Re: Freaks and Friends
Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:44 pm
Amazing isn't it? This story isn't dead?
Since the last chapter I posted, I moved out of the place I was living in for 15 years into a better one, lost the job I had for 12 years, spent a few months unemployed, and started a new job. The whole thing about shutting down the old store, moving, and getting used to a new job put me off writing for about a year, but I'm back now!
And since nobody actually cares about author's notes...
We now return to Freaks and Friends starring Hitomi Fuku, Hachisame Kurosawa, and Tana Wakahisa as “TimeWarp Tan”
Nurse looks at me and frowns. “I won't be able to tell for certain without some further tests, but it appears you've picked up some rather severe nerve damage.”
“Oh, good. You are paying attention. I was just checking.” His stoic expressions switching to a goofy smile. I really hate this guy sometimes. That was not an funny at all. The gurgling chuckle that came from Tana doesn't make thing any better. “One moment,” he says looking over at Tana.
He walks over, puts his hand on Tana's head and tilts it down, “hold your head forward, not back. The clot forms quicker and the blood doesn't run down your throat.” He pauses to take a quick look at the tissues in her hand before giving her fresh ones. “You have to keep your nosed pinched tight,” he adds as he takes her hand and squeezes it.
“Thangz” she mumbles, her words being distorted by her pinched nose.
Having assisted her, he turns his attention back to me again. “I suppose I should be impressed. Not everybody can slam a door on their own hand and somebody else's face at the same time.” He sighs in a way that's too over the top to be real. “If only you could use your powers for good instead of evil.” Without asking, he takes my hand and holds it up, looking at it for an uncomfortable few seconds that probably feel much longer than they actually are.
“It's just a blood blister and you'll probably develop some light bruising. These things look worse than they are,” the Nurse says. “Although, if you like you could try soaking it in Epsom salt or heating some garlic oil and applying it. Just don't lance it. That can lead to infection. I'd also suggest not slamming your hand or anybody's face in doors anymore.”
“I'll try,” I say, mostly just because I feel like I'm supposed to say something.
“Not as definite as I'd like, but I'll take it.” There's that smile I hate so much again. “Now, do you think you're going to be okay or do you need me to get you anything? It's not really anything that needs medicine or bandaging but we could put some ice on it.”
“No. I'll be fine,” I tell him. It'll stop hurting eventually. I just want to end my encounter with this man as quickly as possible. He's just going to keep lecturing me on how bad I am at everything.
“How about a lollipop?” he asks. “I have root beer flavored.”
The way he says it is so weirdly out of place that I can't help but find it funny. I chuckle even though I don't want to. “No thanks,” I say. He seems pleased by my reaction.
“Very well. I do have something else I want to discuss with you,” he says. I sigh in exasperation and he notices. There's a flicker of disapproval on his face that he seems to hold longer than he needs to. He turns around, pulls something out of his desk drawer, and hands it to me. It's a rather thick magazine of some kind. “Give it a look and let me know if anything in there tickles your fancy. There should be something that interests you around page...,” he seems to pause and think about it for a moment before continuing, “twenty three or so. ... somewhere around there at any rate.” Having said everything he wanted to say, he rushes me out of his office and into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
It's a few more minutes before TimeWarp comes out. I suppose it's only natural that it takes her longer. She has a lollipop when she leaves.
We walk back to the room we use for lunch. I lead the way, as Tana now not only has to deal with her lack of reaction time, but she also has her head held down with a handful of tissues held to her nose. I apologize another three or four times on the way back. She waves it off like getting her nose busted is no big deal to her. She seems more concerned with trying to find the right angle to hold both her lollipop in her mouth and the tissues against her nose.
Once we get back to our lunch room, Hachisame greats us with a nod and a mouth stuffed fuller than any mouth was ever designed to be. “So, what's the diagnosis? Any permanent damage?” she finally asks once she's swallowed.
“That's ...” I start to say it's not appropriate given Nurse's bad jokes, but then I'd have to explain it and I really don't want to. “That's not funny. It still hurts.” I drop the magazine down on the table and look over at the clock.
“I'll be fine,” TimeWarp adds a moment later then adding “Okay, I tried, but everything just tastes like blood right now,” as she throws her lollipop into the garbage. I start to complain that I've missed most of lunch because of this, but then I remember that we don't have afternoon classes today. I feel slightly disappointed that I can't complain now.
