'Mistaking Identify'—A Class 3.4 Story (Ch14 up 20170725)

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify'—A Class 3.4 Story (Ch14 up 20170725)

Post by brythain » Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:12 am

This is a piece of hidden lore. Is it part of 'After The Dream'?
Well, Kenichi thinks so. But then Kenichi is... one of a kind. He's not a reliable narrator.


He suffers from two other problems:
1) he has chronic random synaesthesia, in which the senses are mixed up; and
2) the paperwork says he is missing an arm and a leg, which is obviously not true.

This is a story about Kenichi S., and Emi Ibarazaki, and Rin Tezuka, and some of their classmates.
I am honoured to have been his editor. Also, irritated and illuminated.


So far done:
Chapter 01 — in which Kenichi Satou comes to Yamaku (this post).
Chapter 02 — in which he meets his new classmates and falls in love too many times.
Chapter 03 — in which he realises when he will run out of time.
Chapter 04 — in which he puts both feet in his mouth.
Chapter 05 — in which he spends time with the guys.
Chapter 06 — in which he spends time with his crazy neighbour.
Chapter 07 — in which he spends time with other people.
Chapter 08 — in which he chooses a punishment and hates himself.
Chapter 09 — in which he spends time with Saki Enomoto.
'Artistic' Interlude
Chapter 10 — in which he finds that things don't quite go swimmingly.
Chapter 11 — in which he takes a good look at his classmates.
Chapter 12 — in which he finds himself looking into some sort of mirror.
Chapter 13 — in which he finds that looking back can be a problem.
'Endgame' Interlude
Chapter 14 — in which he spends more time with his crazy neighbour.

And here's Chapter 1, which takes place in April 2007. Don't worry, his chapters are quite short.


Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 1
Monday, 2nd April 2007


I am blaming the search engine I call Gurgle. It is a big shitpipe that conveys all the world’s nonsense, a sewer of liquid waste. While it is extremely useful, it also makes mistakes. This is why I fell in love and also why I am in a very special school in Japan. Or the other way around.

My name is Kenichi and my family name is Satou. Yes, you already think you know the joke. Good for you, because I had no thought that I would be involved in such a silly joke. It was not funny at all when I walked into the library and the librarian fainted when I told her my name. It doesn’t even sound the way she thought it sounded. Everyone mistakes me. Or misidentifies me. Or something.

My problem is that I have no sense of smell. Also, no sense of humour, as someone said once. But this became a problem of not having an arm bone, and then a problem of not having a face, and then a problem of being terribly disabled. Any idiot with a tenth part of a brain should see that I am fine. But medical records have a life of their own.

But I’m blithering. Or blathering. Somethinging. Best rewind and start again.

Let’s start a bit after the beginning. Let’s also see what Gurgle says. Let’s put these two things and me into one unbroken strand, and I’ll tell you a story that will blow your mind, or tickle your bricks, or whatever.

*****

Details

Space: This place is a dump. Yamaku Academy has 10,000 hits. It should be the ‘Sendai-Aoba Mountain District Academy’ actually. Founded 1971. Celebrated 35 years of torturing the innocent last year, or at least, wreaked its unholy magic upon many students, not so many of which could still be called innocent. I look around the classroom, one of fifteen main ones, thirty-two of them altogether. Yep, not innocent at all.

Time: It’s the 2007-2008 academic year. Our year runs from 2 April in Year X to 1 April in Year X+1, technically. Of course, Yamaku is a very special school, so its school year runs from 1 April in Year X to 31 Mar in Year X+1. How the hell they managed that against the power of Japanese tradition and government, I thought I had no idea. Then I thought about it after Gurgling the other 300 or so students. Ha. Politics, and a lot of corrupt money. A surprising lot of it flows through people named Satou, although as far as I know I’m not related to any of them.

Me: Kenichi Satou. There are only 120,000 hits for this transliteration. If I had called myself Sato, I would’ve got maybe four times the number. It’s a common name, like calling some English-speaking westerner ‘Smith’. I’m tall and I look like I could be a prime minister’s son. My hair is curly, which makes me fear I am not as Japanese as I want to be. Maybe I have Polynesian blood or something. No offence meant, but I hate seawater. The thought that I will some day have the uncontrollable urge to get into a little boat and row across the sea to another island makes me shiver and throw up in terror, like those wooden statues they erect on all their islands. If I have a disability, it’s that.

Ha, my paragraphs are getting longer. That’s because I’m rambling and my translator is losing it. Speak for yourself. I am speaking for myself. Wait, are you me or my translator? Damn, I’m losing it. Or you are.

Okay, chronology. History. Biography. Stop showing off. Who, me?

*****

Story

April 2007: Day One

I’m looking at these damn wrought-iron gates. I’ve been overseas before, so I recognize the style. Victorian. Now that was a queen, the British are good at making them. Every single queen they had was about as good as five or ten of their kings. Had to be, at that ratio.

But here at the Mountain District school? Monstrous. My parents have washed my hands (and theirs) of me long ago, so I look at the porter’s lodge and ding the bell. What do you mean there’s no porter’s lodge? Baka, stupid fools, nobody ever mentions the porter’s lodge because they think the small people have no stories of their own. I always make friends with the porter or security guard. They know everything, and nobody thinks twice about them. Baka.

The sign hanging in the window says: ‘Duty Officer Ishikara S.’ I bow because it never hurts to be polite. I bow extra low, until it almost hurts.

“Boy, stop trying to impress me. What do you want?”

That is my intro to Mr Ishikara. He is a slab-faced menace with a heart of gold, except that the heart is small and the slab is big. He has a skinny assistant with a sharp nose, who is tall for a Japanese but not as tall as I am. I waste ten seconds worrying about my racial purity only to realize that I am being an idiot again.

“Bags, sir. I need help. Room number is Men’s Block #115. Name of Satou.”

He looks at something I cannot see from where I am. Then he looks out from his post, his eloquent eyebrows telling me what he wants to think of my luggage (actually I should call it baggage, since I said ‘bags’ just now). He raises his eyebrows. This tells me he has raised his estimation of my bags. I have a lot of big, heavy-looking things. They look like drunken Yakuza lying on the ground except that I am savvy enough to not even imply that such things can exist.

“Damn me.” I am about to say that I wouldn’t do such a thing, when he continues. “Satou, Kenichi. You’re late. Rat-Head, look after the gates while I help this useless modern junk up to its room.”

I hope he means my baggage, except that I admit he might be talking about me. I have little time to be anxious about his opinion, which is a ridiculous thing to be anxious about, although I would probably be anxious… no, no, let’s not overthink.

“Place your hands on the dark grey plates on the wall. Then stare into the mailbox.”

What the hell, fine. There are indeed two plates, at about my waist level. A faint outline of a hand is etched into each of them. For fun, I place my hands with fingers pointing down and the backs touching the plates. He looks at me, then presses a button. Something crackles. OW FUCK THAT HURT. I try not to let it show, although the burning of my tiny hairs is giving off a nasty odour.

I quickly reverse my hands and place my palms in the appropriate places. Above the plates is a slot which I thought was a mailbox. Heck, it is a mailbox. But two glowing blue things flare up when I look in. I now know better than to monkey around. I look and don’t move until the lights go off and I hear, “Stand in front of the gate.”

“What do you do to blind people?”

“Nothing special, unless they have no eyes at all. Then we chip them.”

The gates slide open smoothly. I had thought they would swing open, based on the hinges and all. But somebody has been playing a trick on visitors. The ancient iron retracts on near-invisible rails into the solid brick walls with hardly any creaking or groaning. I approve. Not for nothing do I pack a can of WD-40 with me everywhere I go.

I grab a bag. He comes round the corner and grabs everything else. Did I mention the slab-like nature of his face? He has slab-like muscles. Fuck, he has slab-like fingers. I cannot imagine any part of his body that isn’t… no… NO! Not overthinking.

“Come on,” he grinds out, as if each word is a coffee bean. “Let’s get your stuff stowed away.”

His assistant, Rat-Head, if I heard correctly, visibly relaxes as I follow Slabhead into the school grounds. I give the Rat a silent thumbs-up, and he grins through his tinted glass cage.

The school grounds are pleasant. There are terraces and gardens. There’s a long low white wall that reflects brightness across a quadrangle. In the distance I can see sports facilities.

The Slabfoot is setting a deceptively fast pace. He looks like a block on stumps, but no block ever moved that quickly. I try to keep up. I reflect that this is not so bad.

“Admin Block,” he grunts. “You get instructions about classes there. Foyer, turn left to office. They give you a map. Also, medical and library.”

He seems to be referring to the middle building, a kind of random sprawl which has a tail snaking down the mountainside. As I try to follow the tail down with my eyes, he gives me a look that seems to try very hard to be a grin but fails badly. “Archery range, meeting rooms, storage for large wood and metal items,” he says.

I have no idea how all that fits into the peculiar space I’m looking at, so I just nod and try to breathe as he stumps his way forcefully up a staircase set in the side of a hilly rise. “Boys’ Town,” he says. “Or Men’s Block, in the rare years we get students who aren’t idiots. One-one-five is first floor, right side of stairs, fifth unit. Things will be amusing. You’ll see.”

He makes a gargling snort that I guess is his failed attempt at laughter. For a failing communicator he’s doing really well.

In about fifteen minutes, everything is in my new room. It’s small, like most dorm rooms. There’s a note pinned to my mirror, reminding all new students to check in with the Head of Nursing at the Medical Centre. I walk around the dorm corridors cautiously because it’s a new school—who knows what the induction rituals are like? As long as they don’t make me eat seaweed I’ll be fine. I’d rather eat roaches than weed. Heck, I’d rather smoke roaches than weed.

Hardly anyone’s around. It’s, oh shit, it’s already 9 am and school started before I got to the gate. That’s what Slabface meant by me being late. What the hell, again. I’m always late.

But wait, who’s this?

There’s a tousle-headed guy with very thick glasses and a garish scarf. He saunters up to me, chewing something intensely, and tries to growl in a very nasal voice, “Eh, what’s your name? You’re not supposed to be you. I mean, you’re not supposed to be here.”

Taken by surprise, I don’t even have the ability to answer politely. So I say, “Mind your own fucking business.”

He shoves his face in front of mine and opens his mouth. He’s been chewing something translucently yellowish. I feel him aspirating his weird yellow shit in my direction. A few flecks of spittle demonstrate the volume of his breath weapon.

