Fantasy Romance Xianxia Anime Sci-fi Historical WNMTL
Home > Mutagen

43 Mark

 "What do you want to talk about now?"

Mark asked looking at Paula who was sitting in front of him.

The four of them was now back at the south wing of the rooftop sitting on the chairs they left there before. Mark and Paula faced each other while Ange sat beside her friend and Mei beside her Gege.

"Paula, it was rare for you to look this serious."

Ange said in confusion.

Paula glanced at Ange before looking back to Mark. She sighed and loosened her shoulders before finally saying her intention.

"It's not that serious. I just want to know and confirm a few things."

She looked straight at Mark's eyes in which the latter stared back.

"But please, answer my questions without lying. I just want to know the truth."

"You think I'm a liar?"

"Yes."

Paula answered Mark's question frankly.

"It's back then when Uncle Bernard asked you about why you saved us. I know you that not all you said were the truth and parts of it are lies. And also, don't try to feed us with things that only delusional patients would say."

Hearing the last sentence, Mark felt an arrow piercing his back. Mark could only sigh.

"You're really an archer aren't you? You can even shoot arrows with your words."

"I don't know where you got those references but please be serious in answering my questions."

Ange felt really confused now. She did not realized or maybe, she did not think deeply about what Mark said that time. Mei did not seem to care about it but she looked at him curiously.

Mark shrugged his shoulders and replied.

"Alright, you got me. You can ask now. I promise to say the truth but don't expect that I will answer everything."

Paula nodded.

"Actually, what I wanted to ask first was the true reason you saved us but I won't. I will ask first about who you really are."

"My background?"

"Yes."

"Isn't that a little private? It's not like I really mind but I will ask you the same later."

"It's fine."

"Alright. If I were to say, for the major part, I'm just a shut-in."

The three girls were surprised. Looking at their surprised faces Mark continued.

"It's been three years that I started living this way alright? I don't go out of the house too much and only go out if I needed to buy something or I have to do something important."

"You don't work?"

Ange asked.

"I do you idiot. I'm a shut in but I'm not a NEET. Well, most of the time. I'm a freelance article writer and programmer and I also have a few online side jobs. When there are projects, I have work but there are also times that I don't. The pay on the projects was good so I can get by when I don't have work."

When Mark finished, Paula sighed. She could see that Mark was not lying but this did not explain the things he was capable of.

"I can tell that you're saying the truth but that doesn't explain several things."

"What things?"

"First was your fighting capabilities, another was your disposition and looking at that crossbow you made, you were also proficient in making weapons like that and also knew how to operate those power tools correctly."

"Geez, you want to dig that deep?"

"Yes. But if you don't want to answer, its fine."

"Well, I guess, she will keep on pestering me if I don't answer.

Mark pointed at Ange who was looking at him with a face that was asking him to answer. Paula sighed at the appearance of her friend but did not stop her either.

"Alright Angeline, I'll tell so stop making that face."

Ange made a triumphant face like she won something.

"About this crossbow, I'm used to making stuff like this. One of my side jobs is making weapon props for cosplayers. I get commissions from time to time and the pay is good depending on what I make. Sometimes, I needed to make quite functional ones like guns that make sounds or shoots fake bullets. I got used to designing mechanisms and self-studied basic electronics.

As for the reason I can use power tools and heavy equipment is because I had experience in using them. When I graduated from college, finding a job that would fit for me was hard and had to jump jobs now and then. From being a driver to construction work I tried all those. I also worked in a metal workshop for a month and did some heavy stuff there, that place was where I learned to use power tools and welding machines."

"Then how about your fighting abilities?"

Paula asked but the answer did not come from Mark. It was Ange who answered.

"Paula, I think, he was self-taught. His style is unconventional and unrefined. You know that I have purple belt in karate and blue in taekwondo. I noticed him using some of the moves from both martial arts."

To what Ange said, Mark nodded.

