Nekonomicon series continuation?

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (Neko Bk2) COMPLETION

Post by NekoDude » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:22 pm

That's all for now, folks. See the first post in this thread for links to downloads. There will be a Book Three, which is pretty obvious from the way that last chapter ended. Unfortunately, it will remain a mere sketch for a while (not even a real outline) because I have a considerably higher priority writing assignment on the table. However, I will give you a hint about some of the characters that have yet to enter the story:
  • Hiroyuki and Karla (Satou)
  • Sam Rogers (Neko's father)
  • Mira will become much more significant than just an extra to advance the plot
  • Junpei, while no longer Sally's bedwarmer, will become more involved in events
I also want to give advance warning of a considerable shift in narrative format. I will be dropping the rotating-first-person format in favor of a more linear third-person-over-the-shoulder approach. That way I can switch perspectives within a scene and won't have to confuse you with concurrent chapters any more. The amount of information conveyed will be pretty much the same, as this narrator will be able to read the thoughts only of the person whose shoulder he sits on. This does mean no more chapter heading graphics, which is probably for the best anyhow. They get seriously chewed up in conversion to the .MOBI format.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

supernoodle
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:02 pm

Re: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (Neko Bk2) COMPLETION

Post by supernoodle » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:29 pm

Congrats on the milestone! I never have much feedback other than to say I always enjoy your departure from the other garden-variety fics and you have all my encouragement. Here's to another Neko-filled New Year.

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (Neko Bk2) COMPLETION

Post by NekoDude » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:12 am

Update: Blank page fear conquered, Book Three has begun. Only one page so far, sure, but it's a start. Don't expect posts here for a while though, I have to build up a buffer again to make sure I don't paint myself into a corner or end up in double-editing hell.

Neko has been pounding on my skull from the inside, and I knew I needed to do this anyhow. The arrival of a long-awaited replacement (and programmable) keyboard that doesn't feel like I'm poking a dead octopus is finally what made me decide now is the right time.

Working title is "Into The Dark". If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

ArmedLiberal
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:23 am

Re: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (Neko Bk2) COMPLETION

Post by ArmedLiberal » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:10 pm

*sigh* and it had such promise. I was hoping at least for some happy endings. Miki was getting what she deserved, but I was really hoping to see a nice, happy triad between Neko, Hisao, and Iwanako… and maybe Mariko and Kenta making a nice couple. That's enough happy ending for me.
Image
Image
Message truncated
So, apparently my sig was too long… so I cut it down, but I used the opportunity to expound upon—and add to—my original signature.

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (Neko Bk2) COMPLETION

Post by NekoDude » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:45 am

ArmedLiberal wrote:*sigh* and it had such promise. I was hoping at least for some happy endings. Miki was getting what she deserved, but I was really hoping to see a nice, happy triad between Neko, Hisao, and Iwanako… and maybe Mariko and Kenta making a nice couple. That's enough happy ending for me.
You will get some of what you wish for (more of it than not, actually).
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

"Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) happen now!

Post by NekoDude » Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:17 pm

PROLOGUE

        Am I alone? he wonders, lying still in the darkness. No, of course he isn’t. His wife is no more than a meter away, happily snoozing, yet he still feels as if he is being watched, and that a great weight is pressing him into the mattress.
        Maybe this is a dream, he hopes. The odds of this seem significantly greater. He cannot speak, and he cannot move anything other than his eyes. Whatever fate may await him, he is helpless to counter it.
        In dreams, writing changes. Glancing as far to his right as he can, he spots the alarm clock reading 2:38. He looks away, and waits another minute as best he can guess before looking again. The clock still reads 2:38 – no, wait, it just changed. So much for that idea.
        His rage slowly builds, and he finds that at first he is able to move his tongue, then his lips, then his jaw. Finally, he is able to put together some semblance of sound. He wants only to scream, but instead emits a low groan that crescendos into a steady moan.

        His wife at first rolls over, only vaguely disturbed by the sound, but its persistence finally gets through. She nudges him in the darkness, serving only to add a bit of vibrato to his monotone sonata. He gives no resistance and shows no apparent reaction, aside from his eyes, wild with panic. She takes his hand.
        “Relax, this will resolve, and in about the same amount of time as it ever has. There is no crisis. There is no danger.” She grabs a tissue and blots the tears at the corners of his eyes.
        Though the doctors had said this was not uncommon, nor particularly worrisome, it was now happening with increasing frequency. This is the third time this week alone, she reflects, as she takes a moment to log the incident. She also knows that this is the end of the night for him. Once he does regain control of his body, he will be highly resistant to going back to sleep, lest he find himself locked in again.
        She is just starting to fall asleep twenty minutes later when he finds himself able to rise, and slips quietly out of the room.
Last edited by NekoDude on Mon May 11, 2015 7:00 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (1/3)

Post by NekoDude » Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:41 am

(Due to the longer chapter format, they will be posted in segments of up to six book pages or so, similar to the longest chapters in the previous books.)