“Ha, very good,” he says, withdrawing. What a rude asshole! Then he says something that makes a weird kind of sense. “Daylight, and you don’t even flinch when I breathe concentrated fresh garlic in your face. Not a vampire. Also, high security awareness. Thank God you didn’t give me your name. You must be a solid operative. You’re new. Welcome to the dorm. Why is your hair so curly?”

I thank the gods myself that I have no sense of smell. It sounds deadly to normal humans, let alone vampires. Getting into the spirit of things, I ignore his rude personal question and hiss back, “Don’t compromise my cover and I’ll leave you alone. However, if you need to find me, I have a dead drop at Room 115 on the other side of the common area. One thing though, before you go: how come there are no even numbers?”

He grins. “Perceptive man. Well done. The even numbers are on the left hand side of the foyer as you enter. It’s a distant place and full of terrible people. My code name is ‘The Doctor’.”

That last part is in English. I take a chance and reply: “Doctor who?”

“Exactly! Brilliant. You need a funny umbrella and a polka-dot tie. Looking forward to working with you.”

Leaving me in a state of amused confusion, he saunters off with his hands in his pockets. If everyone’s like him, life will be entertaining indeed. I wonder what his disability really is. Maybe he’s a vampire’s victim, hence the scarf. Or maybe he has diabetic retinopathy. You can’t tell. You just can’t. But you can always Gurgle.

I don’t think ‘The Doctor’ is a doctor at all, and I need to get to the Medical Centre. Almost against my will, I drag my Gurgle-invested body out of the cosy dorm surroundings and towards what Slabhands called the Admin Block. I reflect that if I were Gurgle-infested instead I would sound more horrible than I do.

On the exit level of my dorm, you eventually come to an open space and a small park. Then you cross the quad and climb some stairs. I’m not sure what level I’m on when the glass doors hiss open at my approach. Three cameras have triangulated on me, as far as I can tell. Also, a brief flicker of red laser light. Damn, these people are thorough.

The moment I’m through, everyone looks at me. That’s not strange, since everyone is just one foxy-faced guy, not a student or a very old-looking student. I’m so late for classes that I should kneel down and eviscerate myself right now. Thank the imaginary gods that I’m not traditional and I bow only to Gurgle. And Slabtoes.

The one foxy-faced guy looks at me and titters, his creepy smile making his eyes close up completely. Laughs. Something in between, perhaps. He litters at me and makes some vowel sounds. I stare at him, confused. Then I bow anyway, since politeness is a virtue. I’m so inconsistent.

“Good morning, sir. I’m reporting to the General Office and then the Medical Centre.”

“Indeed! You look like a Satou. Many of them here, of course. But you must be Kenichi, if I could call you that. Damn, I’m Chief Nurse, I can call you anything. So, come with me.”

I’m quite sure that as I tell you about him, I’m not capturing his entertaining but irritating tones well. He talks quickly, in bursts. He manages to sound wise but jokey at the same time. Immediately, the Fox is my hero. He sounds like a Gurglebot.

He hustles me into the school’s General Office, helps me get my paperwork done, and then escorts me down some stairs and up again and through some dim corridors until we get to a door that says ‘Chief Nurse’.

“And here we are. More paperwork. Also, bloodwork and other kinds of work.”

He gives that toothy grin that seems to be his way of trying to look less scary than he sounds, and shoves me into the door. Almost. Somehow, the door opens inward faster then my face moves, so that’s all good.

“Oh damn,” the Fox says, “Sorry, late. Wait, no, why are you here anyway, Emi?”

A high pitched slightly whiny but cute voice responds, “Who’s that?”

I attach the voice to the face in front of me. Something is wrong. Way too cute. Short girl with twin-tails, can’t be more than thirteen, she looks.

“Ah. Miss Ibarazaki, this is Satou. Satou, meet Ibarazaki. Ibarazaki is your senior and she is the fastest thing on no legs. Satou is your man when things go hot and sweaty and there’s no ventilation.”

She looks as confused as I feel. It takes me time to figure out what he means by that, and by then I am looking at a girl bouncing up and down on some kind of very springy prosthetic limbs. It makes her look like a marsupial.

“Good morning, Ibarazaki,” I decide to say as cheerfully as I can.

She peers up at me, then stares at my butt. “Can you run?”

It’s terribly disconcerting. I do what people do and return like for like. “Clearly, you can. I’m not very good at running. But I’m good at fencing.”

“Ha, ha!” says the Fox. “He’s supposedly quite good for a man with no left upper arm.”

I wince. Stupid, stupid mistranslations. People trying to be funny when writing evaluations. Hate them all.

“But anyone can see he has an arm!” says Twintails. “Two, even!”

“You’re very alert this morning, Emi!”

“You’re making fun of me, Nurse!” she says, looking as angry as a rabid Chihuahua and pouting like a Pekingese.

“May I?” asks Foxyface, “I’ve been dying to tell someone about you.”

“That’s… very unp-professional,” I stammer. I don’t like saying it, but I’m a bit shocked by the suggestion. “No offence,” I add lamely.

“Not at all. I asked and you didn’t grant consent. Too bad, Emi!”

“Well, can you run at all, or are you missing some leg bone that I can see you’re not missing, Satou?”

“Urm.” I pretend to be thinking about her question, but I’m thinking about the fact that she manages to say all that without exhausting her limited-looking chest capacity. I consider this for a few seconds and wonder if she has pumps on her prosthetic feet. “Yes, I can run a bit. Slowly.”

She looks disappointed. “Can he be my running partner?” she asks Foxears.

“He doesn’t really need it, but it might give him a reason to live or something like that!” laughs the Fox. “I’ll do your physical after his, and then you can drag him to class if he hasn’t fainted from listening to the nasty things I do to you.”

He pauses for a while. “But he might do that anyway, after meeting your form teacher.” He frowns, as if needing to insert a pause with his eyebrow. “Bwahaha,” he adds, trying to sound sinister but just conveying the impression that his heart isn’t in it.

Oh, really. Damn, it’s my first few hours in the school and I’m already falling into what would be a dumbass romance arc in a teenage thriller. I find myself running my hands through my curls, the thing I do when I’m exasperated. This is going to be a very long first week.

=====
next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:31 am, edited 31 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Mistaking Identify—Kenichi's Story (Ch2 up 20150723)

Post by brythain » Thu Jul 23, 2015 1:47 am

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 2
Monday, 2nd April 2007


“Boy, welcome to this class. Have you got passion, boy? Or are you just one of those sniveling late-coming homework-never-done everything-without effort drones?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Emi Ibarazaki smirking with half her mouth and looking utterly dismayed with the other half. I can understand that. This guy is comical, unexpected, and utterly serious about asking me if I have passion or not.

Emi, it should be admitted, has already told me about the ‘unusual’ Head of Arts and Crafts while we were walking to class. When she introduced me to Nomiya-sensei just a minute past, I saw a man with a terrible taste in clothing and a grudge against all the Kenichis of this world. I could have been wrong, but I was not prepared to gamble against an enormous cravat four-in-hand and tiny rose-tinted lenses designed to look as if his irises were blushing like peonies. He looks like a bulldog escaped from a rock concert.

I have to make a quick decision, and I offer prayers to all the few gods I know, including All-Father Odin, whom I don’t know at all. Then I bow deeply, pretending that Nomiya is Slabjaw the guardian of the gate, and intone just as deeply, “Nomiya-sensei, this unworthy person has great passion, but is unable to discern what the correct path of expression might be. It is this one’s fondest hope that Nomiya-sensei will enlighten the penurious mind of this pathetic excuse for an artist.”

I wait a while, then straighten up carefully. The class has gone as silent as the grave. Bulldog looks stunned, his rosy glasses slightly askew. Emi Ibarazaki looks as if she is about to laugh or cry, being quite undecided as to which. Her right eyebrow is asking me if I’m serious, while her left eyebrow is shrewdly accusing me of going over the top. I wonder briefly if these eyebrows have special communication training.

I essay a rapid scan of the class. There are about fifteen students seated. No arms, no arm, no hand, no leg, half a leg, too many legs? I’m seeing things. There’s a guy with an eyepatch. Solemnly, as I state at him, he moves the eyepatch, exposing an eye that looks perfectly good and covering his exposed eye, which also looked perfectly good. Then I realize he only has stumps below his knees, like Emi.

Why the hell am I in this class? It’s a missing-limbs class. Or maybe not. There’s this handsome guy with slicked-back hair looking at me with a very knowing look. What’s wrong with him? Is he a vampire? Is that a legitimate disability?

Like the last calving of Antarctic ice for the season, Bulldog-sensei grinds back to life. His mouth opens. I watch in fascination. I think the rest of the class watches with me.

“Ah. Very fine. What is your name?”

“My family name is Satou. Sadly it is the most common of family names. To attempt differentiation, I was named Kenichi. This is also, sadly, not very uncommon. I love boardgames, kite-flying, Impressionism, and ‘The Love Song of J Edgar Hoover’—an American cult work.”

It’s obvious by now that I am joking, surely. But everyone is nodding seriously. Could it be that I am watching an example of mass hysteria or simple groupthink? In a desperate attempt to break the spell, I say, “I would love to be friends with everyone. Thank you.”

“Ah, good, good. Impressionism. We must have a long talk about that soon, boy.”

There’s a red-haired girl sitting in the corner near the window. A vacant seat is one place in front of her, but there’s a notebook on that desk. She is staring at me with unnerving intensity. Are her eyes green? Is she fake-Irish or something? With careful deliberation, she blinks at me. Then she equally deliberately looks out of the window. Her sleeves are tied up at the elbows, but she has no elbows. How does she tie up her sleeves?

“Boy?”

Oops. The Bulldog has just asked me something, and I’ve ignored his question. Negative points, for sure. Time to try something new.

“My apologies, sensei. I must be tired, and I was also late because of unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps I could catch up with my work by consulting the class rep?”

“Yes, that’s what I was suggesting. Uchida over there will help you, of course.”

I follow the line of his thick, stabbing finger and my eyes skim over the class until they land somewhere. Uchida, it appears, is my friend with the greased hair and the widow’s peak. He waves at me languidly, like some character from a British comedy of manners.

“Sensei, this one is only too glad to assist the new man. We will be up to speed in no time at all! It shall be glorious, and Japan will be greater than ever.”

