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sometimes input overtakes (and then we make mistakes)

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-

We are fragile

We are small

To most of time and space we’re hardly here at all

-

 

Nerd Face was, perhaps ironically, one of the first to be infected. Skull never saw him crash, but he did catch a glimpse of him as Nerd Face froze in the middle of talking to the Guardsman - about the virus, actually. As he unfroze, Nerd Face met Skull’s eyes from where the pale emoji was hiding in the shadows, and Skull could see his face cycle through several different emotions. Grief. Anger. Confusion. Desperation.

Skull thought it was the betrayal that hit him hardest. Nerd Face’s mouth opened as if to call for him.

He spun on his heel and disappeared into the darkness. That was the last time he saw Nerd Face; he assumed that the bespectacled emoji had crashed and been deleted soon afterward. And if the bond he had created with the other face over the last two weeks hurt him, nobody needed to know.

 

-

If we vanished into air

Who'd be left to care?

if there was no one there

-

 

He sat on a ledge on the side of somebody else’s old apartment, one leg to his chest and the other dangling down towards the ground. He gripped the ledge on either side of him as if he feared falling. He didn’t. He had been up much higher than this before, many times. What he feared was what he saw below him.

Emojiland Plaza, which had been at maximum capacity just a few weeks ago in celebration of the new update, which Skull had never seen contain less than 40 emojis in his entire existence, was completely deserted. The enormous screens lining the area, usually tuned into the Information Desk, were all silent. The confectionery stands stood empty, and the grand fountain in the middle had its water flow cut off. It was eerily quiet. 

He pulled up his hood and took a deep breath. In. Out. Everything was fine. He was doing this for a reason. He just had to remember that.

It was just getting a little bit harder, that was all.

 

-

But I can think,

and therefore I am

I'm part of the Universe not just the RAM

-

 

The last emoji Skull ever saw was the one he wanted to see the least. 

Smize stood in the middle of the street, her dress and hair fluttering about in the breeze. He froze when he saw her, all too aware of her relationship with Nerd Face. 

He was considering sprinting in the opposite direction when Smize turned, a brief flash of confusion crossing her face before he saw recognition. And then anger.

Ah. So she knew.

“You.” She spat out the word like it was poison. “You did this. Skull.” He vaguely registered that this was the first time he had ever seen her wearing anything but a bright smile.

“...yes. I’m assuming Nerd Face told you.” Her face twisted into a sneer, clearly not happy with the mention of her… boyfriend? He’d assume so, Nerd Face had told him about the Tokyo Tower Incident.

“Don’t say his name. You have no right.” He just shot her a bored look, unamused. 

“You might be the last one, you know.” Smize stiffened momentarily, looking aghast at the idea that she could be sharing this world with only the person in front of her, before suddenly slumping, her head in her hands. 

“...Well, then.” She replied, her voice soft. “It won’t be that way for long, I suppose.” Skull tilted his head, a bemused frown on his face. 

“What do you mean by that, then?” She shot him a glare before realization dawned on her face. As if she knew someone he didn’t. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like not knowing things. 

“He saw you.” She straightened, but her gaze dropped to the ground. “Outside the palace. And he saw your code.”

Smize finally met his eyes. “You’re already infected, Skull. But you’re immune. The virus is breaking down your code, but you’re rebuilding it back up just as fast. That’s what he told me.”

Skull stared at her, speechless. She was lying, she had to be. He couldn’t have spread the virus just to be the one anomaly. He couldn’t have wiped out everyone only to be left behind. He couldn’t have.

He felt himself take a step back, a strangled “ impossible ” escaping from his lips as he suddenly felt dizzy. He blinked rapidly, trying to pull himself together. It wasn’t working. 

 

-

and if I can love

then isn't it true, love that I give’s from the Universe too

-

 

“S-shit!”

The world snapped back into focus as Smize keeled over in front of him, her outline blurred and glitching. Skull hesitated, before stepping toward her; she made no move to stop him. He approached slowly, as if afraid she would attack him if he let his guard down, and knelt down beside her. 

He thought he might pass out. Interacting with other emojis was very far from his strong suit, much less trying to offer something akin to comfort. He definitely didn’t know how to comfort someone he was currently indirectly killing. 

Skull flinched as he felt Smize grab onto his arm, and it took every ounce of his self-control and ignoring his instincts in order to not pull away. She was dying, Skull. Get it together, you can let one emoji touch you out of desperation.

Smize looked up, and Skull found himself surprised by the intensity of her expression. Her grip on his arm tightened as she stuttered out a question, freezing frequently.

“C-c-can you f-i-ix it-t?” 

He blinked, too dumbfounded to respond with anything more than “I’m… I don’t know how. I can’t.”

She shook her head. “A r-r-reset. Nerd-d Face s-said… a fact-t-tory reset-t, the s-s-system settings p-panel.”

He stayed silent. Smize squinted at him. He didn’t meet her eyes.

“D-d-do you reg-gret it-t?” Skull ground his teeth together.