—————————————

CHAPTER ONE

2007-08-18

        The sun filters through the thin drapes covering the window behind the bicycle rack. Hisao wonders when he might dare to resume riding his, without it acting as a trigger. Maybe when I can breathe without opening my mouth, he thinks.
        “Darling, it’s almost eight. The cafeteria will be closing soon.” They stick to their schedule religiously, even on a Saturday during break.
        “Then get yourself something, I’m not hungry,” she replies from the rollaway bed. It has proven difficult for her to get into and particularly out of the high-set waterbed while in a full cast, and she requires assistance putting her leg on or taking it off.
        “If you don’t eat, you won’t get the protein and calcium you need to knit up damaged bone and muscle.” He’s only repeating what the doctors have said, but cringes internally, expecting this to be another blow-up.
        “Fine,” she says after a resigned sigh, “Get me some yogurt. I really wish I could go home.”
        “Yeah, well, so do I. I’m sure you’d eat more if Ben was making it. I know I would.”
        “Eat more, chunder more.” Vicodin, necessary to blunt the pain after her forearm was surgically bolted and wired back together, does have its drawbacks. If she is feeling sick again today, that would explain her preference for something smooth.
        Hisao wanders out into the sunlight and heads across the quad, waving back to people who wave at him but staying far enough away not to get drawn into obligatory conversation, making it to the cafeteria just quickly enough to draw a disapproving glare from the worker who wanted to close the doors and start packing up the food. He smiles just the same, before doing as requested and grabbing two containers of yogurt for Neko. He also grabs a carton of milk and a paper container with scrambled eggs. If she doesn’t want them now, the milk can be refrigerated, and he’ll eat the eggs. He also grabs a few items for himself and lets the crew roll up the carpet until lunch.
        Back at the room, he finds that Mariko arrived while he was away. I wonder if she was waiting for me to leave? he ponders, then immediately dismisses it. It’s not as if she could just sit around and watch.
        “Good morning, Mariko,” he says with an abbreviated bow, knowing the futility of it but not being able to resist years of habit. She got away from the crash with only a turned ankle, and minor scrapes and bruises otherwise, making her the least banged up of the three of them. “You’re starting early.”
        Usually it is left to him to take care of Neko for the morning hours, until Mariko comes around to act as her hands. It’s not a bad arrangement, although she seems to be at her crabbiest upon arising. It sure beats having to chase after her all day, every day. Mariko is even able to help out with the one recreational activity Neko still takes part in – operating the radio.
        “Could you help me out?” Mariko requests. “I’m used to taking this off, not putting it on.” She holds up the hook arm, which Neko has resumed wearing after many weeks of abandoning it. The rubber band has been lightened, to reduce the strain on her right shoulder while operating it, but it is still an awkward and unwanted device for her, necessary though it is at the moment.
        “Sure,” he replies as he takes the assembly from her, “maybe you could take care of the other one.” Since the leg gets detached and reattached several times a day, and takes just a few seconds under ordinary circumstances, Mariko has done it before. Despite knowing she can’t see him, he nods in the direction of the leg sitting at the end of the bed, before rolling his eyes at his habits.
        “Of course. Where is it?”
        “Same place as when you took it off last, I’d imagine,” says Neko between yawns. Making eye contact with Hisao, she continues, “Unless you moved it.”
        “No, it’s not in the way there.” Just the same, he kicks it just hard enough to bounce against the bed frame, so Mariko can locate it acoustically.
        Once suitably assembled, Neko slowly rises and shambles toward the restroom, not bothering to fully close the door behind her despite the fact that the door has handles rather than knobs.
        “«Well folks, it’s that time again,»” Neko announces from behind the door in a cartoonish voice. “I could use some assistance.” Hisao answers the call, and pokes his head in the door. Neko looks back at him, and grimaces slightly. “Not you, love. Her. Another girl is, ah, better equipped to deal with the issue. I knew it would come up today, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be so early.”
        “Umm, what?” Hisaonium is denser than osmium, but he gets a clue when Neko holds bloody tissue in the hook. “Oh, that.” He does his best to keep a poker face, and fails miserably. “Mariko, it looks like you’re on call.” At least we got around to replacing the shower head before the accident, he muses. This has proven to be crucial. The cast won’t melt if it gets wet, but it becomes very uncomfortable for quite a while.
        Mariko answers the call, but not without a bit of reluctance. “I, ah, actually don’t know what I need to do here,” she says once the door is mostly closed again.
        “It’s the same thing you do for yourself. Try to imagine that’s all it is. It will make things slightly easier,” Neko reassures her.
        “Ah, Neko…” Mariko’s voice trails off. “There’s something I need to tell you…”
        The door is quietly closed the rest of the way, followed by the sound of the shower running.

***

        If I can’t go home for lunch, I can at least go to my restaurant, Neko thinks, despite having only a five percent stake. Her nausea has waned somewhat, as has the itching, so lunch is starting to sound good.
        “Mariko, love, did Kenta give you a time he’d meet you,” she asks, “and did you tell him you’d be here?”
        “He knows where we are, but didn’t give a time,” Mariko responds. “I’ll find out.” She thumbs through her phone directory, pausing to hold it to her ear to listen to each entry before moving on to the next. It takes about six rounds of this before she gets the right one. She bobs her head from side to side in impatience while waiting out his voicemail greeting. “It’s time to feed the cat. Let me know where you are.” Her phone beeps as she ends the call.
        She has just managed to wedge it into her pocket when it starts ringing again. A few seconds pass after she answers. “That’s the plan,” she says in response to whatever he asked. “Alright, I’ll let them know.” This time the phone beeps to signal the end of the call before she can reach for the button. “He’s still running. He’ll meet us there in about twenty minutes.”
        Hisao nods. “We might as well get moving then.”
        It does take a while to get down the hill now. He has to lead Mariko around, and she has to stabilize me, Neko thinks. The last thing she needs is another tumble, setting her back weeks or worse, assuming she doesn’t land on her face.
        Every movement of this crew has to be planned, choreographed in a way that unnerves her. Thinking on her feet and being a few tenths of a second ahead of the crowd is how she survives. It’s a major part of being able to operate one-handed in a two-handed world. Yet here she is, with no hands to work with, being supported by a blind girl. Or kind of a girl, anyhow. She doesn’t want to think too hard about that, but it beats thinking about her own predicament. If she had her choice, she’d rather just remain sedated and confined to a bed until it was time for the cast to come off. It would be so much less trouble for everyone.
        At the bottom of the hill, they enter the Shanghai to find that it is pretty well occupied. If it’s like this during break, it’s going to be crazy once classes start again – so long as they continue to allow students to pay half their bill in cafeteria credits, that is. It might be necessary to cut back on the percentage at that time, so as not to crowd out all of their other clientele. Mum does not like being upstaged.
        Inside, a petite middle-aged woman greets them. “Welcome to…” she begins in the usual fashion, before the painted-on smile slips. “Oh. You don’t look so well, dear,” she says to Neko.
        “It hasn’t been the greatest morning, I’ll grant that.”
        “It will be just a moment before we’ll have a table cleared for you, they’re working on it right now. It has been a good day for us, at least,” she says, smiling weakly and bowing.
        “Thank you, Keiko. We understand.” Hisao bows right back at her in an attempt to put her at ease, as she graciously overlooks the brace taped to his face.
        A moment later, they are waved to a seat near the kitchen. The table seats four, but only three chairs are present.
        “Could we please get one more seat?” Neko asks the boy setting the table, who nods and completes his current task before running off to find one.
        Before they can take their seats, Hisao says “I should wash my hands – for both our sakes.” He helps Neko into her chair, and leads Mariko to wash up as well.
        She is busily thinking about everything, and then again thinking about nothing, when the busboy arrives with a chair just as the intended occupant arrives to fill it.
        “So, did you miss me?” Kenta asks as he scoots the chair into position.
        “Uh, no, not as such. We just got here ourselves.”
        “I figured as much, and thought it would be better if the three of you got a lead on me. Glad to see it worked out.”
        She nods and continues brooding in silence.
        “Are you doing alright? What’s on your mind?” he finally asks.
        From the corner of her eye, she spots Mariko coming around the corner. Assuming Hisao is probably close behind, she whispers “I’ll have to tell you later.”
        His interest piqued, Kenta raises an eyebrow. “Yes. Yes, you will.”

***
NEXT
Last edited by NekoDude on Mon May 11, 2015 7:01 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

831KingHisaoNakai
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:13 pm

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (1/3)

Post by 831KingHisaoNakai » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:48 am

Im confuse here i download both your chapters i dont know what number is "hisao makes three" is i got chapter 2 and i dont know where 1 or 3 is and are you posting them both right here cause i dont want to read the wrong chapter and get confuse please help??

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (1/3)

Post by NekoDude » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:40 pm

"...And Nakai Makes Three" is the first book, followed by "Three of a Perfect Pair", followed by the (just barely started) "Into the Dark".
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

831KingHisaoNakai
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:13 pm

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (1/3)

Post by 831KingHisaoNakai » Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:36 pm

NekoDude wrote:"...And Nakai Makes Three" is the first book, followed by "Three of a Perfect Pair", followed by the (just barely started) "Into the Dark".


thank you cant wait to read all of this :)

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (1/3)

Post by NekoDude » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:46 am

831KingHisaoNakai wrote:thank you cant wait to read all of this :)
It has become fun to write it again, and I've produced thirteen pages in the last two days.

