Denzel - Chapter 2

This content is the second chapter of Case of Denzel.

"Did Shin-Ra do it?"

"Yeah." Reeve took his gaze away from Denzel, seeming as if he were determined not to show any emotion. "If you hate them for it, then you can do with me as you wish."

Denzel shook his head.

The next day when he came to, Denzel was back in his new house in Sector 5. He was sleeping on a mattress that wasn't there the day before. At the side there was a note and a bun.

"I'm at work. I'll stop by to check up on you from time to time. And don't go too far. Everyone's in a pretty foul mood, so it's dangerous out. But more importantly, it's a pain to find you and you're a heavy little bugger. PS: I borrowed that mattress from next door, so be sure to take it back. Arkham"

Videos of Sector 7 falling played over and over on the television. The Shin-Ra Company also announced over and over that Midgar was safe now. He couldn't understand how they could say it was safe, when his parents might be dead. I wonder if everyone can live happily, now that it's safe, he thought. I wonder if that'll include me. Denzel tried to eat the bun, but soon as it passed his lips, he wanted to spit it out again. Suddenly angry, he threw the bun at the TV with all his might and rushed out of the house.

It was quiet outside. As he walked, he could see the Shin-Ra Building towering up in the center of Midgar, and a spark of hope started burning inside him. Maybe dad's alive and he went with mum there. It's too busy with everything going on right now and nobody can leave. This place is Shin-Ra's residential area, so maybe there's someone who knows dad. He wasn’t good at talking to adults he didn’t know, but he decided to try his best and ask.

First he went to the house next door to the right, and rung the doorbell. No answer. He tried to open the door, which turned out not be locked. "Hello?" He waited a bit, but there was no still reply. It looked like Arkham had borrowed the mattress from this house. Isn't borrowing without permission just stealing? Is that the only way to live now, doing whatever it takes, even stealing?

The house on the left. The across the street. The house at the back. No one’s home. He even went to check the house a little further away. On the doors of most of the houses (as their owners had only evacuated temporarily) was a paper with a contact address.

There's no one here. My parents can't be in the office. If there were then they would have definitely come here. Even if dad couldn't, mum would have.

While walking around entertaining a dying hope, he noticed that he was completely lost. He couldn't remember how far he'd walked or where he'd gone. His tears started up again, but they were more out of anger than sadness. Anger at AVALANCHE and this world of abandonment. He stopped and sat down on the road, but hit something before he reached the ground. It was a small model of a Shin-Ra airship. Some kid somewhere must have dropped it. Anger flaring inside of him, Denzel picked it up and threw it with all his might.

"I hate everything!"

The sound of breaking glass echoed in the residential area. A woman's voice soon followed: "Alright! Who did that!?"

At first he wasn't sure where the voice was coming from, but then an elderly woman exited from the house in front of him. She wasn't really an 'old woman', but Denzel couldn't guess the ages of women very well.

"Did you do this!?" The old woman said, waving the airship model around.

Denzel nodded.

"Why did…." The old woman stopped in the middle of her sentence. "Are you crying?"

Denzel shook his head to deny it, but he couldn't hide the tears.

"Where's your home?"

He tried to answer, realized he had no idea, and began to cry more.

The woman's face softened. "Just get inside."

The inside of Ruvie's house had a homey atmosphere completely different from Denzel's house. The walls were papered with a floral print, and cushions and a sofa patterned with the same. Even though it was decorated with artificial flowers, the room had warmth, gentleness to it. Denzel sat on the sofa and watched Ruvie, who was grappling with a vinyl bag trying to cover the broken glass.

"I'll get my son to fix this up properly when he gets back. This'll be fine for now."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Ruvie…."

"If it were any other time but now, I'd have grabbed you by the scuff of your neck and stormed over to your parents."

"My mum and dad are…."

"Don't tell me! They just left you and ran away?"

"They were in Sector Seven."

Stopping her work, Ruvie sat on the sofa, turned around, and hugged Denzel.

When Denzel had calmed down, Ruvie said, "Let's look for your house then." They walked holding each other's hands. When he turned six, Denzel had stopped holding his parents' hands when he walked with them. It looked lame. But now he didn't want to let go at all.