“Oh! Gimme!” Hachisame says grabbing up the magazine and flipping through it before I can react. It's not that I would have objected, I'd just like to have had the option. Instead, I pick my lunch bag up from where I left it and pull out some small snacks to chew. “Now this, I can see myself with this. What do you think?” Hachisame says focusing her attention on the magazine.
“What are you looking at?” I ask only to have TimeWarp repeat the same question a moment later.
Hachisame holds up the page and I'm only now just realizing that it's not a magazine. It's actually a catalog. Specifically it appears to be a medical supplies catalog. This particular two pages seems to be focused on various kinds of wheelchairs in different patterns and colors. She, of course, has picked out one where the frame is painted with a wave pattern.
“I think you're obsessed,” I joke.
“I think you're a jerk,” she says sticking her tongue out at me. “I haven't even been to the ocean this year.”
“How are you not getting withdrawals?” I tease. She shrugs as if to say she doesn't know.
“We can bring some salt with us and sprinkle it on you next time you get in the pool,” TimeWarp says with a huge grin. It's obvious that she finds her own joke hilarious even if nobody else does.
“Let me take a look,” I say as I take the catalog back. I flip through it seeing various stylized kinds of prosthetic, canes, wheelchairs, specially designed clothes, furniture, and appliances and things I don't even know the purpose of. To think, there's a whole catalog dedicated to this stuff. It's equal parts fascinating and depressing.
“Hold up, you skipped it. Go back,” TimeWarp says looking at it over my shoulder. With her reaction time, there's no way of knowing just how much I missed it by so I simply stop turning the pages and hand it over to her.
A couple of seconds later, she hands it back to me, saying “This right here. This is you. This is so you.” The page she has it opened to shows an overly cheerful model wearing a big smiley face eye patch.
“Oh, bite me,” I say back to Tana. Hachisame chomps her teeth together as though she's just daring me to say the same thing to her. There is no doubt in my mind that she actually would bite me if I said that to her.
Actually looking at it, there really are some decent designs. “I'm not sure how I feel about stylish eye patches. There's just something about it that feels like it's celebrating failure.”
“You over think things. I could unquestionably use a new set of wheels,” Hachisame says. “not because I'm a failure, but because I'm awesome.”
“You are who you are now. You might as well look good while you're doing it,” TimeWarp adds.
“Being it,” Hachisame corrects her but I preferred the way TimeWarp said it.
“You don't have to do with anything fancy. Maybe just some nice colors,” TimeWarp says.
“You could get the lacy one with the little pink ribbon on it,” Hachisame says. Out of all the possible choices, that's one is the most UN-me of the selection. It's even worse than the smiley face. I give her a dirty look.
“It's your choice. Just please don't wear those bandages on your face anymore. Nobody likes that,” TimeWarp says.
“... Really? I thought that was classic … umm … you know? The bandage babe thing?” That's sounds lame even as I say it. What was I thinking?
“That's just in bad cartoons,” TimeWarp says. She timed her reply to the point where she's almost talks over my last few words.
“And bad fetish porn,” Hachisame ads. “You want to look like somebody in fetish porn?”
“Maybe,” I say trying to force my expression into a mischievous smile.
“Yeah, I'm not buying that for a minute,” Hachisame replies.
I shrug and go back to looking at the catalog. A moment later TimeWarp ads, “I'd buy it. Then I'd show it to everyone at school -- That totally sounded wrong. I meant because it would be embarrassing to you. … Forget it.”
“You totally screwed that one up,” Hachisame says.
“I screwed that one up. In my defense, somebody slam
med a door in my face a few minutes ago. I'm still a little bit rattled,” TimeWarp says. “That's totally my excuse.”
“I know. I know. I'm sorry. Umm...Have you stopped bleeding yet?” I ask.
After a moment, she slowly moves the tissues from her face and watches to see if anymore blood drips down. “I think I'm good,” she says. “It wasn't the first time I've took a door to the face and probably won't be the last.” I'm about to ask about this when she continues with a big smile on her face. “Now the question is, was I joking when I said that or not?” She's good.
“... No. Wait. Yes.” I said quickly trying to play along.