"Angeline is right, I just taught myself using tutorials from the internet and copying moves in games I played."

"That's..."

"Unbelievable isn't it? But it's the truth. I was interested in martial arts since I was little but we're poor to afford joining training clubs. When I was in elementary, one of the games I often play with my siblings was sword fighting. We make crude wooden swords from thick Kakawate branches and trunks and just wildly attack and defend from each other. As children, we couldn't control our swings and there were times we hurt each other. I learned dodging and enduring pain the hard way."

"That's quite a dangerous game."

Mark laughed.

"I can't deny that."

Paula kept on staring at Mark during the time he was talking and sighed. Everything he said, there was no lie.

"And for my character... It was influenced by my Cluster A Personality Disorder before."

Mark said seriously.

"You said before? So is it cured now?"

Paula asked in which Mark shook his head before replying.

"For some part, I have my own method that overlaps and counters the symptoms of the Paranoid disorder but the symptoms from Schizoid and Schizotypal disorders are still here. So I call it as an incomplete Cluster A Personality Disorder now."

Hearing what Mark said, Paula was in deep thought. She muttered the name of the three personality disorders under the Cluster A and was thinking about their symptoms. Then, she looked at Mark with a face that she realized and confirmed something.

The Paranoid Personality Disorder was mainly about distrust and anxiety against other people and suspicions about what they were thinking. Paula already noticed something about Mark and this clue further reinforced her suspicion of him. Mark said that his personality disorder was still there but he had something to deal with his Paranoid Personality Disorder and that only meant one thing.

"Gege, did you go to a doctor to cure it?"

Mei who was silent since the start finally spoke. Mark looked at her and replied with a helpless tone.

"I don't have money for that. Also, if you girls ask me if I haven't done anything about this, then, I can only say that it is just easy to say but hard to do. In my experience, I found my condition by myself and in a way, accepted that I have it. If maybe someone else was the first to notice and told me, then there might be a subconscious denial and could help with rehabilitation and stuff. Unfortunately, I had no one like that."

"How about your parents? Didn't they realize what you are going through? You did not tell them?"

Ange asked. To their surprise, his mood seemed to drop after she asked.

"I did tell them at first but they paid no attention to it and thought that I was just being lazy and giving excuses. Hearing what you said, your parents must have treated you good. For me, though my parents can't be described as bad, they are more inclined to the negative side."

Ange did not know how to reply to that.

"Gege, is this Personality disorder the reason why you were job hopping?"

Mark nodded.

"This is one of the reasons, though just the minor reason."

This time, Paula snapped out of her deep thought and looked Mark to ask a crucial question.

"I want to ask. How did you live with this condition?"

It was a light question that required a heavy answer. It was also a question to determine what kind of person he was in the whole meaning.

Mark shrugged his shoulders.

"For the small part, I lived like a normal shut-in in the past years after I became tired of changing jobs. I admit, I'm one of those people who are called Otakus and I'm also a gamer. I spend most of my time watching anime, reading novels and playing video games when I don't have any freelance work."

The three girls stared at him. They all felt that it was not all. And as they expected, Mark continued.

"For the most part though, I'm living like a person that doesn't have anywhere to belong to. I have a bad relationship with my parents and the experiences I gathered in the past pushed me to the point of detaching myself to from the society.

I was spending my days dreaming that the world will fall into chaos, gets destroyed or at least our country fall into war. Dreaming that when those times come, I can try and find a place where I can belong to or at least, spend my life living freely until the day I die.

So, in a way, what is happening to us now is a kind of blessing and a dream that came true for me."

Mark bitterly smiled. He looked to his right and patted Mei who was already crying on her head. Mark knew that a part of what he said pulled a string in her heart.

Paula and Ange felt a bit sour at what he said. The two girls then looked at Mei, confused to why she was crying. They knew that what he said was quite heavy but it should not be enough to make her cry.