This time, I hear a snort or two. Surely Nomiya Bulldog-Face knows that people make fun of him? Then I look carefully at Uchida’s hands. He, well, has something wrong there. They look wrong. I wonder what his problem is.

There’s a vacant seat next to Uchida, and my new class representative is already gesturing at it. I bow to the Bulldog and head for the seat. Emi looks flustered and then heads for the other vacant seat, near the window where the redhead sits.

“Hello, old chap,” he says, in pseudo-formal Japanese that indeed sounds, when I translate it into English for you, like a caricature of British comedy. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Uchida, your humble class representative, here to serve you and all that nonsense.”

I sit down and fumble around a bit, figuring out where to place my stuff. My acrobatics are interrupted when the bell rings and Uchida says in his relatively soft but carrying voice, “All rise.”

We stand and exchange bows with Nomiya, who wastes no time in heaving his blocky frame out through the door. I turn to Uchida and whisper, “What’s the next class after this?”

“Be seated,” he commands gently and unnecessarily. “Arithmetic, I think. Numbers and all that. Today’s a little unusual: our usual mathematics whiz is absent—his liver is acting up or something—and we’ve a stand-in with a rather dodgy reputation.”

“Dodgy?” I wonder out loud as classroom conversations resume around us.

“Oh, you know, kaleidoscopic in aspect. Many parts to him, that sort of thing. But he’s normally a little late for class, so let me take this opportunity to introduce you to our fellow citizens.”

He fishes out a photocopied sheet of paper from the shadows under his desktop, frowns a little, and then hands it over to me. It appears to be a class seating plan, with photographs and names. Two of the seats next to the window have had their pictures blanked out and new names have been pencilled in.

I raise my eyebrows at him, because it seems the right thing to do. I’m wondering if there are any other new students in this class.

“Yes,” he replies, apparently reading my mind effortlessly. “The two new members of our aristocracy are Ibarazaki, who was nursemaiding you around, and her friend Tezuka, the artificial redhead who is mostly armless.”

“New?”

“Not really,” he says casually. Then he notices my crestfallen look and seems to repent of his error. “They’re exiles from 3-3 next door. We’re somewhat at sea this month because of class transfers. We had a—well, ‘permanent displacement’ is a useful term—and also a transfer to 3-5, the class without a proper schedule. Then 3-3 underwent a revolution when their terrifyingly classy representative Enomoto also went to 3-5, and Madam Dictator took her place.”

I’m reeling from this information barrage, and the uncannily perceptive Ushida spots that too. He continues, “Don’t worry, you’ll figure things out in no time at all. I shall be your guide and accomplice!”

He waves his hands again, and then I realize what’s wrong with his hands: he has no complete fingers, just little rudimentary stumps of some sort, and thumbs. I can’t help staring and he laughs softly. He laughs!

“Born like that, old bean. Luck of the draw. I have a very strong grip, but there are some things I can’t handle, so to speak. I have strong thumbs. I can play tennis, but rather badly, and I can’t bowl at all.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out.

“Ha, don’t be, it’s quite all right. Besides, in this little menagerie of ours, there are people with far more unusual takes on the human condition. Oops, hang on, time for voice practice.”

“Voice…?”

“All rise,” he says firmly in that melodious tone. He’s already standing perfectly upright in place as the door shuts behind the unshaven and badly kempt gentleman now in front of the class. Everyone struggles to their feet and I join them, wondering what their substitute mathematics teacher will be like.

“Good morning everyone, sorry I'm late again.”

He looks around the class. “Oh, not ‘again’. This is 3-4, right?”

Everyone is still standing. Somewhat confused as to how to respond, I notice that everyone looks at Uchida. He bows gracefully and the class follows. Under his breath, Uchida whispers to me, “Mutou-sensei, disorganized but sometimes brilliant. Possibly mad. Nice guy.”

If Nurse was a fox and Nomiya a bulldog, Mutou looks like a dyspeptic wolf. He’s lean but sinewy under a long brown coat that has seen better years. His hair is black with a little grey in it; it sticks out and makes him look like the violent Canadian hero in the mutant movies. His clothes are darkly conservative, also in greys and blacks. He’s like the chromatic opposite of Nomiya.

The Werewolf delivers a sketchy bow and this time the class sits without waiting for Uchida’s prompt. That tells me a bit about the new teacher—he’s clearly not one for formal behaviour or discipline.

I’m a guy who will almost always admit it when he’s wrong. I struggle against the sense of wrong for a while, then realize he’s worse than a disciplinarian. He has high standards. He’s an idealist. He might be even worse than that—he might be a time-hardened half-cynical ex-idealist. Or something.

After the expository phase, the Werewolf lifts a stack of papers effortlessly with his hairy hands and places them gently on the table of the girl in front of me. She has interesting hair. This school is odd in that it seems to allow incredible variety in personal appearance, not just as a sneaky private thing overlooked by teachers, but as a blatant expression of selfhood. For example, the green-and-black streaked hair of the young lady in question.

I look at Uchida questioningly. He grins and whispers, “Wait for the moment. Ainaka is a swimmer, by the way.”

A long arm swivels towards me from my left, effortlessly balancing groupwork assignments in organic chemistry. I wonder if her disability is having extremely large hands or long arms. She smiles politely as the rest of her rotates into view. Her eyes are a startling blue. Contact lenses?

She continues to turn, and a well-endowed bust appears, mostly muscle from the size and smoothness of the paper handling. She’s got freckles to go with the muscles. Her fingernails are like little black windows with green and white gryphons on each one. I’m trying hard not to fall in love.

She’s missing the other arm, I notice, as she rotates smoothly back. How had I not seen it the first time?

Uchida is smirking at me. “The eyes are genuine,” he mouths silently.

“I heard that, you pimp.” She has a low, long, slow voice. She doesn’t really sound offended.

“How, might I ask, could you have heard what I didn’t say, madam?” he inquires softly.

A single long, well-manicured finger rises above her right shoulder and waggles at him. He produces a snort of delight. She has, meanwhile, distributed papers to the left and right, apparently suffering no handicap from her lack of an arm. How does a person swim one-armed? I look at the assignment, hoping that I’ll have more time to investigate our classmate.

They say, however, that one should try very hard not to fall in love without investigating all one’s options. So, despite being on the verge of surrendering my heart and soul to the girl in front of me, I steal a glance to my left, away from Uchida’s polished competence and swagger.

My glance is met, bound, and parried. My inadvertent opponent isn’t so very tall, but she sits tall. She has perfect unslouched posture, and a haughty gaze to match. Thin lips. A severe look. I ready an apology. She smiles slightly, almost apologetically, and turns to look at nucleophilic reactions instead.

Her hair is a very dark purplish black, with a few strands of bright gold dyed into it. It falls down her back and is somehow held in place by invisible bonds. A careful sidelong look establishes that the perfect posture is maintained by a waist that is impeccable in its distribution.

I turn back to my chemistry problems, but something has gone out of life. I can’t fall in love twice in two minutes. That’s just being greedy.

Uchida looks at me patiently. “So, what do you know about the nucleophilic substitution of primary, secondary and tertiary haloalkanes? I can give you some help if you’ve fallen behind.”

In reflex, I laugh softly with more bravado than is justified. “I’m not too far behind, my friend!”

I take one last look towards the window. A pair of lambent green eyes looks back. Emi Ibarazaki is idly tapping her teeth with her pen while she stares at me. Behind her, the redhead with no arms sighs as she settles down with her chair at a comfortable distance from the desk and draws what looks like an angular centipede about to lay an egg.

Emi grins at me and winks slowly. To prevent further exposure to my naked and hungry heart, I close both my eyes and open them only when I’ve turned back to Uchida. He rolls his eyeballs and shoves a half-completed mechanism diagram in my direction. There are a lot of problems to do in the remaining forty minutes.

Yet, I feel good. There’s a lot of potential here. I don’t smell anything bad about this class at all. I whip out my pen, and carefully add a lone pair of electrons to Uchida’s work.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:31 am, edited 4 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify' (Ch3 up 20150915)

Post by brythain » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:42 am

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 3
Monday, 23rd April 2007


It’s almost May and we’re sitting up on the roof. I used to think coming to this school was one of the best things in my whole life, and I was worried that the administrative people would find out I was here under false pretences. Then they’d throw me out and I’d lose all my friends. But I really do have a disability. More than one! They’re not so obvious as Emi Ibarazaki’s, or Rin Tezuka’s, or Takano Uchida’s.

This is pretty obvious to me as I sit up here with all three of them, eating bento lunches packed by Emi and Takano. No legs. No fingers. No arms. Me? No sense of smell, and the guilty knowledge that Emi’s made me a great lunch and I can’t taste it properly and I should have told her that I’m taste-blind. I’m a… blind taster. Besides my other disabilities.

Some day, when I’m less sad, I’ll tell you about the rest of my class, of lovely Ainaka and stylish Miyashita, Kasahara with too many fingers and fearsome Kitagawa. I’ve barely got to know some of them, and they’re very interesting people. I have been afraid of something, and it’s been holding me back from getting to know them better.

But I no longer have a formless fear: it’s a confirmed dread. And now, I also have a broken heart. Let me tell you part of this story.

*****

Rin, lovely long-legged redhead with a breathy, seductive voice, she leans against me. This is more than a week ago. I’m sitting under a tree at the edge of the lawn, taking a break; she’s just joined me, looking pensive. She whispers into my ear: “Can I collect you?”

My first thought is: “Oh, please do.” My second is: “Oh, no, please don’t.” I can tell you, many questions fall into my head at once. But I go for the simplest: “Why me?”

“Because you see things I can’t see.”

A deep sense of fear begins to engulf me. It’s already got me around the ankles and I know it won’t let go. “What do you mean?” I ask, playing along while the black tide rises to my shins.

“I’ve seen you. You eat a spring onion, suddenly your eyes open. It’s like when I see a certain kind of cloud. When you eat tuna belly, your eyes go all soft, as if you’re seeing a baby.”

She doesn’t know, is what I think to myself. But she’s awfully close. What people don’t know is that while I can’t taste or smell worth a damn, I see things when I’m supposed to be tasting or smelling. Like right now, with the smell of Rin’s body a hand’s breadth from mine, I see her as if she’s got green light around her, and flowers, and, and… I don’t want her to go away.