Little upcoming things to look forward to:
● A cameo fanfic crossover featuring forgetmenot's Kagami, which will cause all sorts of chaos through no fault of hers
● Miki's operative name is revealed (it's Go-Tsume, or "five claws", a reference to much earlier when Miki said "those of us with only five claws keep them that much sharper")
● Sally finds another bedwarmer, much to Miki's relief.

And I don't know that you were particularly looking forward to this, but it is necessary:
Neko is revealed to suffer from bipolar disorder, a situation which is not at all new but she has mostly managed to self-medicate into submission. (The signs have been there all along, so astute readers probably had this one figured out already. Clues: persistent hypomania, pressured speech, a tendency to self-medicate, erratic money management, risky sexual behavior, inflated opinion of her own intellect (which is hard to shoot down because she often is the smartest person in the room), and an inability to finish things she starts once she loses interest.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (2/3)

Post by NekoDude » Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:38 am

(Chapter One continued...)

        They’re back in the same empty industrial parking lot as before, with the difference that this time, it’s wet.
        “Are you ready to try it yourself?” Akira asks, hoping to put an end to the numerous cycles of hat straightening that Hanako seems so concerned with.
        Finally satisfied, she nods. “Y-yes.” The hat falls off with her nod anyhow, and she catches it in mid-air and sets it back on top.
        “Wonderful. Here you go.” Akira bumps the steering wheel with a fist, indicating it’s time to switch places in the Evo. “You’re going to lose the hat again anyhow, once you start getting sideways. Just try not to lose your lunch, okay?”
        “You r-really think I should take m-my test in th-this car?”
        “It’s the only one I have at my disposal, unless you have a better idea.”
        “N-no, not any more,” Hanako mutters.
        Akira is grateful for the admission. She had never liked the concept of borrowing a car from a family rival, even one much more beginner-friendly, and even though it was proposed by the owners. With the chaos that had erupted around that facility lately, the possibility had most likely evaporated. They installed electric fences! What in the world happened?
        A short while later, she’s cackling madly as Hanako drifts wide around a hairpin turn and emerges at the other end going more or less the right direction, punching the throttle to help straighten out her line. Though she is still burning a bit more clutch on launch than is optimal, everyone has to start somewhere, right? Besides, it’s not like Akira paying for the maintenance, nor is she known for being gentle on clutches herself.
        As they complete the tour, the dampness in the air serves to suppress the spread of the smell of burning rubber which otherwise might attract unwanted attention. It does little to keep it from the interior of the car, however.
        “H-how did I do?”
        “Let’s see. You didn’t hit anything, and you didn’t spin out, so I’d say you’re off to a great start. How did it feel to you?” Akira watches Hanako’s hands as she peels them off the wheel, shaking just a little.
        “I d-don’t know.”
        “Well we can’t have that. I guess you’d better do it again, eh?”