“No. Of course not.”

“I d-don’t believe y-y-you.”

He jerked his arm away, snarling. “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to be deleted anyway, and I’m-”

“-g-going to w-win? A-achieve your-r g-goal?” She interrupted. He glared at her, but Smize barreled on. “I-Is this really-y what you w-w-wanted? You t-t-think that emojis c-can’t change, s-so you make sure t-they never will? What g-gave you the r-r-right to take away that c-chance? To d-decide for them, w-whether or not they w-w-would do better o-or worse?”

A sharp breath in. “It doesn’t matter.” He repeated. “ Nothing matters.”

“N-Nerd Face would’ve been better at this.” She said it like she was admitting something to herself. “He s-said… he said he thought y-you just wanted f-friends. That’s all it would t-t-take to prove you wrong.”

She shook her head. “I-I’m… sorry.” He jolted as if he hadn’t been surprised at least three times this conversation. “Tha-a-at I couldn’t you c-convince you that l-life is worth l-living.” 

Skull didn’t respond. There was a pause. 

“H-hey, Skull?” Smize smiled for the first time since she had spotted him, a weary grin that matched her tired eyes. “If we ever m-m-meet again, I’d l-like to be your f-f-friend, ok? I think Nerd F-face would t-too.”

He looked away as Smize disappeared in a flurry of glitches and static, and he was left alone.

 

-

And every moment we're making a choice

We're giving the Universe part of its voice

Deciding what matters is deciding what matters

-

 

He wasn’t sure how long he drifted around Emojiland, mindlessly wandering around the Plaza before deciding he couldn’t spend another minute staring at the empty buildings. He just knew that he should’ve been infected and deleted by now, and he wished it would just hurry up and finish the job already. 

Skull thought about what Smize had said about his code and wondered what kind of cruel programmer would code an immortal, suicidal emoji. 

The Palace was no less deserted, and with no Guardsman at the doors, he let himself in. He had been there before, of course; he was a 1.0 emoji, and when they were first installed there hadn’t been very many of them. Princess had invited the entire population to a celebratory ball at the castle. 

Skull had spent the entire party skulking in the corner of the main room, more than overwhelmed by the social gathering he had been forced to attend. Princess had come across him at one point, drunk out of her mind, and immediately blurted out “Oh code, you’re creepy!” before stumbling off.

It hadn’t been a great night. He shook himself out of the memory. 

He paused in front of the grand staircase before veering to the side, where the narrower, much less showy stairwell led to the bottom floors. He found himself in the dungeons.

As expected, it was empty, but he allowed himself to be disappointed before steeling his nerves and turning to leave. Was this why he was here? In the hopes that he wasn’t alone? It didn’t make sense, he had been alone before. He had been alone his entire life, so why was he now-

Something in the corner of his eye caught his attention, and his thoughts ground to a halt as he stared at an object on the ground. It was a key, and as Skull bent down to pick it up he noticed a piece of paper next to it. A note.

Huh. Convenient. He picked it up and read it.

 

“To whoever may read this,

This is the encryption key to the firewall. You may use it to exit Emojiland. Please utilize it well.

P.O.”

 

“Ah, Police Officer.” He registered faintly. Then it hit him.

The key could be used to get out of Emojiland. To the rest of the phone. To the settings panel.

He could erase all of this. He could undo everything he had done. He could bring everybody back, without any memory that anything had ever happened, that they had all already lived lives before being forcibly removed from existence. He felt numb.

Did he want to go back? It shouldn’t have even been a question at this point, but he couldn’t help hesitating, for just a second. Could he give up on the ideals he had been working towards for so long now? That he had poured his whole soul into?

He looked down at the key again and thought of Smize weakly offering to be his friend in her final moments, and realized he hadn’t had the choice in a long time. Gripping the key, he exited the dungeons and started making his way to the firewall.

 

-

You can be the hero

You can save the day

-

 

Going through the rest of the phone was a new experience. As soon as he passed through the firewall, he was faced with colossal walls that he supposed guarded the rest of the phone’s applications. The space in between resembled a very long, dark hallway that Skull absolutely did not want to go down, but he had little choice if he wanted to find the settings. He let out a deep sigh before steeling his resolve and pressing forward. 

Despite the fact that the other applications seemed significantly smaller than Emojiland, Skull was on the verge of exhaustion by the time he reached (and promptly collapsed on) the metal door of the settings. With one final push, he was in.

Thank code the building was small and organized. He located the factory reset button almost immediately. 

He paused as his hand hovered over the red button. There was no more hesitation, not anymore, but he knew very well that, along with everything else in the phone, the reset would erase him too. In a way, he was finally fulfilling his purpose; he would be effectively erasing himself from existence. So he took a moment, and thought of everything he had seen and experienced in the last five versions, the good and the bad. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t at least a little nostalgic.

 

-

Nothing lasts forever

But we matter anyway

We all do

-

 

He took a deep breath, reached out his hand, and then everything went white.