I want to taste her.

Her eyes open wide. “You want to eat me,” she whispers.

My heart feels swollen in my chest. Is she reading my mind? Is she making me think things I shouldn’t be thinking?

“Hey, you two! Have you…”

Emi’s voice trails off as she begins to think about what she’s seeing. I think about what she thinks she’s seeing. Rin’s chin is on my left shoulder, and a lot of her is on a lot of me. I’m looking flustered, and I’m sure my face is red with things that shouldn’t be said.

“Oh.”

Somehow, her voice sounds more than disappointed.

“Never mind.”

I don’t want to be the person who made Emi Ibarazaki pout. I’d rather be the man who set her on a career of piracy on the high seas. I don’t know if you can do one thing without the other thing, and I don’t know what either thing really is, is what is happening to me now.

“He wants to eat me… that’s never happened to me before,” says Rin dreamily.

“What? No!” I say, panicking. “I’m not! I don’t! Emi!”

“It’s all right. One should always find out all the facts as early as possible before one jumps to hasty conclusions.”

She says all that quietly, in her strangely vibrating contralto tones. They are the tones that look purple to me, and sad and tingly. But I’m not supposed to see colours when I hear things: it’s only supposed to happen when I smell or taste. It is the mystery of Emi Ibarazaki, and one night when I was drunk I thought it might be because I can smell when she is fertile. Yeah, it was a silly thought.

She gives me what can only be a bitter smile. “It’s nice to know my two good friends are so into each other. See you later.”

Emi had been my first friend in Yamaku. She’d always been helpful to me. And at this point in time, I realize with not a little pain that I have at the very least a big crush on her. And it’s not going to happen because Rin inspired a moment of lust in me.

*****

That episode wasn’t the end of our friendship, of course. Yamaku has changed me. My good friend Uchida has taught me to be less edgy. This he did in one week, by wagging his finger-stubs at me every time he sensed I was going to be inappropriate or just plain rude.

Of course, Uchida himself was/is never just plain rude. He could/can be extravagantly impolite when he wanted—he was/is a genius at being overwhelmingly discourteous while sounding as if he was/is treating you like the Emperor. I apologise for the tense problem in this paragraph. I truly do.

And so I learn to be Emi’s friend while not straying out of the zone. Or at least, I try. Rin, meanwhile, conducts acts of random sabotage. Or so it seems. On days when I can’t stand it anymore, I go hang out at the gate with Mr ‘Slabhands’ Ishikara, the security chief.

“Boy, what do you want?” he grinds out from between the two platoons of military policemen that he has in place of teeth. His gums glisten healthily, like the ceremonial regalia.

He’s taken to asking me that question at least once a day. I have few good answers, sometimes none. Sometimes, I just muse. Sometimes, I suspect, I amuse. He glares at me this time, daring me to think ‘bemuse’. That’s just my imagination, though. I keep thinking in English to stop the psychic spies from knowing what I’m thinking. I have Kenji Satou, my neighbour whose name sounds just a little similar to mine, to thank for that.

“Ishikara-san, I want to fall in love with the right girl,” I say with a straight face.

His eyebrows twitch. You would miss it if you weren’t looking. I believe honestly in my heart that if a fly dared to land on his eyebrows, he could scissor two of his hairs together and trap that fly. He is like the jokes they make on the internet about ‘Chakku Norisu’, the superhero that Westerners call ‘Chuck Norris’, except that he is real, and he runs a staff of twelve security officers that look after the Sendai-Aoba Mountain District Academy, Yamaku for short.

I’m blathering again. In my mind. I don’t know why. Mr Ishikara’s eyebrow-twitch has forced my terrified mind into shallow humour. If it goes further, it will become deep introspection.

Behind him, the person he calls ‘Rat-Head’ sniggers so silently that even Slabface doesn’t detect it. I’ve learnt that the gate detachment commander’s name is Adachi, and his personal name is Nagato. That name is like a bad pun here, because it means ‘long-lasting gate’.

“Boy, you need to understand love. Then you need to understand girls. Or the other way around.” He looks almost wistful as he says this, but it’s not enough evidence to convict. I wouldn’t dare try it.

I’m stupid enough to try something else without thinking. “Ah, Ishikara-san, are you married?”

This time, his eyebrows twitch noticeably. Oh shit, I think to myself, I’m in serious trouble now. Even Adachi has gone still, as if the universe is frozen like a dead egg in a cold saucepan.

“You are a brave man. Yes. Two children. This is why I can tell you what to do. Go away.”

*****

Then I do something stupid. There’s this… rumour… that Head Nurse Kaneshiro with the foxy face, he’s related to Emi Ibarazaki. Maybe he can help me, I tell myself. I think of that girl when I eat, when I sleep, when I’m in class; I feel her cool green-tinted eyes staring into the back of my left shoulder when I should be paying attention to the teacher, and once got called up for a scolding by Nomiya-sensei because I was thinking of that.

That’s why I’m walking down the corridor to the Medical Centre on a nice sunny day in late April when everyone else is out after school. Think of me, Kenichi Satou, 176 cm or 5’9” tall, shaggy black hair, ambling with purpose and not dancing with wolves. This is me, worried that I’ve fallen in love and won’t recover.

If I had asked Uchida first, he would have warned me about it. That’s what he told me later. But now is not later, and now I’m at the door. Good. The ‘Staff On Duty’ sign says ‘Kaneshiro G’. Why is he always on duty? There are other nurses, I’ve seen them, and surely the Head Nurse should have a lighter workload?

Actually, if he weren’t on duty, I’d probably have looked for him at his own office. So now it’s too late, I’m already knocking on the door. Actually, there’s a buzzer that flashes a blue feedback light as well, but I don’t like buzzers.

“Come in!” says that cheerful but sinister voice.

“Coming in,” I mutter to myself, and open the door.

“Satou!” he says, sounding delighted. “The fencer!”

Of all the things for a Head Nurse to remember, that must be the most bizarre. “Ah, yes?” is all I can say.

“Yes! And have you been foiled again?” Foxiface grins at me, his eyes almost disappearing.

“Er, what?” I realize at this point that my usual loquacity and capacity for clever remarks have left me. What kind of sorcery does this healer wield?

“You have a problem with the subtle blend of perfumery in your class, or perhaps the taste of the cafeteria food makes you see rainbows?”

His adroit return to medical professionalism keeps me off-balance for a critical second and my jaw drops open. I have no idea what metaphorical opening he sees in that, but he keeps jabbing at me.

“Or is it one classmate in particular?”

“Er, yes,” I mutter, feeling down and out. “Do you do counselling?” I manage to whisper, barely stopping myself from asking if they also offer speech therapy.

“If it’s pathological matters of the heart, I can help. If it’s psychological matters of the heart, I would have to refer you to my colleagues down the corridor. I can handle genetic counselling, though, should you require it. Don’t advise that particular step, though, boy.”

He looks at me, suddenly with a grim streak underlying his flippant words. In that moment, I understand that the fox has teeth, and will not hesitate to fasten them firmly around my neck.

“Classmate!” I blurt out. This is most unlike me.

“Emi Ibarazaki?” murmurs Foxtooth. He says it so flatly that it sounds like a conclusion rather than a question. Then he shakes his head, which makes me feel somewhat depressed.

“I keep thinking of her,” I say, casting all caution to the winds and going the direct route.

“She’s already had one bad experience, you know. And the other fellow, he had it worse. Take my advice: Emi isn’t ready yet.”

“How would you know?” I ask, defending against my inner pain.

“I am one who knows,” he intones. “Not all the time, but I try.”

“Maybe this isn’t one of those times.”

He shrugs. “You could always try asking her directly. You can see it in her eyes. I would advise patience, however. Also, there’s your pending transfer.”

“What?”

“Patience.”

“No! Transfer?”

“Yes.”

“Mother?”

“Yup.”

I run my fingers through my curls in dismay. The Fox leans back in his chair, which creaks softly in the sudden silence. He waits. My thoughts churn.

“I don’t want to leave Yamaku.”

“Your synaesthesia and curious sensory polymorphism make me want to keep you here for observation. Have you realized that you seldom make the same associations between inputs? That must be a crippling disability in some ways. How are you doing with Rin Tezuka? She must love you.”

That line hits me like a truck. I feel like sitting down, only to find that there isn’t a chair nearby. I settle for planting my butt on the edge of a low bookcase.

“Could you?”

“Oh, sorry. Shouldn’t be speaking to you about women.”

I wave a hand in his direction, almost as Uchida would. “No, no. I mean, can you keep me here?”

“Only till the end of next month, I’m afraid. Then I’ll have to accede to your parents’ demands.”

“My mother’s demands, you mean.”

“Ah, perhaps.”

“I’ll only have been here two months,” I say. It sounds almost as if I’m begging.

“Well, you still have a month to go. Thursday, 31 May, will be your last day. You can still come back for the school festival in early June, and who knows?”

Everything tastes bitter and looks pale green. Somewhere outside, somebody must be happy, but I cannot imagine why.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:01 pm

Well... So far I haven't dared to touch your greater body of work, but I thought I'd give this more or less standalone piece a shot.

I... am not sure what to think of it exactly.

On one hand it feels disjointed, the characters - especially nurse, the class rep and Rin - feel like bizarro versions of themselves at times, most characters seem to have splurged on pun-cookies without restraint and the main characters narration reads like he has been living on alphabet soup since he was weaned off his mother.

On the other hand I think all of this might be intentional to show that your OC is even more disturbed than Kenji, though that does not explain some of the weird dialogue from others.

On the gripping hand all of this makes this story exceedingly hard to read^^°

One minor thing, nurse is introducing Emi as Kenichi's senior and then she turns out to be in his class.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by brythain » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:24 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Well... So far I haven't dared to touch your greater body of work, but I thought I'd give this more or less standalone piece a shot.

I... am not sure what to think of it exactly.

On one hand it feels disjointed, the characters - especially nurse, the class rep and Rin - feel like bizarro versions of themselves at times, most characters seem to have splurged on pun-cookies without restraint and the main characters narration reads like he has been living on alphabet soup since he was weaned off his mother.

On the other hand I think all of this might be intentional to show that your OC is even more disturbed than Kenji, though that does not explain some of the weird dialogue from others.

