yua.] [Yua?] [Now we’ve got our reason.] [A reason, no two ways about it.] [Can’t turn down a request.] [It’s a valid reason.] [Then it’s decided.] [We’re going.] [Let’s go.] [Yeah!] [This is kinda funny, now that I think about it. Heehahaha!] [Are you a Kelly wannabe?] [Say, you think Kelly and Kuzuhara are gonna turn out well?] [Wanna bet?] [Let’s.] [Then it looks like] [we can’t let the island sink.] [Yeah.] [Right.] [You’re right.] [Hey, do we have a Rat infestation now? Stop talking like them.] […Oh. Sorry. I’m one of the Rats. I’m right next to the engine room now.] [Seriously?] [I see.] [How’re things there?] [Nejiro is with—] […] […] […]
Each time Spring-heeled Joplin spoke, text and voices flowed from the computer screens, the CCTV feeds and the countless cell phones and radios sprawled across the desk.
The individual messages, simply a series of words and sounds, gathered together to create one massive intention. It was a little different from an internet discussion—the words were like a swarm of insects coalescing into one massive organism.
They all had one thing in common.
They loved the island.
It was a singular, simplistic, and powerful commonality. So perhaps their course of action was set from the moment they became Spring-heeled Joplin.
It was a span of time only three minutes in length.
In that short period of time, a massive clump of chatter was compressed into something vaguely resembling the will of Spring-heeled Joplin.
Then let us act, my friends. Let us descend upon reality and build up a legend.
Everything that happens on the island from this point on will join the ranks of legends, fables, and myths.
Let us emerge into the legend.
What are we?
[We are Spring-heeled Joplin!]
[We have no form.] [We love reality.]
[Both coincidence] [and fate]
[Are in our hands.] [We are an urban legend!]
Heh heh heh! Heh heh heh heh heh! Yes. I understand, Spring-heeled Joplin!
Though we supposedly shape fate… all we can do, in the end, is guide and inform. And be guided and learn.
Let us do what we can. And after that, let us have faith.
Faith in the people of the island, the living legends who subsume even us.
Thousands of varied faces.
They—Spring-heeled Joplin—danced as they pulled the strings of the island.
They danced jovially and gleefully, as though it was perfectly natural to manipulate themselves on their own strings.
Was the dream their own, or someone else’s? Having chosen to escape reality, they could no longer answer that question.
But that didn’t matter in the least to them.