The Shin-Ra officials among the residents had stayed over at HQ to get the situation under control. Their families were all evacuated to Junon or Costa Del Sol. Ruvie said the reason she stayed was because wherever she went, she'd be alone. She might as well stay here in her own home. Finally the pair found Denzel's house.

"Thank you, Mrs. Ruvie. And I'm sorry… about the window."

Ruvie nodded silently. Denzel went to the doorway and peeked inside.

"What are you planning to do, living in an empty house like this?" Ruvie asked. "Come to my house. I don't mind."

So Denzel began living with Ruvie.

Following the bombing of the first Mako reactor, Ruvie believed things would take a turn for the worst. She had stocked up on food supplies, filling a storeroom in the back yard with cans of preserved and prepackaged food. "You know what they say: 'Prepare for the worst, and you'll have no regrets.'"

Ruvie's days were busy. Cleaning inside the house, cleaning around the neighborhood, preparing meals, sewing. Denzel helped out with all these, except for the sewing. Before bed they would read books. Ruvie read thick, difficult-looking ones, and when Denzel asked if they were interesting she would reply, "Not at all." She said they were her son's books. Thinking that she might be able to understand her son's work by reading them, she carried on reading for more than five years. "It's something to read that helps you sleep," she laughed.

Ruvie lent Denzel an illustrated monster book, telling him to read it because it'd come in handy. That book was also her son's, which he read when he was around Denzel's age. There were color illustrations and explanatory notes about monsters inside. The same warning was written many of the pages: "If you encounter a monster, run away immediately and alert an adult." If I ran into a monster now, I guess I should tell Mrs Ruvie, Denzel thought. But Mrs Ruvie doesn't look like she can fight. I wonder if I'll have to do it. I wonder if I could. I wonder if I'd win. Hm. I don't think I am any use to anyone. That's why my parents left me behind and went away.

The sunlight grew brighter and Denzel broke into a sweat.

"Jeez…hot out today, isn't it?" Reeve said to Johnny. "Could we get some water?"

Denzel pulled out a handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his brow.

"That's quite a nice pattern," said Reeve. "Looks rather feminine, though."

"I guess it does," he answered, studying the handkerchief.

One morning, when he woke up, Ruvie showed him a collared shirt. "Put this on. I made it for you, but this is the only fabric pattern I had." The shirt was white with a lot of tiny pink flowers scattered all over it, as if blown by the wind. Normally, he would absolutely refuse to wear something like this, but Denzel changed into it gladly.

"I have some left over fabric, so I made these. Take them." She presented him with a handkerchief with the same pattern. She must have had a lot left over, because she had made several more. Denzel only took one, folding it up and putting it into the back pocket of his trousers.
"Now then…." The smile disappeared from Ruvie's face. "How should I put this…?”

Denzel braced himself for what she was going to say, in his head watching her say the two words that he feared the most: Get out. She's not going to say that is she? he wondered as his body shuddered with tension.

"Shall we go outside?" she asked. Ruvie went out into the back garden through the kitchen door. Denzel wavered, but soon followed after her. He stepped across the thickly laid soil and stood next to Ruvie, who stood there looking up towards the sky. Denzel followed her gaze and saw a large black stain in the sky. So ominous, the way it contrasted with the blue and white of the daytime sky. This must be why everything's so gloomy and anxious.

"I don't know anything about it either," Ruvie said. "It's called 'Meteor', apparently. They say it's going to collide with the planet and that'll be the end for everything." She took two cans from the storeroom and gave one to Denzel. "How in heaven’s name are you supposed to defend against a thing like that…?"

That day Ruvie didn't clean or sew. She sat on the sofa, thinking.

At once, she looked like she'd gotten an idea and called someone on the phone. From the looks of things, the other person didn't answer. Thinking she was calling her son, Denzel cleaned the inside and outside of the house. He couldn't imagine what would happen when Meteor struck. And even more than that, there was something Denzel wanted to ask Ruvie. But he couldn't get the words out.

When the day grew dark, Ruvie, as if she had come back to reality, started cleaning. "Denzel, you're doing it all wrong. Who have you been watching up until now?" Yes, the usual Ruvie was back.