On the gripping hand all of this makes this story exceedingly hard to read^^°

One minor thing, nurse is introducing Emi as Kenichi's senior and then she turns out to be in his class.
I think the whole thing is right, since Kenichi is indeed a very disturbed soul. After all, he suffers from a disability in which his senses randomly switch places. Good catch!

The weird dialogue comes about because it's all from Kenichi's point of view. He hears and sees things a little 'off'. :)

Nurse introduced Emi as Kenichi's 'senior' because Emi entered the school before Kenichi did. It's like in a dojo, not a matter of chronological age.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:20 pm

Nurse introduced Emi as Kenichi's 'senior' because Emi entered the school before Kenichi did. It's like in a dojo, not a matter of chronological age.
Since he just arrived at the school, technically everybody should be his senior by that standard...
But, at a school it should be neither but the class she is in.

By the way does he arrive at the start of the school year?
The text seems to imply it, but everyone seems to be settled in a routine already.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by brythain » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:51 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Nurse introduced Emi as Kenichi's 'senior' because Emi entered the school before Kenichi did. It's like in a dojo, not a matter of chronological age.
Since he just arrived at the school, technically everybody should be his senior by that standard...
But, at a school it should be neither but the class she is in.

By the way does he arrive at the start of the school year?
The text seems to imply it, but everyone seems to be settled in a routine already.
Then again, KS seems to imply that Emi is indeed Hisao's senior, perhaps by the rare exception of having stayed back a year some time in the past.
One theory is that Emi was a year ahead of the rest when she returned from rehab and entered Yamaku. Since her birthday is in March, that's a technicality when it comes to calendar age vs school age.

Everyone seems to be settled, but that's only from Kenichi's relative viewpoint of being unsettled. Mutou, for example, still doesn't get his timetable, which is why he comes in as a math substitute teacher and promptly teaches chemistry instead. :D
Last edited by brythain on Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:33 am

Then again, KS seems to imply that Emi is indeed Hisao's senior, perhaps by the rare exception of having stayed back a year some time in the past.
Sure she is, but there's no reason for nurse to impart that information to Kenichi at that point. If you meant that, just add it to the "bizarro nurse" list :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by brythain » Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:03 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Then again, KS seems to imply that Emi is indeed Hisao's senior, perhaps by the rare exception of having stayed back a year some time in the past.
Sure she is, but there's no reason for nurse to impart that information to Kenichi at that point. If you meant that, just add it to the "bizarro nurse" list :-)
Yes, I do believe our Nurse is behaving in a very odd way, as far as Kenichi describes it. :D

It gets worse. In this world, Emi and Rin were transferred into 3-4 to make way for Shizune and Misha, who were transferred to 3-3 from 3-1. This means that Emi and Rin are only just barely 'senior' to Kenichi in 3-4. The other members of 3-4 have been in 1-4 and 2-4 together, since in some schools the whole cohort moves up without changing their relative position in the form or level.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 6059
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:17 pm

Is this something I should have known from reading your other stories or something I should have guessed by being psychic? :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: 'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch3 up 20150

Post by brythain » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:38 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Is this something I should have known from reading your other stories or something I should have guessed by being psychic? :-)
It's something that comes with the other stuff, but appears in this story (here and there). :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch4 up 20150921)

Post by brythain » Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:09 am

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 4
Wednesday, 26th April 2007


I’ve just looked at what I wrote last time and realized that I never said what happened up on the roof at the end of April. I got carried away with the reasons why I’d never be with the girl I had a crush on. I forgot that other people had problems too. So, back to the roof.

Rin is being Rin. She’s talking about clouds and jellyfish today, which is just a little bit relevant because I’m eating what I’d translate as a ‘jellyfish battleship’ sushi. Emi is looking thoughtfully at me, and I’m trying not to look at her. I’m looking at Takano instead, whom I keep calling Uchida because he keeps calling me Satou.

“Satou!” he says, “Why on earth are you staring at me like that?”

I can’t say I’m doing it because I don’t dare stare at Emi, and because I’m afraid Rin will give me one of those unnerving looks. So I reply light-heartedly, “Why aren’t you hanging out with Yuki?”

Yuki Ainaka is our one-armed swimmer classmate. She’s long and elegant, and apparently in love with Uchida. They tease each other a lot in class. They’ve also gone out before, or so I’ve heard. To me, it makes sense to ask this. However, I swear the temperature falls about ten degrees just as her name leaves my lips.

“Ah,” he says, sounding both thoughtful and surprised. He wipes his lips with a paper napkin. “Sincerest apologies. Hmm. I do believe lunch hasn’t agreed with me as much as I would have liked. Sadly, I shall have to abbreviate the class representative’s induction lunch for new members of Class 4.”

He smiles in a slightly strained way, waves his hand languidly, gathers his belongings, and leaves without fanfare. My jaw is hanging open, so I shut it. Rin is staring at me. Emi is looking to one side.

“What did I say?” I mumble, as Uchida disappears down the staircase.

“Yuki’s… not yet his girlfriend,” says Emi hesitantly.

“She can’t be until he forgets the dead one,” says Rin helpfully.

“Rin,” says Emi sharply. But I can see her eyes are moist. She’s a romantic at heart. “Don’t…”

Me, I’m feeling stupid. “Oh, I didn’t know,” I say lamely. For some reason, I can’t stop thinking of adverbs.

“You see, Emi and I were in 1-3, then we were in 2-3, but Emi had problems with someone in that class and there was a vacancy in 3-4 so we ended up in 3-4 instead of 3-3 this year. There were two vacancies in 3-4 because one student had gone to 3-5 and the other one went dead.”

Rin stretches her long legs and looks at me. The wind ruffles her reddish hair. She’s got a different kind of beauty; where Emi is sweet, Rin is wild. But here’s the funny thing: neither of them really shows it. It’s like butterflies coming out only in a certain season.

“Rin!” shouts Emi.

“What?” says Rin, genuinely startled. “I’m right next to you.”

“It’s not right for you to say these things in public!”

“We’re not in public. We’re up on a roof.”

“Why did you say all that?!”

“Kenichi wants to know why Takano wasn’t going out with Yuki. So we should tell him about Mizue.”

Emi looks sad and furious at the same time. She’s speechless. She closes her bento box and gathers her belongings and gets up. “I don’t want to hear about that again,” she hisses, and strides away towards the stairwell.

I look at Rin. Rin looks back at me.

“Do you want to hear the rest?”

My lunchtime peace destroyed, I can only nod.

*****

One thing about Rin Tezuka that I will always remember is that she talks in a straight line. That is, her words form a continuous logical chain. The main problem is that it’s not always possible for lesser mortals to figure out the logic of her chain.

Nevertheless, in this last week of April, somewhere in the season approaching rain and cherry blossoms, I manage to get her to tell me the story of Takano Uchida and Mizue Sugahara. It’s a sad story. I keep thinking of cherry blossoms when I remember it. I don’t think I’ll tell it again.

All I can see in my mind is the scent of cherry blossoms along the Shiroishi River, about half an hour’s ride by train, southward from Sendai. I can’t imagine what Sugahara looked like, except that Uchida loved her. I know what Uchida looks like, so I imagine him, holding a dying girl until the last light fades from her eyes.

It was her last wish. Even her parents bowed to that, for she was strong-willed, and the passion of her viola matched the lost music of Uchida’s cello. Somewhere along that train ride, between Funaoka and Ogawara stations, the lovers remembered cherry blossoms that had fallen almost a year ago, and had yet to fall. And at the end of the ride, only one emerged, a dead man walking with the heart torn out from his life.

“That’s all,” says Rin. She doesn’t sound mournful. She sounds matter-of-fact. She sounds like wood ash and distant rain.

I stir, feeling pins and needles in my left leg as if the bitter-sour taste of lemons is in my mouth. “I see,” I reply, meaning actually that I can still hear the sound of train oil and see the scent of cherry blossoms. I’ve had an episode. All my senses are mixed up.

“It happened six weeks ago, at the end of last school year,” Rin adds, as if this is an afterthought, a kind of epilogue.

A door swings shut with a mournful click, a kind of brown sound that smells of hazelnuts. I look up towards the entrance to the stairs.

Emi is standing there. I realize I can’t see her clearly. My eyes are wet.

“Okay,” she says. “I guess you had to find out sooner or later. This is Yamaku, and sometimes your friends don’t last forever. They leave you and don’t come back.”

I’m about to say that if she’ll have me, I’d never leave her. Then I realize that this might not be within my control, in at least one obvious way. I can only nod, dumb and stupid in my head.

Somewhere very far away, I hear Rin’s voice, deadpan as always, lacking emotion and yet full of meaning. “So Yuki’s waiting for Takano. I guess she’ll be waiting a while.”

*****

Today is a different morning. I’m at the track because Emi says it’s good for me and the Foxman concurs. I’m no slouch, I keep in shape. But clearly, my shape as a fencer does not give me the shape of a runner.

As I hit the straight, and limp on a while till I reach what ought to be the finish line, I smell grey tartan superimposed on the rubbery track surface. I don’t have a physical heart condition, but if this keeps up, I might.

The odd snick/tap/thump of her running legs (as opposed to her formal legs) sends tiny flashes of blue light into my head. I sense her heading round the bend towards me. It is oddly intimate.

“Stopping already, Kenichi?” she shouts softly as she steams swiftly past me. I see the chrome-yellow aura of her sweating self as I look at her.

“Yeah,” I say, trying to adopt a less pitiful posture. “Yeah.”

But she’s already decided to lap me one more time. That’s Emi. I’m in love with her, I think. She doesn’t feel that way about me. Something is holding her back. I wonder what it is.

After the session, we walk back to the admin building, heading for the Medical Centre. I wish I could hold her hand, yet something tells me that’s not a good idea. I don’t know what that something is. There are too many somethings and I feel lost in my ignorance.

The Fox is in his lair, says the sign on the door. He’s always on duty whenever Emi needs to check in at the Centre. I’ve begun to wonder what exactly their relationship is. Rumour has it that he’s secretly Emi’s father. I can’t see any resemblance at all. Miyashita, the girl who sits on my left between us, once whispered that she’d seen him having dinner with Emi’s mother in town.

I shake my head to clear it, and Emi looks at me in perplexity. “Did you say something, Kenichi?”

“No. Just thinking how kind Nurse-san is to personally see to your medical checkup every morning.”