***

        Yes, dear, I know I need to be careful.” Hisao resumes crushing up the solid crystals with a mortar and pestle. “You don’t need to remind me every single time.” It isn’t something he particularly likes doing, but there’s nobody else left in the circle to dispense Suzu’s ‘prescription’ who is physically capable of the task at present – except Abe, who might find himself in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between the plan, and his lover’s pleas.
        Neko gives an annoyed sniffle and leaves the restroom, allowing him to relax. It’s not like he needs her standing over him to inspect what he does, and she couldn’t do much to correct him anyhow. Parallax ensures he’s the only one that can read the cheap balance scale properly.
        You would think that when she doesn’t need me or Mariko hovering over her, the last thing she would want is to hover over one of us instead, he thinks. Yet, she often does. Mariko doesn’t seem to mind being watched, or perhaps doesn’t notice, but even that bothers him a bit. Is it that she really doesn’t trust our competence, or is this about control? She admittedly has had precious little of that lately, but overcompensating has gotten tiresome. He tries to put the distraction out of his mind as he zeroes out the scale and sets about making neat, precise piles of powder on the glass plate.
        “Babe,” Neko calls out from the next room, barely audible over the rattling of the ventilation fan, “do you mind if I have a little chat with Molly?”
        Why would she even ask? She can talk to anyone she pleases. “Of course, whatever helps pass the time,” he responds and returns to his work. It isn’t until he stocks enough capsules to last a few days that it strikes him what she was talking about.
        The closet is open, revealing the open safe within, and Neko pinches a bag of white powder between her fingers. “My turn,” she says. “Do you mind parceling it out for me? I probably could, but then again I might scatter it, and that would be bad.”
        “Is this a good idea?” He raises an eyebrow, knowing this is a familiar signal between them.
        “It’s moderately analgesic, at least on me, if that’s what you mean. It’s also Saturday afternoon, what better time would there be?” She smiles deviously and waves the bag as vigorously as she can with the limited movement available to her. “Besides, you know what I’ll be wanting in a few hours.”
        Yes, I do, he thinks, and allows himself a smile. It has been a lonely couple of weeks, he realizes – and the parting kiss at the train station from Iwanako did nothing to help the matter. He has even been sleeping alone, although in the same room, and thought it far from appropriate to suggest intimacy in her time of frailty. If it’s her idea, that changes everything.
        “At least let me wash the glass.”
        “That’s not really necessary. A tiny bit of that won’t hurt me. I doubt I’d even notice.”
        He shrugs. It’s probably not enough that he would notice, so he lets the matter drop, returning to his seat on the closed commode to work the scale. “How much?”
        “One fifty, split in half. I’ll rail one and eat the other. It’s the best balance between a quick rise and a long tail.” She tries to set a half-full mug of coffee on the counter with the split hook, but it takes several tries to release her grip on the handle, and a trickle finds its way over the rim.
        You know this how? No, I know better than to ask questions I really don’t want answered. The purple plastic scale only has a capacity of 120 milligrams, so it has to be done in two passes either way. At least it’s impressively precise, given its toy-like appearance. He gives up trying to get it exactly right, ending up with two slightly unequal piles that nonetheless add up to 150 milligrams.
        “Which do you want in a capsule, the slightly smaller pile or the slightly larger one?” he asks, blade hovering over the glass waiting to push the chosen pile into a paper funnel.
        “Oh, neither. Just push the bigger one into my coffee.”
        The contents are only moderately warm, but that is probably the safe way to go. Neko stirs the coffee with a straw held in her mouth, then quickly slurps it down through the same straw as Hisao cringes a little. Doesn’t that taste nasty? I guess I’ll never know. He spreads the remaining pile out in a line, then wraps his arm around her from behind to pinch her nose around the same straw.
        If it tastes bad in a drink, it must be much more unpleasant in the sinuses, he reckons, if the look on her face means anything.
        “Can’t say this part is much fun,” she says with an odd inflection as she tries to keep the back of her sinuses closed. “Would you mind putting some water in the mug for me? Don’t rinse, just fill it about halfway.” He does, and she slurps this through the straw as well, letting it roll around in the back of her throat before swallowing.
        “I suppose you want to lick the glass too?” he asks with a slight edge of bitterness, and notes that she takes a moment to look it over before responding.
        “Nah, you’re getting too good at this. I doubt there’s half a milligram left on the entire thing.”
        Well thanks, I think. What a way to get work experience.
        Once everything is safely loaded back into the safe, it doesn’t take long for her to get cuddly, although that could also be due to the bong she had him load and light (and which he could actually share), assisted by the metal music she selected with her toes. At least she was blessed with superb eyes. He couldn’t read the display from that distance.
        A bit later, their reverie is briefly interrupted by a somewhat sketchy-looking Suzu, come to pick up her supply for the next twenty-four hours, as well as dropping off a package from the ranch. Nobody dares tell her they cut her back another fifteen percent on the dose this week, but he included a packet with a handful of straight ephedra capsules to help get her over the bump.
        “Do you think maybe we’re weaning her off a bit too fast?” he asks once Suzu is gone and likely out of earshot.
        “I don’t hear her screaming about withdrawals or nightmares,” Neko points out, “nor has Abe called us up with any worrying stories, so I’d say we’re doing it just about right. Nobody ever said this was going to be fun. Overall, I’d say she’s holding up about as well as can be expected. Besides, it won’t be our problem that much longer.”
        “Mmm? How so?”
        “Mum should be back in a few days, and I’ll give her time to unpack, but then I’m dumping this right back in her lap. We may still be stuck with playing pharmacist, but the decisions will no longer be up to me – not that they ever should have been.”
        “Give your Mum some credit here. You do know just slightly more about ‘playing pharmacist’ than the average man on the street.”
        This earns him a slight elbow in the ribs before she continues. “I swear sometimes that she’s got you on the payroll too.”
        Hisao is deeply grateful she doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head to see the deer-in-headlights look on his face. This stings deeper than she could know, especially since the allowance was recently increased considerably to account for the two emergency situations currently in effect, both of which have increased expenses accordingly. Even though he is expected to spend most of this money on her needs, it does still feel like he’s been made part of the household staff.
        “Hey, let’s see what Santa brought us,” Neko says excitedly, pinching the box between her feet and flipping it into the air with her left.
        Happy to accept the change of subject, Hisao snatches the spinning box out of mid-air before it can land on their heads and tears through the paper tape holding it together.
        “It’s a… what is it?” He holds it out where she can see it.
        “Ooh, my new toy. It’s a trackball – sort of a mouse built upside down. Help me hook it up.”
        Even a relatively unsophisticated computer user like him can tell what to do when presented with a USB device, so he fires up her laptop and plugs the device in, setting it on the desk alongside.
        “Mmm, I could do it that way, and I probably will once I have my arm back,” Neko says while inspecting the setup slightly cock-eyed, “but on the other side. Right now though, put it on the floor. You might have to run the cable up behind the desk to make it reach.”
        It’s not strictly necessary, but it is a lot more secure and less prone to accidents, so he does so. Once the drivers load a second time (because he used a different USB port), she settles into her chair and fidgets around until she has positioned things where she feels comfortable.
        After a few minutes of mucking about with settings, she is ready to declare a small victory. “At least I know how I’ll be doing my homework now.” She nods at the on-screen keyboard, and demonstrates as she slowly but accurately types while rolling the cursor around with her foot.
        “Will that be fast enough, or are they going to make allowances for your temporary condition? I mean, it’s not like they’ve never had to think of these things before.”
        “I’ll get better at it, but as you suspect, I won’t be expected to keep up with the usual load of homework. I’m being transferred to 2-2 for the interim anyhow. It’s the same classes, by the same teachers, just in a different order, and it’s necessary to keep me paired with Mariko.”
        “Isn’t that going to get crowded?” Last he had checked, the classes for the blind were already overpopulated compared to the others.
        “Probably, but it’s only temporary. Besides, it seems blind people have significantly less problem with having their personal space violated than the rest of us – possibly because they have to accept help frequently.” It is only a couple minutes before she gets bored with testing the practical aspects of her new system, and has loaded up lolcats.
        “I was wondering,” Hisao notes, “how come someone who seems to love cats, and is even named after them, doesn’t have one?”
        Neko laughs and leans back in her chair perilously. “Can you believe this cat-girl is allergic to cats? Isn’t it ironic?”
        “Like rain on your wedding day.”

***

        “We’re going to have a couple different guests over the course of the night,” Daisuke explains. “First set will be some violinist I’ve never met, which should be interesting. Danny says she’s amazing though – there’s no point in even having a rehearsal with her, apparently. Second set, we have a couple different people lined up. Who knows if they’ll all show, but we only really need one. Third set, we take anyone that’s left over, or finish the night out on our own the way we did last time.”
        “I might be willing to chip in, if you ask nicely,” says Emi with an overly eager smile.
        “Yeah, we might ask you to, but be aware that I don’t make those decisions. Personnel is Danny’s call. Always has been, always will be.” Let the crowd get sufficiently tanked, and he may be willing to roll the dice. “I know he wants you behind the camera again though, as do I. That worked out beautifully last time.”
        “Should we go with an arrangement similar to the last, color first and black-and-white later?” Emi asks while poking through the film in the refrigerator.
        “If you like, or you can shoot the TMY early and switch to the TMZ when things darken up. I rather like the look you brought out of the black-and-white photos. Just be aware that the violinist is going to want copies. Maybe they’re for her portfolio, I dunno.”
        “Is she cute?”
        Daisuke can hear the edge behind the oddly timed question. Let’s not get into this shit again, please. “Your guess is as good as mine. I told you I’ve never met her.”
        “I just wanted to know how cute I needed to be myself,” she says with a pout.
        “For me, or in general? You don’t need to worry about me, I’ll be there to work. For that matter, so will you, and it may not serve to draw too much attention to yourself. Besides, the owner appreciates any efforts you might make to look older, rather than younger. The fewer questions he gets asked, the better.” Over, under, over, under, over, and a velcro tie. That’s three of those. He tosses it into the milk crate with the others.
        “Like this?” Emi pulls the wraps off both pigtails in a single motion and shakes her head, allowing her light brown hair to spread out across her shoulders.
        “Um… wow.” The effect is striking, giving her an air of instant gravitas she was previously lacking. Even the ever-present smile does little to dispel the illusion. “Yeah, I’d say that will do the trick nicely.”
        “If that’s it for your requests, I have one of my own,” she says as she approaches, the smile becoming both more playful and more menacing at the same time. “Do you think maybe this time we could avoid bringing home any ‘old friends’?” As if any clarification was required, the placement of her hands removes any doubt about her intentions.
        “I think that can be arranged. It’s not like I planned on it last time, it just sort of became necessary. Just in case though, why wait for lightning to strike?”
        Why indeed? Their lips meet as clothing hits the floor.