“I'd like to buy a vowel,” Hachisame added.
“I suppose it could have been worse though. You could have waited until next week to do that,” she said. “The last thing I need is to try to give a club presentation while blood drips down my face.”
“What? I didn't even know clubs started yet,” I say.
“You don't pay attention to anything, do you?” Hachisame says. Next week all the clubs put on their shows and do their little recruiting drives. Your class isn't talking about it? I know my class won't shut-up about it.”
I guess there has been some talk about it, but not much. It's probably because most of the students in my class have no use for clubs since most of them wouldn't be able to join in.
“Is your class doing those neat Braille handouts for the clubs again this year?” TimeWarp asks. Okay, maybe I really haven't been paying enough attention.
“I haven't heard anything,” I say. “Oh, and you're nose is ...ummm... leaking blood.”
“That's disgusting,” Hachisame says with her mouth full of food.
Saturdays are always weird days. We're released at lunch and … that's it. It really feels like there should be an official ending for the day but there isn't. Lunch continues until everybody finishes and leaves. Eating in a separate room, we don't even get to watch the cafeteria slowly emptying. Usually one of us steps forward to be the one to say “We should probably get going; We're done now,” and we move on from there. Today it's TimeWarp that makes the announcement.
“I'd love to stick around, but I promised I'd meet up with the club to plan … whatever we're doing for Club Week. I'll catch up with you later.” She checks her nose again to make sure it's not bleeding anymore and then discards the tissue in the trashcan before leaving the room.
“She's gone. We can talk about her behind her back now,” Hachisame jokes as the door closes. I chuckle slightly. “I really hope the computer club does the same thing they did last year. You have got to see that.”
“What did they do?”
“They put on some weird musical show with something that I can only assume was supposed to be some freaked out form of techno music. They all wore these horrible futuristic looking silver outfits. I don't know what they were thinking but it was hilariously awful.”
“I'm sorry I missed that,” I say.
“You had two eyes back then. I can't say I blame you for not having been around here,” she says. “If I was a different person, I probably wouldn't be here either.”
“Makes sense,” I say. There's a silence between us. The kind of casual friendly silence that happens when two friends aren't really do anything but don't really want t do anything either. We're just hanging out. Still, something about what she said bothers me a little. I sit on it for a minute but eventually feel the need to say something, if for no other reason than to just get some kind of conversation going. “Do you really think I'm a different person now? You met one of my old friends. Did they make it seem like I'm different now?”
“We are all the sum of our experiences, our vices are … however the rest of that saying goes. You're still new at this. You haven't been screwed over by life really bad yet,” she says casually.
“Are you saying this doesn't count?” I say pointing to my eye patch.
“That's just the start. Like, an origin story or something,” she says.
“Okay, so if you've been doing this longer than I have, how exactly have you been screwed over?”
“I dunno,” she says. “It's not exactly like I'm normal or anything.”
“I thought you were okay being you,” I reply.
“I mean, I am, because I'm awesome and all that, but let's face it, there are problems we've got that nobody else has. Do you know anybody else who's got to worry about matching their bikini bottoms with the other pair of bikini bottoms they're wearing?”
“Okay, that I can understand,” I say. “It's like with me and the eye-patch or bandage question.”
“We went over that earlier. The bandages look lame.” She smiles like she's really proud of herself. “That wasn't an intended pun, but it was an awesome one!”
“Yeah, but I didn't know the bandages looked bad until today. Nobody tells you these things.”
“We told you these things. Just now,” Hachisame says with a big smile. I give her a comically irritated look and we both chuckle slightly. “Now let's go get you some new styles,” she adds.
It takes me a moment to catch on to what she means. “Actually, I had planned on waiting a few days before going back to the Nurse's office.”
“Why?” The look on her face tells me she's genuinely confused.
“I just don't want to have to face him again today. I thought I'd give him time to forget about me messing up like I just did.”
“He still reminds me of things I did my first day here. He's not going to forget in just a day or two,” Hachisame says. I sigh. Somehow I think I already expected that.
The Nurse looks at me curiously as I walk in the door. “I didn't expect to see you back again today.” he says. I can feel my guts twisting inside me.
“I've picked out a few things from the catalog,” I say.