At night, they sat next to each other and read books. With her eyes staying on the book, Ruvie spoke. "Denzel. I'm going to wait for the end here. If the planet is going to be destroyed, it doesn't matter where you are. The end will be the same. But what are you going to do? If you want to go somewhere, I don't mind if you take the food in the house. You're only a child, but you should decide where you want to be at the end."

Denzel thought hard about what Ruvie had said. And he asked the question he had wanted to ask all day: "Could I stay here?"

Ruvie lifted her head from her book, looked at Denzel, and smiled.

After that, Ruvie passed her time as usual. Except she didn't clear outside anymore. Cleaning outside the house became Denzel's job. He could see construction work begin at the Shin-Ra Building. And just like that, a massive cannon was installed there.

"The Shin-Ra company is going to get rid of Meteor," he told Ruvie.

"There's always been something not quite right about that company," Ruvie said, sadly shaking her head.

In the end, the cannon was fired only once and collapsed upon itself. Then the Shin-Ra Building was attacked and destroyed by a monster. Denzel wondered what kind it was. He couldn't imagine a monster capable of destroying a building, but he didn't ask Ruvie about it. Meteor still loomed in the sky, inexorably bearing down on the Planet. Other regions were in an uproar, but Denzel's days were quite.

There were times when he couldn't hold back his desire to see his parents, and he would start to cry and call out for them, but Ruvie would hold him and calm him down. When he was asleep in Ruvie's bed, he didn’t mind if the end came. But the thing that ended Denzel's days of peace wasn't Meteor, but a dreadful white torrent. The Lifestream was a good power which destroyed Meteor, but that shining energy of life also brought destruction to humanity.

That fateful day, Denzel and Ruvie were in bed trying to sleep. Outside it sounded like a gale was starting up, but it was too strong, too loud to be just wind. Before long the whole house started shaking and rattling on its frame. This was it. The end. Denzel hoped it would be over soon, but as time went on, the shaking became more violent. The sound would quite down at times, then change to a thunderous roar as if a train were careening past the side of the house. Denzel tried to block it out, closing his eyes as Ruvie held him, but after five minutes he couldn't take it anymore. "Mrs Ruvie, I'm scared!"

At the same time that Ruvie got out of bed to turn on a light, the closed floral patterned curtains turned pure white, casting strange, flowery shadows on the walls. Light poured in through the windows, like the house had been dropped inside a sea of it and had sprung fatal leaks.

"Hide under the blanket!" Ruvie left the bedroom. The vibration rose to an earth-shattering level, stronger even than the vibration that the falling plate had made so long ago, and the artificial flowers on top of the chest of drawers fell to the floor. Denzel jumped from the bed and followed Ruvie.

Ruvie was looking at the living room window. The window Denzel had broken, now covered only by vinyl. The vinyl was swelling up as if it was about to burst and spilt. Ruvie ran over to the window and held the vinyl down with both hands.

"Denzel, go back!"

Denzel was trembling. He couldn't move, like the soles of his feet were glued to the floor. I was the one who broke the glass. It's my fault this is happening. Ruvie dashed over to him and shoved him back into the bedroom as he tried to cling to her. At that instant, the vinyl was torn open and dazzling streams of light began to pour into the room. Ruvie closed the door to the bedroom as she let out a scream.

"Mrs Ruvie!" Denzel pulled at the handle and tried to open the door.

"Denzel, stop it!"

"But—!" Denzel pulled the handle again.

Ruvie stood with her back to the door, legs and arms spread against the frame to keep him from coming out. "Close the door, Denzel!"

He could see several streams of light go through Ruvie's body, dancing and ricocheting off the walls, glowing snakes running riot in the room. This wasn't in the monster book. Have to run away and tell an adult. No…I'm the one who has to fight.

"Mrs Ruvie!" As soon as he shouted, the light struck her. She groaned and the light shifted into a slender rope-like form that forced its way into the bedroom through the gap between Ruvie and the wall. He got a glimpse of her collapsing to the ground an instant before he was thrown back by the light and passed out.

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