***

NEXT
Last edited by NekoDude on Mon May 11, 2015 7:01 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (2/3)

Post by NekoDude » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:06 pm

I just edited the existing installments of the third book for cosmetic reasons. I've never really liked inserting blank lines between paragraphs, but that's what it seemed to take to make the text flow in the forum setting. Unfortunately, blank lines actually mean something now in the novel format (namely, that the omniscient narrator is jumping from one shoulder to another without a time skip).

Right now I'm using a transparent GIF at the beginning of every paragraph to force an indent. Non-breaking spaces only work on the first line of a block. Surely there must be a better way.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter One (3/3)

Post by NekoDude » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:37 am

(Chapter One conclusion...)

        Having taken all day to make its presence known, the light of the late afternoon sun breaks through the cloud cover triumphantly. As it bathes the side of her face, Mariko makes her way confidently across the courtyard, cane outstretched more as a warning to others to stay out of her way than as guidance. She clutches the precious package from her parents under her arm as she enters the building, and heads up the stairs toward Tadao’s room.
        She knocks and gets no answer, but thinks she may have heard a bump. Using her key, she slowly opens the door and steps inside, and there is no mistaking the breathy presence of two other people in the room, no matter how they may try to suppress it. She opens the wrapping noisily and leaves half of the package on his desk, then lets herself out without saying a word, making sure to lock the door behind her.
        She has to leave the building to access Hisao’s door, as the one that opens to the interior is currently blocked by the rollaway bed. Still, it’s a trip she has made countless times in the past several days, and she proceeds quickly, clutching the remaining paper-wrapped bottle.
        Again she knocks and gets no answer, but she can hear the pumping beat of electronic dance music from inside. She has no key to this room, but figures there is no harm in trying the door, and it proves not to be locked.
        This time the aura is unmistakable – she is is simultaneously assaulted by the miasma of sex, candy, cannabis, and dubstep, followed by a squeal as she is noticed.
        “Mariko! Close the door!” Neko cries out from somewhere around waist level.
        Unsure which side of the door she should be on, she nonetheless quickly steps inside and closes the door behind her. Hastily unwrapping the bottle and holding it up, she says, “I come bearing gifts.”
         “That’s most kind of you, love, but ah… could you give us half an hour?”
        Fumbling around only slightly, Mariko leaves the bottle on the desk and bows apologetically. It’s not my fault they forgot to lock it, she thinks as she slinks out a minimally opened door, back into the courtyard. Pulling out her phone, she quickly confirms that it is still queued up to call Kenta, and dials.
        After waiting out his ridiculously cheerful outgoing message, she gets right to the point. “Everyone else is behaving badly. I think we need to behave badly too.”

        He can take a hint, and tracks her down with all due haste. As they make the half kilometer walk back to the apartment he shares with his brother, Kenta takes the opportunity to find out what Neko might have been afraid to mention earlier.
        “At lunch, Neko was about to tell me something, but decided to defer it the moment she saw you returning from the restroom. Might you know what was on her mind?”
        “I can’t be sure. You’ll have to ask her when she’s not in orbit, as she is currently.”
        “In orbit?” He suspects the meaning but doesn’t want to assume.
        “Maybe that’s a bad analogy. ‘Walking on the moon’ might be a better description. I think they were both crazy high, but I only spoke to her.”
        “I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. Who would have ever guessed?” One of the unfortunate realities of Mariko’s lifelong sightlessness is that she never picked up the more subtle facial tells that might indicate how well his sarcasm is coming across. “Is that what you meant by ‘behaving badly’?” He’d actually prefer if it wasn’t.
        “No. It’s what they were doing when I walked in – and what I’m pretty sure I walked in on at my brother’s room – that prompted that description. I’m, ah, not exactly innocent on the moonwalking.”
        “Do you think that’s what she wanted to tell me about?”
        “What, that I was tripping the day I offered to be your date for the evening with your parents?” Ordinarily he would expect such a rhetorical question to be followed by a meaningful glance, but of course there is none. “No, I doubt it. It’s more likely she wanted to let you know that she knows – about me, that is.”
        “You mean she didn’t already? I thought you two had known each other for over a year now.”
        “That is true, and in hindsight, I probably should have trusted her enough to tell her a long time ago. It just never seemed appropriate or necessary until this morning, when she needed help with girl problems, and I had to admit I had no experience in such matters.”
        “That sounds like an awkward scene.” However, it definitively rules out any thought that you two were ever involved. “But why would she hold back because you were coming back to the table?”
        “I don’t know, and I’d appreciate it if you would act like we didn’t have this discussion when she does finally bring it up. I’m quite interested in hearing how she approaches it. I didn’t tell her you know.”
        Kenta nods, then facepalms at his gesture. “Understood, but I’d like to roll back a little bit here. You said you were tripping that day at the ranch?”
        She nods, almost as if she had sensed his earlier movements. Maybe she did, through our linked arms. “I don’t think I would have had the nerve to volunteer myself if I hadn’t been completely out of my mind. Even then, she had to prompt me. I’m not saying it wasn’t the right thing to do, far from it. I just would have stopped myself otherwise.”
        “What kind of people does she run with when we’re not looking, to get that sort of thing?”
        “It doesn’t take shady people, just an hour or so of hunting down and picking mushrooms around the trail. They have horses, which means there’s horse poop, and it rains a lot, so they just sort of appear.”
        “Oh.” Picking wild mushrooms – even that kind – is actually not prohibited. “So whose idea was that?”
        Mariko gives a little snort and a smile. “If you think it even crossed my mind until she brought it up, you’ve gravely misunderstood me. But I did welcome the idea, once it was presented.”
        “Did they make you see things?”
        “I don’t know,” she says in a rather straightforward manner.
        “I mean like colors and lights and such. I’d think you’d remember if you saw them.”
        “That’s just it, ‘seeing’ is nothing but an abstract concept to me. Maybe I did. The whole thing was rather odd – not unpleasant, but also not something I’d do for fun. It was definitely an experience, though I don’t know how much was due to the mushrooms, and how much was due to the other factors.”
        “Do I even want to know?”
        “It wasn’t anything you didn’t also sample when you were there,” she says with just a bit of an edge. I suppose I deserve that. “Weed, wine, and hot water to make it all go straight to my head, that’s all. I just don’t know how much of what I was feeling was due to each of these factors, since two of them were new to me.”
        “Alright, I wasn’t trying to pass judgment on you. I just was starting to wonder if it was safe to leave you alone with her. Miura’s pretty open about her vices, and about the fact that Neko tends to share them. I was just worried she might be taking you places you didn’t sign up to go.”
        When she shrugs, he can at least understand how she might have ‘seen’ other people perform that gesture. “Some of us aren’t stupid about it, and as you witnessed first-hand, it’s less hazardous than the more conventional things we did. «Buy the ticket, take the ride.»”