“I honestly expected you to flip through it for a few days and then send somebody in for you.” That kinda hurts, mostly because that is exactly what I was going to do. “Let's just take a look at what you're interested in.”
We flip to the page that shows the eye-patches and I pick out a few basic colors, no fancy designs or patterns for me. As I'm pointing out colors, there's a knock on the door.
“Excuse me for one moment, please,” Nurse says walking over to the door. He opens the door and I see Rin standing there. Just standing there. She makes no attempt at conversation or introduction. “She's not here,” Nurse says. Rin seems to accept that and turns and walks away without a single word.
“How did you know who she was looking for?” I ask.
“She doesn't come here unless she's looking for Emi, and she simply hasn't been in today. Rin is fairly easy to read once you get past her unique way of expressing herself,” he says.
“Yeah, I was wondering about that, I mean, why is she like that anyway? Is there something wrong with her?”
“Psychology isn't my field and even if it was I wouldn't discuss it. We all have our own idiosyncrasies. My job is simply to make sure everyone stays healthy and takes care of themselves.”
“Yeah, I'm sorry about earlier,” I say.
“No … I was about to say 'no harm done' but I guess that isn't true is it? 'No permanent harm done' doesn't sound right either. Let's just say it's 'water under the bridge' and leave it at that.” I mumble an 'okay' and he flashes me a huge grin. “Back to the matter at hand.” We go over the style and he gives me advice on what he thinks will fit and be most comfortable. It didn't even occur to me that there would be any difference in fittings.
“Do I need to sign anything or whatever?” I ask.
“If you want, you could sign form 829-A. I can submit it, your parents will be contacted, billed, and we'll have your stuff here by … not this coming Monday but the one after.” He raises an eye brow and smiles before continuing. “Alternatively, I can go raid my storage room and you stop by tomorrow and pick them up.” I give him a baffled look. “You'd be surprised by the budget I'm given and if I don't spend it they'll just give it to somebody else.”
“Thanks,” I say.
“Let's just keep it our little secret,” he says. “If people know I'm handing out free eye-patches, everybody will want one.”
“Yeah, right. Like I could be the next big fashion trendsetter,” I say jokingly.
“Somebody has to be. I can think of worse people to imitate,” he says. I look at him in disbelief and his expression shifts to a frown. “Never mind then.” He turns his back to me and begins to dig through a file cabinet
I stand there for a second before just saying “Okay, then” I know I'm good to go but not being properly dismissed makes the whole situation feel strange. In the past he's always made it quite clear he was done and showed me the door. Now he's just letting me stand there.
“Just remembered something that I had meant to look into,” he starts without bothering to turn and look at me. “There was a student that went here a few years ago. She had a rather unusual immune system. If her body didn't have any disease or illnesses to fight, it would turn on itself. Essentially, the key to her treatment was giving her something else to fight so she didn't tear herself apart.”
He turns and looks at me uncomfortably without saying anything.
“I guess that's interesting,” is all I can say as a reply.
He sighs and shakes his head for a moment. “Just … come back tomorrow morning. If you can make it in around ten, it would be preferable.. I'll have your eye patches for you then.”
Re: Freaks and Friends
Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:28 pm
The year is 2112.
I've had a good life. After having spent some of my earlier years obsessed with some silly anime cripple girls, I eventually found love of my own. Alas, she has moved on to the great beyond ahead of me, and things haven't been the same since. For a brief moment, I wonder if there's any point in this continued struggle to scrape out the last bit of life I have left in me, but I push such meaningless thoughts aside. There's one last thing I need to do.
Lying here in my home of many decades, I recieve an urgent priority notification via the nanomachines in my brain. At long last, the finale of Freaks and Friends has been posted, a century after its debut. I smile, for I knew we'd get chapter 76 someday. I begin to read with bated breath. I laugh as Hachisame continues her zany antics as the lone captain of a fishing boat. I feel a sense of empowerment as Time Warp's newly invented brain implants enable her to react to things before they even happen, instead of long after. I cry as Hitomi and Rin exchange vows at their long-awaited wedding ceremony. Truly beautiful.
As I finally finish readying, any fear I may have had of what lies beyond the void disappears. Fully contented, I lay down, and sleep.
(nice update btw. reading through it in one sitting, it's interesting to see how your writing has evolved over time. congrats on the new job)