Emi frowns. It’s never a good sign. Emi pouting is a bad sign, but frowning can be worse. I know this because although I’ve only known her a few weeks, it feels as if I’ve known her much longer. It’s part of my synaesthesia, that I take in so much sensory input and mix it all up—it helps me learn about people.

“What are you trying to say? Nurse, he’s… an old family friend!”

That doesn’t support or disprove anything. He could be a very good friend of Emi’s mother, or he could even be married to her. It’s just all very fishy.

Suddenly, I realize that I’ve spent too much time thinking and too little time talking. Emi’s lips are set in a hard, thin line. The little vertical crease between her eyebrows is small but deep. She’s very angry. I can smell it.

“If you’re going to say something, say it. Say it before I go in.”

“Er, I guess he’s known your mother a long time. Ah, and you too, of course.”

Oh, stupid, stupid. I don’t think Emi knows about the rumours. Or at least, she doesn’t think I’ve heard the rumours. Too late now.

“Don’t listen to rumours. Don’t pry. Don’t think you know things about me that you don’t.”

She doesn’t bother with the buzzer or with knocking. She just goes in, and slams the door in my face. The slamming of the door looks like silver, like the colour of lightning, and it smells like the end of my life.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:33 am, edited 3 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch5 up 20151121)

Post by brythain » Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:51 am

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 5
Thursday, 26th April 2007 — Friday, 27th April 2007


It’s finally the end of April, and I will have hardly any time to do anything before I’m gone. It’s as if my life has become that of one of the small but significant group of students who have a built-in countdown that is terribly short.

Despondent, I visit Uchida. His room is half a floor up, because the men’s block is built partly into the side of the hill, which is why Residential Level 1 is three floors above what’s supposed to be ground level. His administrative and management talent, plus the ability to suddenly merge into the shadows and disappear, have followed him here too. He’s nominally RL1’s ‘super’—the senior student who handles admin matters for the floor.

His door is recessed in a sort of tiny niche in the wall, big enough for a shoe cupboard, a calendar, some art on the wall, and a doormat. On the shoe cupboard is a bonsai in a stone vessel, apparently well cared for.

I’m a very confident person, but I don’t mind telling you that falling in love and not knowing if it’s for real—that takes a lot out of a man. Even worse, is when you discover that you may not have enough time to prove it one way or the other. So I am a little apprehensive as I approach his door and knock very gently on the doorframe.

I hear a soft rustling sound, and then the door slides open. I’m looking down when it happens, and so the first thing I notice is that his flooring is entirely slate, not wood, not even covered with tatami mats. It is an unrelieved dark grey; almost black, it feels as if it wants to devour your eyeballs.

I look up and then bow. “Uchida, may I speak with you for a while?”

He returns my bow and replies, “Hello, Satou. As floor supervisor, it is my duty to listen to anything you have to say, and to help you if you need help.”

It is in his usual light-hearted but formal tone, but it has as much warmth in it as winter on the mountains. His eyes are smiling, but the skin around his eyes is dead.

I swallow the lump in my throat, but it doesn’t want to stay down. “Ah, I am sorry if I have caused you inconvenience or discomfort over the last few days. It isn’t excusable even though I am new. However, I have a difficulty that I don’t know how to resolve, and so I’m forced to inconvenience you again.”

“Oh no, there’s no inconvenience. I am at your service. Would you like to come in?”

He means it, and yet he sounds as if he doesn’t have much energy left to put into it. I wonder again about his personal grief, and the strength it must require to float through life the way he does. The sound of his voice brings a mineral smell to my nose, the smell of cold stone and rain.

He waits patiently, unmoving, until I get my words together. “I appreciate your invitation, but perhaps I can just have a brief moment of your time?”

“My time is yours.”

“Uchida, I’m leaving by the end of May. I’m being transferred again. I wanted to thank you, in case I have no further opportunity for personal interaction, for all your time and support as class representative and also as floor supervisor.”

Uchida nods. “I am grateful to have served well.”

“That is why I have realized you are my best advisor now. My problem is that I am in love.”

“It is a common problem at this age.”

There is not a single trace of bitterness in his voice. His voice provokes a taste of purple pickles at the back of my tongue, but it is not unpleasant. He is looking at me, not hard enough to be staring, but as if he is awaiting my next sentence thoughtfully. Why is he so damned nice? I can’t stand it.

“She is a fellow classmate of ours.”

“I dare not guess as to whom it might be.”

Why can’t I say her name? I shut my eyes tightly and open them again. The light smells of metal and olives.

“I seek your advice on the matter of E-Emi Ibarazaki.” I force the words out and curse my sudden stutter.

He raises an eyebrow, as if it’s a surprise to him. It clearly isn’t. “Our friend is consistently able to evoke that necessity in the minds of various schoolmates. Perhaps it is her superpower.”

“Why is she like that?”

“She’s small, and cute, and has a very strong personality. It is almost a trope, to have someone like that in our class, as if we were the cast of some Korean-made serial about a Japanese school.”

“You can’t be serious!” I blurt out, before I realize I might have insulted him, or worse, failed to appreciate his joke. Or both.

“Oh, but I am. I am sure she carries death around with her, just as I do. It makes her reluctant to commit, and violently opposed to the idea that someone might be committed to her. In time, these things can wear off—but not always.”

It’s almost as if he’s talking to someone else. He certainly isn’t answering any question I’ve asked. And yet, he is saying something that’s very helpful. It explains a lot, and leaves me with little to say. I can’t very well ask Uchida how he knows all this.

I settle for looking at him inquiringly. He looks back, pleasantly neutral at first; then after a few seconds, he cracks a lopsided smile. “I am sorry that I cannot be of more help than that. My advice is not likely palatable to you: I would tell you to leave Miss Ibarazaki alone. Her situation is not one that can be resolved by the relentless application of your charm and force of will.”

“I see.” I see only too well now what he means. In my head, purple serpents and blue shadows twist, and the scent of mint leaves crushed underfoot touches my nostrils. “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful.”

“I live only to serve.”

For all I know, he’s speaking the literal truth. That realization hits me like a fist. Uchida may have decided that his entire life is over, and graduation will mean just playing out a hand to which no new cards will ever be added.

I stare at him, feeling a kind of fellowship. An impulse emerges somewhere in my confusion, and I hear myself saying: “I hope you’ll find happiness, Uchida.”

He nods politely, still standing in the middle of his doorway. I feel his eyes on me as I bow and return to the corridor outside. Perhaps mine is only a minor sadness after all.

*****

As I walk back to my room through the strangely empty corridors of RL1, I am accosted by a ‘pssst’, like the sudden last fart of a dying balloon. I turn in the direction of the outgassing, where a man is slouching in the shadow of his darkened doorway. I should be used to it; after all, I live opposite a maniac who loves colourful scarves.

This one is different. His slicked-back dark hair with a single metallic-red stripe and the eyepatch over his left eye make him look like a pirate. I fish around in my head for the name of this singular buccaneer, the man who sits at the end of my row in class, closest to the doors.

“Mizuno?”

“The very one. I am thinking you need a manly pick-me-up. This floor has all kinds who will offer you such things, but I, Hiroshi of House Mizuno, have the only genuine booster pack for self-esteem recovery.”

Seriously, who speaks like that in real life? That was a rhetorical question, of course. I reply in civil fashion, “I wouldn’t mind being enlightened, if you are offering such help.”

“Come with me to the pantry, and all will be made clear.”

“Uh, lead on.” At this point, I’m tired. I’m weary and not in the mood for deep thought.

He puts a manly arm around my shoulders and we saunter off like two gentlemen on a binge. In a minute or so, we have arrived at the simple communal facility of RL1, a kitchenette with a small refrigerator and a rather large microwave oven. Some kind of coffee-brewing machine sits happily in a corner, but the equipment and materials for tea and other snacks are also available to one side of a spotlessly clean bar counter.

“Welcome to RL1’s pantry. It is not the decadent pizza parlour that is RL2’s den of food, nor is it the diabetic explosion of RL3’s marshmallow paradise, but it is quiet and well-stocked.”

“I’ve been here before, Hiroshi.”

“Then you are no stranger to peaceful snacking. Come, let me pour you a pick-me-up. Don’t look. The process of making such things appears gross to the untutored eye. I should know. I have one that is constantly absent.”

I turn aside and then decide to park myself on one of the comfortable wicker stools that take up space along the bar counter. I hear the sound of what might be an egg cracking, which triggers green starbursts in my head and a coppery taste at the tip of my tongue. Other odd sounds trigger other strange phenomena in my brain. I’m too fatigued to care much.

Time passes in an unknown quantum. Suddenly there’s a frothy concoction placed in front of me, milk foam rising in a bubbly dome above a large glass.

“Drink up. Don’t be too sad about Uchida. He’s already made plans for his future, his mind is made up, and he’s told us he’s going back to Nagasaki regardless of his examination results.”

Obediently, I drink. “Fwaaaah?!” I murmur in surprise, shock, and confused admiration. “What is this?”

“Cocoa, eggs, whiskey, a double shot of espresso, and my mother’s herbal powder.”

“Herbal powder?”

“Yes. She swears it helps my father get it up, poor man.”

“Fwaaaah!” I cough, shaking my head.

“It gets up your nose a bit, and gets up everywhere else too, I think.”

Whatever it is, I can feel blood pounding a beat through my veins like a Tokyo policeman on the trail of an armed suspect. My ears are twitching. I’m not sure my feet are connected to my ankles.

“It does,” I manage to articulate without choking. It’s not half bad, actually.

“Good. Now we can talk about your sad love life and anything else you want.”

“Why do you bother, man? I’m grateful, but we hardly know each other.”

He looks at me, and I realize again that I’ve been terribly rude to someone I’ve only just met a few weeks ago. I feel ashamed, but all he does is shrug. “Well, maybe it’s because our whole class is cursed with very sad men.”

“You? Sad?” Hiroshi Mizuno has always seemed a cheerful sort to me. He’s a one-eyed archer, apparently doing it as therapy to strengthen bad shoulders and help him adapt to the loss of his master left eye in a freak accident. “What have you got to be sad about?”

“Do you know Ikezawa from 3-3 next door?”

“Who’s that?”

“Ah, she’s a very pretty girl, but jumpy. I don’t think we can see eye to eye.”

It’s true, what they say, whiskey does make everything better in the end. The last thing I remember Hiroshi saying is something along the lines of ‘better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all’ or some shit like that.