***

        «I'm a little pimp with my hair gassed back
        Pair of khaki pants with my shoes shined black»


        The club owner doesn’t sing particularly well, but he doesn’t have to. The crowd is eating it up, and it would have been difficult at best to tell him he couldn’t sit in for one song when everyone else seems to be joining them. When he substitutes ‘Club Shaft’ into the lyrics in place of ‘Hot Rats’, he gets another round of cheering. It sounds like maybe he has requested this song to join in with other bands as well.
        It’s the violinist that carries this song anyhow, and Danny was right, she’s quite spectacular. Daisuke is sad to see the first set come to an end, and for Kagami to pack her fiddle.
        “You’re welcome to stay on longer, you know. We didn’t get to everything on the list,” Danny pleads in an attempt to keep her around.
        “I have a rehearsal with the quartet in the morning. I can’t be out all night,” she says apologetically.
        “At least you won’t be the only one,” says her companion for the evening. “However late they keep you up, I’ll be up slightly later because I have to drop you back.” He glances at his watch. “We can probably afford another half an hour. I wasn’t really expecting things to start on time. They seldom do in this business.”
        Kagami holds up the bow she has not yet placed in its own narrow case. “You want a turn?”
        The man’s smile evaporates quickly. “Oh nononono… I don’t know any of these songs.” He waves his hands in protest.
        “Neither did I when I woke up this morning. How hard can it be?”
        Danny asserts his control. “Half an hour? We should be able to get in three songs before you go. Any guests who don’t make it into the second set will just have to wait their turn for the third.” He turns to Daisuke. “Are you ready to get your inner D’Virgilio on?”
        “Wouldn’t that be you? I’m not the singing drummer.” You’re the one they come to see anyhow, he thinks. You’re the face of this band.
        “Oh, right. Your inner Neal Morse, then.”
        “If I find God, you have to help me hide the body.”
        Danny laughs, but is apparently satisfied by this answer and wanders off to get himself a drink. Daisuke locates Emi, who is waiting for him in what passes for ‘backstage’ here. She has procured a pitcher of water and some glasses, which suits him just fine.
        “She’s better than I expected,” she says, “and I’ve heard her practice. I had no idea she could play like that.”
        “Neither did I – wait, you know her?”
        “For sure. She’s in my class.” Emi sips at her water to make the point that she’s done talking, as if that explains everything.
        “Well you can thank her later. Because she’s going to stay a bit longer, we’re going to open the next set with songs she can play on. That means you get to watch me sing lead for a change.”
        “Thank her? She’s totally not going to remember anyhow.” She must spot his confusion. “You’re serious. You really don’t know anything about her, do you? She has, like, memory issues. The only way she’ll even know this happened later is because of the pictures. That’s why you should take one of me – otherwise she won’t know I was here.”
        So she wasn’t joking about having learned everything today. Emi is giving him a cock-eyed look over his lack of responsiveness after pushing the camera across the small table. “Ah, yeah, I can do that. Smile!” He focuses and shoots, her flowing hair and the moody lighting combining to make her look perhaps twenty, rather than twelve as she so often does.
        He finds it hard not to ponder about the vagaries of memory once the band starts up again, and wonders if Danny is aware of the irony of his song selection.

        «Mommy comes back, she always comes back
        She never will forget me now»
Last edited by NekoDude on Mon May 11, 2015 7:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

User avatar
NekoDude
Posts: 499
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:54 am

Re: "Into The Dark" (Neko Book 3) Chapter Two (1/5)

Post by NekoDude » Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:32 am

CHAPTER TWO

2007-08-21

        For a moment, Hisao gives thought to summoning Mariko for assistance, but suspects she may not be spending her nights on campus. He’s going to have to deal with this situation himself. “What is it? Are you feeling sick again? Blocked pipes? Is it some other side effect of your pills I’m not aware of?”
        “Bloody hell. It’s all of those things,” Neko says with a resigned sigh. “Mostly I just feel like Cazaly after a day taking high marks.”
        “Um, what?”
        “Roy Ca– oh, never mind. It’s roughly equivalent to being run over by a lorry… multiple times.”
        “Uh huh, I see,” he says, even though he doesn’t at all. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
        She blinks in apparent non-comprehension for a moment, then issues a wavering half-smile that immediately fades. “Orange juice. I could use some. Help me put myself together before you go, though.”
        They work swiftly and silently, having done this many times already. When he returns from the cafeteria, he is relieved to see that she’s at least up and moving on what would ordinarily be a day of good cheer for her: her Mum should be back in a matter of hours, and although he knows it’s her arm at the core of the problem, she could at least show a little eagerness to test a new leg. “I don’t get it. You had been looking forward to this day for weeks, for more than one reason. Now that it’s here, you seem to have changed your mind.”
        “Things have changed just a little bit, in case you hadn’t noticed, but I’m sure it’ll get better once I actually get there. Shit just sucks today, alright?”
        Why today in particular?
        She must read this on his face, because she sighs again, and lifts her chin in the general direction of her computer. “It’s called «suicide Tuesday». Look it up.” She collapses backward onto the bed, and a few seconds pass before she emits a delayed ‘ow’.
        “Why do you do this to yourself?” It seemed like a fun ride at the time, but not only does it look like payback is a bitch, it’s apparent that she knew it was coming.
        “My life kinda sucks right now. No fault of yours, that’s just how it is. I accepted a suckier than usual day – today – in exchange for an afternoon and evening vacation on Saturday. Don’t act like it wasn’t a good day for you too. I could have timed it better, though.”
        Rather than pressing the matter further, he decides to follow up on her suggestion and wakes up the computer.
        Suicide Tuesday: the depressive period that typically occurs midweek, nominally on the Tuesday, following weekend (Friday or Saturday) use of party drugs such as ecstasy or crystal meth.
        The more he thinks about this, the more he senses that a similar pattern would apply to Suzu’s absences from class, even before the incident that converted the situation to a crisis. No wonder Neko is so eager to push responsibility for her back onto someone closer to the root of the problem. No, not just closer. She is the root of the problem, he suddenly realizes.
        The next thought he has comes in Neko’s voice, though in reality she is just staring at the ceiling. ‘While a snarl from Mum should be alarming, she’s no less dangerous when she’s smiling.’ Oddly, the most legally objectionable thing she’s ever asked him to do is help audit the inventory of the wine cellar. Though she frequently implies that he is allowed to misbehave, she seldom explicitly endorses it. It’s Neko that is constantly asking him to cross that fine line.
        Suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness himself, he too leaps onto his raised bed, hitting it flat enough that the impact hurts. A monotone ‘ow’ escapes him as well, and he can hear Neko chuckle from her bed as they both stare into the void in their own ways, in the same room yet worlds apart.
        It seems like he barely has time to blink, but his phone says otherwise. He grabs it, then decides to let it beep a little longer. Perhaps it will get Neko moving with less complaint than poking her, he thinks, then glances over at her empty bed. Shit. He checks the restroom, then wonders what to do next. She’s not the type to just go missing, so the next step is to start making calls. Don’t sound panicked, he reminds himself as he flips through his directory.
        “Uh, hello?” Mariko answers a bit breathlessly, then suddenly giggles.
        “I’m sorry, I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
        “Almost, but not quite. I’m still a bit busy though. What’s going on?”
        “I was hoping you could tell me,” he says, his hopes deflated. “Obviously, you didn’t just go for a walk with Neko or anything.”
        “Huh? No, I thought we agreed I would take the day off.”
        “We did. I just don’t know where she went.”
        “Maybe you should try calling her. Sorry I wasn’t able to help.”
        “Right, thanks.” He does exactly as suggested, and her phone springs to life with a custom ringtone for him. Sex Dwarf. Not cool, he thinks, until he realizes she’s probably poking fun at herself, not him. But where would she go and not take her phone?
        The answer is apparently ‘nowhere’, as the door opens and she reappears. “What the…”
        He ends the attempt to call. “I guess I nodded off, and when I woke up, you were just gone.”
        “I was right outside the door, just like I told you I would be.” She looks at him quizzically. “You don’t remember?”
        “Would I be calling your phone if I did?”
        “I suppose not. You answered me, sort of, so I figured you’d heard me. Is it time to go?”
        “Almost. I set the alarm a little early, figuring we might need time to dress and such. Since that’s already out of the way, there’s no huge rush.”
        “Aye aye captain. You’re steering the ship today. I’d just as soon drop anchor and wait out the storm.”
        At the bus stop, he’s slightly embarrassed to be carrying her little black purse, but it’s not like she wants it to be this way. By the time the bus arrives to take them into the city, his attitude has completely flipped and he holds the purse proudly, like a small shield against public opinion. I may occasionally have to be shamed into doing the right thing, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let strangers shame me out of it.
        His mind wanders as the bus grinds its way toward the city, and soon he is being nudged. “Shouldn’t we be getting out here?”
        “Hmm? Oh, no. I figured we’d stay on all the way to Sendai Station. It’s a bit further from your appointment, but it should be much easier to hail a cab.”
        “Aye aye, captain.”
        It turns out he guessed wrong, but not disastrously so. There are more cabs, but there are also more people competing for them, and the extra travel ultimately costs them fifteen minutes and a few hundred more in cab fare. Live and learn. It was an error, but nothing to lose sleep over. They still arrive twenty minutes ahead of her appointment time.
        At the elevators, she attempts to reclaim her purse and give him a kiss.
        “What, are you embarrassed to be seen with me?” he asks in a mock-offended tone.
        “What? I, uh… no, not at all. I just thought you’d be bored. As usual, I have no idea how long this will take.”
        “That’s fine, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll wait with you until they call your name, then I’ll just go back to the lobby, and maybe grab coffee or something.” He yawns dramatically. “I need a bit of a boost.”
        “It seems like healing from injury sucks the energy out of you the same way it does to me. I can certainly sympathize.” They step into the elevator together. “Five, please,” she says to someone who has apparently delegated unto himself the task of pressing the buttons for everyone.
        The waiting room is simple but refined, and apparently put together by a committee that’s half male and half female. There are toys, and a rug with a cityscape and toy car sized roads, while a muted television hangs from the wall above. There are car and sports magazines on the table alongside volumes dedicated to cooking or home and garden.
        “Ah… Miss Rogers, I presume?” asks the receptionist.
        “That would be me,” Hisao says with a bow, earning a giggle and a poke in the ribs from Neko, but only a ‘we are not amused’ raising of an eyebrow from the receptionist. “Sorry.”
        Turning her attention back to Neko, the receptionist produces a clipboard full of paperwork. “We’re going to need you to fill these out for us.”
        “I can’t. I haven’t learned to write with my toes yet.”
        “But we need you to…”
        “I know that. He’ll have to help me.”
        Hisao reaches for the clipboard, but the receptionist pulls it just out of range, saying “That would be a violation of pol–”
        Neko was apparently prepared for this, as she takes a step toward the desk and leans over it in a fairly dominant manner. She’s back in control, and everyone else better get the hell out of the way. “What do you normally do when you get a patient who cannot write?”
        “In that case, we allow the use of a proxy, but…”
        “Well, he’s my proxy. Now give him the clipboard, if you want your bloody redundant paperwork to get back to you before the sun goes red giant.”
        The receptionist holds the clipboard ever so slightly closer, but still makes him stretch for it, and pry it away from her as well.
        “Thank you, you have a nice day too,” Neko says with as much venom as she can manage as they take a seat.
        “What in the world was that all about?” he asks as he flips through the daunting stack of papers, most of which seem to be requesting the exact same information repeatedly.
        “Apparently she doesn’t like money, or good business sense, and resents the fact that I wedged my way into their very busy schedule by greasing some palms. Either that, or they didn’t give her any of it, and she’s taking it out on us.”
        He’s barely a quarter of the way through the stack when a male assistant in a white lab coat comes out of the back. “Rogers?”
        Neko waves the hook, and rises from the seat. Hisao follows.
        “We didn’t have time to finish all of this,” he starts.
        The assistant visibly flinches. “Is this your first visit?”
        “Me?” Hisao misinterprets the line of questioning. “Sort of…”
        “No, I meant Miss Rogers. I thought this was a follow-up and test fitting.”
        “It is,” Neko confirms with a nod.
        “Then you don’t need to do any of this.” He takes the clipboard from Hisao’s hand and leads them both through the door.
        Even now, the receptionist won’t admit defeat. “He can’t go back there!”