*****

In the morning, I have a letter I don’t remember writing. It’s a pretty formal letter. I stumble to my desk in class, and somehow, the letter finds its way to Emi’s desk via Rin Tezuka. Rin’s deep, unfathomable green-tinted eyes gaze at me unblinking for a while.

“It’s all right,” she says. “Emi’s not ready to fall in love yet.”

Did she really say that? Perhaps my brain is playing tricks again. I blink, and the moment is lost. Today’s the 27th day of April, it’s Friday—and I won’t be back in class again till Monday 7th May. The days are so few, and the opportunities are fewer. What’s a man to do?

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch6 up 20160215)

Post by brythain » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:42 pm

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 6—A Day With The Neighbour
Saturday, 28th April 2007


Three days left in this month of April, then comes May, and then I’m gone. If I were a character in a visual novel, what should I do to ensure maximum chance of success? That’s what I’m thinking about. I should probably ask my readers for advice, except that this account will probably not have any readers.

It’s Saturday today and I don’t even have the option of going to classes. What do people do when they don’t have classes? They go watch a movie with friends, or go for a picnic, do something sociable. But I am Kenichi Satou, and I’m not feeling very sociable right now.

Doesn’t matter what I feel, though. If you were running me as a character, you’d probably get me off my butt so that I could gain social points or something. With that in mind, I grimly suppress my depression and walk out of my room. I’m a hero, and heroes… ah, forget it.

My neighbour’s door is mysteriously open. Said neighbour is a recluse whose name is curiously parallel to mine. Fortunately, nobody mistakes us for each other. For a start, he’s legally blind (or so he claims) and wears a horribly garish scarf no matter whether it’s a hot day or a cool one. And he’s asked me to call him ‘The Doctor’.

Cautiously, I tiptoe to the edge of his doorframe and quickly peek in. WHAM! Of course, the only reason his door would be open is that he’s leaving his room.

“What are you doing lurking around here?” he barks at me. “Are you a feminist spy?”

“Of course not!” I reply indignantly.

“How am I supposed to know? I’m not psychic. But you smell okay.”

I wouldn’t know, since I have no real sense of smell. But I nod dubiously at him, then wonder why I’m agreeing. “No, I’m not a feminist spy,” I say dejectedly, because that at least would be exciting. And then I have a great idea. “However,” I continue, “what do you think of going out for a pizza and a movie?”

He stops, stunned. Then he seems to recover his equilibrium. “Damn!” he yells, making me take an involuntary step back from the sheer power of his damning. “You ARE psychic. How did you know I was thinking of doing that?”

“I honestly didn’t.” A thought crosses my mind. How does my neighbour actually watch movies, considering his terrible eyesight?

“Well,” he says, licking his lips craftily. I don’t think he knows he’s doing it, but it makes him look a little perverted. “We need to plan our campaign. Pizza we can eat off-campus, but movies we have to bring in. We can rent. But I have a collection in my room anyway. It should last us through the holiday, and the feminists will never get us once I have locked the doors!”

This gives me qualms. He’s of dubious sanity, and I don’t want to encourage him. Yet, I’ll be gone in a month’s time, and he’ll become someone else’s problem. If I can keep him going, maybe he’ll be a little saner by then.

I’m too depressed to want to think this through. So I say the next thing on my mind. “What about beer? Doesn’t that go well with pizza?”

He recoils in horror, as if I’ve blasphemed against whatever gods he believes in. For a moment, I see his eyes flash in his extremely thick spectacle lenses. They are the eyes of someone who has seen things man was not meant to see.

“What. Is. The. Water. Of. Life?” he says, sharp, staccato, and loud. It’s like some sort of catechism. Oh no, maybe he’s a crazy Christian out to convert me.

“Urm?” is all I come up with.

“Whisssssssky!!!!!!” he hisses at me, his super-accelerated saliva emitting a cloud of water vapour that only I can see in all its yellow glory.

Oh, of course. Not beer, but whisky. But I haven’t any whisky with me, and neither of us is likely old enough to buy some. So… “Do you have any?”

He eyes me suspiciously, the shifting half-reflections of daylight glinting off his glasses. They are the only clue as to whether he’s still looking at me or not.

After what seems like a micro-eternity, if such could ever be, he sighs. “What are man-friends for. I have a mother, and while unfortunately she is female, she sends whisky?”

I’m certain his question-mark tones are in the wrong places, but who am I to argue with whisky? “Is there enough for us to share a dram or two?”

“Oh yes. Certainly. For a comrade,” he responds semi-automatically. “But not now. It’s for later. The Doctor is in!”

*****

I don’t know what we’re watching. I really don’t. My neighbour believes everything in it is true, but this Borat guy is describing the United States in a way that I suspect isn’t really right. But he’s very funny and very convincing. Who is this Pamela Anderson anyway? She seems to be some pop culture icon.

It’s from that to The Da Vinci Code, which I never had the time to watch before. It’s a very gloomy movie, and a bit silly. But my neighbour is having fun. He jumps up and down and paces the room and keeps warning the protagonist not to trust a woman or anyone else who wears a dress. It’s morbid entertainment—my neighbour, not the movie.

Surprisingly, the pizza is good and there’s a lot of it. He seems to know where to order the most pizza for the least money; after he points out that getting it delivered to Yamaku, even after Slabface the security chief gets his cut, is cheaper than eating out, we end up not going out at all.

The catch is that it’s all paid for by me. I’ve been persuaded to do it by a simple argument: “Do you know how much this whisky costs????” I can guess, because it’s a Scottish single malt with some unpronounceable name.

The wasabi prawn and pineapple pizza is pretty good, but the salmon and blueberry yogurt one is a little weird. It doesn’t matter: we have six pizzas, and a whole day of imported movies.

Occasionally, we take a break. When he takes a toilet break, I look around his room. He has a strange map of the school, with little paper and cloth puppets. Some of them look oddly familiar. They have little notes attached to them.

It’s then that I spot the little one with twintails and no legs. There’s even a note: [Lethal hazard: runs people down and has separation anxiety. Also, Nurse.] What does that mean?

He catches me examining his map when he comes back in. For a moment, as he clenches his fists, I think he’s going to assault me. Then he barks, “Ah! Good for you. Important to familiarize yourself with the enemy and all her wiles.”

He pulls a little tab under a puppet and a tiny scroll drops down, with little numbers pencilled on it. “See? I have all their schedules so I can intercept or avoid them at will!”

Two thoughts cross my mind simultaneously. First, he’s a raving lunatic with a lot of brain power. Second, he ought to use a spreadsheet or some other computer tool for this.

*****

About two hours later, we’ve still not started on the whisky. We’re apparently watching a movie about two sorcerers who are using Tesla machines to make duplicates of themselves or something like that. As the movie progresses, I begin to see something of Yamaku in it. There are so many ambiguous and missing people. There’s so much backstory tragedy. This won’t end well for most of the characters.

I begin to feel as if I’m beginning to get sucked into this. If my crazy neighbour is one of the magicians and I am the other, we will end up locked in a battle to the death. That’s a pity, because I confess I am starting to like the man. He might be a pizza-loving obsessive-compulsive chauvinist, but he’s a good friend.

Perhaps it’s the anticipation of whisky. Not having drunk any yet, I’m beginning to feel intoxicated. Whatever it is, I’m not being myself when I ask him, “You ever have a girlfriend?”

He starts. His thickly reflective lenses glare suspiciously at me. “They will suck your soul,” he intones gloomily, with slowly building intensity. “And the bits that are left will be like limp balloons of flesh. Deflated. Empty. Drained of all manhood.”

I look on with mounting horror as he takes off his glasses, even more slowly, with great deliberation. I’m beginning to think that behind those glasses are the multifaceted eyes of a fly, or perhaps the burning red eyes of a vampire.

They’re off. All I can see is a fairly good-looking chap with eyes that seem to gaze blindly into the wide open spaces of a dream. “Neighbour,” he says, “Know that these eyes have seen things men were not meant to see.”

“Like what?” I ask, the words escaping me before I can think further.

“This week, they put me in therapy,” he says conversationally, sounding perfectly normal. “My therapist is my favourite science teacher, Mutou-sensei.”

“But he’s not a therapist.” Is this some kind of new conspiracy theory?

“No. They said he would give me good advice. They know I trust him. They’ll try to manipulate me through him. But he’s a good man, so I guess they’ll be manipulating him too. It’s all chains of manipulation!”

“Who’re ‘they’?”

“I’m guessing some woman has her hooks into that male psychic who is pretending to be Chief Nurse. Then that guy is good friends with the sensei, and influences him. You can’t trust anybody. But you can try to save some of them. First, I have to find out who it is who’s controlling the Nurse.”

Wow, I think to myself, momentarily overcome by the scale of his insanity. Wow. He has it all mapped out. What else is he thinking?

“You’ll need allies, people to carry out counter-intelligence,” I whisper seriously, somehow for a moment converted to his cause.

“That’s not a problem. I have Tezuka, in 3-4. He is good at teasing out details from his friend, the twintailed fembot. She is very close to Nurse, which is very suspicious.”

“He? Tezuka?” How come my neighbour thinks Rin is male? Or is she ex-male?

“Yes. He will one day be a great martyr to our cause, having given up the outermost trappings of manhood to dwell amongst the feminists.”

I stare at him, a limp piece of raspberry-yellowtail pizza hanging from my left hand. His words sound like the smell of tonic water to my synaesthetic brain. I’m not sure I understand any of this.

*****

Sometime later, we’ve actually opened the bottle. Maybe I should call it ‘THE Bottle’, because that is how I feel about it. It’s like burnt raisins and fire all churned together in thin oil. It fondles your tongue as you drink it, then pokes at your throat until you let it into your gullet.

Somewhere, he’s produced a pad of recycled mulberry paper. On that pad, I’m writing bad poetry. He gazes indulgently over at me from time to time, while watching some other movie, which I think I am also watching. It seems to be about a vigilante with a white mask who works with a young woman to bring down a corrupt world.

But on his other screen, my neighbour is playing another movie about a vigilante with a black mask who works with his butler to bring down a corrupt underworld. I am getting very confused. For a moment, I thought they were the same movie spread over two screens, and for another moment, I thought they were a computer game.

“V is for Vendetta, B is for Batman!” I sing, trying to practice my English. I think the two sounds should be the same sound. It’s silly to make two sounds so close. I try it out as, “B is for Bendetta and V is for Vatman!” but it sounds wrong.

My neighbour plays with the ends of his colourful scarf and tries to sing along. It comes out quite beautifully. Perhaps, though, this is because both of us have finished two-thirds of THE Bottle, probably a month’s salary for a teacher. Laughing, he brings out another bottle. “This one, not so good,” he says, slurring a bit.

*****

“She has a nice ass, Kenji,” I weep, at least a full bottle of the good stuff mixing water music and fireworks throughout my body. I can’t quite get a handle on what’s going on inside me. “She has perky nipples and the most lovely eyes ever. And she has twintails, how can anyone not love good twintails?”

In the distant fog, I hear him reply, “She’s made that way. Don’t forget, the purpose of making fembots is to seduce men! Be strong, my brother! Besides, even a blind man can see that Lilly Satou is more beautiful! But there are none as glorious as Yuuko Shirakawa…”

Perhaps I have misheard him. I could have sworn that Kenji sounded a little lovelorn himself, with the last phrase trailing away in my head, like a tiny procession of sickly blue gnomes banging tin cymbals together to some classical Christmas tune. Then darkness covers me up slowly like a blanket of caramel sauce.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3537
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

'Mistaking Identify' (A Class 3.4 Fiction) (Ch7 up 20160229)

Post by brythain » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:36 pm

Kenichi: Mistaking Identify (T -17) Chapter 7—A Day With Other People
Sunday, 29th April 2007—Shōwa Day


This is about Sunday, which I am trying to forget, or remember, or something in between. And also, it leads to Monday, which is still part of this very long weekend. Monday will be the last day of April, and I am filled with a great, aching sense of coming loss. I have so little time, and it is leaking away from me like sweat.

CLACKBANG. CLACKCLACK BANGBANG.

Aarrrrgh.

I’m lying in bed, and the light is terrifyingly bright. It is as if I am about to meet the Celestial Presence, and Her angels are practicing stick-fighting kata with the halberds of the Host. But one shouldn’t meet the Lady when one is in personal disarray, and stretched out naked on top of the bedcovers is not a courteous pose.

So I sit up, a weakness in my belly telling me that I have been supine for a long time, and that I have not had breakfast. Nausea and vertigo grip me and spin me for a while. It is a miracle that I have not thrown up, so I thank the Presence.

Do you now think that I am religious? Oh, no—I am not. I am merely an inventor and appropriator of religious beliefs. People should believe in something, and so I think creatively about what I should believe in.

But that’s not important. What’s important is that some bastard is banging on my door, and doing it rhythmically although not objectively very loudly. I am seeing flashes of bright blue, supported by the incongruous scent of peonies, every time he hits my poor door.

“You in there? Come out, come out, don’t be a coward in front of the girls!” says a harsh male voice, which sends bright neon-pink streaks into my vision.

“What girls? What coward? I’m a Satou of the Satou Clan, I’ll have you know!” My own shouting gives me a headache, and a few seconds later, I realize that what I’ve said is total nonsense.

A much softer voice, low and relaxed, speaks. “Satou, this is Ainaka. Yuki, you know? From the seat in front of you?”

It’s odd that we’ve known each other for four weeks already and she still thinks I might not remember her. Then again, perhaps my mind has been otherwise occupied and she’s noticed that. I try to remember what Yuki Ainaka looks like, and all I can remember is her colour-scheme: black, green, white. She’s busty and muscular, not particular tall, and swims, as I recall. She smells of limes and dark chocolate every time she speaks, but not really—it’s my synaesthesia that tells me she has a thrilling, sultry voice. Oh yes, and she’s in love with Uchida, who isn’t in love with her.

“Ah, sorry, Ainaka.” I desperately struggle to put some clothes on, hindered by an unfortunate morning condition that makes things hang badly.

“We’ll wait,” she says, her voice hitting the timbre of a cello. Why is a cello so important?

“We will?” says the discordant male voice. I’m beginning to recognize it. Kasahara, I think. Katsuyoshi Kasahara, who calls himself Kaka and is also a swimmer.

“Yes, we shall! We will wait for this brave man, who has undergone the ordeal of the weird pizzas and emerged alive!” I know this voice well enough that an image of a red-streaked pirate floats into my head. It’s Hiroshi Mizuno, who has hangover cures—and that’s of critical importance right now.

“Hiroshi?” I hiss, as I manage to get my pants on. “Do you have a whisky hangover cure?”

“Oh! If such you need, such is Hiroshi’s job. Hang on in there!”

I hear long footsteps recede down the corridor. He has an unusual stride, easily recognizable. I wonder if the asymmetry of his gait has to do with missing an eye, and that helps me to realize why I’m thinking of pirates.

I take a deep breath and yank at my door handle. It’s designed to be easily opened from inside by any movable body part, I think. Next to every door handle is a little squirt bottle of alcohol-based disinfectant gel. Some people have filthy body parts.

The door opens, and I find myself facing four people. Kaka is leaning against a wall blocking out some of the light. Yuki is all made up, and looks impossibly mysterious and charming in Goth tank-top and long skirt. The left-leg amputee who sits in front of Uchida—I’ve momentarily forgotten her name, and keep doing that—is here as well, her dark hair tied back in a ponytail, wearing extremely distressed jeans and a dusty rose t-shirt. And a shadow moves into the light, tall and slim.

She’s… the girl from the back of the class: the one with the funny face. ‘Marfan syndrome’, they call it. Makes people look spindly, like aliens, they say. But she just looks like an elf from the movies, a Japanese version of Cate Blanchett. She looks searchingly at me as she scrunches her bleached-blonde hair somehow elegantly up behind her head.

“Ha, Mr Satou, you don’t know my name, do you?”

I compose myself. “Miss… Asai?”

“That will do for now, I suppose. Since we’re going out together, you should call me ‘Ageha’.”

Going out? Together? I feel sunstruck. The light is suddenly too bright and the scents and sounds are too much for me. I lean against the doorframe for support.

“Archery,” I mumble.

“Very good, Mr Satou! Yes, we have two archers and two swimmers here. Our Miki here is a jumper, although the Miki in the next class is a sprinter. Our Miki is better, because anyone can sprint minus a hand, but it takes a lot to jump minus a leg.” She beams at me, her blue—surely not a natural colour?—eyes flashing mischievously.

The girl in distressed jeans blushes even beneath her tan. I am spared the sensations of further embarrassment, mine or anyone else’s, by the arrival of my hangover cure.

“Here we are! One hangover cure! The drink of the gods, or at least those who have not slept well.”

“What day is it?” I say, trying hard not to mumble but producing a sound somewhat like a dented and whiny saxophone.

“It’s Sunday, Mr Satou, and I’m your blind date for today. Am I not radiant? Am I not blindingly pretty? Ah, no, I’m not your cousin Riri. Oops, I mean Lilly.”

“She’s not my cousin,” I mutter, feeling that my day is slipping out of my control. Sure, Ageha Asai is pretty. But she is overwhelming. Hell, the whole sunlight thing is overwhelming. I grab the tall plastic container proffered by my residential hallmate and glug its contents down, forgetting what happened the last time I did so.

“Argh!” I think I say, but I realize quickly that this isn’t true. In my head all kinds of bells and whistles and Tanabata fireworks displays are going off. I’m sure I taste coffee, but also aromatic herbs and spices, and the ghost of a dead egg. They speak to me in a spectrum of colours, and the intensity hits my senses so hard I reel across from one doorpost to the other, startling blonde Ageha.

“What’s the matter, Satou?” Limes. Dark chocolate. A little intermission from Yuki Ainaka. I feel calmer already. But the effect of chugging an entire hangover cure, while admirable in the clearing-the-head department, is also somewhat alarming in the blood-flow-to-nether-regions department. I, not to put too fine a point on it, have a tent in my boxers.

Fortunately, I have the presence of mind to turn my body to conceal it. Whether fortunately or not, Hiroshi jumps immediately to the correct conclusion. “Right! Nothing to worry about, girls. Just turn around and let Satou get changed. He should shower—ahem, the colder the water, the better the cure—and feel fresh before joining us. We can wait in the lobby.”

*****

I can only remember Sunday in terms of light, sound, and the kindness of friends. That, and a spirit of perpetual horniness brought about by Mr Mizuno’s ‘whisky hangover cure’.

At some point, I’m on a carousel with Ah-ah, which is what my blonde ‘date’ prefers to be called. “Hold me tight,” she says.

“Isn’t that a bit soon?” I say, trying to make it sound like a joke.

“Not really. I have loose bits. I’m always afraid I’ll hyperextend something and dislocate a joint.” She smells of cherry blossom and warm grass. I feel sad. I hold her tight.

Her ribs move under her thin cream-coloured blouse. No distressed jeans for her—hers are dark blue, slimline, tight around her calves and thighs. She herself feels fragile and yet strong, like a flower reaching towards the sun.

She turns in my arms, looks down into my face. “You’re really tall,” I smile. “You’re like…”

“Cate Blanchett?” she smile back. “No no no. I’m not that kind of girl. Your cousin Lilly…”

“She’s not my cousin!”

“She’s the kind whom I can imagine would say, ‘I pass the test. I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Lilly Satou.’ Right?”

“I don’t know this girl you all keep talking about. But, hey, you’re a Lord of the Rings fan?”

“Oh yes. I’ve had this big crush on Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn for the longest time.”

The carousel turns, its fantastical steeds rising and falling around and under us. The music plays on. Perfume and sweat and streaks of light fill the air. “You’re Éowyn, then?”

“Sadly, she’s not an elf, Mr Satou. I feel like her once in a while. Other than that, I’m a very happy young lady. No attachments, and no great desire for one.”

“Oh.”

“What’s the matter, Mr Satou? Are you… in love?”

Her cheeky grin appears to flare up at me from her angular face, like a flame brought forth in the shadows. No, I’m not in love with her, but hers is a friendship I wouldn’t mind exploring.

She turns, pushing back into my body. Her blonde ponytail is in my face, and my hands are wrapped around her waist, resting on her hips as the horses of the night take us away.

*****

And then it’s Monday, or what feels a lot like it. I’m lying in bed, and the light is terrifyingly bright.

“Good morning, Mr Satou,” says a familiar voice.

Oh, damn.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

Post Reply