        “Can it, Sayoko, if you know what’s in your own best interests.” Once the door is closed behind them, he continues. “I’m very sorry about that. About her, I mean. I assure you she wouldn’t have been my pick for the job.” He hangs the clipboard on a push pin, allowing him the use of both hands to make air quotes. “‘It’s not what you do, it’s who you screw.’ Have a seat in here, we’ll be with you shortly. It seems nobody ever bothers to locate the hardware until the client shows up.” He wanders off to do whatever needs doing.
        What just happened? After giving a moment, he asks exactly this.
        “Laugh. It’s funny. I mean, it’s not funny that Sayoko is a cunt, but it was worth it to see that little shirt-lifter dress her down like that.”
        “Shirt-lifter?” Hisao is once again baffled by Neko’s slang.
        “Poofter. Light in the loafers. Ichiro – that’s his name – is gay, and thus immune to her attempts to manipulate him. She can’t stand it. Sorry about the paperwork, I didn’t know it was some sort of senseless punishment.”
        “Eh, it’s fine. It’s not like I had anything better to do.”
        Ichiro soon returns, looking a bit baffled and embarrassed. “I found it – well, one of them, anyhow. I couldn’t find an arm for you anywhere, even in the records.”
        “Huh?” It takes Neko a moment to register this. “I never asked for one. I only came in here for a leg. Had I known this was going to happen,” she adds while glancing down at the cast, “I might have done differently.”
        “You mean you’re okay with that primitive thing?” Ichiro gestures at the split hook.
        “Oh no, quite the contrary. I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns,” she says with a shudder. “It’s just that I’m generally best off with none at all. Right now is an unfortunate exception.”
        “Ah, that makes sense I suppose. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but should you still be in such a position when next we meet, could you keep it out of sight or something? Heaven forbid anyone would think it’s one of ours. Give me a chance to show you why.”
        “I might take you up on that, if what you have to offer is so much better that this offends you, but let’s see how your first assignment went.”
        Not very well, it turns out. It’s a very tight and uncomfortable fit. “Ah, so sorry. Would you mind?” Ichiro gestures at a scale.
        Neko shrugs, hops over and onto it with his assistance, and waits for him to stop fiddling with it.
        “We, ah, said this might happen if there was a significant change in weight,” he says. “There is a four kilogram difference from the last time you were here, even accounting for the mass of a typical cast.”
        “I can only attribute that to water retention and inactivity. Perhaps I should have deferred the appointment. I knew I’d bulked up, but it didn’t cross my mind that it would be that important. I mean, that leg still fits.”
        “It’s silicone. It’s meant to be forgiving. You wanted something with better energy transfer characteristics and stability, correct?”
        “Absolutely. I’m not blaming you. It does point out that we might need the ability to change out parts, though. I mean, the water retention part of things is just a fact of life, happening roughly a quarter of the time. Maybe we should move on to looking at arms, if there’s nothing more we can do about this right now.”
        “Before we can offer you anything, we would need to find your level of residual function. There is no sense in giving you false hope by showing you options you have no means of controlling.”
        “What exactly does that involve?” Neko looks a bit weary of being poked and prodded.
        “Oh, nothing invasive,” he says with a wave of the hand. “We just attach some electrodes and ask you to think about making certain motions, and see if we can detect signals.”
        “I think I can deal with that. Is that something we could do today?”
        “It is indeed, assuming there is a crash cart available. Let me find out.”
        Once he’s gone again, Hisao takes a moment to comfort Neko. “I’m sorry it didn’t fit. I’m glad you seem to be handling it well, though.”
        “Oh, I came in forewarned. Emi said she needed three fittings before she got something that both stayed put and didn’t hurt. Of course, she was getting two of them, and that always makes things more difficult. Besides, that one probably does fit, when I’m not all fat and bloated.”
        “You’re not fat and bl–”
        Neko interrupts him with a surprisingly gentle hook to the lips. “Compared to the day I was here before, yes I am. The scale doesn’t lie. You may not see it, but I can feel it, and it’s something that will have to be accommodated. That’s what they do, and it’s why they’re considered among the best in the business. You’ll notice I’m not pressing for another mold to be made, because I don’t think my current state is in any way typical, but they will have to take the steps necessary to deal with my normal variances.”
        Ichiro returns with the so-called ‘crash cart’, which greatly resembles a heart monitor – something Hisao is intimately familiar with, and doesn’t really care to see.
        “Excuse me, but do you think I could use the restroom?” Once in the hallway, he bends and the waist and forces himself to take deep breaths. A distracted Sayoko almost walks right into him.
        “You’re still here?” she blurts out, more surprised than angry.
        “Where else would I go?”
        An unseen third person clears his throat. “Ahem.”
        Sayoko makes a half effort to glance over her shoulder before turning her attention back to Hisao. “I am sorry about what happened earlier. I was completely out of line and I know it.” She bows deeply and slowly, showing what he suspects is far from accidental cleavage and more.
        “Apology accepted, at least by me. Now if you don’t mind, I really need to find the restroom.”
        When he gets done splashing his face and swallows back the trauma he didn’t even realize was there, he returns to the examination room.
        Whatever the crash cart was for, they’re apparently done with it now. Instead, Ichiro is touching the tip of some sort of wand to various places on Neko’s short arm as she relates her sensations.
        “No… oh, that tingles… ooh!” She suddenly pulls away. “I’m sorry, that was reflex. That really tickled. It felt like someone running a feather across my palm.”
        “Well that’s promising at least,” Ichiro says rather cheerfully. “Control mechanisms for your situation do exist, even if we aren’t in a position to provide them because we don’t do invasive work here, and there’s an excellent chance we can provide useful tactile feedback through skin contact alone. In other words, the easy part will be harder than usual, but the hard part will be easier than usual. Would you like us to refer you to a specialist?”
        “Not at the moment, but let’s certainly keep the idea open. I want to get the leg out of the way first.”
        “Right. We’ve scheduled for September 17, four weeks from yesterday. Remember not to do anything to throw off your natural rhythms, while trying to shed what you consider to be the atypical portion of the weight gain. Will you need help getting back into… that?
        “Yes, but my help is standing right there. You’ve been most helpful already, even if you couldn’t give me all good news. And welcome back, love,” she adds as she addresses Hisao.
        By the time they get everything reassembled and find their way out, Ichiro is sitting behind the reception desk. He beckons them over. “Miss Bizen has been offered some time off to reflect on her philosophical persuasions.”
        “You mean she’s been suspended,” Neko says, tired of speaking in euphemisms.
        “Ah, I did not say that, you did,” he says with a wink.
        On the way down, both Hisao and Neko are eager to talk.
        “So what was–” Hisao starts.
        “What happened b–” Neko says simultaneously. They look at each other, laugh, and Hisao nods. “You first.”
        “Alrighty then,” she accepts. “What happened back there? I’ve rarely seen you move so fast.”
        “Bad association. That ‘crash cart’ looked an awful lot like a heart monitor, and I have some pretty painful memories associated with those, so it sort of came up as a panic reaction. Then, while I was trying to catch my breath, the receptionist gave me a coerced apology and ‘accidentally’ flashed me.”
        “You may have just saved her hide, whether you meant to or not. Even a forced apology may have kept her job – for now. Sorry you got spooked, and I can sort of understand why even though I have no such association. Your turn.”
        Hisao takes a deep breath and swallows. This would have been so much easier if he could have just blurted out his question, for better or for worse. Being allowed to think about it makes it that much harder. “It sounds like you got some mixed news back there. What was it, if you care to share?”
        “Oh, it wasn’t that bad. I’m not a good candidate for a completely non-invasive myoelectric arm. The nerve pathways required to control one just aren’t there, as I never developed them. I could probably learn to open and close the hand, but there are easier ways to do that. The sensory nerves are present, but I’ve always known that. Even right now I can feel my hand. I just can’t see it.”
        “Actually, I sort of can,” he says with a smile and a nod. “The way you move shows that it’s there in your mind, and those of us who are around you all of the time start buying into it too.”
        “Really? Where does it look like it should be to you?”
        “About here.” He lays three fingers over the prosthesis, somewhat closer to the elbow than to the wrist. “I always envision it as a baby’s hand or something – tiny, but complete.”
        The elevator doors open on the ground floor, and the mass inside spills out to allow another mass to enter.
        “Well bloody hell,” she mutters quietly, but still audibly enough to get rough looks from those within a meter or so. “If you can see it too, I’ll stop being so embarrassed about thinking it’s there myself. I always thought it was just me.”
        “It’s not just you or me. I’m pretty sure anyone close enough to be paying attention feels the same way. You should have caught the look Hanako shot me the first time she saw it. I didn’t even have to ask her what the look meant, I just knew, because the same thing happened to me one day, and it has stayed that way ever since.”
        “I’ll have to add that to my list of accomplishments – believing something so fervently that other people start believing it too, even when presented with clear contradictory evidence. Maybe if I believe you’ll buy me coffee hard enough, one will just appear in front of me,” she says with a nudge and a wink.

NEXT
Last edited by NekoDude on Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Nekonomicon thread and downloads
White Mice music!

Post Reply